My mum used to force us to go to mass every Sunday…in time we developed our petulant skills and eventually had to get bribed to attend God’s house with promises of treats like swimming or permission to visit neighbors kids…
While in church – my siblings attended catechism class… I was still too young to attend and a nuisance to the other kids….so my mum opted that I just be a nuisance to the adults in church (adults are nicer to brats…fact!)
Now anyone who attended mass in Trinity church in Milimani knows that they needed a new public address system for yeeaaaaars…and the father was so so soooo dull…and to expect me a 7 year old to keep awake without some impish activities was a miracle hardly achievable and this almost always got me hard pinches from my mummy.
So one day I was such a saint – quiet and obedient like a proper catholic girl. Sitting perked up at the neighboring pew. I hadn’t carried my dolls head ( I decapitated it since I only liked its hair – umm that’s another story)and I followed the priest’s lead by copying the people next to me….So much so my mum was very suspicious.
So she motioned me to join her in her pew so she could investigate this new non-naughty behavior (I swear she was psychic with eyes on the back of her head – HOW DID MOTHERS ALWAYS KNOW WHEN WE WERE UP TO SOMETHING????)
So I avoided all eye contact and sulked as I joined her. She wondered why I was not meeting her eyes…BUT heeeeee! I could not let her see…nooooooooo way man….
We were singing *“Nasaliti nasalitiiiii…….” And I pumped in some energy into the song looking dead straight……
Mum wasn’t falling for that one… she grabbed my face and forced me to look at her and then ALLLAAAA!
….my eyes were all colored up with “make up”
(Point to note – Mrs Wainaina nee Binyavanga DID NOT CONDONE MAKE UP OF ANY KIND. Make up conversations began at the age of 16 and are restricted to eye pencil and a touch of lip gloss if any…)
So my makeup drama began when I snuck my mothers old copies of Woman’s Weekly – looking at all the ads and all the women I wondered how can one survive without a dab of make up…(talk of brainwash – it starts early)..
Ok so I made a calculated risk…I figured if I could doll myself up with make up and look stunning throughout mass and have all the adults say how beautiful I looked (well at least that’s what the ads insinuated and assured me) then this would work as the best testimonial to let my mother open her mind…….
Now in my spirit of innovation I asked myself why people bother wearing “eye pencil” which rubbed off easily?? Being the bright bulb I decided to take it a notch higher and use a ball pen on my eyes instead – since …..yes you got it …it lasts forever! That way I have make up all day and night…fresh-(ish)….as I was dolling up my mum had her hand full blast on the horn of the car in a howling an annoying loud hoot….so I worked quickly (translated as clumsily) and dashed to the car and averted my face crossing my fingers the day goes ok…
Back at Mass (…*nasalitii nasalitiiiiii at the background….)
So now you know what my mother saw in horror when she looked at my face there in the middle of Mass…there was a gruesome amount of black bic biro around my eyes I looked hideous…there were dark erratic lines emphasizing my eyebrows….but you know I thought I looked divine…
I even batted my eyelids at her and smiled sweetly…..
(People! my shadiness has come from far…)
My mum surprised me by smiling and ignoring me for the rest of mass…aiii no that was too easy – something stunk and I hadn’t had beans for a while…..
Mass went on and suddenly I started faltering…what if my plan didn’t work…what if my mum was just waiting for the right moment to pinch my fleshy self…what if she told my dad…..ooooh the horror!!!
After the benediction I tried to make a quick escape out of the chapel and run to the car…
But you know church – everyone is clamoring to leave as soon as possible so I was squished and squashed and people’s mummy’s and daddy’s all wanted to shake hands and say hello… (I was a sweet girl then always in some fancy Sunday best dress)
But alas! When they looked at my face…I saw their expressions changing…laughter, swallowed in……others were less discreet and laughed out loud asking me what I had done to my face…many were horrified at what I had done to my face…..
And you know how everyone likes a good laugh especially after mass…so in minutes I had a crowd round me outside church pointing and laughing…guffawing in the most indecent way…tears popped and filled my eyes…. through the blur of tears and I desperately looked around for help…
My mum caught my eye and nodded discreetly mouthing…”you see I told you…”
The laughter went on cruelly……my lips quivered and there was a serious threat of full blown sobs….then a hand grabbed at me…and shoved me away from the crowd…it was my big brother. He held me tight and threatened punches to other kids who pointed at me and laughed. Kids stepped aside. Big brothers were never messed with – even in church.
My bro was pissed. We walked too fast I was struggling to catch up and wipe snort and tears with my other hand….
When we got to where my mums car was parked…he got his hankie out of his pocket and tried to wipe my messy face….a bit too hard…by then I was crying like a banshee hiccupping sobs…most of the biro didn’t come off…..
He told me to shut up – which I did because he is the only person on earth am terrified of and obey without question. (Till today!!!)
Then he held me close while leaning on the car door – I was just hacking out some dry sobs…..trying my best to calm down.
My mum came to the car with my other brother and sister. They were calling me names…as usual….
Big bro shushed them loudly – and they shut up instantly (we all kinda feared this guy)
“Chiqy – what you did was stupid …rules are rules and you need to respect that. If you don’t learn to obey then you have to pay the price. Next time I won’t rescue you when you mess up. Sawa?”
(FYI – he still rescues me all the time even today…why else would we have big brothers ????)
I stuttered back. ”OK”
We got into the car and drove home.
I was sulking big time (did you used to say “ana fura
When I got home...my mum who still hadn’t said anything… held my hand and took me to the bathroom sink and washed my face up with a warm wet soapy flannel.
Then she told me – in a warm mummy voice –
“You are who you are, you are beautiful and no make up in the world could light up your face like your smile does…”
She rinsed off the ink from the flannel in clean water and dabbed at my face again, “Your eyes are the windows of your soul. They show the depths of your passion – no make up could ever do that…”
“Wear make up at the right time and for the right reason. Let it excite your senses and reflect your mood.”
Then she turned my face to the mirror and said…
“Look, there is pretty Chiqy again…” kissed my cheek and left.
So now even on horrible days I just look at the mirror and brace myself. I try to see what mum saw back at the reflection … a pretty me…
Writers Note - * supposed to read, “Nasadikii, nasadikii….” (Translation – Nasaliti means betraying trust & Nasadikii means – I believe…)