Friday, 12 July 2013

TS A LOVE-HATE GAME FOR THE NORM by Diaz Waitherero

The kitchen equals to woman equals to cooking equals to a man’s
happiness. All men say “I” in agreement to this hullabaloo and those
against it say “nay”, the I’s have it. This has been instilled in every girl as
they grow up in the African society from one generation to another.
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, or is it? Will you
divorce a good wife if she is sloppy in the kitchen?
All I know is if you are a woman being a chef is your part time job. You
go through some sort of training when you grow up and mark my
words, you will never graduate. A commitment you signed the moment
the doctor announced “it is a girl”. If I could only go back, how I would
not touch that pan.
I understand that I am expected to follow tradition and most times I do.
It is just that cooking and I are not entirely from the same pot. Despite
that fact, I can skilfully prepare my boyfriend something he can store in
his mouth for more than 10 minutes. Though, the contract I signed
when the doctor announced my gender went straight to the bin a few
years down the line.
I remember when I was five I used to play a lot of kalongolongo [a
game whereby kids assume family roles] tirelessly. I usually went for
the father figure when there were no boys to fill in the spot. My boyish
nature didn’t see how the idea of picking leaves and taking care of the
imaginary baby would give me the kick of the game. From then on, I
knew cooking would be my mortal enemy.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I want to defy the status quo or the
good old tradition. There is just something about me standing in the
kitchen for two-three hours preparing a delicacy, which puts me off.
Why can’t I pay for it with an eighth of my salary? [I am still
unemployed but you get the idea] instead of ruining my manicure and
pay double the amount. And no, I am not a diva in any way; I just have
preferences to the last bit. These preferences don’t include chipping my
nail polish.
I am more than sure that I am not a cooking device or even look like
one for that matter. Men please don’t expect to see me in an apron
cooking your food or making your drink. There is thing called DIY [do it
yourself] that I simply love applying in everything. All I can offer is
washing dishes and drying them. A task that does not make me jump up
and down with excitement but I can make it work.
In another life, I would be living in a castle with chefs flying in just to
blow my palate away. Hail to the king who will ask for my hand in
marriage, for I have been practising to be a queen since I was born. You
might take it that I am a poor cook or those who eat my food have
another means of survival. I can assure you no one numbs their taste
buds two weeks prior me hosting them. I am actually a prowess in the
kitchen and am not talking about dishwashing.
The kitchen is my territory when you look at it from my perspective. I
can prepare any dish from chicken lizania to the simplest dish like
chicken soup; I have a thing for chicken dishes. On a normal basis,
visitors would pour in more because of food than for my company,
typical Kenyans. As much as I am against being in the kitchen for more
than five minutes, I usually do my duty as a host.
I do not have anything against visitors, keeping in mind that I don’t run
a five star hotel. I am actually a big fan of cooking a good meal for my
group of friends or any visitor. By cooking I mean reheating. I see it as
an opportunity to remind myself the things I overlook when cooking for
my family. Things like; the tongue-dropping salt content, the alarming
amount of oil, the eye-welling mixture of spices and chilli and not to
mention the constant overcooking.
Mostly I find the food to be just fine but judging from my brother’s
facial expressions, it makes me think twice. This does not mean that
surprise guests are not welcome but clearly there is a price to pay for
coming unannounced. My love for food is just as wanting as my daily
cooking. I would go for a drink anytime when my stomach is grumbling
rather than stuffing my mouth, forcing solids down my gullet.
I have to admit I have been brought up knowing and practising gender
equality, much thanks to my mother. Therefore, I have no obligation
whatsoever to be constantly serving and being submissive to the male
species. I believe am an alpha and that’s the main reason why I like
things getting done in a certain way. Therefore, power and I are one
and the same but it loves me more.
I find it hard to bow down to any man’s commands let alone requests.
Honestly, I find it backward that a woman would willingly accept
anything a man says without questioning. I am not trying to be a
feminist because I already am but there is zero tolerance to submission.
Plus technology allows you to make your own rice, juice, coffee, tea and
to top it all of wash your own dishes and clothes. There is no way would
you find me being at the beck and call of any man, calling it pride but
that is just the way it is.
This is the generation where single mothers juggle a day-care and a
multinational at the same time, women are calling the shots in the
stock market, they sit behind the CEO desks, they control the corporate
world, they own thriving real estate companies, they are on talk shows,
they are flocking media houses. Somebody give me a podium and I
would preach how the twenty first century defies the norm.
All the women of this century would bag the Nobel Peace Prize if they
were in the 1500’s. I have to hand it to my creator for being born in the
1900’s. If not so I would be forced to lead demonstrations all through
the 14th century, men having the upper hand in everything. However
the rule of some people being more equal than others still applies
everywhere up to date, something our generation can’t wipe out yet.
I feel at home with the people of this century because we are more or
less ignorant to traditions that have been passed down since infinity.
Also for the effort we put in revolutionising the status quo and
traditions as a whole. In no way am I referring myself as ignorant, let’s
just say rebellion has a way of catching up when rules are involved.
As for my kitchen business, I can only hope for a professional chef for a
husband. Hopefully, he would be more than glad playing the monotony
game throughout the year. Of course making exceptions the few times
the in-laws drop by for a whole week when in Nairobi. By a whole week
I mean a whole month. In another life, I would look great cutting up
vegetables with my face covered up in flour but until that other life
reaches I will stick to my professional chef husband.
Waithererodaisy@gmail.com