Other Growing Up

Growing Up

12th Mar, 2016 | Other

School was hard; perhaps the attitude ensured that. I hated it so much I envied grown-ups. I thought they had it all. They had the spoons to themselves for starters. They could drink 'short' tea, as mother would so aptly label it, after dinner and could converse with each other in English whilst the rest of us dribbled expletives in broken Swahili and Luhya. I mumbled as I still do, I'm sure you've found.

Teachers caned us so much I look back and wonder why all the violence. They forced knowledge into us and never accepted the fact that we weren't created equal. I had to get that point off my chest.

But I was lucky. This was way back when I was still effortlessly smart and could remember to eat. I saw no point in school. I never really wanted to be anything, not the doctor or the pilot aunt Kezia thought we'd all be. The one thing that motivated me was the wish that one day I could taste beer and find out the difference between Pilsner and Tusker 'Imara kama Simba'.

It turns out beer is not that good. It tastes like unsalted boiled sweet potato soup at best and it filters though your system too fast for someone who doesn't like moving in and out of the room so often. And that's just the Tusker. I haven't lived long enough nor mustered enough curiosity to go onto the Pilsner. But I did try Guinness and that was like molten coffee beans. So dark and mysterious and ultimately monumentally shit. At 19 I had wine for the first time and through the next few years, I came to learn that people make a living out of the 'art' of wine-tasting. And I loved the adjectives and adjectival clauses associated with most commonly, the red wine. I have to add I've got no idea whether this applies to white wine as well. I've not yet lived long enough to find out. There's also the pink wine - which in my opinion there is not.

'A sous bois masterpiece with a hint of strawberries and a smell of pencil shavings. Would go well with sausages.', 'A delight of bramble, blackberry and boysenberry flourishes. Have it with beef testicles', 'A gift of a nose of melted plastic, burnt toast and deck shoes worn without socks'.

Avoid going round to your butcher to ask for a bull's severed parts just so you can have a glass of red wine the recommended way. Or may be do. That's where this grown-up business floors me, you see. Things are not literal even when the word 'literal' itself is used. It is perfectly acceptable for someone to say 'I have literally nailed that exam' when they actually mean 'I have metaphorically nailed that exam'. This leaves you (me) guessing when it is, if at all, that things are actually literal. Contrast with growing up when everything was as told - we took and knew what we were told as the gospel truth.

It turns out that babies don't actually come from helicopters. They come out of women - I can't verify this as I declined my only invitation to go into the maternity ward when working at a hospital. But I've got good counsel on the subject and yes, they do come out of women. What I still have doubts about is the proverbial fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden - the Biblical fruit that Adam and Eve were supposed to not eat but they munched away anyway. I suspect it's not really a fruit - but thats just my little speculation as I can't really cite evidence of otherwise. It's a bit tedious, really, trying to find all those things you learnt to accept as true when growing up just so you can question them and try to find your alternative story. 

You have to conform to the way society works though - follow the rules and you will be fine. But the practicality of it is that you have to do what you have to do; and then a bit more to ensure you aren't caught and if you are, to know how to get yourself out of trouble. That's why there are lawyers. You may do something that you (and the lawyer) know to be wrong but in the eyes of the law (society), it's not. Or vice versa. The goal of it all is not to make you a better person but to protect the rest.

So it's a survival game, growing up. Everyone has to play the hand they are dealt and whether it's the beer or the dream of being a doctor that motivates you, the truth is that it's all a journey and we discover new paths everyday. A journey without a destination and if there is one, you will never know when you have arrived. Because that is a destination of statelessness, lifelessness. You have state, you have life. Go out there, kick ass and come back home to your glass of red wine with a hint of strawberries and a smell of pencil shavings.

 

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