The Village Phone
Introducing the new puppeteer… a new man.
Amidst the fights and wrangles in every home, in between the juicy gossip of who could never sire an heir and who was pummeled every night there stood the village phone. You see dear reader “Kamau wa bica” (Kamau the man who had photographs) was a household name. Don’t be mistaken however, Kamau was the unorthodox village photographer who used to have the ancient secrets to the art of posing like the American movie stars or so he said. Plus he had the most exotic background wallpapers you could ever imagine. A normal conversation at his place of work usually took such a toll; “You want a picture in Spain? Maybe you’re a Caribbean girl? Ohm You want a picture next to the Eiffel Tower…. Oh China? Walking on the great Wall. Say no more.” Sure enough dear readers a half month later after the picture was processed and “taken for approval to the government” you would easily deceive any lazy eye that you had gone around the world in 80 days.
Yes “Kamau wa Bica” was a lucrative fellow, and he had won the heart of many village damsels through his trade and craft. However his phone was the most prominent and useful aspect about him. Kamau according to the village tall tales had been working for a Telecommunication company before he was sacked for taking pictures of the manager’s daughter… naked. However as a severance package for the determination and hard work he had portrayed throughout his stay in the company he was given a yearly landline connection. Those were the day’s dear reader when mobile phones hadn’t been thought of yet and so having a working landline connection in your home leave alone your workplace was considered as the ultimate show of power and luxury.
Thus Kamau had the only means of long distance communication in our village and some ridges beyond. It wasn’t a mystery when he decided to transform his home appliance into a money-maker. Kamau wa bica became re-incarnated and in his place Kamau wa thimo (Kamau the man who had a phone) was born. Thus the advent of the village phone before its ultimate extinction.
Kamau thus employed his only daughter as the sole operator of the village phone. She would sit on a stool outside on their veranda while people all over the village came with crumpled notes bearing the numbers their sons, daughters, wives, husbands, fathers, mothers had written for them in case they needed to contact them. However Kamau failed intentionally to mention that the phone had a record feature which could relay the day’s conversations. No intimate detail or important news therefore ever passed Kamau.
Kamau knew who was having an affair with who, he knew who was selling what to who at a scandalous rate. Kamau knew and he made sure the people knew he knew. With the growing concern that Kamau was a seer the people revered him as a prophet of God. Nobody could dare gossip Kamau for there was the underlying fear that he would know. The village phone continued however giving the people service even as Kamau wa thimo became reincarnated once again and became Kamau wa maitho. (Kamau the man with the eyes)
Despite his many names and titles Kamau did fall that fateful Saturday morning. His body was found drenched in rain whilst his hand clenched a crumpled note tightly. On being un clenched the note was found to have a number. However no matter how many times the children or the wife tried calling the number there was never no reply.
Rumors and speculations spread far and wide as to who the number belonged to and why Kamau died with it in his hand. With his end, the era of the village phone also came to an end, and Kamau became but just a distant memory, to be echoed and re echoed until the people were lulled to sleep by the love songs of the cold nights and awoken by the indifference of the sun in the low key mornings.