The Easter weekend finds me shooting breeze with a friend in one of those ancient village hangouts.This joint is as old as the hills- if you carefully searched the walls,you will find it scribbled somewhere ” Methusellah was here”. The barman boasts that he served one of the most dreaded Mau Mau toughies- General Kahiu Itina- his last drink on that sad night in 1956 he was felled by johnies.Ancient fellow I tell you.
Then my phone beeps- it’s my uncle calling.On picking it,he begins with an admonition- nikù kùu kwìna inegene ùguo?
Which is that hell hole that is so noisy? All parents start with that line.After explaining where I am he shoots straight:
“Riu woigire mamaguo atùrio ni ime ta ngiria?”
So you decided that your uncle will survive on dew like a cricket?
You got to like how my uncle asks me for a drink.He doesnt beg but makes me look a heartless fellow who reduces his uncle to a chirruping bug.And thats how a real man should do- ask for something but retain his dignity and pride.
Presently he joins my friend and I and we chat along.Then,my friend starts this sob story about how he built a very big house for his wife but she refused to live in it.
All along,my disinterested uncle is staring at the roof, rhythmically tapping the tip of his tony red Travolta boot on the floor.I am sure he is not listening to my friends silly sob story.When my friend is done with it,my uncle shoots from the blue:
Uncle:So,why did your wife reject that house?
My friend: Because it’s small.
Uncle-How many rooms does it have?
My friend: Four.
He pauses,takes a hefty sip,wipes his mouth with the back of his hand then goes on:
Uncle:Young men,have you ever been to a place called Njoro?”
He asks us.We chorus yes.
“Look,if you go to Ngata Farm near Egerton,there is a house that a certain mzungu built for his wife.It has not 4 rooms but 52 rooms.It is the size of an ocean liner.When his wife came over to live there with him,she rejected it, saying it was worse than a chicken kibanda.She spent less than two hours in it before she flew to Europe to live with another man in a rented hovel”
My friend almost chokes to death on his drink.
My uncle surveys us silently for effect,a heroic glint playing in his eyes.Then he issues his usual clincher:
“Utuku ndugagwo uhoro”.
You dont say bye bye at night.
With that,he takes his ever sharp panga and marches into the night-the panga shining in the moonlight like the sword of a templar knight returning from a victorious crusade.