Why yours truly will avoid political rallies like the plague . . .

 By Kimathi bin Mutegi 

I have been seated at this park of Uhuru for the past three hours, trying to figure out where my life is headed to. I am at the farthest corner, next to the swings towards the University because I want to avoid being pulled into the noises I am hearing coming from the other side and town in general. There are many cops all over and as it happens, cops and I are never the best of friends. Like to arrest and beat me up, that’s what these fellows in uniform do and I am not going to give them an opportunity to inflict pain on my body.

I am also no longer one to be easily pulled into political confrontations, exciting as they might be. I learnt my lesson the hard way when during the last election, I threatened to beat up some guy that was supporting a rival to my preferred MCA. Of course I was a bit tipsy, okay, very drunk, having been well watered by the candidate to make noises on his behalf. At the moment, he was my best buddy and there was nothing I could not do to defend his name and honour. I knew the guy well -the candidate, that is.

He was thoroughly hated by fellows back home because his rich family has been oppressing the rest of us since before independence. Despite this, his family has given employment to majority of my poor relatives for a long time. His father was a particularly mean son of his mother. He could load women in a pick-up, take them to his shamba, 40 kilometres away where they would spend the whole day toiling. Then they would walk back through his home to collect the meagre pay in the evening.

A story goes that one day, when the crops were a few weeks old with the beans having only two leaves, he loaded a bunch of poor mothers as usual in his truck and took them to do some weeding. In the evening, unlike his custom, he drove down to the garden and called the tillers together. “Now,” he said cleaning his huge glasses, “I would like anyone who has accidentally or otherwise, cut down a single bean stalk to come to my left.” This was pretty confusing to the poor women.

They did not know whether to be honest and risk his wrath or lie and risk his wrath. Tentatively, one brave woman stepped to the feared left side. “Now,” said the mean farmer, “If you spent an entire day tilling beans of this size and did not cut even a single one, then it means you weren’t working, so goodbye.” And true to his nasty gene, he paid only the woman that admitted to cutting down a bean. It was an error of judgement in his case. He overlooked the fact that these things that these women were using to till the land with can also become terrifying weapons.

He also forgot to note that these were healthy young women while he was a retiree, and hopelessly outnumbered. Before he could take 10 steps, the women were ululating and screaming for his blood. He took to his heels but his huge pot-belly was an impediment while his aging legs were slow and cumbersome from years of disuse. Well, the fellow paid the women, double the amount and also dropped them in town.

He then went missing for a year, perhaps the embarrassment too much but now I was talking about his son. Despite me knowing how mean this boy vying for MCA was, I still was ready to die for him as long as he funded a few kegs from the local pub. So as it went, I threatened to beat up the fan of his rival and I ended up receiving a beating that rolled back the years for me. In one minute, I was screaming and wailing like a baby while frantically searching for a seat large enough to hide under.

Gosh, this fellow, small as he was fought like a tiger. I spent the next two weeks sharing an hospital bed with some boda boda guy who had flown into the back of a lorry and broken every piece of bone in his body. The lesson I took from the incident is that the pain was individual, that is, I am the only who felt it. The bill was also individual as my MCA candidate didn’t even come to visit me in hospital. In short, I decided that I am not going to be involved in any political brawls ever again. Its only the small guy that gets hurt, never the politician.

So as I was saying, I am not going to be pulled into the excitement that’s bubbling around town. When situations get ugly and police start shooting teargas or live bullets, these politicians will make noise for a week and promptly move on while I will be thoroughly dead or rotting in prison. So, I will sit here and commune with my empty tummy and this ant that I have kept captive for the past 20 minutes. I am asking Mr Ant how in the world he manages to live so carefree, while in his world, there are no such things as cars and TVs and phones.

He is not interested in answering me but I still enquire how in the world his family manages to stay fed and fulfilled while I am the one with the cleverer brain, yet I can hardly sate my thirst. He still isn’t answering but I have also spied an interesting thing. Some girls, perhaps from the University, who had been eating chips a few metres away are leaving and I think one of them was girlie enough to not finish her stash. In the moment of distraction, my prisoner has escaped but it doesn’t matter, I might have a silent tummy, even though it be for a minute. And I need to leave you my friend because I need to get to the bag before that hawk over there does…




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