Of memories that rob uncle of happiness when it rains
Every time it rains, my uncle Habbakuk is not sure whether to laugh or cry. As his name attests, he is deeply religious, just as his wife of 40 years, Nereah is.
By the way, have you ever wondered why there are no Kikuyu women named Pamela, or Luo women called Naomi? Pamela Njeri. Have you ever heard this?
Some names have become region-specific. How my uncle and his wife acquired theirs is a story we must narrate another day.
But back to my uncle.
Being natural farmers, as everyone in Central region and other well-endowed parts of the country is, the rains are a godsend.
You see, heavy rains especially at night mean several things. One, the local chicken thief will not dare do a thing, for, how will he navigate the steep, slippery hills while carrying his booty?
First city job
So, when it rains, the farmer can sleep easy, just after he has returned from the local shopping centre where he meets his agemates and he can stagger home in his gumboots.
From decades of this practice, he knows where to step on and will arrive home without as much as a stumble. I call it remote-sensing.
My uncle has not-so-pleasant memories of this rainy season, especially when he was young and had just landed his first job in Nairobi.
Habakkuk, not being so wise nor very clever, rented a one-room affair in Kangware, which he used to call Kwawangare.
It was a simple affair, the type in which you can close the door while on bed, without stretching.
His worst nightmare was when the rains came. Unknown to him, he had occupied the house during the hot dry season in January. Come end of March and the rains came in torrents. That’s how he knew his house leaked like a sieve.
His first natural instinct was to fish out all his plastic ware, buckets, basins (and they were not many) to scatter them in spots where the leaks were. The biggest leak was in the middle of his bed, so falling asleep was out of the question.
Just as he thought he was in the clear, another leak started, just where his two sufurias were. One was still unwashed from the ugali meal of the previous night.
Drying wet mattress
In those days, it was believed it was the landlord’s job to fix such, never mind that it was the tenant suffering.
So, uncle Habbakuk waited. And waited. Meanwhile, his problems grew.
One day, he fell asleep while curled on half the bed, with two sufurias where his feet should have been.
In the dead of the night, he had a particularly bad dream in which some village mongrels were chasing him. What woke him up was the clutter of his sufurias when he kicked them with all his might.
Of course, they spilled their contents all over the bed. That was the end of his sleep for that night. And a few others that week as he waited for his mattress to dry.
However, it was out of these misfortunes that he happened to meet Nereah. He saw her one morning as he took out his mattress to dry.
She took pity on the hapless bachelor struggling to dry a mattress that would be subjected to the same routine the very next evening and offered to help move it from the verandah into her house during the day when he was away at work.
My uncle does not give a lot of details about how knocking on the damsel’s door every other evening to ask for his mattress became an affair but some things are best said when they are not said. If you know, you know!
Long story short, Habbakuk does not like the rainy season for the simple reason his memories of that leaking roof remain as strong as the smell of his fart after his muratina sessions.
Of course, if he farts during a discussion, he will inevitably excuse himself by saying his body has acquired the bad habbit of making funny noises.
He will even say it is the worms in his system rioting. And he will promise to take something for the worms the next day.
Come the next day, he will be farting worse than ever. His best position for this is while seated under the mango tree not far from his hut.Have a fart-free week, folks! – The writer is Special Projects Editor, People Daily