- Sophia's mother is in town for dowry talks, in all her needy booziness
In case this comes as news to you, my boss, Inspector Tembo, also happens to be the father of my colleague, Sergeant Sophia. I have loved Sophia since the first day I laid eyes on her, and it took me two whole years to woo her into loving me. Once “aliingia box”, as the adage goes, I proposed to her. She said yes, which means should I marry her, my current boss will be my future father-in-law.
If you think this is complicated enough, keep reading. You see, the reason I say “should I marry her” is that Sophia lives in the camp that believes only fools never change their minds. She has called off our engagement on more times for more reasons than I can remember. (And frankly, I stopped counting).
To muddy the waters further, now I must go through mahari negotiations with her father. But here’s the catch: until two years ago, Inspector Tembo had no clue he had a daughter, and Sophia didn’t know who her biological father was. Now my boss thinks it’s too soon for his “little girl” to get married and is therefore throwing all kinds of wrenches in the works to discourage me.
As if it isn’t bad enough that he’s asking me to guarantee his daughter a ridiculously lavish life (house in the suburbs, a car, four pre-named children) on a wretched cop’s salary, he invites Sophia’s mother into the talks.
Talking of Sophia’s mother, in no way would I be maligning her name by saying the woman is a needy boozer who will do anything for attention. (One time she pretended to be dying so Sophia would visit her, remember? We found her hosting a party flowing with more booze than there is waru in Kinangofu).
“So, you’re the man who thinks is good enough for my daughter?” she asks after giving me a long onceover.
I resort to my police training and maintain my calm. “Welcome to Jiji Ndogo, Mrs Kali.”
“Talking of Kijiji Kidogo…” She looks around with a most discernible sneer. “Where in this God-forsaken place might you have proposed to my daughter?”
“I proposed in my house on Christmas,” I say, “but she didn’t answer because she got a message to come see her mother right away seeing as she was on her deathbed.”
She coughs, as if the memory of a near-death experience is too much to bear. “Ah, yes. I remember that time. I almost met my maker, you know. Thank Him I made a quick and full recovery.” She holds her chin and reflects. “Wait! You mean you proposed to her when she was seeing another loser? I wonder where my daughter gets these men.”
“A ‘loser’?” I cry. “What loser?”
“The day she came to see me, she brought along this desolate exhibit of a man. Thin as a nail, he looked like he hadn’t eaten for days.” She leans closer as if about to share some most intimate detail. “Between you and me, he didn’t look none too smart either, you know what I’m saying? Stammered through greetings and he couldn’t string two sentences together had his life depended on it. So pathetic. I was hoping Sophie will have raised the bar.”
“Mrs Kali,” I say calmly, “I accompanied your daughter to your drunken party in Githurai.”
“But you didn’t make it through the gate, ama?” She bellows with laughter, blasting me with a gale of stale alcohol and undigested smokies. “Two guys at a go. Well, well. I had no idea my daughter was so kinky."
“I wonder where one would inherit such an awful trait,” Sophia says, joining us.