If i die today

by Sruthi Srinivasan (India)

Making a local connection Kenya


‘If I die today, I swear to god I’ll haunt you forever’ I hissed at my husband even as a spear stood pointing at us with a burly man glaring on. In your entire life, if someone ever foretold that your death was going to happen at the prime of your youth in a remote Maasai village in Kenya on a shopping trip, what would you do? I, for one would have probably chosen to have my groceries delivered. Exactly four hours ago, bored of the monotony of packaged destination tours, we chose to spend our afternoon driving around the villages near Maasai Mara buying local fruits and souvenirs. Just when the hunger pangs kicked in, we spotted one last market area that we decided to delve into. As darkness spread across the vast horizon, our driver showed us the short walking path back to the resort and called it a day. A young man came forward welcoming us and introducing himself as ‘Lemuani’. As we ambled around clicking pictures, Lemuani took us to his Father’s shop, a septuagenarian with a wide toothless smile. We weren’t really looking to buy anything but he insisted this was his father’s shop, we had to buy something. I looked at the old man with his wide smile and sighed, I can never say no to old salesmen. I picked up a wooden comb and put it in our basket. We were taken to Lemuani’s brother’s store where I complied to his salesmanship again. ‘It isn’t me, he is just really good at selling’ I reasoned. It was soon quite apparent that Lemuani had a massive family and his father actually had 5 wives, polygamy was a common tradition among Maasai tribe. In fact, the meaning of ‘Lemuani’ was ‘one from a big family’. Our basket was filled with everything from bracelets to wooden ladles. With an air of finality Lemuani counted the items in the basket and started writing the bill amount with a stick on the sand. By now, a large crowd had gathered around us. We looked at the amount written down and I let out a low whistle. My husband from his years of trading in stock markets and haggling with our local vendors decided to negotiate skilfully. And so, he yelled ‘THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL I AM PAYING 150 DOLLARS FOR THIS GARBAGE!’ Needless to say, the people were not happy with the sudden outburst and that’s when I first spotted everyone picking up their weapons and a large dog growling next to a burly man who was walking towards us. ‘If I die today, I swear to god ill haunt you forever’ I hissed at my husband even as a spear stood pointing at us with the burly man glaring on. We threw our hands up with a quick friendly smile and started bargaining. After fifteen minutes, Lemuani stood his ground that the items were worth 120 dollars and 30 dollars for clicking pictures of his family. We agreed that our lives were definitely worth 150. We paid the amount and the burly man, who was now grinning, bade us goodbye. As if on cue, the dog stopped growling and nudged my hand. I patted his head and said ‘even you’re a good salesman aren’t you, old boy?’