Day 366: Guka Would Nap

It may not be spring here as it is at home in Boston, but there is a festive quality to the place these days that’s difficult to ignore. It’s mainly difficult to ignore because a lot of the festive-ness comes from the fact that it’s the kids’ vacation, so they are usually around, and they are loud and frequently knocking on our door.

“Black Clayon [Claire], give me a paper.”

“Jonathani [jonathan], I am not friends with this one. She abuses and disturbs even this one.”

“Rona [Lara] like this one. CHUGUNGAGUNGCHAGUNGAGUNG (complete with gyrating hip and neck motions by a group of people shorter than my thigh.)”

It also has to do with the 8-hour long p-a-r-t-y that we attended yesterday in honor of the (Very) Reverend Muindi’s retirement some years ago. For us English-speaking muzungus, this was an epic occasion. As the partay was 8 hours of kikuyu church service.

We knew something was a-foot when there was a line around our door of little people waiting to get their hair cut. In this case, a hair cut involves one pair of electric clippers, and every head in the place. Boys, girls, young, old get the same haircut (a closely cropped buzz cut), the only variety being the exciting event when someone gets cut, preferably on the ear as that one bleeds a lot with little pain. Everyone wins in that case.

So suddenly, there were a bunch of shiny-headed orphans wandering the place, without much to do, but with much to look forward to. And if anyone deserved the shrieks of excitement, it is Reverend Muindi, or Guka (grandpa) as the kids call him.

This man’s vision has built this place, and he continues to be a source of guidance and inspiration for everyone of the apparently tireless people who run this place. He is here everyday, listening to kids’ complaints, and helping the elders define this home’s direction. He has been educated abroad in the US and manages to speak easily with Claire and me about things like blogs, while also wearing a mismatched suit that allows him to blend in as a Kenyan while he wanders around playing hand games with the kids and quietly scolding anyone he sees misbehaving.

And this man and his compassion are what we spent Sunday celebrating. For eight hours. In the sun. In Kikuyu. I have to say, even ol’ Guka was sleeping at points.

But things took a real turn for the better when the gifts came out. After hours of writing varieties of to-do lists that the people next to me thankfully couldn’t read—though the act of writing did give away the fact that my moleskine journal was not really a bible—everyone around me began screaming. Shiny heads went flying toward the back of the field, where one extremely large cow and two black-headed sheep were being lead through masses of Kenyan women dressed in their Sunday best. Someone had gifted these to Rev. Muindi and his wife, and an elaborate ceremony was made of their presentation. However, only so much dignity can go into such a thing when the sheep keep running into the cow, and children keep headbutting the sheep.

Happily, Claire and I were able to use the ruckus as a great time to take a break from acting adult so we could hang out with the kids. Since the entire community was at this shindig, this mostly turned into a game of “stand very still so the children can get close enough to touch the foreigners before shrieking in our ears and running away.” Once we realized what was going on, however, this quickly devolved into a game of “run away from the foreigners who are springing out and shocking you” as Claire and I could not resist the look of true terror that crossed some of these kids’ faces when we ran after them.

Sigh. People tell us we’re doing good work here, but when so much of the helping happens to coincide with our own entertainment, I begin to wonder. For example, how many games of “spin the kid around and then laugh as they walk crookedly toward Claire” can we conscientiously enjoy? Is it wrong to encourage their requests of the ever-popular “pass the orange from neck to neck without your hands” game just because we think Edwin looks so darn funny when he does it?

However, I have decided that it is not actually wrong to do this. Because, in the ever-popular game of What Would Guka Do, I have to say that I think he too would enjoy the image of children laughing so hard from twirling that they can barely stand. And would dispel any guilty feelings as he watched them turn back to join in the rest of the crowd waiting for their turn, screaming: “Rona...and me?” as I seek out my next victim.


Gabrielle said...

It's not supposed to be miserable...

Those kids need someone to delight in their ridiculousness - for example John and Alex today ran around our yard in fairy wings and police helmets, using walkie talkies to ask eachother if they've been bad and then rushing over to eachother in emergency response mode. You've got to love it.

Another Twentysomething said...

Ah, don't feel guilty. I think that in the fair balance of the universe, you're allowed to laugh if you're also required to become the orphanage barber/foreigner/storyteller/nurse/blogger.

Radioactive Jam said...

What an absolute joy to have such a day. I'm sure you need these times to fill your reservoir for more "arid" moments.

Moleskine bible. Ha!

Thanks for creating smiles all the way over here.

Stickler said...

I always say if your not laughing at life then your not living! And I'm sure the kids are laughing at you in their native tongue too!

Real Time Web Analytics