Have you ever been sooo broke, so hungry and sexually starved that you actually question why you were born? Have you ever missed the simple pleasures of life such as Chips, Chicken and Soda along Moi Avenue? If a man, ever had a single pair of shoe, whose sole is about to come off and you have an interview soon? Ever borrowed money from all your friends, there is no one left to borrow any more? Ever hated yourself so bad, you wish your father should have just wanked you off, save you all the trouble. Or your mother should have taken an original P2? Ever felt so helpless, so useless, you contemplate suicide only that you are sensible, you perish such kind of thoughts pronto?
It is a hot and sunny Tuesday afternoon. You are in a matatu along Industrial Area, it is playing some FM station, that has presenters with names such as Mbusideh and Bonokodeh. They are playing reggae music that is talking about ghetto youth suffering. The matatu radio, is tired, breathy and goes off and on, in annoying fashion. The two presenters in the 30 minutes you have been sitting there have sold condoms, yoghurt and bundles from a mobile network YU(sic) thought left the market long time ago. What cannot be borne, must be bravely endured. You sit there, cursing. The traffic is not moving at all.
The drivers are bored out of their fingernails. Your driver particularly tried to escape traffic from Mombasa Road because some dignitary was passing. Because the dignitary is so special and has royal sperms, the rest ne’er-do-wells can wait. You remember that the dignitary is the one who has stolen the money meant for road expansion, or has fleets of matatus that ensure no professional mass-transport unit will ever be established in Nairobi. For the matatu sector thrives in chaos. Any attempt to rein in them and bring some order, costs technocrats jobs, politicians votes and some actually do get killed. So you must endure the rusty, rickety matatu, that its inside smells of rotten egg, and the collective sweat and aspiration of the poor.
You are seated in that seat behind the driver, next to engine and it is hotter it gives you an idea of what hell looks like. The presenters are annoying. The man seated next to you is in a cheap suit, and cheaper perfume, that means it is getting on your asthmatic nerves pretty badly. The lady seated next looks like another ordinary Kenya. She could be an alien, who knows. All the people in the matatu are like zombies, so poor, so disinterested in themselves and everything around the country. They have been given the burden of living, so each day they wake up to chase their dreams. Their dreams like air and wind are unseen, intangible. Stolen by politicians and the mafia, who in the meantime are cutting another deal at a Five-Star. End month, they will notice that NHIF has been increased and they were not consulted. But so what?
So you look outside. Now you are at the roundabout where you take the turn to go down to City Stadium. You look around; there is a girl-for she can’t be anything above 26-in a super clean BMW, coming from the Oil Libya petrol station. It is the dark blue one. Brand new. KBD something… She is wearing a blouse with blue and white stripes. You can’t properly make out her face, but from the chin bone, she looks, very beautiful. You quickly guess; she probably went to Moi High School-Kabarak, joined Strathmore University before her dad fixed her as an accountant in one of the busy industries in Industrial Area.
The traffic eases and you move one metre. She tries to join, but the matatu driver can’t let her. She buys her time. It is more tolerable inside a BMW, listening to Heather Headley.
The traffic eases and you move a significant 7 metres. Now you see guys selling peeled sugarcane. The driver asks the conductor to buy him some. The conductor obliges. You notice they speak your mother tongue. They crack some phallic or scatological joke. You laugh, if wryly.
As the matatu moves down, near City Stadium, you will see a very beautiful woman who has applied the red lip gloss perfectly. She is wearing a scarlet red top, a light grey short and tight skirt that brings the best out of her very round ass. Ass, so good, it can stop a suicide. As in if a man was on a fourth floor roof about to throw himself down and saw that ass, he will think twice and walk down. Life is good. The lady seems to be beautiful and classy, you wonder what the hell is she doing in such a dirty part of the city. You conclude she works in Industrial Area as an accountant and she lives in Donholm. Or Buru.
It is 3.37 p.m. You were to meet your boy Bruce at 3. He calls you and you tell him, you are at Muthurwa. He tells you that he has to be in KILE by 4. So you have to hurry. You ask him where you are going to meet him, he tells you he is looking for parking, you get to town and call him. You can sense some hint of impatience. You want to get angry at him, but you excuse him that may he does not know that some dignitary was using Mombasa Road, and you had to use Jogoo Road.
Now, God is on your side. It moves pretty fast until you get to Haile Selassie roundabout on Moi Avenue. And there you will spend 19 minutes, because you cannot alight, lest a Kanjo chap, earns some Sh 500 from you. The radio is more annoying. The presenters are pricks. The adverts suck all the red blood cells out of you. You look out and there is a sea of humanity, moving helter-skelter. You wonder who they are. What do they do. What are their dreams? What are their aspirations? What do they think of Kidero. Or Ruto.
Anyway, the traffic moves and you get off. You call Bruce, who tells you he is somewhere along Jamia Mall, you tell him you will be there in 2 minutes and you dash there so fast, because the 10K he is to give you is the difference between your life and your death.
You get to Jamia Mall, they are shopping for some computer thingy, you let him finish, since he is in the company of an absolutely beautiful woman who has a rotten attitude, it stinks like the Dandora dumpsite. She barely touches your hand. It is like you are a leper. She looks at your cheap shirt, cheaper trouser and the lousy belt and she concludes that you are not worth her handshake.
Bruce pays, comes and shakes your hand. You exchange that look. You both know that you were smarter than him in class. You always helped him with maths assignments. You got an A-. He got a B-. But now he is doing well, lives in Jamuhuri, Ngong Road, and you live in a bedsitter in Kitengela. He is dressed in an official trouser, definitely bought on the upper side of Moi Avenue. It is dark blue, smooth and pleatless. He is wearing a striped shirt; blue and white.
He asks you where you can sit and chat quickly, you know people like Bruce, never know joints in town. You point out there is a Greenpark or is Greenview restaurant opposite. You have selected the place, because he always buys the lunch. He too knows. You walk in. The downstairs, smell like a lodging that has been freshly used, yet to be freshened out. Because it is the place with the best fish fingers, and the poorest aeration, it smells fishy. You walk in, the lady, who he annoyingly introduced as the fiancé barely disguises her contempt at the smelly, packed place. You wonder what is making her wear her attitude on. Pregnancy? Cramps? What?
You ignore her. You get a table at the corner. You tell your boy, you are hungry and he tells you to order what you please. You have not had chips and chicken in ages, and you feel like if you had that, you will feel human again.
You order that. The waiter looks their direction. He draws his upper lip backwards. He takes off his spectacles. Cleans them as the waiter is looking at him, oozing her patience. You notice that Bruce is really adding some weight. Weight that comes from living large. And well. The lady is scrolling through her phone. He says he is OK, may be mineral water. The waiter writes that down. He looks at the lady. Who says, she is fine, may be Schweppes. The pricks. The chips and chicken arrives. Today of all fucking days, is the day they are serving wet chips. Not dried enough. How wet must be the chefs. The chicken too is dripping fat, and oil. You want to complain, but you remember Bruce and his Attitudinal fiancé do not have all the time in Nairobi. Besides, you are being bought for. So you devour the chips. Annoyed. Why you?
You look on the other table, some absolutely beautiful girl, in black pants and yellow top. She exudes class and has the best bust you have seen since 2009, November. She is leaving her table, but she has barely touched the chips and the fish fingers. You want to tell the waiter to wrap for you what she has left, saying that it will be for your cat. Only that you do not have a cat. But you live and eat like cat, so can as well.
You eat hurriedly. Bruce engages you in some small talk. Tells you that the other day he met Atemba in Westie…blah…blah..blah. Then you talk briefly about the website you are to make for him. Or the report you are supposed to edit for him. Or the proposal you are to write for him him. For you are basically a jerk of all trades. His bitch that he uses to achieve some fiscal orgasms. He has been paying you 10Ks for some small time jobs that earn him hundreds of thousands. Today, he wants you to edit some 120 page NGO report. Scale it down to 36 pages. And he is giving you 10K. It is inherently fixed. You hate him. All along his fiancé has not spoken, but she has the decency, of not using her phone. She sits there. Damn she is beautiful. You cannot point her tribe. She can be anything. She has a good cleavage. The face is scrubbed clean and has she has some very expensive and well plaited weave. But her attitudes stinks.
He tells you he needs the report the following day (“in the a.m”). Arsehole. You say, you will hack it. He gives the 10k, folded. You pocket it. You are relieved. You both walk down and decide to walk him up to where he has packed along Loita Street. The lady walks slightly ahead. May be she is vain. The light blue jeans is hugging her thighs, so recklessly sexy, you notice. She has an ass that can stop thugs about to commit a crime. So good, you want to just caress it. But human rules do not allow that. In that reverie, you did not hear what Bruce just said, so you make him say it again. Anyway, you get them to Loita, you notice he has a new car. One of those new makes that looks like a Premior but you don’t care.
He has hardly pulled out of the parking, when you have step inside an MPESA shop. You must pay Eric his 2k, for which he no longer talks to you about. You load and send to him. As you walk down Kenyatta Avenue, he has not acknowledged receipt 5 minutes later. Screw him. You call him excitedly.
YOU: Naje Mzito?
ERIC: Sema (no corresponding excitement).
YOU: (Sensing it) Nimetuma kale kakitu…
ERIC:I have seen a text, sijasoma. But thanks.
YOU: NKT. ARSEHOLE. only that you don’t say that. You wonder why on earth could Eric be such a prick, over a debt of 2K. Anyway.
From 10K, you are down to 8K. You remember it is 13th, and the caretaker has been more patient and you have to pay the rent. You ask around Which Equity works past 4 p.m. You are told, the one along Mama Ngina. You run there. You pay the Sh 5,000. Tempted to skip on the 500 for the water bill. But you remember you did that last month. You pay. Now remaining with Sh 2500, you remember the electricity units. The thingy has been blinking red for more than 2 weeks, it is hurting. You load the 500 hundred and you buy the units. It is one of those times when KPLC shows you the middle finger and sends you 15 units. You want to take to Twitter. Then you remember you pawned your smartphone at the Shylock and of course it went like that.
Now with 2K, you wonder what life is all about. Being human, means you are foolish, you think of calling Monica. Your ex. She moved on, but she occasionally saves your from the dry spell. She has equally been through worse since you left each other after graduation. But you often console each other sexually. You call her. But you remember that Okoa Kenya-sorry Jahazi-of Sh 100, you have not paid. You hate it. You decide to pay it. Just then an M-Shwari reminder comes.
Speaking of which, MSHWARI have been on your case, threatening you with all manner of threats. To wit, they have sworn to report you to the Credit Reference Bureau (for a Sh 500 advance). They have also promised to cut your bonga points and okoa jahazi privileges. Further they have you called to inform you that they will tell your grandmother and God. But you say, screw them.
You call, Monica. She tells you… ‘still in Eldie’. It hits you that at last she got a job with KCB. Eldie. She tells you… ‘Haki si you come this weekend.” I can send you the fare. That is insulting. But Monica always understood you. You have been through it all together. You know she never went on to see anyone steadily ever since you left each other. You think about the offer and tell him, you will tell him tonight. The two heads must consult each other.
BIG HEAD: Monica is trapping you back into a relationship. Or wants a kid from you.She knows that once your dream comes true, you will be rich and she wants to be that woman who stood by your side.
SMALL HEAD: Obey your thirst.
Mostly small heads win, but you are not sure of this one.
Anyway. You walk down to the stage. It is drizzling, that means it is Christmas for matatu drivers and conductors. Conductors are not begging people. The fare is triple your normal. To Kitengela, it is 300. And a 1,000 people are scrumming into three matatus. You wonder what to do. You remember there is a ka-hotel along Tom Mboya, near Haile Selassie that sells tea at Sh 30 bob. Oh, it is Sh 50 now since Uhuru took over all the milk business in the country. Still fair. You rush there, arrive there drenched and you order tea. You borrow the man in the next table his Newspaper. He gives you, casually disinterested.
You read. 30 minutes later he leaves, taking his newspaper. Now you have to settle for the TV at the corner. From the look of things, it used to be coloured but now it can only pick blue and green colours. It is showing some local channel that is showing some Mexican Soap. It is on mute. The radio is playing in the background. But you can barely tell whether it is music. Or it is just some FM. The waiters and waitresses seem to be bored out of their pubic hair. Everyone is bored.
Anyway. You go back to the stage. The fare has come down to Sh 100. Some people want to stand together in solidarity until it comes down to the normal Sh 80. Screw them. You board. The radio is loud. Playing those Grandpa Records songs. ‘Hayo ni mapepo’. The rap is terrible. The song writing skills…you have heard better from ducks. The Kenyan songs that play lack any discernible lyrical merit. You wonder what we did do to deserve crap music like that. Is it because we killed Tom Mboya and JM? You know, their spirits cannot let us rest.
Anyway, you endure. You get home in time, still raining though. You change into something warm. You want to work, but your laptop yesterday went off and has not come on since. You have turned it on with everything, including stepping on it. It is dead. You console yourself that you will wake up go to the cyber. Now you sit in the couch. Waiting for Kenya Power to switch off your line.