Odongo, Orodo and Other Fun People From My Village

No one knows Orodo’s real age. I was 5 years old when I first met him. He looked as old as my grandmother. He had a carpet of white hair; he spoke really slowly. Orodo has an awkward tenor and you can never tell what he is thinking; serial killer tendencies.

He was Dani’s next door neighbour. Dani sounds better than Grandmother. Anyway, so Orodo, he has a nickname I forget, but from what my mum tells me it means a bottomless pot. My brothers crowned him “studded boots.” Orodo allegedly killed his wife by kicking her in the stomach. Why? I am glad you asked. He found out that she had cooked fried beef and Ugali.

Orodo had been a security guard in Siaya town and had been earning 1,000 shillings a month. True story, he kept his salary underneath his mattress not for a rainy day; it was stored there like a treasured family heirloom. And they subsisted on boiled and salted bush picked vegetables; the free growing weeds variety, with extremely healthy, yet so bitter millet Ugali.

His wife was tired of the staple and one evening when he had gone to work she made a withdrawal from the ‘spring’ bank and dashed to the butchery for some protein. She forgot to wash away the evidence before he returned at the end of his night shift.

You see Orodo’s feet are the perfect example of what happens when you walk barefoot for most of your life. First your feet sprawl like a ducks, your toes get chubby and your feet form an extra tough layer, making your toes look like they are floating when you are walking. Hence “studded boots”; because like military boots, his feet dealt a lethal and deadly blow. Orodo is still alive, we are not sure how old he is, but we know like my Mum says in Luo “he is as rich as a termite”.

Then there is Jaber; a common Luo word which means beautiful. Quite unusual, you would use that name on girls; as a pet name. Well, I am not sure what his legal name is. Once again I wondered why and ask my omniscient Mother. Now traditionally when a child was born, they would be named in a way to avoid curses from jealous people. So a child would be called “Ugly” to chase away any wondering eye and ear. They would think that you gave birth to Hannibal Lecter’s hairball if he were a cat; unpleasant. And stay away with the potions. So since you are called the opposite of who you are; poor Jaber, wasn’t a sight…period…as a child. I almost think it was a name to console his Mama that she did alright.

What I do love about the village most is the naming; I have relatives and neigbours with the most unusual names. There is a man, a known rapist, drunk and lumberjack who sells charcoal made from other people’s trees, without their knowledge. He had a dog named Aurlus Mabele after the Congolese Soukous music artist. Needless to say, that dog wasn’t much to write about. Before he had Aurlus, he had Saddam Hussein. Side bar, I know a grown man whose legal name (which he has never changed; he is in his 50’s) is called “Training” I kid you not!

But to wrap up my introduction to my fascinating village; there is the twelve toed chap, Odongo. Odongo is one half of the Luo duo name for twins; Odongo and Opiyo. I am not sure who Opiyo is in his family. But he is one of the many village drunks, for some reason I feel sorry for him. And I have nothing else to say about him.  Because I recall a man called Japuonj; means teacher.

He was a teacher (duh!) can’t recall his name. He had hair growing in excess out of his nostrils and ears; it was like a climbing vine. It disturbed me. He believed that chili and boiling hot tea was the cure for anything. And I mean anything!

When he had malaria he ate the small red hot chilies raw, one crunch at a time.  Snot oozing out, he would say, “Mano nego gemsi:” meaning that the snot was a sign of the germs oozing out of his system. He would serve tea boiling hot and douse it down; same story with porridge. Needless to say; he died of throat cancer. Now I am exaggerating like a villager. Well; he had it, I can’t say for sure that his feeding habits caused it.

Well, in case you would like to visit these monumental people to ascertain the facts for yourself. You can always drop me a line! In the words of Master ‘P’, “I got the hook up! Holler if you hear me! Uuuuuuuuuuuuuu!”

First published on http://blog.storymojafestival.com


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