There are people you meet for just a moment but their memory stays with you for a lifetime. Not that they did anything extraordinarily remarkable at that moment, no; they just stay in your memory for the heck of being there.
They become topics for tales you share with your buddies, probably after you come across something almost similar with what you remember about them. Hey, they even make for plausible blog posts when you have literally nothing else to blog about.
You remember i told you about our donkey here. In the course of my errands with the beast i met someone on the road and for some reason that image stayed with me for more than two decades. That man was called Saitani!
Those were the days when morals were very high and children were taught to obey their parents. When all kids referred to grownups as ‘uncles’ and ‘Aunties’.
While on my way from fetching water, the brown sisal sack (like the ones java store their coffee beans in) that acts as the harness for the donkey tied around its neck broke and as fate would have it the donkey was set free. As in the cart dropped and the donkey took off like an exorcised demon.
Now hold on to that for a second, the donkey running not the demon part. You must have watched the movie undisputed. Recall how Yuri Boyka ran after he was set free, i think he was holding on to a briefcase full of money. He ran like his life depended on it, limping as he did so coz of an injury Jai White had dealt him.
That is how my donkey ran. As you may know running after a donkey is futile; one because it has four legs and you only got two and also coz it’s a donkey, and a donkey runs. Either way i took off after it, leaving a 100 litre gallon full of water right at the centre of the road. What a donkey does is that it sprints for like a kilometre then stops to graze by the roadside waiting for you to get close, then it sprints another kilometre and does the same. A very annoying habit.
So am running after it like crazy and since my surname isn’t Kipchoge my knees turn into jelly and am heaving severely. My chest was burning, i was wheezing. I thought i felt my blood rush to my throat and back to wherever!
Along the way i met him, Saitani. Saitani is Kikuyu for devil. Well, there was nothing that much devilish about this guy, he was just totally weird. First he rarely talked to people, he would pass by with his old bike, probably handed to him from his grandpa who may have been a Home Guard, dreadlocks bobbling under his huge woolen hat and he would never as much as say hi to anyone.
Saitani was the only grownup we never called “Uncle” for very obvious reasons!
Now am there running after my donkey which had just passed him as he was trimming his fence. From a distance i had thrown my hands up and tried to scream so that he could stop the beast.. He in turn just stood there and stared as it sprinted past him like it was Patrick Njiru’s (you remember him?) Subaru!
A minute later am passing by him and i cannot even insult him, i just looked at him. Eyes asking the question, why Saitani, why?
Another gentleman who has stuck in my mind is our drama teacher at Kavau, Mr. Kanyingi. I never made any significant acquaintance with him apart from the few times he taught me how to gyrate my frame on stage as a female dancer. I actually don’t recall much about him apart from this one incident. We were just about to clear our KCSE in the year 2k and during those days since social media was as extinct as a black Chinese, we had this dude who used to come over to Nyeri High every weekend to take photos.
So on that day we were lined up on s parked motor cycle with a few pals; Mutua, Clive, Anto, Peter and someone else i can’t recall who. As the guy is about to take the snap, Mr Kanyingi passed by from the teacher’s quarters and he left a strong whiff of Imperial leather soap behind. It hang around a while after he left, like friend zoned fella when the lady walks away. It assaulted our nostrils as we, as all high school boys do, made funny comments about it.
Every time i see the soap, Cussons Imperial Leather, am reminded of him. Just the other day i saw it in a shop and i was tempted to buy it just so i could recall those days in winterish Nyeri High school!
I recall another fella too from our village, a neighbor of ours. He was well educated coz he used to read newspapers. My mum used to purchase The Sunday Nation every week just to read Wahome Mutahi’s satirical column Whispers and Yusuf Dawood’s Surgeon’s Diary.
This guy knew our routine very well. He would way lay us as we were heading back home and he would ask us to show him the headline, only that and nothing else. As kids, obedient kids, we would show it to him. He would then start perusing the entire newspaper asking us irrelevant queries about eish in there, eish we did not give a rat’s ass about. He would go through the obituaries and tell us nobody from our village would ever afford to have their eulogy in the obituaries coz it was so freaking expensive.
So freaking expensive, you hear that, he would shout at us. We would nod in agreement!
He used to pass by home later on Monday to borrow the Lifestyle part after mum was through with it. I guess he used it as toilet paper once he read and re-read it!