• Inspector Tembo is suspicious of Sgt Kali as she settles down to her new posting
“Focus, Sergeant!” my boss Inspector Tembo shouts at me.
“Yes, boss!” I turn towards him.
“You’re thinking with your pants again.”
But honestly, I can’t take my eyes off Sgt Kali. She’s only been at Jiji Ndogo Police Post for all of six hours, but even after she disappears towards the cells, my eyes linger on the door.
“She’s pretty, isn't she?” Tembo asks. I can’t tell if he’s being sarcastic or not.
“I haven't noticed, sir.”
“I have. And there’s no way she’s here to work.”
Now I’m confused.
“What do you mean?”
Tembo grabs my arm and leads me outside.
“Look at this place.” He sweeps his arm across the near-barren landscape. I almost feel like Simba in Lion King. “A woman like her? In a place like this?”
“But we both work here, sir. Why not her?”
Sgt Sophia joins us, salutes the Inspector.
“The count is six men and three women, sir,” she says, stiffly. “All charged with breaking curfew on New Year’s Day. Awaiting your instructions, sir.”
“Sh500 fine each,” Inspector Tembo says. “Let them off with a warning.”
Sergeant Sophia frowns.
“But, we’re the executive sir. Assigning fines is the job of the judiciary.”
Tembo swivels towards our new colleague, his face distorted.
“Look, Sgt Kali, the court of jurisdiction is 200km away in Kericho and our transport is an old bicycle that doesn’t run.”
“Only needs pressure in the front tyre, sir,” I add.
“Shut up, Makini. Sgt Sophia, if you wanna load 10 people…”
“Nine people, sir. It’s six men and…” I falter at Tembo’s glare. He turns back to Sophia.
“You wanna haul the lot to Kericho, fine by me. But if you wanna be part of this team, you must get with the programme. We make do with what we got.”
“Yes, sir.” Sophia salutes again, not much conviction this time. She heads back inside.
“Aren't you being a little too hard on her?” I ask.
“Open your eyes, Makini. She’s a spy.”
“She’s been here less than a day and she’s already complaining about our records, the condition of the post…”
“She’s right about the dust. The place could do with…”
Tembo shakes my shoulders.
“Wake up, Makini! Just when I’m beginning to get comfortable around here, Miss Proper Procedure shows up. Mark my words. A month from now, you’ll be manning donkey traffic in Kapsabet.”
“They got that many donkeys in Kapsabet?”
“Who cares. My point is, I’m not taking another transfer. I’ll retire before they ship me to another hell.”
“You could be wrong, sir. She’s barely fresh out of Kiganjo. Could’ve been posted anywhere.”
The curfew breakers begin filing out, most of them smiling with relief.
“I catch any of you outside after curfew again, and you'll have to face a judge.”
“Sawa, mkubwa,” a young man says as he scampers off.
“See?” I say. “Sergeant Sophia’s wearing off on you.”
“We have to drive her out of here, son. Quick.”
“You’re serious about this? Not that I agree with you sir, but how do you propose we do that?”
“Think of something.”
Sophia comes out again.
“All but one have posted fines, sir. I’d like to take my lunch break now, but I’m yet to know where my sleeping quarters are.”
“Grab your gear,” Tembo says. “Sgt Makini will show you to your quarters.” He turns towards me, a sly smile on his face. “I know exactly what you need to do. Remember my problem when I first got here?”