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Another Hammer

Posted on 169 182

I was in Kinangop over the weekend. A two hour and 12 mins drive and everything completely changes, tall buildings fall off and are replaced with open land and pine trees and fresh air. One evening our hostess took us for a walk in the village past small, squat kiosks, a coffin maker polishing some gaudy brass handles, a local bar with a reflector mirror, old trees that bend slightly like old, willowy men with hernias. A bodaboda with “fagia kwako” written on its mudguard tutted past, a young man leaned against an electric pole talking to a lady in a manner that didn’t suggest he was telling her about the time he scored B-plus in Biology. And if he was, he was about to start telling her about the biology topic he likes the most – reproductive health. We passed modest bomas with low, wooden gates that you can jump over if you move ten meters back and run at it. We saw sheep covered in thick wool, a cow that looked like a Fresian cow, one of those black and white ones, trotting back home and stopping to snatch a blade of grass. We later stood by a quarry and watched the the orange glow of sunset. A five year old boy, convinced that I was wearing a superhero watch (because I showed him how my watch can call my phone and count my heartbeat) asked me, “Can your watch slaughter a cow?”

“No,” I laughed.

“Can it change the direction of the wind?” he pursued.

We started back. We passed by a boma, a man stood in front of a wooden house, smoking. I stared at his face; it looked like leather that had been rained on for many days. I didn’t think about him then but later at night I tried to imagine what his life is like, in Kinangop. What are his dreams? How does he spend his days?

I wrote small fragments on my phone of what I imagine his life is like.

Most days he works in his small, modest shamba. He grows vegetables and maize and he also has cows and sheep because this is Kinangop and what kind of a Kinangopian would you be if you didn’t have sheep? He also has a small section of the farm where he grows sunflowers because a visiting pastor told his wife that sunflowers will one day be the cure for cancer. He has one child, a daughter, Njambi who is 12. Next year she will sit her KCPE exams. For now she goes to a local Catholic school, a boarding school. One time this kuyu friend of mine told me how he fled his shags and relocated to Naivasha because his brothers had tried to kill his mom over a land dispute. I was gobsmacked, which is different from being shocked. When you are gobsmacked your eyes pop and you lean back and say, “No shit! No, you are lying!” He had told me that in his shags you can get away with many things, but land? Oh, that will get you killed by your own brother. So perhaps when this leather-faced man stands outside his wooden house, looking at his property he’s thinking, “I will die for this soil. I am this soil.”

His wife works in Nairobi, at Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company. She has short hair and a birthmark on her left cheek. Everybody calls her Mama Njambi. She comes over every Friday. He doesn’t like Nairobi, but not as much as he doesn’t like Nairobians. He says it’s a city full of tricksters and marauding thieves. You can’t trust anybody. You can’t leave your bicycle leaning against a shop if it’s not locked. People are always trying to steal from you or selling you something fake. He has been to Nairobi thrice. The first time to visit his sick uncle at KNH. The second time to see where his wife lives and the last time to go for a burial at Langata Cemetery. He will avoid going to Nairobi if he can.

Mostly he cooks for himself, cleans after himself and sleeps alone in his wooden house from Sunday to Thursday. The house has never quite healed from the absence of that delicate touch of a woman. He doesn’t mind though, because the farm keeps him busy. He rises early, at 5:30am, and prays lying down. It’s dark and cold in his house at that time. At 6:15am, at first light, he emerges from the front door. He’s already dressed in his jacket, the type with a hoodie that he never uses because only young people use hoodies. He’s 35-years old and wears a hat like a proper Kinangopian; an old trucker cap written “Ancient Mariner.” That hat smells of all sorts of things; of the sun, wind, rain, hair, dreams, groundnuts in their shells (because sometimes he uses it to carry some).

He emerges from the small tools shed with a silver milking bucket, walks to the cowshed where he sets it on the ground and stops to light a cigarette. He then slaps the cow’s thigh in greeting like a Kinangopian and sits on a stool whereupon he embarks upon the daily task of milking, his cigarette burning from his lips. The cow knows the smell of his cigarette. The cow knows his smell. The milk foams in the bucket. He untethers the cow and it wanders down the slope to search for food. He then opens for the sheep and goats and chicken. He makes tea with some of the fresh milk and drinks it, sugarless, out of a metallic cup, seated outside his house. He’s 5’ 8”, 59 kgs, healthy as his cow. The last time he ate potato chips was six years ago at a wedding. Luckily for him he will die not knowing how pizza tastes like. His only unhealthy pleasure is beer. While he sits there, a villager cycling past will shout a hello and ask him something and he will say, “eee…..acaa!”

He has one brother, whom he doesn’t get along with. He lives in Nakuru and he thinks he knows everything and is always trying to boss everybody around. He spends more time keeping his beard than he spends in shags. He built a big stone house that he doesn’t live in. When he shows up in shags in his big motor vehicle he acts like he knows what’s best for their mother yet he’s not the one who is here, who checks up on her and who knows that her fence needs to be fixed. His wife doesn’t talk to anybody. She’s always holding his elbow, following him around in her wrong shoes; “baby this, baby that”. You speak to her in Kikuyu and she replies in English. He asked him one day, “Kai mutumia uyu waku ata thomithirio kwaria Gikuyu?” and he retorted in a hiss, “Chunga mbuzi zako na uachane na bibi yangu, Nelson.” She mostly doesn’t eat and when she does she wants a fork, not a spoon. She carries her own food that cracks like thunder when you bite it. It’s called crisps or crips or cips. One day his brother had to drive all the way to Engineer (that’s a place) to look for tomato sauce for her. She’s always squeezing a liquid in her hands when she’s around as if she might catch something worse than stupidity.

After tea Nelson will wash his face and brush his teeth. Then he will boil the milk and as it cools, he will do a little farm work. Digging here, cutting there, cleaning there, scraping and shovelling and wiping his brow with the back of his hand. He will do all these shoeless, wearing trousers with one leg torn to the knee. At 11am he will carry water into the outside bathroom and take a bath using a Panga bar soap.

He is not a man who cares too much about his clothing, but lately he has taken to choosing what he wears more keenly. He even applies lotion. He will put on a fresh pair of trousers with a clean shirt, complete with his cap on his head. He will then pour the milk into a jerrican and set off to the shopping center where he will deliver the milk to Mwaura’s shop. This might sound like village gossip but Mwaura was kicked out of the church recently because he insulted the pastor. He called him “satan with chest hair.” It might not sound bad in english but in Kyuk it’s horrible. The pastor attracted his ire because he has a debt in his shop totaling almost Sh4,000 and he kept quoting the Bible whenever he asked for his money. His wife assured him that God would pay and he waited, not for 40 days, but for four months but God never paid. And there was no way he would ask Him when he would pay. So one day he confronted him after the service and told him he was satan with chest hair. Satan took such offense.

Through the wire mesh he will engage in small talk with Mwaura; the price of milk, the cost of selling potatoes in Kilgoris, this new fertilizer that costs half but does more, whose cow started coughing and died suddenly. He grew up with Mwaura, went to the same school and dropped out a year after him; in form 2. School fees. Like everybody else who dropped out, he got into business; buying and selling and failing and then buying something else and selling and failing and buying something else and selling and failing. Years rolled by and he learnt and grew a thick skin, and then suddenly he found something that could make a profit of 15K a month and he found better ways of doing it and it grew to 25k and then he slowly built a place of his own on land that his father gave him. He never attended Centonomy, but he knew the value of money and he grew his little money because he never saw his money as little.

With some little money in his pocket and a little confidence in his bones, he married the first girl from across the hill who took a liking for him, and they got a child. Life was good until she left for the city of tricksters and men of loose morals. He had to re-learn to cook again but mostly he made tea and slept but if he had to eat something homely he simply boiled beans and maize and also threw into the pot everything that grew on land and couldn’t kill man.

He lights a cigarette and smokes. Mwaura watches him keenly from behind the counter. Mwaura asks him if he’s on his way to Engineer, a shopping center 6 kms away because lately he seems to hang around there a lot. This might also sound like village gossip but word is that he fancies a girl who works in a hardware shop there. A few months ago the lady showed up in the only wholesale shop in Engineer, owned by the local MCA. She’s Gathoni, the MCA’s cousin. She’s the colour of imported oranges and has thick legs. She doesn’t talk to people much and the MCA doesn’t encourage people hanging around his shop. Gathoni has a small son, a toddler. She was married to a mad man in Nairobi whom she ran away from because he was violent and he smoked bangi like all Nairobi trickster men. Lore is that he owned and drove a matatu. The MCA had rescued her from this crazy Nairobi man and brought her to Kinangop to cool her heels. How does he know all this? Because nothing happens in the village that nobody doesn’t know. So, yes, everybody knows Gathoni but Gathoni doesn’t know anyone. She’s always on her phone when not selling, speaking words of English and that corrupted Kiswahili that Nairobians speak.

He likes her and this surprises him because girls have never been something that occupied his mind. It has always been the farm and the fam. Now he lies in his darkened house at night imagining what Gathoni might be doing. Her scent lingers on the hammer she handed to him. He prayed about it, because this is obviously the work of the devil. He’s a simple man, he hates complications. If anything, he stands no chance with her because he knows he would be punching above his weight because Gathoni is sophisticated; she has a nice phone and sometimes she speaks in English on the phone. He also knows that should his wife found out, she will pack and leave. It will be easy for her to pack given that most of her clothes are in Nairobi. Yet, here he is, besieged by emotions.

He got married to the first woman he knew and so he never developed the language muscle to speak to any other women. He knows the language of farm animals and of his drinking friends and of his daughter and village children and of the other church members but he doesn’t know the language of seduction. So whenever he goes to the hardware shop and he smells her from across the counter, he gets so confused that he ends up buying another hammer. Or turpentine or pliers. Things he doesn’t need. He’s throwing good money at a bad problem.

One time his wife came back from Nairobi, she asked, “Are you planning on building something?” He said “No, why?” “Because you have bought so many nails,” she said. He shrugged because he’s a man and in his village men don’t have to explain anything to their wives unless they feel the need to. A shrug is always a good answer. Truth is he has had plans to expand the hen coop but he’s never been a hurry because he’s not a big fan of hens as he is of other farm animals. Hens are nosy. So he’s always eating them. But what his wife hadn’t seen were the rolls of sandpaper that he will never use. Unless to sandpaper his conscience.

The rainy season comes and he plods around in his old gumboots. One of his sheep dies and the local vet comes and injects all the other sheep. He mends his leaking roof. He buys a new woolen hat from a hawker in his local. His mum falls sick and goes to live with his brother in Nakuru. He takes his phone to charge at Mwaura’s and they talk about his mother’s arthritis and bladder problems. The rainy season ends. His mother gets better and begs to come back because she can’t stand sitting in the house the whole day watching TV and eating strange food. He doesn’t see Gathoni, but he thinks of her and when he thinks of her he thinks of her as a temptation from the Lord. In church the pastor preaches about gratification and fulfilment and that night, in bed, his wife asks him what he thought about the word of that day – to mean is he content and fulfilled – and he keeps quiet for a while and says, “I wish you would come back.” And she says nothing. They lie like that in silence, then she finally reaches out and finds his hand in the dark and she squeezes it.

169 Responses
  • Yarn
    20.11.2018

    God this piece is beautiful 🙂

    13
    • Stella
      20.11.2018

      You can say that again. The simplicity of life, the fulfillment. The possibility of being content with the bare. To appreciate open spaces, clear minds, no expectations, no pressures.

      14
    • gladys
      21.11.2018

      Imagine Nelson falling for Gathoni the guilt and the regrets……… is the wife going through the ‘temptations’ too? Is Gathoni over her abusive Nairobi husband or still waiting for him to change? What a narrative Biko nice one !

      6
    • Kate Mpishi
      24.11.2018

      Yes… Gathering is trouble. That’s all she is. Keeping it simple. Nice!

  • Edlevice
    20.11.2018

    “as if she might catch something worse than stupidity.” hahaha

    35
  • Wandia
    20.11.2018

    Why does this story feel unfinished?

    65
    • Mark
      20.11.2018

      I know, right?
      Biko anatuchezea.

      11
    • SilvanoOnline
      20.11.2018

      Suspense maybe? When reading the story I could literally smell Nelson.

      6
    • Moses Sila
      20.11.2018

      Wandia . My sentiments too

      1
    • Stella
      20.11.2018

      Maybe it is about taking it all in one breath. Just being content and not expecting much.

      3
    • Mical
      20.11.2018

      I knoooow!

      I’m here trying to imagine if the wife will relocate back home or will Nelson finally talk to Gathoni and have her as his second wife? Too much suspense

      1
    • Rita
      20.11.2018

      I feel exactly the same. Something is not happening in the land of Bikozulu.

      4
    • Gladys
      21.11.2018

      That is what i thought too.

  • Winnie Muchiri
    20.11.2018

    “Ngoma ína njwírí cia gíthuri”
    EPIC

    50
    • Muchoki wa Wangarì
      20.11.2018

      Aca. “Ngoma ì na nderu gìthùri”.

      24
      • Sam
        24.11.2018

        You nailed it, buddy.

        1
  • G boy
    20.11.2018

    The first feeling sounds like Gathoni in his mind.

    1
  • S. Njagi
    20.11.2018

    As a matter of fact, most of folks from the village have never (or perhaps will never) taste pizza in their lives.
    On the other hand, the simplicity of village life is unthinkable.

    5
  • Bumble Bee
    20.11.2018

    Nelson likes a girl, hihihihi

    Don’t we all just hate pastors who throw the Bible at real life neglections? Who said only a foolish god would appear to a hungry people in form other than bread?

    Someone who would make you go 6kms for tomato sauce? It says more about your character than there’s . if it is really that serious, then I would just give them directions to quench their wants!
    Us nairobians on our high horses thinking we know what’s best for everyone back in the village when we only visit once every year! Smh!

    I think Nelson deserves a wife whom he will stay up thinking about all night, or who will make him keep smelling his harmer for just a hint of her scents. Like us girls do when we steal your hoodies. (if y’all were wondering what we do with your hoodies, that’s it. We smell them and bask in that glorious scent that smells like reckless adventure and sweet dreams).

    33
    • Marmanet
      20.11.2018

      At last what happened To the prisoners of war(hoodies) is explained

      2
    • cnjeri
      20.11.2018

      True, though these are all in Biko’s imagination.

      1
  • Quest
    20.11.2018

    “She’s always squeezing a liquid in her hands when she’s around as if she might catch something worse than stupidity.” Trust the divas to pull this move

    12
  • Brand Lubian
    20.11.2018

    I had missed this kind of writing, welcome back Biko!!

    8
    • Stella
      20.11.2018

      Reminds me of “This is Nyanza” piece from 2013. Original Biko.

      4
  • kate kagiri
    20.11.2018

    Never disappointing……this really made me miss me growing up in shags. The fresh air on a chilly morning and a hot cup of sugarless tea with nduma

    3
  • Maiki
    20.11.2018

    Now this is the kind of writing that first got me hooked to this blog. You haven’t written such a piece in quite a long time.

    14
  • Mark
    20.11.2018

    I don’t have much to say today.
    I’m just here waiting for part 2.

    14
  • Bittok
    20.11.2018

    I have missed this too….Thanks Biko

    2
  • Judd
    20.11.2018

    Such a great read…very intresting

  • Chambers
    20.11.2018

    Like really Biko!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2
  • Wesh - Peter Wesh
    20.11.2018

    People talk of city life as a bad thing. It is not. Not when you compare it to the gossipy-cum-nosy havens that are villages. You arrive at home at 12 pm and at 6 am someone will show up “just to greet you”. Of course they want to be the first to get a ka-fifty for tea. And they will be the first ones to spread the word. Everybody that knows you or your family will come to say shake your flimsy Nyairofi hand.

    Everybody knows everybody. They all know what is happening in every Thome. Hell, even if you fart loud enough in the sunset the guy you barely speak to who lives a ridge away will know about it in the morning. If that man touched Gathoni’s hair it would be the gossip for the new week. And they will condemn it in church.

    I find that exhausting.

    25
    • P. K.
      20.11.2018

      Mla nawe hafi nawe ila mzaliwa nawe. East or west home is best. Kujuliana hali name it… This is called life. Hustle (a dirty word by the way) is not life, I wish I could permanently move to shags. Visit City like once every 5 months. Oh am making great strides towards it too. The fresh air, the fresh food (not fake/nay strange food) the easy camaraderie of neighbours and the shared responsibility of the community.

      In 2 words: to each their own!!

      9
    • Wanjiru
      20.11.2018

      Nelson could be excommunicated for thinking about Gathoni…

      1
    • Mwachaka
      21.11.2018

      I cant agree more. two years ago I moved from the city to a village setting outside Nairobi. The air is clean, its quiet and food is cheap and easy to come by…. Buut, village folk can stare. They can really stare and gossip (loudly). Everyone wants to know who that new bespectacled guy in a suit is and what he does. I miss being able to do my own thing in the city….. Oh, and the shops close up early, so you better not forget to buy salt or a matchbox when you come home from work, or else.

      4
  • clif the tall
    20.11.2018

    Because nothing happens in the village that nobody doesn’t know.
    Truth!!! Excellent read.

    4
    • Kim
      20.11.2018

      Tall, your comment is short today 😉

      2
  • Eunice
    20.11.2018

    Now please go talk with Nelson and tell us his real story. But your imagination Biko, I bet your version is more interesting.
    Good read as always.

    1
  • Wangechi
    20.11.2018

    Is there a continuation to this?

  • Wyclif
    20.11.2018

    “Nelson chunga mbuzi zako achana na bibi yangu” haha
    nice one

    5
  • juliet minayo
    20.11.2018

    Wow i just love your writing. Have read everything so far in your blog and read others more than twice. Love you Biko and your writing

    2
  • evelyn
    20.11.2018

    The amount of gossip here..whew! hehehe

    1
  • Molly
    20.11.2018

    Gobsmacked!OK now Satan with chest hair made my day .

    1
  • Kimani
    20.11.2018

    “satan with chest hair.” hehehe.
    There was a tale of a man with a beard on his chest when I was growing up. The man was called Waigoko. So Mwaura called the pastor: Waigoki caitani.

    10
    • Ntinyari
      20.11.2018

      hehe…I was wondering how satan with chest hair sounds in Kikuyu. Now i know.

      2
  • Bundipat
    20.11.2018

    biko,you saw this man outside his house and you created all this(his life) inside your head? Osorait

    10
    • luseka
      20.11.2018

      Reminds me of ‘Alley Tales’, a blog post from Biko when he was still using wordpress. About a bloke called Mark, a reluctant girl and some hungry alley cats. He thought up a story from an incident that took place in 4 seconds!!

      3
  • Molla
    20.11.2018

    Beautiful fairy tale..

    1
  • saM
    20.11.2018

    She’s the colour of imported oranges and has thick legs…..mine also!!!!!!!!!

    4
  • Maureen
    20.11.2018

    She squeezes it and then? Biko seriously, don’t leave me hanging like that?

    4
  • Githinji Mwaniki
    20.11.2018

    Feels like a random stolen chapter in a book. Is it a test chapter??

    1
  • abdullah omar
    20.11.2018

    what the hammer of a story!

    3
  • Dorothy
    20.11.2018

    I like…especially the “it might sound like gossip” part…

    1
  • Munyambu
    20.11.2018

    Biko, where is the other part of this story?

    1
  • Diki
    20.11.2018

    Now I’m also thinking about Gathoni.

    1
  • Chebet
    20.11.2018

    satan with chest hair. hahahaa

    4
    • Kent
      21.11.2018

      “She’s always squeezing a liquid in her hands when she’s around as if she might catch something worse than stupidity”
      Hahahahaha… Very nice piece… Am waiting for the next episode Biko

  • abdullah omar
    20.11.2018

    They lie like that in silence, then she finally reaches out and finds his hand in the dark and she squeezes it. and this time it wasnt stupidity she was squeezing!

    4
  • kennedy Okong'o
    20.11.2018

    Kinangofuu……..hats how they call it

    2
    • Kimani
      20.11.2018

      By the way Ken you will be shocked to know there is no “f” in kikuyu. We use “b” instead. So it is is “kinangobu”. wierd? hahaha

      4
  • Marmanet
    20.11.2018

    He then opens for the

    1
  • Kerubo
    20.11.2018

    I feel that Nelson deserves more. I actually wouldn’t mind if he somehow managed to convince Gathoni that she’ll be good for him and that they’ll be good together. But I doubt that Gathoni will survive living on a farm all year round. Sigh!!

    3
  • Peter Mwangi
    20.11.2018

    Beautiful.. very well written. My mind travelled to the village and I visualized the characters in your story Biko. I could almost smell the crisp Kinangop air. Keep them coming 🙂

    2
  • Tshiku
    20.11.2018

    Biko, nice read though i think it’s unfinished

    1
  • Mungai Paul
    20.11.2018

    “Satan with chest hair” in kikuyu is funny. Made me laugh awkwardly in a matatu full of people.

    2
  • Mukiri
    20.11.2018

    This is interesting because the story talks about a place I know so well, Kinangop and Engineer to specific. That place is home, and reading such makes me smell the warmth that comes with goats, and the cows that fight.
    Ngoma ina njuiri githuri. Stopper.

    4
    • ben
      21.11.2018

      fighting cows…ha ha

  • Michael
    20.11.2018

    This story is unfinished

    1
  • Mimi
    20.11.2018

    …but if he had to eat something homely he simply boiled beans and maize and also threw into the pot everything that grew on land and couldn’t kill man.

    You forgot mentioning the soup though

    3
    • Wanjiru
      20.11.2018

      This got me laughing so hard, I know that kind of cooking…

  • Michael
    20.11.2018

    Could (t)his hammer be a metaphor for something else, Biko??

    3
  • Evelyn Maina
    20.11.2018

    The amount of gossip in here. hehehe. Lovely piece

    3
  • Jay
    20.11.2018

    This gave me so many memories of my childhood and how my mum would haul my siblings and I off to ocha the second schools closed and how beautiful it was to experience that change in scenery, rolls upon rolls of green land, that wave of fresh, cool morning air, the clucking of the chicken, the almost-always-smoke-filled kitchen; things so natural and occurring with such ease yet quite hard to come by in the city of tricksters and marauders.

    Thank you Biko, for the throwback, and for your imagination.

    2
  • P. K.
    20.11.2018

    Random thought: So this past week I heard 1 ejaculation depletes all the zink in a man. If you eat right, it takes 3 days to refill. Wanna venture there and get all the facts chocolate man?

    2
  • P. K.
    20.11.2018

    Mills & Boon ala Biko..

    1
  • Isz
    20.11.2018

    I love this piece… resonates with alot of things I know….ION ..Last Wednesday I was on my way back from Mihuti Court off Dennis Pritt Road. Right at the State House Gate A zigzag I saw this guy in a silver car, won’t mention which type, lest am right, he had a fitting bright pink shirt on, glasses and a profound forehead….

    This must be what Niko looks like.

    I await confirmation.

    1
    • Isz
      20.11.2018

      Biko* looks like…..

  • Nyambura
    20.11.2018

    I love this piece Biko. I have relatives in Kinangop so this was a very visual piece for me…*sigh*.. I should definitely visit Kinangop soon.

    Waiting for part 2.

  • Sam
    20.11.2018

    “…and he grew his little money because he never saw his money as little. ”

    2
  • cnjeri
    20.11.2018

    Oh, I thought these little fragments of what you imagine a man’s life is like were just a diversion from the main story! I guess it’s as good a lesson as any to appreciate the small story too. Thank you

  • Barbs
    20.11.2018

    Powerful imagination

  • Malaika
    20.11.2018

    Anything to see or spend time with a crush. They haunt you these crushes, you pray that these feelings go away, but your mind is just set on pining for them, you daydream, you check them out. You probably know every inch of there face better than they do.

    Part 2 Biko..

    1
  • Gillyi
    20.11.2018

    what is the moral of this story?

    1
  • cnjeri
    20.11.2018

    ‘eee … aaca’ is kinda contradictory though

    • Muchoki wa Wangarì
      20.11.2018

      No, no. It’s perfectly in order. The ‘eee…’ is hesitation and not a yes. Elders will respond that way, to mean the question being asked is a no brainer.

  • kavutha
    20.11.2018

    she should trully go back,,,,,the guy is lonely

  • Wawira
    20.11.2018

    I always learn something from Biko’s stories (except the previous one by Mike, which I didn’t finish reading) but from this one, honestly I dint get the moral of the story. If anyone did, kindly tell me.

    1
  • The shags stores are fascinating, absolutely enthralling.
    Maybe it’s the slow pace of everything, the deep accents with a rhythm to them, the greenery, fresh air, the hyperbole in the lengthy yarns people spin when making a point, the tasty traditional foods slowly cooked in clay pots over the fire, and the way relatives fawn over the visiting Nairobians.

    Nairobae on the other hand? Firstly, the traffic. One may leave the house in a good mood but by the time you’ve arrived at the destination, you will be in a foul mood. The bumper to bumper, crossing over into another’s lanes, and profound absence of road courtesy..hapana.
    Additionally, the mix of mathrees, lorries and buses shamelessly belching out grey or is it black fumes in that traffic one is stuck in…is choking, and suffocating. Nairobi’s air quality is almost as bad as that of Beijing..the air is highly polluted.
    The hustling additionally can be much, especially when one is dishonest and takes shortcuts that will be harmful to their fellow man. (I’m referring to those quacks who will buy certificates and boldly act like doctors; begin to dispenser medicine and perform surgery…awouro!)

    2
  • veeh
    20.11.2018

    This story is beautiful…in its own unique way.

    1
  • Ndeto Zetu
    20.11.2018

    Finally Biko finally. This is what had been missing from your blog. A tale from Kinangop does to blogs what that dash of salt and vinegar does to salad. For more about Kinangop hakuhî na Engineer read.
    http://ndetozetu.com/about-me/

  • Wa Kariuki
    20.11.2018

    Man, this is good…

  • GS
    20.11.2018

    A villager cycling past will shout a hello and ask him something and he will say, “eee…..acaa.

    Have I laughed!

    1
  • Magdalyn
    20.11.2018

    Its a beautiful story,good description of Kinagop. Am waiting for part two, the much sand paper, hammers and turpentine.

  • Lyn
    20.11.2018

    Why does she squeeze his hand? Does she have something she’s hiding?

  • Eunice
    20.11.2018

    Good read. Now you are back from NYC.
    Lakini kuna cont…….?

  • Muchoki wa Wangarì
    20.11.2018

    Biko has clearly picked up the mantle from where sages like Sam Kahiga and Meja Mwangi left off. He knows the secret of becoming a bore is telling everything. Leaving space for reader imagination is an ingredient in his stylish prose that keeps bringing us back.

    2
  • David Okware
    20.11.2018

    I laughed out loud at “Satan with chest hair”. For some reason, the image was so vivid. May we all find someone to confuse us enough to stock up on tools we don’t need.

    1
  • Leshan
    20.11.2018

    Well, I could help leather-faced man to know how much Potatoes sell in Kilgoris…
    Great piece as always

  • kentie
    20.11.2018

    You nailed it Biko.

  • Joyce
    20.11.2018

    This is the effect of the direct flight to JFK and not meeting Toni Braxton…am still waiting to complete this story and see if the chicken pen is expanded, or Gathoni notices Him…..

    1
  • Candivore
    20.11.2018

    The whole time i read this post it felt like a pacesetter story book those we read in high school that had the kind of theme of Half a Yellow Sun had only they were written by Ngugi Wa Thiongo or some other Kenyan write ( forgive me)
    Even the Nairobi being talked about i don’t know it… it sounds like the part of Nairobi that was left back in 1974

  • Kev
    20.11.2018

    I just came from Kinagofu without traveling, Si hio ni kirimino?

  • Irene
    20.11.2018

    The wife ‘not going to happen’

  • Muhaari
    20.11.2018

    Beautifully written

  • Simplicity
    20.11.2018

    So whenever he goes to the hardware shop and he smells her from across the counter, he gets so confused that he ends up buying another hammer. Or turpentine or pliers. Things he doesn’t need. He’s throwing good money at a bad problem.

    lol! caitani wina njuiri cia githuri is making him buy all the hammers…..

    3
  • Wilma
    20.11.2018

    This was beautiful. You need more of these.

  • JOY THIAKA
    20.11.2018

    Hey, if you have never put all your ingredients in one pot to make a meal, you are not certified yet. Go back in the kitchen and make sure your ancestors know you are one with them!

    All this while, reading it… I’m like..Can’t believe how beautiful of a make believe this man’s life is!!!

    Nice work, Biko!

    • JOY THIAKA
      20.11.2018

      I meant, if you’re kyuk and you haven’t put all your ingredients in one pot to make a meal, you’re yet to be certified!!!!!

      4
  • 10 seconds
    20.11.2018

    The Biko of the 3 am man and let’s burry akikuyu is back. But here the hammer didn’t smash or theres no end to this story

  • Susan
    20.11.2018

    Great!
    My evening is made.

  • Sonnie
    20.11.2018

    Part 2 please… Gathoni needs to fall in love with this kinangopian…

  • Ruth
    20.11.2018

    Beautiful just the way it is.

  • Miss K
    20.11.2018

    Beautiful piece!

    Biko, by any chance is this an excerpt from your second book? Please let us know!

  • Jenipher Akinyi
    20.11.2018

    I love it Biko. Patiently waiting for Part 2. . …alafu it has been a while since you dropped 40’s people stories, I crave them yo!!!!

    1
  • dr. caymil
    20.11.2018

    the great hiils of engineer, turasha and njambini. and the trusty old bus serving that route – passport- also the famous kwa ngothi hospital.(my former workstation)

  • Mwangi Mark
    20.11.2018

    Poor Nelson, he doesn’t know the language of seduction.

  • Catie Njeri
    21.11.2018

    Shags life is nicely simple.

  • Earthman
    21.11.2018

    Wish I could describe people and nature the way you do. I love the simplicity of life in this piece. But village life is tough!

  • Chege
    21.11.2018

    He then slaps the cow’s thigh in greeting like a Kinangopian and sits on a stool whereupon he embarks upon the daily task of milking, his cigarette burning from his lips. 😀

    And we don’t have groundnuts in Kinangop, or do we?

  • Nyambura Kagwe
    21.11.2018

    I want more.I want to hear if Nelson finally gathers the courage to talk to Gathoni. How I love love stories with happy endings!

    1
  • Anjichi David
    21.11.2018

    Eish… this man does exist. Biko you just created him right!

  • Ohingo
    21.11.2018

    I actually have visualized everything-the leather faced Nelson, the cow he slaps in “greetings” which then wonders down the slope in search of food, the cycling passing neighbour to whom he answers “eee…aca”, -to the uninitiated, this literally means “hmmh…no”…meaning he was looking for the appropriate rejoinder to revert to his passing friend…the answer being No to whatever the neighbour was inquiring…and finally I am trying to visualize how aesthetically different his wife is from Gathoni the village “slay queen”…..and did she finally “man eat” Mr Leather Face??…

    1
  • Carol
    21.11.2018

    I have struggled so much reading this piece…Just skipped so many bits and pieces.

    1
  • TheLOOP
    21.11.2018

    I taught at GIT I got enchanted by Zippie’s beauty and ended up buying my own sort of hammers and nails and sandpapers. My wife and I had to go our separate ways shortly thereafter. Then I lost my job and got yoked unequally with a couple of losers. Now we are hosting HIV in our house.

    I keep seeing these thick imported oranges and lust after them well aware of the fact that most are GMOs and totally non-WYSIWYG. Usually loathed at the first bite. Costing a fortune and leaving in their wake a trail of eternal regrets, and if you are unlucky, a terminal illness too.

    Most of the time I got rained on the rain always started beating me up right there…on that very familiar slippery slope.
    O wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of this body of death?

    3
    • Muchoki wa Wangarì
      26.11.2018

      The Loop, You got it all nicely wrapped up. That’s a perfect summary!

  • Liz Njau
    21.11.2018

    The convo must have gone like this..

    Villager: Wi mwega Nelson?

    Nelson: eeee..

    Villager: Ni urathie Engineer umuthi?

    Nelson: Acaa..

  • Wanja
    21.11.2018

    ‘She’s always squeezing a liquid in her hands when she’s around as if she might catch something worse than stupidity’…i love this piece .hilarious

  • Kariuki
    21.11.2018

    I swear This piece too sounds like Village gossip .

  • Muguima
    21.11.2018

    True about Kinangop. There is nothing great as riding from Nakuru to Ol Kalao, Miharati, Mawingo, Ndunyu Njeru, Engineer, Njabini and exit to Fly over. What with the Aberdare ranges domineering in the background, taking different shape as you move along it. Great place. Miss it.

    1
  • wambu
    21.11.2018

    love wins in the end….

  • Solomon
    21.11.2018

    The Kinangopian finally nailed Gathoni……That ending is dope!

  • Sare
    21.11.2018

    No, I don’t want a part two, this is a perfect ending, let me be left alone to imagine what could have happened betwen Nelson and his wife, Nelson and Gathoni, Nelson and his brother, Nelson and his sister in law,

    1
  • Mathew
    21.11.2018

    He’s throwing good money at a bad problem

  • Tele
    21.11.2018

    This sounds like village gossip

    1
  • Kioi
    22.11.2018

    Awesome read I wonder how real Nelson is coz you can’t find a 35yr old at shags holding the forte as his wife works in Nairobi.

  • Emmanuel Taracha
    22.11.2018

    He doesn’t see Gathoni, but he thinks of her and when he thinks of her he thinks of her as a temptation from the Lord. In church the pastor preaches about gratification and fulfilment and that night, in bed, his wife asks him what he thought about the word of that day – to mean is he content and fulfilled – and he keeps quiet for a while and says, “I wish you would come back.” And she says nothing. They lie like that in silence, then she finally reaches out and finds his hand in the dark and she squeezes it. ONLY BIKO – THE LIVING LEGEND – CAN WRITE LIKE THIS.DEEP!

  • Mugo
    22.11.2018

    He is a great writer. Incredible.

  • Kimemia
    22.11.2018

    Very nice Biko. Very nice indeed.

  • Muchoki wa Wangarì
    22.11.2018

    Kinangop’s beauty sprawls across kipipiri and wanjohi, originating from magumu and the now fading ‘flyover’, sprinkling on it’s path the greenery of fertile lands and lush pastures. The infamous white settlers, unable to keep their roving eyes and loving hands from Kinangop’s unadulterated innocence and benevolence, a seemingly endless source of milk and honey, renamed it ‘The Happy Valley’.
    Capture more of this from ‘White Mischief’. A movie that tells almost the ‘whole story’.

  • Bee
    22.11.2018

    Biko which town did you stay in?? Am going to find Nelson n know the real story

    • Lydia
      23.11.2018

      So well woven……

  • Louis Wamukoya
    22.11.2018

    Thanks for reminding us of a simple, serene life, away from the city. Nice piece.

  • Salome Caroline Gachiku Wandui
    22.11.2018

    “She’s always squeezing a liquid in her hands when she’s around as if she might catch something worse than stupidity”
    This part made me laugh out loud in the office… the reading is soft and real for most of us who grew up in shagz. Good work Biko.

  • Sami
    22.11.2018

    How could you end it in such a manner, I am craving for more. Hope part 2 is coming.

  • Lena
    22.11.2018

    For the love of gossip.

  • Carol Ohonde
    22.11.2018

    There’s an artist called Erosh (hope that is the spelling) who should read about Gathoni lol!

  • Muchoki wa Wangarì
    22.11.2018

    As my name suggests, I keep coming back to this blog if only to locate Biko’s rendezvous. Within a 6km radius of Engineer town, was he perhaps at Kinja, westwards or perhaps Tulaga in the east? Either way, how did he miss out the presence of mules and their minders who give them female names regardless of their sex? I mean herders calling out to mules which are evidently male “wee Jane Mary tig’orimu”. And more recently, “ehera hau Samantha!” Well, my fair guess will be ‘as sexless as a mule’.

  • Njeri
    23.11.2018

    Doesn’t seem like a couple who could squeeze hands in between sheets. Naaah..

  • wa maina
    23.11.2018

    very funny …suspence nayo …There no groundnut in kinangobu

  • Julie
    23.11.2018

    Loved this piece! Every bit of it. Ive laughed, re-lived my days in shags and that ending? Beautiful article

  • Kamau
    24.11.2018

    Hehehe, Biko you have painted a clear picture of a typical Kinangofu homestead. The way you talk is like you belong there, hehe; you know everything. That insult to the pastor and Nelson’s food have left me in stitches…did you just say he throws everything that grows on land to cook in his pot?
    By the way do you laugh when you are writing your stories…

  • Chris
    25.11.2018

    Bwana Biko, you have an avid fan here with roots in Kinangop. And yes, you cannot live in Kinangop and not have Merino sheep. Oh, and I agree with you, hens really are nosy. That’s why I’m always eating them too!

  • Sir Elvis Mayaka
    26.11.2018

    The suspense… is their a part 2..

  • Paul Njeule
    26.11.2018

    The little boy with his hilarious questions. Power of imagination. Great piece!

  • Ian
    26.11.2018

    Biko, I wonder what that story tells you about you.

  • Sos
    26.11.2018

    This proves it, no matter how simple or strong our morals are, we (humans) will always need something new to try and reach Gathoni is but one perspective, they are limitless.

    1
  • Muchoki wa Wangarì
    26.11.2018

    Biko, something’s not right with the “like” icon. Mostly not active. There’s lots of posts I’d like to appreciate on this blog but cannot.

    1
  • D.F
    27.11.2018

    Great read,as always Biko.
    Now,I have been doing some catching up on your Man-talk articles(don’t really get around to buying the paper on weekends, so I miss out on most of them.) Excellent and very interesting content there.I was even starting to feel a bit jealous of the man-talk readership. Really wanted to comment on some stories also; like the Amazon shoes one (absolutely hilarious) , how on earth you’d choose Arsenal over Man United under whatever circumstances (rolls eyes), why men shouldn’t move into women’s houses(so relatable) but it was just too much work. Plus also,who would I be talking to? So I thought,why not katia NMG to allow you to have a ka-section on your website for ‘archiving’ man-talk articles,maybe even your BD interviews? I’m sure some of the gang would be happy to read them also. I hope it is possible:)

    1
  • Pascal
    27.11.2018

    Nice piece Biko i’ve been born and breed in that small town called Engineer…that’s exactly the life we had growing up..I could see everything as you wrote it,,I could actually smell the fresh air

  • Beth
    27.11.2018

    This is beautiful. And how am I envious of Nelson’s life….so simple.

  • val
    27.11.2018

    ‘I wish you could come back’
    Simply beautiful

  • Edna Nafula
    27.11.2018

    This is different yet so captivating. How simple normal village life is, the villagers going about life totally oblivious of the noise, chaos and stress we have created in our Nairobian lives. Feels like there’s a part 2 of this story loading…. 🙂

  • Rits
    27.11.2018

    Good read.I envy this kind of life .Makes me want to relocate to some remote shags ,and escape this depressing Urban life…Gaad !!mybe this is what i need ,a small shamba ,few chicken ,goats ,a cat and a dog,Escape the pressure that society in modern life creates ,the internet being “Mama yao”.then maybe life will have a meaning…

  • Mabbz
    28.11.2018

    That squeezing of the hand means ‘just leave well enough alone’:

    She has an entirely different life in the city, with another man in similar circumstances, that is, with a wife back home tending to the farm and children, who dislikes the city. The arrangement works and both don’t ask more of each other than the companionship and regular communion in between the sheets.

    He sometimes, well mostly takes care of the bills and minor repairs in her house, room actually. She saves, diligently, because her husband doesn’t require her to send any money home. None of that dirty city money is good for him; besides how would society view him if Word got out that his woman is toiling in the city for their sustenance?

    She saves because she knows deep in her heart that one day, in a few years when her daughter has finished form four she will probably leave him, leave their little town where she would be the talk of town as the harlot who abandoned a good man because of evil persuasions from the big bad city.

    Quick, well mostly frequent, mental calculations tell her that she already has enough to set herself up in Kangemi, perhaps even set up a tiny vegetable stand or maybe second hand clothes, something to do in the evenings after coming back from work. She could even buy a boda boda and hire a rider.

    So, like every weekend when he says to her, “I wish you would come back” she is tempted to start, “Baba Njambi, I’m leaving.”

    “Not yet,” he would reply, not understanding her.

    “No, I’m leaving you, the marriage, you know it’s ‘not there’, see how we live, is this really marriage, Baba Njambi….”

    “Do you have another man in Nairobi? What will our people say? What about Njambi?”

    She is not ready to answer these questions. All her savings cannot buy a solution to these questions. But she understands, him, the situation, his concerns, in order of priority but not necessarily…and the fact that it all has nothing to do with the two of them, or their mundane marriage. So she says nothing. They lie like that in silence, then she finally reaches out and finds his hand in the dark and she squeezes it. It’s the sign…after all, from Friday to Sunday he is her husband and she, his wife.

    Mr Biko: great piece…took me a while to get to reading it, but I hope this is the only time you I get to finish myself off. Waswahili wanasema wengi wale, usipowapa watachukua kwa mikono Yao. Taharuki nayo?

    Curious: What’s wrong with eating almost everything with a fork?

    2
    • Muchoki wa Wangari
      29.11.2018

      Mabbz!!! You belong to the same league as Biko. Your literal appreciation, like something I read earlier from The Loop, seems to complement the author’s quest for some understanding in his exploration of the human soul.
      Is there anything like too good for us that we are even afraid to want it, hence the need to buy yet another hammer that we don’t even need? Or do we fail to see that we already have what we seek but are unable to nurture it (as in the separation of the spouses).
      The reaching out of hands beneath the sheets, offers an answer. That underneath it all, we still have a chance, if we just give it a try.
      Just hope Biko’s next trip will take us further north of Engineer to the shores of lake Ol Bolossat, the only lake in central Kenya. There, nobody needs to buy hammers. Just bring along your fishing gear and get in tune with the tweeting of long forgotten song birds – including “Nyamìndigi”. Because in due season, nature heals it all.

      1
      • Mabbz
        29.11.2018

        The human soul, and life, though, is a labyrinth. Perhaps that’s why most stories end but seem unfinished. It’s how I reconcile stories that end that way…..when I’m not creating tail ends

        1
  • Milka Maina
    28.11.2018

    and he keeps quiet for a while and says, “I wish you would come back.” And she says nothing. They lie like that in silence, then she finally reaches out and finds his hand in the dark and she squeezes it.

    Very beautiful

  • Karim
    13.12.2018

    This is such a good read.. now I want to go to Kinganop!

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