A man’s home is his castle. His place of refuge after toiling away in the hard, harsh world. Even in cave man days, the man’s cave or lair was very important in the socialization of the times. Picture it, after a day of hunting and gathering, the man would head back to the cave, and in the illumination of the fire light he would draw on the walls images of his conquests. As a form of communication to his woman. She’d read and interpret his drawings and be happy that he has shared what his day was like. (Cave explorers today still find these illustrations on cave walls). The cave man didn’t have to give in to further interrogation by his woman. She didn’t ask him to explain in detail every illustration. She simply smiled and served him some bone soup and chunks of roast meat of the animal he had brought home earlier. But the cave woman evolved. And she invented language. And man’s life changed forever. To this day women have a monopoly on the spoken word and man forever struggles to keep up. Since then, every man has to spend hours upon getting home to describe his day in detail to his woman. Since then, man has never known peace at home.
And so I have always treasured my home as such. As my castle. My refuge. It has been so even through the years I’ve been married. The missus knows when to engage me in banter and when to maintain silence. She’ll see it on my face. I have a forthright demeanor and she has learnt to interpret it. She sees the aura of non-conversation around me and tip toes around it. And this has worked. But things changed recently. We got a nanny, (or is it Domestic Manager? I hear they’re called domestic manager these days. Not mboch, or house help. Why? Because it’s 2018. You need to season your language with the right amount of political correctness). The nanny is not for me. For the soon to be new member of our family. I was not party to the process. I was an FYI on an email. CC’d into that information. One day we were two in the house, the next we were three.
The missus called me one fine day.
I got a nanny.
Ati nani?, I replied confused.
Who is nani? You see the missus has that peculiar Kenyan habit habit of using pro-noun placeholders like nani, nini, kerea, ginene, thingamajig and such like.
No. A nanny. As in En Ay double En Y, she responded
Ohhh. I knew. I was just messing with you. I lied.
Reality began to sink in. For the first time in many years, I cannot walk naked in my own home. I cannot hang loose so to speak. For the first time I feel like a prisoner under house arrest. I walk around humming Lucky Dube’s Prisoner hit much to the chagrin of the missus. No longer can I make unclothed midnight trips to the kitchen for a snack. Or make that awkward hunched walk looking for a towel after a shower. Looking like Adam after discovering he was naked. The missus has a habit of washing towels every two days. Why? I don’t know. I mean, how can they be dirty? Aren’t they used to wipe your body AFTER you shower? And I never know where they’re stored afterwards. I really don’t understand women sometimes. Ok, most of the time.
It doesn’t matter how big your house is. An extra person in it will shrink it. Boundaries get re-defined. I feel odd poking around the kitchen for a snack, or my ritualistic peeking into the fridge for not reason in particular. I feel watched. It’s like watching porn in an empty house, you still lower the volume even though you know you’re alone. I creep around my own house like a pest trying to avoid detection.
It feels odd walking into the kitchen nowadays. I can tell the missus to make me a mini ugali. Ugali sosa. Or ugali slider. Depending on which side of Nairobi River you hail. But I can’t tell the nanny (or Domestic Manager) that. The other day I had ordered in some super nyama fry from the local nyama choma joint. All it needed was some ugali. The missus was in a bit of a mood (hormones possibly), so I had to make the ugali myself. But the domestic manager was in the kitchen. I couldn’t tell her to make me ugali. Protocol I learnt from the Chief didn’t allow it. So I had to ask the missus to tell the domestic manager to make the ugali. Eating ugali made by foreign hands is new I tell you. I had no choice though. The take over of the castle was well under way.
And so it is. My castle has become my lodging. A tiny dwelling where I eat and sleep and grunt to myself. My snore is subdued. My roar no longer echoes along the walls. I desire the outdoors more. To hunt and explore the lands. Then come home to a meal and a place to lay my head. And to think the young one is yet to make an appearance in this world. How much smaller shall my castle be? Those more experienced tell me the young one takes over your life. I wonder, is it like those National Geographic shows on lions, where the younger lions take over the pride? Let’s wait and see.