Celebrating East African Writing!
“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
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