The Boat will not move

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Published Date:31-07-2017
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      The Boat will not move A collection of short stories by Maina Ndugo All stories © Copyright Maina Ndugo 2013   This is a legally distributed free edition from The author’s intellectual property rights are protected by international Copyright law. You are licensed to use this digital copy strictly for your personal enjoyment only: it must not be redistributed commercially or offered for sale in any form. 2  Contents City Cavemen The junky warriors The boat will not move The cornered vulture Dangerous prey Ransom for the wife and lover                                                 3  City Cavemen Chapter 1 “Here are your results,” she told him Peter took a deep breath as he stared at the kit and silently thanked God the result was negative. “Remember to stay faithful to one partner and always use a condom,” the nurse told him as he left the VCT center. VCT stood for Voluntary Counseling and Testing center. The government established the VCTs in an effort to fight HIV by offering free testing and counseling services to the public. Peter thanked the heavens for narrowly escaping HIV by the skin of his teeth. He had unprotected sex twice and his rubber burst while having a one-night stand in a random party. However, he did not feel he was quite out of the woods yet because he and Pam made love without protection but it didn’t worry him since Pam was married for twelve years and the old school generation rarely cheated unlike his generation where minor disagreements between boyfriend and girlfriend were enough justification for cheating. Pam was Peter’s sugar mommy. They met a month ago after one of Peter’s friends introduced him to his sugar mommy at a club. The sugar mommy immediately liked Peter and introduced him to her friend, Pam who was in need of a college boy. Since then they met on Fridays to party and romp all weekend and Pam would shower Peter with wads of cash. “These campus girls ain’t shit,” he often reminded his friends. It was a Friday and as usual, they had to meet. He unlocked his door, connected his iPod to the speakers and rolled a fat joint. The reggae music flowed smoothly from his speakers as the joint lifted him higher and higher into the kush clouds. Despite receiving good news regarding to his health, Peter had an odd feeling whenever Pam came in to his mind. For some strange reason he did not want to see her that day and hoped, she would not call or text him. Peter logged into Facebook and made sure he set the Chat to offline so that Pam could not chat with him. Suddenly his phone was ringing and he cursed when he saw it was Pam. He ignored the call and sent her text message telling her he was in class. She replied telling him to be at her house by midday. It was ten thirty and Peter rolled another joint as he thought of a convincing excuse that would move Pam to cancel their date. Once the joint was finished, he reluctantly 4  showered, dressed and went to the bus stop. Peter’s plan was simple; he would get her so drunk until she passed out then leave and if she called on Saturday he would tell her hangovers had confined him to bed rest. It would work since Pam did not know where her boy toy lived and she would agree to meet the following weekend. He arrived in the city center thirty minutes later, boarded another bus to Ngong Road, and alighted after half an hour. Pam resided in an upmarket area of Nairobi. Some of the who’s who in Nairobi lived in the same apartment complex she did. The complex had a state of the art gym, stadium size swimming pool, a mall and free premium package cable TV. The parking lot spoke volumes of the residents since BMWs and Mercedes were many. Peter got into the elevator and got off at the third floor, walked down the corridor, turned right and knocked door 312. “Peter” she kissed him as he entered. There were people in the living room drinking and chatting and there was a lot of liquor on the table. He greeted the man and two women seated on the couch as he poured himself some vodka. Virtually all those people were Pam’s age and Peter felt the odd one out. He stood beside the large windows and watched like a fly on the wall. Pam suddenly appeared all bubbly and giggling like a teenager with two women “This is Peter” she grabbed his small shoulders and the women greeted him as they scanned him head to toe. “He’s quite handsome” one of them screamed and they disappeared into the rest of the party. They left one at a time or in small groups until finally it was only Pam and Peter in the house. Peter was tipsy and so was his sugar mommy. He went into the kitchen with a bottle of brandy and poured her some but she refused it. Damn it How will I leave if she is still on her feet he cursed inwardly. Pam moved close to him and they made out for several minutes before she led him to her bedroom. She fully undressed, laid on her king size bed and beckoned him to indulge. Pam was forty but she still had a Coke bottle figure and not a single stretch mark on her flawless skin. Peter undressed slowly, put on a condom and jumped into the bed. “Why are you wearing that?” she asked pointing the rubber “Safe sex is great sex” he responded 5  Chapter 2 “Don’t you trust me?” “I’m young and I don’t want to mess things up. Besides, your husband hits it raw and I have to use protection” Pam was livid. How could this college boy disrespect her? Had he forgotten who the major beneficiary in their relationship was? She asked herself. “So you want to say I’m filthy. Is that right Peter? I can infect you with some strange STI?” she shouted but he remained firm. He removed the condom and began dressing as Pam stared in disbelief. She put on her clothes and pushed him on her way out. Peter was already at the door but she told him she saw her husband’s car at the gate. Had they seen the car earlier, Peter would have vanished faster and her husband would not be knocking repeatedly as he did. Peter and Pam froze in fear. Peter went to Pam’s laundry room, opened the window and slid down the drainage pipe stealthily. He walked towards the gate but he saw Pam and her husband also leaving the apartment and changed his direction since he did not Mr. Mwai to see him a second time because Peter narrowly escaped the angry giant during their first encounter. Mr. Mwai had caught them kissing passionately inside Pam’s car at the apartments’ parking lot one evening. He shouted and attracted the attention of the neighbors as he loudly threatened to break Peter in to half. Pam pleaded with him to be calm but her pleas landed on deaf ears. Once they stepped out of the car, he charged towards Peter and landed two heavy blows on his face. The neighbors restrained him as Peter ran for his dear life like the roadrunner. He went to the back and squeezed between a rusty gate that the tenants used before the complex was complete and disappeared into Ngong forest. He went through the forest since it was a shortcut to the bus stop and he wouldn’t worry about bumping in to Mr.Mwai. The moon illuminated the paths as crickets sang. Peter was deep in the forest looking left and right for any danger. The branches slapped against him but he moved on. He could see the bus stage from where he stood but he figured it would take him ten more minutes so he quickened his pace and suddenly he heard hooves approaching him. He looked and sprinted away when he noticed the warthogs and they followed him deeper into the forest. “Follow me” 6  Peter looked and saw a man urging him to follow him and he obeyed him. They went down a slope and the warthogs stopped and began displaying their aggression through throwing dirt in the air using their hideous face and grunting at the same time. “Thanks man. Are you a warden?” he asked the man “This is my home” Peter laughed and told him he needed to get to the bus stop but the man advised him against it because a leopard had escaped the Nairobi National Park and the game wardens believed it was hiding in the forest. They walked through a clearing and went against a slope covered with thick under growth and the man pushed aside a large bush revealing a cave. He went inside and Peter followed then he replaced the huge bush at the entrance. “I have to do this otherwise the animals will enter my house” he explained. The man took out a matchbox and lit two candles and Peter realized the man was serious about living in the cave. The cave was large and high enough for one to stand, at the corner stood his kitchen where he kept his utensils and a few bottles of water. At the center, there was a worn out mattress, a small radio and a few magazines. Peter felt pity towards the man. The man pulled out a kerosene stove at the corner, took out some tomatoes and onions from a worn out backpack and some soya meat with bread. Peter helped him prepare the soya meat as the man tuned his radio. “I’m Peter by the way” “I’m James” he replied “Why do you live here?” “Where do I start? My parents live in Nyandarua and I came to Nairobi last year to make it but it seems the city does not want me around. I was walking from Bomas one evening, it began raining heavily, since I did not have bus fare I decided to shelter in the forest, and I discovered this cave. I was evicted from my house in Kibera because of rent arrears and I moved into the forest” Peter was silent processing what James had told him. In his world, the furthest poverty would take you was the ghetto but he had no idea it could kick one out of the shack into the cave. He was glad the roof did not leak otherwise he would have caught a serious case of pneumonia. “I do odd jobs here and there so I can survive. I have not spoken to my parents in three months but I’ll visit them when I get my life back on track.” 7   They ate their meal and Peter shared his joint before they hit the sac. Peter found the cave warm he did not need a blanket. He was fast asleep when James woke him up. “There is something at the entrance,” he warned him. It sounded like something or someone was desperately trying to get through the bush. James grabbed his club and stood ready for action. They heard voices at the entrance and some flashlights swept the cave. James recognized the heavy boots as they stepped into his abode and instructed Peter to hide. Peter climbed the walls of the cave and hid in an opening near the entrance as James hid below him. They saw two men armed with rifles searching the cave and James bolted out as Peter followed him “Stop right there” Chapter 3 “Vijana” The pair fled like an antelope escaping a lion. James led Peter through the forest but Peter paused out of exhaustion. “We can’t rest. They will catch up with us” James urged Peter and he followed him. They ran through a large clearing, ascended another slope, turned left where their path branched and hid under decaying logs. Peter wanted to jump out of his skin when a centipede fell on his neck and began crawling inside his shirt. However, he managed to remain calm, the creature crawled out, and he brushed it off. Monkeys shrieked as they played in the trees and other animals made different noises. Peter checked his watch and wondered whether the wardens had given up on them. He stood and immediately resumed behind the log once he saw several flashlights at the clearing below the slope. They waited for another hour and left using a different route to resume to the cave. James was glad his mere possessions were intact. “They might have been looking for the missing leopard,” he said. “Once the sun rises I will take you to an orphanage or just some where to get you out of this life,” Peter told James. 8   They slept for one hour but they were rudely awakened and handcuffed half asleep, half-awake. An officer booked them at the KWS station and an officer locked them in a cold cell. They had cold milk and bread for breakfast and later an officer released them. He led them outside the station where there were a lot of cameras and reporters around a senior warden. The reporters suddenly focused on the pair as the warden continued “Our wardens managed to find these two while they were looking for the leopard. Last month the wardens arrested that one for residing in a cave but we released him because he told us he was unemployed and had nowhere to go.” He said as he pointed James “However, unemployment is not a reason to live in a forest full of wild animals. We shall keep them here as we decide the next course of action,” with that he ended the press briefing and an officer returned them to the cell. Peter remembered that strange feeling he had the previous day about going to Pam’s house. How would his parents, lecturers, Pam and his friends treat him once they saw him handcuffed on the news? Who would employ him after watching him on the news? They would brand him a junkie and treat him like the scum of society “My life is over,” he said to himself James worst nightmare had materialized. He would join the long list of failures that left the village but returned defeated and empty handed. Those who spoke ill of him when he left Nyandarua would have new fodder to chew on once they heard that he was arrested for residing in a cave like a wild animal. He too agreed his life was over. The officers served them poorly cooked beans with ugali. The day went by and the pair spent another night in the cold cell. Both Peter and James missed the warm cave as they shivered in the cell. “Wake up I said wake up” a warden banged their cell door and immediately woke up. The warden handcuffed them and they hopped into a truck. They drove for an hour in the busy highway. Peter saw drivers and passengers in different vehicles looking as some parents pointed them while telling their kids those were hard core criminals who had no place in society. They stopped at some high-end apartments and the media and the senior warden greeted them. Immediately one of the wardens unlocked their handcuffs and the senior warden beamed as he gave James a set of keys. He led Peter, James and the reporters to the first floor and stopped at door 101. “Open it” he smiled at James. 9  James trembled as he turned the key. He pushed the door open and walked into a large living room. There was a beige carpet on the floor, beige sofa set, a brown coffee table with small rhino and elephant carvings and a HD screen on the wall. “This is yours, my friend” the warden congratulated James. James was speechless and suddenly screamed and ran all over the house full of excitement. He did not realize the cameras behind him. Once he calmed down, a reporter from a leading media house told him their Marketing &CSR department manager urged the C.E.O of the media house to donate one of the apartments they had purchased for the ongoing lottery in their newspaper. The C.E.O agreed and they fetched them from the cells to the new apartment. The reporters and wardens left and Peter was about to leave but James requested him to stay. “Now you won’t worry about animals in your bedroom” Peter joked and they laughed. “This is a miracle. In case you have nowhere to go to feel free to come here,” James replied. “I guess a house warming would be in order” “What’s a house warming?” James asked “Wait and see” At 7PM, Peter returned to James’ apartment with a group of his friends. They entered and the boys served the liquor to the ladies. James had never seen so many pretty women in his life. The music was loud and soon the living room became a dance floor. Peter sat beside James and smiled “This is a house warming” 10  The Junky Warriors Chapter 1 The warriors covered the grave with soil and stones as the rest of the village watched. It was hardly a week since they had buried their warriors who died defending them against the Pokot. The elders gathered around the grave and prayed for the deceased and the funeral was over. Each family returned to its hut to hide from the scorching sun. Once the heat began fading in the evening, the women became as busy as ants in preparation of supper. The elders and warriors met at their usual place, under the huge Acacia tree to discuss the way forward in regards to the attacks. The elders sat on one side and the warriors sat on the opposite side. Kipkorir, chair of the elders commenced the meeting with prayers and reminded them of the purpose of the meeting. They had to plan their next raid on the Pokot as well as formulate a plan on how each Pokot elder would support the families of the slain elders. Pokot warriors raided their village the previous week and took off with their livestock but some of their warriors killed some women and children, which was unacceptable during cattle raids. The Nandi elders decided to send some of their elders and warriors to the Pokot village in order to demand for compensation however, the Pokot warriors killed them during the talks. It was as if they had jumped out of the frying pan in to the fire. Peter, commander of the Pokot wariors they had to wait for two weeks before the warriors received more firearms and ammunition. They agreed on when to raid the Pokot and planned to kill as many men as possible in order to compensate for their women and children. It would be more of a revenge mission than a cattle raid. Kipkorir ordered the warriors to leave since the second matter concerned the council only. Koech, Tugen and Cheriyot were the elders who met death in the Pokot village. The elders decided they would feed their families until their boys underwent circumcision. It was also time to discuss potential candidates for the three slots in their council but they decided they would meet the following day since it was already dark. “Hallo Mama” “I’m fine Kipkorir, come in” “How are things?” 11  “I’m already feeling challenged with him gone. How will I raise four children by myself and I’m not a young woman anymore?” “Don’t worry. We have decided we will support you until your boys become warriors. We truly miss Koech” He left Koech’s home and slowly walked home. Kipkorir and Koech belonged to the same age group and they joined the council the same time after their successful raid on the Marakwet five years ago. Some members of the previous council of elders did not hide their beliefs concerning their age group since they believed they would bury new warriors instead of celebration. The elders were not pessimistic because most members of the age group drunk like sailors and spread their seed within the village and almost every village they raided. On that particular raid, Kipkorir’s age group proudly returned to the village with three hundred and fifty cows, two hundred sheep, thirteen AK-47s and some women whom they married and bore children. The elders were shocked at their huge success and the following week, they decided to step down and reward the warriors with promotions to the council since they were the first age group in the history of their village as well as other Nandi villages. As he lay on the sheepskin, he remembered how their battalion returned home successful after numerous cattle raids and the respect they earned throughout the entire county. Tables had turned and he no longer felt the same confidence he had on their current warriors since the Pokot killings. “Who will protect us and restore our community back to the top?” he wondered Chapter 2 It was a beehive of activities at Kapsabet Stadium on Thursday afternoon. The Provincial Police Commissioner, his deputy and other senior police officers had organized a one-week arms disarmament exercise. The Provincial Police Commissioner assured the Nandi and Pokot that none of them would face prosecution because of surrendering their weapons. They divided the football field into two so that the Nandi would surrender their firearms on one side while the Pokot would leave their firearms on the other. In the evening, three thousand firearms and an 12  uncountable number of bullets were surrendered and the senior police officers decided to wrap up the exercise on the second last day. It was a huge success considering the failures of past disarmament exercises. The Nandi elders met under the Acacia tree in the evening to discuss candidates for the vacancies. They unanimously agreed on George, a retired pastor and Kirwa, the former head teacher at Nandi Primary. As for the last spot, it was a tie between Daudi, the commander of the warriors and Kutuny, the late Tugen’s brother. They finally agreed on Daudi since his promotion would motivate the warriors and they needed his technical expertise on firearms in the council. After the meeting, they walked in small groups that grew smaller and smaller once each council elder arrived at his house. Samuel told his wife to fetch him some water and she went outside to the storage tank. He drank the water and immediately lay on the sheepskin. Sleep eluded him for a while before he began drifting in to slumber. “They are here They have come to finish us” “Help Help” “Oh Lord what did we do to deserve this?” a woman wailed loudly Gunshots filled the air as the people ran helter-skelter for their dear lives. The warriors quickly assembled and engaged the Pokot once more but they also joined the fleeing villagers since they ran out of ammunition. After two hours, their village had deteriorated to burning houses, wounded villagers and their livestock pen was as empty as Jesus’ grave. Kipkorir gathered the council who helped him gather the villagers and identify the dead. Among the dead were two warriors and an elderly man. Some of the victims whose houses had burned spent the remainder of the night at their neighbors while others camped outside. Kipkorir decided that they would relocate to the hills at dawn. Immediately the first rooster crowed, Kipkorir went round the village to wake the villagers up and they began their journey to Nandi hills. The elders agreed with his decision because they would be far from their foes and it would be easy to spot incoming threats at a distance from the hills. Once they arrived, the men began working on the fence as the women and girls built the thatched houses. In the afternoon, Kipkorir gathered the council and villagers to install the new elders. The elders promised they would ensure the security of each villager. The elders elected Sang to be the new commander of the warriors. Dusk quickly became night and the warriors patrolled the village as the villagers slept. As they kept vigil, they could not hide their regret for giving in to 13  the government’s disarmament exercise too easily. Their compliance left them as vulnerable as a man walking unarmed in a jungle full of predators. They learnt their lesson after the test thanks to the raid and they had to move on but they swore no Nandi would ever surrender their weapons in any disarmament exercise. Kenneth, Sirma and Sang headed to town early so they would arrive to the market early, sell their cattle and be back home before dusk. They walked for four kilometres to find the market full of livestock and people. Large stacks of bills exchanged as cattle changed ownership. The three warriors felt disgusted as the arrogant Pokot lads loudly bragged about their sales and quality of their livestock. Sirma spotted two bulls that his father lost during the second raid in the Pokot’s herd. He felt somebody tap his shoulder and immediately turned round “Kipchoge” “You are no longer the skinny boy I used to play with” “Hahaha I’m a warrior nowadays” “That’s great. I’m looking for some nice bulls and yours seem like the right pick” They haggled over the price before Sirma agreed to sell his three bulls for sixty thousand. Once the market closed, the traders filled each bar, club and pub to enjoy their profits. Kenneth and Sang were surprised to see Kipchoge after a decade. He had grown taller than they had but was skinny just as he was when he left Nandi for Eldoret. Kipchoge told them he had a huge butchery and a two-year-old son and his friends told him about their recent relocation to the hills. At midnight, Kenneth ordered a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka and took a taxi to the village. “We, the Pokot are very clever people. While our enemies surrendered their weapons to the government we fooled the government by giving them our faulty guns” a drunken Pokot shouted and his fellow warriors cheered. “Fuck them” Sang cursed them. They ordered more Tusker and goat meat, danced with the girls but constantly made sure they knew where their wallets were at all times since prostitutes thronged the clubs whenever money was in the air. Kipchoge , Sirma and Sang went outside for some fresh air. Kipchoge took out a cigarette from his pocket, emptied some of the tobacco, poured some fine, brown powder, and lit the cigarette. “What’s that?” Sirma asked him “Brown Sugar” he replied “You want some?” he offered them 14  Sirma took the cigarette puffed it thrice and immediately passed it to Sang and after four hits, he returned it to Kipchoge. Sang felt like his head was rapidly expanding like a hot air balloon and sat at the pavement. The music sounded quite loud even though he was outside the club. Suddenly he felt quite calm as he did while basking on the riverside. Sirma experienced a similar trip and they rapidly fired questions at Kipchoge about the Heroin. “Kipchoge, how are you?” “Mark Say hi to my friends” Kipchoge introduced his friend to Sang and the rest. Mark wanted to light his cigarette but he offered him his cigarette. Sang and Sirma burst in to laughter since they knew it was no ordinary cigarette. “They are always like this whenever they are drunk,” he told Mark. Mark began sweating and became quite energetic. He returned with four Pokot warriors after he told them about the cigarette and they wanted some. Kipchoge offered them some heroin in a tiny sachet for two hundred and fifty shillings and the group bought sachets worth two thousand shillings. Chapter 3 The medicine man stood puzzles after each attempt and medicine failed to restore Luke’s health. His wife appeared hopeless when she saw the hopeless expression on the medicine man’s face. Was it a curse? She asked herself. Two men came to visit and she let them in. “My brother, how are you feeling?” Kosgei asked him “Terrible. I can’t even describe” he replied in a weak voice Koisa removed a cigarette, filled it with H and lit it. Luke stretched his hand and Koisa passed it to him. He passed the cigarette to Luke and he puffed it slowly. Luke could not belie it He felt better, better each time he puffed, and the sweating had stopped. Suddenly he sat up much to his friends’ amazement. “That stuff was all I needed,” he told them wearing an ear to ear smile Kosgei, Koisa and Luke left the hut to visit one of their friends whom they heard was ill. Koisa offered him a laced cigarette and he regained his health within minutes. The Heroin had healed their friends and they had to get more of it. What they did not realize was that they had 15  become addicts and Luke’s illness was his body craving for the drug. Luke told them he had stayed a week since he used the drug because his stash was over and did not have Kipchoge’s number. Koisa called Mark and they agreed to meet in the afternoon at the market place. At one o’clock, the three Pokot men headed to the market place and arrived one hour later. Kipchoge arrived ten minutes later and the lads bought stash worth three thousand shillings. Luke told him of how the heroin had cured him in the morning and Kipchoge told him it he was already been hooked on the drug and so were his friends. This made them happy because they found a reason to use the drug regularly and he was happy because he had three regular customers. Kipchoge taught them a new way of getting high by pricking his arm with a toothpick and putting a little heroin on the puncture. Koisa tried the new method and after five minutes he was smiling and his speech slurred as they walked to the village. “How is it?” Luke asked him “I feel higher than I did when smoking it” “When are the young boys getting circumcised?” Koisa asked “Wednesday” Kosgei replied. They returned to the village at dusk and each of them passed out in his hut. Luke’s wife was glad the illness had gone away. The following day, the Pokot warriors gathered members of the young age group to prepare them for their circumcision. According to their culture, the boys would be gathered and taken to a secluded spot in the forest where they learned the roles of a Pokot man and their culture. Once they healed, combat training would begin and after two weeks of intensive training, they would qualify to join the rest of the warriors. At 4.30 AM the following morning, the warriors and elders gathered the soon to be initiates and they made their way to River Ekwe in song and dance braving the chilly weather. The medicine man stood on the riverside with a blade in his right hand and stared at the boys coldly as they stepped into the river. The chair of council of elders prayed to the ancestors thanking them for their success in the Nandi raids and initiates who would become great warriors. Once he finished, the boys got out of the river and stood in a single file as the medicine man circumcised their numb penises. He made it quite clear that any initiate who flinched or showed signs of pain would not join the rest of his initiates in the forest. All the candidates successfully endured the cut and the villagers cheered them as they began marching to the forest. 16   Gunshots filled the air and immediately sent panic and confusion in the Pokot village. Women screamed, children cried and the men hurriedly rushed to their huts to get their rifles. The pen was broken and they heard Nandi men loudly cursing as they shot the villagers. The elders and warriors heard the noise one and a half kilometers away and rushed to the village but it was too late since blood had spilled, houses had burned and their livestock was gone. They helped the rest of the villagers put out the fires and gathered the dead bodies. Luke,Kosgei and Koisa returned to the village at sunrise and could not believe their eyes when they saw the destruction. Immediately they knew they were in hot soup once the commander and his assistant realized they were not among the dead. A fellow warrior spotted them and beckoned them for help but they did not respond. “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you look at the situation?” he asked angrily “Re..Re..Relax, we will help you” Koisa slurred and smiled at him The warrior could not hide his disgust and anger when he realized how hammered his colleagues were. He immediately reported them to the commander. “You were supposed to remain vigil until the sunrise but you would rather get drunk” the commander shouted at them. Luke told the commander they had some strange noises near the entrance of the village and decided to check and found Marakwet warriors trying to make their way in to the village. The commander struck him on the head with his club and Luke collapsed on the ground. “The Nandi did this. Don’t play games with me,” he snarled The commander ordered his warriors to tie the hammered warriors to a tree as they waited for the council to return and pass their judgment. Luke, Koisa and Kosgei enjoyed their buzz but in the back of their minds, they knew it was their last day on earth. 17  The boat will not move Chapter 1 The rescue mission was over. Villagers surrounded the bodies and broke into wailing. George stared at them blankly as the police covered the bodies and took them to the General Hospital’s morgue. Victor and Oketch saw George standing at a distance and decided to go have a word with him “Hello George,” Victor greeted him “Can you tell us what happened?” “Don’t worry, we will not tell anybody,” Oketch pleaded but George remained as silent as a graveyard. The two left and headed back to the village. Most people went to either the late Oduol’s house or Frank’s house to make funeral arrangements. The headman had organized a cleansing ceremony for the boat in the afternoon so that its owner could resume fishing in the great lake. The boat belonged to Daudi, George’s uncle. It rained more than cats and dogs the previous night while George, Daudi, Frank and Oduol were fishing. Water filled the boat and as they rowed to shore, the boat began leaking causing them to loose control. Frank and Oduol fell from the boat because of the tides. Daudi had joined the search and rescue team since it was his boat and because they were his fishing partners. George remained alone at the lakeshore in the blazing afternoon sun as he waited for the cleansing ceremony. Luo customs dictated a survivor of a boat tragedy could not leave the shore until the elders cleansed the jinxed boat. His impatience grew as the sun became hotter. Even though he would miss school on Monday, it was not how he had pictured it. He was ten and all he thought about was school, fun and games. At around 1 PM, George’s mother and elder sister visited him at the beach with a warm meal and some cold water. They were optimistic he would be home by evening and everything would return to normal. Meanwhile Francis, George’s father was on his way home after purchasing a white goat from the market. The goat was not for feasting but a requirement of the cleansing ceremony. He hoped the heavens would take the dark cloud over their heads so they would move on with their lives. He was quite worried about George’s silence since he was quite a chatterbox at home and 18  school. Francis went to the village headman’s house to show him the goat so they would get the ceremony over. He greeted the elders and they had lunch before heading to the lake. It was quite muddy from the village to the lake. Some slipped and fell flat on their backs and everyone burst into laughter. Men were not frogs to hop in the mud, the muddy victims protested. Once the villagers saw the elders along with Francis they immediately went silent and stepped aside for the esteemed elders to walk to the cursed boat. Dark clouds began forming and strong winds blew. One of the elders began chanting before he engaged the ancestral spirits and Lake spirits concerning the matter at hand. Thunder roared and the winds grew stronger. Francis stepped aside and the elders slaughtered the goat and drained its blood into a container. Four elders dipped their flywhisks in the blood and sprinkled the boat as they sang to the deities. George watched with anticipation. It would soon be over and he would go back home. Rain poured heavily but the villagers remained firm waiting to see what would happen next. “It’s over. Move the boat” the village headman announced. Immediately Francis and some men pushed the boat and fell in the mud. They pushed and pushed but their effort was useless since the boat did not move. Normally it would just slip in the water because of the slippery mud but what held it on the shore was beyond them. George wailed loudly and passed out. Chapter 2 Friends and relatives were leaving the late Oduol’s compound. His son, Omondi was with his friends and cousins and Mrs. Oduol went to the house. Victor went to the house and sat beside her. He could see how physically and emotionally drained because of the tragedy. Victor knew that it was the right time to strike while the iron was hot since it was just a matter of time before other men make advances to the widow. “I’m sorry for this loss. Do you know he was the one who gave me my first fishing net?” he began “Really? May his soul rest in paradise because of his kindness” she burst into more tears 19  “He even shared his catch whenever one of us had a bad day,” he continued and she let her tears flow as she cried. He held her close and let her cry on his shoulder. “Listen, I want you to come to me whenever you need something,” he told her as he put ten thousand shillings in her hand. She stared at the money as if it was unfamiliar. “Thank you Victor Thank you May you be blessed for the rest of your life” she hugged him and her frown changed to an ear-to-ear smile. She was glad the Lord blessed her late husband with such a loyal friend. He left her and her son preparing supper. Francis, Adhiambo and Daudi went to see poor George at the lake. They found him shivering under a rotting boat and his mother immediately wrapped her heavy scarf around him as she held him close. They told him they were from the headman’s house and he promised them they would have a solution by the next morning. Adhiambo wanted to carry her son back home where he would sleep in a warm bed rather than endure a rainy night but that was a dream. Tradition had no room for special cases. They served him hot rice and tilapia and made poured him some hot chocolate from the Adhiambo’s thermos. It was time to leave and they promised him they would be back early in the morning. Adhiambo decided she would pack some antibiotics and flu medicine for George the following morning. George returned under the boat and he was glad it was still dry. He curled as he tried to catch some sleep. The waves sounded so close he thought they would carry him away. The warm breeze provided enough warmth for him to drift into dreamland. Suddenly he saw himself in Daudi’s boat. Frank sat beside him while Daudi and Odoul sat the opposite side. Frank was drinking liquor while Daudi and Oduol were pulling in the fishing nets. They were frustrated with their failure and Oduol suggested they rowed further into the lake. David agreed but Frank ordered them to return him to shore because he had a wife unlike them who were bachelors. Daudi told Frank to run on the water back to the shore and Frank threw obscenities at him. George remembered Daudi telling Frank his wife was wasting time waiting for a drunk who would pass out under the bed. They exchanged insults and obscenities that would make a truck driver blush however, things took a turning point when Frank grabbed the oar from Oduol. Oduol was angry and demanded for the oar but Frank began rowing towards shore. He wrestled Frank for the oar when suddenly Frank smashed the half-full liquor bottle on Oduol’s head. What followed was a brawl inside the small boat as George screamed in terror. Oduol had the oar and swung it narrowly missing Frank’s skull. Frank charged at him and he 20  

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