Sophia stares a lion in the eye

Confidence brims when a bet on the World Cup final pays off

In Summary

• The runaway daughter leaves father and fiancé in distress before dramatic twist


The final game of the World Cup over and with Sophia nowhere to be seen, I return home from the game not as happy as I’d have wished. Even with such an exhilarating match to cap the competition, even as everyone is either jumping in jubilation or sulking in despondency, I’m sad for a very different reason:

My life is in danger.

If Inspector Tembo, my boss (and Sophia’s father), doesn’t kill me, then a very large man who scares the bejesus out of me, and whom Sophia owes Sh50,000, will surely do me in. And given the difference in our builds, I don’t think it will take the man too much to wring my neck.

Back in my house, I hear a knock on the door. The next moment it comes flying off the hinges. Catching me in the process of chopping onions for a lonely supper without my fiancée, I swivel around, knife at the ready. Lit from the back by a moon brighter than my wick lamp, all I see is a silhouette of a person the size of the biblical Goliath, but in the back of my mind, I know who it is.

It is the large man, and he’s here for Sophia’s neck, lacking which, mine will do just fine as a substitute.

“Is she here yet?” bellows the man.

He sounds different, but then again, I’m scared out of my wits.

“She’s not.” I put up a brave face. After all, aren’t I a policeman? “And should I remind you that what you’re demanding of her is illegal?”

“Illegal? How is it illegal for me to ask of my daughter?”

Only then do I realise the big man in my house is Inspector Tembo. No wonder he sounded different.

“Sorry, sir. I thought you were someone else.”

“Hiyo ni ujinga gani? Who else could I be, or can I be two people at the same time?”

“Sophia isn’t back, sir. You haven’t heard from her?”

“Lord the saviour! Would I be here if I had?”

“Sorry, sir. I’m just so worried.”

“You have every right to be. If my daughter doesn’t return by morning, I’m going to—”

“What the hell happened to the door?” says Sophia’s voice from behind her father.

Tembo suffocates his daughter in a tight bear hug. “Sophie!”

She grimaces. “Please let go of my lungs.”

“Sorry.” An awkward moment of silence ensues as we all realise it’s the first time father and daughter have hugged. “And what is this I hear about illegal business?”

Sophia burns me with a stare. “Who said anything about any business?”

“I did!” says a strong voice at the door. “What the hell happened to your door?”

“Who are you?” thunders Tembo.

It’s the large man coming to collect from Sophia. “I’m Mali Mali, a name so sweet, you say it twice. And who are you?”

Sophia steps around her father. “So nice to see you, Mali Mali.”

“No, nice to see you, Sophia.” He puts out a hand. “Where’s my fifty grand?”

“You have it with you, sir.”


“Once you hand over my two million, I’ll give you your fifty thou. Or you could just give me one million, nine-hundred and fifty thou and we’ll call it even.”

“What are you blathering about?”

“You mean you’ve forgotten my first bet at the beginning of the World Cup?”

“What bet?”

“World Cup final would be Argentina vs France. Two all at end of game, Argentina wins by penalties. I put down 10 grand. The payout? A cool two million shillings.”

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