My kinsman, a junior elder of the clan who is usually ignored for good reason, staggered into the funeral at 10pm.
The number of times he has been sober in the last 15 years, and that includes the many occasions the law has been on his ass for one misdemeanour or other, can be counted on one finger. Also, being a bachelor of no known physical address, you see him when you see him.
“Brothers, did you ever imagine, we would one day sit together like this?” he asked no one in particular.
The question hung rudely in the air like an old, stale fart, before fading reluctantly into the dark, humid air. Noticing he had been roundly ignored, he tottered to his feet and staggered off. We sighed with relief, for he is the kind of man who can make your wallet vapourise into thin air, even when you are sitting right on it.
But to our discomfort, he staggered back holding a bowl piled with food, sat down and proceeded to wolf away without a care in the world. Other than the crunching of his jaws, and the nervous mowing of the cow we intended to slaughter the next morning to feed mourners, the night was silent.
When he was done, he dutifully rose and made a beeline for the kitchen, bowl in hand. As a matter of fact, he was on his way to whichever foxhole he had emerged, when he noticed that our table was getting set for dinner. He did a smooth about-turn, remarkable for a man who had been boozing for days on end, and resumed his seat.
We nibbled at our food, and by the time we were done, only a half of the ugali had been demolished. Our kinsman, good man that he is, decided to take a bullet for the team, for in this parts, nothing incenses women than men who don’t clear their plates. He chomped away with quiet dedication, morsel by morsel, until the plate resembled a baby’s bottom.
Then he belched, gathered all the dishes into a bucket and staggered towards the direction of the kitchen. Only to emerge, to our horror, holding a plate of githeri. This he demolished as well, chomping away with the dedication of a cow chewing the cud. Then he grabbed a jug of water and upended its contents down his throat with noisy thunder.
We masticated in silence, wondering how one man could possibly eat all that food and drink all that water without his guts exploding all over the place. But our man rose, returned the bowl to the kitchen and this time staggered off into the darkness.
Being not one who owns a pit latrine, or a hut for that matter, I feared that he would crap on a footpath and that shocked villagers would next day hold a press conference and gasp, “Tell the government there is an elephant in this village! We have seen his humongous pile of shit!”
Not that I blame him. There is famine across the land. Those who eat in Nairobi wouldn’t know. But in many villages, when you get an opportunity, you tank up like a gold digger and avoid that long call for as long you can. You know, most times, it is the only long call you will have that week.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Sde.co.ke