My older brother who was a decade my senior, had a collection of unusual stories. In his stories, the humour was found in the irony of life. Once he told a story of a motor mouth character he knew of at the Kisumu bus park. A gifted hustler who could talk the hind legs off a donkey. His stage name was Olago Queen Cake aka Olago Q.C. He could be entertaining but most of his notoriety came from his regular display of crass behaviour. His insults were straight out of the book of an underpaid and overworked cane cutter in Awendo. People avoided a verbal spat with him for the fear of a public humiliation. He was an aggressive man who never passed up an opportunity to get into an argument. Over time, he had built up a reputation as a guy who liked to stir trouble and some came to admire his audacity.
There is a story of a storeyed building that housed a restaurant and lodging facilities that caught fire. The building was engulfed in smoke and good Samaritans in the area rushed in to help put out the fire before the fire brigade arrived. To their utter surprise, they ran into stark naked couples running away from the burning building with bundles of clothes wrapped in their arms.
It was a simple choice between survival and dignity and survival won. All this occurred on a sunny Friday afternoon in Nairobi.
I have been following the debate on Jackline Mwende and Stephen Ngila Thenge with some apprehension. Stephen Ngila was the man accused of chopping off the hands of his wife, Jackline Mwende in spate of rage that shocked the nation in mid-2016. Stephen was charged in court and the case is ongoing.
A week ago, fresh details emerged that pointed an accusing finger at Jackline Mwende, when she announced that she was pregnant with another man’s child. The online tabloids went to town with the story, “She cheated” with good reason, “to save her marriage” and it became a heated topic of discussion on the popular radio breakfast show with Maina and King’ang’i on Classic FM.
They say life begins in the 40s. More like, reality, dawns at 40. The fourth decade of one’s life comes with its own varied bag of expectations for men and women. The first is the realization that youth is gone. You might not look your age but you will certainly feel it or be regularly reminded of it, every time some youth asks a dumb question like, ‘Who is Tina Turner?”
To be single in your forties and without child or spouse is a revolutionary statement for women these days, a far cry from the past when the unmarried older woman had to bear the pitiful title of spinster or an old maid.
In the beginning, I felt invincible. I was part of a duo in our neighbourhood, that the boys at the estate called the ‘untouchables’. They could look but they could not touch. We were army wives, married to soldiers and the kind of men you did not want to cross.
Now, not so much.
I have been counting down days, since the start of the year. My man Bwasa, a KDF sergeant is going to soon be back from Somalia. He said, this would be the mother of all Valentines, when he walked me down the aisle. I had anticipated this day for years but we were unable to settle on a date because Bwasa’s combat mission dates were unpredictable.