The Hungry Tiger, a man with the third or fourth driest throat in Thanda Maria, depending on who you ask, is far from being virtuous. Previously, in Betrayal in the Village, he had shamelessly betrayed his friend Jembe to officers of the law. Jembe had the kindness to hydrate the Hungry Tiger’s critically arid larynx with fluids of the intoxicating variety, an act of uncharacteristic charity that would earn him 6 months behind bars.
As The Kenya Prison Service was extorting free labour out of Jembe at the threat of grievous bodily harm, the Hungry Tiger was enjoying the perks of being a free man. Since covertness was not one of his functional skills, he told everyone what he had done. His all-round lack of ethics is something he has always taken great pride in, especially when his tonsils get a little wet.
However, as fate would have it, the Hungry Tiger would not be a free man for long. What goes around, eventually comes back around.
As Jembe was cooling porridge at the Mùrang’a GoK prison, the HT was gainfully employed as a day and night caretaker for a Shamba in Thanda Maria. The property was situated less than 200 metres from his home and the owner resided in the big city of Nairobi. I don’t know what criteria the absentee landlord had used to recruit the services of the HT, because it was a textbook case of impaired judgement. The bar in that recruitment process was set pretty low.
As a caretaker, the HT took care of nothing because he was never physically there unless the owner was coming and the HT needed to extort money from him. He wasn’t particularly eager to work but was always very keen to demand a salary at the end of the month, and liked his money in full. He had a very low tolerance for installments of any kind.
A month after Jembe’s detention by the ever-generous government of the Republic of Kenya, the HT’s employer came to Thanda Maria. As his white Peugeot 504, registration number KYR 277 drove through Thanda Maria, word reached the HT that his salary had been sighted. By the time the gentleman finally went to his Shamba, the HT was already there busy clearing a thicket. The gentleman complained about the general state of the unkemptness of the land when he saw it. His employee assured him that the thicket in his particular parcel of land grew faster than that of any other known parcel of land. The HT is known to be a pretty resourceful Ninja that is not below using sketchy science to support dubious facts.
After a tour of the parcel arranged by the HT, the landlord ordered him to clean his car. The HT got to work. As he pulled back the driver’s floor mat, there lay a bunch of crisp, 500 shilling notes, in front of his very eyes. An unusually dry larynx meant that HT had very strong feelings for money, so he nearly suffered a cardiac episode when he saw the cash. Since he also had a well-established scarcity of morals, he promptly picked up the wad of cash and stuffed it in his pockets. This would set in motion an unfortunate chain of events that he would regret for the remainder of his natural life.
The HT hid the money in a thicket within the property and continued to wash the car. When the employer’s time to leave came, he reached into his wallet and issued the unscrupulous Tiger with his monthly dues, amounting to 1,500 Kenya Shillings. As he left, the hungry Tiger followed him. He was keen to make sure that the man had indeed left. He did not touch the money for the remainder of the day, just in case his employer realized that he had lost money and came back.
That night, the HT, by his own admission, did not sleep much. Rich men didn’t need sleep. He also did not consume any alcohol as the excitement of wealth had affected his capacity to swallow liquid intoxicants effectively.
Early the next morning before sunrise, the HT descended on the Shamba. He went straight to the place where he had hidden the cash. When he finally counted it, it came to 15,000 Kenya Shillings. Together with his salary, the total figure was an eye-watering 16,500 bob. This was in the year of our lord 1996 and he was then a very wealthy man by the lowly standards of Thanda Maria.
He went and hid the loot inside his house before anyone had woken up. After taking a long and luxurious shower with the finest Kíbandí soap, and donning his Sunday best, he left home. Armed with considerable procurement abilities, the HT was feeling generous. He had the warmth of a crisp 500 shilling Jirongo note in his back pocket. The Jirongo needed to be spent because it was burning his buttocks.
Around this time, many of the homes past St. Mary’s primary school were basically breweries where one could enjoy the illicit and highly potent homebrew, Matinga. Brewing Matinga was an illegal enterprise, highly frowned upon by the government of the Republic of Kenya.
A rich man needed an entourage while visiting a Matinga den to ward off the hordes of sumbuas. A Ninja of considerable wealth deserved, at the bare minimum, to attend to the cravings of his throat in peace. Any rich man has akui a gofu or golf caddies. To this end, the Hungry Tiger recruited two minions and they went in search of Matinga. The same Matinga that his friend Jembe was serving out a sentence for.
Not all matinga was created equal, some were created more potent than others, it all depended on the greed of the brewer. Adulteration of the product was widespread and rampant. In Thanda Maria, the old adage, ‘mgema akisifiwa, tembo hulitia maji,’ held true. So the HT had his minions do reconnaissance. When they returned, he asked them the million-dollar question in the village at that time, “ ní kù itinga rí híte mùno?’. Whose Itinga is the fairest of them all?
‘Itinga ría Mwangi wa Sinyo ní ihíu úru, rí tiraheka úhoro’, they replied. It loses character in translation, but they effectively told him that Mwangi wa Sinyo’s product was lit like Diwali fireworks.
Mwangi wa Sinyo was the husband of Sinyo, or Señorita, the lady that inspired the popular Kikuyu hit song of the 90s, Señorita. Mwangi wa Sinyo’s product had brand equity. When it was good, his Itinga could easily send you to kwega kuuraga. That is heaven for you, without a flair for the dramatic.
At the time, a Njuku was retailing at a suspiciously pocket-friendly 5 shillings each. A Njuku was a used 500 grams, plastic Kasuku cooking fat container. This was the standard measure of Itinga around the village. At their strongest, the HT and his caddies could only consume 6 Njukus each in a sitting before alcohol poisoning set in. So they had 8 each. Rich men feared nothing, not even heaven.
As per the script, alcohol poisoning set in after a relatively short time. Soon enough, the HT and his employees lay unconscious in the bushes where they were quenching their thirst. As was standard practice, the proprietor of the facility robbed the HT of whatever cash that was remaining on his person. Getting robbed in Matinga dens was a slippery slope because there was a little outside of a physical altercation one could do about it. You could not be robbed while engaging in an illegal act and seek help from law enforcement.
The HT woke up in the evening still very drunk and went home. There he boasted at length of his “tigritude” and performed a Japanese Kata riddled with imaginary Karate moves. This was the standard operating procedure when his throat became sufficiently wet. His father, Mùrathi, was there to witness this while nursing a very thirsty throat.
From that day onwards, he would take 200 bob and spend the entire day irrigating his throat in the bushes behind Mwangi wa Sinyo’s house. He would get robbed every day and would leave with nothing. He would afterwards go home and perform karate moves late into the night while keeping everyone awake with threats of imaginary violence.
He and his cronies drank consistently while eating very, very little for more than two months. In time, their cheeks started to swell and they started to get light complexions. These were, and still are, the hallmarks of dangerously excessive drinking in the village. As he likes to say, he drank all his money with tattered undergarments. ‘Ona ya thíiní ndiagùrire’, he loves to say.
The HT knew that his father also suffered from a very arid throat but he chose not to help him irrigate it, despite now being a famous buyer at Mwangi’s den. So in time, his father became very jealous of his incredible and sustained liquidity. So one night, he confronted the HT about his drinking and his disturbance of peace within the homestead. The HT took this as an affront to his very liquid self.
A war of words ensued between the two. The commotion attracted the attention of the HT’s elder brother, Magoci, who invited himself into the melee. Because the HT was pretty weak and malnourished from sustained immoderate drinking, he received a very detailed clobbering from his father and brother. Also, because of his mysterious, Goldenberg style wealth, the beating was of course laced with considerable jealousy.
The HT somehow managed to break free from the two. He ran towards his house and retrieved a long and sharp iron spear. The same spear issued to him by his employer that he was supposed to use to guard a certain property.
He came back to where his father was standing. It was a full moon and his father could see the moonlight reflecting on the spear. With all the strength that the HT could master, he hurled the razor-sharp spear at his father’s heart.
Stay tuned for the drama that unfolded next!