‘Everything you have, except your wife,has a price and a time to be sold off. Everything’, Macharia was telling Odhis.’
‘Even your children?’ Odhis asked?
‘I told you everything except your wife. Your wife is the only thing you buy has no resale value. When your children grow up, you sell the daughters away to suitors and the sons to employers. Lakini bibi, bibi huwezi! That’s why nakuambia, you sell that phone and get cash saa hii hii!’
They were seated at Nakuru’s Ticks Club along Kenyatta Avenue. Odhis was having tonic water with ginger. He had laughed uproariously when Macharia had asked for mandazi to accompany his ‘chai kikombe moja’. It took the intervention of the club manager to have Macharia’s order be made. They said that was a special case as normally, they sold tea in a pot and, of course, nothing like mandazi. A waiter had to be asked to go out and buy a ndazi.
Odhis sat at his favorite corner with his back against the wall. He could see everyone. Macharia sat opposite him. To get a better view of the dance floor,Masha sat across his seat, cross legged with his left elbow on the table. He had a kobole coin in his right hand which he tapped the table with to express his points and which he kept biting on unconsciously during silent moments. It was his unexplainable habit and he never ever noticed it until someone mentioned it. Odhis, who had two close friends named Macharia had resorted to calling him ‘Macharia wa kobole’ to distinguish him from ‘Macharia mwizi’.
‘Me I sell my phone?’ Odhis mused. ‘Kwani the guy who will buy it can’t get his brand new one?’ He was not even looking at Macharia as he said this for he was engrossed, browsing on the amazing specs of his smartphone. He could never understand Macharia’s madness with piling up money.
‘Why do you always think of only making money? So what would you do if you sold my phone? Odhis enquired. Macharia sat up excitedly and his eyeballs popped out at this turn in conversation.
‘Si your phone was 96k? I would sell it now for 80 thao!’
’80 thousand? That’s a loss’, Odhis shrieked. ‘Then?’
‘Then I would pay deposit for a ka ploti in Pipeline. After two months I finish paying it off’.
‘Then I just leave it alone for two years. Shamba huwa haiozi!’
‘Halafu I sell it off and buy an even bigger shamba and relax for kitu kamamiaka zingine mbili’
‘Ehe..?’ Odhis was just egging the conversation on, not really paying attention to the gist of Macharia’s fantasy. Masha’s tapping was now more rapid and irritating. At one point a waiter had thought that he was calling for attention to be served.
‘Now kilakitu ikishaiva, I would sell all my plots of land and construct a flatand sell off then buy even more costlier land’.
‘What is this obsession with land Masha’, Odhis now asked, irritated at thiseternal talk about land and money.
Masha had nineteen pieces of land of various acreage spread out around Nakuru, Njoro and Naivasha. Some were as small as an eighth of an acre and others as big as six hectares. He had accumulated them over time, sacrificing normal pleasures and taking advantage of opportunities that came his way when landowners lacked school fees for their children or sold off their stuff to flee expected pre and post poll chaos. Odhis, while loving his friend for his hardworking nature and industry, nevertheless wasn’t amused by his greed and heartless pursuit of wealth. Masha loved Odhis, for his passion and love for life but deplored his shortsightedness and lavish approach life. Both nevertheless complimented each other, Odhis having his ego massaged by Mashaand Masha having an unwitting accomplice to his wealth creation. The one was powered on in life with passion while the other was fueled by pragmatism.
‘Haki ya mama Odhis, I will own land until land knows my name the way it knows the names of Kenyatta and Delamere’, he declared in apparent reference to the joke that did the rounds in Nakuru about certain legendary landowners whose acreage of land was ‘wazimu’. Mind boggling.
Ticks club was now ‘ticking’, a way to say it was alive and active. And freed from the land-money-rant of Masha, Odhis wowed other revelers with his snapping of amazing photos on his phone, which he sent by email to anyone who cared. Ina short while, Odhis had commanded so much attention that everyone at the Club knew about his amazing phone. Beer flowed, music banged and strangers became friends. Masha was the sober one, dancing in a nonchalant and boring dance-style with his eyes roving around and noticing everything. He even saw when a sly chick pick-pocketed her boyfriend as they danced and kissed on the floor.
In the midst of the exciting madness, Odhis informed Masha that he was going to take a leak and would be back shortly. Odhis weaved his way to the loo and after locking himself in for a long call, he reached his pocket for his phone to while away the time. It was not there. He checked the other pockets and the smart phone wasn’t there. He stood up and patted himself in vain. In panic, he pulled up his trousers and rushed out back to the dance floor and to their table. Masha was dancing in his still bored style when the panicky Odhis burst on the floor asking if he had seen his phone.
‘What do you mean, si you had it?’
‘I can’t find it’, Odhis moaned.
They checked about and even had the deejay announce Odhis’ loss. Panicked at the fruitless search in the club, Odhis dashed back to the loo, convincing himself that it had probably fell down somewhere. He entered the loo and checked thoroughly.
Finally coming to terms with the reality of his loss, Odhis sat on the toilet bowl, head held with both hands. And Odhis cried in the toilet!
The next morning, Masha walked confidently into the offices of Ndegwa Associates and paid, in cash, eighty seven thousand shillings deposit for a quarter acre of land in Kiamunyi.