He is poised by a humongous glass window, ogling at the far-flung landscape of Nairobi. He has joined the league of extra-ordinary men. He is a celebrated City chef. He chose the kitchen, or rather, the kitchen chose him. He is now an opulent and well-heeled folk. He looks at his family, a beautiful wife and amazing children, his colossal residence, a three acre property at the heart of Karen. In his garage rests glossy fuel-guzzlers, expensive jalopies that are rare to see especially in Kenya, his favourite being the black Mercedes Maybach that he cruises with from Karen all the way to Ole-Sereni Hotel or the Hemmingway’s when duty calls.
As he stares at the cool, beautifully landscaped neighbourhood, he reflects. The wind blows gently, allowing a breeze to cool him down in that hot afternoon. He glosses over his past with such aplomb. He broods over the boy. The boy had to spend countless evenings in the tea estates in order to raise some cash for his fees and some groceries. The impoverished boy had no hopes of ever getting out of his crappy situation. No shoes, no fancy clothes, no food and sickly parents. All these predicaments snatched his childhood away from him.
On a deeper thought level, maybe he has never been a Boy, after all his father passed on while he was only 9 years of age. He was barely an adolescent. His dad’s departure however made him the man of the house. He had to take good care of his mother and her younger sister. So from a very young age he has known nothing else other than hard labour and ultimate toil. He never got a chance to be truant like boy always are. He manned up earlier than the rest of the masculine sex. Spending lots of time around ladies made him good with women. She understood them, both old and young women. She knew how to talk to them, how to impress them and that makes him one of the prodigious seducers on the continent.
It is her mother’s death that gave him an unforgettable blow. He knew what that meant. Of course it meant life was going to be tougher with no one to look up to. Orphaned at 12 years, he had a younger sibling to take care of. He had to drop out of school and work full time at the tea estates. He raised a little cash to put a meal on the table. His mother’s demise though, was a blessing in disguise. He had to spend most of his time in the kitchen preparing his sister meals. The more his sister liked his cooking, the more he upgraded his culinary skills. For the love of cooking for a sister, the MAN who never got a chance to be a BOY, now cooks for queens and kings.
EMMANUEL SIMIYU WASWA NJIBWAKALE.