I am probably the worst hugger in history. I don’t even think that what I do can be classified as hugging, strictly speaking. I may put my arms around you, yes, but I will only touch you with the tips of my fingers. If it lasts for more than five seconds, I will disengage myself, gingerly or not. I don’t like to be touched.

I am not girly. I don’t like frills, bows, dolls and rainbows. I don’t wear make up, not because of some religious thing or whatever, but because I have no idea what does what or goes where .I mean, who has the time to figure it out? Certainly not me, for sure.

I’m not fancy. I am a simple lady. I would prefer to go to a local somewhere than be taken to a five star hotel or somewhere in that neighbourhood. Not that it wouldn’t be nice, mind you, but I am terrified of making a fool of myself and you. They probably know you by name, right? To be honest, I have no idea what to do with all these forks and knives. Give me a good ol’ fashioned spoon any day.

I love words in any form. Written, spoken, sung… I just love them. I have this thing, you could call it a pet peeve. I hate people who butcher the English language, in any form. I guess hate is a strong word. I really really really don’t like them. Would it kill you to write in full or use words correctly? I mean, surely! It gets me hot under the collar just thinking about it.

I will rarely, if ever, volunteer information about myself. Trust is a bigger issue for me. I’m the kind of person who will ask you a lot of questions about yourself but you will leave knowing very little about me. Sometimes, you’ll feel like you have to pry the information out of me with a crowbar, but please don’t give up. Sometimes I just want to see if you’ll stick.

I know how to do things for myself. I don’t really know how to be a damsel in distress, kinda missed that train. You’ll probably want to rescue me before this is over. Must be a male macho thing, right? Just, don’t. It’s embarrassing.

I get sad sometimes. It’s like a light is suddenly extinguished, and I see everything in varying shades of black and grey. I usually retreat into myself when that happens. Don’t worry, I snap back eventually. Maybe you won’t even notice a change or you’ll think it’s PMS. It’s not,I get angry then.

I find humour in most things. Sometimes all it takes is a split second, someone will say or do something and I’ll be in stitches. Sometimes it’s just an observation. I have a finely tuned sense of the absurd. I wish we have a similar sense of humour. If not, I wish you could read my mind.

I am religious. I know you say that with derision but I take it very seriously.
You’ll fall for me, you can’t help yourself. Whatever you do, don’t tell me. I have a deep seated aversion of the ‘three little words’.

Those are just the highlights. What can I say? I have layers.


HOW TO FALL IN LOVE (in 10 chapters or less)


Chapter One

Late.She hated being late.It made her sweaty and on edge.Already she could feel the beginnings of a headache coming on.

She didn’t want to admit it but she was lost.The directions had seemed so simple.Take three rights,then a left.Or was it three rights,then a left?Honestly,after walking around in circles for the better part of an hour and seeing no familiar landmark,her mind was in a fog.

It was time to ask for help.”Excuse me,Sir.Can you please tell me where-“. She didn’t get to finish,as he started walking very fast,shooting her nervous glances over his shoulder.I’M NOT A THIEF,she wanted to shout,but she didn’t want to freak him out further.Besides,that was what a real thief would say.What was the world coming to if you couldn’t ask a stranger for simple directions?

Hmm. The way she saw it, she had two choices left now. She could either continue fumbling by herself, or she could follow someone who looked like they knew where they were going, at least until she saw a familiar landmark. The answer was pretty simple.

Once she started looking, she could see several people who seemed to be headed in the same general direction. She chose him at random. He wore a pair of shorts, a Hawaiian shirt with suspenders over it and brightly colored shoes. His hair was done in what she’d heard referred to as the ‘baby locks’ hairstyle. Fashion sense and personal hair grooming techniques aside,he seemed to know where he was going. If she had to guess, she would have said they were both going to the same place. She fell into step slightly behind  him and tried not to feel like a stalker. Not that he would notice; he was bobbing his head to whatever music was coming through his headphones.

When she finally got there, her first impression was Vivid Color. Everywhere she looked people were dressed in so many strong colors, it almost hurt the eye to look. There were neon pinks, purples, blues,yellows, oranges and other colors she just didn’t know a name for yet. Everyone else looked like a rare exotic bird, while she, in her unrelieved black dress, looked like the ugly duckling.

It took all her willpower to not walk out again and leave, but instead go and take a seat. She had spent too long trying to get to leave even before the show started. So what if she seemed odd and frumpy compared to everyone else here?If she sat all the way at the back, in the corner, no one would notice her, right?


He noticed her immediately. Later, he would ask himself what had made him look at the door at that particular moment when she walked in.

From where he sat, he could see how tired she looked. She had that deer-in-the-headlights look that pegged her as a newbie. Although her head wasn’t moving side to side, she was busy taking everything in with her eyes. If her eyes got any bigger, they would fall out of her head and roll on the floor. She looked like a person who’d just been thrown in the deep end without a paddle.

He watched her take the very last seat, even though others were unoccupied. Did she know no one here? He was already moving towards her before he could stop himself.



Dear Christians,
A lot has been said about homosexuality and other related topics. As I write this, I hesitate to add my voice but I feel like I have to.

For us who believe in God and follow the teachings of the Bible, we know it is a sin.However,as a fellow Christian, I have issue with the way we carry ourselves regarding this,the way we pretend to be better, holier than thou.

Are we not all human beings regardless of the different choices we make? What makes us think we are better humans, that it is only us who deserve basic human rights? We keep fighting a battle that isn’t ours,and for what? Sometimes we don’t even know what we’re fighting for.

I’ve heard many say this- homosexuality is unAfrican. That may be,but a lot of what we do now and how we do it isn’t African, in the strictest sense. Were we to go back to our roots, men would still be wearing loincloths and hunting and gathering. Women would be expected to plant and till and bear many children, especially boys. The man was king, even when he was wrong. There was no such thing as women’s lib, a man could do whatever he wanted in his house. Those are just the highlights.

If we were still being African, all those fancy titles behind our names would be a thing of the future.That all came with formal education. No doubt we would have gotten there eventually,but the coming of missionaries and colonisation sped up the process.

Isn’t it great for us Christians that missionaries came? They brought us the Bible. Imagine not knowing about God, Jesus and eternal life. We would be sining and not even know it. That is a scary thought.

Another argument I hear is that’God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’. It befuddles me how anyone with a modicum of intelligence could utter something so stupid. Who comes up with these things?

The argument is usually closely related to this other one- God commanded us to multiply and fill the earth. How can two men or two women fulfill that commandment? Let’s pause for a minute and try to make some sense of this. What, exactly, is this ‘filling the earth’ business? Does it mean having more children than you can comfortably support? Having one child, four children, a football team? How about the married heterosexual couples who choose to not have children? Or the ones who take contraception to stop having children. What about the ones who have a medical condition that make it impossible to have children? Will God punish them?

I saved the biggest argument for last. The Bible and what it says about homosexuality. We know the Bible doesn’t lie and we believe all that it says. However, no verse in the Bible stands alone.

While it is great for us to know the Bible,we should remember to read it as a whole, not in bits and pieces. When the Bible says that God hates homosexuality, it means that He hates the sin not the person. Why is it so difficult for us to make that distinction, if we claim to love God? How can others see the love of God through us if we are the perpetuators of hate and intolerance?

We go around, gay shaming and engaging in homophobic acts. We claim to be fulfilling scripture, doing what God would do. I believe that if God wanted to get rid of all sinners, every single human being in the world would disappear. The fact that we’re still here should tell us something. The sins that a person commits are between him and God. How dare we think that we can do God’s job!

We lie,we kill with our tongues, we covet,we judge, we sin every single day. We like to step on our high horse and judge and condemn, like we are better. The Bible clearly states that all sin are equal;none is greater.

We always like to say WWJD- What Would Jesus Do. Well, I know what He told us to do. He left us with just one commandment. LOVE. Love God and love your neighbor. We already do the first part, what about the second?

It is easy to hate what you can’t see or what doesn’t affect you. Just think for a moment, what if it was your brother, your sister,a cousin, a child, a parent,yourself…. What would you do?

Originally posted on Storymoja Festival blog.


Nexus. Where all the cool people meet. Or least that what the caption claimed. Personally he was of the opinion that most of Nairobi had showed up tonight for a chance to enter the newest club around.They were charging five thousand shillings for admission ,excluding drinks. Excessive, yes, but judging from the throng of people waiting patiently for admission it was obviously not a concern for many. Besides, there were many celebrities present as a, with their sycophants in tow.

The thought of standing in line with that crowd was already giving him a headache. It always baffled him why anyone would choose to get out of the comfort and warmth of their houses, dress up in strange, ill-fitting clothes and go out in the cold night to see and be seen. Oh what he wouldn’t give for a chance to snuggle up with some hot cocoa on his bed right now!

He heard her laugh first. It was rich, velvety smooth and brought to mind thoughts of caramel chocolate and warm sheets. He had never heard a sound more beautiful and he found himself automatically scanning the crowd with his eyes to find out who it belonged to, even going as far as standing on tiptoe.

He didn’t see her at first. His line of sight was blocked by a group of twenty-something college kids who were being loud and obnoxious just to get attention. One of them moved slightly to the left and that’s when he saw her. He felt gobsmacked, she was stunning.

Her hair hung down to her shoulders, framing an oval shaped face. She had a light-skinned complexion, or as he’d heard it referred to recently,’rangi ya pesa’. He could see from the bright and glaring lights strewn all over the outside of the club that she had heavily made up her face. On any other person it would have looked garish and unappealing, but on her the bold applications of eye-shadow and mascara only served to highlight her beautiful doe eyes. The blush on her cheeks called attention to the mole on her left cheek, near her lips. Her full pouty lips, painted a fiery red, made him want to just kiss it all off.

Hold up, where did such a thought come from? He was not a man who was driven by his physical passions, and yet…. He found himself counting the steps he would have to take to walk up to her, sweep her off her feet, literally, and kiss the breath out of them both. Ten steps.

His feet started moving before his brain could catch up. He had only taken one step before Brian noticed he wasn’t beside him anymore and looked around.

“He-e-ey,where are you….” Well, well, well, what do we have here? Brian hid a smile when he saw where his friend was looking at with such rapt fascination. Wasn’t this interesting?

He had never seen that look before on his best friend’s face, not even with Jane. It was about time, too. Perhaps it was time to introduce his best friend to so other friends of his. He was generous with his affections,after all. Really, it was the least he could do.

“Hey,I see some pals of mine over there. Let’s go say hi.”

A few steps later, he was shocked to realize that they had stopped in front of Her. He now noticed that she was in a group of five ladies, all of them exceptionally beautiful.

Up close he could see that her eyes were a warm toasty brown. She wore a classic little black dress that molded to her spectacular hour glass figure. The dress was indecently short. So short in fact, that he was afraid that if she tripped and fell, she’d bare all. Then he found himself thinking of what she wore underneath it, if anything at all, and he almost wished for her to fall.

He didn’t even hear her name when she was introduced to him, his imagination was working overtime by then. What registered in his mind was that it had something to do with a flower.

Her hand in his felt right. If he was a fanciful person, he would have called the electricity that zinged up his arm from their first contact destiny. The fractional widening of her eyes and the way she seemed to look at him more intensely told him she had felt the same.



There was something not quite right with this scene. No matter how much he tried to make it okay, it refused to coalesce the way he wanted it to. He heaved a sigh of frustration as he once again tore a page out of his book and threw it away.


Whoever said writing was easy obviously had never tried it. It wasn’t as if he had nothing to write about. The thoughts and words were all there in his head but somehow none came out right on paper. Darn writer’s block!

Maybe I’m just hungry, he thought. As if on cue, his phone started ringing. “Hello?”

“Dude, why are you always formal? Did you even check to see who it was? Lemme guess you were writing,right?”

“No,I was trying to write. Something’s jammed in my brain. What’s up, Brian?”

“Can’t say I know what you mean.” Brian was a lawyer. “Forget everything else, go take a shower, put on some nice duds and lets go. Tonight I take you to Nexus.”

“To what? Do you know what time it is?” He checked the clock on the wall. “It’s already after ten. I was just planning to sleep now.” It was a lie. He had actually been planning to binge eat his sorrows away and watch bad television, but Brian didn’t know that.

“No no no no no no. It is the grand opening today. I can’t go alone, you have to come with me. Besides,only old people sleep at ten on a Saturday. Where’s your zeal, your youthful fire? Why am I even friends with you?”

He couldn’t hold back a smile, even though no one could see it. Brian could be so melodramatic at times. Many people who saw them together often wondered what the basis of their friendship was. On the surface they were complete opposites. Brian was a chatterbox who seemed to know a little about everything and everyone. Many assumed he was flighty and flaky due to his nature. That is why it had come as a shock when Brian had decided to study the law. Most swore it off as a passing phase and were sure that he would not complete his studies. Only a few people, himself included, knew that behind the flamboyant exterior Brian had a very sharp mind. It had always baffled him why he chose to let people think so poorly of him. When he’d asked, Brian had told him, with his usual flair for drama, that a surprise ending was always worth it. He hadn’t understood it at the time but later he couldn’t help noticing all the naysayers practically falling over themselves to congratulate Brian when he graduated summa cum laude. It had been a funny sight to behold. Now he was the most sought after lawyer in the country.

In contrast, he was like a frumpy old lady. He was a loner by nature, content to go off somewhere on his own and just be. He disliked crowds and preferred to stay at home and read a good book or write. He had social anxiety, was terrified of talking to people he didn’t know. If not for Brian’s continuous proding, he would never meet new people,let alone speak to them. Brian was always dragging him to some shindig or another, ignoring all his protests. If he ended up having fun eighty percent of the time, he wasn’t telling.

“Hello? HELLO? Still there?”

He came back to the present with a start. “Oh,sorry. Wool gathering.”

“Ok-ay. You are coming tonight. There will be lots of girls and I need a wing man. Not all of us are in relationships. How’s dear Jane, by the way?”

He couldn’t fail the mocking way he said dear. For some reason he couldn’t fathom,Brian and Jane, his girlfriend for two years, had taken an instant dislike to each other from the moment they met. Separately they were both very nice and like-able people, but whenever they happened to be in the same room they were always coldly polite to each other, albeit accompanied with a few thinly veiled insults. They had no quake about letting their true feelings show around each other. However both of them understood that they were important in different ways to him and therefore had never made him choose.

“She’s fine,” he said with some amusement.

“Is she still stitching sweaters for her twenty nine cats?”


“Just saying. She’s all wrong for you. You don’t even love her.”

“Says who?”

“Me. Love has fireworks. You too barely fizzle. It’s depressing.”

He was right. Darn it. “What makes you such an expert anyway? As I recall, you are still single.”

“Which is a situation I plan to remedy tonight. Oh, and I read. Try it sometime.”

“Har har, very funny.”

“I try…” Brian started murmuring inaudibly in the background.

“What?” A car honk. “Wait, are you driving?”

“Yeah, some idiot tried to overtake me and almost took out my side mirror.”

“You shouldn’t talk on the phone while driving. It’s breaking the law.”

“Yeah yeah, but isn’t it more fun?”


“Relax. You’re on speaker phone. I’m heading your way as we speak.”

“I don’t know….”

“It amuses me that you think you actually have a choice. See you in twenty minutes.” He disconnected the call.

He heaved a sigh of resignation and got up to get ready. He had twenty minutes, and counting. Brian was never late.


It was a relatively normal day at Tea Room in Nairobi City. The cars were honking, people were shouting and the resulting din was a comfort to those that conducted business there. Touts shouted out the fares to far-flung regions of Kenya while others helped passengers board their Nissan matatus. It seemed some places,like Nyeri and Kisumu were more popular than others because people pushed and shoved each other to get inside the matatu, sometimes not even allowing the previous passengers to alight.

Amidst all the jostling, a few men and women helped themselves to a few valuables-be it cash, jewelry or food- by simply inserting nimble fingers where they did not belong. These country folk were their easiest targets because once they saw the city with its tall buildings and shiny newness, they became dazzled and forgot to look out for themselves and their valuables. Many had come to the city under the mistaken belief that all their dreams would come true, only to end up on the streets after having everything they owned stolen minutes after arriving in Nairobi.

Through all the commotion very few noticed the girl who was clutching a worn-out Back to School bag tightly to her chest. Her eyes were full of wonder as she looked in all directions as if trying to experience all the sights at the same time. Clearly, she was from the countryside. If nothing else, the dress she wore was a further indicator of that. Made of some dark brown material, it went all the past her ankles and was covered with patches. On her feet were string shoes caked with mud. Despite all this one was eventually drawn back to the eyes which were filled with a combination of innocence, joy and excitement, which drew you in like a moth to a flame.

She was almost giddy with happiness. She had made it. She always knew there was more to life than the village but never at such a grand scale. The buildings seemed to be a hundred times taller than her. However did people reach the top? Or were they just to be seen and admired from afar? There were more cars than the ones she was used to seeing at the village and more people than she could count. They seemed to pop up everywhere.

It finally occurred to her that she had nowhere to go. She had no food, no money and she knew no one.

Don’t panic, she admonished herself. She had come this far all on her own. She would find a way. She was sure of it.

Two weeks later, as she huddled beneath her cardboard shelters, she could have happy sawed off her arm and eaten it. She had not had a bite to eat in over three days. The grumbles and knots in her stomach had become the usual for her;she hardly noticed it anymore.

How did it come to this? Wasn’t the big city supposed to be where dreams come true?

The click-click of heels on the cobblestone herald the arrival of Shiks even before she came around the corner. In her little corner of the city, behind a tall building which she shared with five other families, Shiks had appeared one day and never left. The others regarded her with a lot of suspicion,mostly because she was different. It was obvious that she was not from the streets. It was in the way she carried herself. Some said she’d run away from her well off family and been disowned, others claimed that she was an undercover police agent. Whatever it was,the mistrust was instinctive.

Rumours circulated that Shiks was also a prostitute. She was still not clear on what a prostitute was,but from the snatches of conversation she’d overheard she figured it was a woman who slept with men for money. Why anyone would make such a fuss about sleeping,she had no idea. And to get paid,why, that was incredible!

She had mentioned that to Shiks and had been given an odd look. It didn’t matter to her, though. Shiks was the smartest person she knew. She also always came back from her haunts with a bit of food for everyone.

“Sasa mrembo,” she said in her customary way. Today she wore a really short blue skirt and a maroon fishnet top. The red heels on her feet looked old and worn out.”Shika chakula yako. Leo tunaenda na wewe. My pal is throwing a party and he needs girls. Analipa vizuri na kuna food. “

She had jumped on the food the minute it had been set down. By the time that that little speech was being concluded she had wolfed down more than half of the food. Her hunger was a long way from being assuaged still. Most of the speech went right over her head but the word food stuck and she knew that she would do anything not to starve. Anything.

Two hours later,she was ready. At least according to Shiks standards who was of the opinion that she cleaned up nice, underneath all that village look. Black stuff had been applied to her eyes; red stuff had been applied to her lips. She had been dressed in a short black skirt, a barely there yellow top and heels she was trying not to trip over.

She could not seem to shake the feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach. Maybe it was just hunger.

When the black car stopped in front of them and a man got out, her apprehension grew. It was huge, with tinted windows. To her, not wanting people to see who was inside meant that you were hiding something. She wasn’t sure she was ready to know what it was.

The man came around to where they were standing and just stared at them without saying a word. It seemed that his eyes lingered longer on her, especially on her chest area and legs. It made her very very uncomfortable and she tried not to fidget.

If anyone had a right to stare it was she. Why, the man had pictures drawn on his skin! Surely, he must be crazy. He was dressed in a black shirt and a pair of jeans that hung so low on his hips as to almost fall off completely. He had flashy rings on each of his fingers and a metallic chain around his neck. Was that an earring on his left ear? He was so strange!

He finally looked back at Shiks. “Hey, baby girl. I see you’ve finally brought me some fresh meat. She’s a real beauty too, they’ll love her. Let’s go.”


Her daughter was being held upright by two women on either side. In the last week she had cried for what seemed like every minute of every day. She wondered where the tears were coming from now. She felt blessedly numb, as if nothing could touch her now. It was not every day that a person lost their last living relative and became all alone in the world no matter how long one had prepared for this eventuality.
As if from a tunnel she could hear Mzee Ayubu tell the mourners that everything happened for a reason and that Ngai was a wonderful Deity who would never forsake His beloved. She almost laughed out loud at that, she who always went to church first and was the youth and choir leader.
If He was so good, where was He when her mother was dying like a dog?
The rest of the burial passed by in a blur. Before she knew it she was back at her house. A few women came back with her and two of the unmarried ones offered to stay with her to help out with the household chores. She declined. She just wanted to be alone in her misery. Maybe somehow she could also die and join her mother. It wouldn’t take too long to starve to death, right? One could only hope.
A knock on the door two days later came as a surprise to her. Even more surprising was her guest: Mzee Ayubu. When her mother was around, whenever he came to visit he always asked for a stool and sat outside. This time, however he made himself comfortable by the fire.

“My dear child, I know that life has dealt you a big blow but you must take heart. I,and of course the whole village, am behind you. You can come to me for anything,” he said with feeling.

“I was just wondering if it was possible for me to start receiving my mother’s portion of the grain from the farm.” This was something that she had thought long and hard about.

“Ah…,” he stalled while gesturing that she come closer to him, “those things usually take time. But if you… ummm… ‘talk’ to me nicely, am sure I can speed things along.”

She held out her hands. “Please, sir, I really need the food. There is not much left here.”

“I didn’t mean that kind of talk.” He dragged her a bit closer and put his hands on her hips. They had filled out quite nicely over the years and he had noticed. He had just bidden his time until such an opportunity as this one arose. He knew that she could not risk refusing him now. It would be social suicide. And she would starve.

She was caught off guard. Although she had no experience in such matters,deep down she knew that what he wanted was wrong. The man had three wives already. His youngest daughter was one of her bosom friends. Ngai baba, he was old enough to be her grandfather!

“NO!” She pulled out of his hold and went to the other side of the room.

“Come back here. You are a big girl now and I can make things easy or difficult for you, depending on what you do in the next few minutes.” “You shouldn’t be doing this. You are our spiritual leader and….” “And what? Don’t I have needs? Am I not just a man? You are a beautiful girl and I would make you mine. My wife.”

She stood mute for a moment. It must have been a moment too long because he started advancing towards her with a victorious grin.

“Stop. Please, don’t make me do this. I can’t.” Her voice broke on the last word.

“Come now,” he again tried to hold her against his chest.

She reached the door in two strides. Before she closed it behind her she heard him tell her she would regret it. She hid behind the house until she was sure he had left.

What would she do now? She had nothing of her own. She had just snubbed the most influential
member of the community. She was certain that such an action would be quite detrimental to her future stay in the village. She shuddered to think of what vindictive action Mzee Ayubu would take now. After all, an insult to his pride,such as this, would have to be avenged. She did not have to wait long.

The next day almost to the minute, another knock on the door announced yet another unsuspected visitor. She welcomed him with happiness.

“Kamau,” she called out with arms outstretched. She and he had been seeing each other in secret, sharing secrets and falling in love. But for her mother’s sudden death,they had planned to inform their respective families of their intention to marry as soon as possible.
“I cannot stay long,” he ignored her gesture. “I can’t even be seen talking to you.”

What an odd thing for him to say. Her confusion must have shown on her face because he clarified, “It is all over the village that you tried to entice Mzee Ayubu into the devil’s snare. They say that the devil in you is also the one that killed your mother. The village is in an uproar and everyone has been instructed not to get near you or the devil will eat them, too.”

Of all the ways she could have thought Mzee Ayubu would avenge himself, this was the most devious. He had successfully managed to alienate her from the community by playing with their spirituality. No one would ever talk to her again or help her…. She was truly alone now.

She would rather starve to death than go begging to him,as he obviously expected her to.

“Do you believe the stories you hear?” She asked him. He shifted uneasily and avoided looking her in the eye. She had her answer before he even spoke. “Never mind,I can see that you will believe anything you hear. To think I would have married you in a heartbeat had you asked.”

“I cannot go against the community and my parents. I have an image to uphold as the first son in my family. We cannot be associated with a rumored demoness.”

What of love, she wanted to shout. Although the words fell like a tombstone on her heart and broke it to pieces, she didn’t even flinch. There was nothing more to be said.

After he left,she considered her options as far as the village was concerned. Staying was no longer an option. To say the villagers were overzealous was an understatement. She could still remember with vivid clarity what had happened to Waiguru. She had to leave before something similar or worse was done to her.

It had come sooner than expected, but it was inevitable. She had felt discontent over the slow pace of village life and the never changing dynamics for a long time now. It was not enough for her and had never been. She had to see what else was on there.

She began to plan.



The funeral procession matched steadily along. No one was talking but a few sniffles could be heard here and there. There was a hush that even the wind and the various insects and birds that made noise in the daytime also seemed to respect.

It was not everyday that the village gathered to bury one of the pillars of the community. And to die such a horrible death…. Well, that was something the people would not get over any time soon. Mama Watoto, as she had been affectionately called since anyone could remember, had died from a snake bite.

It would not have been that serious if she gotten to the hospital on time but the village of Gatweke was deep in the Karura forest and the only cars that went that far were a Nissan matatu and a lorry for provisions on Mondays only.Since  she had been bitten on a Wednesday it was just a matter of time before she succumbed.The nearest health facility was over twenty miles away and it was impossible to undertake such a journey on foot,especially with a sick person . As for technology, the villagers were a simple folk. They were used to relying on what they could see with their own eyes. Last year, Waiguru, a daughter of the tribe, had gone out to the world in search of education and come back with many new things, including a mobile phone. As was customary, she had presented it to her father as a gift and showed him how to use it to call his brother who lived in another country. The whole village had gathered to witness this strange phenomenon. When the brother’s voice came over the speaker, Mzee Ayubu having not known what to expect, had reacted with fear.He had declared that,as the spiritual leader of the community,Ngai had told him that there were evil spirits.He also declared that the devil had decided to pitch tent in his daughter and therefore, the only way to get him out was to beat the hell out of her.That said, the next hour was spent publicly flogging his daughter while the other villagers simultaneously prayed for their souls and encouraged him to beat her harder. To get out the devil,of course. As if that wasn’t enough she had to watch as her precious phone was thrown into the communal fire and burnt to a crisp.Henceforth she was known as the girl who had brought  the devil to the village to feast on everyone’s souls( the gossipers had exaggerated the story a little bit to make it more interesting)It was no wonder that when she next left the village she did not return. Neither did development.

As for Mama Watoto, by the time Friday rolled around most of her body was swollen and she had already slipped into delirium. She lay on her pallet in her one-room thatched hut.She did not have much in terms of earthly possessions- a bed, a rickety old chair, two stools, a goat pen inside the house, a few clothes and one Sunday best, and a three-stone fireplace near the door. The few utensils she had were as a result of trading her goat’s milk and maize from her shamba for household items.

With the little she had she was happy. She was a firm believer in the Swahili saying ‘Watu ni vitu’. She made sure that she always had a kind word and listening ear for everyone. She was especially attuned to children and it was not strange to see her being followed around by at least ten children. That is how she got her moniker.

On her deathbed, the visitors were many, none willing to admit to themselves and each other that she was leaving them. Her biological child, her daughter, sat on a stool at the corner, staring forward sightlessly.

The funeral party had reached the plot of land where the burial was to take place. The pallbearers were ready to lower her to the ground. There was nary a dry eye around. Mzee Ayubu stood up to address the gathered.