By Shilaho Wa Muteshi

Two weeks before Kenya’s fiftieth Independence Day, The African Union of Left-Handed Presidents met secretly in Guangzhou, China to discuss a new space program to be sponsored by the Chinese government over a period of fifteen to twenty years. Among the five African presidents was His Excellency Mandherich II, but to help them understand the technicalities of the space program being launched secretly in their countries, they had each been allowed two assistants, one of who had to be a nuclear physicist well versed in Chinese. His Excellency, the granduncle, Mandherich couldn’t find a nuclear physicist who understood the Chinese language within the Kenyan boarders, even though there was one with a working knowledge of Japanese. He had two options. To find someone who could pretend to be a nuclear physicist for the three-day summit for as long ashe or she understood the Chinese language, or hire a Chinese national to work for him. He called Dr.Mlachi at 4.59, just when he was about to leave the office.

‘My friend, you have to come now.’ He started, quite frantic in his breathing so that Dr. Mlachi thought his heart problems were back to haunt him. Already he was on his second heart and wouldn’t survive a third heart transplant if need arose.

‘State House Nakuru?’ Dr. Mlachi asked, looking around him and fearing for his favorite enemy. Many a times he had been reminded to kill him while on the operating table, to save the nation from continued downward economic spiral, but courage had failed him. It wasn’t easy, like people thought, to eliminate a sitting president, however sick.

‘Yes. Come with someone who understands Chinese. Someone we can trust.’

‘What?’

‘Just do it. We don’t have much time.’ His Excellency ordered. Dr. Mlachi even thought he had heard him bang his fist upon the desk. Frightened, he went through his phonebook to find someone who understood Chinese. The only person who had a working knowledge of the language and who he could trust was Dr. Sally, even though her understanding of the language was still rudimentary. There was also Prof. Kizito, a good friend of his who had successfully decoded turtle language to avoid an environmental crisis of genocide proportions. He weighed the two options for a while, pacing up and down his office for a while, only for the most powerful man in the country to call him again.

‘You haven’t got anyone? Am offering a million dollars for you and a million dollars for whoever you get.’ His Excellency reminded him, sounding desperate. He seemed to be under some pressure of sorts.

‘I have one in mind. She has been learning Chinese since getting out of prison. Maybe I should…’

‘Bring him over.’

‘It is Dr. Sally Mungai, your Excellency.’

‘What? A woman? This is a top-level international secret for Christ’s sake!’

‘If given time I can find another, but if you want one right away, she is the only one I can think of.’

‘Okay. Bring her over.’ The granduncle agreed, reluctantly. Dr. Mlachi hurried to the Gender Based Violence Recovery Center and found his former assistant attending to a patient. The man’s penis had been partially severed by his wife and Dr. Sally was trying to stitch it back. Unable to interfere with the process, Dr. Mlachi paced about the center, unable to calm down, with his phone ringing every two minutes.

Maybe he is dying.

He thought, repeatedly pulling his fingers till they cracked. Half an hour later, Dr. Sally walked out of theatre and found him nervously pacing.

‘What has gone into you?’ She asked, pulling down the surgical mask from her nostrils, before dispensing with her gloves and sitting.

‘It’s His Excellency.’

‘What has happened to him?’

‘I don’t know. He has been calling every two minutes and…’ Before he could finish, the big man called again as if he had been listening to their conversation. Dr. Mlachi showed her his phone’s screen before picking.

‘We are on our way your Excellency.’ He lied, urging Dr. Sally, through sign language, to be quick and follow him.

‘What exactly is wrong with him? I have been in theatre for three hours and…’ Dr. Sally complained, wiping her temple.

‘You will rest when we get to the state house. I don’t know what this is about, but you and Prof. Kizito are the only ones I know who have a working knowledge of Chinese.’

‘Jesus Christ!’ Dr. Sally exclaimed.

‘The man is offering two million dollars if we can go now.’

‘Has his penis been amputated by the wife?’ Dr. Sally joked.

‘Hahaha, that doesn’t require knowledge of Chinese. Maybe he has aChinese surgeon and wants somebody who understands the language to be with him in theatre.’

‘My goodness. And you chose me?’

‘He insists it should be somebody trustworthy. Let’s go. If it’s beyond us, we might as well…’

‘Nothing is beyond you and I.’ Dr. Sally whispered and patted him slightly on the back, smiling in his face. She quickly dispensed with her half coat, freshened up in a couple of minutes and followed Dr. Mlachi to his car. Dr. Mlachi tried to avoid looking at her legs throughout the short journey to the state house, but the temptation was just too much. He suddenly felt uncomfortable as they entered the heavily guarded compound. He had never gotten used to this feeling, despite working on the big man’s medical team for more than a decade, first when he was the minister for finance, and later as the president. 

‘Could it be that he wants a second wife?’ Dr. Sally joked, making Dr. Mlachi even more uncomfortable.

‘Hahaha.’ He laughed uneasily. ‘I don’t think he would insist on Chinese and make it urgent like this. In fact, he didn’t like it when he realized the person, I had in mind was a woman.’

‘Ooh, he has trust issues?’

‘It is something secret, that’s why I think he must be terribly sick or…’ Dr. Mlachi didn’t get to finish his sentence. Before he could, two armed officers came to the car, scanned them for weapons like they always did and took their mobile phones before ushering them into an official vehicle to drive them from the gate to the main building for the secret meeting. The increased security made his heart race. He kept looking about him for possible signs of danger but couldn’t notice any. Droplets of sweat had formed on his nostrils, despite the cool breeze from Lake Nakuru, coupled with the cold from the giant Menengai crater, situated atop Menengai hill, to the north of the state house. 

 

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