Wednesday, March 24, 2010

love song: reflections - part 7

Nyokabi sat on her bed and wept. The party for her graduation and homecoming had taken place hours ago. The party had wound up at around 2 o’clock with people going off to various spots to enjoy themselves. But Nyokabi had not felt like celebrating. Her degree seemed to her an empty trophy. She could swing it around yes and show everyone but somehow to her it meant nothing.

The past four years that she had spent in UK doing her degree and pupilage had seemed to have dragged on. She had hated the winter. The place was so bloody cold. She wondered how anyone would survive and thrive in such an environment. She had wanted the sun, its warmth on her face as she woke up and went through her day. The weather had just made more depressing a situation she had not wanted to be.

She had not wanted to go to the UK. She planned to hate it with all her heart and grudgingly do her degree. Eventually though she found that the city had cast a spell on her and she started to love it. There was nothing to go home to. No one knew where Kamau was and she hated her father with all her heart for what he had done.

Nyokabi chatted with her mum every week. On Saturday night she would call her and they would catch up. She had tried to tell her mum about email but her mother just didn’t seem to get the concept so they were forced to write each other letters. She would get so excited to get letters from her mum and sisters. Her dad wrote too but she didn’t care about that. Nyokabi largely ignored him unless she was asking for money for allowance and expenses.

Nyokabi had a social one through a screwed one. She had made friends with a couple of girls and they had become close. But men, she stayed away from them. The experience with Kamau had scarred her. It was partly because she was in love with him and was sorry for ruining his life and also the guilty at what her dad had done ate at her. She did not want to be distracted from her studies by men who were just passing time with her.

She would think, “one day I will go back to Kenya and find Kamau. Maybe there is still a chance for us to be together, to be happy.”

But as the years past Nyokabi gave up on the illusion of love and of finding Kamau. “He probably has a girlfriend or two. He is so handsome and his voice…..” she would think.

By second year she had mellowed at least a bit. Nyokabi started going out with the girls out on the town to have a great time. She did not drink much though. She was scared of what might happen if she set herself loose. Nyokabi had seen what happened to some girls when they got drunk. They would strip their clothes or start singing at the top of their voices. Sometimes they would let a man take them home.

“That life is not for me. I want to get my degree and go home. I don’t want attachments or one night stands.” Nyokabi had not let go of her old fashioned values. She did sometimes though wish she had a boyfriend who loved her and cherished her like some of her friends had.

Nyokabi put all her energy into school. She always ended up in the dean’s list. She was an outstanding student but a D average in social skills.

Some campus guys were fascinated by her. She was very beautiful even by standards outside of Kenya. They kept trying to woo her and were not rebuffed when she said no. they tried again and again. Eventually they got the message that “Nyokabi was not available”

So here was Nyokabi back in Nairobi. She had her degree in law but she had no love. The worst thing was Nyokabi felt lost. She felt like she was caught in a time warp. Things had changed and no one had time for her. Her sisters were close probably because they had not been banished abroad although they went to expensive schools in the city and one was in 1st year at university.

Nyokabi had tried asking her mum about Kamau. Mrs. Mbae had looked at her daughter with a sad look in her eyes and said, “Kamau’s mum no longer speaks to me and no one from the village has told me anything. They all despise us for what your father did. But I heard I don’t know if it is true that Kamau is working as a clerk somewhere in the city.’

Nyokabi’s heart had sunk at that news. Kamau with all his potential was a clerk. She thought Kamau must hate her and curse her every day for that kiss. She had no doubt at all that Kamau was in that situation because of her and her dad.

“I am going back to UK. There is nothing for me here. At least there I have friends and I have a purpose. I don’t want to stay here,” she thought as she buried her face in her pillow and tried to get some sleep.


Mr Mbae relaxed in the tent outside his house. He took a sip of his expensive whiskey as his friends chatted all around him. “This was all worth it. My daughter is a graduate of a prestigious university with a law degree.”

Mr Mbae frowned as he thought of how that imbecile boy had almost ruined his daughter’s future. Mr Mbae had no apologies what so ever for what he had done. He felt he had been justified in what he had done. Given a chance he would have done it all over again.

As he looked as his beautiful expensive house in Karen with a view of the Ngong hills he thought, “Look how far I have come. With my brains and sweat I have gotten myself here. Who would imagine a simple poor village boy would get this far.”

Mr Mbae had been born Jon Mbae Mburu. He had been the last born of a family of six children. His father had been a teacher and his mother a stay home mother and farmer. When he was two his father abandoned them and went to the city to look for better fortunes. He had never returned. His mother had been forced to raise him and his siblings out of her earnings from the farm. Before his father left Mbae and the family had not exactly been staving but they had gotten by. When his dad left there was no money.

Eventually to make money maze’s mum started brewing traditional changaa. There were always men, drunk men around their house. Sometimes one of them would become a temporary occupant of his mother’s bed.

Mbae grew up hating his circumstances. “I will get out of here. I promise. One day I will get out of here and I will never look back. I will not be poor like this forever. I will make it no matter what it takes.”

Mbae would go to school in the mornings. Well, when there was no work in the shamba or helping his mum get the ingredients for the changaa. Making changaa wasn’t easy. The police were always coming around for a bribe or sometimes for a drink. Sometimes especially when there was a new boss at the station there would be harsh measures. The police would come and carry away the drums of changaa and his mother to boot. She would end up spending a couple of days in the cell while she negotiated her release.

During those times the family would go hungry. Everyone around them was also poor. They did not have money to feed 8 empty mouths, the two extra being children Mbae’s mum had gotten with different men who had stayed over for a couple of months before moving on.

By the time Mbae was ten all of his siblings had left. His two sisters had gotten pregnant and married the losers who had gotten them that way. Their lives were pretty much what their mother’s had been. Suffering and more suffering. Mbae’s brothers had all gone to the city to look for money and their father. They promised to return and save the family. None did. Its like they left the filthy hut with the fermented smell and the black cockroaches and say au revoir.

So by the age of ten Mbae was the defunct head of the family. Mbae was clever. He found ways to hide mtungi’s of changaa far away from the house where the cops even if they came would never find them. He also found a way to distribute the changaa so as to make maximum profits. He would borrow a bicycle sometimes and cycle with some of the changaa and distribute it. Soon people started sending him to other areas to buy and sell for them things. He would charge them a commission.

By the time Mbae was seventeen he had bought two bicycles of his own. He used them for transporting goods throughout the region and he had expanded his area of operation. He had even made friends with the police. Paying the police a monthly bribe to stay away from the operations. He even distributed changaa at the police station. The changaa he made was very good, he had taken over from his mum who had succumbed to the lure of alcohol and started consuming her own brew.

By the time Mbae was 22 he had one of those Peugeot matatu's to ply people along the route from his home area to other areas. Mbae kept expanding his operations until by the time he was 25 he was very well off.

After that he moved his base of operations to river road. He had stopped dealing in changaa when his mum died when he was 18. But he had learnt lessons from doing that business that he brought to the city. Including how to put the police into his pocket.

Mbae had meet his wife in the city and they got married. He had never told her where he had come from, telling her that he was an orphan who had siblings but they did not talk. He had bought land where his wife’s family came from and that’s where they had settled.

Now as Mr Mbae looked at his house and laughed with his wealthy friends he was content. “Look at me now. I have made it. And I have plans for Nyokabi. She doesn’t know it but she is going to make me an extremely wealthy and influential man.”

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