• Faced with going back to school, Asego opts for life with her boda boda lover instead
It’s early Monday morning and Inspector Tembo is agitated. He paces the small Police Post reception.
“I tell you, Makini, they’re out to get me.”
“I thought your bribery case was resolved,” I say. “Wasn’t that why you were transferred here?”
“Obviously, they’re not done. So, they send this…”
“Yes, her. I suspect any minute she’s gonna walk through that door and say…”
“Excuse me, Inspector!”
Tembo and I turn towards the door.
“Sgt Sophia,” says Tembo, holding his heart. “You almost gave me a heart attack!”
“Pardon my sudden entrance, sir, but I have a problem that could do with your instructions.”
We leave the Inspector at the Post and head to Sophia’s house, where I meet Asego, a 14-year-old girl. She’s trembling like a leaf.
“She ran away from home last night,” Sophia explains. “And she’s too afraid to go to the Post.”
“Na sirudi huko tena,” she spits out. Only then do I realise she’s not trembling from fear.
“Kwa nini?” I ask.
“Hicho kimbaba kinataka nirudi chuo.”
“Her father,” Sophia explains.
I turn to the girl.
“And what’s wrong with that?”
“What’s wrong? I’m in love! Mimi nataka kuwa wife.”
“Of a guy called James, apparently,” Sophia provides.
“You’re 14! What do you know about love?”
“Jaymo ananipenda. Ameninunulia phone. Na sijawahi kosa dough ya bundles.”
“That’s it? A phone?”
Defiantly, Asego crosses her arms over her chest. I can’t help but notice she bares little if any signs of puberty, let alone a woman grown enough to be married.
“Ni mimi tu Jaymo hupea ride za bure kwa motorbike yake, okay?”
“You realise we have to arrest this man,” Sophia says, irate.
“For what?” Asego shouts. “Love is not a crime. Hata mimi najua hivo.”
I drag Sophia out of the room.
“What?” she barks at me.
“She came to you because she feels she can trust you.”
“So? That’s why I have to be honest with her.”
“This kinda thing is happening all too often these days. But if we lay the law on her, all we’ll manage to do is push her away.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I have an idea.”
When we get back into the room, Asego is talking on the phone. She quickly hangs up.
“I’m sorry I didn’t understand you before,” Sophia says. “Love is a good thing. And you’re right; it’s not a crime.”
“Poa! So, budangu hawezi nikazia, right?”
“Just a small problem,” I say. “You see, since you’re under 18, your father has to consent to your marriage.”
“Exactly,” says Sophia. “So, we’ve come up with two plans to help you.”
Asego brightens up.
“Yes. Assuming Jaymo is over 18, we’ll get a pastor and get you married in secret.”
“Oh, thank you!” Asego hugs Sophia tightly. “Nilijua uta-understand.”
Sophia breaks the embrace.
“Not so fast. You see, it’s illegal for Jaymo to marry an underage girl, but that shouldn’t be a problem. After you get married, he’ll be arrested and sent to prison. I’ll make sure you visit him at least once every year.”
“Once a year? For how long?”
“Fifteen years, maybe,” I add. “You can wait for him that long, can’t you?”
“Fifteen years? But… atakuwa mzae!”
“And if you’re pregnant right now, your baby will be… well, not a baby anymore.”
“Wee! Mimi sina ball!”
“Good. Plan B is, you wait only four years, then marry Jaymo and live happily ever after.”
“And if not?”
I show her my handcuffs.
“Sawa.” Asego pouts. “Nitaambia Jaymo about Plan B basi.”