Being Plus Sized in a Skinny Family


RIP Guka Kibira.
Up until last week when I read bikozulu's blog post on a kikuyu burial, I had never questioned the sense behind our burial customs. Now that I viewed them through a fresh pair of eyes, it is a wonder that I have never questioned the logic behind taking photos at a funeral... posing behind the casket! On Wednesday we buried my grandfather, my mom's uncle, and it was a sober, dignified ceremony befitting the respectable 87 year old man.

During the now infamous photo session, the MC called for the late man's nephews to take a photo. he mentioned one of them by name: KiMuriithi Kinene (The big Muriithi), jokingly referring to him by his childhood nickname. As an aside, he added that Muriithi was clearly still kinene (big). I glanced across at my mum, remembering this set of pliers that Muriithi had left at our house when I was only six, and that we had taken to calling KiMuriithi Kinene.

I can bet that you are imagining Muriithi as a hulking, big-boned, big-bellied figure. In fact, he's average in size. His belly is no larger than the average beer gut. He'd fit right in along the hallways of KRA where the beer gut is an identifying trait of the officers. Try stepping into an elevator with 5 or more of those and it's like squeezing between foam mattresses! I have officially developed claustrophobia. However, in a family where the average weight would probably fall between 55-60 Kgs, any visible flab will see you labelled 'fat'. You can now see how Muriithi stood out like a sore thumb in that particular photo.

For a partially deaf man, there was a lot of singing at my grandfather's funeral. The MC opened up a 'presentations' session and a once reknowned Gospel musician, a white haired old man whose vigour made up for his tone deafness and a woman whose rendition of Look and Live was only recognisable from the tune and the refrain: hallelujah! It took a beat to recognise that 'rooku and reeve' was actually 'look and live'! My mum tried so hard not to laugh that her pained look made me laugh. Despicable behaviour at a funeral.

The heat was altogether hellish. Do Republicans still think that global warming is a myth? I drank a whole 500ml of water in a matter of minutes (that is an amazing fete because I cannot stand the tastelessness of water).  The woman who was sitting right in-front of me, who was questionably reading the eulogy upside down, turned towards me, stared at my bottle for a full minute before asking, "Si unipatie hako kachupa." As far as requests go, that is one of the strangest I have gotten. That was before she asked my mum for TicTacs; my cousin to take a photo of her; and my aunt to invite her for a get together that we were planning for in April.

Looking back, I feel that bikozulu had every right to be baffled by Kikuyu funerals. All the way down to the rice, mukimo and cabbage. The important thing, though, is that all these characters had come to lay Guka Kibira to rest. May he rest in peace.


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