The Fridge & Microwaves are keeping our ladies off the Kitchen
Owning a refrigerator in your home has become a basic necessity than just a luxury and of course accompanying it with a microwave. This is especially evident with many young families, bachelors and bachelorettes. These two electronics are now controversial in shaping up the kind of lifestyle we live now and with our future families. We are eating from the fridge and microwave having bought ready food from the supermarket’s bakery section.
Waking up at around 5am and coming back to the house at around 9pm is normal for most Nairobi residents. However, the habit of coming home late was only characterized with men whether single or married. Now, with gender equality, ladies have joined in by choice and circumstance. Many people have found it easy to juggle between work and school. That is, take up an 8am-5pm job and join evening classes for career growth.
A young lady, for instance maybe living with her parents but as soon as she enrolls for a Diploma or Degree, the urge to be independent grows in her. That is why most of them find it better renting up their own rooms instead of staying in hostels. The money she receives from her parents for hostels in Ngara for instance and upkeep is enough for her to rent an SQ or single room somewhere and live an independent life. With time, she will accumulate a few things here and there in her room. A ‘sharp lady’ will trick her parents and an able relative or guardian making it possible for her to raise miscellaneous cash.
Over the weekend, a close friend, George*, called me up for coffee. He opened up to me and he seemed very disturbed. First, I did not understand anything with George’s feelings, not until he said that he is divorcing his wife. First, I told him, ‘you are stupid’ for leaving his pretty wife. As he opened up further, I learnt that he was truly ‘suffering’. His problem, the supermarket is the closest kitchen and that the fridge and microwave are the cookers and cooks in his young home.
George* and Nelly* met in campus and their relationship blossomed. They got married soon after campus but decided to hold the baby issue for later years. They work, therefore leave and come back in the house in the evening after work together. What is about to break their marriage is the kitchen. Yes, you heard me right. His wife apparently stuffs their fridge with junk and precooked food from the supermarket. She buys frozen chapatti, cooked beans and beef and keeps them in their fridge. Every day they come home, she will get something from the refrigerator, microwaves it and… walla! Supper is ready. One day she takes the frozen ready beans and chapati, warms them up and they eat, the following day could be beef or pilau all precooked and purchased from the supermarket. His story continued, thanks the coffee shop was a 24 hour. They have already talked about it but you know, he is supposed to ‘understand’.
Well, that is just part of it. If you are not yet there, then you are heading there because this fridge and microwave lady seems to have landed already, let me say from some alien space craft.
Gone are the days when we had submissive women. Every time you listen to morning shows on radio, you are left to wonder if what you hear is really true or it is some kind of program staged for yet another juicy show. That is not all, in real life; our women have evolved; you know the results of the ‘girl child’ thing.
Women have been empowered, taken serious political and managerial office positions that pay really well. Kenya’s new constitution also gives the Kenyan woman more teeth, sharper with super dental floss. They can now inherit and own ancestral land, right? A man cannot sell a family property without his wife’s consent, right? Men, you will have to count each day because six months of cohabitation with her is equivalent to a legal marriage. Congratulations madam.
Get me clear, I am not complaining but stating a fact. Talk to your parents, I mean ‘older’ parents here; they will confirm to you that ladies never lived alone. It is either that they lived with their mother or their husbands. We have moved from that era, now; our ladies can comfortably rent a house and live alone as she runs errands in her career. She can invite her friends over for a sleep over, bring her boyfriend for a day or two and accommodate her younger siblings where need be.
Fast forward to George’s predicament, he says that, having been married for about a year and half now, he can practically count the number of days he saw his wife in the kitchen. They don’t have a baby yet so their life is quite easy and modest. His main problem is that ever since Super markets started the bakery section, it has been their cook. Their diet ranges between beef or chicken, chapatti and burgher all precooked, frozen or tinned.
He adds to say that their shopping list rarely includes cooking oil, tomatoes or onions. They can spend over Ksh. 10, 000 on ready foods from the super markets and from fast food joint which they then fill up in their giant double door fridge. On weekends, they will go for a walk or cruise, buy snacks on the way and that is it. Lunch should be a pizza or burgher from one of the joint in town as they head or leave the wild. George’s ‘heavy meal’ as he calls it comes from those joints behind City market.
George is not alone. Gilbert*, 28 married with one child has quite a similar tell. He says that he works from Monday to Friday, 8-5. That means he is with his family all through the weekend and of course gets home early enough for his family. Gilbert’s wife quit her job once she got her baby and has no intentions of getting another job. He adds that his wife cooks on Sunday for the whole week! His wife cooks rice, chapatti and beef and stuffs them in the freezer. She likes cooked sausages and ‘smokies’ which she stuffs in the fridge too. If she does not cook on Sunday, then they will eat from the supermarket the whole week. They have replaced their microwave three times because apparently his wife warms the frozen food straight from a metal container, it blows up.
When I listened to the life of these two guys, then I sensed something. Some men are actually going through this but have nothing to do. Living between the fridge and the microwave is now the trending habit their wives are putting them through.
Many single ladies prefer cooking on the weekends and freeze up the food for a whole week’s meal. This makes their week’s hustle easier especially when they do not have enough time to attend to dish washing each day they get from work or college. Their laundry just like most young single men is done by ‘mama wa kuosha nguo mtaani’ (laundry lady in the estate). They stuff up their clothes for the whole week or sometimes two weeks then call up someone who washes their clothes, do their dishes and clean up the house as githeri and rice for the week cooks.
I think once they have got used to this idea of precooked food and having the laundry done by someone, a lady find no sense in washing her man’s clothes and cooking for him either. She can as well microwave the food or simply ask him to get the food from the fridge and warm for himself as she watches her favorite program on TV.
The same is carried on for the children too. If the family has very little children, they make their food, keep it in the fridge, warm it up when they wake up or coming from school. That woman who used to get to the kitchen, light up the charcoal stove (jiko) and cook for her family is slowly fading away as each upcoming woman wants to embrace technology and live a modern life.
The modern kitchen according to a today’s lady is having a big kitchen that can accommodate a huge fridge and microwave, an automatic water kettle and water dispenser. The gas or electric cookers should be there because they are kitchenware and maybe needed once in a while. There is nothing wrong to having these electronics in our kitchen but the career woman forgets that sometimes men also want to taste real food.
Our ladies are distancing themselves from kitchen chores each day. The ‘Y generation’ and most of the ‘dot coms’ grew on the palms of a house help. Do you expect them to do chores they can as well pay someone to do? Will she go to the kitchen and mess her nails when she can get an ‘economy pack’ of lunch/supper from the supermarket? This lady also expects the man to ‘understand’ that she just cannot go to the kitchen and make some chapo, “Come on, warm up those beans and add some soup, i will get chapo from the hotel” She would say.
The root of all this i can say is modernization. Everyone wants to make a better life for their children than how they grew with their own parents. If you used the public means, then your child should better be driven in a private car if not taken to a boarding school. This is trending in many young families today. You will find that your child will not wash his or her clothes, cook or mop when a house help can do it. This habit will certainly be carried on to their families and soon, we will rely on industrial foods than cooking it ourselves. If she is cooking for you like your mama did, man, go and appreciate her because no other woman is cooking anymore.