My mother was (is?) a teacher. Teachers don’t retire; they just change the venue from the classroom to your everyday life. Have you seen older people who used to be teachers? They exude the same authority they did when they were teachers. You meet them as you drive home to greet your folks with your kids in the backseat, and you start wondering if you have finished your art and craft homework yet. You still feel like you want to duck into a bush until they pass
Everyone still calls them ‘Mwalimu,’ and they hold your hand with both of theirs when they greet you. They still remind you that these fingers that are now signing deals and contracts with abandon trained them to hold a pencil.
We need that reminder because some of us wearing navy blue suits and red stilettos out here ran around with snort on our faces and wore shorts diagonally for years. When you see us sending ‘circling back’ emails and giving presentations in the boardroom, you won’t believe we were the same people who couldn’t tell which shoe was for the right foot. And we wet the bed until form two.
All my Mom’s siblings were teachers. Their home was like a miniature Teacher’s Union office, complete with the noise and placards. Their mother was called the mother of teachers.
Mom wanted us to become teachers, but all the apples fell a thousand miles away from the apple tree. My eldest brothers are accountants, both my sisters are medics, and I’m a … writer? Journalist? Scribe? Communication expert? Take your pick; I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.
When I was in first year at the university, she called me like 357 times, urging me to change from a Linguistics to an Education degree because I was assured of a job with Education. I couldn’t hear any of that. She couldn’t believe none of her kids want to be like her.
Yesterday, I was busy tapping away at my laptop, trying to meet a deadline for an article, when little Miss Z waltzed into the room. She needed to use my computer to watch Bloopies – whatever those are.
I said, “No, mama, I’m working.”
“But Mom, your job is so boring!”
(Insert Nigerian horror movie dramatic music.)
“Say what, little miss?”
“Your job is boring; all you do is sit down here the whole day tapping at your keyboard!”
“My job is fun!”
“No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it is.”
I get to interview people and go places (sometimes).
“That’s no fun!”
(Insert more dramatic music)
“Would you like to be a writer when you grow up?”
(Insert Lunar girl from PJ Masks laughter – Mua ha ha ha ha haaaaaaa)
It was at this point that I realized that I missed my mother and that karma is a child.