I was going to write something really witty and sarcastic about my final dinner with my family.
I even toyed with the idea of using the last supper as an analogy, but I figured that writing ‘and W said, take this and eat this…’ was stretching the whole poetic license thing a little too far, especially since I still entertain fantasies about going to heaven.
Anyway, what happened at my dinner floored me. The sarcasm disappeared. With it, the irony. You know what was left?
What should actually have been there. The feeling that the clan proffered its blessings upon me as I departed from the fold. (And, while lugging 40kgs worth of luggage around in Paris, this was actually quite comforting.)
All I needed was a lunchbox with Ngwaci and a minivan decorated with banana leaves and singing relatives to take me to the airport.
So, I finally got my graduation/farewell dinner. A celebration of my achievements, for the hard working daughter of the clan, right?
Ok, sort of…
It was mostly a plum chance for the clan matriarchs to rub their progeny’s success in each other’s faces. Something like, ‘Yeah, just because I caught her smoking at 17, doesn’t mean she became a drunken little whore…but Im not pointing fingers….’
No need to get into the details of how I was really nothing more than a glorified waitress at my own party, and that we had lots of hangover inducing box-wine instead of my favorite Merlot. (Yes, I’m showing off, but ZA IS wine country, and when in Rome….)
Or the side shows provided by the cute blonde girl and her Marine detail who wolfed down the nyama choma like they had been starving for days, pausing only to wash it down with gin (WTF!!!)
No, let’s get to what was really important.
The hour after all were fed and well lubricated with said cheap wine, the matriarchs fell silent and called for order. And the advice flowed:
From Mama W’s fashionista bff (who’s entourage included a girl-boy who vowed to come visit and a little sister in the throes of a love affair with gin): some PG stuff about having fun and working hard. Then W fixed her another drink that got her tongue loose and she pulled W aside…
‘W…I don’t know how to say this….when you go to another country, the Africans tend to stick together…and start dating…every year new people arrive, but pretty soon you have all dated each other…the problem comes in when someone gets sick…it can spread to everyone.’
Translation: don’t hook up with the Africans, you might get AIDS.
Hands down super creepy, yes?
So, I bade farewell to my fantasies about tall, dark Senegalese men. (Fine, and the odd, florid Congolese sharp shooter.)
One Aunty F, who has been a family supporter since before W knew what bras were used for, really laid it on thick…’I know you will succeed…you are our daughter, and a role model for the others!'(meaningful look at some less illustrious individuals in the room)
No, no pressure there, None at all.
Aunty A, who’s home is where we discovered baked beans, frankfurters and such exotic foods, was the soothing balm, all like, ‘if you need anything at all, we are here for you.’
In light of her recent circumstances, I shall leave it at that. God bless her dear soul.
Floating around there somewhere was talk of working hard but also having fun and opening up to new experiences, ‘living a little’: basically, obscure references to their own crazy days in college.
Crazy cousin K, who embodies many of the finer qualities of a bona fide Kikuyu woman made a speech she had been preparing for hours that just got me all choked up.
(If i ever get this emotional again, please shoot me.)
Then, a voice from the rabble said, ‘And remember God is with you’.
If these were the olden days, our house would have burned down, given the unprintable jokes that were given life by that statement.
And, from Mama W, ‘You are going to be cold. Very cold.’
Now that’s some practical advice.