The festive season is upon us. Plans are being made for the holidays. Those with money are browsing through tourist brochures, deciding which places to visit this time round. Should they go to some exotic island or go on safari. Their problem is not money but rather the right destination. The wives are snooping on their equally moneyed rivals checking out where they plan to take their families.
The kids return from their posh schools with news delivered in plumy accents that someone in their class is going bungee jumping with his cousins. They too want to go. In the meantime the government is wasting a lot of money on impersonal greeting cards which are being dispatched with frenzy from every ministry in the land. In the corporate offices, people are gearing up for end of the year parties. There they will feast and be merry. They will get an opportunity to drink expensive liquor in copious amounts. The office rascals will be able to tell off the much hated supervisors and even get to fondle their wives.
The more intrepid will even get to sleep with one of the wives, and finally exact vengeance for all the months of humiliation and long hours. The labourers, too lowly and too ugly to sleep with anyone, will resort to insulting the boss in front of everyone, without a care in the world. The labourer wearing his only suit will do so with a flourish, announcing that even if fired he can go back to his home village and look after his father’s cattle. Many marriages and relationships will end at the office parties with cheats getting caught by their partners. There is action all over the place.
Young pretty things have started juggling their sugar daddies around, wondering which of the lot to go on holiday with. In turn, the sugar daddies are working feverishly, showering gifts on the young lasses. In a couple of months’ time the young lasses will remember this festive season as the time they fell pregnant with the sugar daddy’s child. Some chaps will simply abandon their wives, never to come back. I tell you, it’s a crazy time. The criminals are also getting ready to make a killing, literally and otherwise. The less fortunate will end up behind bars. A few will be on death row in the course of next year. Yet others will be able to dispossess hardworking people off the fruits of their toil. Kids from poor families are looking forward to this time of the year.
They will finally get some new clothing bought by their pitiful parents from the Chinese shops. The Chinese shopkeepers will be smiling all the way to the bank or wherever it is they keep their money. Even if the shoes they sell fall apart after a few weeks they would have done their duty to ensure that at least some people are able to wear shoes just like everybody else. We can deride the Chinese for their cheap products but at least they enable many people to go around fully clothed with dignity intact. Having made their money from the poor, the Chinese will celebrate with dog meat. The chaps from the army cannot wait to go to their home villages. After all they have bought cars recently arrived from Japan and Singapore. They will be able to park their Japanese models in their mother’s yards, and show their educated cousins that they too can afford a car, belching smoke and all.
Never mind that soon after the festivities the car will simply stop.
Even if it does they, like their educated cousins, would have driven their mothers around the village to visit relatives who had condemned them to a life of poverty. For once their fathers will be consulted on important matters concerning the village. Without that Japanese car parked in the yard this would never have happened. Although in the past many would be looking forward to enjoying bread for the first time in months, they still look forward to exotic food. In the villages they will be mixing rice with custard and jelly as they enjoy the festivities. Much traditional brew will be drunk and many a cow and goat will be slaughtered. It is a terrible time to be a cow, chicken or goat around these parts. For the same reason it is a traumatic time to be a turkey or pig in the colder climes of the world. I sometimes wonder what the festive season would be like if we woke up one morning and discovered all our favourite meat had fled.
The radio will be abusing our auditory nerves with that terrible song they play year in and year out. If I ever get the chance to run the national radio station my first act would be to ban that song and fire all the deejays who ever played it. Of course armies of village kids will be invited to the studio to greet their relatives live on radio.
Uncertain of how to address their parents, they will, in quivering voices, mimic the city kids by greeting ‘mama’ and ‘papa’, instead of using the vernacular version. As for the rich families they are running around buying gifts for friends and relatives. The gifts must be bought early to allow them to be wrapped and delivered before Christmas.
But even poor people like us want gifts. As for me, a man of simple taste, I want something simple. For my Christmas present I want a packet of yellow Soya meal, known in our primary school days as malutu. It was my favourite meal. I still crave it. I want it in the same packaging. And on the packet must be that iconic image of clasped hands, with the message, Gift from the People of the United States. Somebody please make this a merry Christmas for me!