Lent as a time of rebirth

Booze and bad decisions come home to roost for a strange family

In Summary

• What happens when a Mhesh, his mistress and lovechild walk into an illicit liquor den?


The world can stare back at you as a question mark. This is what happened to her as she sat inside sirens. She was lost in her world of the moment.

In it, she sat next to a sweet 16 on a stretcher. The ambulance was a Toyota Hilux four-wheel drive. It snaked between vehicles all being driven at top speed — matatus carrying late-night revellers.

She spotted one veering dangerously to the left of the sick car. The conductor was urinating in a wavy loop from the open door as the driver played a Swahili gospel song about water and sprinkling. 

In the ambulance, she saw that the convulsions had subsided somewhat. The girl with the twisted body rested in bloody silence. Her face had now discontorted and discomfort had departed. In its place was a halo of booze and peace.

This woman replayed the entire prior occurrence for the umpteenth time in her eyes with damaged mascara. Her fake lashes felt heavier than the times when she made love with him. 

He had opted to remain behind and finish a small tail of ganja and follow them later. Mheshimiwa has always been allergic to drama despite his irredeemable theatrics inside and outside Parliament.

The flat’s caretaker, who called the van after she pierced the wee hours with a terrible scream, could not believe it. How can a man with so much power sit back after his only daughter, only child, with his coy mistress, fell into this calamity after the three had cleared a bottle of makali… and more? 

They always had threesomes. The child, the man and the woman. They took turns in a rotational manner. It was their modus operandi. Each one took their turn seriously. The two adults were always shocked at the sheer stamina of the child.

Their lovechild, they boasted to each other’s dilated eyes, was a true vision of their own childhood. They would praise their orphanage years, street years and do a cheers to their unplanned reunion in a brothel six years ago.

Mhesh was always happy that he had found her again, against all odds. Normally, their lovechild would be perched on the rim of the balcony barriers of this sixth-floor, windowless Githurai bedsitter, as stories of her parent’s reunion, her history, unfolded between ganja and liquor.  She took her turn at the bottle and the shash in silence oft.

The siren now all around her was also the peaceful serenade deep inside her soul as she reclined on the stretcher of the rushing ambulance, her cold hand searching for the warm hand of her father. He was invisible as usual. Her hands probed farther...


Mheshimiwa had two lives. He lived one as a bat. He loved living the other as a cat. First things first. Mhesh was not born. He grew up knowing he was the child of a dumpsite.

One time he sat in a laboratory waiting for his HIV results somewhere in Githurai. He was nursing a minor ganja hangover. He smelt something familiar at the corner near the latrine.

There was a waste basket. In it were used needles, pamba and a couple of GoK standard contraceptives. His eyes screwed a stained wooden spatula with scrutiny. He noticed for the very first time in the world that it resembled a cucumber. 

As he stared at one condom packet, he traced the jagged edge of the torn end. His spectacled eyes searched for the familiar smell. A gush of dusty wind came through the torn window. It sent the cracked curtain with Level 5 prints to his goatee.

He brushed it aside. It flapped on him again. Again, he pushed it aside with irritation and again, it smooched his goatee. Mhesh cursed something under his weak moustache in Sheng’.

The woman who was working on his test wore her lab coat like lingerie. She reorganised her skirts again bendingly and asked him if he was okay. He clenched his teeth again – fantasising the moment they had just shared.

It was at this instance that he planned how he would extend this heavenly operation tonight. He knew he had to rush with all this.

The liquor store that gave him bootleg drinks for the weekend and a ganja top-up closes early. It mints thousands by 8pm, regularly. His sacco loan cash meant almost nothing to the top detective who ran this illegal cheap liquor outlet. 

He felt nausea rise in him and his secondary erection started to subside. The woman had exited again, her lab coat hiding the fact that she wore second to nothing under it, and her gait of a cat belied her medical hustle.

The test was taking ages and he had no lust to look it up in secret. He glanced at the tender papers and the signed letter with the signature of his boss and remembered their days in Eldoret.

Boss will benefit if this deal goes through, he thought. The mind swapped places with his nose.

The strange scent of his Githurai childhood came back stronger than ever as the woman flushed a toilet nearby and walked back in, with a whiff of faecal nature pursuing her...


Back to the girl on the stretcher. Her hands having failed to trace those of her father, she attempts to speak.

She cannot. Okay, her mind speaks but her mouth refuses to put the speech in words. Her eyes are still shut.

Suddenly, she plays a game. Brikicho? Bantureee! She utters the words to the beat of the siren.

She hides deep inside the pain of her broken body. She is still falling even here where she is. She sees a sharp white light at the bottom of this black world.

It is the Lent season. She had lit a candle at the cathedral near her home at the evening mass. Even her two lovers, her parents, had no idea that she attends the mass in secret.

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