Yes, interesting title. But the chicken saved the day.
Let me clue you in. As a son-in-law, for our Ugandan and African culture, I am a big man. An important person. Never mind that I am gay.
So, when the in-law comes to visit, the traditional gift to me is a cock. Not a chicken, not a hen (that would be an insult) but a chicken. So, when I heard the cock crow in the living room where my mother-in-law was, I assumed that it was my chicken.
I went to greet my mom. In true traditional fashion, mine, not hers. No kneeling, I am a man. I sat in the chair, as is customary. What is not customary is that she also sat in one. Maybe different cultures; in mine she would have sat on the floor. A long greeting, asking about everything at home; the chickens, the goats, the cows, the father-in-law (apparently they have conspired not to tell him that well, we are an item).
The chicken was taken to the kitchen.
I was disturbed. It should have been properly introduced to me as the man of the house, I felt. The gift from home. But the son took it to the kitchen, and later went on to dress it for the meal.
You know how I felt? Like though accepted, I am not truly accepted. Half accepted. I will not be recognised traditionally, because I am a man, who has taken their son. Yeah, I know, a lot has been lost in translation, but enough is similar in both our cultures.
I became defiant. That is what always happens to me. I become defiant, when challenged.
While he was in the kitchen, I sat in the living room, alone with my in-law. She was doing something with wool and long needles. Crocheting, knitting, or darning? Dunno the difference. But those long needles I watched apprehensively. Resolutely, I sat and worked on my laptop. A thick silence. Great conversationalist that I am.
When dinner came, I claimed my seat next to the son. He served. We ate. My lack of religion was noted, and commented on. I smiled, and went on eating.
He initiated the active show of defiance. He leant against me, rubbing his chin on my shoulder. At first I was a bit embarrassed, and then I remembered the chicken, and became bold. I leaned on into him.
We have a tradition, modified for these gay times. The gizzard in a chicken is the special piece. It belongs in the plate of the man of the house.
The son offered it to his mom. I glared, and he missed that. She was embarrassed and declined it. He then put it on my plate, as was, ahem, normal. I smiled, grimly.
Usually, I take a bite, and then offer him one. No problem, we can use the mouths. Great to kiss with food in the mouth; good sharing, spit, kiss and all. (to hell with your sensibilities, 27th). So, I took a bite, and offered him the other, on my fork. He glanced at her, declined to be fed. But he took the fork, and we had shared the gizzard. I know she noted it, stopped myself from glancing across. The son did that for both!
Independence Day was spent in hospitals. Doing the usual- waiting on benches. Great, I think all hospitals have a specialisation in the waiting of patients. Even on public holidays. I bonded with my mama-in-law. If you can’t beat them, join them. And this was my turf, so, we bonded. I discovered that I am less tongue tied when angry, or defiant, or, well, when I am no longer worried about mis-steps.
A great day actually. We laughed, and talked. Hesitant, yes, but well, expected. I discovered that my tribe, or culture norms are the ones which are more stringent. For example, I would never dare to sit on the floor with my legs stretched out if she had been from my tribe. A calculated and deadly insult, from a son-in-law. I asked, and it was no big deal with my lover’s tribe.
I cheered, internally. And proceeded to relax and enjoy myself.
We cannot talk much. 3 languages between 3 people, you see. Not very comfortable. But we can communicate, adequately.
Yeah, I am sure I will survive this week now.