Christmas is a bundle, a package that has many things therein. On one hand it is a reminder of the birth of Christ and its importance to us as Christians. It also gives us a time to be off job and travel to shags to have good times with our families.
Equally important, it is a time when we are allowed to recollect and reminisce. We gather around the family tree and with intense laughter remember of the days of old. At home it is also this season that we play “Monopoly”, a board game which my father bought I guess in 1978 and which lit many of our evenings as we grew up.
There are many things that may influence the day and how you celebrate it. One of these is occupational activities.
In the year 2002 we bought a poshomill that we operated for about 10 years. (I will ask my Mum about the specific dates; she has some magnetic memory when it comes to dates. Guess I got that infection from that side of the chromosome.) Back to our beloved poshomill. The brand of the poshomill was Natasha. Green in colour. I was a chief engineer of the same, though I probably did more harm than good.
Our poshomill was famed especially for its ability to make Christmas sweet. It had a “sieve” which made wheat flour so fine, just what you needed to make Christmas a sweet moment. During the Christmas season, we would only mill wheat. Maize was considered of low value at such a time. People would travel from far just to give us a chance to process their wheat.
The milling process was so intensive that the whole family had to be involved in the activity. The poshomill would run for many hours and, fearing it would explode, we would switch it off after some time to cool off the engine. On a day of poor logistics, we would run out of diesel. I was the usual suspect who would be dispatched to take our Maharaja bicycle and cover the dozen kilometers to look for fuel. (Confession: I would sometimes but less diesel than the one I was sent, and buy some mandazis. Ensure my mother does not see this. She can still punish, even now).
By the end of the day one would be white (or is it brown?) from the hair to the sole. You would only see two openings where the eyes should be, and an oval near the mouth. At the end of the day one could correctly argue that we had taken raw Christmas. What with all the amount of flour that we would have inhaled by that time! It must have formed nice round chapati balls in our stomachs. We thank God for the powerful digestive and breathing systems that our systems never clogged like the Nairobi drainage systems.
One quite a number of occasions, a small boy would decide to make our day even more eventful: slide a ten-shilling coin with his wheat and wait for the drama that unfolds. You would hear the mill screeching and you would look around for a boy wearing a mischievous face. You had to turn off the machine, open it up and look for the now-mutilated president. Then inspect the sieve to ensure all is well then continue with milling as usual.
I remember by one of these evenings, we had milled 103 “mikebes” or “gorogoros”. One gorogoro cost sh 5. So we had a staggering sh 515. Looks like small money when you consider the whole afternoon had been spent there. But that is evidence of the effect 15 years of inflation can have on the value of money.
As such, we rarely had our Christmas on actual day. That day, our work was to ensure that the other people had the best meals. We would then make our chapatis the following day. We also owned a butchery and the best way of losing a butchery business is closing it on a holiday.
Growing up, holidays had some aspect of nightmare to me. Reason being: I was a vegetarian. I would swell like a toad at the sight or smell of meat. And my home had a culture of taking away the life of animals on holidays. I would watch as people devoured a whole sheep every holiday.
As a way of showing remorse and concern, they would slaughter for me a chicken. A small one. My sister would do the honours of getting it ready for my consumption, only that she would consume a huge part of it as her mode of service fee. She could not just accept to do that extra work without some form of self-declared remuneration. Her darkest moments must have been when I finally started taking meat in 2008.
Back in primary school, this was a season we longed for. It was the time when our Uncle from Nairobi would come, buy us sodas and then take us to Egerton “Mpeketo Kwa Wright” where he would look at Josh the barber and tell him one word: Jordan. That simply meant “reduce the hair till I can see my image on the scalp”. That was an annual leave from the monthly shavings we had from our experienced mother using her scissors, not mentioning the furrows the scissors left on our heads.
Then when finally uncle is leaving back to the city, we would escort him to the “Mutaro” stage and as a token of appreciation he would give us the seven-sided five shilling coin. That was quite an investment and we would hide it deep down in the ground until we found a viable business opportunity to invest it in, like buying a rabbit. Thank God those days there were no these people who are earthmovers, digging holes in the ground to create dark tunnels to where your lifetime savings are. Losing our “hard earned” savings that way would have left us with an irrecoverable trauma.
Life is made of memories and moments. Reminisce the old days and more importantly, create memories for others. Visit a children’s home and give them something to remember about. But don’t leave them with the big seven-sided five shilling coin; it is 2017! Well, is it even there these days?
Happy holidays people. Thanks for continually giving audience to my pen. I am always humbled.
Merry Christmas and a happy 2018! Strive to release a new version of yourself in 2018; the current version is becoming a bit old.