Celebrating East African Writing!

6.42am by Robert Wanyeki

Photo by Jerry Riley. Click on image or Visit to see more pictures of Kenya

“Look Wathome”, said Mwangi. “Is this really the best way for your wife to travel?”

Wathome looked up from the bundle he was securing and surveyed the passengers milling about below while thinking about his cousin’s question. In an ideal world, this would not be how he wanted to move his wife’s remains to her traditional home in Nyeri. But it is not an ideal world. It was not ideal for his wife to have died so soon after their official marriage ceremony. Sure they had lived together for years before that but they had only recently managed to save enough for a church wedding and a small reception. And now, two short, short months as man and wife later, she was dead. Dead before they got back on their feet after splurging on the wedding and now this; too poor to hire a hearse to carry her body home, reduced to carrying her atop a matatu wrapped in a sheet and disguised as a sack of vegetables by the gunny sack encasing her shroud. This was as far removed from ideal as one cold get.

I understand your concern Mwangi, but I really don’t see any other way. Hearses are expensive!

But to wrap her in a gunny sack and strap her down on the roof of my employer’s matatu with the farm produce? There has GOT to be another way!

If there is, I am more than ready to listen. I have thought about every option available and I assure you, transporting my loving wife’s remains next to a large sack of potatoes was right at the bottom of my list, but here we are.

What if the police stop us and decide to inspect the cargo?

Then we’ll simply explain that my wife died and we’re transporting her to Mukurwe-ini so that she may be laid to rest.

I meant how we explain why she’s wrapped in a gunny sack and tied to the roof.

Oh! Then we’ll simply tell them that I am depressingly poor and can’t afford a hearse. I don’t think we could get arrested for being poor, do you?

I suppose not. But think of the passengers! If they found out and word of this reached my boss…

They will not find out unless we keep standing on this roof talking at the top of our voices about the dead body we’re trying to transport. Now please, help me down. The sooner we’re on the road the better.

© Robert Wanyeki

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.


11 comments on “6.42am by Robert Wanyeki

  1. Maureen Adhiambo
    August 16, 2010

    Really? Strap someone’s body to a vegetable ‘machine’? Really? That’s just sick. I can’t even award marks for this. Okay; maybe 1, for writing.


  2. Steve
    August 16, 2010



  3. kyt
    August 17, 2010

    eew thats scary 7


  4. Grace
    August 19, 2010

    10! 10! 10!

    I love the suspense of the story! Cant wait to read more! 10


  5. Rafia
    August 19, 2010

    the idea is shocking. desperate times call for desperate measures. 8


  6. Infiniti
    August 19, 2010

    Lol! Loves it! I’ll give it an 8.


  7. Valentine Njoroge
    August 20, 2010

    I love this piece… several people have been arrested for doing exactly this when funds were low… it is morbid and you have captured the tragedy, humour and ick! factor of the situation perfectly… so real, so suspenseful, so dark … cant give you a 10 coz you might never type out loud again 🙂


  8. tara nicole
    August 24, 2010


    thats is pure imagination you took the photo and owned it well done


  9. luka
    August 25, 2011

    Absolutely genius! the harsh reality that for the most part manages to evade our snobby nairobian minds has been so accurately captured and in such few words.i like…really like. my richter scale is clocking a 9!


  10. Diana Patso
    June 11, 2014

    8 would do for me because i have witnessed the reality in this,..It happens sadly and He brought out the picture perfectly


  11. mfiles254
    September 12, 2015

    this is sick!!good job meen!!!


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