The eternal friendship between Muthama and Kilonzo alias Ndawa was struck by school circumstances related to bullying. Kilonzo was in Form Two when Muthama joined Form One at the Kyanga Boys High School. The Form Two boys, as commonly known, carried the flag of bullying newcomers. The bullying was nicknamed Circumcision, which was a real terror.

Kilonzo spotted the newcomer Muthama on the second day and sympathized with him by protecting him simply because he resembled a village girl Kilonzo admired.

Although Kilonzo was physically weak he was armed with dangerous words that scared his enemies. His gift saved Muthama from all the bullies. One day while boasting for defending Muthama successfully he said, I’m the medicine ndawa that kills the sting of bullies. From there onwards they nicknamed each other, Ndawa.

While Kilonzo came from barely a few miles from Kyanga High School, Muthama came from nearly thirty-seven miles away from a dry village called Kyenzeni. In the old days, as children, when times were hard because of drought and hunger, if children desired to eat meat, they had to go out bird hunting with catapults. If Muthama succeeded in shooting a bird, he made sure that he shared it with his brothers. The leg would be spared for the mother. His father, Mbiti, was not included in the share. There was a general feeling in the family that Mbiti was irrelevant. This was because he loved drinking and when he was drunk he became an unbearable terror for the family.

One Saturday afternoon when Kilonzo was in Form Three and Muthama in Form Two, Kilonzo courted him, “Ndawa, come with me and have a taste of being a man by drinking a hard drink.”

Kilonzo was a school dare devil. Although there was a standing school rule that anybody caught drunk would be expelled from school, Kilonzo was thinking of going out to take liquor, which Muthama had never taken in his life. Muthama tried to resist the challenge. However, for what Kilonzo had been to him in defending him from the bullies, he accepted the challenge and they went looking for the drink at Kilonzo’s village.

They returned to school drunk on time for supper. On their way back to school Kilonzo had to keep a watch on the drunken Muthama from falling and, at times, he helped him cross ditches. Muthama had found the stuff rather bitter. He felt rather sick to take supper that evening unlike Kilonzo who knew by taking it he would kill the sting of the liquor.

When bedtime came and the bell was rung followed by the switching off of the lights by the prefect, shortly after lying on his bed Muthama vomited everything in his stomach, sending the dormitory reeking with alcohol. The boys poured out of the dormitory cursing Muthama. The teacher on duty had to be called to settle the dispute. The dormitory had to be cleaned in the night. On the next day Muthama was expelled from school and Kilonzo survived the onslaught. He denied categorically having taken any liquor.

The incident shocked Kilonzo. He never took any alcohol for the rest of his life. He passed the exams very well and joined university to study Economics. Half-way through his course a fortune fell in his hand when his father was appointed an Ambassador to the United States. Kilonzo went to study in the United States and finally managed to get a Masters Degree in Business Administration. He worked in the States for some time during which he married a Cuban woman. Finally he returned to Kenya when he had two children, son and daughter, went into self employment in stock exchange business.

By that time Muthama, also married and with three children, had become a successful farmer, having discovered big business in cassava farming. The cassava business had bought him a lorry for the transport. His first child, a son, was in Form One.

That was when Ndawas met after many years of separation. Kilonzo had never forgiven himself for having lured Muthama with alcohol which had cost him his education. They still called each other Ndawa. Their friendship resurrected but from a different level. Kilonzo was a Nairobian with a home in Lavington Estate, which suited his Cuban nurse wife so well. Kilonzo helped Muthama tremendously in buying stocks. They formed a complimentary social company of urban-and-countryside couples, talking about business, children, politics, and the old good times.

Least did they know that in future, their frequent family visits would prepare ground for their children to fall in love later. Muthama’s son, Wendo, fell in love with Kilonzo’s daughter, Kavata.

Wendo was Muthama’s first born and Kavata was Kilonzo’s second born. What Muthama had missed in education he made sure that his son would get it on his behalf. Wendo was a university graduate in Design. Kavata had not been good in high education like her brother. But she had followed her mother’s footprint and became a nurse.

Unfortunately, the wives of the Ndawas didn’t like each other. The only thing that kept them together was that their husbands were friends and the children liked the company of one another.

Muthama’s wife, Mbaika, had lived with the dream that her son would marry one village girl called Kavili, a daughter of her best schoolmate. Kavili, a primary school teacher, was a very sweet girl of unquestionable beauty whom Wendo had known and admired from a distance in spite of the parents trying their best to throw baits between them. The problem that hindered closeness between the two was that Wendo lived and worked in Nairobi and his countryside visits were few.

That was why when Kavata came into the picture, although she was physically less beautiful than Kavuili, Wendo felt she would be better than the home grown Kavili. It was rather disturbing that the names of the two girls were, by coincidence, similar – Kavili and Kavata.

Kavili had two attractive things over Kavata. While Kavata had the meanest bosom a woman could ever have, Kavili had the best bosom besides her exceptionally beautiful face. However, Kavata’s sophistication compensated for her mean breast. She had lived in England for nine years and was well traveled.

 There was a dispute between Wendo’s parents when he finally fell in love with Kavata and killed the parents’ hope of ever marrying Kavili. Wendo’s mother didn’t mince her words to say, “I don’t like Kavata. She’s bloated by her father’s wealth.”

Forced by the history of his friendship with Kilonzo and business interests, Muthama did everything to make sure Wendo would finally marry Kavata. Kilonzo had already bought Kavata a three bedroom house at Kilimani Estate and, since he had many cars, as soon as Kavata decided to live on her own, he gave Kavata one of the smaller cars, a Golf. However, after six months he bought her a brand new four-wheel medium car for going on safaris then he told her, “Give your boyfriend the Golf.” That was how Wendo, who could not afford a car and who didn’t like getting a car loan, couldn’t refuse the grand offer.

One of the most exciting moment not only for Wendo and Kavata but for the families of the Ndawas, was the grand wedding. For the honeymoon Wendo and Kavata would fly to Durban in South Africa.

It was during giving final the touches to the wedding preparation that Wendo and Kavata got really closer to each to each other. Wendo became almost a member of Kavata’s family. Kavata’s mother had fallen in love with her handsome son in-law to be and she enjoyed seeing him around.  

It was at that time when Wendo announced to Kavata, “If you bless me with four children I’ll be the happiest man on earth,” that Kavata didn’t appear to be amused by the request because she replied, “That’s a big number. One or two should be enough. Furthermore, after marriage we shouldn’t plunge into having a family so quickly.”

            (END OF PART ONE)?


It was on a Thursday evening, just two days before the grand wedding. Muthama had been in Nairobi for nearly one week, helping Kilonzo to plan the wedding of their children. All of them had agreed that Nairobi should be the best venue for the wedding.

There were family arrivals from Cuba to attend the wedding. Kavata’s favourite maternal uncle, a professor, was arriving with his wife at eleven o’clock at night. Kilonzo, his wife and Kavata had just left for the airport to pick up the Cubans, leaving Wendo in their house. After the uncle’s arrival Kavata and Wendo planned to go out to meet other friends at the Carnivore Hotel for what Kavata’s best and single friends described as the “kwaheri” moment. They would dine, drink, and riot dancing to mark the “goodbye” occasion.

While Wendo waited for their return from the airport he kept himself busy by enjoying the affluence the Kilonzos expressed in all gadgets relating to music, a giant television screen – everything thinkable to say that the owners of the home were people of material substance.

Among the things that Wendo fell upon in order to kill time were the many albums carrying the history of the family. He got attracted to one of them showing the Kilonzo’s while living in the United States and when the children were small. One particular photo caught his attention. It presented Kilonzo with his wife and two children who were sons.

“What is this?” Wendo was surprised. As far as he knew the history of the family, the Kilonzo’s had only three children; one son and two daughters. But the photo presented two sons according to their trousers. The boys dressed remarkably like boys, with hair cuts of boys. The face of one of the sons resembled Kavata’s face. Kavata had a slim and longish face and bat ears.

“Is this not Kavata?” wondered Wendo. He went through the whole album gripped by intense curiosity. Kavata, the boy, appeared in the album five times in different places. He settled to the belief that the Kilonzo’s had four children; two sons and two daughters. But Kavata, except the brother who resembled her, was missing from the album. Perhaps, most likely Kavata had not been living with them at the material days when the photos had been taken.

In spite of that he was struck by a puzzle and, fearing that he was intruding into the history of the family, he returned the album to the shelf and lost interest in looking at the others.

 He did not bring up the matter to Kavata immediately to solve the puzzle. After the wonderful night in which they had danced up to the wee hours, they arrived at Kavata’s flat utterly exhausted after three o’clock then dumped themselves into bed only to wake up at six in the morning pressed by what had yet to be done. Wendo had a big meeting with his countryside family, which had come for the wedding. Furthermore, he had to meet one hired professional photographer who would film the wedding.

Kavata was knocking up the breakfast when the puzzle of the photos returned to Wendo’s memory and compelled him to ask Kavata for an explanation. They were having the breakfast in the kitchen when Wendo explained what he had seen in the album. Suddenly he noticed a degree of shock in Kavata’s face. She stopped taking the breakfast and stood still for a while.

What Wendo heard that morning paralyzed him when, for worse or for good,  Kavata decided to tell him nothing but the bitter truth. “That was me whom you saw in the photo,” she said. I was born hermaphrodite and my parents opted first to take me as a boy. However, eventually they discovered that I had more of female attributes than of male. That was when we discussed it and agreed that I should undergo an operation to be made female permanently.”

Wendo was devastated, but for the time being, he tried to conceal the devastation. The news his numbed heart. Without asking more, however, he drove off hurriedly to avoid the build up of traffic before he got to the Outer Ring Estate where his family waited for him. But the more he drove from Kavata’s house that morning the more his heart numbed. At one stage he pulled the car to the side, stopped and gave himself a moment to reflect on what he had just heard. “So, this is it!” he cried… the reason why Kavata had hardly a bosom. So Kavata was a boy one time… and cannot have children! Oh my God!” he cried, “From here where do I go? Am I courting a full or half-full marriage? Love, what’s love?”

 Wendo never went to meet his family that morning. His numbed heart didn’t have the words with which to face the family. More than anything else, he needed ample time to think… to be or not to be… Instead of going to see them he drove straight to the country home for nearly two hours like a somnambulist. Least did he know he was driving Kavata’s car until he arrived home. It was then when he felt that life had cheated him.

Upon arriving home feeling utterly exhausted, he phoned the uncle responsible for the accommodation of the countryside delegation and said, “Listen, I’m calling from the country home. Tell my parents the wedding would not take place tomorrow for a reason. Just tell them that, I’ll explain later,” he hung up. A storm of emotion struck him and he burst into tears.

When the uncle broke the news to the delegation, his mother took off following him, leaving the father behind to handle the unprecedented event. She arrived late in the night and found her son in emotional turmoil. That evening he refused to tell the mother anything. But on the next day he imparted to her the wildest news she had ever heard.

Wendo took a French leave, at least, in order to grow the nerves with which to return to the city that had deceived him. By the time he returned to Nairobi, Kavata’s parents had devised a way of treating her traumatic experience of having been abandoned by Wendo. She had cried out her heart. They had sent her on a long tour to Europe and finally to Cuba, at least, for some kind of recuperation.

She was away for seven months when Wendo married Kavili quietly.  

Again, as in high school times, the friendship between Kilonzo and Muthama suffered from a major fracture. But this time it was Muthama’s family that had delivered the blow.