Mother makes chapatis like how the Germans make machines. Not an iota of effort wasted. Everything falls into place. A perfect conundrum of flash and fair, pompadour and an exotic aroma. Then there’s this look she gives which has some sort of a welcoming arrogance. She makes her chapatis like how Taitas like tea. Seriously you’d never miss a flask of tea in a Taitan’s house. It’s a talent how Taitas can take take tea whichever time of the day. Chapatis are the holy grail of sacrament. They’re a love language. And it would also be grounds of divorce. Good relationships rise and fall subtly on communication and good chapatis.
Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. Well, she has been pious and religious when it comes to her craft of making those njavatis. I knew it was God’s work when her birthday fell on a Saturday. And that was the day for some reason she decided to craft them. Waking up to a house full of different exquisite aromas, but her signature would linger for long in the air. Which meant I’d get to put my feet up on the table, drink on the table, and probably a newspaper or a book in hand.
The kitchen was full by the time I woke up. Cousins, family friends, her friends, banter and some 411 which I never bothered to follow. Drama, stories of what happened & where. Kids marveling at the motorcycle. And there were kids who had passed out in the guest room. Those ones could sleep through an entire avalanche and a nuclear world war.
The, “unatuletea mtu lini” barrage of aunties wouldn’t miss. The audacity. “Sasa si ungemleta tumwone. Unajua introduction huanza tu aki make appearance kwa sherehe mdogo mdogo. Alafu pia tuone kama maswala ya jikoni pia akoje. Lakini sasa ukiwa juu ya pikipiki kila wakati, huyu mtu utamtoa wapi?” First, the bike is innocent for heavens sake. I’m sorry you heathens. You’ll have to click the subscribe button and wait for her like a new episode. Muhahahaha.
You can’t claw your way out of such things. The only way out of it was when I excused myself and went to buy her something. It was a nice surprise. I can still see how much she adores the gifts a week later. Some of them slept over while others trickled slightly an hour and a half before curfew time.
As I was sitting outside, roasting the last bunch of ribs, a glass of whiskey next to spices and various ingredients, mother came and sat next beside me. “I thought I’d see her today.” She said.
“The one that normally passes around as your friend.”
“It was a family affair, plus it’s your day.”
“You sure do know how to deflect the ball whenever it’s in your court.”
“You guys looked good together.”
“Yeah, sure. I don’t know about that.”
“The years are rolling up fast, age is catching up, and it’d be good if I’d see my grandchildren running around before my sunset years. Once a week perhaps you’d look at the world around you and not the tarmac? But take your time in knowing her if you’ve found the one that feels right.”
“There’s no one mama, I’m just a guy who loves his machines.”
“Happy birthday mother.”