wetwool

because you never forget that funny smell

Category: accidents (page 1 of 5)

Babu is no murderer part 3 The conclusion

Woolie and Commander Ruby watched from Dogar’s office as several valets attended to Nancy Kibiwott’s car. Nancy herself was sitting in a white plastic garden chair in the shade a few yards away. She seemed to be enjoying the young men’s banter as they worked. Continue reading

Super Tuesday

When a man opens a car door for his wife it’s either a new car or a new wife ~ Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh.

For as long as I could remember Tuesday evenings at the local had always been quiet. If you wanted a bit of peace or perhaps you’d planned to meet a friend or work client you could more or less guarantee a decent noise-free environment on Tuesdays. Continue reading

the announcement

I paused for a moment, realising that Babu was staring at me, his mouth open. I thought he was either in a state of shock or he was very thirsty. Our glasses had been empty for a while, and I signaled to the barman, who had been standing close by, listening to the Malaika tale, to fetch more beer immediately. Continue reading

Would I lie to you?

I was in Babu’s office, seated across the desk from him, waiting patiently for him to end his phone call. He spoke in hushed tones and I barely made out what he was saying. I guessed it must be a sombre matter; perhaps some elderly relative was gravely ill, or had even died. He spoke for a further couple of minutes before saying goodbye and replacing the handset with a deep sigh.

“Whoa!” he said. “That woman is fuming. She’s spitting blood!” He looked at me, eyes twinkling over his reading glasses and asked, “Woolie, bwana, what have you done to make Ruby so angry?” I shook my head, surprised. “Me?” I asked. “I’ve done nothing – what’s she accused me of, Babu? Whatever it is, it wasn’t me. It’s not true, I haven’t done anything wrong. Would I lie to you, Babu? That woman just hates me. What am I supposed to have done?”

I was getting angry now. Commander Ruby Mwekundu of the Nairobi Regional Crime Squad was Babu’s pal. She made no secret of the fact that she loathed me painfully. She still referred to me as Mr Mbuzi even though she knew my name was Woolie Kondoo. I chose to rise above all that petty stuff, knowing that she was great friends with Babu. He was speaking again, now, repeating what commander Mwekundu had threatened to do if she ever laid eyes on me again. Apparently she had vowed to cut out my kidneys and roast them on a slow fire. It occurred to me that she may have referred to different body organs but Babu was ever the diplomat. He said “Stay out of the way until whatever ‘this thing’ is blows over.”

I wondered what ‘this thing’ could be. We rarely crossed paths, Ruby and me, and each time that we had met in recent times we had always parted ways courteously and without drama. Why was she suddenly on the warpath?

I did a quick rewind mentally to the very last time that I had seen the commander. This was when she had called round at my flat, the Friday morning before I was due to leave for work in Mombasa. It had been a short friendly meeting. She had brought a couple of parcels that she had asked me to take down to her relations in Mtwapa and we drank tea, chatting amiably about her niece’s wedding the following Saturday.

I remember how just as I had been complimenting Ruby on the wonderful preparations for the Big Day and my own regret at being unable to attend the nuptials, her official driver had come up to the door in a state of slight distress. “Very urgent call on the secure car-phone line, madam.” he proclaimed. Ruby had dashed out of the house and into the car to take the call. I could tell at once that this was a grave matter. After she had finished the conversation she lowered her window, her face all drawn and explained to me that there had been some serious breach of security somewhere and she was going straight back to Police HQ.

“I also need you to do me a really big favour, Woolie.” she said. It’s for the wedding tomorrow. Go to the shop and get another pair of long (arm length) gloves, please. Drop them off at my house and when I get back in tonight I’ll deal with them.” She stretched out her hand to give me some instructions, written on a piece of paper torn from her police note book. She also gave me a wad of notes.

From Police Notebook

I put the note in my pocket and offered a self-conscious salute. Ruby smiled sweetly and said, “We’re all counting on you. Please don’t let us down, Mr Kondoo.” And with that the car sped off in a cloud of dust.

I showered and shaved quick time and prepared to go to the shop as detailed in Ruby’s instructions. It was just after 11:00 and the sun was quite hot. At the shopping centre I noticed that KK’s bar was open for business so I stepped inside and ordered a swift Pilsner to wash away the dust. I had just put my favourite track on the jukebox when two pals from shags walked through the doors. They were down in the city for their monthly shop. The married couple were known around here for their love of mayhem. They would wine and dine Friday afternoon, dance away the night and then wake up to buy their provisions late on Saturday evening before heading back to the village. I had plans so I only had two beers with them. I began to feel the effects of 4 Pilsners on an empty stomach. If I was to accomplish mission Ruby and finally prove to her that my IQ was not a single digit, I had to make a move.

I found a taxi driver who was familiar with industrial area. Next I was looking for the small piece of paper with the name and location of the shop. It was not in my jacket or shirt pockets, nor was it in my trouser pockets. Should I call Ruby and ask her to text me the info? There was an unread sms on my phone. It was from Ruby, some 2 hours ago. “Hope you got the gloves. In a meeting till late. Bye xx” Oh no!

I nearly panicked but lucky for me I have a photographic memory. I knew where we wanted to go. I asked the taxi driver to head straight for Junction Road. We were there in twenty-five minutes, bless the kind man’s soul, At the corner of Junction Road was a row of shops. The middle one was called Mjengo Welding Supplies. I walked through their doors just five minutes before they were due to close. The man showed me his selection of gloves. I paid for a pair of full(arm length) gloves which came in a secure box. We dropped them off at Ruby’s house in Kilimani and then headed back to my flat where I packed a suitcase. The taxi finally dropped me off at the coach waiting room and |at nine-thirty I boarded a night coach to Mombasa.

Babu had listened to my story without interruption. Now he picked up the newspaper and slipped it across to me saying, “Open page 36, the classified section and look half-way down the page.” The advert gave me a cold empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.

M&J Wedding Supplies

Dad forgive me.

She was quite sure that her friend had said “Half-way up Loita Street.”. Her feet were killing her, but she walked on in the mid-October heat. She crossed the road and hurried past the ghastly Nyati House, Nairobi’s infamous chambers of horror. She walked on towards the Libyan Embassy and it had occurred to her that this was an odd place to have an embassy, but then again, Nairobi town was odd like that. There was no diplomatic district as such; embassies and consulates were scattered about all over the city.

Rubina saw the coffee house and walked up the short flight of steps leading up to the entrance. It was cool and welcoming inside and it took a moment for the eyes to get accustomed to the low, soft light. There were few customers in the restaurant and her friend was not there. Rubina smiled. She was always the early one. She chose a seat by the window, looking onto the street. When a young waitress came over to take her order, Rubina said she would have a bottle of water as she waited for her friend. She sipped the cold water watching the world go by.

There was a quiet, pleasant hum of conversation in the restaurant. That and the cool breeze from the slow moving ceiling fans above offered Rubina a chance for quiet reflection.

The day in court had gone very well. Both sides had finished their submissions and the judges would probably issue a ruling in the morning. There was pressure from many quarters for the matter to be concluded speedily. Any further delay would be a case of justice denied.

It was clear to Rubina, if not to all the other participants in this tragic affair, that this was one of those cases that would never have got to this point, but for the various shortcomings of our justice system. She considered the old quote: the wheels of justice grind slowly but they grind exceedingly fine. In this particular case a totally corrupt and ruthless man, who had bullied, bribed and bought his way throughout his adult life had died at the hand of his wife, thus cheating justice. When the judges considered all the facts presented before them, the only conclusion that they could reasonably arrive at was to uphold Mrs Indania’s appeal and quash her conviction. Nothing else would serve to heal the tarnished reputation of the justice system.

The facts were very compelling. Everyone and their dog had heard some version of the story. The daily papers loved this sort of thing. It sold papers. Targets were met and people received fat bonuses. The main papers were all carrying a special ‘High Court Section’ dedicated to the big trial of the year or as one editor had put it: Kenya’s OJ moment. The public’s appetite had been worked up to a frenzy. Everyone wanted to read about the wealthy, former cabinet minister and advisor to leaders, Nowa Indania, who had cheated friend and foe alike for most of his adult life, whose life now had suddenly been cut short by a blow to the head administered by his wife in a domestic violence incident.

The masses had bayed for blood. This case was not helped by countless stories of men suffering death and mutilation at the hands of their spouses across the length and breadth of the country but most notably in the county of Nyeri. Julia Indania herself was, quite understandably, in a state of shock following the death of her husband and in that state, could hardly take in the full implications of being a defendant in a murder trial. Her defence team at the time seemed overwhelmed by the public storms and did not, in Rubina’s mind, have a snow flake’s chance in hell of putting forward the woman’s side of the story. Their case was tossed about like a small boat in a violent sea and Julia Indania was convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

That would have been the end of the matter, as Rubina recalled. Mrs Indania spoke little during the trial save for answering questions. In this same air of quiet disinterest she accepted the court verdict and went to prison without ever protesting her innocence. It was a little while later that Rubina learnt that Mrs Indania’s father-in-law wanted to launch an appeal on behalf of his daughter-in-law. In his papers Mzee Indania Snr had stated: The boy has already lost one parent, surely that is a burden enough, for someone so young. He added, my daughter is not a murderer. I will sell everything that I own if that is what it will take to see that she is set free.

Rubina recalled how thrilled she had been when they asked her to lead the appeal. If proof was required that they held her in high regard back at the firm, this was it. She knew that this would finally put to rest the demons that stalked her following the leopard attack. She smiled at the thought of her pals visiting her in hospital back then, all crowded in that little ward. Babu was scared as hell, but tried not to show it. Woolie’s eyes were filled with sorrow and he looked out through the window most of the time that they were there and Ruby – she was just angry beyond words. Angry that someone could have done this to her.

Back to the appeal. The original case, as Rubina had suspected, was handled poorly by both sides. The prosecution believed what the police had told them. It was an open and shut case. A murder victim, a weapon a suspect and some sort of a motive. Mrs Indania was portrayed as an angry woman, jealous of her husband’s wealth and success. The defence argued that this was a most improbable motive. They claimed that Nowa Indania had attacked his wife in a fit of drunken rage, a fairly frequent occurrence, and that she had struck back in self defence. His death, therefore, was an accident.

Rubina had met Mrs Julia Indania for the first time at Sharwama Women’s GK prison. She wanted to hear her story. In the course of the conversation Rubina had realised that something was missing in this woman’s life. They went through the events of that fateful night. Rubina was making notes and would ask a question here and there. Julia answered as best as she could. She told the same story again and again with very little variation.

Nowa Indania had come home angry and very drunk. He had come straight to the living room where Julia had been seated near the fireplace, watching a television thriller with their ten-year-old son. Julia sent the boy upstairs. Indania had just poured himself a double-whiskey when his cell-phone rang. He had answered it and exchanged some angry words with whoever it was on the line. He threw his whiskey glass at the wall shattering it into a thousand pieces. Julia knew better than to speak to Nowa when he was in that state. She stood up to leave the room and go to bed. He grabbed her roughly by the arms and pushed her back into the seat. He declared that Julia had poisoned his boy against him. “I will teach you a lesson tonight!”

He beat her, first with his belt and then he used his fists and his feet. She was screaming at him to stop and he taunted her saying “Scream all you like, nobody will hear you, except your gay little son.” Julia was lying on her back in the sofa as he rained blows to her body and face. She thought she was going to die. She reached her had out and grabbed the fire poker, and whacked him on the head. His eyes rolled over and he fell back, blood gushing from a big wound just behind the left ear.

Julia’s story was accurate in almost every detail. This was because she had told it to herself so many times that she had come to believe it. Looking at Julia, Rubina realised what it was that was missing. There was no light in her eyes, no hope, no future. Now she understood. Mzee Indania Snr had completed the jigsaw.

When the police arrested Julia Indania on the night of the murder, officers also kept the boy at the station over night before taking him to his grandparents the following day. The despondent ten-year- old told his grand father how his mother had sent him to bed when Baba came home. He had sat at the foot of the stairs listening to Baba say some really awful things to his mother.

“Suddenly Baba started hitting my mother again and again. I opened the door and shouted Baba, stop! He didn’t stop he just kept hitting her with punches and kicks. I jumped on Baba’s back and put my arm round his neck. He growled at me like a bear and threw me to down the ground.”

the fireplace

That was when Julia had picked up the poker. Nowa had turned back to her and in the shoving about she had dropped it to the floor. Nowa continued with the beatings. The young boy launched himself across the floor. He picked up the poker and stood over his father and said “ Dad forgive me.” As he brought it down, Indania turned to look up and the blow caught him just behind the left ear. That must have been was when the lights had gone out of Julia’s eyes, Rubina thought.

A white cab drew up on the street alongside the restaurant. The occupant got out and took the steps up to the entrance two at a time.

Rubina called to her, “Ruby! Over here.” The ladies hugged and sat down. The police commander raised a hand to attract some attention. “Hope you haven’t waited to long, Rubina. The traffic is manic on the highways, you’d think someone important is coming to town. Shall we order?” Rubina smiled and nodded. “Let’s order.”

They had coffee and chocolate cake. The commander watched as Rubina stirred her coffee, deep in thought. She asked, “You said you had some news. Is it work related?”

Rubina smiled and looked at the commander. She said “I have been short-listed for an interview for a teaching post.” “ Oh, how thrilling!” said the commander, showing real pleasure. “When’s it for?” Rubina said “In about five weeks. I’ll need all that time just to organise everything!”

“You’re the most organised person I know, my dear, it will be a walk in the park. A piece of cake.” the commander said this as she picked up another piece of the lovely chocolate cake.

“I dunno, Ruby. I need you to tell me how I’ll break it to the guys that I’ll soon be off for an interview for a teaching post in Toronto……”

A loyal friend to the end – final part

A poacher comes forward

Inspector Makrahanish drove them the few hundred metres to Peter Malo’s house. As they approached the entrance, he said, “I just got word from the station. We rounded up the usual suspects this morning. The petty muggers and crooks, that sort of thing. My officers have been interviewing them all morning. It is doubtful that this attack was carried out by a simple criminal. The attack was so savage and yet nothing at all was stolen. Why did they cut her up like that? Torture, perhaps?”

The commander shook her head. “We have to assume that the perpetrators are sick individuals and that Rubina just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. There was no sexual motive to the attack. They must be sick sadists; only that can explain the horrific injuries.” She said.

As they pulled up at the front court-yard by the house a lady opened the front door and came to meet them. She introduce herself as Margaret Kromati, farm manager. They explained why they had come. She ushered them inside and showed them into a comfortable lounge. As they were seated, a servant was sent to bring tea. Ms Kromati pulled forward a straight-backed chair placing it where she could face all of them and sat down. She spoke calmly and said, “I have heard the talk in the farm. A woman was attacked in the road by robbers in the night. They say it is Rubina. I called the hospital but they won’t talk to anyone about it. They wont let us go and see her.”

Inspector Makrahanish asked when Ms Kromati had last seen Rubina. “Oh, I saw her yesterday morning as she was leaving for town.” She told them. “When she is using matatu she has to leave quite early, but I am always up and about dealing with farm matters, you see.” The commander said, “Ms Kromati, are there times when Rubina does not use public transport? How does she get to town? She doesn’t drive.”

“Her father normally drives her.” Came the reply. “He went away on Wednesday, you see. He drives her to the courts down town and picks her up later in the afternoon.” He’s gone away on business. That’s why Rubina was using public means.” Kromati shook her head slowly. Commander Ruby pressed, “ But where is this that Mr Malo has gone, Ms Kromati? We have tried calling him but his number is unavailable. When do you expect him back?”

Ms Kromati sighed. “ He is mteja because he doesn’t take his phone with him. I can’t reach him, nobody can. Not until he gets back from his safari.” There was a note of despair in her voice and Babu followed it up. “ You say he leaves his phone, How do you know this?”

Ms Kromati stood up and walked over to a large painting hanging on the far wall of the room. It was a larger than usual copy. Babu noted the unmistakable features of Jomo Kenyatta in his black leather jacket on the night that the colonial powers arrested him and many others and declared a state of emergency in the country. Kromati took down the painting to reveal a large safe built into the wall. She fished out a small key from somewhere and unlocked the safe. She now brought out a passport, national ID card, a driving licence and two mobile phones. She placed these on the table for them to examine.

Ms Kromati said, “I am not just the farm manager. I look after the domestic arrangements here too. This gives me access to every part of the house. I open this safe almost every day to pay the casual workers. I am constantly in and out of Mr Malo’s room looking for an invoice here or a receipt there that he has forgotten to bring to the office.” Babu looked puzzled and asked, “So why does he leave all his stuff here when he goes away? I don’t get it.” Ms Kromati laughed a short laugh. “ You’re asking the wrong person. I asked him so many times, I lost count. He always said “That’s my business.” So I gave up asking. It really isn’t my business what a grown man does in his spare time.”

It was Inspector Makrahanish who now said: “Tell us a little about the business trips, madam how often does Malo go away?” The reply surprised them all. Ms Kromati said, “Peter Malo goes away on business every three months. He leaves the farm on a Wednesday and returns on a Wednesday some four weeks later. He always stays away for four weeks. Always. In the eight years that I have worked here He has never failed to make this trip. He locks away his car in the garage and uses a rental vehicle for the trip. Also he does not take any luggage from the house with him.”

Brown all through

It was getting late and the shadows outside were growing longer. They were slowly making their way back to the car. The commander and Ms Kromati walked slowly at the rear. In the courtyard some children had gathered and stood looking at the police vehicle. Now they watched the visitors with interest. A small boy in the group held a little brown puppy in his arms.

“Hello,” said Babu “ What a beautiful puppy. What’s his name?” The little boy smiled. He told Babu that his puppy was a girl. “Her name is Jinja. But you knooow…….. her mummy is gone.” The boy was suddenly sad. He looked at Babu and said “ Mister police can you find her mummy?” “Sure I can.” said Babu. Tell me her mummy’s name.”

Ms Kromati came along to where Babu and the boy stood. She said the kids had told her that the big dog, Cadbury was nowhere to be found. “That dog never leaves Rubina’s side when she is here. In fact she walks with Rubina to the bus stop in the mornings and in the evenings she runs back there to wait for her to arrive. Nobody knows how the dog figures out the time to go to the bus stop. Really weird.”

Commander Ruby asked, “Did you say the name is Cadbury?” Kromaty said“ Yes Hahahaha.The kids said they called her that because she was brown all through, like chocolate.”

The commander was serious now. “This is the name that poor Rubina has been trying to tell us.”
Babu said, “Of course. They must have been together when she was attacked. Where is the dog now, I wonder.” Makrahanish called the station with instructions. They were to check for and investigate all sightings of a brown dog in the neighbourhood.

They went back to the hospital and met Woolie who told them that there was some improvement in the patient but she still slept heavily. The nurse said that all the vital signs were good. In her opinion it was very likely that Rubina would shake off the sedatives and wake the following morning. The Doctor looked in and confirmed everything the nurse had said.. Inspector Makrahanish took his leave. Babu and the Commander brought Woolie up to speed with what they had learnt at the farm. Commander Ruby elected to stay the night in case their patient woke.

Woolie and Babu made their way to the hotel. Woolie said to Babu “ It seems to me that whoever it was that stole the dog, they are the ones responsible for the attack on Rubina. Find the dog and we’ll have the attackers.”

When Babu finally got to his room the tiredness had got to him. He undressed and collapsed onto the bed. He turned off the light and lay still. Sleep eluded him as it often did when a case presented seemingly impossible complications. The case before them was crazy: A random absentee father who abandons all that he owns. To go where?

Babu thought back to how he had so wanted to reconcile father and daughter. How he had managed to get Rubina to lead the defence team on a high-profile case. He had contacted Peter Malo and urged him to invite his daughter to stay with him for the duration of the case. He remembered now how Malo sounded the genuinely proud father. He would drive his daughter to court every morning, he had said. Rubina had accepted her dad’s offer graciously. She had told Babu that Malo had simply called her out of the blue. She need not stay in some random hotel when her dad had more than ample accommodation at the farm, Meddling old fool that I am, thought Babu. Where was Peter Malo. Did his absence have anything to do with the attack, or was it just coincidence. It was obvious that he was up to something. Fake Ids? Impersonations? A double life? Espionage? These were fantastic ideas. Rabbit holes. Babu reminded himself of the need to stick to the facts.

What were the facts: A young lady viciously assaulted. No obvious motive. Nothing taken. Hundreds of cuts, lacerations all over the body. Then there was the issue of the strange crime scene. Complete lack of physical evidence. No footprints, No tyre tracks and no reports of suspicious vehicles in the vicinity. How had the attackers arrived there and how did they leave? There was something one of the radio news readers had said in a report on the attack. “These vicious thugs were not human…” And what was it that Woolie had said before we parted? With that thought Babu finally dropped off.

Every Sunday morning Chadli Hosein walked through the forest checking his traps and bee-hives. Sometimes he got lucky and found small antelope or dik dik caught in the snares. He took only what he needed and shared any surplus with his neighbours. Hunting was once a noble and respected occupation. A source of fresh meat for the pot. The poachers who wiped out Rhino and Elephant for horns and ivory had driven good hunters underground.

Chadli was now quite close to the place where that poor girl had been attacked. It happened under that big tree. He looked down towards the river. Down there the vegetation was very thick. Perhaps he could place a trap down there. He slipped carefully down the embankment. He was now completely invisible from the road above. He walked along the river for a while. He was looking for a suitable place to set a trap. He came to a bend in the river.

If he had not been looking carefully he would never have seen the cave. The vegetation had grown so high and then it had fallen over almost completely blocking the entrance. “What an amazing hideout.” He thought. It was unlikely that anyone else knew of this place. He pushed the bushes to one side and moved into the mouth of the cave. A hundred thousand flies suddenly lifted off from their feeding ground. Chadli jumped back, terrified. The buzzing sound as they flew off was deafening. There was also a horrible smell. He quickly recovered his composure and strained to look at what the flies had been feeding on. He could barely believe his eyes. Lying there spread on the cave floor was the largest leopard he had ever seen. Beside it, clinging to the leopard’s neck, even in death was the carcass of a fine dog. Even in the faint light he could see that the dog’s fur was a smooth brown colour, like chocolate.

An hour later Chadli Hosein walked into the Sobea Police Station. He said to the officer at the desk “Who’s in charge here? I think I know what happened to that poor girl on Friday.”

The end

A loyal friend to the end part ii

A troubling question

Babu put a few things in a small over night bag, locked up and joined Commander Ruby and Woolie by the car in the drive-way. They set off immediately with the skilled police driver picking the quickest way to get to the Nakuru highway. Babu was seated at the back with the commander. They would break into conversation for a while before settling back into long periods of silence. Woolie had realised that the police driver seated beside him was a quiet man who much preferred to concentrate on the road ahead than engage in small talk.

The police BMW X5 made light work of the smooth highway, effortlessly chewing up the kilometres. Woolie considered for a moment the irony of the situation. Barely six hours before he had been looking forward to enjoying the breathtaking views of the escarpment and the Great Rift Valley on the way to see Rubina. Now, he stared at the road ahead in silence, totally oblivious to the natural beauty around them. He wondered what awaited them ahead.

love you when you’re right,
love you when you’re wrong,
love you when you’re weak,
love you when you’re strong,


They were met at the hospital by a young nurse who showed them into a waiting room. He left and reappeared several moments later with a young woman who introduced herself as the house officer. She was the doctor who was looking after Rubina. She explained to them that Rubina had regained consciousness briefly. She had appeared to be quite agitated. She was trying to ask the nurse something but the words would not come out. She had suffered some injuries to her throat and was unable to produce any sound. The effort had proved too much and she had slipped back into unconsciousness.

“We have performed a full body scan and we are quite satisfied that there are no serious internal injuries.” continued the doctor. She looked at the commander and said, “If you like, we can now go in and see the patient.”

Nothing had prepared them for for what they saw when they entered the room. Their friend and colleague was wrapped tightly from head to foot in white bandages. Only her eyes were visible through a small slit. She was attached to tubes and wires that were keeping her going. Woolie was to recall later how he had almost fled the room in terror. Retired detective Babu and Commander Ruby both quite familiar with serious injuries, accidents and violent death were also quite shocked.

The nurse told them that all the vital signs were good and they should treat this time as though Rubina was just resting. He said that she had woken again and had tried to ask for someone whose name he did not quite catch.

“Was she asking for Woolie?”, asked the commander. “Or perhaps Babu?”

“Sorry, I don’t know, said the nurse, shaking his head slowly.” But it was not Woolie. It may have been Babu, but I thought it sounded more like Baby, Does she perhaps have a young baby?

“Certainly not!” was Woolie’s sharp reply. “ Where do you get such ideas from? She’s not even married, yet.”

The house officer looked up at Woolie and nodded in understanding.

The nurse said that one of them could sit with Rubina in case she woke but the rest would have to go. Woolie elected to stay so Babu and the commander went out into the bright sunshine. They were met at the entrance by the OCS, Inspector Makrahanish. As the commander made the introductions Makrahanish could not conceal his pure delight at coming face to face with the great retired Detective Inspector. “Honoured to meet you sir.” he said, shaking Babu’s hand.

“My officers are working round the clock to find the perpetrators of this heinous crime. Rest assured that we will catch them in the next few days.”

“Commander Ruby has told me that she is very confident that this will be so.” replied Babu, graciously. “May we see the crime scene?”

They drove the short distance to the scene of the attack in Makrahanish’s car. Babu and Ruby listened intently as the OCS explained how Rubina had been found by a man walking home from the pub.

“He is a well-known local guy and is not a suspect right now as his story checks out.” Makrahanish said, looking at his notebook. The matatu people say the lady alighted at her usual stop by the old church at 8.30 pm. The guy found her lying face down in that thicket there. It was just after 1.30 am. It rained heavily through the night, you see and that is why all this grass around here looks flattened down. Unfortunately we have no footprints and any blood there may have been has been washed away. I understand your colleague lost a lot of blood.”

“One thing bothers me, Babu.” Commander Ruby was gazing out into the distance. She turned to look at Babu. “I have to ask, where is Rubina’s father? Where is Peter Malo, dammit!”

“Let us go down to the farm now.” said Babu. “ Let’s see if we can’t find some answers there.”

To be continued

A loyal friend to the end part i

Bad news breaking

Lyrics: Loving you(M. Riperton R. Rudolph)

No one else can make me feel
The colors that you bring
Stay with me while we grow old
And we will live each day in springtime

There were times when Babu could be exceptionally irritating, Woolie thought, helplessly, and it was at times such as these. They were in Woolie’s small silver Nissan, crawling along Friday evening traffic, heading for the Haraka-Haraka Luxury Coach booking offices down town. Babu had suddenly remembered that he had an urgent package to send to his wife who lived on a small farm in the west country. He needed to get the parcel onto the overnight coach, which was scheduled to leave in thirty minutes. He cursed and swore, urging Woolie to drive faster, change lanes and undertake the matatus.

They arrived at the office with just moments to spare. The man at the counter smiled as he recognised Babu and processed his parcel double quick, assuring them that it would be with Mrs Babu by 8.00am the following morning. Babu tipped him generously and they drove back to South B. It was Babu’s turn to buy the beers.

The bar was becoming livelier by the minute as thirsty punters streamed in, their long faces betraying the pains of the past week. Babu and Woolie were seated on tall stools at the bar. Babu took a long sip from a most satisfactory pint of Guiness, smacking his lips in delight. Woolie had decided to sample the new lager that some genius at the brewery had named ‘Mteja’. He invited Babu to take a sip. The old man put the glass gingerly to his lips and took a slow, long draught of the new drink. He held it in his mouth for a moment before forcing it down his throat, his face wrinkled up in an expression of deep agony. He looked at Woolie and said, “Mteja by name, mteja by nature. That stuff is disgusting.” He reached for his Guiness and gulped it down in one go.

“So, Woolie, have you heard from Rubina?” Babu asked after a short pause. Woolie shook his head, as an alarm bell started ringing in his ear. Babu was doing his fishing thing.

“Wow”, Babu continued. She’s been gone over four weeks, now. Don’t say you don’t miss her.” He had a funny smile playing on his lips. Woolie felt the heat rise in his face. He said, “Please Babu – no talk of Rubina tonight, please. I’d prefer not to discuss her with you, at all. Just imagine what she’d think if she knew we talk about her. Me and you, that is. It’s not on. She’s near enough your adopted daughter. I cannot have this convo with you!”

“Pah! Don’t pretend you don’t miss her. I know I do.”, Babu said. “She is going to be in Nakuru for the next nine weeks or so. That sodding case she’s on is difficult and it’s going to take ages. How come you don’t even talk of going up there some weekend to see her? Surprise her.”

“Surprise her?”, Woolie asked. Babu looked at Woolie and shook his head slowly. He said “Stop being such a pussy cat. Go on. You can drive up there first thing tomorrow morning. Look, it’s Saturday, see? Spend the day with her. She’d like that.”

Babu was on a roll. He said to Woolie “ Kwanza ebu ask Cleveland there to bring us some spicy chicken wings when he comes over. I’m going outside to fire my ka- pipe. When I return I’ll show you what to do about Rubina. Faint heart never won fair lady, au siyo?”

The evening wore on without serious surprises or undue excitement for Woolie. The good people in the pub had been fed and watered. Their formerly long tired faces now shone with euphoria and optimism. A result of good beer, fried chicken wings and very loud music.

That evening there was a new girl singing at the karaoke. The punters swore that her voice was identical to the mating call of the evening nightingale and had captured the hearts of most of the single men in the house when she sang “Loving you is easy ’cause you’re beautiful….” She had sung for two hours straight and then had mysteriously disappeared, just before the clock struck midnight.

Lovin’ you I see your soul come shinin’ through
And every time that we oooooh
I’m more in love with you
La la la la la la la… do do do do do

By the time the taxi dropped Babu and Woolie off at Babu’s bungalow it had been agreed that the two of them would be driving to Nakuru first thing in the morning; Woolie to spend the day with Rubina and Babu ostensibly to visit an old pal from Njoro who was looking for a sleeping partner to invest in some new technology enterprise. Woolie had a strange, elated feeling as he thought about the journey they would be making in just a few hours. It would be nice to see Rubina after all this time. He had already said good night to Babu who was standing at the verandah smoking his pipe. He found a duvet and some cushions and made his bed on the sofa. He undressed jumped onto the sofa and fell asleep almost immediately, aided no doubt by the evening’s drinks and some very happy thoughts for the following day.

Woolie woke with a start. He felt like it had just been minutes ago that he had fallen asleep. It took him a few moments to gather his thoughts. He remembered now why he was sleeping in a strange sofa. The knocking at the door was getting louder, more insistent. He put on his shirt and trousers and went to the front door. Across the hall-way and down the corridor Babu’s deep snoring seemed to vibrate the walls of the small bungalow. The time on the wall clock was 06:30. He opened the door and was nearly felled to the ground by a very agitated Commander Ruby Mwekundu of Regional Crime who stormed in, heading straight for Babu’s sitting room.

“Where is Babu?” She demanded. “Why is his phone mteja?” Before Woolie could answer, Babu walked through into the sitting room looking all smart and tidy. He smiled at Ruby and said “This is a pleasant surprise, Commander.” He turned to Woolie, “Fetch us some tea, Woolie, There’s a good chap. The Commander has some urgent news for us.”

Ruby had a face like they had not seen before. She was angry, that was clear, but she was frightened too. She held her hands together to keep them steady and looked at Babu and said “ It is, I regret very bad news. I received this information just over half an hour ago, Babu and I have been trying to contact you on your phone. Rubina was attacked at around eight o’clock, yesterday evening on her way home from work. The attack took place less than 8oo metres from her Pa’s house in Sobea. The report says she was found lying unconscious having suffered terrible injuries and it is believed that the attackers (police believe there was more than one attacker due to the sheer number of injuries) had left her for dead.”

Babu had gone completely still and the commander continued, “Rubina is now at the general hospital in Sobea where she is in a critical but stable condition. She lost a lot of blood in the attack and the perpetrators cut her many times with knives on her arms, legs and back. They are keeping her under observation and have sedated her for the time being.”

The shock in Babu’s face was painful to watch. The commander shook her head and said, “I don’t think there is any doubt that it is Rubina. The police at the scene recovered some documents strewn around the area where the attack took place. They were able to identify her quite quickly and the OCS, a kind gentleman by the name of Makrahanish, placed a call to my office which was transferred to me. I have a car with a driver outside ready to take you to Sobea right away.”

The commander was looking at Woolie when she said “The hospital are giving her the best possible care and Makrahanish has assured me that they already have a huge man hunt under way. The monsters who have done this will not get very far.”

To be continued

Lost in space

Fred Msumari
The Royal Palace
Kingdom of Kerugoyes

December 2014

Dear Jaki,

Greetings to you from the ancient kingdom of Kerugoyes

I hope that you are in fine health. It was such a wonderful treat the other morning when your letter arrived. Thank you so much. There was bemusement and much wonder in the domestic quarters as the palace staff watched me read and re read your letter before folding it neatly and locking it away in the safe with our other valuables. I did not realise how expensive postage had become, your envelope was covered in stamps! The kids here collect stamps, bless them.

How have things been in our Fair Republic? I hope they are not keeping you too busy in that peoples’ garage. The description you gave about your typical day filled me with horror and distaste. You know Jaki how much I hate talk of blood. I even refuse to look at a mutura, knowing what it’s chief ingredient is. I fainted that time when I took you to donate blood for those poor leaking petrol explosion victims, remember?

Now, si I told you about Binti Pepo doing her bit during the independence celebrations? Well, the King enjoyed that performance so much, now there is talk of starting a kind of music academy right here, for the young Kerugoyenese. The King wants the young boys and girls to sing like his so-called nightingale, Binti Pepo. His Majesty says that he will only start an academy if Binti is the Director. They have been holding long talks, late into the night, just the King and Binti. Some nights they ask me along to give my opinion and we have also been joined by the Cabinet Secretary for Music & Entertainment. I realise now Kerugoyenese are very big on culture and that sort of stuff.

I tell you all this,Jaki because it seems that we will be here for a little longer than was envisaged. The South Africa leg of Binti’s World Tour is also in question because all the talk in the country right now is about the forthcoming Ndarabara event. I have been told that we will be travelling right up to the great mountain, Kidevu, where the King will perform the ancient Ndarabara rites which are traditionally important for the fertility, health and prosperity of this kingdom. Once these are done, His Majesty will consult the oracle, Abacha, to learn what the coming year holds in store for Kerugoye.

Binti and myself will be the first foreigners ever to witness a Ndarabara at close quarters. I am excited and a little bit nervous, if the truth be told. I will let you know how it all goes once we are safely back from the mountains.

I think I may have written too much! 😀

Have a really good week!

Fred.

* * *

Jacqueline Salama
Accident & Emergency Department
City Medical Centre
Nairobi

December 2014

Dear Fred,

Your own letter arrived just this morning, thank you. I hope that you are still enjoying the mountain air in that remote kingdom. I’m very well thanks. Just keeping myself busy at the department.

We had 2 new doctors that started this Monday, a young man and a young woman. They are both very charming and everyone is doing their best to make them feel welcome.

So just today I had a chance to work with the female doctor. We’d just had lunch and we were looking at some paper-work when they rushed in this patient on a trolley. He was a young man in his late twenties and in a state of complete anguish. It was incredible! The poor sod had only managed to get his wotsit stuck in a soft drink bottle. My colleague was stunned. You see the portion of the wotsit that was inside the bottle had swelled up to a grotesque size and shape – it looked like a python, to be honest. In the end we gave him a couple of steroid injections to reduce the swelling and gently eased him out of his glass prison. He was then sedated and taken to a ward for observation. Fred, Isn’t it just amazing what young men on their own can get up to? Hahahaha

The weather in our fair republic continues to get warmer and some nights it is simply impossible to sleep unless one throws off all the covers. I don’t really leave my windows open at night as I’m not sure it is entirely safe. I would hate to wake in the night to find a stranger rummaging through my things!

The new doctors will be dropping in shortly. We’re going out tonight to try out this new Indian restaurant down the road. I’d better go and do something with my hair.

You haven’t said much about Binti – How is she?

Fred, keep writing those letters. They always put a smile on my face and as funny as it sounds when I read what you are up to I don’t feel so lost in space. Do be careful on that Ndararara wotsit up there on the hills. 😀

Jaki

captured on camera – 4th and final instalment

Caught on Camera – conclusion

Babu and his party made the journey to the hotel in just under two hours. The hired minibus was spacious and comfortable. The evening traffic was light to moderate and they had only waited half an hour for the ferry crossing. Continue reading

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