Birds of a Feather

Description

First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye. Anjawo, driven by frustrations of use and dump, lives to regret after her womb blossoms, delivering eleven children dumped to her care by her husband who goes tumbling head-first to a juicier relationship.

Anjawo gains notoriety for her deals in illicit brew and drugs that hook the innocent young generation of the school going age and adults. She is armed with a terrible influence that causes fear among affected locals. Like chameleons sparkling with the colors of their surroundings, her children’s behavior acquired from the messy environment of alcoholics adds salt to the wound.

Birds of a Feather, written from a village social setup and extended to urban life experiences, reflects the realities of life in situations of alcohol and drug abuse, peer influence, and poor parenting. It has a commodious focus on humor, satire and etiquette and explores areas such as human rights, governance, inter-tribal marriage as a tool for national unity and other relevant social issues.

Chapter One
Rahawanya, the Food Disciple

“DON’T COMPETE WITH ELEPHANTS IN FARTING, YOUR BUTTOCKS WILL BURST!” Oyath, the most notorious bhang smoker and consumer of rwata-rwata, the illicit brew, warned.

Anjawo, the brew vendor, twisted her shapeless mouth into an ugly smile. She turned left and stared quizzically at Rahawanya, the food disciple, who had just dropped out of school in aberration to swim with the tide of notorious alcohol maniacs who spent whole days boozing around the village, doing menial jobs and admiring successful people.

Rahawanya was on a mission far beyond his means; trying to compete with Oyath in bhang smoking was tantamount to signing a death sentence, worse for a boy of his age, seventeen? Sprouting adolescence related horns. Invaded with a feeling that he had outgrown the student mentality and merited liberation from the hectic school rules and regulations. Just decided to rest on his laurels worlds away from success, contented in that bunch of cretins; semi-literate alcoholics that made him look brighter by comparison, he having tasted a bit of secondary school education. He rounded off his failure to the nearest excuse; school fees, even though a beneficiary of a child support programme courtesy of a community based organisation.

The dizzying effects of the drug sent him to his knees, hands on the chest with severe coughs in abundance, let loose his roll of bhang to drop off to the ground. He planted his palms on the earthen floor with a surrender, to support his tired body, feeling like stones were raining on his cranium.

“I told you…Anjawo,” Oyath blustered, turning his bloodshot red eyes to Anjawo’s side. “This boy was not even supposed to leave school in the first place, simply because he admires us exposing our alcoholic shenanigans after a drinking binge. He thinks it’s a pleasure but doesn’t know that we drink mostly to drown our frustrations in the alcohol.”

Yawa! Stress, and the burden of life on planet earth, can force you to kill your senses by sinking deep into drugs, but such an idiot is cheated that that’s our way of enjoying life,” Anjawo responded, maintaining her sympathetic stare at Rahawanya.

His muscles screamed as he hauled his head slowly like a heavy log of wood, followed by his body. He wiped his mouth, plonked himself in the seat behind him and emitted an exasperated sigh. He twisted his face against the looks of his critics, supported his chin with his right palm and dozed off with a throaty snore shortly after.

“I too was indoctrinated into alcoholism by people like the late Okoko, the father to Momo (deaf), a few years before you got married and introduced to this village. His wife was the most notorious dealer in this brew in those days,” Oyath narrated. “He cajoled me into believing that rwata-rwata is a therapy for stress and frequently offered me a mouthful or two in a glass on my way to and from school. I got addicted and found myself playing Russian roulette with my life – reporting to his home daily for a taste. I ended up dropping out before joining secondary school. My parents’ efforts failed. They tried until they left me for the dead, bereft of hope. But nowadays, I do regret, and wish I was given a second chance, I’d strive for the highest achievements in school.”

“No wonder you don’t like Momo…?” Anjawo mused, staring accusingly at Oyath.

“No, I can’t hate him for an offence he didn’t commit; I just hate him because he has a terrible temper. When he starts fighting, he can’t leave his opponent until he sees blood dribbling,” Oyath defended.

“But he’s deaf. He can’t hear you crying in surrender. He only believes you’re defeated when he sees blood,” Anjawo explained.

“Of course. I try my best never to rub shoulders with him. He’s strong like an ox,” Oyath surrendered with a chuckle.

“On matters family, your wife has a frigid womb. How do you plan to upgrade your family to the prominent status like mine, boasting of a dozen children?” Anjawo asked with a mischievous wink.

“It’s even by grace of God that I managed to marry and have a child after going through an irremediable curse that called for spiritual intervention.” Oyath unveiled, scowling into a state that attracted sympathy.

“Which curse is this?” Anjawo asked curiously, her voice lowered an octave.

“I was slapped by Nyawawa, the evil spirit.”

Anjawo coiled herself to the floor, choking with laughter. “Hahahaaa! Sounds like a tale told by an idiot!” She straightened up, back to her seat and gave Oyath a second look to allow him to move his fictitious story to the next page.

“It was one bright Saturday night while standing in front of my parents’ house; I heard villagers running towards River Fuludhi, beating tins and shouting the name, Nyawawa, to chase away the evil spirit. I jumped over the fence, racing towards the road to join them but midway met a grotesque towering hulk of a man with the right amount of death on his face, black like soot, lacking one eye, dressed in rags and walking barefoot, hair; shaggy and fingernails; huge and ragged—”

“Tell me! How old were you?” Anjawo interrupted.

“Around fifteen.”

“Ok, tell me!”

“He stopped me and gawped at me for a few minutes before starting interrogation.”

“Yes! Just talk, the tongue has no bone!” Anjawo encouraged between spasms of laughter.

“ ‘Boy! Tell me why you’re shouting my name in public like that!’ he ordered me angrily, wielding his intimidating physique.”

“ ‘Who are you, sir?’ I asked him, shuddering.”

“ ‘I am Jemsi Nyawawa. I am a Ja’Yimbo. My home is located deep at the bottom of Lake Victoria.’ He introduced himself to me.”

“ ‘But, sir, I didn’t know it was su-su-such bad. I was misled by my community that believes that Nyawawa is an evil spirit that has to be chased away towards the river whenever there’s an outbreak of diseases and mysterious death cases.’ I pleaded.”

“ ‘Your community is right… .But the sound of River Fuludhi burbling its way down towards River Nzoia depicts a carriage carrying your sins down to the dungeon?’” he cursed with a sneer.

“Whimsical parable,” Anjawo commented in a curious low tone with an investigative look into Oyath’s eyes.

“ ‘Boy! With this kind of folly! Today I’ve cursed you! You’ll never marry…!’ His second last word ‘never’ ended with a deafening slap that landed on my cheek, blurring my vision and sending me into a world of blinking stars. The last word ‘marry’ kicked an explosive from the slapped cheek to the oblongata, exploding with a powerful impact that paralysed my breathing system and heart-beat.”

“You must be a smart liar. OK, tell me how spiritual intervention saved the situation,” Anjawo asked with looks of disapproval.

“My mother engaged an exorcist to drive out the demons. Otherwise, I’d not have been married by now.”

“Straight to the spring!” Anjawo shouted at the sight of her twin daughters, Apiyo and Adongo. “Shed off your school uniform and pick buckets. I want to see this mother pot full of water!”

They shook slightly at the entrance of their main house but entered and stopped, mesmerised by the bizarre sight of their former classmate snoring painfully in a seat in the house. They exchanged looks and clicked their tongues in a word deficiency situation, proceeded to their mother’s bedroom and emerged in their village attires, then vanished towards the spring with buckets dangling from their arms.

“You see, even his classmates are shocked,” Anjawo commented, face etched with pain.

“It really hurts. Somebody who only a few months ago was giddy with excitement, running up and down in school uniform now looks like a third-class breed of homo sapiens; first cousins to homo habilis! A shell of his former self! I pity him!” Oyath commented with a click of tongue.

Anjawo’s memories wandered back to her dubious courtship decades earlier and she decided to bring it to the avenue of conversation.

“To be sincere, I too was duped into early marriage at the age of only sixteen, still innocent like a flower.” Anjawo revealed. “My husband, Ajwang’, in his early thirties frequented our home to visit his friend, Osodo, my elder brother who connived with him to engage me in marriage to boost their friendship.”

“Were you still in school?” Oyath asked, lifting his glass to the mouth for a swig.

“Yes, at sixteen, I was still in Class Seven, even though he was already an adult by the time I was seated barefoot under a fig tree as a class one pupil reciting A…E…I…O…U, Ba…Be…Bi…Bo…Bu and so on.” Anjawo bragged with a sniff.

“How did you allow them, given that school life gives hope to a better future?” Oyath asked.

“Silly me, brother! Poverty!” Anjawo answered regrettably. “He used to entertain Osodo by giving him lots of rwata-rwata and pampering me with incentives: new clothes, a few coins and seduction in a colorful language imbued with love; conveyed between spasms of charming smiles.”

“But why couldn’t you just exploit him but insist on education?” Oyath faulted her logic.

“His charms were too powerful for me. The moment I tried to escape is the day I was caught in the trap,” Anjawo explained. “One bright Saturday afternoon when I expected him. I fled through the back entrance of our home but on reaching Boro shopping centre, I heard somebody clapping and hissing at me. I wheeled around and succumbed to his charming smile, Osodo giving backup in the background.

He volunteered to offer me a ride, together with Osodo on his motorbike and lied that we were heading to a bar in Rang’ala for some drinks, only to find myself in a big traditional Luo homestead occupied by his kinfolk. The kind of celebration that welcomed me, Osodo dancing in jubilation together with the natives, was proof that this was a well-orchestrated deal. It felt like there would never be a dull moment with him. His charms invaded my body, spreading throughout my blood vessels and causing confusion until I was a mother of three; two boys and a girl, when I came back to my senses.”

“How did your parents react?” Oyath asked.

“None of them was bothered. I visited them for the first time when I was already six months pregnant with my first-born son, Okech. The only question they asked was ‘how is your husband?’, meaning they had been aware of the plan even before I was duped into this version of the Garden of Eden─Nyakonja village, ravaged by alcoholism, drug abuse and witchcraft,” Anjawo explained with a chuckle, regarding alcoholism and drug abuse with disdain as if she was innocent.

“What does Osodo say now that your husband has ditched you to the mercy of rwata-rwata consumers after siring eleven children with you and is having a happy moment with another woman in the city?” Oyath asked.

“They’re birds of a feather, he also ditched his first wife, Akelo, and is having a happy moment with another bitch in the city. Akelo is as miserable as me. She sells rwata-rwata to make ends meet,” Anjawo explained.

Oyath sighed with sympathy and turned to Rahawanya’s side.

“If he sleeps for long, he’ll start farting, retching and peeing on that seat,” Oyath cautioned, looking at Rahawanya with distaste.

“Just leave him alone. He’s like one of my sons. I care of him a great deal,” Anjawo defended with a chuckle, ready to bail out her new catch from tribulations of his own making.

“How long does it take you to bring water from the spring?” Anjawo growled at her twin daughters…balancing buckets of water on their heads from the spring.

“No, Mama, the queue was long,” Apiyo, the politer of the two apologised, but Adongo, known for her arrogant streak gave a hideous wicked glance and bleated, “What does she think? We disappeared with men…?”

Anjawo left her clients in the main house and joined her twin daughters in the mud-walled grass-thatched kitchen to give instructions on how to prepare supper.

Roria, the immediate younger brother to the twins sneaked in out of the blue and reached out to his mother’s jerrycan of rwata-rwata: “Drink more, buddy, drink more,” he encouraged, filling Oyath’s empty glass with the stolen brew and left, expecting some sort of adulation from him.

Oyath scanned around to ensure nobody, apart from Rahawanya, although in the house but still sleepy, had seen the domestic thug in action and continued drinking. Whispering praises and nodding ambiguously: “This is a gentleman, the best boy in this family.”

“Where have you been?” Anjawo, seated in a chair in the kitchen shouted at her last-born eleven-year-old playful daughter, Atugo.

“We were still in school, Mama,” she explained.

“Take a bucket and rush to the stream for your bathing water! The stench that emanates from dirty people makes me queasy! Don’t go to the spring, just collect water from the stream, okay?” Anjawo ordered.

“Please wait we go together,” Njalme, her elder brother and immediate younger brother to Roria emerged from the grass-thatched daughters’ hut and requested.

Oyath gulped down the stolen brew and absconded through the back entrance of the home, a veil of guilt plastered to his forehead.

“Come over please, more clients,” Rahawanya who had steadied himself alerted Anjawo and left for the kitchen.

Anjawo found Ng’ongo, a ponderous giant of a man, Ajwang’s nephew – son of his elder brother, the late Okul, Kube, jerrycan – a man who acquired the nickname from his potbelly that resembled a jerrycan, vibrating below his massive breasts whenever he walked, and Momo.

Momo raised his two fingers in a gesture of communication and drew a circle in the air with his index finger as a sign for Anjawo to go around giving each of the sitting clients the brew worth twenty shillings. She served the clients and returned to the kitchen where Rahawanya, known for his insatiable appetite for food had joined his former classmates, reminiscing about their school days with an aim of getting a share of their supper.

Rahawanya’s greed was inbred. The amount of food he consumed in a meal could feed a dozen climbers to the top of Mount Everest. His mother had given full instructions on how to feed him by the time of her divorce: “Always serve him meals hot, if you serve him warm or cold, he’ll gobble down every morsel within a few seconds to your embarrassment and start screaming for more. Don’t peel off the backs of sugarcane or sweet potato tubers for him. Don’t even cut them into small slices or remove the rotten parts. The backs of the plants act as bumps that’ll reduce his eating speed. Crushing the root band and growth cracks of sugarcane takes him quite some time before chewing his way to the next internode. Rotten parts of sweet potato tubers takes some time to remove before he devours the healthy part.”

Thoh! Hyena! Enough! Go out and play! Do you want to eat the whole granary?” Ridiculous scenes of Rahawanya’s mother chasing him from a dining table after he had eaten too much but still demanding for more were common.

“Mmmm…Mamaaaah!” Atugo whimpered in fear and cringed at the sight of Aluoch. She stood up, chucked her dish of fish off the chair and descended to the floor, shoving slowly to hide behind her mama.

“Welcome please. Kindly have a seat,” Anjawo picked Atugo’s meal, placed it on her laps and handed over the chair to Aluoch.

“Why is Atugo cringing away from me in fear, my sister? Did you tell her something bad about me?” a traumatised Aluoch asked curiously.

“No, it’s a confusion between respect and fear, sister. I told her that you’re one of the most prominent women in this village and must be accorded the respect you deserve whenever you come here. But she has developed fear instead of respect. Just understand, sister,” Anjawo lied, giving a sheepish grin.

Aluoch remained silent, looking at Anjawo accusingly and Anjawo looking at her sympathetically.

“Welcome please. Eat with us,” Adongo pleaded, giving a plate of fish to Aluoch.

“Eat it with this ugali,” Apiyo added her a lump of ugali.

Rahawanya, struggling to eat his fill concentrated on the business, neither commenting nor giving any sign of bad feelings towards Aluoch in consideration to his big appetite for food. Could be his next host would be the oddity, Aluoch.

Anjawo joyfully chatted with Aluoch to instill confidence in her but she ate slowly with a sinking feeling, disturbed by Atugo’s reaction when the child saw her entering the kitchen.

“How did you see the ohangla jig on Saturday? Was it good?” the jovial Anjawo asked deliberately to force a smile onto Aluoch’s face but her eyes glazed over as she tiredly picked small pieces of flesh from the plate and lifted them to her mouth, the scowl on her face depicting what the family owed her.

“Thank you. I’ve done as you wished,” Aluoch cooed a false appreciation with a weary sigh, returning the plate back to Adongo in protest.

“You’ve eaten very little, Aunt. Why couldn’t you clear the meal?” Apiyo asked, looking at the plate carried by Adongo.

“I’ve just done as you wished, daughter.” Her response depicted something crucial: A skein of issues amounting to frustrations in regard to how the family and the community at large viewed her; a witch, perhaps? Stereotyped as possessed with supernatural powers that enabled her to send a victim writhing in stomach ache by means of a malevolent stare; rasihoho (a sihoho witch)?

Rahawanya grabbed the plate from Adongo and devoured the leftovers.

Anjawo’s family had quickly given Aluoch meals to exercise their belief that hungry spirits normally cast spells to victims when denied an opportunity to eat together with others. To appease them, you must share with her, no matter how little.

Aluoch had no alternative but to grapple with the vagaries of a belief that resulted in festering stigma and frustrations by her community. She had several times been forced to feed on milk victims of stomach ache resulting from what people strongly believed was her witchcraft. She left the kitchen in a huff and strode towards the gate, feeling absolutely devastated.

The constant twitching of Aluoch’s eyes, their red color and her habit of maintaining a permanent gaze at a person at whim caused the belief that she had evil eyes.

Anjawo’s face contorted with anger. “Who told you to run away from Aluoch whenever you see her?” she confronted Atugo, giving her a stern look. “Aluoch is aware that everybody in the village knows she is a witch and the moment you express fear, she’ll suspect me to have revealed to you the secret, girl!”

Anjawo’s children joined their mother to reprimand the minor for such a reaction, pointing fingers and giving her warnings.

“Did you see the way your sisters gave her food?” Anjawo asked.

“Yes, Mama.”

“You just give her food with a broad smile and the moment she tastes the food, you’re safe, okay?”

“Yes, Mama.”

“What should we do to reconcile ourselves with her?” Anjawo asked her children.

“Tomorrow is a Saturday. Maybe we can go together with Atugo to her home, supply her with water until we fill her mother pot and play with her kids for the whole day,” Apiyo suggested.

“Good idea,” Anjawo appreciated. “Is that okay with all of you?”

“Yes,” the girls chorused.

“I’ll go herding,” Roria reacted.

“I’ll spend the day digging out tree-stumps to burn charcoal,” Njalme said after Roria.

“I didn’t talk to you, boys!” Anjawo snorted. “Why must you follow your sisters wherever they go? Behave like men!”

Choke! Who has been attending to our clients in the main house?” Anjawo shouted and rushed to her main house. “Sorry guys, I was busy taking supper with my family.”

“Don’t mind. We didn’t want to call you in her presence lest she bewitched us,” Ng’ongo said with a chuckle.

“But it’s not a big deal. You just request her to feel the taste of the brew and you’re safe,” Anjawo advised.

“Of course,” Kube answered.

“Okay, let fifty shillings go around,” Ng’ongo ordered.

Anjawo served her clients and perched on her favourite seat, always placed next to her bedroom door.

Ng’ongo turned around on hearing Momo’s voice to listen to his message. He touched the place next to his heart to show appreciation.

“Did you see Obondo today?” Anjawo asked Kube.

“Why?” Kube asked.

“The rains have started pouring and I want to hire his services to cultivate my farm near the stream,” Anjawo said.

Kube turned left and right and started laughing together with Ng’ongo.

“Why are you laughing at me?” Anjawo asked.

“It’s because you’re behind news,” Kube answered.

“Which news?”

“Obondo was involved in a road accident and is now recuperating at Siaya Referral Hospital,” Kube answered.

“How did it happen?” Anjawo asked in shock.

“He hired a boda-boda rider to take him to Siaya but unfortunately, they bumped on the potholes at Mudurme bridge that threw them off the road, causing injuries,” Kube reported.

“Oh, sorry. How serious are the injuries?” Anjawo asked.

“Not very serious. I hope he’ll be discharged tomorrow,” Kube promised.

“The road is barely five years old since construction,” Anjawo commented.

“The contractor did shoddy work,” Kube commented.

“It’s either the contractor or state-sponsored bedbugs that feed on tax payers’ blood,” Anjawo concluded.

“Kssss…” Ng’ongo shushed her with a pointed finger. “Talk slowly. Rats foraging for food around are listening to you. They’ll carry the message to relevant authorities at the risk of your life. Let’s divert to other stories.”

“How will Obondo spend a whole night in hospital bed without doing his twilight job?” Kube asked.

“He knows how to gag his evil spirits when circumstances don’t allow,” Anjawo said.

“But when he’ll be back, we’ll not sleep in this village, the night runner will work on us the whole night. His black color blends well with darkness to make him part of the night,” Kube complained.

“But he’s not as dangerous as the ‘she’ that all of us know about. We don’t call her by name, but the word ‘she’ is enough to tell you who I mean,” Anjawo said.

“Same to Obondo. Call him by the name in his absence, but when he’s around, better use the word ‘he’ when referring to him to stave off witchcraft,” Ng’ongo advised.

“Good advice,” Anjawo appreciated.

Anjawo craned her neck at the sight of a man meandering into her compound from the gate in the bright moonlight towards her main house.

“It’s Mien, the folklorist with his endless bye-bye,” Ng’ongo said, peeking out the window. “He doesn’t buy rwata-rwata for anybody, but stands up and pretends to tell you ‘bye-bye’, purposely for you to request him to sit down for more. Just wait and see.”

“Welcome, Mien,” Anjawo gave a warm reception.

“Good evening, brothers,” Mien greeted and proceeded to a seat next to Ng’ongo.

“Ten in my glass,” he ordered.

Mien dawdled over the brew with hope of receiving more offer from the seated clients who had already taken precautions. The old man in his early sixties knew well how to hook his audience when they were tired of him. By telling them narratives and teaching them about culture, traditional health solutions, taboos and how to keep fit in a world of wizards.

Mien emptied his glass and as anticipated, stood to leave: “Okay good night, brothers. I know you’d like me to continue sitting but I beg to leave.”

“Hahaha…okay, Mien. Let’s meet tomorrow,” Ng’ongo sniggered to himself and waved at him.

Mien shuffled towards the back entrance of the home and in a few minutes time, resurfaced through a loophole in the fence behind the daughters’ hut.

“What is it? What is it Mien?” the twin sisters asked him simultaneously.

“I’ve been scared by some piti-piti footsteps near the fig tree behind your home. Could you kindly allow me to wait for those guys in the house we walk together?” Mien complained, trembling amid giggles from eavesdropping clients in the main house.

“Welcome back, Mien,” Anjawo said with a smile, the rest laughing heartily.

“Who is this? Because currently, he’s in hospital,” Ng’ongo, fighting the choking effects of laughter asked.

“There are several others deployed by him,” Mien explained, feigning frustrations. “Kindly stop laughing at this sad moment.”

“Okay, have a seat and tell Anjawo to add you twenty,” Ng’ongo offered, still laughing endlessly.

“And add him another twenty on my bill,” Kube offered.

“Thank you, brothers. At least, taking this will charge my brain to face him,” Mien appreciated with a sigh of relief.

Njalme spotted his mama escorting her clients to see them off a short distance away from her home and brightened. The criminal department of his brain wandered his mother’s bedroom and located a tin of petty cash; proceeds from the sale of the day. He slewed around and confirmed that his sisters were engrossed in their own stories in the kitchen. With Roria already busy doing his homework in Okech’s simba – hut, built on the left-hand side from the gate in accordance with the custom, Njalme had a good reason to smile all the way to the scene. He raided the tin, weaved his way behind the kitchen and dissipated away.

“You girls in the kitchen! Come here!” Anjawo ordered, shaking her chest violently as if she wanted to dump her flat pata pata breasts on the heads of her children.

The girls raced to the house to hear what the heck it was: “Tell me who has taken the money from this tin!” Anjawo shouted, puffing and bracing weirdly like a hired crook taking position to kill the president of a republic. “Talk to me or else…!”

The fearful Atugo took to her heels, followed by her elder sisters. Anjawo removed a slipper from her right foot and chased after them, lashing them left and right.

“Wait! Wait Mama, wait I explain to you!” Apiyo launched into a coward trill as if the Tower of Babel had come crumbling down on her. “Listen! We were in the kitchen and one of our brothers must have sneaked in and stolen the money.”

The stubborn Adongo stood at a safer distance behind the fence clicking her tongue repeatedly and mumbling curses to herself.

“Which brothers are you talking about, girl!” Roria stomped out of his brother’s simba and barked.

“You too deserve some beating, come here!” the enraged Anjawo growled.

“Stop it, Mama!” Nya’Siaya, Ng’ongo’s wife whose homestead was a short distance behind Anjawo’s homestead, attracted by the noise, intervened. “I’ve just seen Njalme running past my home at an alarming speed.”

Chieth (faeces)! … Which direction did he take? Kindly help!” A harsh whisper of an insult accidentally spilled over Anjawo’s lips followed by a desperate plea in a voice that rose abruptly to cover up the slip of tongue.

“He crossed my fence and disappeared into the farm,” Nya’Siaya revealed.

“Chase him, thief! Chase him, thief! Yore yore yore yore!” Anjawo shouted at the top of her voice. “Roria! Mobilise other boys across the village and hunt him down!”

Roria left the home at the top of his speed accompanied by Omoyo, Nya’Siaya’s first-born son and Roria’s agemate. Omoyo led in the race on the main road towards Kobare recreational centre where Njalme was suspected to be enjoying his proceeds of graft but Roria slackened his pace as they approached the centre.

Humbling questions jumbled his brain as he ran behind Omoyo:

“What if he did the same to me when I stole rwata-rwata to entice Oyath today? What if I arrest him and he catches me doing the same from Mama’s flourishing tin tomorrow or in future? Let me tread carefully. We’re birds of a feather.”

Roria joined a group of rowdy boys on their way to the centre to watch football and walked with them at a slow pace, leaving Omoyo to go it alone.

“Which thief were you chasing together with Omoyo?” one boy asked.

“It’s Njalme,” Roria answered.

“What did he steal?” the boy asked as the other boys roared with laughter.

“Mama claimed he pilfered some coins from her tin. I don’t know…” Roria answered with a careless wave of hand.

“Can we help you catch him? We know where he’s,” another boy volunteered.

“Argh…! Just give me updates on the latest games. I am tired of issues!” Roria rebuffed.

“Roria! Roria!” Omoyo creeping behind the boys called in a guarded tone.

Roria turned around with a skeptical expression, aloof in his body language.

“He’s inside the video hall watching a football match,” Omoyo revealed.

“It’s okay. I’ll look into that,” Roria responded meekly.

“Look into that! How? Come on! Let’s go and explain to the doorkeeper of the hall. He’ll chuck him out,” Omoyo ordered.

“Okay, let’s go!” Roria agreed and pointed forward for Omoyo to lead the way.

Roria developed cold feet, shuffling far behind like a foot and mouth disease infected cow at a distance while Omoyo soldiered on with determination.

“Bring your entry fee, boy!”  a burly doorkeeper ordered.

“No, I am looking for a boy called Njalme. He’s inside the hall,” Omoyo explained.

“What has he done?”

“He stole his mother’s money and came here to watch the football match. I’ve left the mother crying bitterly back home,” Omoyo explained.

“That’s a police case. Report the matter and let the police come for him, boy!” the doorkeeper reacted, gave Omoyo an elbow jab and turned left to continue collecting money from the fans. Omoyo looked around, hoping to talk to Roria, but saw dust.

Anjawo and Nya’Siaya sat together in her main house in sombre mood, lips pursed, faces scowled, word deficient, heartbroken, souls tired, visitors coming in to snoop around unwelcomed, unless you had a clue on the whereabouts of Njalme.

One week in exile? Too much for a child of his age. Who knows? Could it be he was on a mission to commit suicide? Had he joined the street children? Not in the village. They didn’t exist. Only in big towns and cities like Kisumu and Nairobi.

But the tramp was around and about, exploiting his spoils and playing hide and seek like an FBI prime suspect.

On Saturday when the day broke after the Friday night theft incident, Rahawanya had spotted him resting at Kobare recreational centre, helping himself to a bottle of soda. He offered the food disciple a scone and warned him not to report him. On Sunday the same week, he had joined a church choir at Kowet Catholic Church and gave twenty shillings as a donation to help in improving the choir, church members reported and returned the coin to Anjawo. On Monday the following week, Aluoch had spotted him propped against a tree trunk near the stream, sharing packed chips with a Class Five school girl. On Tuesday the same week, Omoyo had found him exchanging blows in an intensified fist-fight with his classmate in the evening at a grazing field across the stream. On Wednesday, Momo had seen him haggling over the cost of a pair of shoes at Uhuru market. On Thursday, Adongo bent at the spring, scooping water and filling her bucket, a stone from an unknown assailant had landed on her waist. She jumped up, screaming for help, but saw Njalme at his highest speed disappearing into the shrubs. A crowd attracted by her scream rushed to the scene to help, but he evaporated into vapour and vanished into thin air. On Friday, Anjawo had seen him peeping through the fence of her homestead but he took to his heels. By the time Omoyo arrived to help in chasing him, he must have reached Uganda. On Saturday, today, in the morning when Anjawo was busy tending her farm together with Obondo, Njalme called Apiyo from behind the fence, warned her sternly against tarnishing his reputation and ebbed away.

The riskiest part of the ordeal was his life at night in exile. He had been seen sleeping in mysterious places numerous times. One night, he had been spotted by night guards snoring between two logs of wood behind a butchery at Kobare, ferocious dogs barking out their annoyance at him the whole night.

“Kindly advise me, daughter. Can we report the matter to the Chief?” Anjawo asked Nya’Siaya.

“No, the Chief will ask you about the source of the money he stole,” Nya’Siaya warned. “If you reveal that they were proceeds from your black market in rwata-rwata and bhang, the Chief will take action against you. Remember the brew is illegal. You’re birds of a feather. Inasmuch as stealing is a crime, selling the illicit brew is a crime too.”

“Good advice. His dad disappeared into the city and is now having a happy moment with my co-wife. He needs a kick on the buttock to provide for his children,” Anjawo whined. She shed a trickle of tears and looked back at Nya’Siaya.

“Why can’t you just call him on phone and hear his comment?” Nya’Siaya asked.

“Okay, let me try. I want to set my phone on loud speaker to enable you to hear his comment,” Anjawo said.

“It’s okay.”

“Hello Baba Okech. How are you?” Anjawo dialed her husband’s phone number and greeted when he received.

“I am fine Mama Okech. How are things back home?”

“Things are not okay. Njalme stole my money a week ago and disappeared. He nowadays plays hide and seek games with me around the village and doesn’t want to come back home. Kindly advise on what I should do!” Anjawo requested.

“Today is a weekend. I want to take my family to Lunar Park, Nairobi for some luxurious episodes. I don’t want to hear you yapping about that poor little monkey. He has the prerogative to live the life of his choice,” Ajwang’ retorted.

Anjawo dashed into her bedroom and burst into a loud cry, leaving Nya’Siaya in the sitting room to judge Ajwang’ in regard to what she had just heard.

“He’s as you’ve heard him talk, daughter,” Anjawo moaned. “I am the beast of burden in this home. His words at the time of convincing me into marriage had sugar level not recommended for a diabetic, but these days I do feel like he’s spitting hot embers from a fireplace to my ears whenever he speaks. He used to give me support, yes, but dumped me the moment he met his second wife.”

Chapter Eleven

The Black Gunman—Ruling Africa

“STOP IT! WIZARD…! STOP IT! WIZARD…! STOP IT! WIZARD…!”

Standing on both sides of the spring, two women, Aoko and Amolo shouted down the drunken Omulo. He was carrying an evil confrontation against the community that depended on the source of clean water by washing his cancerous wound in it; a replica of the unscrupulous human activities that distorted the Nairobi river, transforming its original color to the unsightly black, full of waste material from all walks of life.

“Look for husbands! Stop disturbing me, women!” Omulo rebuffed. “Sulking of a frog stops not a cow from drinking water,” he muttered angrily to himself.

They inched closer and stood, waiting to see him obey their command. But he remained unperturbed, stubbornly washing the wound on his right leg, above the ankle, red and nauseating, spreading to wider coverage and displaying an ugly sight of swimming maggots.

Aoko scooped a calabash of water and splashed on Omulo’s back. She jumped backwards and braced for a battle, her bucket thrown to the shrubs, muscles flexed for powerful blows.

“Okay…you wanna combat…? Come!” Omulo cocked his head up and dared, heaving his chest and lagging towards Aoko, face scowled into a warrior. With a sudden pounce, his hands fastened on Aoko’s waist, pulled her closer to his side but his attempt to throw her to the ground misfired when Aoko applied a force that sent him falling head-first to a tree stump that almost broke his ribs.

“Yes, that’s just the beginning…son of  Nya’Boro! You believe in yourself—but today is today. Rise up and come again…” Aoko dared.

Omulo whimpered in pain. Struggling to lift his head but falling back helplessly. He pleaded for help after numerous failed attempts.

“Let’s flee, daughter!” Amolo alerted Aoko upon assessment of the injury caused to Omulo’s body.

The women, devastated by the evil of the drunk in their clean drinking water fled back home with empty buckets, spitting with nausea and in fear of a possible murder case.

In his sober mind, Omulo would have scooped water, moved to a safer place away from the spring to wash his leg. But what he did would have cost his life if people like Oyath would have been around. Worse, leaving the spring in his village across the road to pollute the waters of this village would be more provocative to residents around.

Anjawo and Atugo arrived at the scene in a relaxed gesture, water buckets dangling from their arms. They stopped at the sight of the casualty writhing in pain.

The man had been in Anjawo’s house barely two hours earlier, puffing away at a stick of rolled bhang and sending hard gulps of the illicit brew down his greedy gullet. His drunken status must have caused a quarrel between him and a more powerful opponent who fled once he/she realised he was unconscious.

“Omulo…Omulo…! Feel strong and stand up!” Anjawo encouraged him the same way she did to Apiyo a short moment before she passed on.

The two women jointly held him by the hands and assisted him to rise to his feet.

“Please tell me who beat you!” Anjawo requested.

“I just reminded Amolo and Aoko to look for husbands, thinking they’d appreciate my opinion but they beat me up instead.”

“Leave this goat…! Let him die!” Irked by his remarks, Atugo left him to the care of her mother. She also lacked a husband.

They filled their buckets with water and went back home, talking negatively about Omulo. Atugo lowered her water bucket to the floor and rushed to take her crying daughter from Kilo who enjoyed carrying the baby.

The three-month-old baby, Yuanita Apiyo Junior, had been named after her maternal aunt, the late Yuanita Apiyo, with only the word junior added to the name to make a difference.

Atugo popped into the daughters’ hut, jammed her fat wobbly buttocks on a stool, unbuttoned her blouse and stuffed the child’s mouth with her tit for breastfeeding.

“As greedy as her dad. You were just crying for milk,” Atugo patted her child’s back and joked.

She called Kilo back to take his cousin and rushed to Anjawo’s main house where thirsty rwata-rwata consumers were calling for service.

Drunkards jammed Anjawo’s house; both familiar faces and strangers who had just discovered the ‘home of pregnant girls’. The description that got a boost from the presence of Atugo on her return as a six months pregnant mother who had come to bury her sister and later as Anjawo’s divorced daughter staying with her as unanimously decided by the family, what haters fondly described as odhi oduogo – divorced woman.

A stranger bearing the hallmark of an affluent citizen sneaked into the homestead through the back entrance out of the blue and joined the alcoholics in the house.

Clad in seductively silky short-sleeved shirt, a pair of black jeans long trousers of high market value, brown Italian style sharpshooter shoes, sunglasses and a sparkling wrist watch, he sat next to Kube and requested to taste the alcohol from his glass.

A man of average body size and height with a striking black skin color. He wore a military crew hairstyle; closely shaved sides and trimmed top. Face looking younger than Ochola, long well-trimmed finger nails and a pair of white stripes drawn at the back of his right hand that branded him a celebrity.

Surprised by the presence of a member of the elite class in her house, Anjawo gave a disciplined gesture, seated on her usual favourite chair next to the entrance to her bedroom.

“Could be a high ranking military officer…? Or just a wealthy bloke…ignorant about the rules of social class…? A man of his caliber who understood rules of social class would not join this trash of rwata-rwata consumers but join people of his social class in a swanky club to rest with bottles of Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky as they discussed millions of dollars expected in their bank accounts soon.” Anjawo remained patient to hear and learn from his stories.

“Madam,” he called Atugo.

“Yes, sir,” Atugo responded and turned to his side.

“Bring the five litre jerrycan of alcohol!”

Atugo brought in the jerrycan of alcohol and deposited it on the table.

He pulled out two one thousand shillings notes from his shirt pocket and gave to Atugo.

“No! This offer cannot leave me behind!” Omulo unexpectedly turned up to the amazement of Anjawo and her daughter who had been dreading the prospects of women screaming after discovering his dead body near the spring.

“Difficult is the death of an idiot,” Anjawo muttered.

The open space in front of Anjawo’s main house was soon littered with unconscious drunks sprawled on the ground struggling to lift their heads. But Anjawo was worried why some of her clients both familiar like Olwith Wara Wara, and strangers failed to utilise the golden opportunity.

They kept giving glances denoting a jumbled mishmash of admiration, curiosity, respect and fear. It wasn’t easy to know much about him…he talked very little and acted very big. Somebody like Olwith gave looks of admiration.

“Kindly allow me to leave,” he requested, shaking Anjawo’s hand in awe.

“Thank you, son.”

Atugo followed him to give him his correct balance from his payment but he rejected and requested her to escort him to the main road to the pleasure of Anjawo. Having one of her daughters hooked up with a man of such a caliber topped her list of prayer items.

The man introduced himself as John Otieno while leading Atugo to a Toyota Corolla parked by the roadside where they found a man on the driver’s seat, prolonging his neck out of the window to blow away cigarette smoke.

The driver opened the door, greeted Atugo and introduced himself as the big man’s driver.

Atugo tried to resist the request to join the men for a short tour…she was in her village attire and barefoot but they finally convinced her to accompany them to Rang’ala market, a short distance across River Fuludhi.

The driver sat in the backseat and left his boss to drive on with his new catch seated by his side in the front passenger seat. Atugo had never been a passenger in such a swanky car where the car would beep loudly or even scream at somebody who failed to use the seat belt.

“Seat belt, please. Use the seat belt,” Otieno requested.

Atugo grasped and pulled the tongue portion of the seat belt across her belly and inserted it into the buckle. If this could be Wekesa driving Adongo, a stingy comment like, “…Little education” would emerge but this was a different person altogether, trying to build up a relationship. Probably, at a later stage after planting Atugo in his homeland and siring dozens of babies.

Otieno rushed to help Atugo. He unbuckled it and pulled the tongue portion over her shoulders the right way, inserted it into the buckle and left when he heard the click. He grabbed a black leather jacket from the backseat and wore it.

Atugo was uncomfortable sitting in the bar at Rang’ala in her village attire but the men encouraged her to feel at home.

“How old are you, dear?” Otieno asked.

“I am twenty-two.” She manipulated her birth certificate three years backward to fit well into the basket of hot cakes. Atugo was already twenty-five. She responded to all questions in English language albeit with false Nigerian accent─Dis for This, Dat for That and so on.

As proof that she was the legitimate heiress of Shakespeare’s vocabulary store, she ventured into big complicated English words in her conversation with this not-so-interested sweetheart who used Swahili all through: “Look, dear. My subdermatoglyphic has swollen. Could it be Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?”

Uko na chali (Are you engaged)?” Otieno drowned her oversized ambition by asking a more relevant question.

“No!”

Uko na mtoi (Do you have a child)?”

“Hmm…child…hmm…child—”

“Don’t worry, we’ll discuss that later.” Otieno who had spread babies here and there through extramarital affairs cut in to save the situation.

Revealing to her new boyfriend that she had a child outside wedlock had risks attached; this would compromise character attributes that had attracted the man to her. The man could belong to one of the tribes notorious for killing illegitimate children by breaking sweet potato runners on their heads, a kind of witch act believed to have powers to send the unwanted child to its early grave to eliminate bad genes from unknown origins—Man eaters, piti-piti families, sihoho transmitters and even ‘thugs’.

The Kiswahili sheng he spoke compromised his perceived status: “Nichekie hiyo tei yangu naenda kunyora.” The two words: ‘Tei’ instead of pombe for alcohol and ‘Nyora’ instead of kojoa for urination.

The muzzle of a handgun peeping from the welt pocket of Otieno’s jacket as he wriggled in his seat, bingeing on beer, was cause for fright to Atugo who had never been in contact with firearms before but she felt protected under assumption that the guy was a leader in military forces.

Atugo felt an upsurge of milk in her breasts that caused pain and welled up on her tits, spilling over to her blouse and permeating downwards to cause awkward white stains. She pleaded once more to be released.

Too drunk to drive, Otieno sat together with his unwitting lover in the backseat and allowed his driver to chauffeur them back to the junction where they’d drop Atugo to walk back home.

“Ushhh…! Somebody must—die today…!” A strange cold feeling descended on Atugo as Otieno, reclining unconsciously in the seat muttered threatening phrases repeatedly under his breath in his drunken stupor, angrily biting his lips and gnashing his teeth, face drenched in sweat, “Leo lazima nichuje mtu (Today I must eliminate somebody).”

The alcohol in his brain had caused deep hypnosis. He couldn’t remember clearly who sat beside him but vaguely saw a scared woman figure who was about to wet her pant in panic.

“Nobody can sojourn in a crocodile’s lair.” The old adage that Mien loved saying rang in Atugo’s brain like a bell. She was in the hands of a homicidal death maniac.

Atugo jumped out of the car as soon as she managed to open the door where the car stopped, too scared to say ‘good bye’ to the driver. She lolloped to the path leading to her home but broke into a trot on realising that the car remained parked at the same spot for too long after the driver had released her but still glancing out at her through the window like a cannibal estimating the amount of flesh in her. She increased her speed in apprehension of a possible gunshot aimed at her back.

Atugo found her lovers gathered to google details of Otieno with the help of Sislia who had a mobile phone that had internet connection, her mother shedding tears and whining about her whereabouts.

The details unveiled sent a cold chill down Atugo’s spine together with her lovers; tipped by a few drunks who survived by dint of stealing. They used his street name: the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa, to search more about him. Olwith and other small scale thieves admired his great potential as the most successful crime boss of all times and wished he had a private institution offering courses in thieving and robbery; bachelor of thuggery, they would pay for lectures to help scale up their sticky fingers.

The name dominated print media in circulation countrywide and beyond. A name that even Atugo had had about numerous times even though everyday folk would not identify him in his off duty attire.

Google unveiled his images in synthetic dreadlock and false beards that adorned the hallmark of hardcore criminals. The gangster had a huge appetite for human life as if he had a plantation for human souls. Some of the images had the caption: “Wanted!” huge rewards awaiting whoever would help law enforcers to trace Atugo’s new boyfriend.

The drama of Clementina’s love letter to the late Apiyo was replicating itself with a different approach, not a laughing matter this time round; a deadly man controlling a symbiosis of criminal gangs that could annihilate Anjawo’s home in the twinkle of an eye.

Failure to comply with the demands of the criminal would cost her life; judging from the stories she had just read as unveiled by the search engine. The worst case was the story of how he had crept at night and set ablaze a house occupied by his girlfriend and her sister in an estate in Siaya town. Charred remains of the sisters were collected the following day after the crime committed shortly before midnight.

Atugo crossed the stream to visit her brother-in-law for a solution but Wekesa and his wife, Natelo, scrunched their faces in panic.

Phone calls were made to all relatives and friends but they cringed in fear of the name; the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa.

Anjawo and Atugo developed a routine of keeping vigil in the home with the help of her clients as if the drunks had any strength to fight criminals armed with guns in case of a gang raid.

Anjawo rushed to Siaya Police Station to report the matter but failed to answer one question; “What did he come to your home to do?”

“He came to-to-to…ginene…mmm…to ginene…” The thug had visited Anjawo’s den to feel the taste of her illicit brew. She’d be thrown to the police cell if she dared answer the question correctly.

Just like Clementina visited the late Apiyo in her dreams, the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa did not spare Atugo on the night she resumed her sleep after assuming that the thug had given up:

A battalion of mean-looking gunmen invaded her parents’ home, shooting everybody on sight and caning her mother like a little child. The traumatising sound of Anjawo screaming helplessly for help between strokes running over her back sent Atugo to her knees, bleating like a calf.

The driver who had accompanied Otieno the other day whisked away Apiyo Junior from Atugo’s grasp. A gang of marauding crooks formed a tightly woven bloody wall around her, coercing her into declaring her decision on her relationship with the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa.

“…Yes, I do…! Yes-yes, I do…! Yes dear ones, I do…! I am ready to go with him to wherever he’ll take me…please-please-please…” But just before the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa could respond to the overwhelming submission, the damsel in distress sprouted wings and went airborne, leaving her baby in the hands of crooks.

Atugo flew over the landmarks on the Kobare-Mbita highway. She flew over Siaya town and left it behind, over Bondo town and left it behind, gliding across the entire Uyoma land but decided to land at the Luanda-K’Otieno beach where she spotted Ochola from a birds-eye-view.

Ochola who had been busy warning fishermen who had damaged his boat turned to her side: “Nya’Alego…oh Nya’Alego…oh Nya’Alego…why did you leave me, Nya’Alego?”

“Thugs who wanted to forcefully marry me have invaded our home and snatched away our daughter from me,” Atugo reported in tears.

“Where are they? Take me to where they are!” Ochola bellowed. He bent to the ground and picked a panga, ready for war.

No sooner did Ochola start a race towards Alego-Nyakonja to fight the thugs than they saw a flock of giant birds descending on them and changing into winged ‘the Black gunman—Ruling Africa’ and his accomplices as they approached the ground.

They shed the wings and turned them into handguns, the little innocent Apiyo Junior yawping painfully in the grip of Otieno’s driver. They ambushed the couple and squashed Ochola into a motorboat that pierced the water to a point at the centre of the lake where they hefted and flung him into the water.

The group that threw Ochola into the water flew away while another group left behind held Atugo hostage for questioning in a wild court, gun muzzles pressed on her neck, ribs and worst, forehead from where a bullet would blow her head to smithereens.

Muffled screams of Njalme could be heard faintly from a distant place behind: “Waaaaaaaih…! Run away my sister ruuuuunnn…! Atugo ruuuunnn…! Guys…! Don’t kill her doooooon’t…! Mamayowe Atugo waaaaaih…!”

Atugo stood still and stiff, bombarded in the grip of armed goons who hid their eyes behind sunglasses pestering her with threats and deadly questions, the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa, looking on, his hands interlaced on his chest, saying not a thing but…assent nods; her moment was here; the time to die.

They maintained long moments of emotional silence between tough questions to allow her to digest properly granules of every question and threat.

“Woman!” the man holding the gun on her head asked in a hoarse troubled voice.

“Yes, sir.”

“Look at the water surface in the lake.”

Atugo turned her face to the direction of the lake and cast a glance at the Lake Victoria waters.

“…What can you see?” the man cleared his throat and asked.

“I can see the body of my husband floating on water.”

“Your husband…? Woman! Your husband…? You mean your husband…? What have you just said? Your husband…?” he implored.

“I am so-so-sorry, sir.”

“Woman! Could he be the reason why you don’t love the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa?”

“No, sir.”

“Woman! Tell us why you don’t love the king of Africa!”

“I love him, my lords,” Atugo whispered in a whiney pleading sound.

“Woman! Look there!” the man ordered, pointing at a man who was busy painting a coffin.

“…What can you see?”

“It’s a coffin,” Atugo whispered in tears.

“Why did the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa pay for the coffin?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Woman! It’ll carry the remains of Nya’Alego, that’s you, to her final resting place the day after tomorrow, okay?”

The sad news injected a solution of potassium permanganate into Atugo’s joints, forcing her to wobble awkwardly like her brother, Roria, in his most stupid drunken stupor, her bowels disgorging shots of intestinal gases out into the air to decorate the ambience of the crime scene.

The man carrying her screaming baby broke the norm by replacing lullabies with hot slaps and insults: “Keep quiet! Child of a devil!”

Another giant bird descending from the sky drew attention of the murderers. It landed on the ground and formed a human figure that morphed into Clementina walking majestically towards the criminals.

They fired at her but the bullets behaved like Wekesa’s punches on Adongo’s coiled back: boff-boff-boff…they bounced back to the shooters, killing them one by one until the ground was littered with dead bodies of thugs who had reaped from their wrongdoings.

The Black Gunman—Ruling Africa, and his driver who did not participate in the shooting remained standing. Atugo grabbed her baby from the driver and made a few steps away from the place to flee but some powers held her hostage. She revolved around the place, not succeeding in any attempt to flee. The same happened to the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa, and his driver; they made tireless efforts to flee but kept falling down.

Clementina marched towards the two thugs, tied them together and crashed them into minced meat.

“Thank you baba Nyasayeeeh…! Thank you baba Nyasayeeeh…! Thank you baba Nyasayeeeh…!” Howling in agony and hopping over the dead bodies towards his sister, Njalme missed an opportunity to hug his sister, rescued from the grip of crooks when she woke up while stretching out her hand to greet him.

Inside Oudia’s shrine, sat Atugo on the same seat the late Apiyo had occupied the day they went to report Clementina’s intrusion. By her side was Anjawo seated exactly where she was, Oudia listening from across the table. Definitely he had to earn from every nightmare in Anjawo’s family.

“…But do this; besides use of my magic charms, visit Clementina and report the matter. He has guns but our ‘male daughter’ has paranormal powers. Don’t tell her about the nightmare, just your experience with the thug,” Oudia advised.

9 am local time a day after Oudia’s advice, Anjawo and her daughter sat in a couch facing Clementina to share their sob story.

“Just give him a warm welcome any time he calls in and alert me on phone before he leaves, okay?” Clementina advised.

“Hahaha! That day…I was dead drunk…darling. You know alcohol evokes bad emotions against people who offended us in a way or two. But to be sincere, I’ve never killed even a cockroach ever since I was born…darling,” the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa drawled in a seductive whisper in a mango tree shade behind Anjawo’s homestead, Atugo listening with her neck bent and face tilted sideways in the style of a smitten village beauty.

“Oops! Sorry, dear. Emotions can really mess up a good man like you. I’ve really missed you since that day. …Mmm. …Oh! Those enemies will just perish, darling. …Mmm don’t worry.” Atugo went ahead and started drawing flowers on the ground with her toes to express the pinnacle of romantic torture injected into her veins by love flowing from the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa. She did a bit of deforestation by daintily plucking leaves from the mango tree branch cascading down to their heads as proof that his words were penetrating every tissue of her body in a way that she couldn’t…just understand.

“…And don’t listen to people you hear around trying to tarnish my name here and there. Those are jealous people who hate our relationship with you, dear.”

“No! I am not me without you, darling. I can’t pay attention to nonsense.”

From the window of Anjawo’s main house, tired faces bearing red eyes of curious drunks could be seen peeping in fear. Anjawo sat in her couch trembling and whining about Clementina’s delayed arrival long after she had alerted her on phone.

“Man! Tell me about your relationship with this woman!” Clementina bellowed.

“She’s my friend! What do you want?” Otieno fired back, wrinkling his nose. The frightening image of the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa unveiled itself to the public. Atugo cowered backwards, rattled by the replica of what she had seen in her nightmare a few weeks earlier.

He sank his right hand in his jacket’s welt-pocket but just before he could pull out a handgun, he was fighting to wrest his wrist from Clementina’s hold. The gun fell off his hand, exposing him to a life-threatening situation.

The Black Gunman—Ruling Africa jumped over prickles in Anjawo’s idle land, followed by an armed Clementina who failed to catch up with his high speed. The crook was well trained on how to make zigzag movements to outwit gunshots.

Bewildered villagers gathered to witness Clementina’s true powers in action as proof of the myths surrounding her existence on earth as a divine force.

She shot in the air, sending everybody into a welter of running, falling and screaming. Anjawo and Atugo jostled for space under Anjawo’s bed in her bedroom. Wekesa and Natelo could be seen racing towards the stream for safety ‘only available’ at Oteng’o’s home in their house at the servant’s quarter.

Drunks were rising and falling repeatedly in Anjawo’s compound like cockroaches dying under a spray of insecticide, dogs yowling away with their tails between legs, hens clacking with their wings making an abortive attempt to fly. Clementina’s true colors while in action reminded everybody of Baal, the principal king of Hell with sixty six legions of demons under his command.

A police landcruiser arrived at the scene with gusto. It disgorged hawk-eyed policemen running at their highest speed towards Clementina. Her surrender of the firearm to the law enforcers restored normalcy, evidence of her paranormal powers delivered to the community overwhelmingly.

A lot of secrets were discovered during the incident as shared out by Anjawo’s clients a day later in their stories told between sips of the illicit brew:

“A man can leave his soulmate for the dead at the smell of death. I saw Wekesa speeding ahead of Natelo, ignorant of her calls for him to slow down,” said Kube.

“Kilo stood on Atugo’s way to give her the baby but she pushed him to the ground and ran to take cover under her mother’s bed,” Aoko said with a chuckle.

“Momo defied his deaf status by struggling until he uttered a word in his scream: ‘Hulupuh!’. He actually wanted to shout ‘help!’ but the locks in his jaws failed to break up,” Roria lied.

“He’ll be able to talk fully in case of a similar incident again,” Ohanya quipped.

Clementina’s triumph over the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa did not eliminate fear in Anjawo’s family and its surrounding. The hardcore criminal would definitely retaliate in a revenge mission that could exterminate the entire family.

Clementina advised Anjawo and Atugo to “stop fearing and leave the case to her” in their expression of fear of a possible revenge attack.

Sislia visited Anjawo’s homestead a month after the fight and gave Atugo a newspaper she had bought from the streets. It had a headline worth celebration:

 

HARDCORE CRIMINAL SHOT DEAD.

By Nelcon Odhiambo

A hardcore criminal who has given policemen sleepless nights for years has been shot dead. The criminal known by his weird street name: the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa, was shot dead in his hideout in a sugarcane plantation in Muhoroni.

John Otieno, aka the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa, was a blood curdling criminal gang leader with a battalion of marauding armed crooks under his command.

The criminal was last spotted in Alego-Nyakonja village where he was attacked by Clementina, a powerful resident of the village who intervened to stop her from forcing a love relationship to a woman who had expressed fear in regard to his criminal records.

The police department is at work tracing other criminals attached to the felled crook.

A wind of relief swept across the village. Anjawo and her daughter yelled in cerebration. It happened at a time Atugo surmised having been shortlisted for the slaughter house. Happy is a village occupied by such powerful people as Clementina. Even though she regretted Clementina’s presence any time she remembered her deceased daughter, Apiyo, she now had a reason to smile at the brooding looks on her face.

Celebrating liberation from the bondage of crooks entailed a lot, including travelling to distant places to assure relatives that Atugo was a free person.

Anjawo reacted to travelling across the country in fear of getting involved in a road accident as if she’d live forever. She felt scared by the rampant car crashes along the dangerous Salgaa-Migaa-Sachangwan Mau Summit stretch on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.

Myths surrounding the accidents on the highway were as ridiculous as beliefs about Clementina and her queer features. According to truck drivers who usually parked their heavy trucks by the roadside to creep in for a sip of Anjawo’s illicit brew, the mass grave at the Sachangwan where seventy-eight victims of the 2009 oil tanker fire were buried was the cause of the problem according to them.

Ghosts of the victims were on the prowl, tricking drivers into accidents in various ways. The drivers lied that they’d see a dwarf old woman carrying a basket on her head crossing the road at the blackspot, forcing them to apply sharp breaks that led to accidents. Some of them testified that they had, once or twice seen a naked baby playing in the middle of the road. They never accepted their habit of parking trucks by the roadside to pop into alcohol dens for drinks as a contributing factor. Anjawo too exaggerated that the many accidents caused by boda-boda riders reeking of brewery after visiting her den had links with such ghosts.

But for Anjawo to accomplish her mission, she had to brave her way on the blackspot. She had to visit in the company of Atugo, her three sons: Okech, Odipo and Osele and proceed to the homes of origin of their wives as requested by the daughters-in-law. She didn’t have to visit Njalme due to his marital status, she had sworn never to visit a bachelor, arguing that a bachelor’s house is dominated by bats flying over the heads of visitors.

Roria was right here with her, bingeing on dozens of glasses of rwata-rwata, the illicit brew, dirty words rolling off his tongue as easily as saying ‘good morning’ and running to places at night to cast spells; an eyesore to the community.

Eons before she ever imagined that the invasive alcohol and drug horror would ruin her home, she talked dreck about spoilt children from surrounding homes who engaged in alcoholism. She was a darling to underage drunks staggering from her home, brains charged with bhang to cause chaos around the village…when the ugly bird perched on her roof, she lost her senses into oblivion.

Anjawo and Atugo handed over the brew business to Aoko to maintain it and take care of the home in their absence with tough instructions on how to control the reckless Roria.

Holding the orphaned Kilo by the hand, Atugo walking by her side with Apiyo Junior strapped to her back, Anjawo received a warm welcome from her host, Nduku, in an apartment in Kondele Estate-Kisumu. Unfortunately, Osele had left shortly to visit a friend at Pand-Pieri in Nyalenda slums, an area historically occupied by deadly wild beasts that attacked victims by tearing away their buttocks. Amused by the name ‘Pand-Pieri’ which means ‘hide your buttocks’ in Luo language, Anjawo gave a cheerful grin and took a seat.

She felt thrilled at the sight of Osele’s infant daughter, Christabel Achieng’ or Anjawo Junior, named after Anjawo just like Apiyo Junior, named after her deceased maternal aunt.

Anjawo listened with grief to her daughter-in-law narrating a tear-jerking story about a five-year-old boy shot dead on the third floor of the same apartment three weeks earlier by anti-riot police controlling demonstrators in the streets, an incident wrongly reported as having been killed by a stray bullet.

Judging from the position of the boy on the balcony, it’d be a stray bullet if the policeman meant to shoot in the air, pointed the gun in the sky but the bullet, against his wish bent to the direction of the boy. …It couldn’t add up unless the law of gravity had changed overnight. The policeman must have pointed in the direction of the boy, deliberately with an aim of killing him, reason…known to him and his spirits; wonder whether he’s human or a monster.

Pursuit of justice for the affected family would end in disarray courtesy…state sovereignty. But when state sovereignty doubles as a shield to impunity, the barefoot everyday citizens pay the ultimate prize.

Off to Kambaland. Led by Nduku, Anjawo and her team arrived in Nairobi and boarded a second vehicle heading to Kitui – the place where iron goods were made, according to history. Iron smiths who settled at the place named the area many years before the colonial period. Osele was left behind due to cultural restrictions.

Nduku led the visitors to her home of origin in Mandogoi area, Ngomeni ward, Kyuso Sub-county in Kitui; a home bearing the pattern of a traditional African homestead.

A jubilant group of women gyrating to the tune of traditional songs sang in their local dialect to welcome the visitors. Anjawo was thrilled at the sight of women wearing copious jewellery consisting of neck-chains, bracelets and anklets.

Nduku belonged to a young family where she was the first-born followed by two brothers: Kioko and Makau. Her father, Mutuku, looked younger than Odede and mother, Wayua, resembled her daughter just like Anjawo and Adongo.

Wayua took Anjawo Junior from her daughter and playfully swung her in the air with heaps of praises and laughter. Between sips of tea served to the visitors, Mutuku told stories of the Kamba or Akamba people, their origin, culture and lifestyle.

According to him, the tribe migrated to the area from the south several centuries earlier in search of food, mainly the fruit of the baobab tree, accorded great nutritional value.

They first settled in Mbooni hills in Machakos District, Kenya in 17th century before spreading to other parts.

The Akamba bore a son; Kikuyu, boy named after the fig tree. Kikuyu married Mumbi, creator, and the couple started the first Kikuyu family that multiplied to form the current Kikuyu tribe.

Kenya, the name of the country originated from the Kamba word ‘Kiinyaa’ which means, the Ostrich Country, derived from a reference they made to Mt.Kenya and its snow cap that resembled the male ostrich.

The visitors spent only a day in Kamba land or Ukambani and together with Nduku, travelled back to Nairobi where they were expected by Okech’s family.

Okech advised his mother to save on time and expenses by visiting Odipo in Thika and onwards to Muthoni’s homeland in Murang’a County before completing her journey by travelling to Rift Valley, Jemutai’s homeland. Jemutai who had visited Odipo’s family earlier had to guide them.

Anjawo’s entourage grew bigger with the number of families she visited. She enjoyed the smooth drive on the Nairobi-Thika superhighway but screamed at the rogue driver of the minibus who nodded luxuriously to the rhythm of the ear-breaking noise of the loud music played in the passenger service vehicle.

Use of the public transport service was a test of patience and endurance. Nairobians aboard the minibus inured to the reckless behaviour of the road hogs grumbled in perseverance but Anjawo screamed on. She could not contend with the music blaring from speakers mounted overhead in the vehicle all the way to Thika town.

A pinging effect rang in her ear drums with the beats, forcing her to block her ears with her palms to save them from perforating.

The tout, unapologetic for his wrongdoings was swaying his waist luxuriously, whistling to the tune of the music and jingling the coins he had collected from passengers. He turned round and sneered at Anjawo, impunity written all over his face.

Anjawo rose from her seat, marched forward on the aisle and engaged the tout in a fiery exchange that forced the driver to lower the volume. Comments expressive of relief from other passengers proved that the loud music entertained only the driver, the tout and a few brats of their ilk aboard the vehicle but oppressed the majority.

The impressive sight of Thika town welcomed Anjawo to Kikuyu land. She wished she knew, she’d have fled to the prestigious industrial town, a safe haven from Clementina and the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa.

The brewer and her team boarded a 14 seater matatu heading to Makongeni estate, her eyes darting left and right to study the area…Kiandutu slums on the right, Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers on the left, crossing the railway line to Kiganjo estate and finally to their destination at Makongeni bus stage.

Anjawo received heroic welcome from Odipo’s family in an apartment in the estate. Her two daughters-in-law, Nduku and Jemutai went local and joined Muthoni in the kitchen to prepare meals for the visitors. The national language, Swahili was put into full use although Kilo who had never travelled beyond Siaya town struggled a lot to communicate in the language. He also displayed irksome ‘primitive behaviour’ common among the village folk who had never been to town, corrected by Atugo between clicks of tongue ─ forgetting to remove shoes while entering the carpeted floor, spitting on the cemented floor as if it was Anjawo’s earthen floor back home, sinking his fingernails between his teeth to dig out food debris instead of using the tooth-pick provided by the host, biting his finger nails and spitting them anyhow, noisy sipping of tea – licking and smacking his lips happily between sips as if he had never tasted tea back home in Nyakonja village, blowing his nose using his bare fingers instead of the hanky in his pocket and mouthfuls of limp obscenities acquired from Anjawo’s clients, sparkling accidentally in his speech unaware that such words were not meant for public consumption particularly in a civilised society like Odipo’s family here. Anjawo just smiled at him but her daughters-in-law were left floundering. Good news; Muthoni was also breastfeeding a son, Ajwang’ Junior, named after his paternal grandfather.

Anjawo loved the respect and love bestowed on her by her daughters-in-law despite having reacted badly to intertribal marriages earlier before life taught her how to embrace humans from all ethnic backgrounds. She spent her first night in a lodging in Thika town due to cultural restrictions to avert chira, the verdict after breaking a taboo, that would infect her children in case she spent in her son’s house.

Anjawo spent the following day touring Thika town under the guidance of Muthoni together with the rest apart from Odipo who had reported to work.

They visited Del-Monte company, Chania River and Blue Post Hotel from where she viewed the breathtaking waterfall rustling in the background.

Any development agenda is enhanced by human networks, attracted to tacky structures her eyes gave her from the surroundings, Anjawo rejected Muthoni’s proposal to tour her in Industrial Area and insisted that they visit slums instead, from where she could enjoy the fun of rwata-rwata consumers purposely to compare notes and if possible, build networks.

Muthoni requested the rest to go back to the house; the walk across Kiandutu slums would be too tiresome for them. She gave Jemutai the difficult task of carrying Ajwang’ junior on her back to the house even though she understood the child as being rebellious to strangers.

Anjawo checked in at one of the brewing dens in the slum, only language shy to curious clients who were speaking in Kikuyu. She waved at them, ordered for a glass half-full of the brew and emptied it. She beckoned the brewer and whispered some advice to her in Swahili language on how best to mix the raw materials: yeast, molasses, millet, maize and sorghum, ferment and distill to produce a drink devoid of the bad taste she had detected while drinking.

The woman laughed loudly, patted Anjawo’s coiled back and requested the new teacher to follow her. Suspicious about the sober Muthoni’s presence, she bought her a bottle of soda and requested her to wait on a seat away from her clients.

She led Anjawo through dark corridors weaving in an impenetrable jungle of horrendous structures that disgorged them to a dilapidated mud-walled structure packed with drums splattered with unspeakable gunk, lined up in a row. Long pipes fixed to the drums snaked their ways to containers placed on the mud floor littered with filth from dubious sources including dead rats.

A team of malodorous labourers stoking the fire burning under the drums was a replica of Anjawo’s crew back home, sweating, sniffling and rubbing their eyes irritated by smoke. She felt like fish thrown into the water.

The brewer explained to Anjawo that she normally had fifteen drums in three rows of five drums each. She had successfully lined up one row…in progress and needed Anjawo to instruct her as she prepared the second row.

Fire was already burning in Odipo’s house as Anjawo, too engrossed in the brewing activity forgot that she had left her daughter-in-law waiting outside. The distillery was built to block visibility to sunlight that could remind Anjawo that time was bad.

Ajwang’ Junior was screeching on Jemutai’s head like an angry parrot scaring away would be burglars. He had never imagined been exposed to the care of a stranger for such long.

Muthoni felt scared, stirring on her seat in fright as she stared over the tacky structures to monitor the sun sinking to its resting place where the sky touched the earth.

The drinking ragtag in the den, curiously stealing glances at her was bothered by her presence… Police reservist?

Her efforts to inquire about the whereabouts of her mother-in-law would deliver nil. She darted into the club and tried to snake her way in the direction Anjawo and her new friend had followed but lost her way in the labyrinthine dark corridors holding a strong nauseating stench and retreated.

Her husband made calls with threatening contents that’d easily land him in prison if action was taken. Anjawo’s phone was on but remained unanswered when calls were made. Muthoni was between a rock and a hard place. Anjawo could not trace her way back home if left alone and invasion of the slum by thugs at night was an everyday task.

“Gai-gai-gai…” Muthoni moaned on her seat, fluttering her hands and wriggling in fear.

She rushed to her house for back up but Odipo feared the risk involved while traversing the slum at night, it’d be like fish throwing itself into the frying pan.

The entire Kikuyu community had never had a single clan practising cannibalism in history…the risk of Anjawo being eaten was out. But crime is a worldwide problem that hatched crooks like the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa.

Message of Anjawo’s disappearance had spread throughout Ajwang’s family and beyond, Odipo and Muthoni on the receiving end of all blames.

Ajwang’s response was a bad dose for wives in monogamous relationships. In his capacity as a large-scale father boasting of two wives and a dozen plus children, he laughed off his son’s report and explained to him that their ancestors used to force a monogamous man to sit near the door in drinking dens as a precaution against the risk of breaking the pot of brew in a desperate rush to save his only wife in case of a report that she had a problem. But for polygamous men, they’d react gently to such bad news knowing that even if one wife died, all was not lost, he still had another or others.

A phone call made at midnight to Odipo by Anjawo brought great relief to the panicky family. She was jovial and talked from a messy background of drunks yelling out the alcohol in their brains.

Taking Anjawo to high-end places like Blue Post Hotel was a waste of time and resources. It was like forcing an owl to join a flock of pigeons.

The money paid in a lump sum for her lodging in town for three days had gone into waste. She spent the first night there but disappeared on the second day to join birds of her feathers.

Anjawo spent her third day in Thika with the brewer, building social networks and enjoying her life and teaching her new friend how to prepare conc. brew that’d send her loyal customers flying to the ground.

She dialled Muthoni’s phone number in the evening and asked her to give explicit direction to her house to the brewer who knew every nook and cranny of Kiandutu slums. She handed over her phone to the brewer who talked to Muthoni in Kikuyu language before they left for Makongeni together.

“What brings you here…?” Anjawo winced and growled, looking at Adongo with a sneer as if she had bumped on a stray dog.

“I came to visit my brother, Mama,” Adongo lied. She had woken up at dawn and travelled to Thika from Bushiangala on getting wind of her mother’s disappearance.

“Why wait until I come? You’ve never been to this place before!”

“Please take this for a bottle of soda, Mama,” Adongo requested, pulling a one thousand shilling note from her pouch.

“Thank you, daughter,” Anjawo beamed, the tingle of anger on her face betraying appreciation.

Muthoni and the brewer watching the confrontation linked the incident to a Kikuyu proverb—Ageni eri matari utugire – two guests at the same time have no welcome.

The brewer introduced herself to Odipo’s family as Wambui. She apologised for any inconveniences she must have caused to the family by snatching away their guest.

Odipo requested his mother to spend her last night in the restroom booked in town but she insisted on going back with Wambui and reporting back early in the morning the following day to proceed to Murang’a, Muthoni’s homeland.

Although a loss to Odipo who had paid for his mother’s stay in the lodging, he had no control over her abuse of hospitality.

7 am local time on her last day in Thika, Anjawo arrived at Odipo’s house to travel to Murang’a County, the county that boasts of Mukurwe Wa Nyagathanga shrine, believed to be the home of Gikuyu and his wife Mumbi, the couple that started the first Kikuyu family.

The travellers arrived in a traditional Kikuyu homestead in Wangu ward, Kiharu constituency, Murang’a County, to the delight of Muthoni’s widowed mother.

Although considered to be a traditional Kikuyu homestead in a village setup, the homestead lacked some important structures, mainly the thingira – huts, for the male owner of the home and circumcised unmarried men, for good reasons according to Muthoni’s explanation; the home had been built after the demise of her dad who left behind her mother; Wanjiku, with four children: a boy, Njoroge, who was the last-born and three girls with Muthoni being the eldest.

Njoroge’s house, standing on the right side of his mother’s nyumba -woman’s house, was roofed over with corrugated iron sheets. Could be his first hut had been grass-thatched before he got married to his wife, Nyambura, who had ushered in the guests.

Anjawo who thrived better in messy environments had to force discipline into herself when circumstances forced, for example when in contact with relatives of her daughters-in-law, to protect the image of her family even though her face carried components of alcoholic ordeals that detailed the drink’s capacity to destroy beauty. The gum she was chewing sluggishly was not for leisure but to purify alcohol-related smell that’d foul the air. The daughters-in-law had to ‘learn to live with it’ according to her.

Anjawo was impressed by the hospitality of Muthoni’s relatives. She enjoyed the Kikuyu meals: githeri, mukimo, kimitu and irio eaten between tales about the Kikuyu, told by elders who entertained her throughout until she requested to leave the following day.

Gikuyu and Mumbi were blessed with nine daughters who brought into existence the nine Kikuyu clans according to the elders but no sons. They recited their names from the eldest to the youngest with their offspring clans as follows: Wanjiru-Anjiru, Wambui-Ambui, Njeri-Aceera, Wanjiku-Anjiku, Nyambura-Ambura or Ethaga, Wairimu-Airimu or Agathigia or Aicakamuyu, Waithira-Athirandu, Wangari-Angari or Aithe, Wangui-Angui or Aithiegeni.

Off to Rift Valley province, the origin of Jemutai, where Anjawo and her team would finalise their journey before dispersing to their respective everyday homes according to her programme. She had not planned to visit her daughters in their respective matrimonial homes due to cultural restrictions.

One important news that caused a faint stirring of envy; Anjawo’s step-daughter; Mary, had been converted to Islamic religion and would soon get married to her suitor, a muslim in accordance with the Islamic laws in a nikah ceremony. Cause for a little jealousy: “…Why not Atugo? Today she meets a night runner, tomorrow she meets a thug…Thoh! Wish she met a religious man.”

Travelling straight from Murang’a to Nandi would be an uphill task. They decided to travel back to Nairobi and spend the night at Okech’s place before proceeding. Anjawo entertained her daughters-in-law with tales throughout the journey.

3 pm local time, the following day, Anjawo was in Nandi hills, the cradle land of Kenyan running, with her team walking to the outskirts of the town where Jemutai’s home of origin was located. She admired the tea estates and other development activities around.

Her elder brother; Kipkoech and his wife; Akong’o, surprisingly a Luo welcomed the guests. Anjawo and her team were aware that Jemutai had lost her parents long before she met Okech, leaving Kipkoech and his wife to act in their stead.

Jemutai’s tribe was Nandi even though Luos wrongly referred to her as Nya’Lang’o unaware that Lang’o is a different tribe altogether. It would be in order to endear her as Nya’Nandi to address her in reference to her tribe of origin.

Such errors were acceptable. Only wives from the Luo tribe were addressed with their specific clans but wives from other tribes were addressed in generic terms linking them to their origins to avoid the tedious job of doing research that would give confusing results.

Jemutai’s deceased parents had only two children, born between a wide spacing, Kipkoech was eight years older than his sister. Anjawo sensed that the family either observed strict family planning rules that’d stop Okech’s descendants from accessing planet earth or were just infertile. Having a fantastic womb that had given Ajwang’ a generous brood within a short time in deplorable conditions, she thought of waiving her fertility to Jemutai but hesitated at the possibility of hiring family planning experts by her son to frustrate her generous offer. She preferred a family where children descended like the historical locusts from the sky. Not a situation of her son living as a small-scale father of one or two.

Kipkoech introduced himself and his three sons: Kipkirui, Kipng’etich and Onyango—named after Akong’o’s paternal grandfather.

Akong’o caused panic in her turn for introduction; the details she gave about her home of origin took Anjawo back to Ochola’s home of origin, right inside, in the same family lineage.

“We have a family friend from the same family called Ochola,” Anjawo drawled.

“But that’s my first-cousin!” Akong’o yelled in shock.

Atugo’s stomach rumbled. She became fidgety and made a dart for the door to try if she could find a loophole in the fence of the homestead but was confronted by a frustrating block of fencing wire that could not even allow a hen to pass through.

“He was married to a lady from your area; a Nya’Alego who belongs to the Uyawa sub-clan,” Akong’o revealed, unaware of who she was talking to.

“What does he say about the wife?” Anjawo asked with a sly smile.

“He’s missing the wife and would like to be reconciled to the Nya’Alego.”

“Did he tell you the cause of separation?” Anjawo asked.

“He said that it was a minor issue but he had overreacted in a way that scared the wife,” Akong’o explained.

“Okay, the one seating by my side is she,” Anjawo revealed.

Akong’o jumped from her seat and fastened her hands around Atugo’s neck, tears of joy rolling freely. Overcome with emotions, she held her tightly for a long time with encouraging remarks and apologies.

Atugo felt the comfort of her former husband back to life. She nodded assent to every encouragement given by her sister-in-law.

“Kindly allow me to inform your husband that I’ve met you so that he can talk to you,” Akong’o requested.

“Okay, do,” Atugo allowed her.

Akong’o made a phone call to Ochola who sobbed between dramatic pleas for Atugo’s return to her matrimonial house.

Kipkoech’s homestead gave little consideration to tradition. He had four buildings of the modern type: his main house facing the gate, a single-roomed house on the left used as the kitchen, a two roomed guest house next to the kitchen and on the right hand side of the main house stood a one bed-roomed house that served his sons: no mud walled or grass-thatched structures.

A group of elderly Nandi women wearing attires embellished in beadwork and heavy earrings joined the guests in Kipkoech’s homestead at sunset to entertain them and share folklore between sips of mursik that tasted better and healthier to Anjawo than the rwata-rwata she loved.

The guests changed their decision at sunrise in regard to Atugo’s agreement with her man that he’d visit her homeland in a week’s time accompanied by his elders and three goats in tow to appease the spirits of her relatives in accordance with the custom.

Anjawo bought beaded necklaces, a decorated milk gourd and heavy earrings as souvenirs of her trip to Piny Lang’o (Land of the Kalenjin).

With the power Anjawo wielded over her sons, she needed not to request them for permission to hold their wives for a week but just inform them. Reconciliation needed not the presence of all family members, just a few and Odede to represent Ajwang’. Taking her daughters-in-law back home would also help to pump a breath of life to their huts; remove cobwebs from the walls and chase away invasive bats.

Anjawo told Atugo to advise her man to bring a cow instead. Goats would be acceptable if he had paid dowry but since he wasn’t prepared for dowry, one heifer would suffice to serve as ayie, appreciation, to in-laws for giving out their girl.

Ochola did more than expected. He brought in a heifer and three goats. He arrived in the company of his elders and cousins to a cordial welcome from Atugo’s family.

Only Adongo and Njalme travelled back home to welcome their brother-in-law a day to his big day. Ajwang’ even though not present, gave an okay to the reunion with a bit of worry about the man’s alleged night dance but…anyway…better than the Black Gunman—Ruling Africa.

It was a happy moment for Ochola seated in Anjawo’s main house listening to stories from Atugo’s kinfolk and friends in an atmosphere devoid of drama involving Adongo and her mother. He felt delighted to meet his daughter, Yuanita Apiyo Junior.

Atugo packed her things and travelled to Mbita a day later to join Ochola as his second wife, now a mature woman, taught by experience.

Only left with Kilo to help her when not in school, Anjawo had no good reason to continue dealing in illicit brew and drugs. But even earlier, her established children and sons-in-law, Wekesa included, had promised to give her support if only she could start a better business but aquatic animals thrive only in water. Odipo would testify on that from his experience when he spent a lot to unwind his mother from deplorable conditions; she left her swanky restroom and joined slum dwellers.

The level at which Anjawo, the charismatic alcohol vendor with a disposition to spoil lost control of her family was highly influenced by her own behaviour that rivalled her wayward children’s. She reprimanded them for appaling behaviour that replicated hers hence their failure to obey, believing they were birds of a feather. Her irresponsible husband found a hiding under her bad manners as his excuse for failing to take responsibility as a father. This bud of sinners correcting sinners infected the entire Nyakonja village and beyond.Birds - front cover-2

QUIETUS

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Online Writing Sites

Online Writing Sites

Regimented Conditions On Online Writing Sites That Block Competent Writers

Online writing has played a significant role in engaging millions of graduates churned out of universities and other learning institutions to provide livelihoods and mitigate idleness. The number of writers absorbed worldwide by online writing sites is numerous times the number hired by traditional publications that provide room for a few individuals on strict conditions on background in journalism or related courses.

Inasmuch as we celebrate the rapid evolution of online writing that has generated thousands of sites and companies, a lot more still needs to be done to provide more space for talented, aggressive writers blocked by regimented conditions they bump on as they jostle for space in the world of writers. Some of the conditions stopping the writers from exploiting their talents include but are not limited to:

  • Level of education. The Writers Bureau; an online writers training institution based in Manchester, England, realized this early enough and promotes a very clear all inclusive advert: “Would you like to be a writer irrespective of your level of education?”. They put it clear at the introduction of their first course in module one- “Writers come from all walks of life.” Quite encouraging to talented writers who never made it to universities and other prominent learning institutions.

Just like music, comedy and any form of artwork, writing falls in the category of arts. And as they say that writers are born, not made, talented writers start exercising their talents at very early stages of life, first by developing passion for the written word. They develop expansive reading habits that involve reading for leisure, outside of school curriculum disciplines. The urge to pick their pens and try out their skills deliver a few paragraphs, articles and even novellas and the inevitable practice continues until they grow into world famous writers irrespective of their level of education. The same writers have the aptitude to write some of the best articles that will keep clients salivating for more. In this regard, writing sites and companies that insist on minimum education level have ineptly locked out this world of competent writers. We’ve seen very educated people who crammed their way to high education levels but cannot pen down a single page of a good article.

  • Interviews too rigid. The motive is good generally, to get the most brilliant, but the demand for the written word is not as greedy as we are. A company may insist on a few quick-witted folks who can answer correctly a million questions in the blink of an eye but customer demand may soar above that and beckon to the slower performer who can possibly improve with time if given a chance. Some companies send strictly one title for interview as if dealing with robots. Every writer has his/her area of expertise and needs a variety to select from.

Writing sites need some lenience to open space for more writers.