Grass Ain’t Greener

The greenness in the grass of Nyandarua highlands should be the ninth wonder of the world after the wildebeests of Mara and the ego of Jeff Koinange. I say this with utmost sincerity and honesty to those that have never set foot in Nyandarua. I was born and brought up there, my parents’ marriage was there, I met Kate Njenga there in 1995 when she was three years old, and I was three minutes old. She became the first Njenga I knew, and I got fond of her faster than our mother and our father. I called her Kate, her name was Catherine, till it stuck like super glue and nobody else knows her by any other name except our mother, who when angry screams her three names in her Identification Card. She looks nothing like a Njeri, but you can never tell that to our mother who in anger is a force to run away from.

I was a naughty boy, but our mother has got angry even for far less, things that if I called petty and she read this article, I would have to move to a rural village in Nyanza, change my name to something less conspicuous, without a ‘s’. The letter ‘s’ makes names too noticeable, something like Dennis Peters has everyone noticing it. Kanye West, Chuck Bass, Neil Armstrong, Jackson Biko, Moses Kuria, Nameless, Miley Cyrus, Jack Daniels and William Lawson are names everyone here is familiar with. If you never knew, it is because they have a ‘s’. If your name does not have a ‘s’ then nobody knows you, you think we know you, but we do not. I mean why else would our esteemed socialites have ‘boss’ and ‘sidika’ in them? I will leave it at that for you to marinate.

Meanwhile, every day we walked to St. Richard Primary School with my sister Kate Njenga. School buses just begun recently after 2002 after the former president, Mwai Kibaki made the roads. Back then, it was much quicker to get to school by foot than by any automobile. Nyandarua was cold in the morning so we would be all dressed up heavily in gloves, legwarmers, long coats on top of an infinite number of layers of clothes beneath. On occasion, during March, April and September, our shoe wear was gumboots. When you live in such life threatening conditions, you learn discipline. There were a shoe and a coat for each month, and a dress code for each time during the day. Disobedience only caused pneumonia and colds worse than any imagination I can instil to your mind.

During lunch, the weather was often friendly, and the girls and boys would sit on the green grass in circles of small groups. The girls would sit on their side of the field and the boys on theirs. I was a boy back then, but I had I tough time coming to terms with that fact, so I followed my sister to the side that belonged to the girls. I was not bothered by the fact that my dressing was a short and not a checked dress, I just went wherever she went. Surprisingly at her age, she never seemed bothered when I joined the circle with her friends and classmates. She never asked me to leave even when her friends made discomfort body language, so I became a girl. A seven-year-old girl when I should have been a four-year-old boy.

I remember our mother had a tough task reminding me that boys pee while standing not while sitting. I wonder where I am headed with this story but let’s see.

My memory of all this mainly dwells more in the greenness in the grass. It was not just any green; it was emotionally green. Poetic. We would sleep, roll, play on the grass and go back home, shoes still shining, clothes still pretty clean. Dust was a thing I never came to know of until I joined Naivasha Boys Boarding in class five where everything was the exact opposite. In Naivasha, we had to water the fields, the sidewalks and the highways each morning because anything else would mean sand storms in our classes, dormitories and dining halls. I loathed that place. If hell is anything like that, then I am joining Dr Awour’s flock.

Through the years, I have been to other parts of Central Kenya, like Nyeri, Murang’a, Kiambu, Limuru, Wangige, Nyahururu and to be entirely honest the grass is not greener on any other side.

The other day a discussion rose up about why men are bound to cheat regardless the aspect that their wives or girlfriends are Beyoncé or Hillary Clinton. It was supposed to be a discussion on Systems Programming because of a test that was coming up real soon, but the topic about all men being dogs could barely be held down. The interesting part about this discussion is that it was by men alone, so we were discussing if indeed we are all dogs on not. I do not understand why we have to give dogs a character in such a nasty metaphor. I would be for the opinion that if the metaphor ‘All men are dogs” has to stay then let there be a specification whether it is poodle dog or a mongrel. I would not mind being a poodle; they eat better food than most people, have shampoos and smell like teddy bears, go for walks and have names. If you came up to me and told me that I am a poodle, my only offence would be that you did not specify the gender and race. Mongrels, on the other hand, is a story I cannot talk about without my anger rising like a thermometer on Lucifer’s armpit.

So, the points were that one girlfriend is never enough, that you have to test a few Toyotas before you settle on an X-Trail. That there will come a time that a man will be done doing the testing and he will grab his curiosity by the neck and choke it to death and then settle down with that one woman. That life will be perfect after that because there will be no much curiosity, neither too much desire to accomplish the undone. That this man will be the perfect husband and father, he will buy roses and kiss his loved ones on the forehead. He will have a nasty past but what matters is the future. He will be a dog but a retired one. He will have fulfilled his pants desires in every aspect. He will be a mega-man.

Then it got me thinking about the grass in Nyandarua when I was four. The way Kate Njenga never ditched me for her new clique of friends to fulfil some kind uncharted completion in her life. I thought about us now; we are still best friends. We gave each other time and space to grow, but our friendship remained constant through the fights, the loss, even when another Njenga emerged in 2005, she had a tough time catching up with us.

In the same way, in this discussion, the lady or gentleman you holding hands with right now could never be greener. You might leave him or her to look further in Nyeri, Murang’a, Kiambu, Limuru, Wangige, Nyahururu but to be utterly candid, the grass will not be greener on the other side.

Feature Image: Trica Ciku.

Author: Dennis Peters

When I was I younger, my mother told me not to do drugs. She said something about addiction and it sounded so distant. I never did drugs, instead, I read and wrote and I still got addicted. Now I am here, and you are here too because we have to be here and there is nothing we can do about it. | ©Dennis Peters.

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