because you never forget that funny smell

Category: motor cars

Babu is no murderer part 2

08:00 am Saturday 15th June

Commander Ruby Mwekundu Regional Crime Squad arrived at Police HQ to find an extremely upset Woolie Kondoo waiting for her at the reception desk. He stood up when he saw her and said ‘Finally, you’re here. How dare you send your storm troopers to arrest my Babu you evil witch! You only had to ask him to come back to the station. Nobody here seems to know where Babu is. Tell me, where are you holding him?’

Ruby stopped in her tracks totally taken aback by Woolie’s aggression. ‘What do you mean, Kondoo? Babu is at home. I dropped him off myself, yesterday.’ Woolie looked at her and shook his head slowly. He said, in a softer tone, ‘They came for him in the night. The neighbour told me armed police came in 3 Land Rovers. Are you telling me you had no idea?’

Just then Ruby’s mobile vibrated with an incoming message. It was from her boss, the Deputy Assistant Commissioner, and read, ‘Retired Chief Inspector Babu has been arrested in connection with 2 murders in a Westlands hotel last week. Commander Mwakundu I expect you to do your job and have the necessary evidence ready to have him charged within 48 hours.’ Ruby took a deep breath ‘Damn it! ‘My idiot boss is using Babu to get at me. He knows Babu did not commit these crimes.’ Woolie looked at her and said, ‘So what are we going to do, Ruby?’ he asked.

Ruby was already walking across the foyer. She said to Woolie, ‘Quick, first we go to my office. We’ve got to find out where they are holding Babu and get him out of this mess.’

They went went up in the lift to Ruby’s 14th floor office.

When Woolie was seated Ruby gave him a summary of the events of the past week. Then she said, ‘I’ll make some calls, find out exactly where they are holding him so that you can go and see him and reassure him. Trust me Kondoo, all will be well.’

On her second call Ruby was able to establish that Babu was being held at Muthangari Police Station on the James Gichuru Road. The OCPD was a good friend and he assured Ruby that Babu was sitting quite comfortably in an office at the station.

Ruby relaxed a little. She was quiet for a moment then said, ‘ Woolie, first we need to look at the facts as we see them. There is no question that the two items that Babu brought in on Monday were used in the murders of those poor victims. The forensic lab people have matched fibres from the nylon stockings to fibres found on Anindo Opondo’s neck. They also obtained DNA from her mucus on the stockings. The blood on the knife is an identical match to that of Ed Malu, the waiter. We urgently need to establish how Babu came to be in possession of these two items. My detective interviewed Babu yesterday with a degree of difficulty.’

Woolie said, ‘Babu has been taking medication for his enlarged liver condition. One of the side effects is short-term memory loss. He can remember stuff from the past but doesn’t seem to recall what he had for dinner the night before.’

Ruby listened carefully before she replied, ‘I wondered why he wouldn’t give his name at the desk.’ Anyway my detective was able to establish that Babu was at his farm in Mosoriot on Sunday morning, preparing to drive back home here in South B. His wife had given him a new LED torch to keep in the car in case of emergency. When he opened the glove-box to stow it away he found a loose bag with the bloody knife tightly wrapped in the black nylon stockings. The detective sent officers from a nearby Police station to check with Mrs Babu at the farm and she corroborated this account.

Ruby had paused to look at her notes and Woolie said, ‘But that is most ridiculous. Mosoriot is 320 km away how did these items get to be in Babu’s van? Wait….’ Woolie was scratching the top of his head where the hair was fast disappearing. He said, ‘Babu is a creature of habit. He always takes the van in for a service before embarking on a road trip to the shamba. Oil change, tyres check, radiator, brakes, lights, that sort of thing. Ruby was looking at him, unable to hide her sudden excitement. She asked, ‘Do you know where he has his van serviced?’ Woolie smiled and said, ‘Yeah, the Dogar Metro Garage at the corner of Junction Road.’

Ruby and Woolie drove up to the corner of Junction Road, past M&J Wedding Supplies and found the garage. Mr Dogar, the boss at Dogar Metro Garage was an affable man who sported a turban and a very wide moustache. He was extremely cooperative and answered their questions without hesitation or deviation. Yes, Mr Babu was a long-standing customer. Yes, he had brought his car in for a service on Tuesday morning, saying that he was to go on safari the following day. This was quite normal with Mr Babu. The mechanic who had service the van was Eric Muli a conscientious young man with a keen eye for detail. Eric was summoned to the office and gave a positive account of the work that he had carried out. He had changed the oil, adjusted the brakes and topped up the coolant in the radiator. The van was in tip top condition. Once completed he had taken the van round to be valeted prior to release.

As they spoke a BMW X5 with tinted windows pulled slowly into the garage forecourt. It eased its way down to the car wash end of the yard where valets with sponges and squigees waited. In Dogar’s office, they looked through the large window and waited, keen to see who would emerge from the large vehicle.

Oh, I see who it is,’ said Dogar, smiling. ‘It’s Senator Kibiwot’s wife. Another frequent customer. The lady has so many cars.’ As they watched, Mrs Kibiwot called to one of the valets and he went to the car. She got back into the car and brought out her hand bag. All the while she was talking to the valet. The watchers were not able to see exactly what it was that Mrs Kibiwot handed over to the valet. Mr Dogar was not smiling now and he said this was most irregular. The normal practice was that all payments for work done at the garage were made at the reception.



Is it just me or do you also find that hardly a day goes by without someone sounding off about the Environment, Climate Change and Recycling. Television, Radio and the newspapers are all full of it. New companies spring up daily promising to supply “green” energy using all types of weird and wonderful renewable sources from wind power and sunlight to cow manure and biomass.

A few years back our local council embraced recycling in a big way. First they issued every household with a brand new wheelie bin. All rubbish would only be collected if it was stashed in these bins. Next, they cancelled the weekly collection. Rubbish is now collected twice a month. Further, householders are required to separate out the stuff that can be recycled from the general rubbish that eventually goes into landfill sites. There are three different bins at the front of most houses each for different items of household waste. The system suffered teething problems at the start but it seems to have taken off now and the city fathers claim that the city was coming close to hitting the recycling targets set by the EU. Councillors like to remind us that for programmes like these to work we need to inculcate a sense of civic pride and people must accept their own responsibility for the environment and global climate change. This would include reforming the throw away culture. We needed to look carefully at the Japanese idea of Mottainai, popularised by Kenyan Nobel laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai.

Imagine then, my good friend John’s surprise when he took Malaika to see her doctor recently. I know the good lady well and whilst she is no spring chicken she looks really good for her age. She has been with John’s family for just over 12 years.

The family acquired Malaika, a white, 1980s VW beetle from a German couple who had toured the country by road, spent all their cash and decided to sell their car for food, board and bus fare for the journey home. Malaika may have been of advancing years but she had never once let them down. She had remained a loyal friend getting them from A to B and back again, come rain or sunshine. The lower parts of her body were beginning to show her age but John did not expect the rude reaction that he got at the garage when he took her in for an MOT test. The older mechanic laughed out aloud at all the rust showing on Malaika’s lower body. He asked why John didn’t just scrap her and save himself the hustle.

The younger mechanic respectfully explained to John that this model was obsolete and it would get more and more difficult to obtain parts. Further, the rust problem was getting worse and he’d noticed that Malaika had had several previous welding scars. There was more welded material than original bodywork on Malaika’s backside and for that she would fail her MOT test. Another man who seemed to be just standing around asked John to sell it to him for what sounded like an obscenely tiny amount. John asked the man why he’d want to buy the car and the man’s answer left him speechless. This man’s son was a drag race maniac. Together, they bought old cars changed the wheels, souped up the engines and then went off to race them in the mud. John could not imagine dear Malaika coming to such an undignified end and so he told the man what he could do with his twenty-quid.


As they drove out of the garage, Malaika noticed that the driver’s mood had changed. Johnno, as she called him was like an open book. And for that she loved him dearly. She could read his emotions by the way he handled her. When angry he always pushed the accelerator pedal right down to the floor. It made her scream and hurt her throat. When Johnno was happy he whistled and tapped on the steering wheel, tickling her. When he was in a good mood he drove slowly as if wanting the moment that he was inside her to last forever. He liked to sing out aloud when he was alone in the car and this always made her heart melt. She loved his deep crisp voice which made good harmony with her own high engine sounds.

Malaika had never seen this side of John. He was not just angry, this was something different. An emotion she found difficult to place. Was it guilt? shame? She concentrated hard trying to read the vibes in the air. She tried to remember what those dirty mechanics had said to him. The rude men used words like trade-in, newer model, scrap yard. What did it all mean? They were now driving along the winding road that went up ‘Dead man’s Hill’ near the rock and sand quarries. Johnno did not play a tune on the wheel. He held the wheel firmly, staring at the road straight ahead.They were just getting to the top of the hill. The road here followed a winding path to the bottom and extra care was required when driving along this part.

Now Malaika’s mind went back to a warm Sunday in July, many years ago. She was hot and dusty. Johnno had come out with a bucket of cool soapy water. He wore one of those nice string vests. He used a soft sponge to scrub her white body slowly, making sure that he covered her entirely in that sweet smelling foam. He was happy. A neighbour came over and said that if John continued to wash the car like that, rain would fall. John told him that this was the love of his life. He liked to take care of her, give her a good wash and shine. He would never trade her in for a newer model!

Now she understood. She too was angry. She pulled the accelerator pedal down, herself, right to the floor and locked it there.

As Malaika suddenly gathered speed, Johnno lurched backwards into his seat losing his grip on the steering wheel and all control of the speeding car. Moments later they flew off the edge of the cliff, hurtling down towards the rock quarries several hundred feet below……….

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