For most of my life, my mother bought me underwear. She made an effort to go through my drawer to make sure they were “up to date” and in good shape. Clean also.
There was even a time I had started cultivating a saving culture in my piggy bank when she asked for a loan of a thousand shillings; a lot of money back when I was in class 6! And when the time came for her to pay me back, the lady decided you know what? Best way to do that is to buy me underwear. I kid you not. And she was very happy doing so. In her books, a new, clean underwear is next to Godliness. So you can imagine how serious she was when we went to buy them.
We would have this regular lady we would buy from at the market. Huko ndani ndani Marikiti in Mombasa. She was this dark skinned big Swahili woman with a piercing on her right nostril and silver front tooth who always sat on top of the underwear-that was packed in nylon transparent bags of course, and called out to her customers to buy the latest “suruali ya ndani kwa bei nafuu! All shapesii and sizes!” Now remember, this is a market. You’ve got men and women passing by with their wares, others looking to buy something, cute Arab and Somali boys selling madafu right next to this woman and so you can imagine how embarrassing it was when my mum would ask for underwear in my size and of course in HOT PINK, stretch it across my waist and test the elasticity of the underwear around my pelvic area, right there in front of everyone. The woman had no shame! No FEAR, NO NOTHING. Meanwhile, I wanted to die.
Fast forward to when I started living alone in campus as a ka fresher and suddenly realized that the underwear my mother last bought me when I cleared high school were looking kinda…well… worn out and faded and I realized I would have to buy them on my own. I cannot explain to you the dread I felt. Pure fear. Where is underwear bought here in Nairobi?! Who will take me and negotiate the price? LOL! All I will say is thank God for girlfriends. And leave it at that.
I understand how weird, uncomfortable and scary it is to go out and buy underwear for yourself. The first few times wont be easy but I have tips on how to make the experience better. Have no fear! Mwalimu is here!
- Go somewhere far from where you live. The worst thing is to buy from your next door vendor who sees you everyday and might even ask you…leo umevaa gani? Ile ya yellow? Hahahahhah! I die!
2. Pretend to be brave. Like you have done this before and It’s not a big deal. Chewing gum will help. And chew it like a bad ass. Don’t look scared. The vendor is already aware many people are scared to buy his products. Don’t give him/her the satisfaction. Funny thing by the way is that here in Nairobi it’s men who sell these inner wears sana sana… Some can try to tease you if you’re a chic lakini kaa ngumu!
3. Know your size before hand! You don’t wanna go there and when the vendor asks unataka size gani you go uuhhm… and hmmm…! This is where they will tease you that you don’t know your size, start looking at you funny trying to guess your side, tell you to turn around so they see the size of your bum. Lorrrrd have mercy. So are you a small, medium, large or extra large?
4. Have this in mind. EVERYONE wears underwear! Kwani? (ok…almost everyone but ignore this part) With that attitude, no one or nothing will make you feel weird. In fact, people should be lining up to congratulate you for always buying clean new undies! So pick it up, stretch it, place it on your pelvic area, feel the material- Cotton is always best! And ask for the colour you want and the design you want.
5. Be loyal! After looking around and discovering the vendor who understands your taste, style and respects your privacy, stick to them! You don’t wanna be dealing with everyone at the market when buying underwear! It like having a psychiatrist who knows all your dark secrets. You only speak to them.
Do you have a funny underwear story to share like I have? Whether about buying them or otherwise? Lol! Feel free to drop me a comment below! You know how much I love your stories! No judgement here!
Love. Live. Learn.