Celebrating East African Writing!
If who you are is what you have… by Naomi Kamau
I am Raymond Rukata the new occupant of House NO. 5 in village flats near Delamere farm in Naivasha. I moved in two months ago after losing my job as an accountant at Pang Pang Motor garage in Nakuru. That is where I resided, but after the loss I decided to move a little further to restructure my life.
In my new environment I greet my new found neighbors in a jovial mood whenever we meet. Three days have passed since I had breakfast. This is because the shops are 800M away and I have been waking up at 8:30am only to find the milk finished. Consider it as an advantage since I need to be economical in spending the savings I have. Nevertheless, I enjoy drinking milk tea so I cannot avoid it for long. After thinking on what to do, to maintain my used to be life, I come up with an idea.
I will put up a small kiosk shop and sell milk to my neighbors. They will be loyal customers since I will have given them rest of the walking distance. My milk will be the same cost as at the Kunywa Milk bar where we normally buy. Delamere farm will be my suppliers because their milk is quality and does not go through water baptism. After thinking hard I decide to consult mama Kuria my next door neighbor and friend. We struck friendship after the first week I moved in because she allowed me to hang my cloths in her cloths line. I am hopeful that she will support me.
Later in the afternoon I walk towards mama Kuria who is sitting in her groceries kiosk outside the gate. After sharing my idea with her, she tells me, “Hiyo ni mzuri, unajua watu hapa wanasema ati hiyo ni kazi ya watu hawajasoma, ni vile siwezi pamoja na hii soko yangu, kama ningeweza ningefanya.” I envy her optimism. My next stop is at the Delamere farm where I visit the sales manager. She agrees with my idea since this will mean more business to them.
After two days of organizing myself, the business kicks off. Mama Kuria rents me a small space in her Kibanda for a pay of 600 shillings a month. All the Heshima residents become my loyal customers and my business booms.
One morning as we are sitting in our kiosk, mama Kuria asks me to take care of her business because she is taking her youngest son to the hospital. I consider this as my pay back time and I warmly agree. Mama Kuria has two sons out of wedlock. By 3pm she is back. She takes the child to the house and comes to see how business is doing.
I hand her all the money that I have made together with a paper that I put in writing the sales I made. She is very impressed with me and she praises me for my good work. It is at this point that I tell her I am an account by profession. The next day she introduces me to Mrs. Regina Pere one of her fellow chama members who owns a real estate management agency.
Mrs. Regina Pere is impressed by the way I express myself and she invites me to her office for an interview! After a series of interviews I land the job as an assistant accountant in the Logistics Department. I can never thank mama Kuria enough.
After my first pay I visit her with foodstuffs shopping. On knocking to her door I am welcomed by the soft voice of my well spoken boss Mrs. Regina!
I walk in, greet them and hand my shopping to mama Kuria telling her, “Asante kwa kunisaidia kupata kazi nashukuru.” They both laugh looking at me. By this time the children are outside playing as they do every Sunday afternoon. As I turn to walk out, mama Kuria stops me and ushers me to sit and have a cup of tea. I reluctantly agree especially with my boss around.
They keep on talking about the chama, and then Madam Regina, as we call her in the office pops a question to me, “Kwa nini hujaoa?” I’m a bit shocked, as if it was the first time I’m realizing that I’m not married.
After a minute of thoughtful silence I compose myself. “I want to marry a young widowed lady with hopefully two kids, a boy and a girl to be specific.” They give me curious looks and mama Kuria asks me why.
I hesitantly answer. “Because I want to bring back to her the glamour of life.” I pause. “Widows are forgotten people, especially when they are young; only seen as fit for widowed men.”
By now, they are looking at me as if I’m mad, but I don’t mind.
The following few weeks Madam Regina makes efforts to be close to me. However, she maintains the work ethics and none of the other staff members suspect anything. After a few coffee dates, I express my love for her.
She is widowed and has two sons but I don’t mind being their daddy. She tells me her husband succumbed to Leukemia. I feel for her and blow her mind out of proportion with my charms.
Four months down the line we set a wedding date which will be a private ceremony with only 34 guests. Unlike the usual norm of having weddings on a Saturday ours lands on a Monday afternoon between 2pm – 4 pm.
On our wedding day, just as I am about to take my vows an uninvited guest arrives. My former boss, Gaboo, was also the best friend of Regina’s late husband. Therefore, he cannot be denied entry.
I ignore his presence and take my vows. Regina looks at me keenly before taking hers. Then she turns to look at the audience, maybe to ascertain them that she is ready for this. Her eyes meet the eyes of Gaboo they stare at each other for a minute or so, and then Regina gives me with a worried look.
“No, I cannot marry you.” She is shaking. Mama Kuria almost falls as she looks at us anxiously.
I take a deep sigh of relief. I now have evidence to back up my investigations. I am a professional accountant but also a full time detective. In my former place of work I carried out both duties. I gathered the information that Gaboo and Madam Regina Pere conspired to kill Mr. Pere Hamza because of his property.
He was shot four times on the chest one evening as he was driving home and had not succumbed to Leukemia as Madam put it. The two had agreed that Madam Regina would never remarry to avoid suspicions.
I look at Regina carefully and ask her, “If who you are is what you have, and what you have is lost, then who are you?”
©Naomi Kamau 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.