When misfortunes come, they don’t come singly. Hardly had Mzee Mariga recovered from a broken tibia after getting involved in a road crash than the ministry of public works targeted him in a restructuring lay-off. Life was going to be hard for him. He had nothing to write home about when it came to savings. He had some shares with a local Sacco but those were barely enough to offset his outstanding loans.
For a person used to working in the office for more than 30 years and receiving a pay check every end month, village life would proof tricky for him. Coping with village life without a constant source of income would be challenging for him.
But in a twisted circumstance of a mal-chance turning into luck, he had been involved in an accident while on duty and therefore the insurance company was obliged to make a payment. The employer had a cover in place for all permanent and pensionable employees.
He received a cool cheque of one million bob. This changed him immediately. His gait became springy and there was an aura of youthfulness in his demeanor. He enlisted a financial advisor, 2 body guards and hired out a vehicle complete with a full time chauffeur. This was to facilitate his running of the many errands and tasks he planned to embarking on in his new found rich life. Mzee Mariga had big plans, brilliant plans, and grand plans. Only those who dared got big rewards.
To start with, he would venture into Agribusiness. He didn’t understand how the village folks with all the farmland at their disposal never thought of doing farming as a full time business and do it in a steadfast manner instead of doing it only for subsistence. True to this, he put every inch of his 2 acre land under tomatoes. The mathematics here was to have 20,000 tomato plants each producing a kilo of tomatoes at shs 50 a kilo fetching a cool kes 1m. Kilimo biashara was the in thing. There is too much wealth to be found in the soil.
In accordance with his new found inclination to creating employment, he added to the list of his employees a farm manager.
His home also needed a lot of transformation to reflect a home belonging to a person with a meter to his disposal. A new pit latrine was dug. He could not share the existing one with the whole extended family. That’s how you get a vermin and catch diseases that can end up killing you before enjoying your money. And it is silly to exit the world of something that could have been prevented. Isnt it?
He bought a new comfortable seat and a small table. These were to be for his exclusive use, no sharing. Sitting on the old sofa whose cushions were old and tattered would now become a thing of the past. These had been in use by every Tom Dick and Harry for over a decade; church members, village women who came for gossip, his grand and great grand children who sometimes wet the seats while asleep and with their wet and soiled clothes, the list is endless.
His daily routine would be to supervise works here and there in the morning hours and go to his favourite drinking den in Karatina town from midmorning to about 10.00pm when he would be brought home by the driver and the body guards. It was rumoured that in his favourite joint he would order the door to be shut and ask for rounds for everyone inside.
If you were drinking on his bill, it was a rule of engagement that you clapped every time he delivered an important or a point he deemed funny. You could not just sit and enjoy free beer and fail to applause an ingenious point from the person settling your bill. Thats is mean. At best, it is stubborn ingratitude. At worst, it is an inexcusable misconduct. You had to applaud and insist on how brilliant he was.
One day as he was being driven to the bank to make a withdrawal, a vehicle (Mercedes Benz) obstructed the road ahead.
His chauffeur honked repeatedly but the vehicle in front did not bulge much to the chagrin of Mariga who was now boiling with rage.
The old Mzee furiously strode out of the Fielder limping towards the obstructing vehicle with a newly found characteristic spring in his gait. Without uttering a word to the driver, he slammed his walking stick against the wieldshield sending it to splinters on impact. This sent shock into the onlookers. Who on earth whangs a Merc’s windshield under the slightest provocation?
The Merc’s driver was extremely frightened. Whiskey Tinga Foxhole is going on? It took him time to register what had just happened. The on looking folks immediately started whispering that the old man was father to Margaret Kenyatta. Only a father to the First Lady would whack a Merc’s windscreen with nary a worry in the world.
They say that a fool and his money are soon parted. This was to be the beginning of mzee Mariga’s downfall because of the court battle that ensued. Instead of settling the issue amicably with the owner of the Mercedes Benz, the “warmth” of the money he had pushed him to go the whole hog. Along the way, he would bribe the Askaris heavily. They too knew of his recently acquired wealth and misadventures and wanted to enjoy while it lasted.
His tomato crop was wiped by bright one night only for him to wake up in the morning and find black stems with no single leaf. He fired the farm manager for being such a letdown.
The money was soon gone. He could no longer afford the hired vehicle. Of his employees, only one of the body guards was left. He too would not last long. The Mzee resorted to using motorbikes for transport. Wags had it that he would go to his drinking den and trick some revelers into buying him beer. He would pretend to be loaded as usual but ask anybody who wanted to drink for free and go home crawling to throw a round first. They would throw the rounds expecting free beer soon after of which would not be forthcoming.
Eventually, he was left to his own when everything dried up. The new found agility also left with the money and and he would be seen limping with his walking stick painstakingly to the shopping centre. It would take him over an hour to make the distance from his home to the shopping centre a distance of less than 2km.