When I visit my parents’, I often sleep in the sitting room. From one of the couches, I move the larger cushions to make room and use the smaller ones as pillows. I then cover myself with a sleeping bag. It takes less than three minutes to turn it into a bed.
I find it more comfortable than the actual bed in my former bedroom. Even in the language I choose to talk about this behaviour, I distance myself from this place I call home. It might be because I do not want to get too comfortable. I get comfortable to avoid getting comfortable. It makes sense to me. Homes have a way of making one forget there exists an uncaring beyond which has to be faced more often than the warm one of ready meals and easy love. Making up the couch is my building of a beautiful sandcastle.
My mother gently reminds me I have a room while my father finds it deplorable I prefer the couch. He only recently made this known by reminding me of how softly I have grown up. He thinks it is a reflection of my desire for convenience over the work of being an adult by making a bed and the larger sacrifice of letting my little sister use the sleeping bag. She loves comfort and convenience as much as I do, but she is a sweet teenager and the last child, so excused. In a word, my choices to not grow up and to avoid pain. After he told me this, I promptly moved to my former room. I still took the sleeping bag. In his mind, he has probably extrapolated all this and come to some conclusion of how I will end up a bratty ne’er-do-well, a manchild.
He exudes glee at my cutting down to size. He drips contempt when he talks about how coddled we have grown up, what easy lives we have lived and how we need to be reminded the world is more complicated and difficult than we imagine. Now and then he is right but I often refuse to engage him on this. Only occasionally do I tell him we are the way we are partly because of him and his wife, my mother, our parents, and that they cannot distance themselves from their role in it.
Sometimes without my prodding, he will lapse into a semi-philosophical and half-hearted interrogation of himself of whether he created monsters. Cry Dr Frankenstein, confronted by his most magnificent yet most horrific creation. When I ask him whether he would have it any other way, he gets a faraway look in his eyes and a sardonic smile cuts his face. “Probably not.”, He replies. It is an odd compliment and circular criticism to the self to complain about the shortcomings of kizazi kipya while at the same time being one of its creators.