As kids, we would go out play like wild dogs on heat. This is because playing was apparently a crime so you had to maximize the short playtime you had. I do not know why parents of old used to be so dramatic. They would go like, “Umefungia kuku?” and you would wonder how many hours closing that flea-infested birdhouse would take.
Parents of old always had to find a reason to whip your ass or bark at you. They would ask why you are dirty intentionally forgetting that you are just a 7-year-old lad discovering life. Unlike kids of these days who are asked, “Baba, how are the waffles?” Our parents of old would ask us, Umewakishia githeri?”
Damn! Kids of these days are clean all day, they get bathed twice daily, watch cartoons, and get an afternoon nap. Us guys of those days would only bathe when we were going somewhere. It is a norm in the village to be asked, “Unaoga kwani unaenda wapi?”.
As kids, we would go roam with the cool but nasty kids of plot ten and come back home looking like perforated scare-crows our faces patched with mud. Because the town legend cannot come home like the village legend with a pass like firewood, our passes were wails of cowardice because of the war you will face.
Plot ten was a no-go zone because it was where prostitutes and chang’aa bruised degenerates would do their transactions. It was full of filth and murk. Used condoms and Konyagi sachets were heaped at some dumpsite near some run-down stinky toilet. It was a crime to be seen in plot ten, in fact, any Christian would be judged harshly should they be seen anywhere near Hades.
But plot ten kids were fun to hang around with. They were insanely creative, they knew how to make the best toys and rag balls. They were good in street life as they had little or no food to eat. Though unkempt, and with tongues flaming with abusive words, they were marvelous creatures, good company for any mischievous kid.
Kids of these days are protected and accompanied by their folks or househelps to swim or to any other outdoor activity. My mum would just say one word, “Nikuone!” or “Nisikie!” It would be a re-enactment of World War Z.
Plot Ten was just opposite where we lived and there were no other kids to play with apart from the Nisikie and Nikuone kids of Plot Ten. One Saturday morning, we woke up to screams and wails from Plot Ten. People, like houseflies feasting on some smelly junk, were surrounding something at a specific corner.
In no time, the police car had arrived with the area chief and several policemen. I asked myself what would make such people come. Curiosity killed the cat but not Siloma. I didn’t know how I went from peeping through our wooden gate to the scene itself.
There he was, the man who had been cutting my hair for years. He was lying motionless on the bumpy rocky floor. The floor that chang’aa belching men danced on. The same floor that sweaty prostitutes harnessed their true power of treachery from. He was light and tall. People called him Mrefu.
He was well dressed but had this dark scar up on his left eye. I wondered what such a neat person would be doing at such a place. It seemed like I believed light-skinned men deserved better. Or was I a racist at such an early age? Well, I was also white 😁.
Plot Ten was treated as the Sheol of the town but on that day, even Church keyboardists, the ‘attractive’ young men who confused our Lady Gay village girls with their fashion and gait were present to quench their curiosity. I didn’t see or notice anything major so I ran back home.
After a while, the police car left and people dispersed. That day I never saw our Plot Ten kids hovering around like monitoring spirits but I ignored it. I used to get my clean shave on Sunday evenings at Mrefu’s Kinyozi because it was approved by Her Excellency Madam Nikuone/Nisikie.
Kinyozi’s (BTW guys there is a big difference between a Kinyozi and a barbershop, I explained it here) were hangout joints for young village men who bathed twice a week and oiled their skins with Baby Care. The two days were Wednesdays which was market day and Sundays.
There were big posters of different shaving styles labeled with numbers and of sad-looking old Reggae artists like Bob Marley, Coco Tea, and Gregory Waithaka. Kinyozi’s located in bigger towns like Loitokitok had akina 50 Cent, Chris Brown & Beyonce but Loitokitok guys had a lot of maringo because they thought they had touched God with their hands. These days they have nothing to be proud of because the internet humiliated them. The internet brought equality since now a guy from Esukuta Boma can send memes to his girlfriend in Nairobi.
Anywho, Madam Nisikie/Nikuone thought that these guys who hanged out in Kinyozis to listen to roots from the small Aitkenson ‘X-BASS’ branded radio were a bad influence. Little did she know that they were just young boys from the village trying to reverse engineer the ways of the city.
I hated the Kinyozi because Mrefu would always cut the rear of my neck with his old black taped shaver. We were never allowed to shave any other style except ‘Jordan’. While Plot Ten kids would shave ‘box’, our parents said that that style was from the devil and it was for those who smoked bhang and drank alcohol.
That Sunday, I went to Mrefu’s Kinyozi as usual but I couldn’t find him. Some other guy shaved me. And so it was the following shaving sessions. It was when I asked my mum where Mrefu had gone. In one sentence she replied, “He died!” Then it hit me that that day I saw him lying on the rocky dusty earth, I was indeed watching his dead body.
Well, that was the first time I saw a dead body that looked so peaceful and calm. I started thinking, “Is death this peaceful?” But then again I snapped to the living world and reverted to the culture and norms of the society that death should not to be talked about.