If this is marriage, I might opt out

A couple using their maid to communicate gives Makini pause for thought

In Summary

• Familiarity breeds contempt, but what about when contempt breeds familiarity?


Back in Police College, I had a friend called Ojwang. Besides having what I can only term an unhealthy affinity for pranks, Ojwang had another hobby that bordered on insanely brilliant: trivia. We would be having a sloppy dinner of beans and bread at the mess hall when, out of the blue, he would quip:

“Do you guys know Sudan has more pyramids than any other country in the world?”

As most young men are wont to do, this fact would be put to a proper debate through a shower of half-chewed bits of Rosecoco beans. This would only encourage Ojwang to demonstrate his mental ability to retain useless information.

“Sudan, you say?” he would announce, a spoon aimed at the detractor. “You’re so very wrong, my friend. And that’s why I’m a lemon while all of you are limes.”

“Pray, tell,” someone would goad him. “Whatever do you mean lemons and limes?”

As serious as a priest at mass, Ojwang would look each of us in the eye and say, “I float while all of you sink.”

That expression you have on your face right now? Yes. That was all of us back then.

Useless though I thought Ojwang’s trivia, I clearly remember the one time he really got me thinking (deep thoughts and I aren’t pals, in case you don’t know).

“Want to hear something weird?” Ojwang had said. “One woman survived the Titanic, Britannic, and Olympic shipwrecks.”

And I thought: Were I that woman, no way I would have been on the third ship. Or any ship at all after the first two wrecks.

Why am I rambling, you wonder? Omens, my friend. The Good Lord provides signs to warn us away from danger, and I believe today I got the first insight into what a marriage can be.

It all went down when I received a girl who’s been working as a house help in Sonko’s house. Sonko is the richest man in Jiji Ndogo, the only red-blooded male to own solar panels on his roof.

“Nimechoka kufanyia hawa kasi,” says the girl. “Mimi ni maid ama ni simu?”

“What do you mean a telephone?” I ask.

“Hii mwanamke na bwana yake hawaongeleshani. Bibi akitaka hii kutoka kwa bwana, anatuma mimi. Bwana akitaka kujibu, anaambia mimi badala ya bibi yake.”

“What’s wrong with that? You don’t want to keep going back and forth?”

“Back and forth wapi? Wanafanya hivi kama sisi wote iko pamoja kwa sitting room!”

“Oh, boy. Have they been fighting?”

“Kama hao nagombana, basi imekuwa ikiendelea miaka yote mitatu nimekuwa huko.”

“You’ve been their go-between for three years?”

“Eeeh! Mara ni, ‘Auntie, ambia huyo mwanamke nitachelewa leo jioni.’ Yule mwingine na yeye, ‘Mwambie hata akitaka kulala nje kama gari ni sawa tu. Nilishazoea baridi pande yake ya kitanda.’”

 “Do they abuse you in any other way?”

Arms akimbo, she makes a warrior face. “Mtu anitusi mimi? Hapo ndo watajua Kalekye ni nani. Naweza ng’oa huyo mwanamke hiyo nywele ya farasi hatoangi kwa kichwa. Na hako kamwanaume—”

“Mr Sonko, you mean?”

“Hebu wacha tu ninyamaze. Sasa mimi nataka kutoka huko na sitaki mtu aseme nimebeba kitu. Ndo maana nimekuja kuripoti.”

“You’ve been doing this for three long years. Why do you want to quit now?”

“Leo imekuwa too much.”

“How so?”

“Leo ndo siku ya kwanza nimeona wamependana.”

“So? Isn’t that a good thing?”

“Good thing kitu gani? Sasa hako kamwanaume kaanze kunipatia kiss nipelekee bibi yake? Hiyo nayo Kalekye hatafanya!”

And it got me thinking: If that’s not the Lord’s sign that I shouldn’t get married, nothing is.

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