Masseuse of the Wallet I-By Edward Maroncha

Nick is feeling good about himself. After several years of struggle with joblessness, he has finally gotten his first proper pay cheque. He was hired last month Kiraro Bright Academy in the outskirts of Murang’a town as a store keeper, earning a whooping Kshs. 40, 000 per month. Mrs. Joyce Keya, the principal and owner of the school, paid him last evening via MPESA. He can almost feel the weight of the money in his phone. Today is Saturday, and he was only expected to work half day. After leaving the school, he came to town to find a house agent he was told will help him get a rental house.

Nick has a budget. Of the forty thousand, he wants to use fifteen thousand to secure a house. He has been living in a dingy single room in a shady neighborhood where he has been paying one thousand shillings a month. He has done his research and he knows that for seven thousand shillings a month he can get one-bedroom house in the outskirts of the town, not far from the school. He actually has seen the house, but he has been told he has to talk to the agent, who has an office in town. Another seven thousand will go to the rent deposit. Five thousand will go to electricity and water deposit.

That will leave him with twenty-one thousand shillings. Seven thousand will go to his mother. She is a single mother who really struggled to bring him up. She worked as a cook in a local secondary school, earning peanuts, but she struggled until she ensured that he completed his diploma in Business Administration from the Kenya Institute of Management.

There is no door that Hellen, Nick’s mother, did not knock in a bid to ensure that her son got education. When he scored three hundred and sixty five marks from the local day school, she went all the way to the MPs office. In any other year Nick would have been the best in his school, but that year there were two very sharp twins, a boy and a girl, who scooped the first positon. They actually scored the same marks and were scooped up by Equity Bank under the Wings to Fly program. The last Nick heard of them, they had become doctors but their association with Equity was ongoing. They run a clinic under the Equity Afia program. Nick is always jealous whenever he thinks about them. They beat him with a single mark. He would have been the one taking the scholarship. He would be a wealthy man by now. His headmaster tried to plead with the local bank officials to take him as well, but they insisted on the bank policy on one boy and one girl.

The area MP agreed to help him and actually gave him bursary that helped him to join a good provincial school. In that first term he was top of his class. He promised his mother that he would work hard in school so that he could pull them out of poverty. He was confident that he would get a good job, buy a piece of land and build a permanent house for his mother.  They lived in a rental house in a small rural market. But that bursary soon dried up and Hellen started doing fundraisers when Nick was in form two. But donor fatigue kicked in and people stopped attending the fundraisers. In form three second term Nick was forced to transfer to a day school near their home.

Hellen struggled even to raise the school fees for the day school, but the head teacher was kind and he allowed Nick to continue learning even though he was accumulating fee balances. It helped that he was a disciplined kid and that he was always top of his class. But the school suffered acute shortage of resources such as text books and laboratories. In the end, Nick topped his class in KCSE, but only managed a B plain. He did not manage to secure government sponsorship to university that year, since the cut off was B plus.

When Hellen realized that her son hadn’t made the cut for University, she was devastated. If he had made the cut, chances of getting bursaries or even getting people to attend fundraisers would have been higher. But few people would be interested in sponsoring a student to a middle level college. Still, she did not give up. Counties had just been established, and she became a frequent visitor at the Office of the Governor.

The Governor promised to help her if her son got admitted to a college. Nick applied to multiple colleges. He applied for a diploma in clinical medicine at KMTC; he also applied for a diploma in Business Management at the Kenya Institute of Management and applied for a diploma in Hotel Management at the Kenya Utalii College.

It is the letter from the Kenya Institute of Management that came first, and Hellen rushed with it to the Governor’s office. The governor kept his promise and he helped Nick to get enrolled in the college. He paid the tuition fees from his pocket and he even paid rent for Nick and gave him upkeep money for the entire period Nick was in college. He promised to hire him at the County when he graduated. Within three years, Nick had his diploma. Hellen was overjoyed during his graduation. Her boy had made it. Now he would get a job and pull them out of the depths of poverty.

The joy was short lived, however. Two weeks after Nick’s graduation, the Governor died in a road accident. The Deputy Governor, who now became the Governor, had no interest in hiring Nick. She even started a rumor that Hellen had been sleeping with the deceased Governor and that is why Nick was getting favored. Hellen cried for many nights. She prayed day and night, but no breakthrough was forthcoming.

Nick got a job as a BOM teacher at his former secondary school. The school head was the same one who had helped him stay on as a student, and he was also a member of their church. He had pity on him and decided to hire him even though he was not qualified as a teacher. The Board of Management, which was made up of local businessmen, approved. But the pay was not much. Nick was earning seven thousand shillings a month. But it was better than nothing. He rented a house next to the school and moved out of his mother’s rented double room.

In the course of his work, he fell in love with a cook called Mercy and within no time she became pregnant. A wedding was quickly organized because Nick was a youth leader and he couldn’t get into a ‘come-we-stay’ relationship, as cohabitation is called in those parts of the world. Nick and Mercy got married in a simple but joyful wedding held at the school grounds. Mercy delivered a bouncing baby boy. Two girls followed, one who was born just last year.

As his family expanded, Nick to feel the weight of financial responsibility. He sent applications all over the country, but he usually got no response. The situation was becoming desperate. Finally, as if from the blues, he got a call two months ago from Kiraro Bright Academy in Murang’a. He had even forgotten that he had made that application. He was called for an interview. He did not have the money to travel to Murang’a for the interview, bit his mother Hellen came to his rescue. He did the interview and that same day he was told that he had been hired, and that he could start working the following Monday, which was the third of March.

Once again he did not have the money to even rent a house, but Hellen borrowed from friends and from her chama some five thousand shillings. That is what he has been surviving on for the entire month of March.

From the twenty one thousand shillings that will remain when he pays rent and deposits, he intends to send his mother seven thousand. Five thousand will be a repayment of her debt, and two thousand as a token of appreciation. From next month he has decided that he will be sending her five thousand. He will be left with fourteen thousand. He will use five thousand to hire a pickup to move his family to Murang’a. He will be left with nine thousand. He will save four thousand and use five thousand for the monthly expenses. That will be enough considering that Mercy got paid yesterday. For the first time in their married life, they will not fret over basic necessities of life.


Nick is walking in the streets Murang’a when he sees a fancy looking barbershop. He decides to get a haircut first, before going to the agency offices. He usually gets his haircut in some dingy shop where they charge him fifty shillings for a session of torture. The shaving machines at his usual barbershop usually leave his head bruised. Kinoti, the attendant, then makes it worse by throwing a hot towel over his head; a towel that he cannot handle with his rough hands for more than two seconds. After that comes the application of lemon juice, straight from a lemon; and then methylated spirit.  That combination leaves his bruised head on fire. The encounters in that barbershop should be listed as one of a thousand ways to die.

After a slight hesitation, he walks into the swanky barbershop.

“How much do you charge for a haircut?” he asks timidly. He suddenly feels as though he has made a mistake. He doesn’t belong here. The room is spacious, and it is very neat with tiled floors, many mirrors and even two sinks for washing heads. The three barbers are fancily dressed young men and there is a beautiful lady washing a man’s head at one sink. Another lady is seated on a couch scrolling on her phone.

“Just two hundred and fifty shillings,” one of the young men says with a smile, rotating a swanky chair so that he can sit. “Please have a seat.”

Nick’s first instinct is to run away. Two hundred and fifty shillings is a lot of money. It is five times more than the usual cost. But he remembers that he has forty thousand shillings in his pocket. He can afford it. As he sits down, the man on the sink stands up and his led to another room via a door that Nick hadn’t seen before.

The experience is heavenly. The shaving machine somehow doesn’t hurt his head at all. And the young man has a scent of fresh soap and perfume. Nick’s usual barber smells of sweat, cigarettes, miraa and cheap liquor. After the young man completes the shaving process, Nick is ushered to the sink. The young lady on the couch, more beautiful than the first, is already standing at the sink. She is dressed in a short tight dress that makes Nick repent for committing adultery with her in his heart.

The young lady tenderly washes his head with warm soapy water that is flowing from a tap. The touch of her hands on his head is just glorious. She dries his head with a towel and then leads him to the other room. Nick is surprised to find that the room is empty. He did not see the other lady and the client leaving. Perhaps he dozed off as she was getting a haircut, or as his head was being washed.

There is a low bed in the room and the lady asks him to lie on it. She sits on the head side of the bed, lifts his head and rests it on her lap. She has some sweet smelling perfume that Nick finds intoxicating.

“For the two hundred and fifty shillings you paid for the haircut I can massage your head and shoulder. If you want a full body massage you add five hundred shillings. But I can give you a full experience for only two thousand shillings.”

“What is a full experience?”

“We go upstairs to my room,” she coos while nodding at the stairs Nick hadn’t seen before. Her hands are inside his shirt, and she has leaned forward slightly so that her breasts are touching his face. “We take off our clothes and I please you in ways you have never known.”

Nick can feel common sense leaving his body. He has forty thousand shillings; why can’t he spare a small fraction to satisfy an ache that has suddenly developed between his legs? As walks upstairs hand in hand with the damsel, his carnal desires are fully in charge of his faculties. He doesn’t remember his wife and children.

Or even Hellen, his mother.

 (Continued Here)


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