Here comes Christmas, the wonderful time of the year when strangers fidget, nudge each other with their elbows and exchange insults as they struggle for bus tickets to travel to their ancestral homes.
It is a time to be grateful, not only to your parents but also that distant aunt who feels entitled to the fruit of your sweat because she babysat you when you were little. By babysitting, she means that one day during your second month on earth, she held you for two microseconds. Gratitude must be expressed in monetary terms.
You want to say, “No! Leave me alone you undeserving opportunist!” You look at your mother and plead with your eyes. She knows. She knows that your funds are limited. But she doesn’t help. She is smiling the smile of a parent who is proud to have a working and earning child. So you give the opportunist some money while you curse under your breath.
Another relative who can’t be bothered to learn your name and calls you by your big sister’s name comes to visit. She takes you aside and gives you unsolicited information about her marital and poverty problems. Her husband is bad. Also, she is struggling to pay fees for six of her nine children.
This is where you draw the line. You can’t commit to putting this woman’s children through school yet you’re struggling to feed yourself. Besides, you did not participate in her decision to breed like a rabbit so she must not project her responsibilities on you.
So after she is done talking your ear off, you say, “Eh. Sorry.” And then there is awkward silence. Entitled woman that she is, she is agitated that you’re not reacting as she had hoped. She is probably going to bewitch you.
She is going to bewitch you and then you will come back next Christmas still without a husband on your arm. And you will be forced to fake a smile while people interrogate you about your marital status. “Oh. When are we having a party?” “I don’t know, Mauda, okay? Probably God forget and gave my husband to someone else.”
On Christmas day, your family, which prepares for church at snail speed, inevitably arrives late. Now you have to make a choice between sitting outside and pissing off your mother, and taking the seat that was yanked from a woman twice your age.
Church leaders insist on social status which is quite ironic especially on Jesus’ birthday. The same Jesus who effervescently preached about the equality of all God’s children.
You can’t sit outside. Even in your adulthood you’re still afraid of your mother. So you resort to looking as humble and as apologetic as possible as you sit down. “You are privileged!” your mind screams over, and over again until you’re riddled with guilt.
Two days later, you’re back at the bus station, once again nudging strangers and exchanging insults. You upped your insult game during Christmas. You picked up a few phrases from your cousins in the village who are unfamiliar with social etiquette.
The strangers at the bus station are disgusted and frightened. They let you pass. You buy your ticket and go back to the city where you wait for January to end but it stays for a thousand years.