I was skeptical at first but her eyes wouldn’t wander; they were stagnated on me like I was her last straw to clutch on to before the happiness wagon departed. She now hangs precariously on the bamboo chair trying to woo me. It was a battle between grace and wit. She could almost feel me succumbing to her watery eyes; it was working and I couldn’t fight it anymore. I was holding the one thing that would make or break her day and had the same effect on me…..
When he told me it wouldn’t be that far, I was still on my knee fastening my shoe lace and getting ready to Bolt(catch my inference hehe) . Whenever a Kamba or anyone from Kalefornia says it’s just a few minutes away, just remember that “pi” in high school that isn’t helping you with anything currently. I always like a challenge so he knew that I was ready for whatever he had in store for the day.
He held a bag on his right hand and two cups on his left, I presumed it was for water (just didn’t know it was ‘holy water’). His back pack was quite antique; it was plausible passed down from generation to generation. He didn’t speak too much and I enjoyed the silence. It was almost as if he knew my thoughts were far too wide and didn’t want to stretch my capacity any further. He occasionally pointed to the lands far away and awed at their beauty and serenity. Afterwards he would sink in somewhat a daze that he wouldn’t even hear me until I tap him. Must be one of those chakra things, my friend Bran goes on and on about.
We treaded for close to an hour nonstop; he barely broke a sweat nor slowed down to catch a breath. The highest point of the valley was synonymous to the vixen’s jumpsuit from short and sweet. It was noticeable but not the whole package. I could feel the wind gently blowing against my cheeks from the front enough to let a smile out. A foreign smile; like the one you give an adult when they insist they know much more than you. I would smell the earth so close that I was one with it; I could feel the life that emanates from it and the death that looms so close above it. In pin drop silence, you could hear her talk or maybe it was just the passersby. The butterflies that flew aimlessly around me; the fly that couldn’t top buzzing on my leg and whatever craziness the young man had in store was all too endearing.
Being an occasional sipper, he had one full bottle of local brew and two cups for stability. You are wrong to think he was philanthropic with his ‘energizer’. Hata skuskia vibaya . While I was too immersed in my own realm, he was almost drowning in his. He was half a bottle too deep and didn’t seem fazed in the slightest. Does it help that his name is Johnny? Not slightly moved by any of his illicit, we come across villagers. We had come too far away from civilization, any deeper we would be in a maze. Johnny had a certain aura that made him approachable to anyone; it didn’t come as a surprise that the new faces were so intrigued by him even though he was as average looking as the next guy. The three elderly women and a son were coming from the opposite direction as us and were packed more than usual.
One of them carried firewood and a bottle, the other two had their tools ready for action on their backs and a son held by the right hand of the second one.
Quite assertive of their surroundings, they had spotted us a mile back as well as Johnny’s incentive.
She is dressed in a t-shirt written obscenities but I doubt she has any knowledge given her confidence. It’s probably wrongfully acquired but I dare not pay too much attention. She stretches out her hand immediately and signals him for a drink. I watch on behind Johnny trying to catch a glimpse of how much she was to be given; not for anything self serving just mere curiosity. Flabbergasted doesn’t come close to what she did next. She wisely gave it to her friends to take the first sips. The second lady was not too enticed in acquiring new tastes-she merely took a whiff and looked away in disgust. Her other friend was not so polite, she asked for a top up and quickly flashed it as her friends talked of her prowess in flashing all things high grade. The one with the firewood was ready to light up the scene and took out her bottle for a refill and takeaway. After Johnny poured enough of his incentive in her bottle, she grabbed his and gave him hers (him&hers is based on this real life story). I was having a kick out of it and couldn’t stop laughing at the shenanigans. She quickly put the bottle on her lips and drank the ‘holy water’ to the very last drop. She changed my whole outlook on life and age. Her friends cheered her on as they thanked us for being so generous and kind. Johnny wasn’t particularly moved by this act of philanthropy.
We were still very far from our destination, we passed the wheat fields, went deep into the man made forest, under the logs of wood and over the streams. I have never seen so much life, all shades of green so vastly spread out. If I had a favorite color it would be nature. He pointed far into the lands and showed me where we were to stop. The sun was high above the clouds and would occasionally pop on us as if it also needs some ‘holy grandma water’. Johnny by now was talking from his nose and from time to time from nether parts. It’s quite unappealing if you are sober and people around you are drunk. But he sang as well as Lionel Richie and that was good enough to keep me close by.
We are now in the middle of nowhere; Malcom meets courage the cowardly dog but a few meters ahead I could see homesteads (I’m Kamba)……..
There is something about reception of guests in the African culture that is undeniably comforting. We have a way of making a new face feel welcomed and relaxed. I get the same feeling every time I go for excursions. The warm smiles, the tight embraces, the gleeful conversations, the occasional singing of happy songs and the admiration and let’s not forget the cheek bumping that will leave you with a stiff neck.
“Huku ni Budalangi”
I nod my head as I survey the grounds and smile in approval. Johnny seems a little too familiar with the area but I reserved my implicating comments. I have never been in an active hut before then, I was quite anxious on seeing the making at such a close reach. As I walked in, I could feel the air getting warmer and conversations louder; everyone had a cup in their hand and even offered me a sip from the biggest mug. I flew off the handle as I called for Johnny. The ladies were bent over backward trying to lure me into the binge. Using the SI unit for every girl’s name in Kalenjin land ‘Murembo’ to sooth my ego. Johnny was still looking over the fence where I had left him; busy looking at chicken.
I urged him we leave as the rain was drawing near; no sooner had I finished that statement that the clouds bore no more weight. It was dangerously beautiful; the light showers over the fields, the wet smell of the soil, the children playing in the rain one last time before the adults close shop and the grey impression it left miles on. Chebet , the one who received us ushered me back to the manyatta and offered to bring me ‘cham’. I wasn’t in a rush of finding my poison; I didn’t have Johnny’s alcohol antennae.
The rain died off after twenty minutes and we were pressing to leave the small village. Just before we bid our goodbyes than the rain poured like hails, we needed shelter quick. Prisca M., a sweet mature lady came and offered us shelter in her friend’s house. We talked about everything and anything. She went on and on about marriage and working hard; she believed that a woman is not made for marriage alone- a concept that I am still trying to drill into my fellow elites. Her drunkenness would overcome her from time to time and she would lose track of her thoughts but would always end with the same remark ‘ usisumbuliwe na mtu’
She entertained us for so long that we familiarized with all her different personas. My biggest achievement was being completely oblivious of my phone. So when she looked at me dead in the eyes signaling for my earrings I couldn’t turn away. You don’t know what giving means until you let go of something that meant the world to you. Somewhere in Budalangi, there is abeautiful African well endowed daughter of the lands with diamond earrings slaying charm all day errday. She danced on when I caved in. My attachments to gifts are skin deep but if I could give the studs away, trust me no one and nothing is safe from being cut off. I can now play bachelorette, Russian roulette, throw away Towett and pick Paulette (chuckles). Prisca is well on her way living her best life at least that’s what I thought until I learnt she stole eggs from her friend and placed them in our bag. (Chris Brown must be somewhere turning up to these girls aint loyal simultaneously).
We had both forgotten about going back to civilization, the simplicity of life was far much endearing, the lack of congruence in our lives, differences in expression and little sweet nothings that the locals can’t stop ranting about. The biggest challenge? The mud filled roads………..