If you still think marriage is hell, ask Apedneko.
Apedneko, the one with several scars, will definitely tell you marriage is heaven. If you wake him in the middle of the night and ask the same question, the answer will be the same, unflinching. If you chain him and hang his neck over the cliff, the answer will still be the same, that marriage is the biggest paradise. Even at gunpoint, Apedneko will swear that marriage is the biggest blessing from the lord.
Because Apedneko is a chronic liar.
Six years ago, when he still smelled fresh city currency, he organized with the elders and poured eight cows in the homestead of Mzee Agripa. That was the most decorated thing in the village and was spoken of for a long time. Mean, who still pays dowry nowadays? And not one, not two, not even four – eight walking cows, a bull and several chicken tucked in the hairy armpits of talkative aunts.
And for six years Apedneko has had to add scars to his face. And don’t start hating scars yet. Wait.
If you have money, go to any nearest bus station and say you want to go to Kakamega. Then when you alight, take a taxi to the general hospital. Insist that you should be taken to gate three. From gate three, you can walk all the way to the wards, of course after the security checks (as if people steal sick people). In ward five, take a lift to the first floor. On bed number six-ten is a man who wishes that his wife should have added another scar this last time.
But I think Cherida added another scar, only that Apedneko is in the madness of anaesthesia. She cut it so well experts said she would have made a good circumciser. But women don’t circumcise, so she will have to go to the grave with her fucking talent. Even when she made such a century’s operation.
Last weekend I took a vehicle to Kakamega and told the taxi to take me to gate three. I found Apedneko asleep, so the doctors told me to wait. When he woke up, I was allowed to see him. Man, facial scars are better than what I saw. The thing was cut like you cut the tail of a cow. The doctors had just opened the wound for freshening before dressing it again. It was a bit shrivelled, lost, and lonely. It was sad. Upon Cherida I conferred the powers to read and do regarding circumcision.
I made one conclusion: Apedneko, son of my firstborn uncle, married a Nazi. And paid cows and birds as aunts cheered and felt proud.
Fortunately the knife was a bit mean and did not remove what it was asked to remove. And the hope of Apedneko lies in the narrowness that the muscle will at least heal through the few veins that were spared. There must be hope every Sunday the doctors come with scissors to undress and re-dress the wound, though I cannot pretend to think what Apedneko thinks every time the nurse makes the scissors near his thing. Every time I looked at him, I felt the moment absurd.
“I came home late,” he said, which was another lie.
The wife had caught wind of her husband smiling too much at the daughter of a local brewer. If women do not visit magicians, how did a feared woman like that get so accurate information? All she needed to do was go to the house her husband was rumoured to be spending most of the evenings behind closed doors. And man and woman were caught, as talkers say, in the act. Cherida did not have time to wash and anaesthetize it before the operation.
In our chat, I offered a condolence thing (to his thing). I gave him five thousand shillings. I don’t know mathematics but I think each shilling represented a sorry to each separate scar. It is a thing we have raised at our clan meetings though the elders say that a whole clan getting in to defend a whole man before his wife is demeaning the clan. And no one wants to be the laughing stock of the villages.
So he took the money, smiled, and tucked it under his pillow. When we eventually exchanged byes and it was clear I was leaving, he stopped me in my prayer and handed me five thousand shillings.
“Take this to Cherida. Tell her to clear he debt with the shopkeeper, pay seventy shillings to the brewer and use the rest for upkeep. And tell her to look after the maize harvest well.”