I remember when I was young and the height of fashion was this Cinderella like dresses. My mom would pair them with white socks and reeboks or this pair of yellow open shoes I had. It did not matter the color of dress. Pink made sense with yellow, orange did not survive either. It could have been the Kamba in my mom but I did not care, I was simply beautiful. But that is not where it stopped.
My mom, inspired one time, bought my brothers (3 of them) and I trousers that looked alike. Remember side mbochos*, Side P’s? (they were trousers with side pockets everywhere- almost like cargo pants). She decided that those will stand in for our Christmas clothes. My mom never consulted us on what we wanted to wear. She would just go buy clothes and we were supposed to be grateful and never whine. On occasions when I did, the tongue lashing would remind me of my place and the thought of only being the odd one out on Christmas day, would do the rest.
I was living in an age where Christmas day meant everything, where every kid in the neighborhood was wearing new clothes and chapatis had to have a special place on the dinner table. So, on this Christmas, we were the Kimuyu’s quadruplets and we couldn’t do shit about it. My mom couldn’t care less about my ringleader status or how funny we looked. Thank God I had crazy brothers who bushed anyone who dared to tease us. Deep down though, and before my brothers got balls, we were just happy we had new clothes.
Interestingly, I was the first girl to ever wear trousers in my neighborhood. This increased my notoriety among my peers but I was a bad fruit in the eyes of their mothers. They were not to play with me, whatever I had going on with me will affect their morals negatively. I did not care. They still came in droves. I controlled literally every game in that neighborhood. I ‘invented’ the games we played there. They were more afraid of me than their mothers. My word was final. No one wanted to cross me for the consequences were lack of playmates.
By the time Hipsters fashion was a trend, I had already cemented my new status in the mothers’ eyes. I was a bad fruit that needed to be down sized. My mother had no idea her choices in clothing had only increased oil to a fire already burning bright, especially after joining the Hipsters bandwagon. By Christmas of that fashion craze, I had a collection of Hipsters that I freely donated on loan to my cohorts. I had decided we were going for picnic and everyone should look like me. It was the biggest mistake I ever made.
They congregated in our tinny sitting room, women from Jumuiya. My mom was busy spinning chapati. I was out in the compound with the other girls getting ready to leave for our picnic. The girls looked good on my loaned trousers, although, Ann, looked funny. The trouser made her look like an over stuffed scare crow with peeked pointed breasts pointing themselves out like neon lights. Most of us were still flat chested. When I saw them, I just knew the dam had cracked.
I was a bad influence they said. I wear trousers and now am teaching their children to do so. Did my mom never teach me manners? They did not understand why a girl will wear such form fitting trousers. It was simply unacceptable and now I made their daughters do it too!
I listened, frightened, my ears pressed squarely on the wall, my eyes peeking through the lacy curtains. The girls I was spoiling hurdled together at the furthest corner of the compound., eyes poking out of their sockets. No one needed verbal declaration we were in trouble.
The woman from Emali- Makueni County, just looked at them and for a moment I was convinced I will get the thrashing of my life that day. I silently started praying for God’s intervention. My mom was a ferocious disciplinarian. We all feared her hands wrapping around our thighs or wrists. Excruciating pain followed that made me want to pee on myself.
“How is wearing trousers such a crime? Does that warrant your children to fall under peer pressure? Who are you to come and teach me on how I should discipline my own daughter?” They kept quiet. They probably had not expected my mom to side with me. “Go talk to your children, if they are sheep, that’s not my daughters’ fault. Look at those girls you are claiming my daughter is influencing,” she motioned, pointing outside the house, “some of them have breasts for crying aloud! It is not my problem if your daughters do not know how to stand their ground. Get out of my house!” she shouted and clammed up. She was through talking to them. They tried to ingratiate themselves to her to share their point of view but to no avail. You must understand my mother is a woman of few words. I believe that day was the first time they had seen the other side of her despite many years fellowshipping together. They trekked out without a backward glance, their flustered demeanors a reflection of their state of mind.
I was only eleven and some of the girls fourteen years. Their moms banned them from playing with me. I still blame those women for curtailing our picnic though. My adventurous mind bemoaned not showing them the path to Uhuru Gardens on foot. Years later, the same mind celebrated my eleven-year-old self-vindication.
Fast forward post high school and some years in between, the same girls I had spoilt, the shenanigans they got themselves in, the devil blushes and giggles in his den of sinhood but that’s a story of another day. But the girl who wore trousers and judged harshly, still stood, my mother’s utter belief in my goodness a beacon I cling to, to this day. She never brought up that incident until the other day when I reminded her about it. She literally laughed herself into tears as she reminisced how the other mothers went and maligned her name at Jumuiya for such a petty incident.
Florence Kimuyu is a lover of literature and anything artistry. She fancies herself as a sapio who has a penchant for the crazy, fun things in life with a twist for the morbid and fascinating dilemmas of life. Aside from that, she is also convinced, the only way to fight social and cultural stigmatization and backward thinking is yanking the horn where it hurts the most (in this case, where it matters)