If life was a bottle of champagne, I would order mine straight up. I am not saying this because I believe I have had quite the cheesiest life out here, not at all. I am stating this because I choose to look beyond what we deem as norms. I see the smile even before it happens, I am not God..that would be blasphemous, to say the least. I simply am one dorky and happy soul.
This tale takes us to the shores of Lake Victoria, a place called Usenge. I schooled somewhere in this place in a school that shared the same name as its marketplace. Usenge High school was the name of the institution. Sounds suspicious especially if you are from down coast, but sometimes schools are not reflections of their names. They wallow in the image the auspicious names sink them. You cant blame them.
Fast forward, I am in third form and its that time guys are getting literally hunted by the school to clear fees. We had no half terms here. Half term sounded like what croissants would in Turkana. It was those moments we anticipated for with utter zeal if only for the chance to tour the marketplace. The marketplace was our Mecca. It was nothing really, just dusty air filled with funny hotels and a discotheque squeezed somewhere in dark corners. So I quickly hook up with this chap from my class and we manage to sneak out of school under the pretext of going to collect fees. He hailed from somewhere around Usenge, he had a hilarious nickname. We called him “Oh-Lord”. I swear that was his moniker. His real name was Fredrick Otieno. Don’t ask me how the name came along. It’s 4, so we leave school for Fredrick’s place somewhere in the village. You have to understand this was the underbelly of Nyanza so plushness here was a faux paus.
After making good leave our school we head to their place. Look I had no idea where I was heading, but the excitement of just being out of school made it even more interesting. I live for adventures. If they had a face I would probably be their poster boy. We walk into a homestead with about three huts and a semi-permanent structure seated in the middle. He points that to me and tells me that is his “Simba”. I nod acknowledging, you must acknowledge every mans achievement this side of the divide if you want to be in his good books. He hands me a pair of jeans and a slightly faded Tee that reeked of sweat. I decline and he hands me a vest. The fisherman sort of vests, the ones that look like sieves, you know them? This place is hot so a Vest is half as good as tee but even better than a sweaty tee. We now look like “Jo-gweng” and we stroll to the Marketplace, our Mecca.
Its slightly past five now, but the sun is shining like we are in the abyss of hell. This place is hot like that. It leaves you a shade darker than when you first come. I am hungry, the last meal I had was badly cooked vegetables from a cook with a wretched smug on his face, and half cooked “ugali”.”Oh-Lord” is my guide here now, he leads me to a Hotel called Makuti. Its slightly cooler than the sweltering heat out there.”Oh-Lord” waves at the waitress a dark lady who seemed to have deep fried herself in Kimbo before coming here. “Ngadi,Ngadi kas to iol e chuodho ario mama,” he orders as I stare bewildered. I am not saying I don’t get Dholuo but whatever he had ordered then dint seem like something that was even edible in the first place. I stared hard at the waitresses abnormal derriere as she dragged the mass of her weight to the kitchen, and waited with baited breath. She emerges ten minutes later with two platefuls of beans and “chapati” that has been cut and mixed together. OK I am not thinking, I am hungry, I dig in. Halfway I wonder if this were actually two chapoz in that bean stew, she might have as well fed us on one chapo but the economy isn’t a pig here. Chapo is only 5Ksh, fair deal huh?
After two platefuls I am full. I smack my lips.”Oh Lord” my guy is staring at me. Then he says, “Be isenenoga ochot?”as he puts his tongue through his teeth. I find that queer. Men don’t do that, but he was just anybody..he was “Oh-Lord” I could let that slide. Sensing adventure I reply yes I had but hadn’t had conversations with them. “Kawuono en chiengi jadha,” he continues in that rapid dholuo. Another waitress waltz s in this time. She is smelling geisha or a product of that same “sabun” company. She is well groomed in a black mini and some slim soled shoes. You know what they call this place in my homeland? “Usenge asai”. It leads in the highest number of HIV Infections in Nyanza. Here sex is nothing big, even sharing wives isn’t scoffed at. Orgies, Oligamy, polygamy same shit down here. The waitress sits between us and gives us the half hand greeting. I find that pretty bashful..reeks of uncouthness.”Oh-Lord” sets the ball in motion.
PS:*Ok from here its graphic dholuo, you had better look for an interpreter*
“Jaber atur,” he chimes touching the ladies bare leg. I am watching in earnest here.
“In gi Adi?,” inquires the lady now chewing non-existent gum in her mouth,
“an gi owadwa ni kae..ento okowuo nkech en jamwa”he continues now trying to push for a midway.
“Tokuwach ni un gi adi bas wawinjre,mano onge sida…,” pipes the lady now getting pretty anxious.
“wan gi pier abich kende jaber,lakini watur” “Oh-Lord interjects.
She snorts and clicks loudly then retorts
,” Mano dhi umany nyimine u ungoth wa”
Then shestandsd up to leave.”oh-Lord” my friend ,quickly rises up and holds her hand and guides her back to her seat
,”Bed mos mama, wamii kila ngato mia riyo”
She seems undecided but “oh-Lord” tells her that is the final bargain, its a dry and hot night..no much customers too I presume, she thinks about it and then snidely remarks
,”Lakini un ma uchulo room”
.”Oh Lord” agrees to this and she says,
“aya pok ulonyo suruare podi?urito kengele?”
We convince her to let us go withdraw money from MPESA and come back, as we get out I burst into fits of laughter. You want to know how it ended? we never came back! But it gave me a tale for one darn term!