• Tragedy comes home to a familiar face before medicine man intervenes
“What’s the matter with you, sergeant?” Inspector Tembo asks as soon as I come to work. “Why do you look like a zombie?”
“It’s Millicent, sir,” I say. “I haven't slept all night.”
My boss smiles. Nudges me in the ribs.
“Well, well. From virgin to naughty boy, I see.” He slings an arm over my shoulder. “Let me tell you about my first night with Dragon Princess. Boy was she a tomcat. She…”
I push off his arm.
“It's not like that, sir. I mean I was out in the village all night.”
“I think Millicent is broken. She’s not okay. Can you believe she had me running all night, looking for pork, mangoes and pickles? I didn’t even know what pickles were!”
“They have no pork butchery in Jiji Ndogo. I had to go to Gatero and wake the butcher. He was not happy about it. Made me buy two kilos.”
“And the mangoes?”
“I stole from Mzee Kimanzi’s farm. Fell twice from the tree before I could get them. And the pickles I got from Dr Selitol.”
“He charged me an arm and a leg. Literally. I have to take him a goat’s arm and leg today. Millicent needs to see a doctor. I think she’s sick.”
Inspector Tembo laughs so hard I’m afraid he might soil his pants.
“What’s so funny?”
“Millicent is pregnant, you fool. She’s craving that stuff. Pregnant women do that.”
“All pregnant women need pickles? And pig meat?”
Dr Kanzu comes to the office. Worried.
“Inspector,” he says, “I have some sad news.”
“My wife’s already found me,” says Inspector. “So, I guess it's some other sad news?”
“Yes, sir. One of our Covid-19 patients has died.”
So far, we had only three coronavirus patients in Jiji Ndogo, all receiving treatment at Kericho Level 5 hospital.
“Have you informed the relatives?”
“I hoped you would, sir. I’ve summoned them here.”
A woman walks in, a young boy and a girl in tow.
“I remember you!” says Inspector. “You brought your husband to us because you were tired of him being home all day. Still tired of him?”
The woman starts to cry.
“It's her husband who’s passed away,” Dr Kanzu explains.
“Oh, so sorry, ma'am,” says Inspector. “We shall make sure he gets a proper send-off. But no gatherings allowed. And the funeral will be a small affair.”
“I’ll explain everything to her,” Dr Kanzu says.
Just then, a large crowd approaches the Post. All wearing masks but not social distancing. In front, an old man dressed in traditional attire, a necklace made of bones, an ostrich feather head-dress, carrying several gourds and a fly whisk. He’s not wearing a mask.
“What are you all doing here?” Inspector Tembo shouts.
“We’ve heard the news of an unclean death,” the old man says. “As the village medicine man, it's my duty to cleanse the village of this evil. In return, I shall require a white goat, a white chicken and the fresh droppings of a female hyena in heat.”
Inspector Tembo thinks for a moment.
“Okay. Everyone go wait at home. Medicine man, start in here. I'll make sure you get the hyena.”
The others leave. Inspector shows the medicine man our cell.
“What’re you doing?” I ask my boss.
He orders me to stay quiet.
“Start in there,” he tells the medicine man. “The dead man entered once.”
The old man steps into the cell. The Inspector slams the door shut.
“Hey!” the man shouts. “What’re you doing?”
“You’re under arrest for flouting Covid rules.”