God of Hunger
a cough; the cough of an inveterate Nyota smoker. But this morning there was
no cough and Martini paused to examine his master.
The stillness was not strange but the silent chest was a puzzle as was the lack of
a lit cigarette. The head, large, large as in life was set low on massive shoulders
and faced out across the room towards the mesh door which overlooked rows of
His hair was not as neat as usual; the thin waves of grey and white revealing
only a hint of skull were normally brushed by now. His eyes were open and
opaque as usual and his pua (nose), an object to be admired for its mass, best
described by Poles as a kulfon, was no less admirable that morning. Yet it
lacked its usual redness, as did the full lips. And the master had not shaved,
which was most unusual. Still, best remove the trolley from beside his knees.
And it was the subsequent stillness that made Martini look again more closely
at his master who, after the trolley’s move, appeared to lean to one side in a
most uncomfortable posture.
“Bwana Kosta. Habari zako leo. Mbona una ka hivyo vibaya?” … Why are
you sitting so uncomfortably?
No reply. Just more of a lean. And then a slump of the top half onto the bed,
and with the knees bent, KK’s legs up went up into the air, his feet in the
“Mungu Mkubwa! Great God. Bwana Kosta! ….. Ume kufa? Have you died!
Mungu wangu! Ame kufa! Oh my God! He has died!
Martini left the trolley in the middle of the room and went out to call
This took some time because the farm’s foreman was unused to being roused so
long before the workers’ parade at seven-thirty, still a good hour away. And
there was a matter of protocol. Here was a question of status and Kandowere, as
senior manyapara, was number one after KK. So he did not reply to Martini’s
knock at the door. And anyway he was nursing a particularly pleasurable
sensation that early morning.
And then came another knock and then a call from Martini.
The shenzi, (mongrel) thought Kicheche. Typical houseboy, sure to be
complaining about something a woman would have dealt with in silence, daring
not to unsettle the big man from continuing with his business.
With regret he desisted from further manipulation and eventually replied: “Yes,
what do you want, Mpishi – boy. (Cook.)