‘Kindly’ neighbours who keep stuff in safe custody

Monday, September 2nd, 2019 00:00 |
Keep stuff in safe custody.

A long time ago, (when we used to say paukwa, pakawa) I tried my hand at livestock, or is it poultry keeping. The results were horrid.

Well, it is not that my skills were questionable. After all, I had learnt the craft back in primary school when, during agriculture lessons, we grew spinach, cabbage and reared rabbits, some of which my friends stole, slaughtered and ate.

That left our height-challenged teacher, who loved platform shoes, and bell-bottom trousers (remind me to tell you next time what these were) protesting about stupid wild animals in the vicinity that would not leave the rabbits in peace. We knew better, of course! But that is a story for another day.

I was telling you about my talented, poultry-keeping endeavours that constantly reminded me of the classic Thomas Hardy novel, Mayor of Casterbridge. 

In the book, a man sells off his wife, Susan and daughter, Elizabeth Jane at a county fair after getting drunk on fumity, a version of busaa in rural England eons ago. Upon sobering up, he regrets his mess and vows never to drink again.

Michael Henchard, for that, was his name, then moves on with life, prospers enough and is elected mayor (hence the title of the book). He meets his old wife and remarries her without realising it is the woman he sold off years ago.

At the wedding, a man quips that he has never seen a man “await so long to get so little”.

Well, folks, that is the eerie feeling I was left with every time I attempted to keep poultry. You know Wesley, of course, the lanky village lad who frequently stole my eggs until I wondered how my chickens had become sterile all of a sudden. With time, the lad graduated to stealing the chickens themselves so much so that I was convinced the birds were flying away, never mind how.

With the benefit of hindsight, now that I am older, I realise we could use diplomatic terms. Leave stealing to the thieves; they were assisting with the harvest. We could all use a little help sometime. No?

How neighbours realise that your chickens could do with a little assistance in picking eggs shortly after they are laid beats me. Mystery does not even begin to scratch the surface.

I was reminded of those past events last week. The wife of a prominent opposition figure was captured on a video that went viral harvesting loquat from the low-hanging branches of a neighbour’s tree. 

Apparently, the branches strayed from the owner’s residence and dangled invitingly in her own compound through the fence. Suddenly, here were fruits asking to be eaten. Just like that. Haki!

Not waiting to even wash them, she proceeded to eat mouthfuls with relish, as a relative helped with this noble task. You can say this was a fruitful visit by the tree. Or was it?

Of course, this kindness by neighbours to offer safe custody for items is not new. It is in the spirit of good neighbourliness. Ujirani mwema, like they say. You get the drift?

In some estates in Eastlands, you dare not leave shoes, utensils or even clothes outside. If you must wash such items, you stand guard, never mind that you may appear to be just basking.

 In a video that went viral not long ago, a man removes his shoes to enter his house, a one-room affair but the minute he removes each shoe, they land into the hands of a waiting recipient behind him, who promptly walks stealthily away.

Our friend turns to take his shoes into his house but is flabbergasted to find his hands grabbing air. Such is the nimble nature of the kindly blokes who help with the safekeeping of other people’s stuff.

That reminds me of a pickpocket in Nakuru (name withheld) who was so good at his craft that he could tell what phone was in a jeans pocket just by looking. 

This way he could eliminate cheap phones from his list of potential victims and go after the costly ones.

This notion of “spreading wealth” has extended to churches. A priest decided to stick a warning on the door. It said: “Please take care of your valuables, lest someone thinks it is the answer to their prayers”. Some clergymen have a unique sense of humour.

Food for thought: If your neighbour’s banana plant gives birth in your side of the fence, whose banana is it? Have a puzzle-free week, folks! – The writer is Special Projects Editor, People Daily

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