Without the beatings we received from our parents, I bet we could have grown up to be anything else other than dregs of the society. Looking back to the time and realising how hardheaded were were, I can only thank the parents and the teachers for instilling much required sense into our knobheads. Heads that lied to us that we were very important persons, wiser than anybody else while walking the dangerous route to destruction.
My mother had CCTV cameras installed all over the village and beyond way before cctv became common in Kenya. Either that or she was a seer. She coupled this special ability with a WiFi enabled polygraph. She could not only read your mind but also tell that you were just about to lie.She would come to burst any mischief carried out by any of us whether within the confines and the air space of our home or anywhere within the village or the entire Mathira division.
It was not unusual for our boyish escapades to take us tens of kilometres away from home but mum’s secret service agent whose code name was Kanyoni would rat us out and report our knavery without fail. This Kanyoni fella made me develop a strong dislike for birds to date. Well, except for chicks. Pretty chicks!
Made a discovery.
One day, during the usual pilikapilika at home, I came across some treasure tucked deep in an overgrown hedge. The moment I saw it, Wakahora’s mùtura and soup started wafting through my nostrils despite the shopping centre being more than three kilometers away and in the direction of the wind. My throat started swallowing gulps of Wamuleki’s fermented porridge accompanied with a quarter loaf of savory Kenblest bread.
With my eyes fixated on the prize, my mind drifted to Muraguri’s video base. I saw a clear image of Billy Blanks beating the hell out of a thug who had crossed him. The phantasm would come to a halt when a ram tethered nearby bleated repeatedly jolting me out of the reverie.
Selling the stuff would leave me with a cool 60 shillings but this depended on the kind of buyer I would get . I needed to get a buyer who wouldn’t snitch me to my parents, more so mum. The first task was to move the treasure to safer grounds as I embarked on customer identification.
I fetched a kasuku container and a plastic bag from the house, wrapped the stuff with the bag and put it in the container replacing the lid tightly. I walked a couple of a hundred meters from home, watching keenly to ensure there were no unwanted eyes. Once sure that all was clear, I hid the stuff under the neighbours Mùiri tree putting the disturbed undergrowth back to position.
The first potential buyer who fitted my ideal profile was Miano who owned a shop in the neighbourhood. It was quite busy at his shop and I was finding it difficult to have a word with him. I was behaving like prophylactic buyers who end up buying steel wool or spoons for lack confidence. I would wait and wait for the last person in the queue to be served and just when it was my turn, another customer would materialize forcing me to give them a chance to be served before me.
Finally, I got a chance to table my issue to Miano but he told me he had a lot in store and went on to show me the stuff. He told me he could only buy from me if I sold the stuff at three bob a piece. No way I was going to sell at that price. The standard price for the stuff was five bob. I stated that and I told him to go to hell. The going to hell part was said loudly and angrily in the mind. Uttering those words would be counterproductive as Mùragùri would give me away without putting as much as a thought to the repercussions.
Four days later, I met the second potential buyer who was willing to offer the standard price but asked to pay later. He asked for a week or so to make the payments. In my mind I shoved some middle phalanx his way and told him too, to go to hell. I lied that the money from the sale was meant to cater for an emergency. He even asked to see the stuff first but I was not interested. The stuff was going to come out of the secure warehouse in exchange for money not Abunuwasi tales.
Two weeks of critical and methodical potential customer evaluation elapsed with no results. A good buyer was not forthcoming. Desperation started creeping in fearing that the heavy rains which had commenced a week ago and the wet conditions would spoil my hidden treasure.
Eventually a buyer came through. This was a young man who was famed in the village for his hardwork, honesty, being focused and dedication to his work. He had built himself a decent timber house and had a bull and a number of goats to his name. All these obtained with money earned doing kibarua in the village. He was ready to give me cash money. I insisted to ‘see’ the money before sprinting to fetch the cargo from under the Muiri tree.
It took me about four minutes running to the Muiri tree and four minutes back to my guy.
The commercial deal was pulled as darkness was setting in. It was about quarter to seven. I was a whopping sixty shillings richer. I couldn’t wait to get to the shopping centre for some soup and mùtura at Wakahora’s. Mútùra and soup won the battle of wits to occupy number one on the list of the things I would be buying in the coming couple evenings.
Now, you didn’t just pop in at Wakahora’s or any other of the eateries. If you just walked in without doing due diligence, you risked bumping into your old man or uncles or a neighbour and this would spell just one thing; catastrophe. You approached these places surreptitiously to avoid trouble. During day time, you would pretend you were looking for your old man and you would at least get yourself a mug of soup and Mùtura but it was a different proposition being seen at the shopping centre at twilight leave alone at night.
Having made sure that the place was safe, I ordered a mug of soup at the dimly lit, dingy butchery kitchen. The soup was out of this world. Perfect nectar! You could see my eyes almost popping up as I swallowed mouthful after mouthful of the expertly prepared soup. I topped this with a piece of Mùtura and parted with ten shillings.
I hurriedly left the place walking behind the shops then broke to a little run along the railway line and finally to the main road where I continued running until I got home. I was afraid not to bump into thugs who would rob me off my money. Guys who couldn’t eat their sweat but waited to mug people off the fruit of their toil and moil.
Getting home, mum asked, “uma kù ùtuku?” (Where are you coming from at this hour?)I told the usual lies of I was from kwa akina Ndirangù. Wee nana ùguo ùnanìte nìndíkùhutia na maya marìaga ngima, mum said. To translate this, I was not being asked to sit and eat Ugali. Nope! I was being ‘requested’ to carry on with my waywardness. That one of these days I would be “touched” with the hands that she used for eating Ugali.
Ta thiì ùikìrie ng’ombe mahuti macio matigaru na uke na kìraì kìu kì hau! (Can you go and give the cow the remaining grass and come with the karai.
Day one was over without a major event. On day two, a Saturday, after delivering coffee at the factory, I passed by Wamùleki’s where I treated myself to a mug of fermented Uji and a quarter loaf of bread. Things were rolling out just like I had envisaged. Sunday would be non stop movie watching from noon to six in the evening or that’s what I lied to myself.
On reaching home, before even I put the wheel barrow in its designated place, nikakamatwa.Ithì ndirakwìrire ùnanìte ùkanengereria hiti njara? Factory ìtuìkire Mìrù? (Didn’t I warn you that you’ve become so naughty that you are stretching your hand to a hyena and teasing it to bite? Has the factory shifted to Meru?)
I am telling you, Vita! I received a championship beating. It was a sevens-on-one-side derby the side with seven being my mother’s. Kukanyangwa, biting, pinching-in-a-twisting-manner, kiondo leather straps, everything.
Matumbi maria woire harìa rùgirinì ùgìthiì ùkìhitha ha Wamaitha Mùirinì na ùgìcoka ùkìenderia Mùtero, nìweciragia nì ngamenya? (The eggs you picked from the hedge and his under Wamaitha’s Mùiri, then sold to Mùtero did you ever think I will come to know about it?)
I was gobsmacked. I would understand if she got to know the buyer but not the whole process from start to end. One day, I will ask her how she got to know about it.