Celebrating East African Writing!

Borrowed Robe by Nixon Mateulah

Hearing his boss calling, Kapoto Kachepa, the gardener, leaves everything and rushes to his boss. Kachepa finds his master and missus sitting in the lounge. He kneels before them.

‘I always tell you that I am not Allah! Get up and seat on the sofa,’ says his boss, Alain Du Bois, his wife Susan is just smiling at him.

‘It is part of our tradition to kneel down before our masters, elders and someone above us in society,’ says Kachepa, still kneeling.

‘Please, Kachepa sit on the sofa,’ says Susan with an infectious smile.

‘Alright madam,’ he says, getting up and sit on the sofa.

‘We’re all the same before God. We are all bunch of unhappy people, the happiest are those that pleases God all the time. Anyway, you know that we’re going on a month long holiday to Mauritius, isn’t it?’ says Alain. Kachepa nods his head. ‘You must always be around all the time. We depend on you and not on the security guard at the gate. This house will belong to you now, feel free to do anything; you can watch the TV, movies, listen to music, and do some exercises in our gym. Here are the keys.’ Alain hands the keys to Kachepa. He receives the keys with both of his hand with utmost care as though are eggs.

‘Here is your money,’ Susan gives him an envelope containing the money.

‘Thank you so much,’ he says with a slight bow and a huge grin bursts on his face.

‘You can go, we will leave shortly,’ says Alain, getting up.

Bon voyage,’ says Kachepa walking out.

A month later; it is blistering hot, the sun shines oppressively through the cloudless sky. It is clear and deep blue, every tree is as still as an electric pole. Kapoto Kachepa has just finished cutting the grass with the lawnmower. His face is drenching with sweat, and his shirt cringing on his body. He winds the extension lead around the handle of the lawnmower. His wife Nabanda is standing on a chair, and is busy cleaning the windows.

‘It is hellish hot today,’ says Kachepa pushing the mower into the garage.

‘It is,’ says Nabanda getting down from the chair, ‘maybe we will have good rains this season.’

‘I will have a quick swim in the pool!’ exclaims Kachepa delightedly.


‘I am taking a swim in the pool!’

‘Don’t dare!’ warns Nabanda.

‘I was given authority to do as I please.’

‘They did not mean that you can dirty the pool.’

‘The boss said the house is in my hands.’

‘Listen, you don’t know the Du Bois.’

‘I have been with them before I even met you; they’re very good people.’

‘Good people!’

‘I have never seen good people like the Du Bois.’

‘Good people! Who drink wine everyday, sleeping on different beds, giving us a handshake in gloves?’

‘That is their style, they’re white people and we have our own tradition as black people.’ says Kachepa disappearing into the garage.

A minute later, splashes of water and laughter are heard from the pool. Nabanda races to see what is going on.

‘Are you out of your mind, eh!’ cries Nabanda walking on the edge of the pool her hand stretched out to Kachepa to pull him out.

‘I am enjoying myself in here, the water is so tepid, different from the waters of Lilongwe River!’ he cries, as he lowers his head into the water, the foams of soap floating about him.

‘Come out! Do you want your job! The Du Bois will arrive any time today, remember!’

Few minutes later, screeches of tyres against the gravel are heard approaching the gate.

‘Can’t you hear the sound of the car?’

‘I won’t come out! I want to see if indeed we are equal before God, which is what he always preaches! He splashes the water at Nabanda excitedly.

‘Jump in Naba!’

All of a sudden, the Du Bois appears at the pool and finds Kachepa floating on his back swimming backwards.

‘Can you swim like this?’ says Kachepa cheerfully.

‘What is this?’ cries Du Bois.

‘It is hot boss,’ eyes him beaming.

‘You can’t dirt our pool!’ thunders his wife.

‘Aren’t we equal today, before our Lord Jesus?’

‘Do we use soap, eh!’ barks Du Bois.

‘I was dirty and filthy from cutting your grass.’

‘Damn it! Come out!’ roars Du Bois.

‘You are fired!’ cries his wife.

‘But, I can drain the water.’

‘Pack your bags and go!’ roars Du Bois as he walks into the house.

‘I knew it!’ roars back Kachepa, coming out of the pool, water dripping from his boxer’s short, ‘we have never, and never will we be equal, until the end of the time!’

© Nixon Mateulah 2010

If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Friday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.


5 comments on “Borrowed Robe by Nixon Mateulah

  1. roundsquare
    March 29, 2010

    haha, all animals are equal but some are more equal. they teach us equality, but still have special rented pews for the superior members of the congregation.

    they teach us equality, the marxist one, that aspires to annihilate the ‘haves’ for the ‘have-nots’. neither is this the equality of the Christians, where blacks are lynched for staring too long at a White Woman, or where members of the congregation worship their God in sit in specially designated chairs.

    fools!! nkt!


  2. Kyt
    March 30, 2010

    Fool 8 wow nkt!


  3. John Robert Ngugi
    March 30, 2010

    I have never thought about it we will never be equal.

    9 is not too bad.


  4. Raymond Bett
    March 31, 2010

    Is it me, or what? I find the story pretty boring and nothing much that can be said over a nappy afternoon! Maybe its me alone. The story has grammatical mistakes that need to be looked into. I give it a 4.

    But then practice makes perfect so kudos for writing.


  5. Charles O Nyamache
    April 9, 2010

    This is very good creative work. If it a summary of a work, then the book must be very interesting.


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