By Wangari Wachiuri
I have heard stories of students paying boda boda guys, mama soko and makangas to act as their parents after being suspended from school. But it never crossed my mind that one day I would pay someone to act as someone else to save me.
Mine is a different story. It was back in 2010 whenI relocated to Garissa-yes, the one in North Eastern Kenya. Accommodation was provided but after the training I decided to get my own house.
My first house hunting was not bad-I easily got a house at a place called Windsor. It was an easy process since the house was owned by a “nywele ngumu’’- a name people from Northern Kenya use to refer to non-locals. One day I went for a holiday and when I got back at around 7pm I was shocked to find my house had anew occupant and most of my household items missing-but that’s story for another day.
After the Windsor experience I started house hunting which ended up at a place called Bura Sheikh which is one of the estates in Garissa town.
‘Masichana kidogo,bwana yako iko wapi’? The landlord-a tall man with a bakora whose beard was dyed the colour of Royco asked me.
‘Hakuna bwana’. I answered him.
‘Kama hakuna bwana hakuna nyumba’ He said and went off to the mosque for his magharib prayers swinging his bakora up and down.
That’s when I discovered I couldn’t get a house because I was a young single lady. I was told that Somali culture doesn’t allow a young lady to live alone let alone rent a house for herself. This was a major obstacle for working single ladies.
What do I do now? Then the idea of ‘rent a hubby’ crossed my mind. I decided to get one of my friends to play “husband”. But there was a challenge-my friends were too young to convince a landlord with dyed beard and kanzu that he was my husband. When I was about to give up a guy came to say hello to one of our mutual friend’s at the shop we were in. He listened to my story and came up with the idea that I pay him and he could act my husband. I told him since he was a Garissa resident and a stranger, he would act as my brother in law. We agreed on the price and off we went to Bura Sheikh where I had spotted a house.
We met the landlady and after introductions we told her why we were there. It never crossed my mind that she would ask why I was accompanied by my brother in law and not my husband but she did. I looked at my“brother in law” and saw he had nothing to say. I told her that “my husband”was a cop who had been transferred so I had to move out of the police camp. That lie earned me the house. I escorted my “brother in law” and paid him. I cleaned the house and moved in same day with the few items that I had salvaged from my previous house-my documents, work tools and my clothes. The first night I slept on a curtain on the warm floor with mosquitoes feasting on me.But all in all I slept soundly now that I had a house.
Questions arose when two months passed and “my husband” had not been seen since I moved in. I was beginning to worry but luck was on my side when the land lady left for Dadaab to oversee her projects. She stayed for two weeks and when she came back I gladly told her I had been looking for her to meet “my imaginary husband”. She felt bad for not meeting him but that stopped her from prying into my life. I lied to get the house and to keep the house for the sake of my job.
The other day a friend from Garissa called to ask how my husband is. I answered her- ‘I imagine he is doing well’.
Wangari shares family names with one of the heroic men who liberated this country-Kimathi Wachiuri.Thus you could say she writes with bravery.Wangari writes fictional and real life stories and also poetry.When she is not writing,she likes going for game drives and nature walks.She is based in Nyeri Kenya-with lots of travels.