Celebrating East African Writing!

Me, Mum and Bikes by Juliet Maruru

Just because I’ve never owned one does not negate the mad fascination I have with machines. Mean motorbikes, raw power vehicles, and 18 wheeler trucks.

I probably can’t tell you all the technical stuff about a motor bike, but I will stop to gawk, at the high power bike, the turbo powered sports car, and all vehicles that have more than 6 wheels. The Wheeler is just a thing for huge tires revolving.

Oh, I might be interested enough to Google so I’ll know that the Munch Mammut 2000 has 4-stroke cylinders, a displacement at 1,998 cc, power output of 260 bhp at 5650 rpm, maximum revs at 8500 per minute, and Torque value at 38.47 mkp @ 3500 rpm. If I try really hard I might even understand what that means. But I bet you can imagine the power of that machine, I’d be seriously impressed if it roared past my window.

And if I could mount that Monster 1100 Ducati, I can just imagine the beat of my heart with all that power underneath me.

You know how I always complain about matatus and how they are such an incentive for me to improve my career, so I can save up enough money to buy a tiny little VW? Scratch that. Let’s talk motorbikes. Maybe I can afford (someday) a 897 cc Yamaha TDM900/A, you can get the details here.

Today, I found out that this fascination is genetic.

My mum loved motorbikes when she was a kid, and right through her teens, thought she would ‘die’ if she could not get one, and then she was involved in an accident with one, so she weaned herself off the fascination. She told me this as I stared wide eyed open mouthed at a really new, cool, powerful bike that belongs to the neighbor-with-a-Harley’s friend, whom I do not talk to because he said something about girls from poor neighborhoods only being interested in guys for their money.

My mum also loved, still loves tractors. So now I know that the only reason she visits that old farmer couple up in Kikuyu is because of their tractor. In fact, come to think of it, she was really nice to that other old couple in Kikambala. They had a tractor. Sadly, mum reads my blog, so I am assured of no supper tonight.

Mum does not get the wheeler thingy. My friend George does. We once spent an entire half hour staring at the highway with our mouths open, mentally counting the wheels on trucks as a convoy of ‘goods in transit’ truck passed by. Then we looked at each other and continued to talk about a soccer game I did not watch and one which he saw the final three minutes of with sheepish expressions. You can find out a few things about 18 wheeler trucks here.

But mum does understand the powerful vehicle thing. She tried to teach me to drive in her brother’s Power-steering Pajero. After I splashed a lot of muddy water on the neighbors up in her old hood in Kanyariri, and then almost drove off the road into the kianda where they plant ndumas, she figured she would send me to a regular driving school. But that was sort of after some guys figured they would carjack us. I hear the jackers usually get nice rigs, dismantle them, build them up again and sell them across the border. We were saved because I drove up an embankment on the other side of the kianda, and burst a tire, so we had to call for help.

The jackers, disappointed, car-jacked old Mwalimu in his old beat up Peugeot. He had his salary – an accumulation of three months’ salary, but they were pissed off because it was not much. They kind of mentioned that they had been after the Pajero driven by that stupid kid from Kahuho, before they threw him off the Peugeot. Poor Mwalimu. He was fine, though they took his entire salary.

Anyway, I love my mum. There is nothing like a mean motorbike to remind me that even though I am different in very many ways from her, I am still part of her, and she is my mum.

© Juliet Maruru 2009


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