My Parents were always busy (now I wonder what they were always up to). My dad was never at home and my mum was always up and about, she was the perfect picture of a working house wife. If I didn’t know better, I would have probably thought one or two of my aunts where my mother because they were always in my face. I grew up in a very Nuclear family but we began to extend when some (say about 15) of our language speaking adults moved in with us. Some were related to my parents via their siblings while the rest were probably from their neighbors in the village too. I grew up calling everyone my Aunt or my Uncle. I couldn’t differentiate the real blood from the artificial ones because I grew up with all of them in the same compound, most of them were usually busy everyday doing nothing but gossiping about everything and everyone, some were hard working I must say, very hard working (that’s if you consider washing our clothes and cooking our meals amongst themselves hard work).
I was made to go on my knees for several reasons ( greeting, serving, punishment, advise, praying, etc) because it is a sign of respect. There were times I just stayed on ma knees all day just so I won’t have to go through the stress of doing it every minute. Every morning I would wake up to go down on ma knees again, greet my dad, mum, aunts, uncles, older siblings, house helps and any other stranger in the house. I was taught to remain on my knees every time i served any elderly person around me a glass or bottle of any form of liquid, and I was only allowed to stand up when I was asked to or when the person drinking has returned the cup or bottle that I gave him.
I was told to always collect the broom, luggage, bucket, or anything a person older than me was carrying or holding and I was supposed to continue from were they may have stopped. I never called any one by their name except my siblings, we never collected anything from a guest if my parents were not there to approve of it, we never finished the food or drinks that we were served when we visited anyone especially if my mum was present and we never sat with our parents when they were with their friends in the living room. We were never spared by the rod, we had all forms of canes, some lanky, some were made by goat skin, some were so big that the mere sight of it used to make us shed tears for whoever my mum was going to spank. My mum told me that I could not use any form of make-up till I was out of high school and she also said we could not talk to boys in lonely places because we could get pregnant. She also made us promise not to start a relationship until we got to college. My parents may have been too busy to take turns in training us but they tried their best to ensure that the little they taught went a long way. They made us learn how to speak English, then our traditional language and then English again (even though we never visited the village till we left teenage hood).
Those are the days when respect was necessary and home training was compulsory. In recent times culture hasn’t been practiced. Are our parents too busy to train their children or are the children too rude and ignorant to even learn.
Now my story:
Last week I was forced to rush out of the bathroom thereby tripping over the plate of rice and stew that was placed on a stool because I was washing the soap from my eyes when I heard the door bell, I was angry because I thought the ringer was my 12 year old sister (Gabrielle a.k.a Gabby) who just stepped out to get some things for me. I was shocked when I opened the door and realized that they where friends of Gabby. The first thing they both said was “Hi (hmmm, HI?, a word which I say to my colleagues only), we are here to see Ella” (it took me some seconds to realize who they were talking about). I answered their greetings (with How are you) and ushered them in and also told them to sit and wait for Ella (hmmm). They sat down beside each other on the long couch which was opposite the rice dirt i made earlier on. I went back to the bathroom and washed my face and then I went to the kitchen to get a broom and parker to sweep it. I eventually finished after 4mins 13secs and I went into my room and sat on the bed wondering what my mum would have done if she was the one that was holding the broom in the parlor.
They sat in my parlor and they chatted about nothing of teenage-importance while I was busy sweeping a mess they made me create. None of them even offered to help instead they raised their legs when I got to their end. My mum came out of her room some minutes later and they sat on the chair still and said ” Good afternoon Ma”. That was when I lost it. I asked them to get down on their knees and greet her very well with respect which they did in fear. I also told them about the way they greeted me and the sweeping courtesy which they didn’t extend. They apologized and went mute.
The door bell rang again and as usual I rushed to the door to get it, Ella walked in and went down on her knees to greet me and our Mum, she ran in afterwards to hug her friends and she sat down in their midst trying to chat them up. They refused to talk because they couldn’t focus any more on their gist and they felt intimidated by me; their new manners instructor. I left for my room afterwards but I overheard them say they were taking their leave before I shut the door to my room.
Our parents don’t teach their kids what culture is anymore. They don’t even teach them how to speak their language or how to greet their Elders.
I miss those days so very much, everything I grudgingly learnt in my childhood came in handy in the long run.
So, what have you taught a child lately???
Posted with WordPress by Saddeyya Abu.