The reality of the skyrocketing cost of living is sinking deeper in the kitchens of Happy Valley countryside in general and the palace kitchen in particular. Yours truly is staring at a marital exile due to his failure to meet Queen’s numerous financial demands at the palace.
As you well know, Queen has been in charge of the small kitchen budget – of course minus meat, which is my reserved manly duty – while I take care of the huge budget of school fees, clothing, constructions and the luxurious part of the palace life like her Del Monte mango juice and the ‘Sunday Special’ – the Sunday afternoon romantic family outing.
That arrangement has served us right despite the fact that I sort out more than 10 times what Queen does. As the king of the palace, and knowing very well that Queen was just a biblically designated helper, I have never and was not intending to complain about the cash budgetary imbalance until Njuguna Ndung’u decided to do his own budgetary balances.
This man Njuguna did some tax acrobatics which somersaulted the prices of kitchen commodities, hitting the kitchen rooftops with a thud. It was this ‘Njugunization’ that prompted me to do reciprocal financial gymnastics in the Palace so that I could survive. This involved a financial thinning of all unnecessary areas without which life could still go on.
And because Njuguna did not negotiate with anybody when he came up with his inverted mathematics, I did not also consult Queen. After all, just like Njuguna could have reasoned, human beings in general and Kenyans in particular are wired to resist change. You can now imagine yours truly consulting Queen to accept to do without her favourite Del Monte mango juice and the weekend family outings. Not me, no. Never! I decided to implement the changes and wait for Queen’s maandamano. I was ready for the outcome.
I quietly substituted mutton with offals of a cow. As you can expect, Queen characteristically hit the roof.
“You mean you have demeaned us so much that you want us to feed on these worms while you feed on chicken kienyenji in that evil valley? Kwani, what have those dirty women given you to make you forget your own family?” Queen asked.
“It is not like that my dear. As you can obviously see for yourself, the cost of living has gone up so much and we have to adjust accordingly,” I pleaded.
“Do not dear me! Are you not ashamed to be called ‘DC’ (District Commissioner) by outsiders because of the way you are buying them chicken and beer yet your family is feeding on worms? Wonders will never cease! The devil is truly an old white haired grey hair bearded man!” Queen pontificated.
Now, there was no way I could deny the fact that people have lately been calling me DC. Her informers had not failed her! It was also difficult to tell Queen that I was not able to sustain the luxurious lifestyle I had been giving my family in the wake of the rising cost of fuel and other commodities. A name is hard to acquire but very easy to destroy, and I could not just that easily loose that prestigious name. But on the same note, I cannot exchange my marital nirvana with a mare name that comes with no monetary gains. That called for a Solomonic balancing act.
“I have said it in the past and I am going to repeat it: I love my family more than anything else I love in this world. You seem to have already forgotten that I bought a new car just to ensure that you people are proud to be associated with me!” I pleaded.
“You are just eating your teeth. What I need is action. You can choose to entertain those friends of yours there as their DC but remember that this is where you come home!” Queen said. That was certainly a threat to expel me to marital Siberia. And with the signs of El Nino clearly showing, I had to behave or face the cold weather in exile.
I have since been forced at a point of no return to substitute the offals with beef. Queen seems not to notice the difference between beef and mutton though she has been complaining that the stuff is hard. I shall also talk to the manager at the Holiday Premier Hotel to scale down on wastage. One chicken is enough for the whole family and because it is very cold, we should take ox soup instead of juice.
As the survivor that I am, I am sure I shall survive this ‘Njugunization’ threat to my marital peace. Watch this space. In the meantime, someone please to tell Njuguna that overtaxing Kenyans is killing what remains of the already turbulent marriages.
Wainaina Karanja lives in Nyandarua County. He is a teacher of English and writes stories to portray the reality of countryside life in Kenya as well as offer entertainment. [email protected]