Celebrating East African Writing!
It’s a bright and sunny morning. Everybody seems to have a smile on their face they might as well be in a Broadway musical. The sun’s rays break golden into a beautiful display color and light. A bird flies to a nearby fence and perches on one of the posts. It’s one of those days straight out of a Disney movie.
I do not give a rat’s ass.
“That woman!” I mumble angrily under my breath. “The nerve of her! Then she goes on to scold me like it’s my fault today’s the deadline!”
At this point I realize I am talking to myself. I look around and pretend to be singing a song, gently swaying my head to a nonexistent beat to add to my credibility. God forbid I become that man talking to himself right in the middle of town. I reach in my pocket and take out my earphones. If my temporary insanity is to be covered up with music then I might as well listen to some.
I manage to put on my earphones, choose a playlist and cross Harambee Avenue, all the while evading oncoming people, and old parking meter poles. This kind of multi-tasking is impressive, but I am not in the mood for personal accolades, I am too angry.
My phone vibrates in my pocket. It’s a call and considering the circumstances, I need to answer it. I look around for City Council Askaris then it dawns on me that I have my headset on. So I steal a glimpse at the screen just to be sure who I am about to talk to.
“Crap! I don’t need this now!”
I take a deep breath, exhale then I talk into the microphone discretely hanging just below my chin.
“Hi Mom.” I speak, trying my best to hold my emotions. The next several minutes are decked with a series of “mmmhhhs” and “yes”. She hangs up.
“I really don’t need this aarrgghh!” I whisper, not caring if anyone thinks I’m crazy. My phone rings again and I don’t need to check who it is, I already know it her.
“Yes mum?” I ask. “Yes, I carried it…no mum I don’t know if HELB have your contact details…how could I have known the deadline was today…you didn’t tell me!” I try to keep the conversation as calm as I can muster, regularly checking for council officers as I cross Kenyatta Avenue. “I am almost at Anniversary Towers, mum.”
She hangs up again. I should be throwing a huge tantrum asking random people in town who she thinks she is hanging up on me, but I don’t.
It’s almost lunch time now and the last thing I want is to be kept waiting as some HELB officials gossip over packed githeri. So I increase my pace using all the shortcuts I know. As I approach the Jamia stalls, some scruffy looking character approaches me and says something. Because of the music playing in my ears, all I see is his moving lips as I ignore him. I sense that something is wrong when I notice everyone on the street looking towards my direction. I take off one earphone and look back to find the lad shouting obscenities at me. “Mbwa wewe ati sasa unadhani unaeza ringia watu juu una simu inacheza ngoma? Fala!” (You dog, so you think you can ignore people just because you have a phone that plays music? Idiot!)
I do not need this. I keep on walking as the onlookers laugh on behind me. I am now at the Tuskys Supermarket Opposite the City Market. The smell of raw fish coming from the market makes me walk faster. My phone rings again and I answer.
“Yes mum… I am almost… look, it’s your fault I am doing this last minute!” I am shouting now, but I do not care. I keep my eyes fixed on the pavement. I start crossing Muindi Mbingu Street.
“Mum look I am almost there….” Silence. She doesn’t hang up, neither do I, but the conversation ends abruptly. I never see it coming; I don’t even know how it happens. The next few moments are characterized by a series of sounds. I hear my mum’s voice, then a screech, the kind car tires make, then a sly, evil bang.
Everything seems to be in slow motion. People start walking towards me and I don’t understand why they all seem to be hovering above me. Soon I am surrounded by a hoard of people. Half of a black Subaru sticks into the circle. I know it’s a Subaru, I don’t know how, but I do. I notice a small dent on the car’s front bumper then things start falling into place. I notice that my right sock is showing.
“Where is my shoe?” I ask… or mumble am not too sure because nobody seems to be communicating with me. Someone goes back into the car and walks out with a small notebook, while talking on phone. I can’t hear what he is saying but I catch a few words. “Oh crap! Wait a minute, lost shoe, dent, and people staring and not doing anything… I JUST GOT HIT!” my brain announces.
I stay on the tarmac for a few more minutes staring at the crowd as they stare back at me. Mum is going to kill me!
© Ras Mengesha