As I trek to town this tout throws me that look last seen on an angry, hungry and ugly man. His mathree is half-empty, or half-full, or maybe half the passengers cannot be seen with a naked eye. But then it must be half-empty since he is shouting ‘tao chwani!’ The tout on the mathree behind him is wearing the same look, his mathree is half-empty and he is chanting the same song.
The traffic jam on the pedestrians’ path makes me wonder whether I am in the middle of a demonstration. However, the absence of placards, songs, teargas, stones and low flying bullets tells me that I am wrong. The angry, ugly faces say it all: navumilia kuwa Mkenya.
‘Hankie mbao! Hankie mbao!’
People walk past sneezing and looking at me as if the mud I was manufactured with is still wet. A miji miji sneezes and I rush to her with a hankie. She throws me the look of an angry, hungry and ugly man. Trust me, the look is more frightening on a rib. As if to tell me that I am in the wrong business the rib wipes her nose with the back of her palm. She is such a beauty I am tempted to believe this is the new swag.
It is lunch time and the parasites in my stomach are threatening to withdraw and look for something to eat elsewhere. Mama Githeri is also wearing that look of an angry, ugly and hungry man. She gives me her ‘hit list’ of people who ate githeri on credit and vanished. Ladies and gentlemen, when you make Mama Githeri’s credit list you are in worse muhadhara than Chilobae. I manage to sweet-talk her into loaning me some githeri which I attack hoping to end up on Facebook, Twitter, TV and owning a plot in Karen.
‘Hankie mbao! Mbao hankie!’
More angry, ugly and hungry looks.
I hurry home to avoid Mama Githeri and to catch up with Kisangau before he eats supper. My timing is perfect because some water is boiling on the stove. I get busy narrating how I came face to face with Wasiwasi. (Have I told you about Wasiwasi? If I haven’t you should remind me someday). However, the funnier I try to sound the uglier and angrier Kisangau’s face becomes.
I tell Kisangau he better hurry to cook obusuma before the water escapes into thin air and he tells me the water is for a bath. I smile because he always swears with Zambani Rock that he last had a warm bath as a toddler. I am about to tell him to be ready to roast in hell for lying when I realise that I am looking at a time bomb. This is because as Kisangau transfers the water into a basin he is breathing like a fighter bull that is on cocaine and his face is as wrinkled as an accordion.
I bolt before the bomb explodes.
My door has an extra padlock. Plan B kicks in: I insert a hacksaw blade in the clack in my window and push the nail that is holding the window in place. Before you can say ‘hodi?’ I am inside my castle.
Much as Plan B ensures that you don’t spend the night in the cold like a lorry it turns you into a thief in your own maskan. You can’t turn on the lights. You can’t afford to snore because Adolf could be eavesdropping in which case he will remove the door first thing in the morning. You must leave early before Adolf or his spies spot you.
As I try to sleep without snoring the aroma of ugali invades my nostrils. And yes, it is coming from Kisangau’s room.
Unye, Joshua, Chilobae, Chebukatea; stay with me as I try to sleep without really sleeping.
Gentlemen, the question of whether I stay in Kenya or I migrate to Canaan has since been overshadowed by the question of whether I’ll live to talk about ‘Tuko pamoja’ and ‘Nasa hawa’. The end of the tunnel is full of darkness when social media becomes un-social media. There is nothing to grin about when the news looks like an episode from Escape from Sobibor. I find nothing to smile about when a homo sapiens develops an appetite for teargas which, fortunately or unfortunately, runs out of stock in the hour of need. There is nothing to laugh about when the grey matter over-heats to a point where one forgets that there are private parts and public parts.
Which brings us to my irreducible minimums:
- I want to go back to the days when my neighbour knew that Al-Shabaab is the enemy, not me. I want the days when my neighbour knew that there is enough oxygen for all of us. If we argue, and we do argue, let the topic centre on whether Arsene Wenger’s brain matter can still be trusted to teach teenagers how to kick the ball in the right direction or whether Jimmi 007 has handles coins.
- As I wait for that job which I was promised before Mama Wizzy visited Pumwani I want to run Wiz Enterprises Inc. without fear of low flying bullets, stones or teargas canisters. Lest you forget, the company is projected to become a multi-national by 2030. I want to return to the days when ‘Hankie mbao!’ sent the shilling running in my direction. The day I used to access my castle through the door, not the window. The day Kisangau had the confidence to cook his kwon and eat it.
Gentlemen, are these too much to ask? These might not be important to you but it is life and death to me.
Last thought before I sleep without actually sleeping: KANU, our beloved baba na mama, even with a stomach big enough to swallow a tractor, is a case for archaeologists. TNA grew tired of believing; URP grew tired of kusema na kutenda. If FORD exists then it is a car make. Builders of SAFINA reclaimed their timber and nails when El Nino failed to come. NARC became doubtful whether haki yetu sasa yawezekana. PNU grew tired of uniting us. Someone used TIPTIP’s stool for firewood.
They came, they cat-walked, they displayed their six packs. Some became zombies, some died.
NASA, Jubilee, we love you but you are passing clouds. We plan to be here after you are gone. Mama Kenya is bigger than you.