What I must do to marry Insp Tembo’s daughter

Makini wavers after he is asked whether he loves her or is lusting for her

In Summary

• The future father-in-law has very specific demands in talks that can easily go awry


Now that I am poised to meet Inspector Tembo, my boss and prospective father-in-law, to mind comes horror stories I’ve heard of when it comes to men going to meet their potential in-laws.

One that immediately comes to mind is a poor fella who spent his last cent funding a feast in honour of his fiancée’s family and friends as he travelled to meet them for the first time. His intended preceded him to her parent’s home and the man was to arrive on the appointed day.

The day of the banquet started without a hitch. The local guests arrived on time (famished stomachs in tow) and took their seats. The servers sat poised over their pots awaiting the guest of honour so the festivities could begin. (I imagine the ever-stern chapo lady standing with her arms akimbo, face twisted in pure scorn, wielding the tongs in her hand like a soldier’s bayonet).

However, two hours after his expected arrival time, the groom-to-be was nowhere to be seen. Hungry people are angry people, and the crowd was getting antsy. To salvage the situation, the fiancée began calling her beau, inquiring his whereabouts.

“I’m lost,” he said. “How do I get there from Mama Joy’s café?” (Or so I imagine him saying).

She directed him once more and informed the waiting horde of her future hubby’s predicament. Soon after the potential groom arrived, he was ushered into an inner room where the first order of business was to levy on him a Sh40,000 fine for losing his way to his in-laws’. Did I mention the groom was already financially tapped out by now?

“But of course,” he said, “no problem. I’ll just go grab the money from my car.”

Upon getting to his car, he promptly gunned the engine and took off to the dismay of all and sundry. And how magnanimous of him. There are some out there who would, in addition, have pooped in the compound for good measure.

Since my meeting with Inspector Tembo is private, I run a low risk of public humiliation, but that doesn’t guarantee a smooth run of affairs. My boss is an old, shrewd owl with a few surprises still left up his sleeve.

“So, you want to marry my daughter?” he begins, stroking a smooth chin.

For nearly two years you’ve known of my intention to marry Sgt Sophia, I want to say, but a voice in my head warns of dire consequences. “Yes, sir,” I mouth instead. “I’d like to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.”

“Only her hand?” I can’t tell if he’s joking or not. “What about the rest of her?”

“I… It’s only a—”

“Hahaha! Loosen up, Makini. I’m only kidding.” Then he immediately shifts from jolly to sombre, leans forward in his seat and looks me dead in the eye. “Do you love my daughter or are you simply lusting for her?”

To be honest, sir, it all started with lust. I mean, have you seen the body on that woman? Not to mention that on one or more occasions she’s dropped her towel after coming from the bathroom and she’s never let me—

“Well, Makini?” Tembo prompts. “Do I take your hesitation to mean my suspicions are correct?”

“Oh, no, sir. I love your daughter more than life itself.”

“Good, though I’m not stupid. I’ve noticed the way you look at her. You better put that lust to good use. I need grandkids, you know, and in this order: boy, girl, girl, boy. We’ll talk names later, as well as my other demands.”

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