“Where in Nairobi do you live?”
“You said you are from Nairobi, right?”
“No offence but I am struggling to believe you. So if you don’t mind, can you tell me where exactly in Nairobi do you live?”
“I am from Nairobi, believe me.”
“Only after you tell me the name of your estate.”
Watching this exchange between the caterer and this middle-aged woman depressed and tickled me at the same time. The caterer, a tall dark skinned woman in an orange shirt and black jeans, had a no-nonsense face because if you attempt to feed mourners with a smiley face they will eat you alive. The woman she was picking a bone with had no legs to stand on. She was obviously not from Nairobi. All she wanted was food and seeing as the line for ordinary village folks was not moving, she and a battalion of other hungry moaners decided to join the Nairobi queue and now they were being called out for it.
“If you know you are not from Nairobi please step aside,” the caterer announced to everyone in line. “And if you like, you can stay in line. But just know there’s no plate for you and if there’s no plate for you, there’s no food for you.”
That announcement was met with suppressed murmurs that grew louder and louder by the minute. I half-expected one of the village folks, perhaps the mama who had taken the questioning on behalf of the rest, to stomp the ground and shout, “Enough! We the village folks have had it up to here (points at her throat) with this Nairobi People nonsense. What is it that Nairobi people have that we don’t? Did they wail louder than we did?”
A crowd would cheer her and motivated, she would turn to the crowd and ask, “Are we children of a lesser God?”
“Don’t we sleep at night and work during the day like the rest of them?”
“Or do they think we are bats and them human beings?”
“Look at us, brethren, I say look at us. Are we not healthier and happier? Who doesn’t know that Nairobi long lost its glory? Is it not obvious that we village people are living a better life and even contributing more to the economy than these wig wearing Nairobi women and pants-sagging Nairobi men?”
“PREACH!” A drunkard would chime in.
“Time is ripe for us to stand up for ourselves. I say we beat the shit out of this caterer together with her Nairobi people and eat all the damn food! Who is with me?”
“I asked. WHO. IS. WITH. ME!”
And then all together they would round us up and beat the shit out of us before proceeding to eat all the food. Alongside burying my uncle, they would also have buried the Nairobi People shenanigan.
But that did not happen. The caterer did not mince her words. I wanted to tell her to serve the damn lady but I feared her wrath. I wasn’t even sure what I was doing there. I was never interested in the food because eating at funerals, even of my closest relatives, is not my thing. But I had been forced to eat because we always have that relative in such functions looking out for you. Standing in line I could feel the judging eyes of the other villagers. I could tell they were boiling inside. I could tell that they were cursing us.
But it was what it was. I was there to bury my uncle and not to stand up for anybody. Besides, I was stupified to find out that the Nairobi people syndrome is actually a thing. It was the first time I was witnessing it. So it embarrassed me, being one of the Nairobi people treated benefitting from impunity, but it amused me as well.
But eating is not what took me, or any other person there. We were there to bury my uncle who died of breast cancer. He died right here in Nairobi and other than his shocking death, the only other thing people talked about was the fact that he had nine daughters and no son. It was a well-known fact but people still talked about it as if they had just found out that of his nine daughters, none of them was a boy (Haha. Waititu I see what you did there).
“What I admire about that man is the fact that he never thought of marrying another woman who would give him a son,” someone said.
I only chuckled. Because that statement seemed to suggest it was his wife who couldn’t give him a son. But I had no time to engage them in one of my ‘Woke’ discussions.
What was noteworthy was that his nine daughters gave their dad a decent sendoff. And before that, they tried their best to give him the best treatment. That he died was not because they didn’t try. It’s funny that a week after this my uncle’s death, our other uncle who was shughulikaing in shags to ensure that the funeral runs smoothly, also died while being rushed to the hospital. He died in my father’s arms and we buried the two one week apart. This one had 12 sons and many daughters, but the difference between how the nine daughters treated their father even to his day of being laid to rest and the way the 12 sons did is like night and day.
Made me believe that in the end, it’s our daughters who will take us to the best hospitals and when the doctors can’t save us, they are the ones who will buy nice coffins and bury us with dignity. Our sons might erect a make-shift jikoni at the backside of our huts during our funeral, but even that we can’t bet on it.
PS: To get a copy of my book, M-pesa 1000 bob to 0728560255 and e-mail me your location on firstname.lastname@example.org