Celebrating East African Writing!
Written by Brenda Angwenyi
Maina looked around to see who might be watching him. Everything had to be done with precaution these days. Much to his relief no one was there or perhaps he had lost them when he decided to enter Jubilee Insurance building and come out from the back left entrance, he then crossed the road and walked briskly along Mama Ngina street to the little eatery; Victoria’s restaurant.
John was seated upstairs fidgeting with his phone while waiting for Maina.
“You are late” he said as soon as Maina sat across him. “I thought someone was following me so I had to throw them off but don’t worry I managed to derail them and escape before they could find me.” Maina said as he thought of how the two idiots would waste their time trying to find which entrance he used and what street he walked along.
“Where is the money?” John asked. Maina reached into his coat and from his left pocket removed a brown envelope that contained a hundred thousand and handed it to John.
He carefully eyed the contents of the envelope before saying, “Nice doing business with you. Have your people come for the trucks tomorrow but be careful.” The two men shook hands before they stepped into the hot Nairobi sun; each going their own direction.
Maina was walking to the bus station to catch a matatu to Umoja Innercore. He detested being squeezed into the matatus with people who did not have any common courtesy. They sneezed right into your face, refused to use their handkerchiefs to blow their noses but took to picking their noses. The conductors forever wanted to extort you of your hard earned money, always raising the fare when they felt a drop of rain on their face.
These were the days when Maina missed his Peugeot 504. It was the only inheritance his father had left him when he passed on. It was silver in color, with brown leather seats and the dashboard was covered with a maroon velvet mat with fringes on the edge. As soon as he was sixteen, his father taught him how to drive and told him that as his eldest son he would one day own it. He was proud and had big dreams in his mind. He hoped that on completing his 8-4-4 education he would be able to enroll into a good university where he would study an engineering course.
That however was not to be, after a year his father died. Life became hard after that since his father had been the sole breadwinner of their family. The moved to the village after it became evident that Nairobi life was too expensive and with the earnings his mother got from doing small jobs for people like washing clothes and tilling the land was not enough.
Maina and his two sisters tried to help their mother by doing manual jobs so as to put food on the table. Soon it was up to them when their mother got tuberculosis and was unable to work again. After a few months of trying to provide food and medicine, which was expensive their mother passed on.
This was when Maina decided that come what may his life would not continue to be miserable this way. He and his sisters saved all they could and embarked on a journey to return where it all begun; Nairobi. Stella, the older of the sisters found a job as a barmaid after two weeks of arriving in the city. They saw her once in a while when she felt like ‘visiting’ but soon they saw her no more.
Wambui, the youngest walked everyday searching for manual jobs which were rare to find and when you did they paid very measly. So one day after washing clothes and the whole house for an Indian woman, she (the Indian) refused to pay her and words were thrown back and forth after which the Indian woman set her dogs on her. Wambui was lucky to have run out of the compound and entered one of the nearby kiosks to hide.
She decided from then on to work on Koinange Street. She was beautiful after all and besides she had heard that all it took was a few hours of pleasure and you would walk away with thousands of shillings. On the first night it had been rough for her; the regulars would jump in her face and insult her when she tried to talk to a customer who was apparently theirs. She sat down on the side walk and after a few minutes a man in a range rover came to her and asked her to come with him.
He was a handsome fellow who worked with a state corporation and after their blissful night he had given her fifty thousand. He also introduced her to his friends and in that she never went back to the street, all she had to do was wait for their call and show up.
Maina had looked for a job for a long time, he was desperate and tried ‘mjengo’ but found out that it was very hard work so he quit and opted to be a watchman until he could find something better. He enrolled with the security company; Global Security Services. He trained with them for a month and was then assigned to work on a private compound of an old retired British diplomat. It was a good place to work in, all you had to do was be very alert when the boss was around and smile all the time to his guests.
They fed him; in fact fed him very good food. There were three meals in a day and therefore he saved up his money for food.
After a year there Maina was transferred to the National bank, he had wondered how that was possible but found out that the owner to Global Security Services was a top government minister.
He alighted at Sango and walked home to his one bed roomed house. He looked around once he was in and thought, ‘Very soon I will no longer be able to live here.’
He fished out his mobile phone from his pocket and called Dennis and Steve, “We have to pick the trucks tomorrow because the plan is the day after that.” The two agreed with him.
After working at the bank for six months he had realized that the bank collected old notes and burned them. The first time Maina had witnessed it he was astonished, how so much money could be burned. He then decided from that moment to get some for himself.
Maina got together with Dennis and Steve who worked with him there and proposed a plan, he knew of their poor backgrounds and therefore knew they would accept. So they embarked on it by first making look-alike bank trucks but that had secret walls. There they would hide the money on the way to the destination. They then made fake notes; they got someone who specialized in the skill. They had to rob people’s homes and cars in order to fund their mission but luckily had never been caught.
The following day they had been told to deliver some money to the burn site, it was fifty million. They did as they were told but on coming back they went to John’s auto garage where they exchanged the bank trucks with the custom made ones the stuffed the fake currency and off they went back to work. The next day was D-day, they arrived early. At around 8a.m they were told to take five hundred million, it was a big day as this was the biggest amount of money they ever transported. They had secretly known this for a while.
Dennis drove the truck as slow as he could but not so slow that he could be detected while Maina and Steve took the fake money from the compartments and put the real money in there. They arrived at the burn site and handed over the money, they silently slipped away and sped off to a warehouse they had on Likoni road; they parked the truck inside and quickly split the money between themselves and left some for their bank informant.
Everyone was to find a suitable hiding place or getaway and no one told the other since if caught they would be tempted to betray the other.
“Here is your double whisky sir. Anything else?”
“No. Thanks.” He looked into the horizon and he could see a bus coming up the hill. Fresh faces than he was accustomed to but fresh breathe to him.
©Brenda Angwenyi 2011 See More of Brenda’s writing.
This short story was submitted into the Storymoja Urban Narratives : Peugeot 504 Short story Contest. Please comment on the short story for the author’s benefit and then vote on the story. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak and 10 being excellent, please indicate where you rank this story. Points will be tallied on the 22nd of May, and the winner announced on the 23rd of May 2009.