After excited goodbyes with my new friends while our mothers are herding us like sheep to ensure we do not jump across the busy streets of Nairobi, its time for shopping. I am still in a trance like state and my mother drags me along and all the time she threatens that I need to keep up otherwise she is going to let me go and I will be kidnapped by the bad people of the city. If there is anything that has ever been a threat to me, it’s being kidnapped. We had had horrible stories of children being kidnapped (some, now that I think about it were just to keep us in check) and I was not willing to go that way.
I keep looking up at the tall buildings and the many wonderfully colored vehicles whizzing by, until I find myself in a ditch. That my friend I can tell you is not amusing. First, the water in the ditch is not what we call sanitized. In case you have also forgotten, I have my best dress on, which I had ensured that I did not soil with overripe mangos on our way. Then there is my mother who by now is having a look that makes me wish I had drowned in that ditch. I tell you, my mother, being the church lady she is, is not going to be seen by total strangers yelling at her child. I am almost certain that no matter how much fun I am going to have today, there will be some lashing later that evening for this specific event. You see, the beauty about those days is that you knew that for every mistake you made, your behind was going to make contact with either a water hose or one of those very large sticks that no self-respecting modern day individual would dare use even on a cow. Since I know what is going to come that evening, I am not going to spend the next few hours worrying about it. Why bother? Let’s enjoy for now.
So, after an attempt to make me look presentable to the city, we now head to the first shop, where I am supposed to try on a dress. I do not have to tell you that when we enter, the Asian manning the shop is not looking too keen on let me try a dress, but my mother being who she is, is not in the least bit bothered about what the Asian wants. She came to get me a dress and I will try on one if she has anything to say about it. And believe me, she always does. The Asian realizing that this is not your typical non-combatant city woman, goes ahead and orders his shop assistant to bring the dress which she has pointed out. At this point, you are probably wondering why I am not the one picking the dress. Two reasons. First, she knows what is best for me and if you remember earlier, she had even suggested that she can shop for me without me being present. Second, she is the one who is paying for the dress. If you are willing to argue with these facts, you are welcome to do so. Just make sure I am not around.
So, the dress is now picked, and I enter the dressing room. And when I try it on, I truly look like a princess! I am suddenly gleaming and at that point, I can even see a tiara on my head. I am swooning. Totally in another world. Day dreaming. For that moment, I am the pretty princess that I have been reading in those story books that our teachers force us to read instead of just allowing us to tussle in the mud like normal children. I am glad for that one moment, that I was made to read that story…. well, until my mother’s voice come booming in asking whether I have finished so that she can look at it. I tell her that I am through and she quickly opens the curtains to look at the dress. And at this point you are thinking, wow, she actually allowed her little girl to dress without her presence! Wrong! The reason why I had time to day dream was because she was busy hustling the poor Asian about price and why the dresses look like they belong to last year’s stock. This by the way, is a tactic for what is to come next. My mother looks at the dress and grunts. This means that she is satisfied and I am glad because I am now closer to acquiring my beautiful dress.
She then says to remove the dress so she can see whether we can afford. At point, my heart is thumping so heavily because I know I want this particular dress. After a bit of haggling which I am not very privy to as I am busy looking at possible shoes that I will not get, my mother announces “Wanjiku, its time to leave”. First, my heart sinks. This is because the dress of my dreams has been piled on the counter, a clear indication that there was disagreement as far as costs are concerned, and I promise you, my mother is not a woman you black-mail or con. She knows her shopping rights, together with some very amazing bargaining skills (hopefully, I picked some from her). Just when we are about to make a complete exit to the door, an all flushed Asian calls my mother back. She says that since ‘tis a season to be jolly’ she can take the dress for the price she wanted. See? I told you she almost always wins. Another reason I am suspecting that the Asian is willing to let my mother get away with utter murder is because, if you remember my earlier ditch incidence, there are very visible dark spots on the dress, which most likely will not come off without a good wash.
So there. I get the dress of my dreams, the Asian makes a sale and my mother is very pleased with herself that she was able to bully yet another person and have her way.
Due to the previous ditch events, my mother is not sitting me in a hotel to have my lunch but I am not very worried because on our way to board the next vehicle home, we purchase some take-away fries, sausages and some juice that really was some powder mixed with plain water, which by the way, I loved. As we make our way to our public transport home, I am at peace. I have everything I wanted, including fries that I can eat on the journey back, never mind that I probably have some lashing coming my way. I am at peace. Nothing could spoil this day.