The old posho mill at the very edge of the village was the only inheritance that had been passed down to Kimani from his late father who too, had received it from his own father. The Kimani’s had been one of the first settlers of Kiambogo village in the late sixties when a white settler was forced to give up part of the land he had illegally acquired and surrendered it back to the Kenyan government who later sold it at very affordable prices.
Kiambogo was fertile and picturesque, two rivers flowed on each side of the town and beautiful hills backdropped the small village. It was a beautiful place to live but undeveloped road networks had cut the village off from modernization and going to the village as an outsider felt like going back in time to the days when the internet and selfies were non-existent.
Kimani, or “KK” as he was fondly referred to by his close friends, had had a simple life. He had never left the county even once. He worked, went to school and was expected to get a bride in Kiambogo. Deep down, however, he wondered what life was like outside what he saw. He wanted to see KICC and take a picture next to the Tom Mboya statue in Nairobi. But he dared not speak of these thoughts openly. The people of the village believed that anyone who abandoned their ways for the flashy life of the city was guaranteed to fail and become a drunkard.
There were no bars in Kiambogo, a small council mainly consisting of clergymen, teachers and the village vet had unanimously agreed against the business of alcohol. This was after an illegal brew had led to the loss of eyesight of some high school students in the late 90’s. From the outside looking in, they appeared to be sober people. Many homesteads however had many cases of alcoholism. Most of which were caused by traditional brews.
A select number of people had smartphones but because there was no electricity, you had to have a solar-powered electric system to enjoy such gadgets. Kimani had saved up enough to buy a first-generation Samsung phone. It was old and slow, but it served its purpose. Now more than ever, he needed it. He had found love on the internet. A reason to finally leave the village.
He worked at the diesel-powered posho mill six days a week. The noise from the motor had messed up his hearing in one ear just like his father and those that had come before him. He earned peanuts from the mill, but he couldn’t close shop, not when his mother still had a say in the matter.
“This is your father’s gift to you as it was his father’s gift to him! The posho mill has served Kiambogo for decades. You will not be the one to drop the ball Kimani! You hear!”, his mother threatened when KK expressed his disinterest in moving forward with the family business.
When his grandfather had opened the posho mill years ago, it was a booming business, and he was one of the richest men in Kiambogo. People had grain and he turned it into flour. It was a simple exchange that had sustained the family for decades. Things had changed however after more mills were set up around the village; six more to be exact.
KK’s mother had strongly suggested that he marry Maria, the daughter of the village pastor. She was a beautiful girl but in KK’s mind, no one came close to Amelia, his online flame who he’d been chatting with on the social media app 2go for five months. Amelia was from Nairobi, a student of law in UON who loved travelling, visiting restaurants and cooking. She was wild too and had initiated KK into the world of sexting and sending nude photos.
Internet access was really sketchy in Kiambogo and the only place where KK could get good reception was on top one of the hills. Every evening after closing shop he would spend a couple of hours there chatting with his beloved.
He was crazy about Amelia and dreamt of the day he would finally meet her, hold her, kiss her and do to her all the erotic things he had seen in re-runs of the Bold and Beautiful. He was in love!
It would be two more months before the opportunity to visit Nairobi finally presented itself. The posho mill had finally given up and broken down. It needed a spare part that could only be bought in Nairobi. It was decided that Samson, the village know it all, would accompany KK to the city to buy the part.
The evening before the trip KK spent the entire afternoon on the hill looking through the nude pictures of his Amelia, her firm looking breasts and well-toned body. KK could already taste her soft lips and smell her silky long hair.
KK’s father had raised his son to properly love women and take care of them. What that meant was that a man was supposed to financially provide for his woman. With this in mind, KK was constantly sharing his peanuts with Amelia, encouraging her to get her hair done and treat herself to some ice cream.
He was excited about meeting his love, but Amelia sounded nervous and anxious. “Everything will be okay!” KK texted back, “Would you like me to pack you some potatoes tomorrow?” he added.
Texting had become their preferred mode of communication after Amelia had shared that she didn’t like making phone calls, video calls or voice notes. “I feel closer to you when we text” she would always tell KK.
The buildings in Nairobi were massive, and the women were beautiful. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry though. People drove beautiful cars and there was no sight of mud. Only concrete pavements and beautifully manicured lanes.
“Babe, I am here. We already bought the spare part; I am waiting for you at Kenya archives!”
Samson had gone off to run some errands at Gikomba leaving KK to have some free time to meet up with his girlfriend. He had worn his best clothes. An outdated Arsenal jersey, oversized khaki pants and mud-filled sharpshooter shoes. Even a blind person could tell that KK was as Kienyeji as they come.
“Babe, are you okay? Where are you? I am worried. Please talk to me!” KK kept texting Amelia, but she didn’t reply to his messages. He couldn’t believe that she was standing him up after all the love they’d shared. While still trying to come to terms with the fact that Amelia was not coming, a short slender man approached him. He politely asked if KK could assist him with his phone so that he could call his mother.
“Some guys have stolen my phone and I am stranded. Please help me out so that I can call my mum for help” he pleaded.
It happened so fast. First the slap, then the sudden escape. The not so polite young man had run away with KK’s phone. “Chunga Nairobi!” an onlooker commented as KK sat on the concrete pavement, hands on his head and regret plastered all over his face. Nairobi had been so cruel and unforgiving to him. It had been years since he had felt tears in his eyes, his father’s burial to be exact.
He was quick to wipe them off before they rolled down his oily cheeks. He dared not show any vulnerability to Samson who was walking gingerly towards him, two brown bags in each hand. KK gave them no attention but guessed it was khat. Samson was well known as the man who could get the freshest batch of khat in Kiambogo.
“Are we going back, or will you need some time with your mystery girl? Where is she anyway?” Samson asked. He had always teased KK over the existence of his city girlfriend. KK, too heartbroken to argue and too embarrassed to disclose the events that had happened, stood up and led the way to the bus station, choosing to ignore Samson’s invasive inquisition.
It was a rainy trip back home. KK pretended to sleep so he could avoid any interaction with anyone. He focused on the revving of the bus engine and the sound of the raindrops hitting his window. All he wanted was to be back home and take a long undisturbed nap. Hours later they arrived at Kiambogo and each man went their separate ways, KK thanking Samson for accompanying him for the trip. He slowly walked home and locked himself in his wooden room.
KK never left Kiambogo again and eventually married the pastor’s daughter. The posho mill was eventually closed down and the space turned into a cereal shop which Kimani owned and operated. His mother never forgave him for abandoning the family business. He lived a boring life after that. He didn’t age well and ended up becoming a bitter old man.
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