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BY: Juma Hemedi

Of all the plans we ever made with the 'ghetto boys club' none excited us like swimming in Chania river but nothing else had more adventure like "hanto" (hunting) . The day before Christmas we had planned to go hunting 'mbele ya kwa jeshi' we went to 'Zambia' (where Bakari Temwa lived) to ask 'Mandao' to allow us to go with 'Tarino'. Tarino was the toughest dog in Majengo apart from the two other dogs belonging to 'Swajo'. Tarino once faced a cobra snake eye to eye 'Kwa Reli' until the cobra blinked.

So Mandao agreed that he will give us Tarino the following day and since most people were busy cutting bougainvillea trees and decorating them with cotton wool and some gift wrappers and balloons to make Christmas trees, we knew no one would be looking for Us. Wamash also came with a dog whose name we cannot remember and so did Kimani. We now had three dogs and a bunch of boys who included Iddi and Daddy.

We did a quick survey and gathered that some three homes would be making 'chapos' and we needed to be back on time to celebrate by eating to our fill. We left the girls looking for balloons and 'shine shines' (whatever those were). Wakapogy arrived and the adventure started. The first stop was 'Kwa Daame' (Broadway Bakery) to ask for the 'spoilt' bread.

We then crossed to 'Kenya Peei' (Kenya Paper Mills) to collect 'firita' (Rubber bands) for making 'feeya' (i dont know the English word for it) We crossed the road from the thickets near leather industry and went to the other side of the road, our three dogs in tow.

We passed the engineering battalion gate and we were now at the forest next to it (today the forest is landless estate) the chase for rabbits 'sukumo' started and Tarino was the first to spot one, it gave a chase and we followed it into the forest. Whatever Tarino was chasing went and dived into some hole and we caught up with Tarino as it tried to dig with its fore legs.

It was an exercise in futility and the dog that Wamash had come with started chasing something that looked like a 'swaro' (antelope) Tarino joined and before long we were running deep into the forest, running after something we couldn't see. Iddi suggested that we stop chasing and start shooting 'dush' (pigeons) since it was past lunch hour and we were all hungry.

After several trials we were not successful and so we decided to sit under a tree and wait for Tarino and the other dogs to bring whatever it was chasing. We must had dozed off since Tarino and the other dogs were there when we opened our eyes.

"What is that? Iddi asked me.

"It's a tree" I answered.

"Not the tree 'Hapo juu ya mti'?, he responded.

We all looked up, there was a huge snake that seemed like it was coming down. Without blinking we were all running like mad people, there was no number two in that race because number two would have been the last one, meanwhile the snake had coiled itself into something like a tyre and was somehow rolling and throwing itself.

If you have never ran and overtaken a dog, then you have never ran. We were now almost at the tarmac but this snake was still following us, a blue Chevrolet pick up appeared from the Munyu side and the driver stopped in the middle of the highway and waved at us to get in.

We jumped onto the back of the pickup like we were diving into a swimming pool and the driver sped towards Makongeni, the snake landed on the tarmac and slithered to the other side of the road. The driver dropped us at Makongeni bus stage (today Madaraka market) and we started walking back to Majengo through pilot.

It was almost seven o'clock in the evening when we arrived home. All the places where chapatis had been made were cleaning the utensils, but that was not our worry. Our biggest worry was who will tell Mandao that we had lost his Tarino? Mandao was not the guy you would win a fight against, his head was extra large and he was rumoured to have some powers in his head, and if you know Mandao then you know Mandao.

As people marked boxing day we were still holed up in our houses, afraid of venturing out just in case we meet with him. We heard later that day that some visitor had been chased by Tarino. Indeed God works in mysterious ways. Tarino was back.

That's how we missed Christmas Chapos. If any of you is making Chapatis Today remember to invite this son of the Ghetto.

Merry Christmas.

Juma Hemedi

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