Thanda Maria is a fascinating place, we already established this. The number of regular geniuses per square foot, doing all manner of poorly thought-out things is pretty high.
The Hungry Tiger is one of those regular Einsteins. In the Prison Diaries part II, we parted where the HT hurled a razor-sharp spear at his father’s heart.
When the quarrel between the Hungry Tiger and his father degenerated into a premium, detailed clobbering for the HT, he retreated into his house and came out holding his work-issued, razor-sharp spear. He was pretty intent on handling the affair the old fashioned way; through an escalation of violence.
When he came back to where his father stood, his brother, who had participated in the dispensing of violence against the person of the HT, had left. It was a moonlit night and his father caught the shimmer of light across the head of the spear. This is one of the things that saved him. When the HT hurled the spear at his heart, he had the presence of mind to duck.
Since the HT had also continuously declined to assist to hydrate the old man’s permanently arid throat with Matinga, the man was alert and surprisingly nimble. Of equal importance is the fact that the HT had been irrigating his own throat religiously for the better part of two months. He had very little access to calories because attending to his throat didn’t leave time for food and he was frail. Rich men didn’t need to eat, the warmth of their liquidity kept them full. It’s an affliction called, ùrùgarí wa mbeca. This meant that he didn’t exhibit considerable dexterity with the spear.
When his father ducked, the spear grazed his shoulder and lodged itself deep inside a banana plant behind him. As the Hungry Tiger loves to say, he missed him, from his estimation, by one-sixteenth of an imperial inch.
Shortly after this, the HT fled. He was now a fugitive from justice. Since he had become a renowned buyer of alcohol at Mwangi wa Sinyo’s Matinga den, he easily found someone willing to house an outlaw of his stature.
It never occurred to the HT to flee from the village entirely. He stuck around. He was rarely ever sober hence never had the presence of mind to consider fleeing. More importantly, he still had about five thousand bob remaining from his loot hidden in his house. Though he couldn’t access his house, he reasoned that this was a lot of money by any metric, and felt like he was pretty much untouchable. After all, rich men were above the law.
At Mwangi wa Sinyo’s illegal establishment, his reputation as a prolific buyer of alcohol meant that he was able to access considerable credit facilities. For three days straight, he drank excessively on credit and lost consciousness each time. The problem with drinking on credit at Mwangi wa Sinyo’s den was the unscrupulous nature of the proprietor. If you hydrated your throat excessively on credit, he would give you a tutorial on fraud. If you drank six Njukus of his finest offering and lost consciousness; the credit book would read that you had nine and bought a further six for an unspecified group of people. This mathematics would be binding regardless of the fact that you couldn’t drink nine Njukus without dying and you didn’t remember having company. The collection of this bloated debt would often be accompanied by threats of grievous bodily harm.
By the fourth day, Mwangi wa Sinyo became suspicious of the HT’s capacity to repay the grossly inflated debt and elected to not extend further credit to him. He reasoned that the HT’s run of incredible and mysterious liquidity had come to a grinding halt. The HT now had to find alternative ways of generating an income to attend to the demands of his expensive throat. He also ran the risk of being homeless, because finding accommodation was premised on his reputation as a formidable buyer of larynx wetting liquids of the intoxicating variety.
He remembered that he had planted sukuma wiki on the parcel of land that he had been contracted to take care of. He went there and found more weed per square foot of land than there was Sukuma wiki due to months of neglect. He plucked whatever little he could and set out to look for a buyer. As he neared a place known as Thoko Chafu, close to St. Mary’s Catholic Church, a white saloon car pulled up next to him.
He heard his father’s unmistakable voice shout from inside the car, “ Mtu sio mwingine, ni huyu!”
Three gentlemen jumped out and gave the Hungry Tiger a very sound beating without identifying themselves or telling him why they were so generous with their violence. They then handcuffed him and threw him into the boot of the car.
The HT was taken to the Mùrang’a police station. There, after the good officers of the law identified themselves, they issued him with a further and more detailed clobbering on general principle. He was processed and taken to court the next day where he took a plea of not guilty and was immediately remanded at the Mùrang’a GoK prison.
Things were about to get very difficult for the Hungry Tiger.
While in remand, he ran into his friend Jembe, a man he had helped incarcerate a couple of months prior. Jembe was serving out his 6- month sentence.
The HT was a heavy smoker, but since he had no money, visitors nor any clout within the prison system, he found cigarettes very difficult to come by. He was reliant on the kindness of strangers for his nicotine related needs. This kindness held the outside risk of someone threatening to carnally know you to repay the kindness. Charity was a slippery slope in prison. This, combined with a lack of access to any meaningful amount of nutrition, made the HT a desperate man. A desperate man was susceptible to very sketchy ideas within the prison walls.
Because he would go to court regularly, a more experienced and well-funded remandee came to him with a supposedly bright idea; the trafficking of contraband into the prison. To this end, the HT was contracted to bring in 6 packets of Rooster cigarettes and two gas lighters on his next trip to court. These were two things that were worth their weight in gold within the prison system. Payment would be two sticks of cigarettes for every packet he smuggled in.
When court day came, the HT was issued with money and instructions on how to send out for these supplies while at the courthouse. He was also given a tutorial on how to carry them into prison. He would carry the merchandise in openings on his body where the sun doesn’t shine.
Once he received the goods in court, he embarked on the lengthy and uncomfortable process of sealing the goods in nylon papers, applying saliva as a lubricant, and launching them up where light doesn’t reach. On the advice of the many prison logistics experts in that court cell, he started with the two lighters and then the packets of cigarettes.
When he went back to prison later in the day, he immediately went to the ablution facilities to retrieve the valuable merchandise. After a considerable and uncomfortable struggle, he managed to retrieve all six packets of Rooster. The lighters however remained lodged in his body. Try as he could, he couldn’t get them out. He started to panic.
A crowd had also started to gather, so he abandoned the retrieval efforts.
For two whole days, the Hungry Tiger was in mortal fear of his life. From his science classes, he reasoned that the excessive heat within the body might lead the gas-lighters to ignite and cause an explosion in his intestines, killing him instantly. This fueled further panic. The availability of cigarettes without the ability to light them caused considerable anguish to the rest of the remandees. To this end, they reasoned that what the HT needed was food to hasten the process.
On the second day, there was a concerted effort by a few of the remandees to abstain from supper and instead give their Reseni to the HT. This is a standard ration of barely palatable prison food, mùrùrù, that is calculated to be just enough to sustain one’s body processes. Towards the end of the third day, the gaslighters decided to see the light of day, to the huge relief of the HT. He did not engage in the trafficking of Marufuku into the prison for the remainder of his stay there.
After a year of serious suffering in remand, the HT was acquitted and set free. The prosecution had failed to meet its burden of proof. It would however not be the last time he would see inside the walls of prison.