Horror at the funeral of Elder Makathimo’s bully son

It is hard to believe that Mugechi is dead. Killed by a chicken bone that lodged on his oesophagus tighter than the villagers at the wedding could dislodge. The mighty Mugechi, the terror of our childhood, dispatched by a dead bird. It was an irony beyond belief.

Mugechi is Elder Makathimo’s last born son. Elder Makathimo’s father was a colonial chief and a polygamous collaborator, so my grandpa said. The colonial masters rewarded his loyalty with land and fortune, making him one of the wealthiest men in the district. His estate traversed locations on which he installed a wife or two and sired so many children he couldn’t identify half of them by name. In fact, members of some locations are forbidden to marry within the boundaries for fear of bedding a relative.

Anyways, elder Makathimo grew up in wealth and status. He became a DC, amassing more wealth to add to his inheritance, before controversially winning a parliamentary seat in the 80s and amassing even more wealth. He must now be closer to 100 years than 90 and devotes most of his time to the local PCEA church.

Of Makathimo’s nine children, Mugechi stood out like a bunch of flies riding at the back of the deputy headmaster’s coat. While everyone else in the family, including both parents, are lighter than our socialites (apart from this Midowo fellow), this bugger came baked to a shade darker than the thatch over my grandmother’s tiny kitchen. And he was huge. In standard five, he towered over the Class Eight pupils –including most teachers.

Terrible children, is what he brought up and everyone thought no one could make kids any worse.

No one would dare say it loud for fear of retribution from Makathimo but a popular rumour suggested Mugechi’s seed might have been illegally donated by Masakhalia, an AP officer many years ago. The fellow is said to have been part of the contingent guarding the then DC’s home at a time the administrator was frequently away fighting bandits or organising school children to dance for President Moi.

The villagers swear Mugechi is a copy-paste of the giant officer, famed for single-handedly beating five armed robbers senseless, dragging them by the scruff of their necks to a local clinic and then to the police station later after they were sufficiently sewn up.

Anyways, back to Makathimo’s kids, their horrible manners were legendary. Terrible children, is what he brought up and everyone thought no one could make kids any worse. But Makathimo was no ordinary man. He somehow managed to screw up Mugechi even more.

Rich as they were, the squint-eyed, South Sudan-dark bull, sorry boy, started robbing money from little boys and girls almost as soon as he stopped stumbling over his nappy. Many were the little behinds that spent the nights sore, because our parents were too scared of Makathimo’s imposing stature to confront him with his son’s thuggery. Took out the frustration on the hapless robbery victims, is what they did.

Beating the giant…

We were on our own, it dawned on us, and to survive the trips to the shop, we joined into packs. The swiftest in the group would be dispatched a good distance ahead to scout the route. He needed nimble feet so that he is able to dodge any ambush that the villain might lay.

The candidate also needed guts that bordered on suicidal foolishness. That’s because he had to get the rogue giant off the path by luring him into a chase, which sometimes demanded sneaking close enough for the stream of urine to hit his colossal back. They are qualities that fitted me as snuggly as a stolen sock.

But that was many years ago. Now, the bugger is lying very dead in a shiny, brown box, six feet below my feet. It feels unreal. The soil in my hand is becoming wet. My palms have the silly habit of sweating profusely whenever I am in a confounding situation –and I’m more than slightly high.

The funeral van I hitched a ride in from Nairobi was full of teenagers who didn’t mind sharing their fiery liquids with the Suffering son of Mwobithania. There was also weed, a lot of it, but me and weed don’t get along so well.

Still, there was no escaping the smoke inside the van. By the time we alighted at the mortuary, I was seeing donkeys –until the giant body of Mugechi in a neat, black suit and tie shocked reality back into my dome.

I am, therefore, substantially elevated, I must admit. But who goes to funerals sober anyway? Even this reverend is high. It must be the reason he is speaking gibberish. Can’t get a thing he is saying. If he doesn’t finish speaking in the next few seconds, there will be no more dust left in my hand to return Mugechi to. My fingers are already rolling the wet stickiness of the soil into a ball.

I have also spotted most of my terrorised childhood gang members in the sombre crowd. I scan it again and lock eyes with Nderebino wa Njeru. Poor bugger bolted home one day hollering like some mental bees had burst him stealing their honey. He was also completely naked.  But no one confronts a beehive dressed like they just hopped out of their mother’s tummy.

Nderebino’s foreskin…

His woes were the crude artistry of Makathimo’s jumbo. De-clothing the 11-year-old, then assisting two demented giant termites to clamp their massive, brown pincers on the innocent foreskin was his idea of average fun. Took the power of four grown men to subdue the hysterical boy for the then body-less heads to be pried off the young penis.

Now a bearded grown up, Nderebino’s eyes and mine lock from across the open grave and we shake heads in silent disbelief. Or is it relief, I wonder.

The “thump” you just heard was the ball of mud from my hand landing on top of the coffin. I am wincing because it was louder than I expected. I am also thinking that the inside of the coffin must have reverberated like a drum. If only the dead could hear? The thought is funny, I am thinking and there is a chuckle creeping up my chest.

But a weird thought has also sneaked into my stupid thinker. What if the dead can, indeed, hear? Yeah! What if the odd thump was so loud it startled the giant from his death? I am not feeling very happy any more. I am suddenly sweating in other areas as well.

But that can’t happen, right, my friend? I am beginning to breath again. But wait a minute… aren’t movies inspired by real life happenings? I don’t know about you but I have watched a number of convincingly terrifying zombie movies. Gosh, there now is a massive potato jammed in my esophagus. I am thoroughly unhappy.

What if the ruckus from my mud ball startled Mugechi the zombie? Gosh, I can feel the cold of the dead flesh on his massive, rotting hands as they curl round my neck. Did one of the little fingers just break off? It is hard to tell because the bony limbs are squeezing the blinking kidneys out through my nose. Why can’t I scream?

I can see his green tongue through the hole on the side of his huge jaw where the flesh has fallen off. He wants to know why I have disturbed his peaceful death. What should I tell him? I’m so terrified right now. The stench from his vapour-like breath is cracking the inside of my nose. He now wants me to take his place in the coffin because “the people are here and they must bury someone.” Why won’t someone help me?

Wait, he has now decided that he likes it better in his padded box. Bastard is still crazy. But he says he will need company. Him and me lying side by side in the dark coffin for eternity is too repulsively sweet for him to turn down, he just growled through the falling teeth. He is now pulling me towards the hole. I am too scared to fight back.

There is also a snake crawling down my legs. I am trying to scream. Nothing goes past the potato…but…drat! I’ve just blinked.

There is no zombie. The praying Reverend looks like Jack the Reaper, but that’s all. The coffin is sitting harmlessly at the bottom of the hole. But look at my legs. They are knocking knees furiously. They look like that of a poorly trained Kamba dancer. There is also that darkness streaking from my groin area down both trouser legs. Must have wet myself. I am not sure that is all. But pee has never been so welcome. Woke me from a terrible day dream, is what it has done.

Or was it?

Is Mugechi really gone? Could this be another of his cruel, crazy jokes?

It is definite that he is lying in the coffin, now covered by a thin film of dust. But is he truly dead in there? I am not sure of anything anymore. That’s why I am standing on the edge, studying the casket carefully, fearfully. I’m also in desperate need of more alcohol.

But I am beginning to get back my courage and can’t wait to start filling the confounded hole with soil. Good bye terror of my youth, good riddance. I am whispering because I really do not want it to reach the coffin in the hole. I’m not taking any chances with Mugechi…

What the…did you see that? I think some of the loose soil just slid off the curved sides of the shiny coffin. That must mean one thing, the casket moved. And only two things could cause the motion. One is an earthquake, and there has been none. The other…gosh!

It’s ten minutes since, and I am not climbing down this tree until someone shows me a video of the bugger in heaven –or hell, definitely in Satan’s grill. No recollection how I got to the top branch. Just remember making the instant conclusion that Mugechi should not catch me in death if he could not catch me while alive. So I activated my good, old, trusty racers and took off like a gazelle from a lion. I might also have been screaming like a little girl having a nightmare, I don’t know.

I’m I going crazy like Mugechi? I didn’t mention it but dude totally lost his cranium many years ago. Even his father’s wealth could not buy back his sanity, the poor bugger. Could it be the Chicago Bulls underwear? But that was a long time ago.

Wait a minute, must be the weed those youngsters…

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