The land of many many wonderful people who reared me with confidence, civility, trust and love.
We are here. If colonialism, dehumanization, the slave trades and all the other genius plans in history didn’t kill us off, nothing will. Except the nuclear bomb that will not discriminate the shit holes.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover was on TV this holiday season, and of course, we watched it. The details are irrelevant except the affirmation that I love the endlessness of the Lady Chatterley and Oliver story. But, every single time I watch or re-read Lady Chatterley’s Lover and get astounded, it is ruined by the context in my head.
The context is:
In 1959-1960, when the Penguin trial was ongoing in Britain, to un-ban D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover that was banned under the Obscene Publications Act 1959; my father was 12 years old and mother was 10. In Kenya, a state of emergency had been ongoing since 1952. Kenyans were rebelling against colonialism. In 1959, a good number of Kenyans, both men and women, were tortured, raped, humiliated and murdered. In one such camp, Hola camp, the deaths of over ten detainees kicked the already rolling ball of freedom.
You will now think that I should have forgotten about colonialism and be able to enjoy a good story, dramatized as love. Well, I don’t go around thinking about colonialism. I go around thinking about freedom. The freedom to do whatever the heck I want. And in 1959, when the Great Britain was banning books that described sex, my grandmother assured me that she was still having the wild romp in the wild. Although it was banned as wild, primitive and unnatural by the masters of the world.
My grandmother was married to Rubeni since she was fifteen. Or, rightly said, they were partners for life. Their marriage was not a documented matter. Nor was it a Imprisoned by Societal Expectations kind of marriage. In Kenya, in 1959, marriage was a Together for Survival kind of agreement. Scratch my back, I scratch yours. I may love you, I may not love you, but if I respect you and we are headed in the same direction – I will loyally walk beside you. The religion and law of one God and one partner for life, came with the masters of the world.
So, every time I see Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the contradicting thought in my head is how a society can be fighting for a freedom for themselves, that is already a freedom elsewhere; a freedom that they call primitive, unnatural and wild when exercised by others, but a freedom they want for themselves nevertheless.
Firstly, in Sweden, Dickensian was aired on TV during the end of 2017 giving me one of my greatest wishes as a present. Almost all of Dickens’ characters in one place. Imagine Mr. and Mrs. Bumble, Ebenezer Scrooge (The name Ebenezer gives me goose bumps of happiness!), Inspector Bucket, the Havishams vs. the Compeysons and the rest of the gang. I would have been satisfied and happy for the rest of 2018 just for this.
To multiply to my joy, Rihanna allowed the upload of
Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick on Harvey Nichols. Online. You see, the only make up item I don’t leave home without is lipstick! I have them in colours I don’t even use and bought at prices I can’t afford.
Thirdly, my 2017 ended with a brand new contract for a new job starting in 2018. I had been itching to leave my beloved job for something new for a while. Looking for something to go to, as opposed to leaving something, was not easy at all. I need to learn new things and new people, and a new job was exactly what I needed.
Fourth, Sebastian and I ended the year with an agreement to walk this walk together, to make things work and last. A long term plan.
These are just examples of how blessed I am today. So you see, I cannot be greedy and wish for more. Still, for 2018, I pray for:
Good health for my Mother as she ages. In 2018, she is turning 69, almost 70. It is an age. All my siblings have left home, I wish them well. We have not always agreed, my mother and I. We have not always loved each other either, if ever. But we have never been against each other, never on opposite sides when we face the world. Hopefully she will live a long life, filled with health and peace of mind and 2018 will just be the beginning of it all.
A world where we all can be refugees and keep some dignity, decorum and find love. I don’t want peace. After ages of wishing for peace, it now feels like a fool’s dream and I am no fool. I just want to know and feel that when the soldiers match into my corner, I can run to another place and there will be a small space where I can hide and rest for a bit. Maybe it won’t be me, maybe it will be my child running. Hopefully, 2018 is the year real refuges will start to exist for the refugees.
3. In 2018, I hope for the death of Alcoholism and Suicide. Or, at the very least, the path towards the treatment of alcoholism that leads to suicide. Once alcoholism and suicide happen to you, you will know how much it takes from the lives left grieving. I don’t wish it on you or anyone else. From one generation to the next. My real wish for 2018 is that it doesn’t happen to another child, wife, mother, brother, sister, husband, friend, neighbor etc.
And I wish you all well in 2018! Good health, both mental and physical, love and some success in the areas you are looking for success!
So, we had a NO Christmas gifts policy. We have done this for like 3 years now. And it works. Mostly. The problem challenge is, the business world doesn’t try very hard to help us honor this policy. Sales have to be made. Forecasts have to be met.
So the sales period starts immediately after Christmas! Like 25th, 23:59:59 immediately. Everything you didn’t buy before Christmas is on sale early morning on the 26th! You could just run out to the shops, those that are open, and get back in time for boxing day disappointments. Lawd help us!
In Sweden, this phenomena has a name: Mellandagsrea. Literal translation: The in-between-days sales. I know, genius! After Christmas, before new year sales.
We are not too romantic, we buy the things we need or always wanted but were too expensive. This year, we went all in:
Acer Monitor for my work-at-home space. I did all the setting up myself! My beloved Dell XPS 13 does not really have a HDMI port worth the name so I had to get an adapter cord. A USB 3.1 to VGA. I am very proud of myself!
Sebastian received his bought-online-package just in time AFTER Christmas. Poirot box for those days when working-at-home is not at option and Netflix is not doing the trick.
The sales may get even bigger and better after the new year when theyknow that we cannot even afford our daily bread.
Love is: Knowing that the kitchen will be a total, utter, mess when he is done cooking, and finding it in yourself, deep down, to relax and let it happen anyways. The meal will be delicious, so why the hell not? You have already fought, nagged, blackmailed and sulked one thousand and seventy eight times about this, so why bother?
I promise, every second meal, sometimes the simplest one, like tea with sandwiches, he will use all the kitchen apparatus, cutlery and utensils available.
The dishwasher will not save you when he is done.
Relax, Love is everything that happens while you Live.
I am a paradox of needs. When I celebrate Christmas in Kenya, I miss the quiet Swedish Christmas. When in Sweden, I miss the crowded, noisy Christmas in Kenya.
Kenyan Christmases are a noisy feast, due to the mere fact that everybody available is invited. Most adults will bring their favorite music with them and dancing will start before food is served. Children are let loose in the country side to play, sing, hide and seek. Adults catching up loudly while music plays in the background. It is not necessarily Christmas carols. People will dance, talk, laugh and eat all at once.
In Sweden, a melancholic people to start with, noise is frowned at. The voices need to be low. Music is low-key and definitely more Christmassy than anything else. It is cold outside so children and adults are cooped up indoors, itching to get out and breath. Or, watching the lined up Christmas shows on TV, starting with Donald Duck 15:00 pm. Yes, it is a Swedish Christmas tradition to watch Donald Duck at Christmas.
Whereas the Kenyan Christmas guest list is unplanned or loosely planned, and the Kenyan Christmas dinner is never served. Swedish Christmas dinner is served promptly at 18:30 on the 24th, December. The table is set for a pre-planned number of people for a pre-set length of time. An eyebrow or two will be raised if any uninvited person shows up for Christmas.
Basically, Christmas and baby Jesus are not welcome into a Kenyan Christmas until:
Since something has to be slaughtered for a Kenyan Christmas, the goat, sheep, or cow is tied outside grandmother’s house in Nyeri or Meru.
Sometimes, it is just a measly bird (hen or cockerel), but still! As long as something dies for Christmas!
The grill for nyama choma – roasted/grilled meat – is in its place with a sack of coal beside it.
The sacks of rice and sugar, the gallon of oil, the bucket of cooking fat, the bales of wheat and maize floor and the vegetables have been acquired.
Alcohol has taken its respected Place:
A couple of Tusker crates – the number one selling beer in Kenya – are purchased.
The whisky bottles are delivered from the cities or
The Muratina and chang’aa is brewed by one of the older relatives in the countryside. Finally, sleeping arrangements are made.
Extra mattresses and blankets are acquired and extra space is borrowed from willing friends and neighbours.
On the 24th, at the same time the Swedes are preparing for Christmas dinner, in Kenya, someone is being assigned the chicken-catcher role. To make things fun, the bird earmarked for Christmas dinner is let out to graze with the rest of the birds. On the 25th, as the Swedes wake up to leftovers and hangovers, the hen or cockerel is running the catcher in circles around the village trying to avoid being caught. Uninvited villagers and guests can easily get caught up in the chicken-catching drama. The bird will be caught, eventually.
As a child, I was the best bird-catcher according to dad, outrunning a hen in ten minutes. As an adult, I cannot run to save my life.
In Kenya, the cooking, grilling and drinking starts on the 24th and continues to the 26th. No table is really set, and everyone present is busy preparing and serving something to eat or drink. By 15th December, the relatives with wives and children start to arrive wherever the party is at. There is no knowing how many people will show up for Christmas, so you buy enough provisions for double the number of people you think may show up.
And voila! Jesus is welcome!
How was Christmas like where you are? And what’s the plan for New Year?