Written by Elsie Ndonga
‘’Well that is a rather interesting outfit you have on,’’ Your mother says as her eyes skim through the handkerchief sized skirt you’re proudly wearing.
‘’Am not going out for long’’ You retort unbothered by your mother’s clear disapproval.
‘’I do not care if you are popping out of the gate for a mere second. No daughter of mine is going out dressed like that’’
‘’ But mum, am old enough to make my own decisions. More so about what I want to wear’’
Your mother walks away. Her word is final. Debate with her teenage daughter about her wardrobe IN HER HOUSE? A foreign concept. You storm into your room and bang the door behind you. Yes, you bang it loud. You must assert your powerless power. Letting her know that she can ban you from whatever she dims fit but she cannot take your ability to bang doors! No she cannot!
As you contemplate on your door banging abilities and how you sure showed her who is boss, it hits you. Like a lightning power bolt. A ray of hope edged in the near horizon. You will be graduating soon. Your mother may have kept-no caged you in her house your entire college life but after graduation you would get a job and move out. You would finally earn you the title you so deeply desire; ‘Grown-up’. You grin- Freedom is coming tomorrow.
Fast forward 5 years. You are seated at the corner of a little ram shack bar. The quaky broken table almost topples over the drink in your oil-soiled glass. Your eyes survey the room that has slowly become your second home. At the front of the bar, there is a rowdy group of men arguing about the evening sports while sipping on their cheap liquor. However, the ladies seated gossiping at a corner are the ones who catch your eye. Shouldn’t they be home cooking for husbands and children? Then again, who are you to judge? Where is your loving husband? Kids who adore you? Your mansion in the quiet country-side? You take another sip of your drink as you reminisce on the events that set the ball, which is your life, in motion- graduation day.
Your relatives from every corner of the country turned out in huge numbers. They must have been the equivalent of two soccer teams walking into the graduation square.
You chuckle at the mere thought of it.
They had come to celebrate their little bud blossoming into a flower. Being one of the older children in the clanship, you were to be an example to the young ones. Show them the way. Of course you were going to show them the way- the way to quick money and partying non-stop. Wise words on how to go about the next chapter of your life was the song of the day. Little did they know that you were a simple girl, a girl who knew what she wanted in life-money and going out all the time with no curfews. You were not like other girls who wanted successful careers, beautiful families and a fulfilled life. No, not at all. That was too complicated for your taste.
Life was not cruel to you. You got a nice job with ample pay that enabled you to live the life you had always wanted. However, life is like your landlord. He gives you all the precious amenities that you need, then chases you down with a rungu and machete at the end of the month for his pay. Life had come to collect its dues. The constant partying caused you to get to work late a tad too many times which naturally led to you being laid off. However that didn’t stop you from partying. No, only The Lord’s second coming could stop you. So you spent the money that you were not earning. Your ‘partying buddies’ all moved on and got married leaving you alone and clueless on what to do with your life. You finally got another job but with your work experience being shorter than a dwarf, the pay had you living from hand to mouth with constant night drinking to help drown your lonely cries.
The sudden outburst of laughter from the men at the bar snap you from your train of thought. You take another sip from your almost empty glass and fade back into your thoughts. You had it all wrong. You thought growing up was about making your own decisions and handling your own money. It was not. It was about creating a life for yourself. Being a person who was a worthwhile contribution to the society. Pushing yourself to the limit and utilizing your full potential. Making decisions and taking responsibilities for their consequences. You spent so much time wishing to be away from your mother’s influence that you failed to see the lessons she worked so hard to teach you.
As you finalize your epiphany, your phone beeps. A message inviting you to the graduation of your niece. You stare at the message in awe. Life has given you a second chance to save a little girl from a fate probably worse than yours. You will go to the graduation, not only with wise words but with a real life experience to narrate. Because now you know how to be grown without groaning.