I have just discovered I have a very close blood relative here at KU — my step-cousin-in-law. As some of you already know, my cousins from my mother’s side have a step-brother called Tito.
“Do you know that Tito’s wife is also a looking for a degree in that KU university?” my mother asked me a few days before I left home. “When you get there, look for her — she is called Sanglinda.”
I forgot all about the matter when I got to KU as I was engrossed in intensive studies and extensive intellectual discourses. I only remembered the conversation when Mum called last weekend.
She was visiting her people to prepare for my father’s planned visit there. You see, my father never finished paying bride price. After Caro’s husband called to say that he would be visiting us with a few four-leggeds, my uncles from my mother’s side informed my father that he could not receive any bride price for his daughter before he completes paying for his wife.
To avoid such shame, Pius and I raised some money with which we bought two heifers and a bull that Father will be taking to his in-laws later this month.
“Did you meet Sanglinda?” Mother asked when she was with Tito. “You must know each other to avoid something happening between the two of you yet you are relatives,” my mother warned.
I set out to look for Sanglinda. It was not difficult given her unique name. She is only a year behind me and, like me, she studies Kiswahili and religious studies. These are some of the most feared subjects in KU as they are only taken up by academically courageous people.
“I’m happy I have someone who can assist me with studies,” she said after introduction. We were outside KU’s brand new Ultra Post Modern Library — a library so grand and comfortable that even if you are not good at physics, you will understand it very well if you read from there.
She told me that she had a term paper that she needed my help with. We walked to her room in Lukenya Hostels. Unlike the room I share with Wesonga, Sanglinda’s was immaculately clean.
Everything was well arranged and her bed was nicely made with a pink bedcover. I hesitated before I sat on it as I feared dirtying it.
Sanglinda immediately served me juice and biscuits. Although Aunt Albina had brought us juice during her visit, with Wesonga around, the three-litre bottle did not last two days. I enjoyed every drop of the two glasses of juice I took at Sanglinda’s.
After this I went through the term paper but asked for some time to allow the question to “ferment” in my head. By that time, the exam timetable was out and we had just a few days before the tests began.
That evening, besides just revising for my paper, I also spared some time to attempt Sanglinda’s term paper. I was back in her room the following day, with a well-written answer. All that remained was for Sanglinda to type it and add her name. She was so happy she hugged me.
My first paper was on Wednesday morning. I faced it with confidence as I had prepared well. The next exam was on Thursday afternoon and, on Wednesday evening I visited Sanglinda.
Besides the juice, she also prepared spaghetti for supper. That was the second time I ate spaghetti in my life. It was almost midnight when I left her room.
“Will you come tomorrow we revise together?” she asked as we parted at Nyayo Gate. I eagerly agreed. Wesonga asked me where I was spending most of my time, but I did not tell him.
Before I slept, I received an SMS from Sanglinda: “Dre, you are so cool, you remind me of Tito, G9t.”
The following morning I was at Sanglinda’s room. I got there to find breakfast – tea and bread with eggs – ready. We leisurely took breakfast and settled down to read. Like many of the students, she had not revised.
I would be lying to say that we did serious revision. An hour later, we put the books aside and started sharing experiences. Sanglinda kept laughing as I narrated stories of Mwisho wa Lami, and kept saying: “Aki Dre, you are funny.” We were seated on the bed.
Since our papers were beginning at 2 pm, we had enough time to prepare. At noon, Sanglinda said, “Let’s go to KM and buy sukuma and eggs so that I can quickly cook.”
We also bought onions, tomatoes, and ripe bananas and we started walking back to Lukenya. We had just passed Nyayo Gate when we met Wesonga together with other classmates.
“Sema, Dre,” said Wesonga, “siku hizi naona umepanda bei sana.” I introduced Sanglinda to him. We talked a bit, but my mind was on the lunch Sanglinda was going to prepare.
“By the way, ulifanya questions gani?” Wesonga asked.
“Which exam? Ya jana?” I asked. “I always do questions 1, 3 and 5 in all exams.”
“No, exam ya leo,” he said.
“Ya leo si ni ya saa nane?” I replied.
“Dre, wewe kwisha. Si paper ndio hii. Tunatoka exam,” he said, showing me the exam paper. It indeed was the paper I had been preparing for the whole morning.
Thick rivers of sweat started dripping down my face. My legs became very weak when I remembered the consequences of missing a test. It meant that I had fully wasted the session and I would have to repeat the unit, further delaying my graduation.
Instead of sympathising with me, Wesonga was laughing loudly. “Dre, situliandika timetable ya exam pamoja na wewe.”
I checked for the timetable in my wallet and confirmed that the correct timing for the exam. The problem was my inability to turn down Sanglinda’s invitation for breakfast and group revision.
“Wewe Dre kubali kuna mtu ameku-confuse hapa KU,” Wesonga said, looking at Sanglinda, who was a few metres from us. He then laughed loudly. “Dre wachana na mambo ya wanawake, hapa tulikuja kukula kitabu, sio kutafuta bibi.”
I was incensed and told him how we are related with Sanglinda. Wesonga laughed some more. “Hakuna relation kama hiyo,” he answered. “Tunajua. Mbona unaishi Lukenya kila saa? Lakini selection yako naona sio mbaya.”
I could not stand Wesonga and followed Sanglinda to her room. She quickly prepared lunch and left for the exam after we ate. She left me in her room, nursing my troubles.
Once I confirmed she was gone, I took three glasses of highly concentrated juice and biscuits. I added some water in the juice bottle to disguise my actions and slept on her bed.
Even with the bed smelling so nice, sleep did not come easily. I could not believe I would have to repeat the unit. But I am happy to have a close relative in KU.
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