“Si uletee Makori chapati”…my friend David let out a sharp anguished yelp. This is after he realized that his wife had deliberately served everyone chapati; except me. Clearly, she intended to torment me to death.
It is not like I hadn’t noticed! I was trying as hard as possible to “assume” even though I was burning with undetected shame. I just didn’t know where to look. I wanted a way out immediately. I think I got my high blood pressure from that unpleasant military experience! I swore to do several things…chief among them was never to eat in anyone’s house.
Please let me explain.
We were about 6 people in the sitting room. My friend David, Jacinta his wife, the house girl, their two children and me, Makori.
It was on Tuesday the 16th; slightly before 1600hrs when I visited. David and I sat watching TV as we talked about the harsh lockdown that had seemingly done more harm than good…. meanwhile, Jacinta was in the kitchen busy preparing chapati. The door was slightly open and so, we could easily see her adding chapatis to the pile she had already cooked. Actually, once in a while, she eavesdropped on our conversation and threw in her two cents unapologetically.
We were happy…I was the happiest with the expectation of having some food. Each time she added some sizzling brown butter, the scent became almost tenfold- I almost asked for one even as we waited to be officially served.
I had never had any issue with Jacinta. Actually when they were going to “see” David’s parents; I was among the closest friends who accompanied them.
Unknown to the sincere parents, these two criminals had been living together in University hostels for about 3 years. There is nothing they didn’t know about marriage and the tricks therein. But when they stood to speak, they looked genuine virgins.
We celebrated the acceptance of Jacinta into the family with a feast. And being an expert in Public Relations and Communication, she had bought very long dresses to use during her visits or when she would stay in the village.
In Nairobi, I and other faithful men suffered under her intentional scanty dressing mannerisms. Keener observers would later describe her body parts with almost exact accuracy. I am not among the keener observers. No! Not me.
David and I met in the lower primary. He had just moved into the neighborhood with his entire family. One of my distant uncles had decided to sell his piece of shamba to David’s father and use the money to taste other alcohol brands as opposed to the local brew he had easy access to…I heard that he immediately started consuming “spirits”. The hundreds of thousands he had received for his ancestral land didn’t last two months.
He is now a beggar…fighting his wife almost daily.
Anyway, David and I became friends and lived through secondary school together even though he schooled in Nakuru and I went to Western Province. He was the first to get a job. He started working in Westlands as a Digital Strategist for a famous 4-star hotel. The money wasn’t really good but, it was better…compared to me, who had nothing and depended on the mercies of my parents and God. I was lucky sometimes to find one or two projects in IT [I did software Engineering]. Honestly, David came through for me on several occasions of which I’m always grateful. I have always told him that if our situations would be reversed, I would definitely help him too…with much more.
Back to the chapati incidence…
I was financially wounded at the time. I had come to request for a loan from David. He foolishly acknowledged in the hearing of his wife that he had some money saved in his Mshwari that he could give me. My experience of a few years dealing with ladies had taught me to keep some things private; even if the lady involved was your wife.
I had whispered to him the real reason I had visited.
David, nataka loan ya 15k.
The Kshs. 15,000 was supposed to help me pay my rent which was Kshs. 9,000. I also had another friend’s loan of Kshs. 5,000 and he had threatened to call the police on me. The remaining Kshs. 1,000 was to be for my food. I was living on a lean budget.
Instead of using the same “akili” and whispering back. He said, ” yaa nitakurushia 20k. Utarudisha hiyo 5k ya juu pekee.
He wasn’t proud. Neither did he intend to inform anyone that he was about to help me.
He said it normally because I think he reasoned that it wasn’t a big deal even if his wife heard it. After all, we were like brothers.
I heard Jacinta say…Baba Olive, kuja unisaidie kuinua kitu hapa bedroom.
I’m coming. He said.
She retaliated impatiently: Kuja kwanza.
Every indication from her voice showed “emergency”! All sensible and caring husbands could quickly attend to such an emergence! He left after 4 minutes of keeping her waiting.
At the time, my mind didn’t really register what was happening. I also highly doubt if David knew the kind of hurricane that was coming.
He walked towards her and they both entered the bedroom.
Before David left, we had just started playing FIFA. He had chosen Manchester United and I had gone for Arsenal…the game was so heated that we had both scored 3-3.
So, when he was delayed, I shouted at him to hurry up. He didn’t reply.
I provoked him. Wacha ujinga! Ama umeogopa…in reference to the game.
Jacinta had also forgotten to add water to the beans she was cooking. I went to the rescue.
I switched off the gas and was about to check them when I accidentally overheard their conversation. I swear, I almost fell down dead.
Jacinta: Tutampea pesa hadi lini?
David: What?!! What …. what…
Jacinta: Na I asked you for money juzi! Hukunipea!
David: I can’t listen to this nonsense.
I had some movements and knew that someone was coming…
I quickly walked back and sat like a potato. Do potatoes seat?
My eyes were solemnly focused on the TV. I didn’t want to look at any of them.
I just wouldn’t face them.
I was torn into pieces.
I remembered momentarily how David moved to our home with his sister when their dad was sick and had to be taken to Nairobi for a medical check-up. What should have taken a few days became so complicated that the mother had to stay there and nurse him for 3 months. My parents took care of David and his sister…they were treated better than us.
They even paid for their school fees for two terms.
It is during that stay that our friendship was solidified.
It is not like I wanted him to pay me back. I was just seeking help from a brother.
And that Jacinta, how many times had she come to me when they fought! There are days that I had to leave my hustles and go all the way to their house to try and “put sense into David’s head”. Those were the days that he threw her out and promised to kill her if she dared come back to his house.
I shouldn’t have helped this thought-less asinine idiot.
Even after what I had heard, I really didn’t blame David. All my shock was on this woman who had been married into the family and didn’t know our past.
But, as a clever individual, I kept everything to myself…and picked the pad to continue playing FIFA.
From the corner of my eye, I saw David seething in anger. It was as if he was begging me to leave so that they can have a real fight. But, even when I faked a call and said that I was urgently needed somewhere, he insisted that I stay for a few more games.
I lost all the games.
Jacinta finished cooking her chapatis and served tea.
Actually, she brought cups filled with tea from the kitchen.
Mine was a black cup when everyone else had a white one. When she placed the cups on the table, I noticed that my tea was waaaaaay below the full mark. It was shamefully low! David looked into the cup and clicked while shaking his head. I almost laughed. Not because of the theatrics of this bulldozer called Jacinta but on how I had allowed myself to be broke to the extent of being emotionally abused left right and center by women.
Looking back, I think that’s the day I made the decision to work my lungs off in search of wealth.
Of course, she also served chapati on those flat white expensive plates. She was all moody even as she moved up and down.
I saw her put a plate next to David that had two brown well-rounded chapatis. She did the same for the house girl. She also gave her two children half each and sat looking the opposite side as she sipped her tea.
Then, I heard David shout, “si uletee Makori chapati…”
I jumped out and ran away.