The search for a husband
Everyone has an untold story. Deep down in the bottom of their hearts is a deep dark closet they hold so dear. Some want to tell their story but lack the courage to do so for if they told it they would go mad. Some start to tell it but grow cold feet along the way. They have names to protect and may not want to offend their families, relatives and friends. While some deliberately vow to die without telling it because the secret is so deep that revealing it could snuff the life out their lives.
But the story of Amilo must be told, in this month of November, 2011, if not for old times’ sake but for the future of all the great women that marriage consumed to ashes before some of the warm ashes rose up again…slowly, painfully after 100 years.
It happened in the tiny village of Amilo at the foot of Nandi Hills.
Marriage had become such a fashionable career in Amilo that everyone was talking about it as if all the topics in the world had ended. In the market places, in Church, in beer drinking dens it was the talk of the village, at funerals nobody talked about the positive or negative qualities of the dead person but about marriage. Great musicians composed songs in praise of marriage, they ridiculed women who failed to get husbands but the most ridiculed woman of the all remained defiant to the contempt of the vilagers.
They talk of noise pollution, factory pollution, water pollution, air pollutions, thousands of other pollution but in Amilo it was marriage pollution. Any woman trying to jump the decent marriageable age of 11 to 14 years was in deep trouble. She was a bad sort who had no respect for culture, a bad influence among other marriageable female material and a bad omen for the community’s future progress. That was when at the age of 33, a short skinny beautiful dark skinned short haired woman called Akinyi brought untold sorrow to the village because she was not married. And because of her Amilo village became sick.. Everyone stopped going about their own business and got into the business of Akinyi’s marriage.
Yet who would marry a 30-year-old “grandmother” whose motherly instincts had been absorbed by the white man’s education, whose hair had been replaced by a dead Indian temple prostitute’s human hair and who laughed with her mouth instead of her chest?
And so the great hunt or let’s call it the search for a husband for Akinyi began.
Rumour upon rumour had piled up on Akinyi’s reputation. The notorious village chief Rapala Mumbo had informed the council of elders that Akinyi was the unmarriageable type. “I look far into the distant, in the eyes of the sun and the two ears of the moon and I see sadness, I see a white blot and that signifies the end of the journey. The white man’s books have eaten up Akinyi’s womanhood. Her breasts have become as flat as the very books she reads. The library has taken up the warmth of a bed. Of what use would she be even to an old man? Perhaps she can only marry one of her own…a white man!”Mumbo posed. Everyone in the village laughed. No woman in Amilo had ever married a white man. Gosh! What colour would their baby be? White men, or so it was said had blue blood and just imagine a blue baby! A blue baby?
“We do not laugh because it is funny,” the chief confessed, “it is our teeth that has betrayed us,” he said tring to conceal his laughter. But laughter like a cough is unconcealable. Soon the laughter would be on Amilo.
In Amilo words travel faster than lightning. In exceptional circumstances an 80 year-old man may marry a young girl as a fourth wife or eighth wife especially if she had gotten her self stupidly pregnant before marriage. But never in the history of Amilo had an elderly man married a grandmother, the age of Amilo.
What was marriage without children? An educated woman who had eaten up all her eggs like a greedy hen eating up all its chicken, who wanted a curse from the ancestors? The other elderly man who was approached had rejected the offer too. Chuny Jopiny, a 70-year-old widower had declared that he would was still in mourning for the next five years and if Akinyi was willing to wait for that long he might possibly reconsider.
Ba was in trouble. The rains had refused to co-operate and this was the first time in four years that no one had seen the rains. Look at the mad and strange happenings that were going on. The woman in the forest who had fought with a snake over an egg. The snake had bitten her to death and all because of Akinyi. Look at that incident at Okonya Kalewo bush where the little girls had gone to collect firewood. A hyena had sprang from from nowhere and hacked off one girl’s arm…all because of Akinyi’s refusal to get a husband. Only that morning, a young boy herding cattle had collapsed and died forcing the lead bull to find its way home. The bull had entered the homestead through the fence mourning. And all because of Akinyi.
The bull sang in a low miserable voice, “Akinyi, Akinyi, what have you done to my master Obong’o, Akinyi yoo yoo yoo mayo Akinyi. Where were you when other girls your age were getting married Akinyi, you ran away to school Akinyi, now you have come back cursed woman Akinyi,” the cow sang as it shed tears. Something had to be done and fast. The village was soon going to be wiped out. Perhaps the answer was to marry her off to a blind man with blind parents.
Meanwhile an indiferent Akinyi sat outside her mother’s hut with a mirror plaiting her hair. This careless behaviour made her brother Otuoma Chapa Chapa slap her so hard that one of her teeth fell off.”Get married you useless woman,” he shouted as he took the mirror and smashed it on the ground. “He has killed me, he has killed me, “Akinyi cried and rolled on the ground like a ball. Suddenly thunder and lightening struck a tree in the middle of the compound and the rains fell as never before seen in Amilo. The mirror. Oh Akinyi mirror… the beginning of Otuoma’s tragedy.
Why did he slap the cursed woman? Why slap a cursed woman if you had any common sense? Why touch an unmarriageable woman? It was as if the rains, so fast and furious, so persistent had the answer. The marriage pollution, Akinyi’s pollution. Amilo was in deep deep trouble. Otuoma had broken the mirror.