We will be vegetarians the year after next

    by Wambui Wa Mwangi

    I think of all the memories associated with nyama choma and family get- together(s) and I question everything. Am I supposed to forget all that joy and sumptuousness or what? Or how at home beef, chicken or mutton are special days, reward days. So what can I replace meat with?

    I texted Munyao.

    Almost every big occasion in my life has been marked by an indulgence in meat. From carefully roasted crispy nyama choma, superfluously garnished chicken, deep fried, shallow fried meats in all their forms and always with a dash of kachumbari on the side.

    Memories of my paternal grandpa for instance, are all full of men skinning and roasting a ram. Of them serving each one of us with a strict adherence to traditions passed down the lineage. My grandfather sharing a morsel with me. Recently, after my graduation, we (my parents, sibling and I) visited a nyama choma place to celebrate my academic feat. We ate to our hearts or should I say stomach’s content. Our appetites sate, we couldn’t have been happier.

    My father is a notorious loyal alibi to meaty pleasures and he was keen to pass down his ‘virtue’ to me earlier on. When I was about 7 or 10, thereabout, he would take me with him to a Farmer’s Choice shop. A pork haven. It was our secret father-daughter pork ritual. We would walk in, my little self behind him before he would point out to a bench for me to sit and wait as he ordered. Always, we would find just one customer in the fully stocked shop.

    Two sausages for each, each with its own timing. Slow deliberate munching in silence as if it required silence for our taste buds to ignite with each bite of those warm savory rarities. Two slices of brawn for each. If the sausages were a rarity, then I do not know what the brawn slices were. Dessert? Cold pink flappy pieces of pork flesh.

    Anything meaty, particularly juicy tender mutton or beef, my father will partake in relish. It is most probable for him to comment about how tasty it was and even have a second serving. He will now and then complain to mother when a meal is devoid of any meats. He often likes to joke that he isn’t a rabbit that only eats leafy meals. When inebriated, this can be a cause of drama in the house.

    “Am I a rabbit? Do I look like a rabbit to you?” Something along this lines. He will go ahead and refuse whatever it is that lacks beef, or chicken, or fish, often ugali and sukumawiki and sleep hungry saying mockingly, “I can’t die because I skipped dinner.”

    Passed down appetites, that’s what I think it is, my questioning and search for meaning about the whole movement of consuming animal flesh. Lately I have been questioning it all. For one, I know animals deserve better than to be slaughtered and eaten just to sate our pleasures. It’s even worse when I imagine that a majority undergo extremely cruel hands in the process. Why do we shed their blood so often and why and how have we grown insensitive to blood, warm, flee flowing, and their lives waning before us? I question a lot. About life, the value of it, about the different rungs there are when it comes to what and which life is worth living and which isn’t. I question God a lot.

    Father Zozzima in The Brothers Karamazov mentions how animals are eternally innocent, how we humans are utterly hideously full of vice and deserving their forgiveness.

    I will not be just suppressing a desire when I make a complete turnaround into being a vegetarian but rather I will be persistently trying to know whether there are sausages, lamb chops, KFC chicken, fish fillets, goats’ head soup, chicken wings, blood sausages etc. in heaven.

    I have been telling Munyao about this quagmire, the guilt, but instead we end up laughing about it, joking about it as an escape. He texts back.

    Well, we will be vegetarians the year after next. No hurry. Let’s indulge in the sumptuousness for now (insert blushing emoji).

    ***

    Wambui is a writer, reader and budding editor from Limuru, Kenya. She feels whatever she feels intensely and likes to think over trivial issues for days.  Some of her works have appeared in, Ahomka Digital, where she is a contributing writer and in The Selkie Uk (under a pseudonym, Grasea). Of course there’s more to her than meets the bio. 

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