There are no better times to travel than when one is a bachelor. You can take breakfast of roasted yams in Nkubu,lunch at Gwa Kibira chicken joint in Kutus and take supper of waru and carrots in the one goat township of Kanyenyaini.All without a pesky wife asking ‘uko wapi?’ every two minutes. Bachelorhood without travel is a wasted one. When I was a bachelor, I drifted from one town to the next, like a child’s lost balloon, inhaling the fragrances of small towns, drinking life to the dregs. When I was too broke, which was often, I read books which took me places where my meagre pay couldn’t.
You see, there is no book like travel. Travel widens horizons and opens up fountains of knowledge. Failing to travel is like living in a corner of a room, like a toad, in a house full of a thousand rooms.
Fate has a mind of its own. When it noticed that I was always travelling solo and enjoying the buffets of travel alone, it sent me a person to enjoy travel with. That’s how one fair lady waltzed into my life like a prima donna. As young girls tend to be, she was dreamy-eyed and had this outlandish ideas about travel.
My favorite place is Seychelles;will you ever take me there? She asked me one day.
My favourite place is in your arms, I answered her back. My pockets may have been empty then but my brain wasn’t.
Which is the most beautiful place you ever visited? She asked me another day. I knew this was a trap-if I mentioned some exotic place, she would ask me to take her there.
Your mind. I told her. This was an honest answer.
My fair lady wanted to go to exotic places with dancing lights and endless sunsets. But trust me-there is no creative person than a bachelor with a fair lady to please. If the place she wanted to go to had a movie set in there, I would buy that movie which would teleport her there and quench her wanderlust. You see nothing that romanticizes a place better than a movie. When she wanted to go to Bahamas, I got her Casino Royale which was big then and has scenes from Bahamas. When she said she longed to feel the sand pebbles of Waikiki with her feet, I bought her Raiders of the Lost Ark which is set in Hawaii. When she said she wanted to go to a place which they had not yet shot a movie in, I wrote poems that took her there.
Then one morning, around that time we were having that silly bananas and oranges referendum on the new Constitution, I told her I will take her to Kimende.
Where is that Kimende whareva? She asked.
Some place with rarified airs where plums fall from the sky all day.I quipped.
What’s in Kimende? She asked with a shrug of her shoulders since by then rolling of eyes hadn’t gained currency among girls like it has now.
I want to take you to places people don’t go to and thus see things people don’t see.
So? She asked. I had to work harder. Dating a fair lady is no joke. They come with attitude the size of Mt.Kenya.
We can watch the Great Rift Valley turn golden at sunset at the Viewpoint.
Arafu? When a lady asks you this, she is telling you are dumb and need to up your game. I did.
Arafu we cherish the music of the wind because musical notes blow in the air there like some golden dust.
She smiled. I was headed somewhere.
Wi na ma? (Oh really?)
God one. I swore, knowing too well I was lying.
Ok, take me there and promise we won’t stay. Game shot.
The following day I called my old pal Mwaura who lived in Naivasha and told him we meet up at Kimende the following Saturday. We had suffered under the same bell together in high school. We had shared the same room in campus and hadn’t met for 4 years after clearing campus. So the trip was more about us catching up and seeing how life was treating us and less about the fair lady drapped in my arms. It was also to get endorsement from a friend about her. But she didn’t know all these-all she knew was that we were going to a magical place where musical notes hung in the air like golden dust.
Kimende was one drab place then. Not that it has changed much. The only thing that differentiated a day from the next was the alternation of the mist. There were folks sitting beside jikos eating waru snacks and folks selling leeks and carrots and potatoes by the bucket There were folks squinting from quaint shops looking up the Nairobi Nakuru highway as if they were waiting for something big to happen which didn’t happen but which still they hoped will happen.Those folks are still there.Thats the thing about small towns.
How can one love such a cold windy place? Asked my fair lady when we landed in the cold town.
My fair lady, like Queen Getrude in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, did complain too much. She came from the plains where it was warm and flat. She expected Kimende to be some warm flat place too. We all carry a piece of where we come from to where we go.
If one can love this place, you can love anyone. I told her.
Travel teaches you about love. I pushed on. Shoulders shrug.
You see, there is someone who cannot leave this place because his heart is forever held by it, I waxed philosophical.
Why? The fair lady asked me.
Because they got fond memories buried in here.The place is the mecca of their childhood.
So we had our meeting with Mwaura in this quaint pub that looked like it had its last customer before the fall of Berlin Wall. Soon we were chatting happily about life like the long-lost buddies we were. Pubs are like churches-folks tend to unburden themselves and bare their souls. And if they offer accommodation people bare their bodies too but that’s not what brought us there that day.
I could imagine how humdrum life in Kimende can be-days hanging on to each other and joined to the next by some frosty cold. To compensate for the cold, the locals are warm and full of time old-time camaraderie. The shopkeepers smile to customers and give them avocados when they cannot get coins to return change. Or plums.
Why are these people giving us avocados? My fair lady asked me.
They are symbols of fertility. Wink. When she got the joke she giggled then shrugged her shoulders.
We had a long chat with Mwaura as the butcher – a cheery fellow called Mbugua-prepared some tumbukiza for us to ward of the cold. We reminisced about our days at Njiiri School and KU.Of course embellishing some parts. We talked about our campus days omitting the more scandalous parts. Campus life was one continous scandal.Then Mbugua served us with a big mountain of meat with an even bigger mountain of ugali.When we ate and didn’t belch to show the we had taken enough, he added us more meat till we belched in unison and couldn’t take any more meat.
I am beginning to like this small cold town with great meat. The fair lady said.
I never take you to places you won’t like.She giggled.
Afterwards I told her that it was getting late and we couldn’t get to the Viewpoint where music notes hung in the air like golden dust. This meant that we could come again and partake the yummy meat at that joint. We bade Mwaura goodbye and boarded a matatu to Nairobi.
We sat at the driver’s cabin since the other seats were close to the back where sacks of leeks and onions filled the area with unholy smell. The driver was an affable Mukorino guy with two missing front teeth which gave his Gikuyu a happy French lilt. When we started discussing how Kimende people are generous with meat and how exotic it tastes, he interjected.
Whith buthery were you eating meat at?
‘Ponda Raha Bar and Butchery .The problem with Central Kenya is that bars and butcheries have names that can make you lose appetite for life.
Hio ni nyama ya funda direct .He said without as much as looking at us, his eyes squinting into the mist ahead.Akorinos don’t lies we had been eaten donkey meat.2kg of it all.
My bowels opened up. I puked all the way such that by the time we came to Kangemi, I had puked out my liver. The heart came out at Westlands–together with the pulmonary arteries responsible for loving.Lawd! I hated Kimende-how could I even love when the parts of my heart responsible for loving had come out? Finally, at Khoja stage, I puked out the aorta and the parts responsible for hating. Now, I could now neither love nor hate. The only thing vital thing that remained in me was the soul which I couldn’t puke out since it’s indestructible.Or maybe I didn’t have one.
The following day Mwaura called to ask whether we go home safe .I narrated to him how I had vomited out almost all my vital organs and soiled the fair lady’s white dress. Which she had pointed out that I hadn’t bought.
Is the fair lady still with you? He asked me.
Yes. She is here with me making some pancakes to nurse me.
Mundu, get some wazees, send them to her folks to report that you are taking her as a wife.
I did that the following week.
The fair lady who withstood my puking from Kimende to Khoja stage is making pancakes for me as I write this.
She is my wife.