BY PASCAL MWANDAMBO
It was a chilly Sunday afternoon. Yours truly was resting in his humble abode, legs stretched on the sofa, watching TV and sipping Kawaha No1.Now don’t be misled to believe that that Kahawa No 1 is any beverage worth its name. The coffee, as those who know it will testify, actually smells and tastes like dust and sawdust combined; you may even wonder if coffee of any class lower that that is actually fit for human consumption.
Anyway, that is neither here nor there. I had just changed channels to enjoy some action movies when I heard someone knock. Before I could even answer, my cousin from the village, Timotheo, was already inside. He was beaming with excitement ,beads of sweat gathering on his forehead. His impish smile told me that he had “great news” for me.
You see, my cousin believes that everything is news and since I am a scribe, I should swallow hook, bait and sinker, every crap he comes up with.
The other time there were unfounded rumours in the village that I had been promoted to a senior position in a leading media house. So Timotheo actually woke me up in the dead of the night with an SMS ,congratulating me for being “promoted to glory” !
“Wama, it’s being a while now,” he said extending his hairy hand towards me.
As we shook hands, I could suspect that he had something “major”, at least by his village standards.
Two months ago he had come to me hale and happy as he was now.
You see, Timotheo had participated in one of the most disorganized agricultural shows in the county where he had showcased his malnourished cow Kimora. He was thereafter declared second best farmer and awarded a certificate which he was about to laminate and hang on the wall. But in true brotherly spirits, I politely told him not to be a bumpkin, simply because he had been declared second best farmer because they were only two in that category.
Fast forward and I realised Timotheo had a new cheap phone. That told me he had achieved something of substance judging from the look of things. This marked the end of using that “mulika mwizi” that he had used for so long such that the covers were falling apart and had to be held together by rubber bands, while virtually all the lettering on the key pad had been obliterated making it hard for anyone, save himself, to use the contraption.
“It’s our time to eat.Siasa zimeaza wama,” he said, the impish grin on his face increasing. Apparently a political greenhorn who was aspiring to be an MCA had picked Timotheo as one of his campaigners. I doubt if that fellow will even make it to the gate of the county assembly if he continues relying on fellows like Timotheo as his campaigners.
“Tadeo has picked me to campaign for him and I assure you, yule jamaa mwingine(incumbent) anaenda nyumbani.Yeye ni mkono gamu. Hatoboki” , he said with the tone of an armature political pundit ;adding , “Taddy has bought me a new phone and line so that we can keep regular contacts as campaigns progress”.
Actually, I realized my cousin had shifted from using an Ilara milk pouch as a wallet and now the Safaricom line pouch was the new wallet.
But Timotheo could have been right at least on one score. The incumbent MCA Kitambi Kitupu as well as several of his colleagues were headed home come next polls. In fact the joke doing the rounds was that people were saving money waiting patiently for the MCAs to bite the dust, so that they could buy the expensive vehicles from them, on the premise that they might not afford to maintain the fuel guzzlers once out of office.
Timotheo opened his wallet( read Safaricom line pouch) and said, “Wama, I have money to drink. Nataka nikunywe vikali ndio nikune kichwa ili nipate maono ya kufanya kampeni”. He swallowed hard and continued , “Away with the coffee. Let’s go have a beer”.
Despite being early evening, skimpily dressed women were already jamming the popular Makuti Bar in Mavumbi town; gyrating their hips to the music playing from loudspeakers perched at he four corners of the pub. Some wisecrack defined dancing as vertical movements with horizontal intentions. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Timotheo ordered for a cold Balozi and yours truly a warm Tusker. It was nice enjoying a drink with a cousin who has had two “windfalls” in a row.
The Balozi began to take the better of Timo- as he could have been referred to by his admirers-(I doubt if there are any)and he screwed his eyes towards the bar counter, shoved his hand into his trouser pocket and pulled out a thoroughly fingered poster of his “MCA to be”.
“I am telling you Tadeo ndiye governor, wapende wasipende,” he said; wiping beer foam from the corners of his mouth.
I could tell Balozi was taking the better of him, as he probably began to imagine he was a diplomat which he was not.
“”MCA, not governor, that’s what you mean”, I corrected him, trying to sound as calm as one would be when advising a foolish kid.
“Governor or MCA, whichever it is, Tadeo is the top guy in town,” retorted Timotheo, took another gulp of Balozi and continued ,“ Tadeo ndiye kiboko yao”. All this time he was fingering the poster bearing Tadeo’s photo as though it was a golden ornament.
Suddenly, Timotheo shot up and shouted at the waiter, “Bia mbili kwa mpigo kwa wama, the great writer”. The way he emphasized “ great writer”, could have convinced those who do not know me that I am a media mogul of sorts.
Timotheo paid the bill and sought leave, which I quickly granted, upon realizing that his continued stay in the pub could sooner than later become counterproductive.
Before he left I heard him mumble something about looking for an MPesa kiosk so that he could reload his pockets.
It was around 7.30 pm when I got a call from Mama Wemba that I realised that my cousin had been up to some mischief. For your information, Mama Wemba is a seller of third generation brews such as Cham and Miti Dawa on the outskirts of Mavumbi town.
You see, having wasted a bigger portion of his meager resources on beer, Timotheo had realised that the “bitter option” would be to go take Miti Dawa at Mama Wemba’s.
That is where trouble started brewing. I am told Timotheo had gone on and on to talk about the virtues of Tadeo, his new found “donor”. This began to irritate some of the third generation drunkards. At some point, I was to learn, one of the drunks grabbed Tadeo’s poster from Timotheo and tore it to shreds.
A fight broke out and Timo actually threw a few punches. In the ensuing melee, several litres of third generation brews were spilled.
Mama Wemba could not take such nonsense .She promptly confiscated Timotheo’s mobile phone, after he failed to pay for the damages he had caused. Mama Wemba, still agitated like a lion that had lost its cubs, called Mavumbi police station. Most sellers of illicit brews are strange bedfellows with the police(call it some kind of symbiosis)and after a short while, Timo was picked by the hem of his trousers , bundled willy- nilly into the police Land Cruiser and locked up at the station.
I swallowed hard. As drunk and uncouth as my cousin had been I could not let him waste away in police cells. They say “pombe si maji,” and upon reflecting deeply, allowed my moral bearing to take leave and decided to bail him out.
However if truth be told, it would have been foolhardy for me to try to bail out Timotheo out of police cells empty handed, as that would have been like expecting to get blood out of a stone.
So I withdrew Sh 4,000 from MPesa and made a beeline to Mavumbi police station. I found other drunks being booked in. I went straight to see inspector Hongo, the local OCS, a fellow with such a huge kitambi you might think he swallowed a bull for lunch.
“Ati umekuja kuona cousin yako, kwani counsin yako amekuwa sinema,” inspector Hongo shot back. I did not reply because sincerely speaking I am not sure if Timo is a poorly made movie, an insane rustic or simply a misunderstood simpleton.
Lucky enough, a police officer who has known me for some years now, came over and asked me to have a word with him in the office.
I explained the circumstances under which poor Timo had found himself in, how he had taken one too many and began celebrating non- existent achievements, blah, blah, blah, but one thing…I had to part with the 4k to secure his release.
As Timo walked out of the cells, trembling like a hen that had been locked up in a fridge, inspector Hongo bellowed above his belly “Next time tell your cousin to behave himself”, as if Timotheo was a naughty pupils who had stolen coloured pencils.