This last week was a sad one for me and my family. Very sad. We lost Akinyi. Akinyi is the name Branton had christened my car — the shiny, state-of-the-art, wine red Nissan Unny. The first — and only — car in Mwisho wa Lami. Pride of the family, the school, the clan and the community at large. It was not stolen, nor did it just disappear: I reluctantly sold it to Kimani the scrap man.
You will remember when Kimani came to see the car about two months ago. This was after I realised, or rather was forced to accept, that the more we stayed with the car, the more it lost its value.
But we disagreed with Kimani over his proposed price, which was too low. He basically wanted to fleece me.
Before he left he warned me that the car would soon become an eyesore or a health hazard. He was wrong on eyesore.
No matter how bad a car looked, or whether it was immobile, having a car parked in your home gives one lots of Bonga points in Mwisho wa Lami. For the past few months, my home has always been described as the home with a car, and it is an important landmark when giving directions. That cannot be an eyesore.
But perhaps Kimani was right when he said the car could become a health hazard. You see, Branton has been taking one part after another from the car to go play with. I have tried stopping him but you know boys, they will always be boys.
A few weeks ago, I took a few gunny — let’s just call it the right name, gunias — stitched them together and made a good cover for the car. This did not stop Branton from going to the car to get whatever part he wanted to go play with.
Over a week ago, Branton, while taking care of the cattle, left them to wander and go eat Alphayo’s entire maize plantation.
Alphayo came breathing fire and seeking for compensation. Branton did not return home that evening or night.
We searched and searched for him the whole night. He miraculously reappeared the next morning at 6am.
We would later discover that he had slept in the car. We warned him about it, but this being Branton, most of what you tell him enters through the right ear and exits from the left ear.
Last Saturday, as I was at Hítler’s doing what we always do at Hitler’s, I received a call from Fiolina, the laugh or my life. Fiolina rarely calls me, she always “flashes” me or sends me a “Please call me” message.
“Please come quickly,” she said when I picked. I tried asking her what the matter was, but she just said. “Come before we all die.” From her voice, she was very scared, and I had no option but to get home as quickly as I could. Luckily, Nyayo was there with my motorcycle. He ferried me to my home in a matter of seconds.
“Don’t walk near the Akinyi,” Fiolina shouted from the house. “There is a big snake there!”. I jumped and rushed towards the house. Thank God I was with Nyayo, a man who fears nothing. Even snakes.
“Iko wapi tuuwe saa hii,” he asked excitedly, heading there, bare handed.
“Get something Nyayo,” warned Fiolina. “It is a big python.” Whether in English or in our lovely language, which Fiolina was using, python and snake sound so different, and even Nyayo was now scared. He took a big stick, and I followed him from a distance with a stick as well, but busy looking for the nearest escape route that I could use if the snake appeared.
Nyayo removed the gunny bag and opened the doors, confidently but cautiously, he entered the car, and ransacked everywhere. At that time, Fiolina could not even hold herself together.
“Hakuna nyoka inaweza kaa hapa na petrol inanuka hivi,” declared Nyayo, regretting that he had lost an opportunity to showcase his prowess at killing snakes.
“Basi imehepa,” It slid away, said Fiolina. She even showed a route it had used to go to the banana plantation. Nyayo followed the route but there was nothing. I called a still-scared Branton who narrated to us how he had gone to the car — to hide from work — only to find a big snake resting in the driver’s seat. He could not remember what colour it was, but all he saw was a big snake.
Disappointed, Nyayo left, but asked to be called should the snake be sighted.
“Mimi huwa sichezi na nyoka, ni kutwanga kichwa,” he said.
Even though no snake had been seen, or because of it, Branton and Fiolina were more scared than relieved.
“It could be in the house,” said Fiolina, despite my assurances.
“There is no space a snake can use to enter our house,” I assured her.
“I don’t want this car in this compound,” declared Fiolina. My attempts to convince her otherwise fell on deaf ears.
“Imagine if the snake was there the day Branton slept in the car, we would be talking a different story today.”
My parents, on hearing the snake story, came to my home and joined Fiolina in demanding that I dispose the car.
I had no choice but to call Kimani the scrap metal man. I never mentioned that there was a scare about a snake. He said he had no money at the time and asked that I talk to him later this month. “Ama nichukue na nikulipe mwisho wa mwezi?” he asked.
We haggled and haggled and settled on Sh64,700. For some reason, Kimani wasn’t as hard as he had been the last time. That evening he sent me Sh3,000 via M-Pesa. The next morning, Kimani arrived with his boys, and they lifted the car to the top of his Canter.
I was very sad to see the car leave, as was Branton. Fiolina and my parents were very happy — for they now felt safe.
Happy too was my pocket, for Kimani had given me another Sh32,000 in cash — in crisp new currency notes.
It was the first time I was touching the new currency. I gave Fiolina Sh 2,000 for her use and my parents Sh1,000 to share.
I gave another Sh3,000 to my mother to keep for me. I put Sh1,000 aside and hid the rest — Sh25,000 — at a place in the house where neither Fiolina nor Branton could reach. Or even imagine.
Armed with the Sh1,000, I walked to Hitler’s; ready to mourn the reluctant parting of ways with my beloved car; and to start planning on how I would get the next car! Which I will. Watch this space!
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