While growing up, we used to live next to a white family with fiery dogs, probably pure breed German Shepherds. I never got to know the name of the old lady of the home, but she had an old grandfather-like servant called Baba Nduva. Now in the same compound as us lived a large nuclear family called the Tendenis. White man’s dogs don’t live by leftovers. Baba Nduva’s Master ensured she stocked the leanest of beef for her canines. Being sly, a contract not known to us was made between the Tendenis and Baba Nduva.The Tendenis used to take beef every waking day, a delicacy that could only be savored occasionally, maybe a fortnight for those of us who lived below the fabled one dollar a day.

Tendeni was a man towards his pension, with three sons and four daughters, and a wife to say she was overweight is an understatement. Once in her bedroom, I fitted into one of her underwear and it was bigger than a child wearing his father’s suspenders. I could not comprehend the purpose of the rug sagging on my pelvis as I held the hip level-band with arms stretched above my head, until the older daughter reprimanded the youngest one for letting me fit into the underwear. The things kids do!

Back to Baba Nduva. One of the Tendeni’s daughters would stand by the live fence and shout, “Baba Nduva, Baba Nduva …” Occasionally they would call for more than an hour not knowing Baba Nduva had gone to Nakuru’s Bondeni estate for Chang’aa, a locally brewed potent alcohol. The fiery dogs on the other side of the fence would bark continuously the whole while, as if to say “dare steal our meal”. But Baba Nduva would come staggering back home from his drunken stupor and have his way, and sell the dog’s meal for a song, no matter how hard the canines protested. He was assured of a steady income to maintain his drinking habit.

Based on a True Story. All characters are fictional, any semblance to real people dead or alive is purely coincidental.