I was 24 years old when my mum asked me aside, for a short talk I presumed. This was the second visit to Kenya after being in Vienna for 3 years. It was also the very first time I was introducing a man to my parents. Writing that felt easy than it actually was.
I would describe my father as a strict no nonsense strong believer. That is how we all saw him. In my time, (my younger sisters say he loosened up lol) growing up in his household, this man never tolerated guys hanging around me and vice versa. So I knew better than to even mention a boy in his presence. Out of fear I never even dated. I was however low key attracted to boys and they were evidently attracted to me.
I dated here and there, just tasting the waters. But never did I date anyone my parents would know. I dated far away from my home. Nairobi. Although, if I was in a restaurant with a date, I couldn’t help sometimes but calculate the probability of my dad walking in the same restaurant. I sometimes would call home before going to town for a date just to make sure dad was back at home and had no plans of going to Nairobi.
Dad is very spontaneous, so some times I would see a man in a suit almost the same as one of my dads walking on the streets of Nairobi and my heart would jump. Gladly we never met by coincidence, but I always avoided holding my dates hand. Just in case, and you never know. And It was never that serious. And when I moved to Vienna is when I took dating seriously. I met this amazing guy and a love I had never experienced was born. A different kind of love. A true and a real love.
My young self was in love and I flaunted this man on Facebook. Something my older self now terms as unnecessary but debatable. Anyway, as Facebook has it, I’m friends with lots of extended family members. They had seen this man appearing on my feed and most were tirelessly asking about him and most concluded he was the one.
Fast forward to planning our first trip to Kenya together. I sat this man down and told him I was scared to introduce him to my parents. My worries were very legitimate. I wasn’t introducing a guy in a blue or black suit. Did I mention this particular guy had ass-long dreadlocks? Yeees, he did. And not the extremely neat type of locks. First look at this guy and you would say he was a hippie. And a glimpse at his very blondish brownish pronounced locks would get you thinking of Sadhus. Not really though.
This is a Sadhu on a postcard he sent me from India.
Remember I mentioned my father being a strong believer which also came with not entertaining any form of long hair on a guy leave alone dreadlocks. Dad always complained to his sons if they let their hair grow two inches long.
The irony is;
If you see my dads old pictures with his long afro and flare trousers, then hear that he used to process his hair to achieve his curls that made him scream like MJ. You won’t only shake your head but will simultaneously open your mouth. He was a die hard fan of MJ. A story goes that my cousins friends back in the day thought their uncle, my dad, was theee MJ. No kidding. Don’t believe me? go ask.
Did I forget to tell you that he loved his Embassy cigarettes and now he will stand 10 feet away and maybe turn his back while talking to anyone who is smoking. Maybe I overemphasized a little , but he won’t be a passive smoker. No! Well, that was dad many many moons back. People change. Excuse my digression.But it is important to know where our parents are coming from. Makes us somehow understand when they instill the do‘s and don’ts in our lives just as we see how much patience and love they give us in what we at times term as our downfall.
So now imagine me taking this guy and introducing him to my parents. Huh, this is shaming my father. Really trying his faith. I thought I would be disowned. So my guy agrees to not say or do anything that would be suspicious. No holding hands and no calling me honey. Call me Grace or even better Ciru. They won’t suspect a thing. That is what they call me. I coached him.
Just to confirm. (If you have dated some of these white men you know how exceedingly honest they can be even when you ask them not to tell the truth. Not asking them to lie, because we are not liars, but just exempting some truth. Hard for them lol)
Me:Who do you say you are if dad or mum asks?
Him: I‘m a friend to Grace no I mean Ciru and we are traveling together.
We had a plan. Airtight plan.
My parents were more than excited to have us. I was more than surprised that they were eminently kind to him and found him funny even. They made fun of his dreadlocks. Aha, were they pretending? I don’t think so. It looked genuine. This man won their hearts. His looks, composure and everything else had people and even uncles asking me if I brought Jesus to them in person. Literally.
We stayed one straight week at my parents. A week of sneaking kisses on the corridor and exchanging love through words in German that no one could understand. It was fun. But sneaky fun. Sneaking is edgy and exciting. Wanting to be caught and not getting caught is fuuuun. If you know you know.
An auntie poked the airtight plan while I was standing with mum. She said something like, ehee so when is this your boyfriend bringing the goods (to mean dowry) we see him on Facebook. My heart jumped and I tried to laugh it off. These aunties though.
It’s a beautiful morning and my guest is gone to Nairobi and I‘m in the kitchen with mum and dad and one of my sisters comes in and my dad tells her to give us a moment. Dad increases the volume of the radio and then I know he doesn’t want this talk to leave the room. Yooooo guys I was sweating, pulse faster than usual and I could literally hear my heart throbbing as it dawned on me that I had no way out as my dad was sitting by the entrance. I think they planned all this at night.
They calmly asked me who the gentleman I had brought to their house was. I said, he is a friend. A good friend. Close friend. Special friend. Why don’t you believe me? We like each other. He is good to me. I said everything else but boyfriend.
Dad said to me „ no matter who he is to you, we are your parents and want you to be honest with us. Nothing will happen to you. We don’t want to seem like liars when the world already knows and we don’t and when they ask us we give differing answers than what they already know. It’s not fair.“
And at that moment is when I said it, more like a whisper and my face down. He is my boyfriend.
I think this was the hardest morning I ever had with my parents. And how naive I was to think I could lie to my parents in broad daylight. They usually know things without us even telling them. They ask because they need our confirmation and need us not to lie to them. The birthed and raised us. And most of these things they also went through, so don’t take your parents for false ride.
Mum wasn’t done making me uncomfortable. At least she was asking me aside the day I was flying back to Vienna. So she started this talk about contraceptives. I wanted to say, „ mum what are you talking about? What are those? What? Whats their relationship with me? Huh?“
But I sat there like a good well behaved holy than thou legs clapped together kinda girl that I want her believe I am. I really am.
She didn’t even mention sex while advising me all about contraceptives. But I gave her this look like ,“mum I absolutely know nothing of what you are saying and I certainly have no relation to what you are telling me now. I don’t even have sex. Eeewww. Yes, now you know I have a boyfriend but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have sex. Gosh”
To think that my mum was insinuating that her daughter is of age and has sex was embarrassing and gross to me. I know. How will our relationship be afterwards? Can I even look at my parents in the eye after this? How can she even think that her good girl would engage in such bad manners? This is a sin. I‘m not even married. I mean, even after I bring my kids to visit them(in the future) I still don’t want them to look at me and think that I have sex.
To be continued…
As I work on the next post may you kindly let me know if you relate at all…and if you remember the first time you introduced your lover to your parents. How was it? Do you talk about sex with your parents?