There is a Kinyarwanda saying that goes like agapfundikiye gatera amatsiko (what is covered arouses curiosity).
Well, our wise old men were very right if not geniuses because long after they have departed to the other world, the truth of this saying is unwrapping before me.
I am saying this because surely there is no other force but curiosity is driving me to hunt in dangerous forests where I have been venturing of late.
I consider these as dangerous forests because the risks of hunting there are plenty.
I am talking about hunting the veiled birds that have an elusive brother whose name, if mentioned will send any American scampering for cover.
This guy must be giving mzee Bush junior daily nightmares long after his retirement.
These birds are protected by tough hunting laws whose violation can lead to among other things death by stoning or having your bottom whipped into pulp. But I surprised even myself by venturing there despite being aware of all the risks involved.
What I am sure of is the fact that I was under a spell and that spell emanated from the veil.
It’s not like there is some kind of magic coming from under the veil, no. I am talking about the curiosity caused by the birds being wrapped in veils. This makes me wonder what lies beneath and in so doing; forget all about the risks involved.
That is how I found myself landing an invitation to attend Idd-el-Fitr celebrations. Well, friends had told me to make sure I attend these celebrations at least once before I die on account that dishes prepared on this day are finger-licking delicious and you are bound to carry the memories and the scent of the spices used for a long time.
As you know me, I wasn’t of course interested in the dishes or anything culinary. I happened to be in the right place at the right time when the radio announced the end of the fasting season, declaring the next day Eidd day.
There happened to be this veiled bird who immediately shot to her feet in jubilation. She was dressed in a dark bui-bui gown and a white veil.
From where I was seated I fixed my eyes on this bird and my mind told me this was appropriate game for hunting. Judging by the face, my experience told me that the rest of the package cannot be any less.
That is how I put together an emergency game plan. I stood up and walked to her with the confidence of James Bond. I was like “Congratulations Miss- name is hunter, Bird Hunter,” as I extended my hand to congratulate her.
Looking up in my face, she was like, “oh thank you so much!! Are you Muslim too?” Mama mia!
The smile almost made me lose my mind. I lost focus for a few seconds before coming back to my senses to answer the question, which I knew would be the key leading to further conversation.
I told her I belonged to no religion but had been yearning to become a Muslim but had failed to know how to go about it.
She was delighted by this and became more interested in me. That is how I landed an invitation to her parents’ home for and Eidd feast.
She said that once there, her father who is a religious leader would convert me into Islam. I shuddered but I knew I should not show it.
After accepting the invitation and confirming that I would be there at the scheduled time I asked her whether she had really starved herself for a whole month or had cheated on some days when it got tough.
She laughed and said she thought I was naughty and even slapped me lightly on the shoulder. I knew I was right on target.
At 1 pm I was knocking on the gate to her parents’ home in Nyamijos and guess what, she came to answer the door herself. This time she had no veil and no bui-bui on.
She had a long skirt that exposed her nice contours and I could not help staring. I joined her father and some other men dressed like the one and only Osama bin Laden.
They also had a bush (pun intended of course) of beards and had stern looks. The father, after looking me from head to toe then opened the floor. “Halima told me that you are interested in becoming a Muslim?”
Well, first of all, I had forgotten to ask her what her name was and secondly, I did not think she would tell her father about the story of me wanting to become a Muslim. She had taken me serious.
I knew that I was in serious trouble but this was not the time to panic.
I answered in affirmative and I could see a kind of smile on the faces of the other men in the room but not the old man who was obviously suspicious of my underlying motives. However, he said that a conversion function would take place right after a feast of Pilau.
I heard him asking his daughter to gather the necessary requirements for the conversion and call a number of people to witness the addition of a new believer.
My heart started pumping but I stayed calm and composed. The pilau came in, we attacked it like bees.
I was clumsy because I did not have the skills of eating like the other men in the room but I tried to learn by watching. After pilau, the next item on the agenda was the conversion function and I was the subject.
My mind started racing as I searched for a way out of the situation. I cleared my throat and told the old man that I had to call my brother to come and witness my conversion. I also told them that he could actually be interested in converting too.
I excused myself to go out of the house to ‘make the call.’ Once out of the house and out of the gate, I grabbed the first moto that came by and made a hasty departure from the area. That is how I missed my veiled bird.