16 December 2014


During the Mashujaa Day public holiday I visited my grandpa…not only was it a good chance to surprise the old peeps whose eye sight is worsening, but it was a chance to drive and not get caught (my license expired). As mentioned, the old man’s eyesight is diminishing as well as his memory. Now, I followed his trail to the farm since he was not home and I had spotted his signature black birika(kettle), which as young tots we had all drank from, brewing some strong tea. When I find him, he is sitted on the ground in his Mbaki (tobacco) farm, paper and pen at hand, drawing a cartoon of an old man (he was a teacher in the colonial government). I laugh at the cartoon and he notices someone is beside him.  I introduce myself. 

Guka, ni Njeri” (Grandpa, its Njeri). He looks up and asks me “Njeri wa uu?” (who’s daughter).

Well, you have to blame our African parents for naming us all after one person…90% of my female cousins are called Njeri (which when translated means “traveler”), and the male cousins are called Murimi (which when translated means “farmer”). We were all named after our great grand parents who had the characteristics represented by our names.  Back to my tale.

Njeri wa Kareithi” I said. His face lit up and he started asking me about how Nairobi life was. We chatted for a few minutes before I remembered one of the people I had worked with told me he knew him and asked me to say Hi when I see him. I told him about the man. You should have seen the joy on he face as he started narrating to me how they met. At the end of the story, he was so happy, he was almost on his feet (he is quite old; he keeps reminding us that his legs are so weak). The joy he exhibited just brought a smile to my face. He kept on saying how happy he is that someone remembered him; how that was the best news he had received in a while.
 Fast forward a few days ago…I saw a man in town carrying a bouquet of flowers rushing to an evening bus, pulling along a big suitcase. “wow, that wife/girlfriend must be really lucky” I whispered to my inner self. I figured out that the man had just arrived from a long journey (based on the size of the suitcase and the weary face), but he knew that something as small as a banquet of flowers would make his lady happy and appreciated.

This made me think about how we treat our significant others. Some of us try so hard to do big things, go out of our ways to please them (I’m not saying its wrong), while all along; it’s the simple things that count. What simple things? You may ask. How will I know? You may ask. I once asked my mentor’s husband he makes sure the wife remains happy. “Observe; be attentive. I started doing this from the first day I saw her. That’s how I won her over” is all he could say. I asked my mentor (his wife) what she does to ensure that the husband remains happy and feels appreciated. “be alert and attentive, see the small things” is what she kept repeating.

I later came to understand what they were saying. Being attentive, concentrating, observing your partner makes you know them and pick up little things that make their faces light up. They are not the big things, they are actually small and simple things that one may be taking for granted or as ordinary. We are all different. Each of us has distinct things that make us feel appreciated. Be it that flower you buy for them, that tie you buy for them, that piece of chocolate, that message or call at the end of the day, spending time together, visiting somewhere new, that game he/she loves to play, that movie he/she likes to watch, taking dumb photos (this is my favorite); it differs from person to person. Some of these things don’t cost anything.
As we celebrate this festive season, a time to be with family and loved ones, be attentive, open your eyes and mind. You may just see the simple things that count.

Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2015. See you then fam!