Tag Archives: village

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. 

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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! 

Of Dreams and The Suspense!

Have you ever been woken up in the middle of some lovely dream? Say you had gone for months without eating chapatti and chicken stew! Luckily, somewhere in your dreams you get invited for lunch at a friends party. Set up on the table is your favorite meal, just as you wished it was. You wash your hands and with all your mastered appetite and eager stomach that is now rumbling as if in a celebratory mood, you grab a chicken drumstick and hungrily lift it to your mouth. As you open your foul smelling mouth to take a bite the worst happens… someone slaps you across the cheek sending you back into the real world.

You feel your right cheek and touch something soft that move toward your mouth and another part to your temple. You jerk up thinking it’s a snake.  You reach for a matchbox on a rickety stool that sits next to your bed. Accidentally, you knock off your old tin lamp. You catch the matchbox and strike a matchstick and discover it was a pair of ugly geckos that had ruined your sumptuous meal. The stupid geckos on a rendezvous on the roof of your grass-thatched hut, decided that it’s better for them to fall off and continue their love making on your cheek at the expense of your dreams. 

You pick up your tin lamp that has now spilt almost all the kerosene. The matchstick burns your finger tips as it dies out and you drop it to the floor cursing under your breath.

image

Back inside your old dusty blanket that you must have inherited from your late grandfather, you appeal to Jehovah God to allow you back to the dream, back to the chicken you were about to devour. You cover yourself from head to toe because you do not want any interruption.

Fortunately, God answers your prayers and you drift back to sleep, then back to your dreamworld…

You are part of a tumultuous crowd waiting to receive Nelson Mandela. Mandiba himself. He’s supposed to be dead, you wonder! But the fact that the whole town is waiting for his arrival,  he never really died, you console yourself. It was all a lie, a conspiracy, a dream. After some waiting his motorcade finally arrives. One funny thing with dreams is that it’s never clear, you can be in this place and then another at the same time. So you are in a hall and then you are standing along the street. Mandiba singles you out from the crowd. He calls you by name and you are excited. You walk towards him wielding that boyish grin. You shake hands and he requests you to address the crowd. You are the centre of attraction and you can read envy in the people’s eyes.

You start talking and then you find out you are in a get together with friends. Talking about your past moments and reliving memories. You fight to shift back to Mandiba but it’s fruitless. You decide it was just a dream in a dream and you quit trying.

One minute you are driving home (back to the village) in this sleek state of the art Lamborghini with butterfly doors (doors that open like wings) and you just can’t wait to get home and show it off, then when you are approaching your home you are riding on an old bicycle.

Another instance, you meet this hot lady or dude and things are just going as you want them to. You decide to exchange contacts and when she/he starts saying the digits something wakes you up, and you remain grumpy the whole day! What a loss!

Dreams are sweet and fascinating. Dreams are silly and annoying because of the suspense. Most of the times, when I retire to bed each night I think of things I wish to dream of, once in a while it happens but mostly it plays tricks on me. Leaves with raw appetite. Hungry for more. But it never gives me the MORE.

I Had to Walk Naked!

I’ve been hearing complaints about the current generation dressing skimpily, ladies that is, and some call it walking ‘naked’! It’s fashion. It’s a trend. An in-thing they call it. Personally, there’s nothing so worrying about all this – in my perspective! Why? I grew up when civilization (according to the western culture) was just about getting to my village or our small world then. The only clothes or dresses akin to us then was a piece of beaten or softened goat or cowskin cut in a triangular shape with all the tips having a rope extension. The ropes aided in fastening it around the waist after placing the cloth like an inverted triangle below the waist at the front. The hanging rope then passed between the legs, through the butt-crack and fastened at the waist on the  one around the waist. It only helped to cover our manhood. Does the description sound a bell? Looks like the ‘thong’ aka ‘G-string’, dah? Yes, we wore thongs back then.

Enough of all the noise!

Now, all this took place one evening around 1946. 

I was sixteen years, strong, healthy and masculine.  The boy of the home. My dad’s favourite son. Reason? I knew how to look after cattle and ensured they ate to their fill and well watered. For this reason I was never sent to school (education had already been introduced by the white missionaries in the village). That is where weaklings were taken, those who added no much value to the home. They were sent to school as punishment.

One fine afternoon, bright and calm by all extensions, I decided to take the cattle for watering at a nearby stream.

At the stream after the cattle had drunk water, they set out grazing along the banks. Since it was fairly hot, I took the opportunity to bathe. I gave my ‘thong’ a fair wash and left it to dry up on a rock. Water caressed my skin and gave my body some bit of  relief I badly needed. Finished, I sat on another rock as I let water drip out of my body as I watched the cattle graze.

After a while, I decided it was time to walk the cattle back home. I turned to the rock where I had spread my ‘thong’ to dry but to my shock, it wasn’t there. Where could it have disappeared to? I kept checking and turning dry leaves as I moved closer to the herd. It’s then that I noticed a cow chewing but not dropping it’s head down to pick up grass. Something like a string hanging from the side of her mouth. 😠. On close inspection, it was my ‘expensive ‘thong’.

How was I going to walk home ‘naked’? Walk with my manhood swinging like a pendulum! I just looked at the cow not knowing what to do to her. I sat back on the rock and thought of what to do. At this instant I heard some monkey chattering. l looked at the direction of the sound, and something caught my eye, a banana plant. Scanning the leaves, an idea struck me. I went and plucked a leaf and tied it around my waist. My problem was solved, at least for nom till I can make it home and retrieve another ‘thong’. I directed the cattle back home but all the way I felt naked, not used to the breeze hitting me from below. My balls felt like they were freezing. Lucky for me, back then you could walk for miles before meeting another walker.

Don’t be asking yourself how old I am! This story was narrated to me by friend of mine who is 85yrs now. 😅😅

How I wish I was born then. But never getting old and wrinkled.

Every Minute, Every Second.

There is one thing that just crossed my mind this morning … when we have set our minds on different goals to be achieved and give it a one step plan, all our dreams will keep falling into place.

What we have to do is occupy our thoughts with positive ideas and keep telling ourselves – ‘yes we are going to achieve’. It is this that has guided me through the past year and I managed to achieve all my goals for the year, and bonuses. I have let the energy overflow to this year and the satisfaction I’m already reaping is immense.

You could make it work for you too. You complain about frustrations each day, right? It’s just in your mind, the frustrations are not real. Find a way of getting them out of your mind and live your life.

It’s a beautiful morning here in my village. Rich calmness in the air and brigh confident sun rising from the east just behind the main house, its beautiful rays blessing my grass thatched hut. 😀

Posted by Mr. Jagweng