You will remember the watery cabbage and ugali I used to get paid with. That was the first thing that left the table. Mama Linda felt she had fed me enough to go the rest of my life working for her without a meal. “Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered,” she had muttered when I lingered in the kitchen for lunch.
She took full advantage of Njoro being away in Kabarnet town most days trying to get his restaurant off the ground and changed my working hours. While I used to clock in at mid-morning and clock out at noon. I now started working early in the morning and left when the moon was up in the sky.
All sorts of jobs started coming out of the woodwork. The PoshoPub’s gunias needed thorough scrubbing, and the dust on the roof needed sweeping. I knew Mama Linda would never run out of ideas, when one day, out of the blue, she made me sit on Njoro’s bicycle seat to warm it for him before he left for Kabarnet town. I thought of retaliating countless times, but all it took was one look from her and I towed the line.
Beatrice had it tougher. While I warmed Njoro’s bicycle seat she was being sent to the river countless times a day. And when she was not at the river she was bent over scrubbing dishes, floors, and muddied tools. She had also stopped sharing Njoro’s bed. I had no quarrel with that, what upset me was how coldly Mama Linda had done it.
Whenever her turn to share Njoro’s bed would come, Mama Linda had instructed her to tell him that her periods had become irregular. Poor thing was now always on her periods and there was nothing the men in Churo Village feared more than periods. ‘How could someone bleed when they hadn’t been injured?’ they wondered.
It was something that had puzzled some men of the cloth to the point of fasting hoping that God would reveal to them how that was possible. Bobobo, the village fool was always muttering under his breath “That is not possible, that is not possible!” It is whispered that this puzzle was the one that had driven him to insanity.
Things for Beatrice got from bad to worse. Whenever she stopped to catch a break Mama Linda would whisper in her ear. “Look at my hair, video vixens have long hair like mine.” Whenever she was idle, “Look at my hips, video vixens have wide hips like mine.” Whenever she sat down to eat. “Look at my breasts, video vixens have round breasts like this.” To the point where she became paranoid and started losing weight.
I could have continued scrubbing gunias, sweeping the dust on the roof, and warming Njoro’s bicycle seat for the rest of my days. But I couldn’t stand watching Beatrice shrink into a shadow of who she was. So I started plotting our escape. It involved refusing to do Mama Linda’s dirty work to the point where she told on us—which failed to be as straightforward as I thought it would be.