The endless Nairobi hustles…
It had been a rather busy Friday as the month of June ended in 2008. Absalom Marango had been up and about following up his pension money, after retiring from many years in civil service as an administrator at the Treasury. Now an elderly man, his energy was not as it used to be in his hey days. A bald had eaten up a chuck of his hair,which usually was combed black afro bush.
Then and still known as Total Man, Marango was a big framed man with a booming voice and a sharp personality that commanded attention and respect. When the cash flows reduced after retirement, the glow brought about by money and good life reduced drastically. He seemed like any other man on the streets battling unending needs in life. He now maintained a low profile, and waved back at those who recognized him and cared to say Jambo.
That evening, he was very exhausted after being taken around offices in the usual circus that characterizes retirees pursuing their pensions, and unfortunately had no inside people to push for them. His right foot hurt, where he had been operated on after having a compound fracture and getting complications hurt from the strain. Bravely, he endured the dull and familiar pain as he trudged down from Upperhill to GPO bus station.
Too tired to care, he boarded a 4W bus bound for Satellite (Kawangware). He had lived there with family throughout the period he worked as a government employee. His beloved and long serving Peugeot 504 was a little grounded and needed major service and repair to get back on the road. He had really got used to it that the nuisance and inconveniences that came with using public transport really irritated him, but his options were limited.
As his thoughts drifted on the many projects he wanted to finish when he received his pension token, he momentarily shifted his weight to gain balance in the swaying fully loaded bus. A sudden excruciating pain on his right leg made him wince in pain, and suddenly realizing that he had shifted his whole body weight on it unknowingly.
The poison tongue tirade and blah blah…
Wanting to sit down and recover from the excruciating pain and relieve his weary body from the deadening exhaustion after the day’s exertions, he saw a well-dressed and seemingly respectable young man occupying a seat nearby. He summoned his strength and approached the kijana and asked for his seat, naturally knowing the young man will oblige out of respect and understanding.
To his shock and dismay, the young man at first ignored him totally. Then, realizing there a sudden tense and toxic atmosphere created by his seemingly uncouth and rude actions, the young man suddenly opened his mouth and in sheng vomited obscenities and abominable words towards poor old hurting Marango, before suddenly alighting as the bus engaged brakes to negotiate some road bumps. All the while, he kept uttering and claiming some people need to use their heads and common sense, and justify their ages.
The shocked people on the commuter bus were all taken by surprise, and in the uncomfortable silence, heard the continued ranting of the kijana, even as the bus sped away. Marango never sat down, and kept a stern face thorough out the journey until he alighted at the Mali Moto Supermarket stage and limped home.
Back home in Matanga, Bungoma…
It was the first Saturday of July 2018 when his only child and daughter Naomi Malena Marango called from Nairobi and said she was coming for a short visit home. She had studied law and was just confirmed to the bar as a barrister. A well-paying job in KN Law firm awaited her at the beginning of August. She also told them that she had met a young man while in the hustles of looking for a reputable law firm, and they were already in a steady relationship. He was interested in marrying her, and thus wanted to meet her parents for a formal introduction.
It was quite a relief to his aging parents, especially her father who was eager to hold a grand-child in his arms. They had tried to get more children, but as fate had it, Naomi was their one and only bundle of joy in their 40+ years in marriage. Mr. Absalom Marango had since moved back to Mabanga, Bungoma on his 5 acre farm and settled down as a farmer with his wife, Sarah Wanami. The hustles of Nairobi and high cost of living were way too much for them.
Life was much easier and manageable in Bungoma were he drove around his treasured Peugeot and managed affairs of his farm, as his wife ran their wholesale shop in the budding town. Wanting to know more concerning this potential son in law, all he was told was that he was a Jaber from Siaya, also a lawyer by profession, already established in the profession with own registered firm, and servicing prominent clients in Kenya.
Jaber from Siaya…
That Saturday, Mr. Absalom Marango aka Totoma as many villagers and friends fondly called him was in his best mood and suited in his new 3 piece navy blue suit his daughter bought him specifically him for the event. He loved suits, and the fitting and pressed new suit made him remember his hey days when he was always the best dressed and most outstanding person amongst his fellow employees and peers. His height, charisma and booming voice made him always noticeable.
He had already notified and invited his close relatives, few friends and some villagers of the upcoming family event concerning his daughter, and they responded positively. Mama Sarah, as Naomi’s mother was called by the community at Mabanga was equally jovial and did her best to ensure the guests were entertained, filled with good food and felt at home as a hands-on resourceful hostess.
On arrival, the delegation from Siaya was welcomed with pomp and glamour as they ushered into the Marango’s expansive and meticulously cleaned homestead. 6 expensively suited young men and one heavily built, grey haired elderly man emerged and were directed to the designated place to sit so that the proceedings of the day could begin.
The Total Man welcomed them again warmly, and noticed the one particular young man, whose outstanding large eyes, ears and light skin complexion made him recognizable instantly. He kept his composure and the followed the program as ran on schedule as planned. Moses Mbolokoma, the MC of the day ran the show with wit, charm and got everyone in a jovial mood with his wise cracks of jokes and grasp of issues of current affairs, culture and modernity.
Soon, caution was thrown in the air as laughter often rent the air, sweet rhumba music got limbs moving in restraint as food and drink flowed. Meanwhile, Totoma studied the delegation as he curiously sought out the young man who had won his daughter’s heart. He also watched the particular young man his mind had recognized instantly. The poor man seemed unaware of the guarded but steady stare bore on him.
Everyone hushed when Moses Mbolokoma signaled dramatically that it was time for the official business of the day to start. Everyone was eager to know who was the young man who had made all of them leave their homes and respective business to gather in. Marango’s homestead.
Finally, after the introductions from the delegation from the lakeside, as led by their able, experienced and smooth English-Swahili deep voiced spokesperson, the man of the hour remained standing as the rest took their seats. To Totoma’s dismay and chagrin, it was the same wide eyed young man. His heart sunk and his spirit shut. Sudden anger, hatred and violence caused a storm on his inside. However, he remained calm on the outside; as they all listened to this young man present himself.
The man of the hour…
Confidently, eloquently, flawlessly and articulately, Papastathopoulos Awinjo Miguna Miguna IV introduced himself and colourfully described the beauty of Naomi and why he was in love with her. He asked for her hand in marriage and promised big things ahead for her and her family if allowed to be her husband. All the people, caught by the whirlwind of the words and the bravery of the young man and his unique, passionate and pompous way of speech presentation applauded in approval and admiration. Naomi was beside herself, knowing her man had won over her people.
Marango stood up calmly as the applauding died, and mentioned with his hands for the people in the gathering to calm down. He cleared his throat and looked directly into Awinjo’s eyes. He held his steady gaze with his until the poor young looked down, his confidence seeming to suddenly evaporate. It seemed as if his bubble was about to burst.
Marango cleared his throat again and began a narration back in the years. He asked his daughter to step forward and stand on his other side as he addressed both of them. He asked her (Naomi) and his wife (Sarah) if they remembered the day he came home from town when they were still living in Satellite Nairobi, hurting so badly on his right leg that he had to be hospitalized for a week. He asked them if they remembered the whole story, especially how he was shamed on that fateful day, and abused by certain mannerless, careless and loose mouthed youth.
It instantly sank into Mama Sarah’s mind that Papastathopoulos Awinjo Miguna Miguna IV was that accursed son of somebody. She ran quickly to the bedroom and broke into uncontrollable sobs. Naomi was still undone, not making sense of it all. For Awinjo, he had long forgotten the incident and moved on. It is when to the dismay of Naomi and the people gathered when Marango, in controlled anger pointed out matter-of-fact that it was the same very young man who had rained abuses on him and disrespected him publicly that was asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage. A memory flash suddenly struck the bemused Awinjo like a thunderbolt of lightening, and he sank on his knees, begged for forgiveness. It seemed a little too late.
Over my dead and buried body…
Marango’s mind was already made up. No son of any man who abused, shamed and vilified him was going to take his daughter from him as a wife. Only over his dead and buried body. That was it. The Siaya delegation went back to their expensive black land cruisers egg faced, shamed and totally humiliated. Karma had struck. They had to pack back whatever gifts they have brought to Marangos’, less the cost of what they had consumed. Naomi’s heart broke a thousand pieces, knowing that was the end of her relationship, because her family came first, and that matter equally disturbed her.
She recalled how her dad almost died because of that right leg issue, and how painfully with manly tears he narrated that story to them, to ease the inner turmoil. He was a man of pride, and that day, something inside him was broken. She hated whoever that person was that caused such anguish, pain and misery to her daddy. It was against her wildest dreams that that person would be the one person she loved and wanted to be wife to.
As people gathered themselves and left their home in disbelief, she stood transfixed at the same very spot, hands crossed, staring at the tail lights of cars carrying her dream husband fade away into the distance. Absalom Marango, aka Total Man aka Totoma sat back in his favourite chair, seeping away his John Walker, feeling a part of his sanity returned. This was his home, his family, his legacy. Bobby, his guard dog, seemed to approve his actions at it wagged it’s tail, looked at him, then continued chewing it’s bone with relish.