The Village Carpenter – He was and still is known for his punishing, bone crashing vice grip of a handshake, so hearty and genuine that it lasts longer than average. Woe unto you if you were coming from the city with soft soft hands like this. Nobody minds him though. He’s the most jovial soul I know in this village to date.

There is no escaping the village carpenter. He’s always headed somewhere to do repairs in one home or other. Or to his other farm several ridges away. Or to church where he’s an official and goes most evenings. The village just got used to his handshakes and they’ve since become a kind hearted running joke. It helps that he’s really a nice guy who shows genuine concern for everyone. Every once in a while he’ll sacrifice, buy airtime and call people back in Nairobi just to find out whether they’re ok.  Sometimes just to connect and sometimes when there are reports of chaos in town.

He often laments of how people have left the village in droves and whenever he meets any of us city dwellers, he takes the time to urge us to visit the village more often. Like many other people of his generation, he’s worried that the village will never be the same again if we all leave, have our children in the cities and never instill in them the fact that this is ultimately their home. He does not require for anyone to come live in the village if their livelihoods is in the city. Just to visit more often and to not lose their children to the city.

He’s a kind old soul and his concerns are genuine and quite legitimate.

There was another carpenter who unfortunately was not as well loved.  He’s still around but has since abandoned carpentry to concentrate on farming. He has also since mellowed down with age though there is still a bit of his old self left. Otherwise in his heyday he was extremely short fused. He had a combative poise and a combative walking style to boot. Ever close to boiling, he was always causing brawls and barging into those that involved him not. He was perpetually in odd disputes with neighbors and, sadly, even with his immediate family. He was that character in the bar whose theatrics fellow revelers missed secretly when he did not show up.

Recently in old age, he was before elders for selling his son’s jacket over a small time father-son cash debt. He’s a well known character at the chief’s camp where there was always someone reporting something or other that had to do with him. He’s part of the village ecosystem and despite everything, he’s still appreciated.

Speaking of the chief, with or without his official Provincial Administration garb, he oozed authority.  He’s no longer the chief but he’s still around.  Still straddles the village with a characteristic swing of his walking stick and a shoe shined to high heavens. He’s in every committee, every dowry negotiation, and he’s there solving every odd household squabble.  He’s the default village wise man and is still thoroughly respected.

It takes a village to raise a child. I’ve been remembering my village and appreciating the fact that the characters in it helped shape me into what I am today. You can also tell your story here. Not necessarily about the village but anyone or anything you feel played a role into your growing up.

Read other stories in this series.

The village that brought me up – Intro

The village that brought me up – My father

The village that brought me up – My mother

The village that brought me up – The village drunkard

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