Celebrating East African Writing!
Jacob hadn’t yet thought of an excuse to leave the kitchen. So he decided to slick away while Chef Ojwang tasted Robe’s Mukimo Surprise. The old man flung insults to Robe, “You call this a special, who the hell taught you to cook…a baboon?”
It was perfect timing and he edged to the door slowly leaving Robe’s stammering responses to fade in the background. He looked at his watch. He had fifteen minutes before his absence would be noticed.
Chef Ojwang’s tyrannical rants and raves about the intricacies of African cooking would last two minutes. He will then go outside for a nicotine fix. Altogether that would be five minutes. The other ten minutes he will go to the dining area and talk about why Kenyan obesity was on the increase and the unappreciated health benefits of African cooking. His rhetoric will delight the customers. He will then go back into the kitchen and do it all over again.
And that’s why Jacob was rushing to the corner of the old construction site.
It was the right meeting spot because the word on the corrugated metal read “POST”. So that meant Wilson was late.
“Maybe this wasn’t a good idea! Maybe I should have changed the arrangement”, Jacob muttered as he compulsively wiped invisible sweat off the palms of his hands on his apple green apron.
“Niaje?” (Hi?). A voice spoke behind him.
He turned to see a breathless Wilson standing behind him, wearing his trademark worn out leather jacket. Jacob spoke in a harsh whisper, “Don’t niaje me? Do I look like one of your sheng brothers?” he continued, “And what is with that leather jacket? Kwani, you don’t have other clothes?”
Wilson’s gaze turned steely as he changed the subject, “It is done”
Jacob’s eyes lit up, “Really?”
Wilson rolled his eyes sarcastically, “Yes, reeeaaally, so ukona pesa zangu?” (Do you have my money?)
Wilson looked around to see if there were any nosy Nairobians. Two men casually glanced their way but walked off sensing -wrong place, wrong time. It was only after they disappeared around the corner that Jacob reached into his apron with a trembling hand to remove a fat envelope.
He hesitated. “Was it fast? Did she…did she suffer?”
Wilson grabbed the envelope hungrily and looked up at Jacob with a knowing glint in his eyes, “Yes, she suffered. I told her it was you who sent me.”
Wilson then gave a two-fingered mock salute and spoke again, “Our business has concluded so I bid you adieu…until next time.”
Jacob gave Wilson one last dirty look and walked off.
As he entered the kitchen backdoor of Kikwetu Restaurant, he paused. The air seemed crispier, the sun’s rays golden and the rotting garbage strewn on the back door smelled floral. As he glided in he thought of the ingredients of his latest creation Cashew nut Kuku Delight-“a sprig of mint perhaps…just to bring out the flavor.”
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