I have started getting young women and small boys turning up at the gate looking for cleaning jobs again.
Report by Grace Mutandwa
Life is not getting better at all. Young boys who should be in primary school come offering to cut grass, trim shrubs or till the vegetable garden. The young women are willing to do a load of laundry for anything between US$5 and US$10.
Some of the young women say they know how to cook and have in some cases offered to teach me how to cook traditional meals because; “your husband will love the food.”
I always smile when I am told my husband will love it if I cook him traditional food. I know the young women mean well, but it is really a terrible assumption. I have no husband to cook for, but I am also an accomplished cook. It is also misguided to assume that all men are into traditional meals. I know many black brothers who prefer foods from other countries.
I like engaging the young women who specialise in traditional foods. They are women who believe that a woman’s work is not done unless she throws herself completely into ensuring that all the needs of a man are satisfied. These are young women who have embraced the teachings of their aunts — aunts who lived for nothing but making their husbands a happy bunch.
One of the young women I spoke to was convinced that if I learnt how to cook traditional meals, my husband would never leave me. She herself has no husband but she told me her aunt had been happily married to the same man for 40 years because of her cooking! She might believe this but I hardly think a terribly unhappy man would stay with a woman just for the cuisine.
I know as women, we sometimes tell each other a lot of nonsense about how to strengthen our marriages. Yes, cooking happy meals is one way of making your man happy, but there are several other factors that build a firm relationship.
I have male friends who divorced wives who were magicians in the kitchen. One of the best chefs in the world, Nigella Lawson is going through a divorce right now.
If good food was a remedy for broken marriages, do you think we would have so many divorces? If anyone could cook herself out of a bad marriage, Nigella would certainly be one of those people.
We all need something to hold onto — some hope. Sometimes we hold onto silly things, but then again, if it keeps us going, maybe that is all that really matters.
The young women are not completely off the mark. There are some men who really love their traditional food and such men are not wrong in expecting their wives to cook a traditional storm for their pleasure.
But cooking need not necessarily be for women alone. Couples should learn to cook together. We live in a world where both men and women travel a lot for work. If your wife is away, you should be able to cook your favourite food for yourself.
There is nothing wrong with cooking for each other. I know traditionally in-laws and some relatives are unhappy to see a man in the kitchen but as they say, there is a time and place for everything. When it is just the two of you or just you and the children, you should both be able to help each other in the kitchen.
It does not make sense to raise sons who have no idea what a saucepan is, how to boil or fry an egg or how to make a salad. The reason why 20-year-old boys rush to marry when they leave home is because they want to replace their mothers with another woman who can cook and clean up after them.
Relationships are an all-round thing. They are not just about your cooking skills or the magic you work in the bedroom. They are also about what comes out of your mouth and your ability to be human.