At a typical public function, many Rwandans distinguish themselves as so ‘special’ with some vexing needs that everything takes a hue of tickling travesties. You are left wondering who then, the normal and common person is.
“I don’t take food with salt!” “Oh please put a chair in the veranda because I am allergic to bright light.” But from their incessant demands for all food and drinks to be customised at functions, some wags are not any special. They end up tasting all main, side, and special dishes on offer!
You must be horrified to see that sugarless tea is often oversubscribed where it is available with fakes alluding to be suffering from many ‘socially cool diseases’ like diabetes, hypertension and heart and teeth problems.
But upon close scrutiny you must have deciphered the trick. Some socialites discreetly ask for sugar and sweeten the tea. Asking for the sugarless tea is a trick to get ‘thick tea’. Yet there are some who will demand anything exotic on offer at a party like Soya tea, herbal tea, “African tea”, just to appear different. Indeed, matters often reach a hilarious climax when it comes to alcoholic drinks and our ‘specialness’ takes a disastrous angle.
“Nzanira izonga nki’yabashyitsi bakuru barikunwa!” (Bring the brand of alcohol the guests of honour are taking). So, certified drunkards who are used to gulping down liquor in a jiffy change from local beer to strong spirits without the social wherewithal of holding it down.
From my eavesdropping, I know scores of people often raise their status by demanding special treatment if you care to listen. From the mechanics that repair our vehicles, to cashiers in banks, such people exaggerate the lengths that these people go in serving them. Others praise special and imported prescription drugs for extremely ‘special problems’ you may never have heard of.
“Ah, those girls at the salon know my specifications and do my hair in this special way!” someone may say. But the listeners may be too polite to point out that the much-trumpeted ‘special treat’ is actually a fashion disaster.
We have infected our children with this special bug and they just don’t want to be bland, like every Tom, Dick and Harry. And next month being the first term in school, the season of athletics some parents have gone out of their way to ensure that the little ‘moms’ and ‘daddies’ will not break a sweat “running aimlessly” courtesy of doctors’ letters. “Allergic to cold water and ivungure!” “Give manual work sparingly owing to a disease suffered in childhood.”
These are some of the lies we help our children tell.
Such children get married in future and carry this abnormal anxiety about one’s health, especially with an unwarranted fear that one has a serious disease.
In our enthusiasm for being special we often create problems for other people. I know many people who demand front seats in taxis because of this or that reason. Such belligerent bores demand that other passengers be relocated to create room for them. Sometimes they enact little roadside comedies and strut with a limp. “I can’t sit anywhere else in this taxi with my bad leg!”
As I sign off to demand that my tea be boiled again with a pinch of extra tealeaves, so that it is muddy brown, please be real!