My Khuhu’s Kitchen

by Jan 31, 2021Observations0 comments

Close your eyes and bring to remembrance the cracking of firewood underneath the clay cooking pot on top of the three cooking stones in your grandmothers outside kitchen.

That kitchen that was mostly made up of two rooms, one for the cooking activities and the other for the chicken closely followed by their chicks that would walked in the evening to look for the best spots for the night. The calves would also be brought in to keep them away from the cold night but mostly to keep them away from the mother cows milk with which we would need to prepare Chai the next morning.

Photo by Sunira Moses on Unsplash

That kitchen where with our cheeks full of air, we would blow on the fire and move in the pieces of firewood a few centimeters at a time to keep it going. That kitchen where maize combs would hang from the ceiling and where the firewood we had collected would be stalked at the back.

Photo by Syed Ali on Unsplash

During the maize season we would roast the freshly harvested maize that grew just behind the kitchen or the sweet potatoes that we would leave under the hot ashes and burn our small hands and mouths with the greed of eating it too fast.

Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

That kitchen that had the best water you have ever tasted. The water that was stored in the bigger clay pots covered by one of the metal plates on top of which was placed a calabash. That kitchen where the (maziwa mala) cudded milk would be left to ferment in one of the bigger more decorated calabashes that was sealed with a maize cob. The taste of the fermented milk and Ugali would sometimes be the only dinner we had and we enjoyed it.

That kitchen where the harvested bananas would be wrapped with banana leaves and left to ripen for about a week and a half. Back then when my patience was as little as now and I would occassionally go and check if any of the sweet bananas had turned yellow. I would then pluck it out and go share it with my cousins.

That kitchen were you mostly acted as the assistant. Back then when we were still proud to be sent around. Go bring salt!, go bring tea leaves!, return the knife! and many other commands. We would run to and from the main house bringing and collecting and returning whatever was needed. For the errands, we would seat next to grandma and receive an extra piece of meat or dried fish.

That kitchen that was mostly lit by kiroboi, that parafin oil lamp that if not correctly cut, would smoke your eyes to tears. That kitchen that was filled with sooth on the mud walls that we had helped built with cow-dung and clay. That kitchen on which lay the grass thached roof, The long grass which had been brought from the river beds, tied and neatly arranged on the roof. That kitchen with the “kiti moto” for the cooking women and a woven mat for the young ones.

That Kitchen where we would reminisce the days events and liste as our aunts gossiped on the village news making rounds. We would sit straight with legs stretched out as we keenly listened with enthusiasm to stories as to why the tortoise has a cracked back and how the zebra tricked the donkey into getting more stripes and winning the animal kingdom beauty contest.

That kitchen floor where we shared meals with my many cousins, eating the freshly molded ugali prepared for the children put around the sinia (Big round metal plate) with greens in the middle and a piece of meat for each one of us. A privilege we could only enjoy after the quick distribution and successfull delivery of the served food to the different houses in my grandmothers compound.

We would carry the hotly served food to the different houses belonging to my uncles and their wives who had built their Rural residents as required by traditions. Mostly walking barefooted on the man-made paths or on the side grass while the moon shone and Illuminated the night.

Photo by Stijn te Strake on Unsplash

I very much appreciated the cool breeze in the evening, the sound of cows, goats, sheep and chicken settling in for the night. I mostly appreciated the smell of ugali in the evening air. It was what we all anticipated after the long day of working hard and playing hard.

By Nessa


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