Before The .com

.JD came home from his self styled treasure hunts with a Rotary phone. He then decided the best place to keep it was the living room to give it pride of place.

Little Man made a beeline for it.

“What. Is. this?” he asked with a curious and bewildered look.

Princess and I dissolved into fits of laughter at his puzzled yet fascinated expression. Princess has seen a retro phone before but her brother hadn’t so couldn’t figure out what it was.  He shook it, turned it upside down, put his finger on the number slots and finally gave up when nothing happened.

Before the Rotary phone JD had found an ancient kerosene oil cooking stove. The kind that needs you to insert a needle into it to release the oil for you to light it. The kind that had you coughing and rubbing your eyes before you could get it to cook anything for you.We plan to clean and polish it to its former glory and then also award it a place of its own in the living room.

For the longest time, there was an old copper jug in the shape of a lamp that once belonged to one of my kids’ great great aunts. For the longest time, we were afraid to polish or even touch it so sure were we that a genie would fly out of it in a poof of smoke 🙂 Don’t know what became of it so I am going to assume it got lost when we moved house. Either that or someone found it and filched it for himself…..

In our museum of ‘antiques’ there is also a giant model of an Arab dhow that is handmade and has exquisite detail. It is only a few years old but we felt our kids needed to appreciate the mode of transportation that had brought their forefathers to these lands. Also, the artist who crafted it was starving-literally- and begged JD to buy it and so here it is.

Many find our interest in these antiquated bric a brac amusing and even unnecessary.

It makes no difference to us because JD and I we are of a different generation.

The generation that grew up playing outdoors, walked to and from school a few miles away, stayed outside enjoying marbles, jumped rope and held neighborhood game competitions until our parents or older siblings dragged us back in.
The generation when, if you wanted to call someone, you had to put in actual coins in a roadside telephone booth (call boxes is what we knew them as:-). When you wanted to watch a movie you had to go rent a video at a bona fide video library where you got a VHS tape.
We lived in simpler times when our mothers would go off to complete whatever they needed to get done leaving us still playing outside. Safe in the knowledge that  kindhearted caring neighbors would call us in when it was late, feed us and keep us until they got home . Who would, on other days, leave their own kids in our mothers’ care.
When we didn’t have to worry about paedophiles or kidnappers. A time when our young lads would go off to swim in the ocean and play soccer immediately after fajr prayer.
It was a generation that could sit and watch television with our parents and feel safe in the knowledge that every show that came on was decent and respectful. When everyone was home to have all three meals together five days out of seven.
When family, neighbours and friends were important and you made going to  visit them a special occasion and you actually looked forward to going.
Before the signs of these times slowly crept in.
When food was pure, real and you could not convince our mothers or grandmothers to eat any fake processed crap. When snacks wasn’t even a word in our vocabulary. When-if you had to eat between your three meals- you ate something someone you know made.
You only had ice cream, cake and fast food only when it was Eid or when you had to mark a momentous occasion.
The Rotary phone, the stove, the lamp, the dhow are just symbols of a more innocent time before we complicated our world. We keep them in our home to be a constant reminder to our kids and any visitor to our home- indeed to JD and myself- to aspire to the values that we grew up with and lived by. Of actual connection, altruism, time management and the love of God and His Creatures.
It was not even that long ago.
We are not living with our heads buried in the sand, though.  Life will not stay the same through the generations. Change is bound to happen.
But I  believe whatever is messed up in our world today it is within our capacity to do something about it. If we have created smart phones and are going to Mars and Allah knows what else humans are going to come up with next then striving to go back to our core values and principles should not be too big of a challenge.
We just have to want it enough.


Share Post

better days, different times, nostalgia, retro


I am a mother of three, born and bred in Mombasa, Kenya. I am passionate about books, writing, healthy living and getting people to see the best of themselves. Especially getting people to see the best of themselves.

Comments (5)

Copyright © A Mombasa Mommy. All Rights Reserved. Design by Crablinks

%d bloggers like this: