Cuffs of Stupidity.

 

Living in Nairobi is not an easy task. Surviving is not difficult, but then, surviving is not the same as living. The other day I was just minding my own business, reporting to work, my first job, for the first day, then all over sudden, I found myself in a police cell. Mind you, it was my very first day at work where I was supposed to make an impression of positivity and intelligence but there I was in a cell with drunkards and smokers hurdled in a corner for two hours, for simply being stupid. This is a true story, I swear! You know you people like carrying me stupid so much.

 

So this is what happened, it had just stopped raining but there was still faint traces of light downpour sparkling reluctantly to the struggling rising sun. I had just alighted from a matatu from Kiambu, and I was headed to board another to Mombasa Road where I was starting out as a Software Engineer. I was new to Nairobi, I actually still am. I never master anything in this town. It is as if buildings migrate at night. But recently I have mastered how to get myself to Kencom anytime I am lost. The other day, the one before this one, I went round and round Archives Building like thrice trying to find Choppies Supermarket at Commercial. I was frustrated. I ended up asking a taxi driver who pointed a place I had been through twice! I felt stupid. It is in Nairobi that the forest monkey realizes that it cannot outsmart the grasslands of the savanna with its climbing proficiency.

 

Anyway, on this day I alighted at Commercial. The day before, I had asked kina Francis the Lone Puppeteer to draw me a map of the city and for like an hour and a half, they described to me where to go and where to assiduously avoid. They told me that if I found myself on Luthuli Street, I would come out of the other end with neither money nor shoes. These people are good at scaring people. I, therefore, paid more attention to where I should avoid more than where I should go.

 

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Encounter with Afande

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You can always tear a good day from a bad one in the morning. When you first set your foot on the ground from your bed you can tell a depraved sort of day from a gorgeous day. Some days even when you make a short or long prayer in the morning are resistant to change. They will suck your energy dry, they will see that beautiful lady you have been trying to hit on and make you trip with no regrets. They will see you try to put on something nice to brighten the day and open the heavens of filth on your white shirt. Such days I suppose are owned by Lucifer. Such days you would rather remain in bed and in the house the entire day if you will not burn the house and bring the building down. Yes, Lucifer is cunning like that.

Yesterday was a really cold day. This part of the year is nasty as hell and I cannot help but keep wishing I was back in Nakuru enjoying the rift valley sunshine and occasional dust storms. Nyeri becomes The Artic on July and the wind blows unapologetically and the tiny annoying showers wet the tarmac bed with feigned thirst quench, the fog emerges early in the morning from Mt Kenya scaring the sun away and if you squint through the mist you can see little boys walking to school with downcast faces, some of them crying because school morning arrived so quick. I stare from my balcony in awe deliberating if I would face the cold morning and come out on the other side with a cold or worse pneumonia!

I live eight minutes from town and travel to the country side each morning for school. Yes, my school is located at the country side, where there are more trees than people, where coffee plantations stare at you every morning as if there are vegetables on your teeth. In such a place the only traffic you experience is traffic of your thoughts and I love it! I love silence in fact that is why I choose to keep away from everyone I meet in school daily (remember Moving Out). I am not a loner though. I just love my cup of silence especially when served hot on a cold day. The Kikuyu accent in Nyeri is however absurd and annoying, it does not sound like our usual kikuyu, I do not often get most of it, especially when the conductor asks for my fare, or maybe, just maybe I do not like paying.

Yesterday evening was a different story altogether. I have been doing a project in school about Climbing Mt Kenya, you all remember Climbing Mt Kenya from earlier this year, yeah? Such kind. Often I leave school as late as 10 pm, not working, No, work ended at 8 pm and we sat down or began walking slowly sharing all manner of stories until it is 10 pm. Now, remember I live in town and right now it is 10 pm in the countryside surrounded by trees and coffee plantations. But Nyeri ain’t no big town so security has never bothered me, plus I know Kungfu, Martial Arts and ten other dangerous words. The problem comes in when I cannot find a car to take me home!

My phone battery had died earlier in the day, all my friends had left already and I stood beside the road waiting for a matatu, remember the cold? Usually if it hits 10 pm I just halla at my cab guy but that had escaped my mind. It was complete desolation, alone in the entire view of the road, quite as a mummy’s tomb. But there I stood expressing vitality in the dead of the night. I whispered a song in my head to make the moments pass fast and when twenty minutes had passed, the song was replaced by my next plan of action. I thought of showing up at Francis’, you all know Francis from The Lone Puppeteer. Show up at his door like:

Hey men, I was sleep walking then found myself at your door!

For real?

Yeah Yeah can I come in?

Tough luck if the guy had the intention of getting lucky that night because I would have to be exiled from a house that was not even mine. But someone runs the night when everyone is dead asleep, someone watches over the county’s citizens to make sure that they are not stranded at the roadside figuring out where to crush for the night. The police! So a police patrol car pulls over just next to me. There are two of them inside the car.

Kijana unaenda wapi usiku? Wewe ni mwizi? Unajua sisi kazi yet ni kushika wezi.

They guy had already asked me two questions and told me his job description before I could even make out the shape of his head. I held my laptop in my hands so if I asked them what I had stolen they would point at the laptop, but my laptop has my name and my year of birth as password. The wallpaper is my name in caps. My mind was racing, I would be a lawyer and defend myself against my chatty accuser knowing that the only thing I had stolen that day was my classmate’s pen.

Nimetoka kusoma nikachelewa kidogo.

Kwa hivo huwa unasoma? Ingia hapa twende patrol ukiniambiaga hio maneno gani huwa unasoma.

So I got into the car answering all manner of irrelevant questions. And if you happen to know Nyeri, then you know Mathari, Kingongo, Bottlers then Town a total distance of about twenty five kilometres, we toured all those places picking up all manner of stranded passengers taking them wherever they wanted to go yet I was last. I only wanted to go home, get between my sheets and sleep. The pangs of hunger glared at me but I had to keep my saviours entertained.

Huwa mnabeba watu wenye wamechelewa kila siku?

Eeeeh tunawapelaka jail. Unataka kwenda jail kijana ukakule ugali ya wafungwa?

Nasty joking about jail when I was in a truck used to transport law breakers to prison. On and on the people who had redeemed my soul from the snaring pits of hell went on listing all the good things they had done for people out there. I was tempted to ask about the money they take from innocent civilians but stopped midway when I resolved that I had adequate for the story I was going to publish, no need to add jail to it. We were in town now and the driver wanted to know where I live perhaps to make sure I was not a terrorist or something and off they took me to my gate. Before they sped off, the driver who had been silent all along suddenly speaks up…

Soma kijana ndio ununue gari uanze kitulipa na interest.

And with that they had sped off leaving a trail of dust and filling the crisp night air with a pungent sting of diesel. Somehow I had not paid for fare and still had obtained a story yet I felt that it was not me who owed them. They owed me my time and future unfounded fines. I shrugged and walked to my house shaking my head deep down self-assuring myself that I would not be late again unless I needed a story or had my phone’s battery at full charge.

Lights out.

The Writer:

Dennis Peters

Dennis Peters