I will keep this brief because you won’t believe it anyway.
I do not tell the nicknames I have had in my lifetime, but this I will purely out of necessity.
When I was young, around 4-6 years of age, I got the nickname ‘Tírú.’ That is a result of tohozaing the word ‘tail’ to the Embu tongue. Some called me ‘Mú-tírú.’ A few call me that to date, but on few occasions, like public holidays, when my money runs out at the bar or when they realize I am not ‘buying.’ Not so ‘few occasions,’ come to think of it.
Many people have never known where that name came from, however. In an ideal world, it would have been reserved for someone who came last in class, and I was always far from there. You see, being the Man Beater’s son, anything less than number one was always a failure, punishable by anything imaginable. So I managed to convince my teachers to give me good grades if that was the only service they would do to humanity.
The name came from a guy by the name Buddie, real name Mark Kariúki, Facebook name I don’t know, maybe we can ask Katherine Kenya.
You see, Buddie told me that every human being has a tail that keeps growing from the time you are born, and if it is not cut when you are young, it will grow to be as long as a cow’s. If you insert your hand in your shorts and touch where the spine ends, he said, you will feel it. If you touch that place repeatedly every few days, you can actually feel it growing.
There, my annoying behaviour as a child explained; I was only feeling my tail. I don’t do it anymore though, actually the only person I have seen do it in recent times is Germany’s football coach Joachim Leow.
Every time I touched, I could literally feel my tail growing. I can swear it was. And I got worried. So I went back to Buddie and asked for advice.
You are too big to be cut the normal way, he told me. For a person your age, you have to wait for your mum to finish cooking chapatti, then sit on that karai and thigithia the growing tail. It will be a bit painful, but it is worth it. Or do you want to be the only person with a tail like a cow’s?
When you are told wide consultation is necessary for everything you do, do not take that advice for granted. I did not ask anyone else if they had their tail cut, I just swallowed Buddie’s advice in full.
In my defence, it made perfect sense to me because we used to cut our lambs’ tails all the time. Then again, it would have been too embarrassing to let people know I had a tail growing because someone forgot to cut it when I was young. I swore I would take the necessary steps to curtail its growth.
There was one major problem though: Chapatis were only cooked during Christmas, and it was months away. And my tail was growing pretty fast; that’s what I felt every time I touched. I contemplated heating the pan and getting that business over with, but Buddie had said I had to wait for it to be used for chapo first.
That wait was long, I tell you!
By the time December came, I could feel my tail literally poking my shorts.
But at least the time was nigh.
On D-day, chapatti cooking began in earnest on the evening of 24th December, for two reasons. Three actually. One, there were about 30 people in that stead, The Taliban’s family, and so it took hours to cook enough chapattis. Two, as a rule, everyone had to go to church on 25th Dece er, so there would be no time to cook. Three, our neighbour Mbiria (I gather that’s Bilha) would need to use the karai on 25th.
The moment of reckoning came at around 4am. As everyone put away utensils and went to sleep, I silently plucked my tool of trade and slipped to a secluded corner behind the kitchen. On touching it with the tip of my finger, I decided no way, this would have to wait.
But the thought that the Karai would soon be leaving for another homestead, and I would have to wait till 31st, or another year, gave me the motivation to carry on. So I placed the karai well, turned and dropped my shorts.
My bottom twitched with the thought, but I was not going back. So quickly before fear could creep up, I sat my bare bottom on the hot karai with a thud!
I only remember letting out a scream, then opening my eyes to see everyone surrounding me.
Suffice to say no one in our family went to church that Christmas, neither did Mbiria cook chapatti.
And that is how the phrase ‘some of’ was inserted in my version of the Lord’s Prayer. Hapo kwa ‘forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us’
I know I said I would keep it brief, trust me I tried.
As you can see, briefs are not my thing, because of the scar on my bottom. Bless the inventor of boxers! The extra skin they cover, that feature is really welcome.