I believe you know the story of the Biblical prodigal son who left home and went off to the Koinange Street of Jerusalem, taking with him a substantial load of his father’s wealth.
The story further tells us that once there, he wasted his wealth on beer, nyama choma and on sinful pleasures with women, finally ending up penniless and so hungry that he did not mind dining with swine.
And as I learnt last week, one might easily become a father to a prodigal son during the long December holidays.
Last Thursday, Jimmy left home without informing anyone, and he was not at home when I arrived in the evening.
He had left immediately after lunch, and no one knew his whereabouts.
My worry kept growing because by 8pm, he still had not come back, so I called Giddy, his best friend. He had not seen him either.
Worse, I could not find a Sh1,000 note that I had left on my bedroom table. By 9pm, some of our neighbours started coming to check on the situation.
“Where is Jimmy,” everyone would ask, and I would repeat the story for each of them.
“You need to contact the police,” said Mama Moha, who lives three gates away. In other words, this was a good time to put my taxes into use. “Lakini usisahau kubebea polisi kitu yao,” she observed, which was true because although our police officers are always happy to help, one must make them even happier before they convert your taxpayer money into “help.”
Then, moments before 10pm, Jimmy casually strolled in. The boy’s appearance had changed completely. He had pierced his right ear and had a mohawk hairstyle.
“Hi everybody!” he said cheerfully. I had a problem with Jimmy’s attitude, however, and my relief quickly gave way to anger.
“Where have you been?” I asked.
“Er..... nilikuwa pale shopping centre,” he stammered.
“Oh my God, we were so worried about you!” Mama Jimmy screamed in joy. She then proceeded to hug him as if he had just won a marathon.
But on remembering my money, my temperature rose. This was not the time for sweet nothings.
“Haven’t I warned you against staying out late?” I asked, in my Kiganjo tone. “Where is my money? And where is the rest of your hair?”
“Baba Jim wachana na mtoto kwanza atulie,” Mama Jimmy pleaded. “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”
I kept quiet because when it comes to arguing with my wife, I never win. Anyway, with Jimmy safely back home, our neighbours were ready to go. I thanked them for their concern, but Mama Jimmy wanted them to stay longer.
“Please wait for dinner,” she pleaded.
“No”, said Mama Danny, looking at her watch. “I must go and see how my little ones are doing.”
Another one claimed he had just eaten, while one said it was too late for a bite.
I knew they were playing hard to get, as Kenyans do not agree to a dinner invitation right away.
As a nation, Kenyans are so well-mannered that even when guests are starving, you must plead with them first. I knew of an easier way to persuade them, though: “Maggy kwani hako kanyama hakajaiva?”
“It is ready now!” Miss Mboch yelled from the kitchen, and that did the trick.
“Er..... Okay, but we will not stay for long,” said Mama Moha as she sat on the couch. “Lakini mimi usiniwekee nyingi,” she said while licking her lips.
Thus, we quickly assembled for dinner, as I counted my losses.
I had lost my money, which Jimmy used to perforate his ears and on what he called a “haircut”, yet 50 per cent of his hair was still there.
I am afraid I cannot tell you what I did to him after the neighbours left because it might attract the wrath of human rights activists, but let’s hope he will be more sensible for the remaining part of the holidays.