Dunga beach visit and toe nail trimming that never was!
After a lot of pressure from Uncle Habakkuk spanning several months, I finally succumbed and agreed to take him on a tour of western Kenya, Nyanza to be specific.
You see, for a guy who reads only a certain Kiswahili publication and has no smartphone, so, it came as a surprise when he told me he had heard “some things” and they were disturbing him.
Make no mistake he still owns a transistor radio, which is turned on only on weekends and only for certain programmes.
About 20 years ago, it used to be adorned in a green cotton cover, with holes where the buttons should be.
How that radio was acquired for a princely sum of Sh100 in the early seventies when few families owned such luxuries is a story for another day.
I was telling you about strange rumours Uncle Habakkuk had been fed with by his sons, never mind that the only times they have left the village is to travel to the city of many lights, as Nairobi is so fondly referred to by rural folk.
“Have you heard?” he asked me, to which I posed “What?”
And the saga started. Apparently, one of his sons had told him that he should not die before he visits Dunga Beach somewhere in Kisumu.
The story was that somewhere along the beaches, one could sit with his feet in the waters of Lake Victoria and some small fish would perform the magic of trimming the toenails.
Ever since he has heard this piece of unbelievable tale, Uncle Habakkuk has been dreaming of Dunga Beach.
During one of our beer sessions, if you can recall a muratina treat a beer session, he raised the subject of visiting Dunga Beach and I agreed to take him on a tour, if only to get rid of the subject. Little did I know it would come to haunt me later. The man does not forget.
We talked little on the way, as he kept busy enjoying the scenery, asking me to stop every so often as he took a walk to nowhere.
I assumed that being a clever man, he was not about to be caught farting inside the car by a nephew.
He also regaled me with tales of his exploits in the village, including a case in which he was a witness in a traffic matter.
A neighbour’s son had been knocked by a stranger’s car and the matter ended up in court.
After Uncle Habakkuk took the witness box and gave his testimony, the accused man’s lawyer started to cross-examine him.
“How far were you when you saw the accident happen?” asked the lawyer. “Well,” started Habakkuk. “I can see the sun and I hear it is 93 million miles away. What’s a few hundred metres?
The entire court exploded in laughter.
But back to our Kisumu journey. We arrived before dusk and the first thing Habakkuk wanted to do was walk to the beach. All he was thinking was the little magic fish that cut toenails.
Of course, his hardened nails remained as intact as ever. I had trouble convincing him that the lake had millions of fish. He didn’t see any.
The story of fish got even more slippery when we ordered fish for our dinner at a local eatery, not far from the beach.
Habakkuk put me on the carpet, asking how fish could be more expensive at the beach than it was in Nairobi, hundreds of miles away. I tried to argue about this and that but got nowhere.
On our trip back, he asked me how many people might have visited Kisumu hoping to get their toenails trimmed by those little fish. It could spur some tourism of sorts, he reckoned. I agreed.
My famous uncle had also heard some rumours about the coastal town of Mombasa and how some folks own genies.
He had heard tales of rural folk visiting the coast and being enticed by some beauties, only to wake up in the morning atop lamp posts.
I was at a loss. I mumbled something about some tales being stranger than fiction. At the back of my mind, I wasn’t sure Habakkuk was not harbouring thoughts of a trip to Mombasa.
If he decides to go, I will not be on that trip. When he does, whatever will happen to him is a story for another day. – The writer is Special Projects Editor, People Daily