Celebrating East African Writing!
I am driving to work in my Long White Stretch Limousine, engine purrs softly, at the rear, droplets of water drip from the exhaust pipe, perfectly fitted into the body work, giving the appearance of beautiful shinny silver ovals. If you have no idea of what I am talking about, be sure to look at the rear of a Bentley Continental GTC; its extremely breath taking.
I cough and awaken from my day dream, I cough because my exhaust pipe is broken, smoke seeps through various cracks into the cabin, this often causes vision problems. I remember one afternoon, while stuck in traffic, right in front of my little car was a little sleek red Mercedes Benz and I kept on scratching my head, coughing and re coughing, wondering why this beautiful petite car was belching out smoke and putting me through hell… I remember a man riding on a bicycle, as he went past me he shouted, “Mzee gari yako inatoa moshi mingi sana!”
I am fully awake now, I spot a man, with a sack on his back, I spot him using the rear view mirror, as he approaches my car from the left. I turn over my shoulder and follow his progress. I would have opted to use the passenger side mirror, however, my dear reader, that is one of the many items my Limousine does not have. My car is one of those metal things that require a disclaimer before any passenger hopes in.
The Disclaimer goes along the lines of…this car belongs to my mechanic, he is repairing my Pajero TDI, so he let me use his today…or I may say…unajua mimi nimetoka mbali, my first car was a VW, then I go on to list all the troubles and woes, both imaginary and real that I went through during my stint with KRJ 763 the Volkswagen, my second car was a red and white Mini Morris…I spin my tale… a few praises and loads of hell once again, plus un unsuccessful disposal of this little car to a drunk woman who never finished paying for the car as agreed and as a result I still hold onto the log book, when I get to my third car, my current car, my passenger feels like they are on the smoothest machine on the face of the earth. Of course I have to add lines like…boss, unasikia vile hiyo engine imenyamaza?
I am still following the man’s progress. I am afraid he may rip something off my car for resale at Kirinyaga road, or he will take off with my side mirror, my head responds to my thoughts saying …silly. You do not have a side mirror…I am afraid he will take off with my sports antennae, spoiler, side lights, wheel caps, head lights, the 4 by 4 Sports lights, aluminum bull bars…once again I am reminded that my vehicle does not possess any of these things. I am afraid he will rip off my boot and passenger doors dump them in his sack for re sale as scrap metal at Kariobangi South light industries, but then I smile and remember all these items are jammed, they cannot and have never been opened for the entire period I have owned this automobile.
I am safe; he is past my means of transport now. I sigh with relief. In his sack he is carrying pieces of timber. Wood off cuts of different shapes and sizes, I wonder where this merchandise is destined, maybe to those hotels by the road side that use firewood. One of those cheap foods for sale…tunajali masilahi yako…places. Full of smoke, where the menu reads something like Ugali Mboga 30, Ugali Maharagwe 30, Mboga Kavu 3, Maharagwe kavu 3, does this then mean that Ugali retails at 27?
It is then that I spot his target. Right by the roadside is a timber merchant by the name WaJose Mteja Timber Yard. There is no yard. However, Wajose owns two very large heaps of the precious commodity. My man quickens his steps, without breaking his stride he bends over and steals two of the most beautiful pieces of ‘firewood’ he has ever seen in his life. In one swift movement they are quickly transferred from his hands into his sack; my man is a magician too, the sack never left his back, it was one fluid motion. However, Wajose did not miss the petty theft, he quickly approaches, the dirty young man calmly crosses the road, with total disregard for his life, a minibus, nearly knocking him over, screeches to a halt.
The driver is so shaken at the near miss, he lights a cigarette, takes one long puff, hops off the vehicle and lets the passengers know in a soft voice…mimi nimefika… He walks off, he is almost run over by a boda boda motor bike that’s using the pedestrians walk. The minibus driver thinking that money has been poured to finish him off, as our politicians loudly proclaim every so often, takes off in a mad dash.
Meanwhile, my hotel fire wood supplier is celebrating his grand pilfering, he looks across the road, at the pile of timber, is he thinking of crossing over for some more? Wajose shakes an angry huge fist at him. A donkey slowly walks by, pulling a mkokoteni heavily laden with loads of water. As it pass by my little crook, the donkey lashes out, kicks him square on his chest, I think the beast of burden had seen all that went on…Kubaff!!! Mimi nafanya kazi ngumu na wewe ni kuiba tu? Mafi ya kuku!
I rub my eyes; did the donkey actually say these words? I must be watching a lot of Kenyan prime time news; I must also be picking the words used by my good educated, elected, honorable, installed elders of this and that community members of parliament. My thief takes off, running hobbling and howling in unimaginable pain.
I was so engrossed in the unfolding events that I did not see him approach, a police man, I have one thousand reasons to be afraid, I have no driving license, my tyres are worn out, my insurance expired way back in 2007, and so on and so on, “Mzee tafadhali weka gari yako kando na ulete driving license.” He says, sorry, Commands! My brain froze at the sight of this symbol of terror; my feet kick into action, accelerator floored, and car takes off. I can see the distance between me and the policeman grow, 10 meters, 20 meters, I am smiling, bursting with joy; car coughs once, then a second time, and looses speed, I have run out of fuel.
The boy in blue, 1st class honors graduate of Kiganjo, notices my predicament, he breaks into one of those tuta vunja hii riot runs, his face is set and determined in an utajua nilikuwa kiganjo expression, my car door is jammed; I crawl through the window and take off into the day light. As I pass my little thief, I give him the hardest kick of my life…maybe in the afternoon, when I come back from work; my vehicle will still be there, maybe.