At the slopes, there is a village, a very shy village that is watched over by the tall ranges of the Aberdares. The village is Mathome, and in mathome is a young boy called Kago, and his papa, Mugo.
Kago has just finished his primary school studies, and his father, Mugo, is excited, not because of his good results, but because he no longer has to go for school meetings. You may wonder why a man would hate going to his son’s school so much, but for Mugo, it means meeting his brother Kigo, who is the Headmaster at Mathome Primary. We will meet Kigo later on. I mean you will, because I already have met him, in my creativity, and you will see why his brother would hate meeting up with him.
The two argued about Kago’s performance. He has managed 97 marks out of the possible 500. He has been beaten by Kimani’s son, a boy everyone in Mathome thinks is partly mad, since he sometimes does some weird things, like a day he shaved off their cow’s tail, and it had to be slaughtered since it could no longer beat flies off its thighs. Kimani’s son has scored 99 marks, and his name is Josiphat. The name is Josphat, but the residents of Mathome fancy calling him Josiphat, since their tongues are heavy.
Mugo, Kago’s papa is a single father, who has brought up his son since his wife ran off, six years ago, after deciding to not live in their embarrassing poverty. He had drunk his lungs limp when she walked off, but then, had to always leave the drinking dens early, since as people got drunk, theories would start on why the woman ran off.
‘Would you live in a house whose most expensive piece of metal is an axe?’ Kimani, a local toilet digger had one day started the debate.
‘No, no, Kago has a bicycle!’ Another drunk had jumped in. They had all laughed, and a glass had fallen, which attracted the bartender’s attention.
‘That bike is cheaper than an axe!’ Kimani had replied. ‘It moves on the mercies of Mwenenyaga!’
Mugo had listened to them go on and on but had done nothing. Being both a father and mother in the village had left him as a laughing stock, plus, his frail hands were no match to the bulging muscles of the toilet digger. As a matter of fact, all the other drunks weighed a few stones more than Mugo, whose only profession was picking tea at his 1-acre piece of land, and hoping for better prices.
‘We should get Mugo a wife. A man who is 40 years should not be allowed to live alone, not in the cold seasons of the slopes.’ Kimani always started the embarrassing topics. Kimani and Mugo were classmates back in the day.
‘I don’t need a wife. Am okay.’
‘You are not okay! If you can afford 99 goats, I can come and stay with you.’ Bethi, the bulky bartender had offered. Everyone laughed hard. Bethi is a mean waitress at the Magongo Bar, and most drunks fear her. Legend has it that she once threw the bar owner on the roof of the bar for refusing to pay her full wage after she had broken a few glasses breaking up a fight.
‘Bethi you are married.’ Mugo pointed out.
‘Yes I am, but I can handle two men.’ She had bragged and walked off, swaying her huge frame through the chairs, and finally disappearing into the counter booth. ‘ And whoever broke that glass better have some extra coins in their pocket!’
‘Even if I wanted a wife, I would not ask for the help of any of you.’ Mugo sneered and took the last swing at his cold frosty keg.
Mugo loves the slopes, not because he has no option, but because the farm he tills was what his father left behind when he died. He has only a handful of tea bushes, and they are only enough to clothe him and his son and pay for the school fees and uniform for Kago. When the rubber meets the tarmac, he goes out to the neighboring farms to pick their tea and get paid.
When his wife ran off, Mugo was devastated. He had hated his life, but never thought of taking it, because it would mean his son would remain alone. The wife, Birithilla had just left, with a sack full of her good clothes, and left those she picked tea in, the ugly ones. She had even left her left shoe, which had survived on the roof of their small outside kitchen for the six years. Mugo had kicked it there out of frustration. Once again, her name is Priscilla, but you already know the people in the slopes love the names easy.
If you are as slow as Kago, this is a series I am starting. I already have the blessings from the slopes, and my readers from the slopes may start seeing some farmiliar characters, like the mole catcher who will jump in at some point. You will have to forgive me. Don’t take it personal and go uprooting my old man’s Hass Avocado trees. They are still young, learning to fend for themselves.
A happy fathers day to Kago, and all the men out there who have made good use of their talents, and who continue to work hard in trying to fill the earth. You are great people, and a beer to you all, or for those who do not indulge, a cup of tea, or what we call in the slopes, Gatubia. (smile emoji)