Celebrating East African Writing!
Mr. Mbae went back to the house in the evening a very disappointed man. The police had looked for Kamau around the village but had not found him. Kamau’s father was still in police custody being used as bait to get Kamau out of hiding.
When he got to the house he went looking for Nyobaki’s mother. “Mama Nyobaki,” he said, where is your daughter? We are leaving for Nairobi today. I hope she told you what she was doing with Kamau. This is your entire fault! You should have taken care more about your daughter. Tell her to come downstairs now!” with that statement Mr Mbae stormed off to the bedroom.
Mama Nyambura went to get Nyobaki ready and to also collect her things as she was also going to Nairobi to see Nyobaki off.
Kamau was so shocked to find that his bag with his clothes was gone. He was so stunned that for about ten minutes he stood staring at the spot where he had spent the night. He was wondering what he would do now that his clothes and the map to his cousin’s house in Mathare valley was gone. At least he had put his money in his shirt pocket so that it could not disappear.
He sat down on the hard bench to think, his appetite had disappeared and he could not even think about eating the mandazis in his hand which now seemed unpalatable. He calculated in his head what he needed for the journey to Mathare valley. He had used most of the money for the trip but he had around 60 shillings left. “I hope its enough to get me where am going? The first thing is to get to Mathare valley to my cousin’s house.”
Kamau went to a conductor of a bus whose passengers had just alighted. He asked in Kiswahili “where can I get the matatu to Mathare?” the conductor gave him directions to another part of the city.
Kamau walked towards the direction he had been shown. He was looking at the buildings and the seemingly busy people who seemed like ants running around, everyone seemed to be in a hurry. In his mind he thought that it was a shame that he had come to the city under such bad circumstances. He had always liked coming to the city when his school used to come for music and drama festivals and also when he came to visit his cousins.
In an hour’s time after making many twists and turns in Mathare slums he found his cousin’s house. On knocking there was no reply. A neighbour came and said that his cousin Njoroge had left for the day to go to work in the construction site where he worked. He would have to wait for evening. The neighbour went back into his house not even bothered to invite Kamau in to wait for him.
Kamau sat outside the doorstep and wondered how rude and uncaring these Nairobians were that they would not watch out for their neighbours guests.
2 days later…
Nyobaki had landed at the airport in the UK. She was jet lagged, fatigued but the worst thing she was broken hearted. She could not believe things had turned out this way. Her father had taken the family back to Nairobi and changed her flight to leave the next day. She was to stay with her relatives in north London before she started school in 6 weeks. She had already done the interview for the British High Commission but she had been hoping that she could change her dad’s mind about studying abroad.
As she left the airport with her relatives she looked out at the surroundings. It was snowing and there was mist everywhere. She could not believe her father had banished her to this cold, strange place. She was trying to keep her emotions under wrap. Her relatives were excited to see her. They assumed that she was excited to be there. After all every Kenyan fantasized about the chance to go abroad and study or visit.
Nyobaki had cried during the flight. She had gone to the bathroom numerous times to cry. She had wished for her bed so that she could cry to her heart’s content but here she was stuck in a plane full of strangers so she could not give in to her misery in the open. She already missed Kamau and wondered what he was doing and how he was coping in Nairobi.
Nyobaki promised herself that she would not forget Kamau. I don’t know how but one day Kamau we will meet and we will be together and no one will separate us not even my father, she thought.
Kamau was wearing his cousin’s clothes. Since he had been robbed he had only the clothes he had been wearing. His cousin had come home in the evening and Kamau had told him what had transpired.
Njoroge had felt pity for Kamau. “You can stay here for as long as you like. That mp of ours has grown too big for his boots forgetting where he came from and that just the other day he was just like us.” Kamau had not eaten the whole day so he prepared for them a meal.
Njoroge suggested that Kamau should get a job at the construction site while he waited for the problem at home to cool down. It would also give Kamau a chance to make some money to buy clothes and some food while he was there.
Kamau agreed with the idea. The next day Njoroge went to the construction site to talk his supervisor about getting Kamau a job. Njoroge’s boss got him a job carrying stones with a wheelbarrow to the construction site.
Kamau had started work and found the work hard. The stones were very heavy and pushing them in the wheelbarrow was not an easy task. Kamau welcomed the work though because it kept him busy from thinking too much about what was going on at home.
‘I wonder how Nyobaki is doing. I hope Mr Mbae did not lock her up. And my parents I hope them are ok. Mr Mbae is capable of doing anything. But I will go home soon and then I will find out what happened.’
Four years later…
Nyobaki sat at the head table as she looked at the people in the room, her guests as it were to her graduation party. She had graduated from the University of London with a degree in law. After what had happened to Kamau and her, she had felt helpless. She had wanted to help people be able to fight for her rights.
She wondered what had happened to Kamau. She had no one to give her the information. She had never come for holiday visits to Kenya, her father preferring to keep her away. Her parents and siblings had moved to Nairobi after the incident because of what had happened to Kamau.
From what she had gathered from her sisters, Kamau’s dad had been kept in jail for two months under orders from her father. He had said that Kamau’s dad would stay there until Kamau returned as it had been determined that the dad had taken his son to the bus stop and thus allowed his escape.
It is only after the village elders and Nyobaki’s mother’s intervention that Kamau’s dad was released. But during that time bad blood had developed between the villagers and the Mbae’s family. Mr Mbae had been forced to take his family to Nairobi.
Since they did not have any friends in the village anymore, no one seemed to know what had happened to Kamau.
“So much for the dream that Kamau and I will find each other and live happily ever after. I know that after what my father did, Kamau will never want to talk to me again. I wish I could see him and tell him how sorry I am. I wish I had never kissed him not for my sake but for his. Maybe things would have turned out different.’ Nyobaki thought to herself.
Kamau sat in his office at Nyaga Construction Company. He was trying to finish doing the payroll for the construction workers. Kamau was the cashier for the construction company that had hired him four years ago. He had worked in construction rising up the ranks from carrying stones to being a fundi.
Two years ago the cashier had quit running away with some of the money for payroll. The boss was looking for someone to hire and was waiting to interview some candidates.
Kamau had seen this as his opportunity to get a better job. He had been tired of being a fundi. It was not something that required him to think. It was a routine job that was very repetitive and boring. He also needed money for university. His letter had come for the university and his parents had sent it to him.
He knew he could not apply for HELB because it would mean that Mr Mbae could track him down. He needed money to pay for his exams. So he went to talk to the boss.
“Sir, in high school I did accounts and got an A. I would like to apply for the position of cashier.” Kamau had said to the boss.
The boss was surprised. “If you got an A in accounts, what are you doing working as a labourer? Bring your papers and I will think about giving you a job on probation”
Kamau had already carried a copy of his KCSE certificate plus the original. He gave them to the boss.
The boss was shocked. “Son, you have an A-. Shouldn’t you be university right now?”
Kamau explained that circumstances had forced him to look for a job just after high school. He now needed to pay for his university education and so that’s why he needed the job.
The boss agreed to hire Kamau as the cashier on probation for 3 months and if things worked out he would hire him permanently. The boss had been so impressed with Kamau’s good and hard work that he had even increased his salary so he could pay for his university education.
Kamau had given up the idea of doing architecture. It was a full time course with no classes in the evening. Kamau was heartbroken to give up his dream but he knew that in life sometimes you have to take the lemons and make lemonade. A year ago he had started his degree in the parallel programme. He was studying accounts and business. He was enjoying the course and the things he was learning.
As he sat in his chair he thought about his life. It had not turned out the way he expected or dreamed. He thought about Nyobaki a lot. He wondered what had happened to her. He knew that she had been forced to go to the UK. But since the parents had moved to Nairobi no one seemed to know what had happened to her.
Kamau had written a song in Kikuyu about her which he would play on his guitar. Some of it went something like this.
Nyobaki my beautiful one,
Your face haunts my dreams,
I wonder where you are.
Your beautiful face and your smile,
I hold in my heart.
You were my one true love,
I wish I could see you honey
And tell you how I feel.
My beautiful one,
I love you, come home to me.
© Rayhab Gachango 2010 www.raylitpoems.blogspot.com
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