In penning my Journal memoirs, I wish to reminisce many decades ago, have altered the characters, it’s my real life experience, I was young and had just bought my first car, a Datsun 120Y Number KRA 342, she now must be in a scrap metal yard. Was beaming with joy. Girls galore, I was a popular man in town. I didn’t have a girlfriend, I had “girlfriendsss”.
Those days having a car was rare especially if you were young. The car was on loan though & i was paying it through my nose. Talk of priorities, let me shelve that for now. I had none.
I worked in expenditure section in the finance department of KQ. We were about 10 of us in that office. Mr Kariuki , a man from Kiambu, he had a pickup was always extremely joyful and all he talked about just like many men I knew from Kiambu was about his cows. He often arrived the office smeared in red soil and operated a side hustle of selling milk to office mates.
There were two brothers Peter, the older sibling & John. They were from Nyatike in Migori County. Though brothers, they were opposite in character as you can get. Peter loved speaking in his native tongue Luo. He was an extrovert, polygamous & loved hanging out in Luo joints especially listening to Kabasellah at “mateso bila chuki bar” in Eastleigh. He of course drove what all Luo real men did at that time a white “Peugeot 504” (my father also had one for 20 years). Peter’s Peugeot was a station wagon and he operated a side hustle with it over weekends as a shuttle between Nairobi & Kisumu. John his brother was closer to me, he loved soul music and English theater. Sadly, Peter passed on. There was also Mr Andala my supervisor, he too had a Peugeot 504 (probably influenced by Peter). We also had Wairimu who was from Muranga, a Bishop’s daughter and boy she could preach. Next was Akello, a pretty lass Nyar Kendu. She always had issues with her men, spent hours engaging the office phone, everyone complained & I don’t know what she talked about? Permanently broke with her incessant pecking what would you expect other than domestic wrangles? Sadly, both her and husband are both since departed, They lived fighting, they died fighting. May they Rest In Peace.
Let me not forget, Mukami, he had worked since East African Airways times before it was dissolved and Kenya Airways born. Unfortunately he was stuck in one position all his life and lived disgruntled. In retrospect he was a great philosopher. He had lived a troubled life so he had something to say about everything. Frankly, I believe he perhaps the brightest man in the office. He never got promoted all his working life, seeing such a bright man stagnate was a signal that I needed to move out of this department. He taught me how to balance long reconciliations of creditors accounts. Like many I soon realized that accounts was not my love so I vowed to change my career. Never stick to what you don’t relish. It’s better to jump out otherwise you will char in the pan.
My overall boss was Ole Tiampati. He was the grand old sage of KQ finance department. He loved his job to the core, dressed impeccably always braced his trousers, an avid catholic he had the “desiderata”, a Catholic prayer, displayed on his office wall and by the way he did live it.
We were all responsible for paying suppliers of KQ. The airline at the time was financially insecure so our main job was giving creditors stories & also perhaps give them hope. That we did well.
I remember a Mr Oparanya, his now a Governor, one’s fate is only known by the Gods. At that time he was a debt collector clerk for Nairobi Airport Services (NAS) , a catering company that did KQ’s inflight catering. In the day he was then a man of real humble means & I a payment clerk who used to raise his Cheques. He was ambitious & did a lot of part time studies in accounting till he attained his CPA, rose to be the NAS financial controller. Today he is a powerful governor of Kakamega County. I learnt a humble step a day though slow takes one places. It’s called the law of compounding. Oparanya is a living epitome of this for those who know him well. Frankly, I sometimes wonder if he would remember me in his current high pedestal. He is a self built man who has come from far. Even in biblical times Joseph’s fellow prisoners forgot about him for a while when they were released from the gallows. Oparanya if you read this post remember Dan Okwiri in thy kingdom.
Then there was a Naisola from Narok County. Perhaps the most stunning lady have met in my life. She was 6 foot tall, had a lovely charcoal grey complexion, sharp darting eyes, long hair, an extremely polished lady of classic pedigree from Loreto High School. Any room she strutted into would come to a standstill as she plodded in with her high heels with her usual hip swag. It was not difficult to figure out why no women liked her? I loved Naisola as a friend. Not once did I bother or think of being her boyfriend, the competition was to stiff to match., my car which I nicknamed the “beast” wasn’t her class anyway. At best I ended being her telephone operator, often telling her suitors lies that she is not in yet I know she’s out elsewhere on a date. Naisola would always buy me coffee & take me out in return. May the good lord forgive me for my sins. We got on well with Naisola and her siblings all dated Luo men. Her elder sister Mary had a Luo fiancée too, he was a military officer, she fell pregnant and the man did ran and she sadly lived life after that depressed. She didn’t quite get over it.
Naisola’s fiancé was Luo, a man of deep pockets with a lovely BMW, I still remember the car registration to date. He was married though but she didn’t care anyway, she was in love & he gave her a swag life. The ironically thing he was half her height, don’t know that many Luo men this short. It gave him some inferiority complex & he absurdly felt threatened even by me. Naisola would later go on for further studies to UK at the same time that I did. Fate has interesting twists.
She & her fiancé were both ailing. At the time sadly AIDs was a death sentence and even the many blood transfusions didn’t do much. Both of them did pass on, RIP, it’s 20 years now and I still miss Naisola everyday. Naisola will perhaps remain one of the few real women friends I ever had. I still miss her loads.
Finally, there was Miss Makena, a lovely Meru girl. She was reserved, by all means wife material as they can get, a bit too serious for a man’s good comfort and focused. She had one goal, one day she would soar the skies, at that time lady pilots were a novelty & far between even with that she was still determined. In many ways I think I gave Makena butterflies in the stomach. Guess my life then was nothing but drama in her mundane world. Nothing perhaps fascinates ladies like taming the wayward. I couldn’t be bothered though I had a busy life at the time.
The airline was interesting one and there was a lot of incestuous office relationships between work mates. Our offices hours were long and the airport workers lived in a closed society from everyone in town. KQ employees tended to marry one another and socialize together (am sure this hasn’t changed). This is norm in the aviation industry. Because everyone worked odd hours they tended to socialize together during the odd hours. It was norm. My advice to anyone if you have a spouse in KQ, please beware she probably has another internally too, and if he or she is inflight I guarantee that’s confirmed.
Christmas holidays were approaching and we would closed down over the festivities till the turn of the new year. Makena had asked me a month earlier to go with her to Meru for the festivities week and I had obliged. At the time I just met a gorgeous tall lady, Liz Atieno. she had model height 6 feet, a businesswoman & our romance was a whirlwind. Within week she asked me to take her to the lakeside Kisumu city for Christmas festivities. This was a more attractive proposition. Was in a dilemma that Thursday evening, I was scheduled to meet Makena outside Kenya Cinema that evening & she would have her bags ready for our week trip to Meru. We had no mobile phones back in the day so instinctively one would go to either 20th Century or Kenya Cinema to meet someone. Hang around long enough & you would get them there.
Ridiculously I also had Liz waiting for me at the same time outside 20th Century Cinema about three streets away. Was I mad, honestly I think so, didn’t really know what I wanted at the time? Anyone thinking of dating a young Luo man, watch out, they are nothing but sure trouble & grief. Somehow Liz proposition was more exciting, she wasn’t an office mate any way. I met Liz and we walked down the streets to the car setting on our Kisumu trip, the Gods of karma were awaiting to mete me a punishment. Lo and behold I bumped into Makena straddled with her bag, she had waited for me for 2 hours and here she bumps into me in town with another woman! The tension was pulsating and I hurriedly dashed off as she gaped in disbelief. What an event.
I still proceeded with Liz for our Kisumu holiday rendezvous. It was a great party the late Okatch Biggy JaGem was holding a series of concerts. Nobody struts ohangla like he did. Silently though my conscience told all was not well. I would live to regret.
Never underestimate the fury of Meru women, never, never something I tell my Luo folk everyday. They are nothing but trouble and if you are faint hearted don’t don’t engage in parley, I have survived, guess the Gods granted me 9 lives.
That Tuesday morning after the week of season festivities I calmly walked into the office oblivious of anything. It was a spanking new year and I exchanged greetings with all my mates in our pool office everybody was upbeat. Makena said happy new year to me calmly & I was really surprised and I thought to myself, how forgiving, how sweet. I sat at my desk for a full 30 minutes and embarked on my work backlog.
The next thing I got was a smack that whipped my noise and flung me across the room & my desk landed on the top of my chest. This girl was vicious and not relenting, she was now on top of me after I fell backwards hitting my head on the floor with a thud. She dug her nails on my nose which left a permanent scar, her relentless pounding in quick succession of blows & chops was excruciatingly painful. Makena moved on to grab my shirt and ripped it & buttons popped out, next she got hold of trouser and tore it. I was squealing for help, now half naked, my forlorn tie dangling in despair, she screamed CHEAT CHEAT !!. It was a deafening shriller. This was a cat fight. Everyone had scrammed for cover at this point. It was against company regulations to fight, it meant a straight dismissal and I knew if I hit back it would turn to into bloodbath as the lady was in rage & sure possessed by the spirits. The division boss Ole Tiampati heard the wails and rushed in to save me. I was in a sorry sighting . Ole Tiampati said to me, young man you have bit more than you can chew. I grant you leave for a week to sort out your domestics. It was free entertainment for all sundry. I will never never forget that day. Makena was unhurt & unruffled in the spate and calmly walked back to her desk like nothing ever happened and got back to her work. Nobody asked her what caused it. I ran to my car and sped of home.
I must warn you again Meru ladies are a breed of their own. Sadly, I didn’t get to be a good scholar of the event then and would get another Meru girlfriend again (do we learn) and if I thought Makena was bad, this time it would be much worse and i tell Makena would be angel compared to what I would get. That’s a discussion for another day.
Ten years after the event I was in a flight from Nairobi to Johannesburg. Makena had worked hard over the years and was now a Captain on that same flight, little did I know?. Before we landed in Johannesburg, I was on 1st class on this business trip, a flight stewardess walked up to me and said, “sir, the captain requests to see you after the flight”, I asked why and she replied,” I don’t know”. I walked to the cockpit and lo behold, I almost collapsed it was Makena. She smiled how are you Dan? It has been many years under the bridge. Dan, have you changed and how is your family? I don’t know if is she was really expecting an answer, she wouldn’t have believed me anyway.
I sometimes, must admit have a stoicism trait, I replied “Liz Atieno sadly is no more, she died many years ago”. Life can be cruel…Any way it is said life is about experiences.
Looking back I many times wonder if this was really me or is it all a movie..
***real life experience, characters changed***
#okwiri 🖊my Journal, my thoughts, my walk….
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