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    Read the next sentence carefully. Your girlfriend’s parents are not OK with you living with her. Never mind what they say, they are lying. At the end of the day, parents are still parents. They will understand that their daughter is a grown twenty seven year old woman who can make her own decisions, but only in writing. Not in practice. They accept everything else about their daughter being an adult when they need money. And they may even come around to accepting that she smokes and drinks. But when it comes to relationships, that is still their little girl. 

    This one time, we heard a knock at the door on a Sunday morning. Of course anyone who knocks on your door on Sunday at 8am is either dying or coming to warn you of an assassination plot against you by the government. Either way, in my mind, it is too late – if they die, they die. And if I die, I die. So that means that there were only two options – either she goes to open the door or we ignore that person until s/he gets tired and goes away. But that person wasn’t going away, so the then girlfriend went to answer it. 

    She came back to the bedroom, panicked. “G, wake up. Wake up. It is my mother!” 

    See, it had been three years since we had moved in together, and she had not told her folks that we stayed together. It did not help that she comes from an Adventist family, and her parents were elders at church. She had always meant to tell them, but never got round to it. Now her mother was at our door. 

    I had to be hidden. I kicked off the blanket and ran to the other spare room, and she locked me in there until they were done three and something hours later. Like, she basically stuffed me away like I was a roll of weed. 

    But I wasn’t mad. The truth is, to the rest of us young-uns, cohabitation is not a big deal. But to our parents, they cannot fathom that you are staying with a dude who has not paid your dowry. First thing that comes to mind is shame. That their girlfriend is living in sin. And you have decided to break into their homestead to milk a cow that you haven’t bought. That is sacrilege. 

    No wonder, during dowry negotiations, if you have been living with the bride before (or if you have impregnated her), they make you pay a fine. That is how patriarchy works – you offend a man for sleeping with her adult daughter without his permission. 


    That incident took place a couple of years ago in a previous relationship. I am now with someone else, and yes, we are staying together. Long story. But not part of this story.

    Late last year, her mother was in town and the girlfriend asked if her mother could sleep over at our place. I had no problem with it. I just did not know how to explain to her what she was getting herself into. But at the same time, I couldn’t say no because then she would think I do not want to meet her family, and that would then mean I am not serious about her, and we all know there is no other direction such a conversation would go other than South. 

    Her mother came, spent the night. 

    But last week, they had a tiff – in the usual way adults tend to get into an argument with their parents. And during that exchange, I came up. She was berated for staying with a dude in Nairobi, and yet she was not married. I was not even at the center of their disagreement, but then there I was. 

    I had seen it coming. I knew this was going to be a problem. I just did not understand how she didn’t. 

    The next time the girl you are with asks you to meet her folks, please, meet them at a restaurant. Or their place. But if you have not exchanged her for livestock, please do not let them know that you are staying with their daughter.

    It is not for your own sake. It is for hers. 

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