Monday, September 5, 2016

A Bachelor and His Warus.

Courtesy of
On your way to Eldoret is an old centre called Timboroa. You’ll find it just past Eldama Ravine but before Burnt Forest. The place does not brag. It does nothing to catch your eye. At its heart lies the aura and picturesque of typical upcountry towns. Like others, Timboroa is quiet and secluded. Just enough life to appease its inhabitants and those accustomed to tranquil and occasional boredom. When cruising by in your Bima via the main highway you’ll see the usual; men in Kiosks sipping hot tea out of metallic cups – cupping them dearly as they stare indistinctively at passer’s by. Some look beat and disinterested. 

Over sunset, these men will be seated on wooden benches outside shops in groups getting consumed by political chit-chat. Or playing poker. By the roadside you’ll find elderly women selling potatoes and carrots in buckets. They will gladly let you know this is their ‘wofishi’ should you try look at them despairingly. And sun-kissed children with bare bottoms will be playing beside them. They look happy. At the last road bump leaving the centre are a couple of young lads selling roasted maize. They perch on the bump and wave the maize as cars slow down. They alternate irregularly to take smoke breaks. 

Yet, beneath this common demeanour, as you interact with the centre, the true person of Timboroa happens, slowly, like a migraine. There’s the cold. Its solid cold over there. Freaking biting cold. The kind that foully shawls itself on exposed cheeks and bites harder than ghetto mosquitos. Only fellas born there know how to brave such kind of vicious weather. Then there’s the forest. A blanket of shrubbery and heavy coppice surrounds the hilly terrain of Timboroa. It’s healthy and scary at the same time. There is the edge of the forest that rubs its shoulder against the highway. It’s christened by the locals as ‘Danger’. This is mostly because of its appetite for delinquency and supernatural interference. Story goes that men and women have walked into that forest and vanished without a trace. A Bermuda of sorts. It is a very unlikely place. Actually, it is the only place in Timboroa where fear runs deeper than the summed courage of Kalenjin warriors on the hillside of Seguton.

I spent most years of my childhood in this place. All my childhood memories were made here. Memories that I now wish I could blow up into a big bubble and live inside and not listen to endless yapping of politicians saying ‘tumetenga pesa’ and ‘kuna mikakati kabambe’ year in year out. Nostalgia wriggles into my whole being every time I visualise the levelled playing field where I made little friends like me. Where we would play football like Ronaldo – or so we thought and drink free milk every second Friday of the month courtesy of the gentility of Mzee Moi and his Nyayo philosophy. We had no care in the world. That is before adult life happened and they took away the milk. Our milk.

Occasionally, my old man would light a fire in the kiln and we would roast fresh warus right from the shamba. It was our equivalent of barbecuing. A sacred family bonding ritual. And this, my friends, is why I am writing this piece. It is all about my waru escapades. My dad would carefully turn the warus on the rutara – no idea what we call this in English – until they were all black and crispy. Hot, black and crispy. We would then sit by a jiko and peel the outer layers off and chew on the inside parts ravenously with infrequent smacking of the lips. Talk of great meals!

Somehow the warus got engraved into my DNA. They shaped my life. My belief. It’s true that you cannot live an honest life without eating warus. They do bring the best in everybody. Like they did in me. And you have to agree with me here. After a sumptuous encounter with warus, for example, you will even forgive your vilest enemies. A guy will splash water on you with his Vitz (those Vitz guys!) but when they open the door and step out with a stretched Kasuku of warus you will be all good - even wave them off with a smile like the ones we see on the rather deceptive Coke adverts. Warus are the unseen force of friendships. They soften hardened hearts. You even win over the ladies with warus.

Her: Sasa Wesh?

Me: Poa. Mambo?

Her: I’m good. Bado tunameet leo?? Umechelewa!

Me: Yeah nakuja. Relax. Nimepitia Githurai kukuchukulia waru babe.

Her: Omg! Warus! You’re such a romantic guy aki. Napenda waru yani. Nakupenda kama waru Wesh!

Now, am I exaggerating? Maybe a little bit. Did I fake a chat just to root for warus? Hell yeah! Anything for warus. Do I make waru sound better than Pizza? Definitely! And do I bit on warus with some pathetic level of delight? You betcha! And I am proud of all this. I am unafraid of publicly declaring that I love warus. Fighting for equal opportunity to warus for every other child out there is part of me. Azin we all need a fair chance to chomp on warus in pricey restaurant without fear if discrimination. Don’t we? And without waiters asking if you’re from Kiambu or where your parents hailed from. Nobody should look at you with a side eye just because your cologne’s scent is inspired by the smell of fresh warus. Nobody! And neither should you be ashamed of displaying artistic sculpture of a wild waru beside that elephant carving you bought at Maasai Market. And should you hold back that proposal you have for Sasini Tea Company on a waru flavoured teabags? I don’t think so! We need those too!
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You want to succeed in life? Eat what you like. Eat what everyone likes. Eat warus.

How about that for my upcoming campaign on warus? Genius right?

Okay, enough of that.

Here is the thing though; I am tired of eating warus. And I am trapped on a loop that has me doing waru embellished meals all through the week. How, you ask? Well, mostly because my culinary expertise is finessed around the damn warus! These I alternate with Ugali but then who will scrub that Sufuria? Not me. I might end up buying a new Sufuria half the time I eat Ugali.

I know what you’re thinking. Why can’t you learn to cook other things Wesh? I have an answer; I once googled a recipe and I kinda had nothing on the list except water and salt. They said pinches of salt. I had many pinches. You should have bought those ingredients then Wesh! I know! But then I had a thing with my boys the day I hoped to buy them – we played monopoly the whole afternoon. Then the whole idea of cooking new stuff somehow slid away. The moment passed. 

But I will learn how to cook other things. Eventually. But as of now it’s a game of warus over here.