With friends like mine, who needs enemies?

Ruracio invite goes off the rails as friend demands to share wife

In Summary

• Tit for tat is a fair game in the mind of Kimende, as a baffled Makini learns


“How many people are in the group?” my friend Kimende asks.

“About 10 so far,” I say. “I don’t have too many friends.”

“Good for you.”

I’m flabbergasted. “Good for me not having many friends, you say? Not when I’m trying to form a ruracio WhatsApp group.”

“Think about it, Makini. The less we are, the less sharing we will have to do.”

“I don’t understand. What do you mean sharing?”

“Now, I don’t understand. Aren’t you putting us in this group so we can raise dowry for a wife?”

More like dowry for my boss Inspector Tembo, who also happens to be the father of my fiancée, Sgt Sophia.

“Yes, Kimende,” I say, “but what does that have to do with any kind of sharing?”

“We’re sharing the amount of dowry, aren’t we?”

Either our phone connection is bad or my friend and I are on completely different pages.

“Kimende, do you understand how dowry groups work?”

“Perfectly, actually. A bunch of friends come together to help one of their own raise money to buy cows — or raise cows, whatever the case might me — which the man will then exchange for a companion, whose milk goes only to the babies they eventually make. Does that about cover it?”

“In as crass a way as only you can phrase it. Do you have a problem with the exchange of cows for a wife?”

“Why would I? If you go to Tunisia, do as Tunisians do.”

“I think you mean Rome.”

“I mean Tunisia. They eat snails in Tunisia, Makini. Snails!”

“And as usual, you’ve managed to skirt the issue. Do you want to be in my ruracio group or not?”

“Like I was saying before you rudely interrupted me—”

“I never interrupted you.”

“See? You’re doing it again. Can I finish?”

“My bad. Go ahead.”

“Thank you. I don’t have a problem with dowry groups, but I have a problem with contributing to the bride price of a wife who ends up with only one person. Now do you get it?”

“I’d be lying if I say I do. One man, one woman. Isn’t that the way of all monogamous marriages?”

“Right on, Makini. Monogamous is the operative term here. That’s what you’re going for — monogamy — right?”

“What else would it be?”

“There’s such a thing as polyandry, my friend. And that’s what, if you really think about it, dowry groups should be for.”

“Never heard of them.”

“Them? Who?”

“Pauly and Ray.”

“Very funny, Makini. I’m talking about one woman marrying many husbands.”

“I get it.”

To be honest, I don’t. I’ve never confessed to being the sharpest tool in the workshop — I think I’m hardly a tool worthy of being in a workshop, actually — but today I’m running particularly blunt.

“You’re as good a liar as you are a policeman,” Kimende says, “which means not good at all. Basically, my point is, I don’t see what’s in the group for me if only you end up with the dame.”

“You want to part of the wedding, too? Sophie and I haven’t even discussed that far.”

“Not the wedding, dummy. The marriage. If I’m paying for her, I want to know how I get to enjoy her, too.”

My jaw drops to the floor. “Beg your pardon?”

“Which days will she be mine? Let’s see. You said you have 10 people in the group. Divide 30 by 10. That comes to three days a month per person. My only request is that one of my days should fall on a laundry weekend.”

“Beg your pardon?”

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