I threw some water on my face and said a small prayer after getting out of bed. If I was going to be robbed of my earthly body, I at least wanted God to save my eternal one. “Dakika moja,” I told an impatient Njoro while dashing out of my mud hut—my only priced possession, I could already see it becoming a ruin and eventually being reduced to dust with the absence of my care.
I entered my parent’s compound which was opposite mine and knocked on their hut. Years of toiling had allowed them to make theirs out of wood, even if it was different types of timber, scraped from every corner of Baringo County. “Good morning Katana, where have you been?” My mother, Sara, greeted me at the door in mother tongue.
“I have just been occupied by work,” I responded.
“I am making breakfast. Join us,” she said.
“A hungry stomach works the hardest,” My father Mateo barked. I could see his silhouette inside the hut, leaning on a chair next to the three-stone cooking fire.
“I am traveling, I just wanted to know how you were doing,” I said.
“We are waiting on the lord,” my father groaned.
“Where are you going, my son?” My mother asked.
“Njoro is yet to tell me,” I responded.
“Have a safe trip,” My mother said.
“If you are going to Kabarnet town, bring me Horseman cigarettes,” My father added and as he did, I could see his stained, broken teeth from years of smoking in my mind.
“I will see what I can do,” I said, leaving the doorstep. “I told you he would do it big with Njoro,” I heard my father telling my mother as I was halfway across the compound. I walked across the other half and joined Njoro, who was sharpening his panga on a stone. “Are you ready?” he asked evenly. “Let’s go,” he continued, without my answer.
At this point, you must be wondering why I did not run away. The thought never crossed my mind. Though a time would come when I got into a fix in Nairobi and I wanted to disappear. Nairobi, where I would learn in shock that the men sometimes hid under the bed while their wives confronted the danger. But I was in Churo and the men here are not known for their cowardice.
We walked with Njoro in silence to the backyard of his house where a bush had grown uncontrollably. “Stand there, I want to tell you something before I do it,” he roared. I looked at him. Could I take him? I wondered. I had the advantage of height, but he had the advantage of muscles and he was holding a weapon after all. But who, in their right mind would go down without resistance?
I prepared myself for a fight and just as I did he placed a hand on my shoulder. “Judging by how awkward you have become, I suppose you have started hearing the gossip about my house,” he paused to measure his words. “My second wife Beatrice has started hearing it too and she is all over the place. I want you to know that the whispers are false. A successful man always has people who want to pull him down,” he said finally and started clearing the bush with his panga.
“Don’t just stand there,” he said, “place the bushes into a pile in that corner and burn them,” he added after turning back and seeing me standing in the same spot he had left me a second ago.
I exhaled a sigh and began gathering the leaves and branches and heaping them up where he had instructed. “I am going to set up a restaurant here. Njoro’s Hotel and Posho Pub,” he beamed and I was half listening as I lit the heap and it exploded into a bonfire while the other half of me wondered what the whispers about his house were all about.