The Drinkers’ Den

The hustle and bustle around Chepwirki’s compound is simply amazing. Men splitting firewood,  some fetching water using jerricans, others sweeping around the house, one or two shouting orders to the horde  of cheap labourers and volunteers .

An old man arrives with three split firewood straight from his wife’s tabuut.Wearied from carrying the heavy load, his lethargic frame is stooping dangerously. Nobody helps him nonetheless. He looks for her Highness and seeks her considered approval, after which he labouriously deposits the burden atop a growing pile beside the kitchen.

Chepwirki, after pouring the old man some drops of beer into a dirty looking plastic cup for his labours, turns to the two men who have just arrived from the stream. She checks to see if the containers are full. The first man,whose front teeth are missing is smiling sheepishly, like one trying to influence the results of the inspection. The woman nods at him and he disappears with his container. The next man fidgets as the woman checks his container. For all have sinned and fallen short of……His reverie is cut short by a strong bark. “Kaikai iweege inyiit beek ni! ” She shouts at the emaciated middle aged man, whose sticking ribs are visible  from the threadbare ‘I LOVE NEW YORK’ T-shirt. He starts to grumble but one stern look sends Kiptesot flying to the river like one possessed. He is like one who has seen a ghastly apparition and cannot muster enough courage to tell the tale.

Smoke from the round hut lazily wafts up the azure sky in a  serpentine motion. The moneyed customers, the fraternity and sorority of the village ‘s who-is-who,  sit on available objects strewn across and beyond the compound, cups in hands.  The teachers sip from the same cup with their overgrown students,. One or two inebriated ones make feeble sounds from within the pumpkin plant near the rubbish pit. Having fallen there, they lay sprawled and tangled by the vines, speaking in English. A class on pronouns goes on, free to all and for all.


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