Back in the day when Macadamia grew only on rich people’s shambas, The Rose bought me a jacket. I am told there are no macadamia in Western and many other regions, but I don’t know how to explain them further, just macadamia. You can google them, but it would be better to find them and eat them. You can come for some at my place. Yw
Anyway, The Rose bought me a jacket. And it was a big deal because of three reasons.
1. At the time, kids did not have jackets. We all owned one heavy hand-sewn woollen pullover with a cat or umbrella decoration on the front. This was worn strictly Sundays, and removed after church. Or on weddings. It had to be in the same color as your school sweater to cater for the rainy season [ever realised how rules tend to relax when it rains, at work, school etc?]
Then we had a school sweater and another funny mtumba sweater to wear in the evenings after washing our feet.
2. My jacket was two sided- red on one side, green on the other. Both wearable. In essence, two jackets! It also had a hood that could be removed and replaced at will. Magic. And thus no more mboshoris for yours truly.
3. It had pockets. In the days when we wore shorts that almost always got torn in the middle and t-shirts that were rolled over to leave our malnourished stomachs bare any time we had to carry something, a garment with pockets was a big plus.
I had this nice little problem though: How to classify my jacket. Do I make it a Sunday Things kind of garment or do I classify it as a cloth of gútinda? I could have gladly chosen the former, but a month has only four Sundays; I could not sport my jacket so rarely. In true functionality, such a heavy jacket was of little essence to an energy packed lad, jumping here and there till sundown.
In the end, it became a second skin and assimilated a new smell -and some wool-from my handling of sheep. Remember back then I was the Man Beater’s chief shepherd.
Now to the story itself.
On this day we had a very important boys-only mission to invade Mwalimu’s macadamia garden. Macadamia to last us a week then some was to be smuggled. While at it, we could also get some well cultured blackjack, lantern camara and múthúnga weeds to feed our rabbits. All check.
There was little cause for alarm since Mwalimu’s land was huge and the farm house was a safe distance from the trees.
All was going well and we had gathered quite a heap of the nuts until Sah, that bastard famed for scaling trees was overcome with greed. With an express command from Sisto that the loot we had gathered was adequate, the thieving bastard chose to reach for a bunch of fully bloomed nuts at the very end of a slight branch.
You will fall off, Sisto warned.
No way, I am a mas…..he did not even finish the sentence. The branch gave a loud crack as it came off the tree trunk and Sah came tumbling down. Care to remember that the first macadamia leaves were spiky as hell. The bastard hit the ground with a thud, and a big scream.
We did not need special branch to tell us we were found out. Immediately, all of us, Sah included, took to our heels out of the thicket. We could soon hear Kaparo- Mwalimu’s son- shouting expletives at us, hot on the charge.
We managed to get out of the woods, but by then Kaparo had got at least a glimpse of every one of us. And we knew without any doubt that he would be hunting for us the entire afternoon. He had stopped chasing, but we knew he was coming.
And that is when the idea struck me!
Without telling anyone, I turned my jacket inside out, from red to green and started going the other way. Such that I met with a raving Kaparo coming downhill as I went up.
Kaparo must have been sure I was among the crew of crooks, but I had him twisted. One, he had not seen anyone in a green jacket. Again, there was no way in his mind I could have pulled such a stunt. In those days, lads had guilty written on their faces.
Where are your friends? Kaparo quipped. I don’t know, I have been sent by my father. But I think I heard people running this way, I said, indicating to Kaparo a totally different direction.
He let me go and I watched with glee as he completely lost track on the gang.
Meanwhile, I weighed my options of going back to get the loot. While it would be death if I got caught, I would be village hero if I pulled through.
Weighing the two options, I decided Big Risk, Big returns. Kufa gari, kufa dereva! Tuingie mitini.
I got the loot, and, for the first time in my life, I was counted out when the thieving rascals were reported- with a strong warning- to their respective parents.
And I’m still alive to tell.