You find it strange that mhudumu uses two names interchangeably
You arrive at the “grocery” where you’re warmly welcomed by a tallish, charming barmaid. Boosts your ego… you feel important. Not strange, of course, for this is one big reason men spend more time than they should in groceries… the desire to be appreciated as “heads” in a world where members of the hitherto weaker sex are increasingly getting disturbingly stronger..
Oh yeah; many husbands feeling like they’re the “fairer” sex in today’s Bongo. Why, we’ve all these women who, like Doki of the Biko gambling promo, own cars while their husband’s, like “her” Mpoki, is a mere holder of a six-year-old driving licence but without a car!
That’s what the world has come to, but our brother Mpoki must take heart that he’s not alone… many fellow men are socially and economically de-franchised by the formerly meek “mama watoto” who today doesn’t even cook for their hubby. The housemaid does that. She could be a CEO of some company or a powerful businesswoman and the hubby, a struggler with a miserly monthly pay. He’s no longer the traditionally ever important sole bread winner.
Husband or no husband, there’s always enough bread at home, thanks to today’s mama. Asiwababaishe huyu baba yenu, today’s mama watoto can tell the brats who call you dad. Being called baba watoto is no longer a big deal. However, since men continue to consider themselves more important than women “by nature”, they need to find a place where their “God-given” importance is recognised. The grocery provides such an outlet, au siyo? Sorry, we’re digressing.
Now when this mhudumu rushes to you as you arrive, you can’t but feel great… it’s like she has known you since Adam, kumbe wapi! You’re led to a table and asked what you want and before long, a warm, small Serengeti is before you. There aren’t that many patrons and most mhudumu can afford the luxury of sitting—and even drinking—with patrons.
You look left and right and notice yours is the only mhudumu without a drink before her and you feel guilty about it. This cannot go on, you tell yourself.
“How come you aren’t having a drink?” you ask her.
“You haven’t offered me one,” she says.
“Sorry… go get yourself a soda.”
“A soda? Why do you want me to have a soda, mzee wangu?” she asks coyly, adding: “Or maybe I look like a primary schoolgirl?”
“Well, I didn’t know you drink; sorry… and by the way, what’s your name?” you say.
“Okay, Renata; have a beer on my bill,” you say.
You’re soon sharing a table, not only with a mhudumu, but a fellow drinker. It’s okay, for this is Bongo. Service providers and receivers enjoy equal rights since ours is officially a socialist country—wajamaa.
In due course, the number of customers rises or as we say, baa inachangamka. Renata spends less and less time with you now. She moves from here and there attending to patrons, just like her colleagues, but makes sure she returns to your table to maintain her membership, more so because her second beer (from you) is still more than half full.
At some stage, you hear the matron’s voice call the name Vero. First time, second time… and then, Renata your tablemate, er, sorry, your mhudumu, shoots up and walks towards the matron. The boss directs to a table with patrons who have apparently been forgotten by wahudumu, most of whom are busy drinking and chatting and generally having a good time like they were patrons!
When she returns to join you, she apologises for leaving you alone “for so long”. You tell her not to worry. “In any case, you’re at work… you’ve to serve other drinkers, not only me,” you say.
“Thank you for your understanding, but you’re my best customer” says she. Ha! Ha! Ha! You laugh inwardly.
“By the way,” you say, “I heard the matron call Vero and you answered to that name; are you Vero or Renata?”
“Both names are mine?”
“And you use them interchangeably?” you ask.
“Yes… to my friends, I am Renata, to my employer, I ‘m Vero.”
“So that when I choose to leave, the manager won’t be able to trace me…it also helps to keep away crooked men, the ones I give the wrong phone number.”