Humor was born and bestowed into some heads. Yes, some people are just humorous. From the way they walk, talk or eat. At times, you may think them mad. But they are not. They are just being themselves. They are occupying their space in the world. The space of shedding smiles into our dark faces when world problems seem insurmountable. Taking of humor and comedy, only one person’s name come to my mind. Ritho. The rib-cracking Ritho.
To me, Ritho is the modern definition of Wahome Mutahi. You should see Ritho. When I first saw him, I thought he was a university lecturer. Well, maybe he is a professor. A professor of humor. He has a balding head. He however will not tell you that he is losing hair. Nope, he says that he is a little bit folicularly challenged. He also wears spectacles. Dark spectacles that are darker than his hair. Maybe, it is these spectacles that make Ritho see humor in everything. Even in how he stopped swimming. I think I will get a pair of similar spectacles. They will make me stop being too serious about life. Anyway, today I host Ritho to share one of his numerous humorous stories. The guy, as you will witness is going places with his humor. Read and enjoy. Ritho, tell the readers you story.
Last December I had accompanied my friends from the Mission team of St. Paul’s University Catholic chapel for a mission to spread the love of Christ in Ugunja parish, archdiocese of Kisumu, Siaya. I tell you it is nice experiencing the love of the Lord. During Christmas we went to have fun at Port Victoria and indeed it was a great site. Starting with the beautiful shore and a photo session by the boats there but forget about those they are a story for another day.
You see there are some people who have something with water, they cannot see water that is more than one basin at the same place and fail to swim in it. Though they weren’t prepared with any swimming costumes, my friends readily jumped into the water and started swimming some with almost nothing on. They swam and from my sitting place at the shore I could see they were really enjoying themselves as they joined hands in the water and started singing some funny songs. They however felt that the people who they left at the shore were ‘carrying them baby’ and they should too be forced to get in the water. Like blood thirsty vampires they came hunting and took their catch deep in the water. Seeing this I hid far a distance where I could hardly find myself if I was to search.
After the swimming frenzy was over, the people were treated to a boat ride deep to the sea. From a distance I watched as the people struggled to get to the boat and enjoy the ride. When the first trip was back they looked very jovial and explained how great the ride was, even their sweet words were not enough to get me to that boat, next quickly got to the boat and left. Indeed it was a great day and as we went back to our residence all were merry and rejoiced the Birth of Christ as they narrated the happenings of the day.
I thought nobody had noticed my low profile that day but I was proven wrong as one lady approached me and asked me: “Why do you look so sad and why didn’t I see you either swimming or in the boat ride?” Now that was a hard question, you know. First it reminded me of some lecture in my second year that I will never forget. It was those afternoon lectures where after a heavy lunch, you are inclined more to feel sleepy than concentrate on a lecture in demography. This Professor…Obudho then spots me almost dozing and asked me almost the same question, he asked, “Young man, why are you so sad? Is it because of poverty? Don’t worry you will get two ugly children to replace your ugly wife and yourself.” It was indeed a wakening call and you can guess I stayed alert the whole lesson but feeling agitated I went to seek why the professor used such harsh words on me after the lesson but his response was more shocking “ Yes I abused you, but what can you do? I am a professor…”
That was the end of my conversation with him.
Back to the lake side… I didn’t know what to answer this lady because my reasons were complicated and I didn’t think she would readily grasp them. I chose not to tell her the story but being a great wise man, I chose to make her forget by giving her other sweet stories of giants but here I reveal my enmity with swimming and this guy, my tall brother Peter Njagi is all to blame as you will all see.
In my younger days I used to go swimming in the river with my fellow boys and believe it or not I was a master in diving and swim racing. The river nearest to our home is called Kagumo and this was the arena for all boys on Saturdays and all days when school was closed. We, the boys from my village had marked a territory of the river that the boys from the other side of the river were forbidden from swimming and if they dared they would face the wrath of my ingenuity. You see, thou I was the smallest of the boys in size, they all depended on me to hatch revenge plans. I remember one day we found them swimming in our part of the river and as usual I was consulted to give the informed opinion on what punishment befitted them. I laugh even now when I remember how we stole their shorts as they were swimming and threw them in the river. The poor boys had to wait for darkness to run home naked.
Even with my prowess in swimming, my mother did not approve my getting anywhere near the river as she feared her only son would one day get drowned.It was thus an abomination for me to go swimming. Her threats notwithstanding, boys are boys and did they not say that forbidden apples taste sweetest? I would sneak with the other boys and go swimming then come with some fodder for my rabbits in the evening and say I have been searching for that all day. But my wisdom would not tell me that after swimming in the river all day my whole body looked scaly and my mother did not need any other proof before canning me with anything she lay her hands on.
When I went to secondary school, I could not go to the river again and since our school did not have a swimming pool, the prowess in me was all lost. After high school Njagi took me to a swimming pool in Nakuru where he had promised to teach me how to swim in ‘water that is stagnant’ for I had been used to swimming with the flow of the river. You all know I am not a slow learner and after a few minutes with him I could float but he said I am too stiff to be taught how to swim and suggested that a lady who was in the pool to help me. I don’t know what happens when ladies are teaching me something, I seem to grasp it all and in a remarkable speed. In 10 minutes, I could move around the pool, gasping for breath here and there but finally make it across the pool with her guidance.
Now this is where all the trouble started, she swam to the centre of the pool and stood there daring me that if indeed I am able to swim to where she stood I would have her as my lady. Now you see how things plan themselves for those who trust in the Lord? Here was a beautiful lady that perfectly befits the description in the book KIFO KISIMANI and I don’t have to bother myself with crammed lines from THE MERCHANT OF VENICE to woo her, all I had to do was swim for 10 meters and then have her. It also is a taboo in my community for a man to be dared to take the hand of a lady and fail to do so. I thus quickly summoned my courage and embarked on the voyage that would be my last in a swimming pool.
Hardly had I started swimming when a sudden panic engulfed me. I was two meters from my starting point when I took the first gulp of water. The subsequent gulps came so fast that I didn’t realize I was sinking till I tried breathing and into my lungs went a gallon of water. The next thing I remember was the lady swimming to save me and taking me to safety. I wish not to discuss the embarrassment that followed nor the dashed hope of having the swimmer as my lady. But you can now start understanding the traumatic memories that kept me from swimming and why you will not see me in a swimming pool any time soon. My friend Cikaya who is a counsellor has however promised to help me get over the trauma and I am currently having sessions weekly with her in hope that I will be well. But until then, blame it all on my brother Peter and if you ever need to find me don’t go to the swimming pool.