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Last Man’s hot cousin leaves for big city

By Makau Kitata

My cousin Mutindi was always the centre of attraction for village boys. Young men who had left the village after secondary school to college or work in the city came to check her out on weekends. She claimed to hate all of them.

Mutiso was one of the bright chaps from the neighbouring village. He used to come to cheer our football team during weekend matches and liked talking to me. He had surprised us by not proceeding to college, even after being admitted to study civil engineering.

Why waste time studying when I can be more practical?” he asked us.

He worked in construction and showed us photos he had taken posing beside cars next to city apartments. I thought they belonged to him. He seemed to be making big money in the city.

We are now building a flat in Embakasi. It has many floors and rooms to fit the entire village,” he announced.

My cousin would straighten her hair on Fridays in anticipation of the weekends. I suspected Mutiso gave her the money to visit the village salon.

Last Man, come along and let me not hear of this,” she would say as she tagged me along her village escapades.

Mutiso’s house was brightly furnished. It had sofas with sweater slipcovers and a master bed with a silk cover. The word “tranquility” was sewn on the bedcover. Next to the seats was a music system with a speaker placed on a round cut-out jerrycan. When the music was on, the whole house vibrated and the roof rattled.

It felt great to be in the knowledge of affairs of adults. I would not tell anyone. I didn’t like to lose the goodies of the city returnees. Every weekend, we went to Mutiso’s house and feasted on Fanta and loaf. We escorted him as he returned to the city. In Machakos, before he took the matatu, we ate chips and chicken. Cousin Mutindi and I would take the matatu back to our village and walk the roads like the only civilized people among backward villagers.

This Christmas holiday, we visited Mutiso at the cube. Mutindi didn’t leave. She sent me home to pick up some clothes she had packed in a woven bag. My sister and choirgirls said she had married in the dark. When I told her of the gossip, she retorted,

Life is for enjoying. Let those losers leave me alone.”

In January, when the boys were preparing to return to Nairobi, the owner of the furniture came with a pickup truck. He took the bed, huge mattress, flashy bed cover, and music system. Only the thin mattress used to protect the giant mattress from the bed frame was left.

Mutiso has been storing the items for me as I built my house,” he told me.

I looked at my cousin as she watched her cozy house turn into a yawning space.

Last Man, I’m not staying here any longer. This man is a fraud!” she screamed.

 I wondered why the adults were speaking through me.

When she came back to our village, her mother chased her away. My mother was the only friendly aunt willing to shelter her. Mutindi had become the laughingstock of the village.

Follow him the next time he comes back. He must have a bed where he stays in the city.” advised mum.

My cousin became moody and was irritated with me. Whenever the name Mutiso was mentioned, she would rush to the back of the house and vomit.

I hate that man. Please don’t mention his name to me,” she shrieked.

One day, I asked Mum why she had turned against me.

When young girls get heavy, they are moody,” she said, “and they direct their wrath on a particular boy.”

Mum added: “She will have a child who resembles the person she hates.”

I didn’t know what Mum meant by heavy. I wondered why moods should be responsible for the physical resemblance of the unborn.

In February, Mutiso returned, and once again called me in the middle of a football game. I went to fetch my cousin and hang on to listen to their negotiation. Amid tears and pleas for forgiveness, I overheard him saying, 

 “I am going to be living in a grand estate called Embakasi. Moreover, I have a house.”

Oh yes, that’s cool. It must be near the flats you were building,” I chimed in.

Yes, I got a space behind that apartment. I showed you in the photo and built a keja,” he said, introducing a new word to the village.

The boss at the apartments said I could use leftover material and be the caretaker. It is an iron sheet house, not these muddy structures boys call houses here,” he added with a sneer. 

I was the only one in my village to witness the departure. And once again, as the extended family met, I was left to spread the news.

Mutindi left with Mutiso and will be living in an iron sheet house. A keja. Not these mud contraptions of the village,” I reported, taking pride in the new word.

Everyone looked at me, and a murmur spread through.

Yes, an iron sheet house is better if it has a bed,” My mum said quietly. My dad, who had been to the city longer, gave me knowing look.

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