Boys will always be boys-biting more from life than they can chew. In their journey towards manhood, they dare the gods and test their parents. Give a boy enough time to wander and surely he will wander; boys are born with innate longing for adventure without obligation.
Once upon a time when dawns were young, one such boy wandered and went to visit his maternal uncle in some far of land. He was a young chap with knobkerries for knees and fans for ears. But he was a lovable one-the type that makes one want to give them a whole year supply of toys. He forded through raging rivers and went through forests teeming with animals red in tooth and claw. He stoically braved the brazing sun overhead and stinging briars at his feet. When his hunger pangs started drumming loudly in his belly like tom toms he sighted some smoke wafting from a woody grove. He was hungrier than ten donkeys but with renewed strength he rushed down the last hill for he knew he was almost there.
The boy was received well by his kin who hadn’t seen him for quite a while. As he chatted with his cousins, the lady of the house busied herself with preparing a meal for the guest. After a short while, the cloying aroma of a delicious meal wafted into the githaku-the traditional sitting bay where the boys were playing. The boy’s taste buds went into a riot-boys are almost always hungry.
Finally, the lady of the house set a meal of mukimo and housefly stew for the guest. Black slimy things that were flying in some toilet some minutes ago were now floating on some fat and onions, ready to be eaten.Ok,by then houseflies hadn’t attained that ugly Latin taxonomy name musca domestica but they were still hideous. The boy was taken aback by this culinary serving, but since his stomach rumblings could be heard a mile away, he decided to take a small bite just to silence them. By and by, he was done with the mould of mukimo and housefly stew. Boys will always do the undoable-they can fall into a pit latrine and come out smelling or roses. He never had as much as stomach ache since boys are always led by some benevolent celestial assistants we call angels.
As the lady of the house picked her utensils, she gave the boy an evil glint with her red eyes. Her eyes were always red-they had enough blood in them that she could sell by the pint. The boy’s uncle showed him a place to sleep and pretty fast, he was in slumberland, dreaming those boyhood dreams full of big ripe mangoes and girls with even riper chests. He was sleeping with belly up since that was the only tenable sleeping position.
So what are you going to tell my in-laws about your stay here? The boy’s uncle asked him one morning after he had stayed for there several days.
I am going to tell them that I was received very well and fed on housefly stew. The boy answered back.
His uncle got perplexed. He scratched his bushy beard that looked like thatch, his big Adam’s apple moving up and down like an animal trapped there. He got sad, like grief had laid actual hands on him.
Did you hear what the boy has said?
He asked his wife who sat across him, looking regal and resigned like an abdicated monarch. She didn’t answer back. Cuckolds always get such treatment from their wives. Which sometimes they deserve.
The following day the boy’s uncle slaughtered his prized cock for the boy. He asked his wife to make a dish fit for a muthamaki for the boy. The wife did make a good meal-though the chapatis were thin enough to read a newspaper through. The young fellow ate heartily and licked his fingers till they almost came out and burped loudly to tell the host that the meal was hearty. His uncle went to sleep a happy man.
What are you going to tell my in-laws about your stay here? He asked the boy the following morning.
I will tell them that I was received well, served with a meal of housefly stew and then a cock was slaughtered for me. The boy said without batting an eyelid.
Did you hear what the boy said?
The boy’s uncle asked his wife. Once again she didn’t answer back but sat there pursing her thick lips since rolling of eyes wasn’t in vogue then. The uncle was one of those men whose wives had sat on his chapatis before serving him. This was said to make even the wildest man a cuckold who tugged at his wives apron strings like a little boy. Later,the uncle slaughtered one of his prized bulls for the boy, but his answer didn’t change.
Every community has its hallowed animals that are reserved for the gods. Sacrificial animals which cannot be eaten by mortals even under the pain of death. The boy’s uncle had such an animal-and this was his last card up is sleave.It was an abominable thing to do. But again, it was an even more abominable thing to have one’s nephew reporting to ones in-laws that he was fed with a meal of housefly stew. All at the behest of a domineering wife. He had to kill his nephew with kindness to erase housefly stew from his mouth and mind.
The following day, the uncle hired the woman with the best culinary skills in the village. He couldn’t trust his wife any more. Some girls with the best gaps between their teeth and voices like kanyoni-ka-nja the nightingale were also hired to serenade the boys as he ate. You see, the way to any man’s heart is through the mouth and his eyes. You give a boy a feast for his mouth and his eyes and he is in heaven.
The ngoima or fattened sacrificial ram was slaughtered for the boy the following morning. The neighbors watched by the fence at this mad man who dared slaughter a ram meant for the gods for a young boy who didnt even know the difference between a girls breast and mangoes.The things that men do to correct the mistakes of their women are sometimes hard to fathom.
Soon afer,the boy was served with the delicious meal fit for the gods. The village belles belted some forgotten serenade songs for him-mentioning him two times in every stanza. The boy ate like an army on the march, all the while eyeing the nubile girls’ titties going up and down like lost mangoes as they danced for him. You see, boys dream of strippers while men dream of a woman waiting for them at home. When he was done, he burped loudly-an indication that he had his fill. His uncle was sure that his trick had worked.
The following day, the uncle prepared the boy to leave since his wife wouldnt do it.He packed for him the fruits that were in season then. He also gave him a big cock to take home. Finally, he was given rukuri-those delicious crunchy meat pies that were preserved in honey for him to snack on in his journey home.
At the gate, the boy’s uncle confidently straightened himself, thrust his chest forward, cleared his throat and in a fatherly tone asked the boy:
What are you going to tell your parents about your stay with your good uncle?
With the pimpled insolence of a 14 year old the boy answered back:
I am going to tell them that I was served with a housefly stew, a cock was slaughtered for me, then a bull and finally a fat ram.
The boy then left for home.
Bats of sorrow forlornly flew over the boy’s uncles head, threatening to build a nest there. In the kitchen the lady of the house chuckled as she did a triumphant mugithi jig.