Category Archives: village tales

‘The Green Lodge’

‘The Green Lodge’. Sounds swanky a title,yar? Except that in this case we are talking about a village kind of swankiness. A unique feel that only a herds boy deep in the village would understand. For the sake of fairness, my green lodge here refers to a natural lodge made up of bushes and grass.

A few days ago we were having a conversation in a WhatsApp group with some of my friends then one, Larry aka Sakko made a joke about how he would love to have sex with a village girl, in a bush. He confessed to having had the experience while growing up back in the village. I loved the level of honesty. Most men will shy away from admitting to such while deep inside they burn with the desire for such an experience. After the conversation my mind travelled back to some of the sexcapades I had witnessed or heard of. Just to clarify, I never took part in any of them.

In the early 90’s, when I was growing up, these ‘lodges’ were a fad. Mostly, with the youth and herders. Practicaly, most youths looked after cattle. The village wasn’t so populated as it is right now. Homesteads were scatterd and in between existed the grazing grounds,which is also where ladies went to fetch firewood. A perfect meeting point. In these bushes bulls and cows mate. In these bushes snakes, squirrels, ants and other living creatures that inhabited them had sex. Man also decided to join in this lovemaking frenzy. God looked down from the heavens and saw it all. He must have a really difficult job,this our Creator. Does he frown or just smile when he sees human beings and animals having sex at the same time in one small bush? Does he rate them? Why doesn’t he stop them? Throw down ice. Pull a burning-bush-stunt like the one he did in the bible, with Moses.

Picture this, you are making love in the bush, everything is going paradise and you are about to climax. You feel some heat hitting your back but you try to ignore it. You imagine maybe you are too good that the sun has decided you deserve a standing ovation. You feel crackling sounds from the leafy ‘roof’. You look at your partners eyes, and they are frozen in terror, a keen look into her eyeballs and you notice a reflection of what seems like flames of fire, but with no burning umbers. Then you hear a thunderous voice bellowing from above calling out: “John and Mary, why have you decided to defile this holy bush?”then it continues: “Its me your God, the God of Abraham and your forefathers. ” You stiffen up, you feel as if something is tying your gut into knots. Your breath almost stops and your heart ceases pounding for what seems like eternity. That could scare the hell out of anyone.

Of all these love making sessions, man’s was somewhat organised. Some preparation went into it. Mostly, it began with a meeting by the river where both the boy and lady went to fetch water. The boy would them offer to help the lady with her water pot. This gentlemanly gesture was a plus, it increased your chances of winning the ‘prize’. If she kept nibbling on her nails and avoiding eye contact, and when you did occasionally stop to rest she drew on the ground with her toe (most walked barefoot), you were in. All you had to do was say the day and name the bush and she’d be there.

On the meeting day, the boy would take a bath and take the herd of cattle out for grazing, no questions asked. On the other side, the lady didn’t have to do any convincing to her mother. She only needed to take a bath, get a rope and carry a wrapper, that was self explanatory. In the bush, the boy had already scouted for the best location and ‘built’ a ‘lodge’. He’d then wait by the edge of the bush until his date arrived. They didn’t have all the time in the world, so after exchanging a few pleasantries they went down to ‘business’. Condoms or emergency pills were not so available in the village back in the days, let alone where to buy them.

What baffles me is, there were less children born out of wedlock compared to this current time. Is it that we have become very fertile than folks were back then?

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In Readiness For Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

It’s about that time of the year. The time you started looking forward to from as early as the first minute of the year 2017. Time to indulge yourself in pleasantries and vices you can afford. There are those, with means, who have managed to put away some money to take their; families, lovers, besties, side chics and FWB’s for treats down to the coast or some exotic beaches and the like. Shops display products on ‘Christmas offer’. Tour and Travels firms have offers for the holiday lovers. Business is booming. All in readiness for Christmas day, it’s just A DAY – twenty four hours.

Entrance to most supermarkets and various shopping malls have someone dressed as Santa ringing a bell as he ushers in clients. Most eateries and entertainment joints are packed with most bars recording high number of patrons. The mood is set. The footloose, are travelling upcountry. Travelling to show off their ‘sophistication’ to the village folks. A few with means, fly. While majority opt for public transport, others make do with personal or leased cars. It’s time for mishpocha to be united and pass those family resolutions – like forming an association or sacco, or having an investment plan. As long as people travel back to town, all done and said is left where it belongs, in the village.

As people in towns make their preparations, we in the village too are busy. Getting ready for the BIG DAY. Ready to welcome our loved ones back home from town. Making sure the village is a ‘paradise’ for them. Comfortable by village standards. Just like in town. We the villagers meticulously plan for Christmas, and time is invested the preparations. Mostly begining from as early as mid November.

Sparking off the whole process is renovations done to the houses. The mud walls are redone. Those with grass-thatched roofs have a more tedious job of ensuring the roof is repaired just in case it has some leakages – this is the most stressful as thatching grass has since become a rare commodity. Thanks to the ever growing population. To make sure you get your grass when you need, one is forced to book in advance, as early as 4months. If you are unlucky, someone sets fire on the grass fields and that means you don’t get to repair your roof. For those lucky enough to have iron sheets, their work is simplified – they only have to worry about then earthen floor and the mud walls.

To get the walls and the floor done, patience and some hint of aggressiveness is required. This is so when you don’t have cattle in your homestead as one of the most important material is cow dung . During this season the demand is quite high, and the number of cows or bulls within a village are quite few. Not forgetting, it’s a dry season so there’s very little grass for the cattle to feed on. Yet still the entire village puts their hopes on the few underfed cattle to supply them with this precious good. Children are woken up by 6 a.m and sent with basins and sacks to the nearest home to collect the dung. Woe unto you if the home you are sent to has dogs or is gated. You have to stand by the gate until the owners are awake and the gate opened, because knocking would be so rude – some don’t mind it though.

Picture this: You are the owner of a gated home who is lucky to have some few heads of cattle. You are deep asleep, probably dreaming or maybe, just maybe, having morning glory. Somewhere in the middle you hear a knock at the gate. You try to assume it hoping it will go, or that you just imagined the rapping on the gate. The knock is persistent and there’s no sign of it going, instead it’s growing louder and bolder. You curse under your breathe and get out of bed grudgingly and walk out the house, praying it’s something worth it. You walk to the gate and on opening you are met with faces of barefoot children carrying basins and sacks. The smallest one, a boy, is standing at the front, has mucus streaming from his nostrils, he removes his tongue and licks them clean. You almost throw up . Yuck! His head patched with ringworms. He has blue t-shirt with words ‘I love Obama’. He has on a pair of torn black shorts. You take your eyes off him and study the other three. They are all scared to talk. In your mind you already know what they have come for – cow dung.

At this moment you have two choices: First, you can chose to let them inside the compound. Which means they’ll definitely be back the next day and you’ll have to sacrifice your sleep, for up to a week. Secondly, you can opt to send them away. Give them some lame excuse like your cattle have had constipation and haven’t been letting out any dung. Or that they hate being disturbed early in the morning, worse off, by kids trying to pick their dung, and that doing so would earn them deadly kicks.

In readiness for Christmas, when the houses have been redone. Some go an extra mile to put some writing on the walls – “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”. Some remember to add the words ‘WELCOME!’.

What really does wreck my heart are these ‘civilised’ guys from town. They carry with them some misplaced air of sophistication and braggadocio. They complain and compare almost everything with whatever they use in towns. Lame lines like “Mbona maji ya huku si tamu” or “Mbona huku hamtumii unga ya hostess.” While truth be told they seem to be living a desperate life in town than we do back here in the village, and the closest they have ever come to tasting the ‘unga ya hostess’ is on a tv advert. Funny enough,it could be coming from someone who grew up here in the village. Walked barefoot. Went swimming in those muddy and dung-filled streams, occasionally swallowing that unhygienic water.

We , villagers, can not go through all this pain to prepare to welcome people from town,only for them to make a bagatelle out of it. It hurts. Then as they will be leaving the village, after apopemptic speeches soaked in fairytale promises, they’ll trick us into lending them money to use as fare back. There has always been a cri de coeur about those who, after going back to town, don’t remember to clear the debts left behind, and phone calls go unanswered. What a shame!

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.

Brother, it’s Christmas!

Dear bro,

Merry Christmas my brother. It’s my prayer that you, Othieno, are doing well in Nairobi. Allow me to convey greetings from your family back at home. Grandma also sends her greetings. We are doing’ fine except Father. We were happy that Obondo delivered the maize to you. Crops didn’t do so well this season and that’s why they are less compared to what we sent you last season.

Father has been sick, for a while now, but we didn’t want to bother you with it. We took him to the local health centre and the doctor said he has developed stomach ulcers…wounds in his stomach…due his excessive use of chang’aa (he rarely eats as he is drank most of the time). We have tried talking some sense in him but our words have fallen into deaf ears. We even talked to Nyaloka not to be selling chang’aa to him,but still he comes home drank. We even sought spiritual intervention from Omondi Ja polo, who told as that he has been bewitched. We bought; candles, about 10metres of fabric, a hen and paid him some money, mom had to sell that goat that was left to raise the money. All that money was swept down the river. His drinking got from bad to worse. Anyway, that’s enough about baba.

Mama is managing well,but I know she’s just putting on a brave face not to worry us. Deep in her eyes I see pain. She talks about you most of the time. Worried that you might marry those ojua (know-it-all town ladies) and make your life miserable. Or worse still, squander all your money and disappear with all your belonging like they did Owiti. But I assure her that you are smart. She didn’t raise no fool. You can identify a decent lady from athongo (a loose lady). Grandma travels with her in the worry-train too. They have promised to talk to you about their concerns when you come home for Christmas. I overheard them talking of proposing that you take Adhiambo, Okere’s sister as a wife. I agree with them. She has grown up and is very respectful. Her behind is the type you like. She’s also not the loose type. She’s very hardworking…noticable from her love for farming. However, the final decision will be yours to make.

Our younger siblings; Anyango,Akeyo and the little boy Othwindi are already in the mood for Skukuu (siku kuu) , christmas. Skukuu cries can be heard across the village. Making me remember how we used to wake up early to do the call out: ‘Sukukuuuuuu!’ then Owiti and his brother would respond with: ‘Obwogouuu!’ across the stream. We would do the shouting for weeks until the very Christmas day. The night to the big day took like forever. It was always the longest night of our childhood. We woke up quite early, as did mom to bake maandazis. Do you remember that day you stole some of those maandazis and gave some to me,then we stashed them in our pockets to church? Hehe. That was gross. We came back from church and mom noticed our pockets were shinny with cooking oil stains. She then denied us some more, saying we already ate our share. Miss those days.

Anyway, I don’t know what you plan on buying me this time when you’ll be coming home, but there’s this jeans trouser I saw when some Nairobi boys came for some burial here in the village that really caught my eye. It looks like an old pair and with tarters around the knee, I don’t know how they call it but I’d love it if you got me a pair of one of those. And any nice shoes you see there in the city. I want to walk with you on the skukuu day and I need to look the part. I wish I had gone to secondary school like you. This village would have respected me. I could have been in Nairobi too,with you. Together we would have taken care of our family, big brother.

Othwindi, our younger brother, lost his shoes before they closed school for holidays. I don’t understand how. So, you’ll have to consider him in your shopping. Akeyo has overgown the shoes you bought her last christmass, the dress too is torn. Anyango has, at least , been the responsible one. Her shoes and dress are still in good condition, but you don’t want to bring a conflict by leaving her out. Just try and get her something to even things. As for mama and grandma, you know how you always do your magic with those two.

I would like to leave it at that. I have a lot to discuss but that can wait. I’ll be a attending the village baraza today. Ogwindi was found stealing maize from Nyar Puoyo’s farm and the matter is to be handled by the elders today. Nyawiny was also caught yesternight cohabiting with her pastor inside the church by some boys who were attending a village disco and were attracted by some sounds emanating from inside the church. The pastor managed to escape but not without leaving behind his jacket, containing his wallet that had an I.D, and a hat. The pastor has since gone missing. I’ll tell you more when you come home. Bye for now.

Your loving bro,

Onyango.

Merry Christmas and Happy New year to all who took time off their busy schedule to visit this space. Shout out to; Sakko da Prefekt, Wizzi,Alade, Calvo, Oposhe, Pee, Rigo aka Wambizi, Kivi and G-Mlazoh. It’s that time of the year. Hope to see you guys.

Just before you leave. Support a brother by clicking and watching Bandika Bandua by Prefekt and Lexxboi

How To Kill With Flaccid Breasts.

Killing with flaccid breasts you ask? Yes, I mean exactly that, what you just read. It’s ridiculous, that I agree, but not to everyone. At least not with my tribe. I have heard this since I was old enough to  make sense out the the words that reached my ears. How true this assertion was I didn’t know, until few weeks ago. 

There are numerous taboos embedded within my tribe that seem control how people relate with one another. I remember when we were young, we were always warned not to look at female kids while they are passing urine. Let me make it clear to you that we never did look at them with ill intent, but mostly it was out of curiosity. We had a pipe with which urine jetted out, but they didn’t and our young minds found that fascinating, very fascinating.  But we had to stop, as we didn’t want mother lose her breast. We were also warned against crying or wailing at night, as evil spirits would pick up our voices and we would loose the ability to talk. 

In adulthood, existed more serious taboos, that lead to death. If someone, out of anger showed you his or her butt hole, you were done for. The only remedy is to whip that person’s butt instantly or show them yours too. Hahaha. Crazy, huh? Another bizarre incident is when a wife hits her husband with her panty, food or cooking stick ,this means death unless special intervention by elders were done immediately. How true this beliefs are, I can’t tell. Woe unto you if an irritated woman unleashed the the curse of breasts on you, by undressing and slapping them, or even her thighs. Death visited you immediately. It is this last one that I was set to prove after I witnessed it in play, a few weeks ago. 

It’s around 10:00am, and the market is just warming up for the day. It’s a fair weather and most people are busy setting up there wares of trade, so the market is relatively calm and quiet. The eerie silence is disrupted by Otieno, preaching at the top his voice. He stops it abruptly, just as he had began, and the serenity is restored. Now, Otieno is just the market lunat, the only twist is that he preaches the word of God. Wasonga, another of Otieno’s kind , runs and prances, and leaps across the market. He makes a sudden halt, then starts dancing to some imaginary tunes . These are normal occurrences that rarely draws peoples’ attention. 

I’m drawn to my work when I here someone wailing, a woman’s voice. It’s a mix of screams and words that at first are inaudible. The voice gets closer and the words are getting clearer. A look at the marketers and I realize their attention is trained to the source of the noice. 

Atieno, you have destroyed my house! ‘ the voice screams. ‘I’ve been quiet for so long! ‘

Finally, the source of the voice comes into view. A woman, noticably around 60 years of age, medium height and dark in complexion. She had no blouse or bra on, just her dark trunk with two loose pricariously hanging socks-like breasts, flapping like elephant ears on her chest. I stepped out of my shop and my eyes followed her to where she was headed. Then she stopped right in front of her, Atieno. Atieno is a maandazi vendor. She’s somewhere in her 30’s. She’s blessed herself with a light skin, thanks to the cheap bleaching lotions sold in every salon and beauty shop. She must have been accustomed to this kind of attacks from other women, because all this time she remained calm, handling her maandazis. Or it must be she was waiting for the old woman to dare touch her, she must have been confident the woman was no match. 
It is this calmness that irritated this woman more, she jumped slapping her grotesque breasts, unleashing curses, insults and threats at the sametime. I feared for Atieno. She was going to die, if the beliefs were true. Seeing that Atieno wasn’t shaken, she dared to undress and curse her with her womanhood. As she began lifting up her skirt, some two women rushed in to restrain her, offering a shawl to cover herself. They walked her away, calming her down and trying to keep the shawl in place. She had totally lost it, she was fighting for her husband. 

It’s almost a month since that last incident, and I have been watching Atieno closely, monitoring any change in body weight or business falling, but nothing. She seems to have won the battle. The other woman lost her dignity. The woman was justified in her course, but it was misguided by belief that she could cause someone’s death by embarrassing herself. Maybe there was another way of handling the whole issue without causing unnecessary loss of dignity on her part. 

A Letter To My Brother Overseas.

Letter To My Brother Overseas

Dear Otis, 

It is with deep sorrow, mixed with enthusiasm, that I write you this letter from your village, Mlaha – do you even remember that name, your village’s name? Sorrow because I miss you so much my brother, and enthusiasm because this is the first letter I have written to you  and because I believe it will reconnect us. OK, how are you doing over there? It’s been 25 years since you left home for loka (overseas ), 25 long dreary years. I was your favorite… remember?… and you had promised to come back for me, I was only five then. Do you even remember me, Onyango?  I pray you still do, because just a mere thought that you might have forgotten my name, brings me down to tears. 

When you left for the white man’s land, mother told us( me and our two sisters) that you were going to become pastor, preaching the message to the whites. We got very proud and bragged all over the village about it, about how great you were going to become. Anytime an aeroplane flew over the village, I told my friends that it was carrying you, and they believed it, because I believed so, too. Mom became the envy of the village, her son had flown on a plane, to the land yonder. You instantly became an inspiration. I remember the letters you sent home occasionally, mom kept them under her mattress because they meant so much  to her. Once, I did still a letter to go and show it off to my friends, mom found out and I received a dog’s beating, but I didn’t mind, because you promised to come for me and the beating will be no more. 

When I clocked Seven years and began attending school, your letters reduced to one in a year, we couldn’t understand why, but mom always told us that you must be busy preaching the word of God. That consoled me but still I looked forward to the letters. Eventually, the letters abated. What ever made you stop? Still, my childish heart trusted and hoped and waited. The planes flew above occasionally, but they brought us no news of you. Were there no pens and papers? 

One day I found mom praying to God to take care of you, she begged God to tell her why you had stopped sending letters. I listened outside her bedroom hoping to hear what God would tell her, but no answer came. I heard her sobbing and I got scared, I found myself too letting down a free flow of tears wash my tender face. I was only ten years. From then, mom stopped talking about you. I took care not to broach the subject anytime she was around. Another day, our younger sister, Akech, mentioned your name and I could see nothing but marked dread in mama’s eyes. I could tell she was hurting inside, she just didn’t want us to know, or get worried. That day she went to bed early and when she woke up next day morning, she was sick. I retreated to that bush next to our home and cried my heart out, I cried for myself, and I cried for mama too. I prayed to God in those tears, those young tears. I begged Him to answer mama’s prayers, I implored him to, at least, send a message to you. I shouted to planes flying over the village to bring you back home, to let you know that we miss you terribly. 

By the way, when grandma passed away, why didn’t you come? Did she not send you dreams of her demise? We waited for you and even extended the burial date, just in case your flight had been delayed, but nothing. We were really optimistic that you wouldn’t miss grandma’s burial. You had promised to buy her a car, and even take her to Nairobi before she dies, what happened to that pledge? I’m sure she is so sad in her grave, she did fight death, a gruesome battle it had been. She lived every second holding tight to those promises, they kept her alive. Like mama, she was haunted by your silence. She lived in despair till her dying day. In her eyes she still clung to a thin thread of hope, that one day, someday you would show up at the gate. And all the silense would be like a mirage. Some kind of a weird dream she had been having. She grew frail each passing day, until finally death wrestled breathe out of her withered lungs. 

My brother, mum almost died that moment, when you didn’t show up for the burial. She got so depressed. It’s like she was trying to burry you with grandma, to ease her pain. She had a nervous breakdown, wish you had seen the anguish in her eyes. The agony of losing her eldest son. What pulled her out of it, was Okong’os return from… um… the U.K. He had gone there only five years earlier ,and drove back to the village receiving a king’s welcome. He had come home and gave mama some cash, saying  he saw you and you sent him with the money, and that you promised to come home soon. And that you apologised for the silence. He brought no letter though. Was it true? That you sent him? We began the wait with renewed energy. We pictured you coming home, driving your own car. Probably, with a white wife. Mom was alive again. 

Otis, do you have a heart?  Did we, your family members, wrong you in any way? You know that you had been like a father to us after dad’s death, we all looked up to you, even mama. Why did you have to desert us? Was it a sin so heavy that you can’t forgive us? Mama died four years ago. She collapsed one afternoon and that was the end of her. The doctors said she died of a heart attack. Mama missed you to death. Thinking of you is what did her in. If only you had written a letter to her, it might have made a difference. Maybe she still would have been alive. We buried her and I tried to burry you with her like she tried to do with grandma, but I couldn’t. I almost lost my mind, but I had to remain sane for our lastborn. 

Our other sister, Auma, got married, married to a man who is married to alcohol. She endures beatings and insults, and no matter how much I try to talk her out of the marriage, she remains adamant. All she says is: You don’t understand.  Maybe she is right, I don’t understand. I managed to send our lastborn to a Teachers Training College and she’s graduating next year. I don’t have a formal job here at home and that has made it a living hell for us. I have cut down most of the trees on our land, for sale and others I used to burn charcoal, just to make sure Akech completes her training. Recently, I started making mud building bricks behind grandma’s house. From it I hope to raise capital to start a business. I had to leave school in Form Three because mama couldn’t raise the money for school fees, I don’t blame her though. It wasn’t easy being a mother and a father, but she did her best. 

This letter, though stained with my tears and bloated in other parts, is all I could come up with. I couldn’t contain the emotions and I hope you’ll understand. Even if you won’t come back home, please try and write back. Just tell me that you hate me, even if you don’t explain why, I promise to understand. I won’t push any further. I do believe you are still alive, I can feel it. You don’t have to fulfill any promises, because I’m no longer a kid anymore, mama is dead and grandma is no more. I’m hurt because I love you. I’m hurt because I care. 

Yours sincerely, 

Onyango. 

Cooking Fat For Mandazi!

Maandazi

Photo by Merufm digital

Hello villagers! I bet the word maandazi sounds alien to some of you. You my fellow villagers are of different races, but I believe you are familiar with English, otherwise this sentence wouldn’t have made sense to you. For the sake of fairness and to avoid straining our lush camaraderie, allow me to explain what it means. Maandazi is a Swahili word for doughnuts or bread kind of – sweet bread. Forgive me, but I don’t know how to explain it better than that, it’s just maandazi. Are we good? As for cooking fat,  I believe you do have an idea. Let me just break it down for you, cooking fat is a semi solid cooking oil or thick paste if that makes it easier to comprehend. It’s common back here in my village, and it cheaper too. Most folks are able to enjoy a fried meal courtesy of the cooking fat. From as little as Kshs. 5 you are guaranteed a fried stew for lunch or supper. It has attracted a number of pseudo names with the most popular being nyakatuda (which I  can’t explain to be honest) and Mor Achodha.  The latter meaning scooped fat.

Now that you know, let me save you the megillah and get to my story…

A few days ago something happened in my the village that got everyone laughing. But I didn’t laugh at what happened, I laughed rather at what the villagers were laughing at. Is there any difference in what I just said?  I don’t even know what I’m saying. OK, the whole village was left nursing painful ribs after what seemed like a scene out of some Hollywood comedy movie, became the centre of attention one sunny afternoon. The scene was at a neighbouring homestead, and the main characters were two co-wives; Nyar Alego and Nyar Asembo ,both widows. The cause of conflict was a maandazi and cooking fat. How you ask?

And it occurred that…

Nyar Alego the eldest wife had been bedridden for what seemed like two months. She had grown lethargic and senile. She was somewhere around 78 years. Nyar Asembo on the other side was still strong. Since they both didn’t have their children staying with them, as they were either married or living in the city, she had to assist Nyar Alego.

On this eventful day, Nyar Asembo was going to the market to buy groceries, and what to prepare for lunch that day. She passed by Nyar Alego and inquired if there’s anything she felt like eating. ‘Maandazi’ she had said. On her way back from the market, Nyar Asembo had remembered to bring her co-wife the maandazi she had requested.  She had everything she had bought packed in a polythene bag. On reaching home she passed by Nyar Alego’s house to deliver the maandazi. Being in hurry she dipped her hand inside the bag and felt for whatever was wrapped in a piece of paper and handed it out to Nyar Alego in the bed where she lay half asleep then walked out of the house to her own kitchen to prepare lunch for both of them.

Water for Ugali( thick paste of maize, sorghum or millet flour) was set on the three-stoned fireplace to boil as she prepared onions and tomatoes she was to use in frying eggs that had been left unhatched by one of her chickens early that morning. She sang as women do while preparing a meal or doing a chore. I don’t know if it’s only my observation! At least, I have noticed my mother and sisters doing so, but I have never understood the logic behind it. If you haven’t, then take time today and pay attention to any lady or woman, most of them prefer Gospel music.  Done with the onion chopping and tomatoes, she beats the eggs and takes to preparing her ugali. When it’s ready she sets it on a plate beside the fireplace and puts another sufuria on the stones for the eggs. She reaches for theold polythene  bag she had brought from the market and takes out a wrapped piece of old Newspaper. On unwrapping she discovers it’s maandazi,  and not  cooking fat she had bought at the market. She scampers out to Nyar Alego’s house on realization that she must have given her the cooking fat.

‘Nyar Alego kara ne aweyoni mana nyakatuda kar mandas!’ (Nyar Alego I must have left you with cooking fat instead of maandazi) She had said apologetically.

‘Kara ema omiyo ne oyom kabisa!’ (So that is why it was so soft ) Nyar Alego responded  innocently.

‘Ichamo mora!'(You have eaten my cooking fat ) she exclaimed in shock. It couldn’t be true, Nyar Alego couldn’t possibly have eaten it, she was bluffing. She inched closer to where she lay and beside her noticed the fat stained piece of paper. A wave of fury overcame her and she almost threw herself on her with rage. She looked at the grotesque figure lying on that bed  and she got madder. She wanted to tear her apart. Storming out of the house, she threw away the maandazi.

A strong smell of something metallic burning hit her nostrils and she remembered the sufuria at the fireplace. Dashing inside, she found the cooking pot glowing hot red. The sight of this only added to her already rampaging rage, she pushed it off the fire, burning her fingers in the process. Now it was a mix of anger and pain. What a terrible combination. This gave her flaring temper a new boost and she came out of the house spitting insults to the helpless Nyar Alego, who was still in her house. It is this that attracted onlookers drawn, from within the neighbouring homes and those who had been passing through the village. 

One woman walked close to her to inquire what had transpired, a small crowed followed her and it became a small political  rally.  She was like an opposition leader delivering a  harangue to the rulling President, all attention was on her and she had her loyal supporters with her, she was the vox populi. When she narrated the earlier occurrence, her supporters laughed and others jeered. They started  filling out of the compoured leaving her behind, dampening her spirits. She lashed out at them, driving them out her homestead, they were ungrateful and disloyal to her, their leader. How could they dismiss her like that?

It was now her against the villagers. Words were exchanged, jibes flew laced  with mockery. The village came alive. They had something to talk about until another could come back- a comic relief. They  found a momentary break from problems bedeviling their lives and enjoyed some good laugh, though only for a brief period…the maandazi and cooking fat moment. A Luo would say : A mandas and nyakatuda moment! 

‘Sponsor’ Gone Rogue!

Stories have been told. Hearts broken. And marriages thrown into the wind. Economic crunch. The great depression. Even Muamar Gaddafi came and vanished, but this rare species has refused to be extinct, in fact it has only managed to evolve and redefine itself in the society. We can only wish it away but as far as I know, it’s here to stay. It has been operating under a lot of aliases. Latest is the more swanky name, SPONSOR. Former and old fashioned being, Sugar daddy/mommy. Hope you now catch the drift, yeah?

A few days ago, one sponsor decided to act up, or simply teach a sponsee(one who is under the sponsor’s care) some unforgettable lesson. I suspect the sponsee had been a bother and the sponsor simply wanted to get rid of her. 

And the story was…

I had gone to Migori, in South Nyanza, on a personal commitment and I was now traveling back home to Ugenya through Kisumu. Next to me inside the mini bus I was traveling in sat this fair lady. Fair because she was somewhere between beautiful and ugly, fat and thin, light and dark skin. She wore heavy make up that made her look so ridiculous. Her eyebrows trimmed to thread-thin then she did paint it with an eye pencil to make it look bolder. Why would she even do that! Isn’t that time wasting? I have seen a lot of ladies do that but I fail to get the humor in it. If you don’t want to have eyebrows and you decide to shave them off, why again draw imaginary ones? Then she had this blood red lipstick on her full lips. Gracing her head was this blonde wig, that was bold. I’m sure she got it off second hand clothe vendors on some open air market. It must have cost her Kshs. 80 after some 30 minutes of haggling, she looked like that type, the type who could bargain even at the supermarket. A yellow chiffon blouse top and black jeans plants with yellow doll shoes (those shiny plastic ones that cost like Kshs. 150), was her dressing. Then she babied a black shiny handbag, I’m sure it was plastic too. Thank God she had thought of wearing some perfume, even though it was hurting my nostrils, like some noxious gas. Her nail polish was of different colors in every fingernail and a little worn out.

Her phone rings from inside her bag and she fiddles with the zipper and finally opens it. She was short of ripping the bag apart like it was a timer bomb that would go off if she didn’t reach for it within milliseconds. Fishes out the phone and places it on her ear that was on the side I was. I couldn’t help eavesdropping on the conversation.

” Achieng ne isewuok?” (Achieng’ are you on your way?) the caller in a male voice enquires. Now I know her name.

“Yea,” she responds plainly.

“Ne iwacho ni idhi kanye?” (Where did you say you were going? ) the caller enquires further.

“I’m going to Nairobi!” She says in a heavily Luo accent. She’s not loving this conversation at all, it’s evident from the minimalistic answers she gives. The caller was about to ask another question but I suspect she hang up on him. She must have suspected I was following the conversation because immediately she got off the phone she looked my direction but I pretended to be preoccupied with something else out the window. I guess she was cursing the caller for putting her through all that humiliation, talking to her in Dholuo.

There’s one thing that got me thinking, her ringtone, about what kind of lady she was or secretly hoped to be. It was of luo rhumba, Johnny Junior I suppose.
There’s something about these songs that make them so popular with beer drinkers, I guess it’s because they are always played at most locals – bars, mostly where luos frequent. By all standards she would pass for a drinker, Tusker must be her favorite brand I conclude.

I’m seated beside Miss. Tusker here and none of us has said a word, save for the occasional surreptitious looks. I’m always scared of starting conversations with strangers sitting beside me while traveling because I never want to know where it might lead, and Miss. Tusker here wasn’t going to be an exception. Something ever happened to me, really horrible, but that’s for another day. For now allow me to keep my reservations. Another ringing and she receives the phone call. This time her face is glowing, the caller must be special.

“Hi babe!” she says before the voice at the other end could talk.

“Hi,” a deep male voice responds at the other end, “how far are you?” he asked.

“Like an hour hivi! ” she informs him.

“OK, call me mkifika!” the voice says and the line goes dead. It’s bad manners but I just can’t help following…
The bus conductor is doing a routine check of the passenger tickets and asking if there’s anyone demanding any a change back. When he gets to our seat I pass him my ticket and he marks it and hands it back to me. Miss. Tusker looks at him in the eyes trying to smile, while the conductor maintains a serious face.

“Madam hebu lipa pesa. Sitaki mchezo!” (Madam pay up. I don’t want jokes) he commands.

“Si alikuambia atalipa tukifika”(He told you he is going to pay when we get there), she responds in almost a whisper, an embarrassed look on her face.

“Mwambie anitumie kwa Mpesa.” (Tell him to send me money through Mpesa) he declares and sashays along alley  not giving her room to talk back. She looks at me and when our eyes meet I give a blank stare. I almost told her that I didn’t hear whatever they were discussing in a bid  to reassure her. Her eyes darted around to see if anyone else was looking at her. And indeed all eyes were on her.

Don’t worry honey, they are just admiring your wig, they are probably fascinated by your guts, you are the only lady who can travel to Nairobi in a Kisumu bound minibus without paying.” I played the monologue in my mind.

She tapped my elbow and I almost jumped out of my skin. It felt like I was dreaming until she did a second time and I heard her voice close to my ear, it was so close like she was going to bite it off.

“Could you please assist me with your phone I make a call.” She whispers.

I hand her my phone set to dialer without uttering a word. I’m eager to eavesdrop on the call and it’s becoming addictive. And when the call finally goes  through, the deep voice echoes from the other end. He passes the conductors message to Mr. Deep Voice who promises to call back in two minutes and direct her on what to do and hangs up. She flips my phone over several times and then tells me that I have I nice phone. As if I didn’t know. Why would I go to a shop and buy a phone that to me wasn’t nice! I’m eager to have my phone back while she’s pensively waiting for Mr. Deep voice to call. She remembers she also has a phone and hands me back my gadget.

The bus is going fast and I can now see signs of Kisumu. The conductor walks to her and demands for the money again. He’s finally lost his patience and he’s determined to have his dues now. Then she does the worst mistake. She stepped on sore puss-filled whitlow! And the sin was, asking the conductor for his phone so that he could call back Mr. Deep Voice. The conductor took it as an insult and what ensued was hurling of unprintable. I gave her my phone to call his Mr. but he was unreachable. She tried and tried, and tried one more time but nothing…

The number you tried to call is out of reach, if you wish to leave a voice message please do so after the tone… ” that’s all Miss. Tusker could hear.

She double checked the number and dialed an umpteenth time but the response was the same. Her eyes were almost watery. Passengers had now joined the conductor and jibes were outpouring.

“Mano onyale kabisa!” (That serves her right ) a passenger shouted from behind.

“Ochal jakwal chuo jowetege!” (She looks like a husband snatcher)  a female voice teased somewhere at the front row.

Miss. Tusker was in deep shit. Her tears were now flowing freely, she couldn’t contain herself. The insults kept flying from all corners of the bus. She leans over and asks me if I could pay for her then she would refund me, or even do anything I asked of her. That was the mother of all shockers! How the hell was I going to pat with my five hundred bob for some stranger I met on a bus! She must have been sick. I told her the only cash I had was Kshs. 200, my fare to Ugenya from Kisumu. She told me all she had was Kshs. 70 in her purse, how was that even a concern of mine? That is desperation to you. A sponsor had decided to act up. Maybe a better option just came up. Or the sponsee had humiliated him and he wanted some revenge. When he thought out this plan, he was boiling with hatred I’m certain of that. He wanted it to be perfect, no mistakes. She had to pay. And Miss. Tusker here was paying the price. She wouldn’t suspect any foul play, not if it was well orchestrated. Mr. Deep Voice must have been a sponsor gone rogue.

jagweng