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Of kicking buckets, chilling encounter at village pub

By Patrick Wachira
Monday, February 3rd, 2020
Chilling encounter.

As fate would have it, a friend of a neighbour’s relative’s uncle croaked (that is slang for kicking the bucket) the other day and I decided to attend the farewell rites.

You see, common folks just wake up to find they are dead, but the more recognised ones, the high and mighty, pass on.

The latter are interred, as opposed to the commoners who are buried. Just like that.

By the way, who came up with that phrase about  kicking the bucket? Just why were the dead or dying kicking buckets?

Who placed the buckets within kicking distance? Whose buckets were they? That is a story for another day.

I was telling you about the burial out there in some hamlet in Kiambu not far from a place where they either eat or grow lots of bananas, so much so that the place is named Banana. Not far from there is another place called Mucatha. I think it means whip.

Maybe this is where the banana eaters were taken for punishment by whipping. We shall never know.

It was a fairly well attended burial, with folks from all walks of life trooping in. If you must know, even those who drove in are categorised as having come from all walks of life.

I do not know why this reference is used uniformly. I think I will ask Uncle Habakkuk who has become a sort of village celebrity.

It was after the burial that I and a friend, Nebuchadnezzar Muriraikihia (who does not even know the bloke he is named after created the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the wonders of the world) retreated to the nearest watering hole to take care of the thirst that threatened to make us croak.

We had barely settled on those high stools next to the counter before a barrel-shaped woman of immense proportions came over and asked what we would like to be sold.

She wore a green cotton dress that had seen better days, bathroom slippers and a black sweater that stretched to her knees, with the pockets hanging low with the weight of coins, I guessed.

Discuss adventure

Not to worry, I told my friend, who was worried about the dimly lit pub with few patrons.

As soon as we took our first few swigs (sips are for the refined chaps who patronise lounges, with drinks served by young lasses in crisp, well-ironed uniforms and high-heeled shoes), a middle-aged man came and sat next to me.

I thought he would order for his drink and mind his business. Instead, he asked for an empty glass from the bulky counter woman.

We exchanged glances with Nebuchadnezzar, whose eyes were almost popping out. You see, our new neighbour had scars on his face and looked like a world war veteran.

His hands were so big they looked like boxing gloves and his palms were blistered into pads that resembled a mosaic of sorts.

The man stretched his scaly hands and closed in on my bottle, which he lifted with ease and filled his glass.

With a supreme effort of will, I turned to him and greeted him like an old friend, asking him how things were.

I knew from instinct that if I started anything, he could reduce me into dog food. I was in no mood to become a meal for village mongrels.

He responded with some menace that he was okay, only a bit thirsty. I ordered him a drink from the rotund barwoman, who was watching us keenly, like she loved war movies and drama series.

Our new “friend” proceeded to gulp his drink and then turned to me and asked, with half a smile. 

Kai kwanyu mutaruaga tondu waihuria magego kanua ta bunda?” Loosely translated, he was asking me if we don’t have fights where I come from, now that my mouth was full of teeth like a donkey.

I immediately looked at him keenly, and saw that his dental formula was distorted, and the many gaps looked like vacant plots in a slum. The remaining teeth were rather darkened, and I could only imagine what his diet must have been like.

But I had other more immediate worries. I quietly motioned Nebuchadnezzar to follow me to the loo, where we discussed our quick exit.

It was not until we reached Nairobi that we breathed and had the courage to discuss our adventure and near-death experience. Have a safe week folks! – The  writer is Assignments Editor, People Daily