If you remember well, I planned to stay here in Kakamega and only return to Mwisho wa Lami on Sunday, January 22, one day before schools open. But it looks like I will be leaving the village earlier.
It all has to do with my sister Caro, Mwisho wa Lami’s Minister for Information, Communication and Broadcasting. Given how she lies, exaggerates and imagines stories. I think it is appropriate to call her Mwisho was Lami’s Minister for Misinformation, Miscommunication and Broadcasting.
If you remember, when I left Mwisho wa Lami in early December, Caro had just come, presumably for a weekend visit.
But it turns out that her relationship with her husband had moved from Mudavadi-Gachagua status into a full-blown Russia-Ukraine affair. In other words, they had moved from silent quarrels to full war, with her husband sending her home after they had exchanged sharp words, followed by kicks and blows.
This, however, is becoming a semi-annual affair, as there is no year Caro has not come home after a tiff with her husband, who is popularly known as Maskwembe.
(Let me digress a little. Although Caro is my lovely sister and closest sibling, I cannot help but feel for the husband. My sister is someone everyone would struggle to stay with. Her tongue can move from being sweet to being sharp in a matter of seconds.
In short, one minute Caro is telling you sweet lovey-dovey things and in the next, she tells you something that will make you feel like you should never have been born! I am not surprised that her husband has severally slapped her, in the same trajectory as Kidero’s slap!)
Sweet and sharp tongue
Usually, when that happens, and she comes home, she is always welcomed by everyone, as she always arrives with a sweet tongue. But days later, the sharp tongue takes over, and she creates problems with everybody: from my father to siblings to neighbours. So much so that people in Mwisho wa Lami encourage her to go back to her husband.
But, this time, things have been different. Other than exaggerating what I was going to do in Nairobi, Caro has not caused any trouble. So, when, two weeks ago, Maskwembe – her husband - sent emissaries to my father to ask that Caro returns to him, my father called me for advice. This was the first time the family had visited us to ask for Caro. It is always her going.
In fact, Maskwembe has never paid any dowry, Caro just went visiting and never returned. If you remember, she had left to go to the river to fetch water but never returned. She had apparently carried her clothes in a bucket and left the bucket by the roadside.
Back to the day when Maskwembe’s people came to ask for Caro’s to return, I told my father to play hardball.
“This is our time to harvest, remember they have never done anything, except for some cheap gumboots that he brought you!” I told him that he should only release my sister if the dowry is paid in full. Mzee listened.
The emissaries had wanted to lead a peace and reconciliation effort, but mzee insisted on a dowry negotiation expedition.
“Your son beats my Caro, frequently, because he never paid anything for her. He does not value her,” he said.
“Please look for a day, come introduce yourself, ask for her hand in marriage and do the needful,” he told them. “You are not children; you understand these things.”
We knew that even with this, Caro may stealthily go back, so we had to tell her to stay put. When she called me to ask for advice, she had made plans to go back the next day; saying that my father, in his meeting with Maskwembe’s people, had moved from being difficult to impossible.
“Don’t be silly my sister. This is the time for Maskwembe to show us he values you,” I told her. She was not convinced until I told her that I would give her some of the money her husband would pay.
“Lakini itabidi mkue wajanja sana,” she told me. “Huyo jama ni mkono birika, tena mjanja sana.” She was saying that her husband is mean and sly, and we needed to work extra hard to get anything from him. “Even me, he doesn’t give me anything despite giving him, children. This is the time!”
Minister of Misinformation, Miscommunication and Broadcasting
The two families settled on Saturday, January 14 as the date when Caro’s husband’s people would visit to introduce themselves, officially, negotiate and pay some dowry, and then ask to go (back) with Caro.
Immediately this was confirmed, Caro, always the Minister of Misinformation, Miscommunication and Broadcasting, told anyone with ears that Saturday 14th was going to be a big day in Mwisho wa Lami. Caro, being Caro, called it her post-wedding day.
Indeed, news that there was going to be a wedding in Mwisho wa Lami spread far and wide. If you remember, the last time there was a proper wedding in Mwisho wa Lami was in 2013, when I walked down the village paths with Fiolina, the laugh of my life. Before then, there had been another fake wedding: between Juma and Madam Ruth. No one remembers that. Everyone remembers mine.
Since then, my father has been calling me almost daily as we plan. Our first task was to identify the elders who would be present. Any person I proposed, my father opposed, and vice versa. He wanted Rasto, while I preferred Alphayo, he wanted Kuya while I wanted Lutta; he wanted Tito, but I proposed Nyayo. I wanted Hitler but he would hear none of that.
Caro and my brother Pius have never been friends, even since Caro told the whole world that Pius was thinking of marrying a second wife. So, Caro went mad when we proposed to invite Pius. She preferred Ford, whose wife, Rumona, is Caro’s bosom friend.
We, therefore, settled on Rasto, Alphayo, Tito, Lutta and Ford. I was appointed the Chief de’ Mission: responsible for overall coordination, introducing our side, writing minutes and treasurer.
I will be travelling to Mwisho wa Lami on Thursday 12th to make Mzee’s home look presentable, and to demand more money. In the meantime, I am reading lots of Chinua Achebe and Elechi Amadi’s novels to improve my dowry negotiation skills.
When everyone else will be struggling this Njaanuary, we will be swimming in money, courtesy of Maskwembe!