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Nobody wanted to be Sifuna’s wife because of his terrible scent and nobody wanted children that smelt of goats all day long, whether they were just sitting, standing, sleeping or just being alive. He always acted as the shamba boy when we played cha baba, cha mama. Timina’s first husband is Majimbo and her second is Wekesa. My first husband is Lumbasi and my second was Niki, but since his drowning, that goat became my second husband. We are playing cha baba, cha mama and it is our second husbands’ turn to act like our children, and our first husbands to act as husbands.
Run to the market Sifuna and buy quencher and bread for the visitors, I tell my son.
We are expecting visitors from our church. But my son does not immediately stand when I send him and my husband shouts at him to run or he disfigures his face. My son looks at my husband and goes away, grumbling, carrying leaves as money. Our neighbour’s son’s rabbit ears hear quencher and he is jumping and saying, I want quencher! His mother, Timina, silences him with a slap and Wekesa is now crying. Our husbands are talking about serious things like politics, like football, like deaths happening in our village and they are laughing at nothing. Timina is helping me tidy the house for the visitors, but she is here most importantly, to parasite on the visitors’ bread and quencher. We wait for my son to bring quencher and bread and he is taking too long.
Baba Sifuna, I say to my husband, why is he taking long at the market?
Woman, did you see me go with him? My husband says.
You with your ricket legs don’t talk to me like that! I say
My husband erupts from his seat, but Majimbo pins him down and says, calm down my friend. Women are that way.
Timina is laughing and telling my husband to beat me. I push Timina to the ground and she is shocked, flat on her stomach. Our husbands are now clapping and jumping and shouting, fight! Fight! Timina discards her embarrassment and rises from the ground, her face alone telling me that if I am not keen, she will kill me today, she will tear my clothes like a mad child. She makes to slap me, but I hold her hand midair. Her kick in my groin is swift and I crumble to the ground. Our husbands are cheering madly and my son is back, holding an empty bottle and a stone that are supposed to act as quencher and bread.
Beat her mama! he says to me and drops the things I sent him.
I spring back up and slap stupidity out of Timina. She screams and slaps back saying, you think you can defeat me?
I will kill you! I say.
Kill me if you are a real man! she says.
I will kill you. I will kill your family! I say.
Kill who? her husband says. Kill her alone. Leave me and my son out of your woman things.
The husbands and sons are now laughing and cheering as Timina and I tackle each other like roosters.