Surviving by the skin of our teeth

In Summary
  • Mrs Kali offers to save police post on condition Makini stays away from Sophia.

“Mother,” Sergeant Sophia shouts, “have you slept with the entire police force?”

“Sophia M Kali!” Mrs Kali calls back. “I will not have my daughter address me with such impudence.”

“What do you want me to say, mother? Anyone on the force could be my father.”

To recap, my partner Sergeant Sophia lived most of her life without a clue who among the parade of her mother’s lovers was her father. Upon getting on the force, she embarked on a mission to find her biological father. And that’s how she ended up in our small village of Jiji Ndogo.

Our boss, Inspector Tembo, fit the bill and accepted the possibility of having a daughter since he had no kids of his own. When Mrs Kali showed up at Jiji Ndogo, she confirmed Inspector Tembo as Sophia’s father. Then she started dating the Inspector, complicating the father-daughter reunion. But that’s a story for another day.

Today, another police officer has shown up and he bears no good tidings. Superintendent Chege is here to shut down the police post following a government directive to close shop on all small posts. It’s been coming for a while, and for some reason, we’ve been riding on the skin of our teeth. Now the cocks have come home to roost.

But just before Superintendent Chege can do his job, Mrs. Kali recognises him as one of her former flames, and possibly another candidate for Sophia’s biological father.

“I mean, how many of your paramours do I have to go through?” Sophia asks.

Inspector Tembo steps up. “Sophia is my daughter.”

“Shut up, Matumbo,” Mrs Kali barks. (Yes, my boss’ real name is Matumbo). “If you were so sure you’d have done a DNA test by now, wouldn’t you?”

Hurting, Inspector Tembo walks out of the house.

If you think this is callous of Mrs Kali, you should hear some of the things she says about me. Hint: More than once she has indicated that yours truly, Sergeant Makini, might not possess all the parts that maketh a man and which therefore disqualifies me from being a suitable husband to her daughter.

You will then understand my apt choice to stay out of the family business and observe from afar.

“Mother,” Sophia pleads, “I am good with Inspector Tembo as my father, DNA or not. I don’t need another man in my life.”

Mrs Kali points at me. “Then, what are you doing with this loser?”

“You know what I mean.”

“You never told me you got pregnant,” says Superintendent Chege, a dumbfounded look on his face.

“What would you have done?” Mrs Kali counters. “Leave your wife?”

“My late wife would’ve understood.”

I immediately notice shilling signs dancing in Mrs. Kali’s eyes, their glint bouncing off her coy smile. “You mean you’re a widower? I’m so sorry to hear about your wife.”

I don’t imagine Mrs Kali being sorry for anything.

“It’s been six years now,” says Superintendent Chege. “But I’m healing slowly.”

Mrs Kali takes his arm. “Can we talk outside for a minute please?”

Sophia paces the small room like a bull with a thorn in its hide. “I can’t believe this woman. She’s like the Kenya National Theatre. Drama after drama.”

“And more tragedies than comedies,” I say before I realise I just poked a lion in the eye.

Sophia stops and glares at me. “You think this is funny, Makini? Are you having a blast?”

Before I say anything, Mrs Kali returns. “I’ll save your little police post, but under one condition.” She points at me. “You stay away from my daughter.”

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