The village girl with a sponsor

Her rent is paid by a rich man from out of town, Makini learns

In Summary

• Minding your own problems is tricky when the resident gossip monger passes by


Following botched bride price negotiations, my prospects of having a wife (at least legally) seem to have petered out.

Honestly, I don’t fault my mum for making the effort to dress as a man and come to my aid. Her negotiation skills, however, left a lot to be desired. And that, too, not truly her fault. As her only son, I can understand how highly she regards me, all my shortcomings notwithstanding.

“You must really think very low of me,” Sgt Sophia, my fiancée, summed up the situation. “You don’t even get a D for effort.”

“You know I was ambushed,” I say in the way of mitigation, but as much as I love her, I know how stubborn she is.

“If you can’t handle something as simple as dowry, how do you expect to manage more complex marriage issues?”

“What complex marriage issues?”

“How would I know? I’ve never been married.”

“Then how do you know there are complex—”

“Urgh!” She waves a dismissive hand. “Forget it. But I’m seriously rethinking getting married to a clueless man.”

And I’m rethinking getting married to a pointless woman, I say in my heart. Why not out loud? Sophia loves me (probably not as much as I do her, but enough), but she’s a police officer who carries a gun.

She leaves me at the police post and goes off on patrol alone.

Nyaguthii, our resident gossip — a living, breathing tabloid — walks in.

“Officer,” she says, arms akimbo, “ni miaka mingapi sasa na hamjaniambia Wairimu alienda wapi?”

“Who’s Wairimu?”

“Sasa hujui? Wairimu ni mbuzi yangu.”

“Oh, that. I’m afraid that’s now a cold case. We have absolutely no leads, but the file is still open.”

“Wewe shinda hapo ukisema open. Hata tumbo ya mwenye alikula Wairimu iko open. Wewe ni askari bure kabisa. No wonder hata bibi huwezi pata.”

I’m gobsmacked. “What did you say?”

“Sikuwa najua umetoka Kiambuu. Naskiaga huko wanaume waliisha wote juu ya fobe. Sasa wamama ndiyo wenye nyumba.”

“Nyaguthii, are you here about your goat or to discuss my personal business?”

“Hata sijui mbona unang’ang’ana na wasichana wa wenyewe. Naskianga huko Kiambuu vile wanaume wameisha, ukitaka kuoa msichana, babake anakupa dada yake kama bonathi. Halafu unasidikishwa na ng’ombe.”

“Don’t you have anything better to do than harass a police officer?”

“Kukupatia mashauri ya bure ni harass? Kuongea ukweli, hata unafaa kuwa ukinilipa kwa hii mawaidha yote. Siku hizi hakuna kitu ya bure.” She leans in and whispers in a conspiratorial tone. “Si unajua kale kasichana keupe kanaishi pale kwa maduka? Kale kanalipiangwa nyumba na tajiri wa Kerisho?”

“Nyaguthii, I’m really not interested.”

“Sijasema u-interest na yeye. Nakwambia vile kaliishi kusema huyo tajiri hakuna kitu anaitishanga. Ati anafanyanga hata shopping kwa roho safi. Hebu jua ile siku moja alidai malipo aliacha hako kasichana nako.”

I’m ashamed to say the scandalmonger has piqued my interest. “Left her with what?”

Nyaguthii acts all coy, as if she’s ashamed to continue. “Si Kakitu.”

“Kakitu can be anything. Can you be done already so you can leave me be?”

“Afande, acha kujifanya hujui kamdudu.”

“You mean HIV?”

“Eeeh! Hiyo heterovirus. Ukiona hivo kamenyooka si kitu ingine; ni hiyo ma-heterovairo kanameza. Na by the way, hakuna vile tunaweza vote katoke huku kitambo kamalize vijana wetu?”

“Nyaguthii, first of all, true or false, a person’s medical condition is a private affair and should you or anyone else harass any person for it, I’ll be glad to make you a guest of the state.”

“Msheeew! Umeshindwa na mwanamke mmoja ukitufungia kwa cell sisi wote utatuweza?”

She leaves me fondling my cell keys. And wishing.

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