My Love Doris,
It has been a long time since I had an opportunity of writing to you my Doris, and I gladly avail myself of the present opportunity. I am not certain that I will have a chance of sending this but I will write a few lines any how and try to get it off to let you know that I am among the living.
Did you hear about the Wastgate Mall terrorist attack? It was horrible my love… Not knowing where you were at the time made it worse… I have no idea if you are alive… But my heart is at rest… That can only mean that you are some place safe and alive… I could always tell when you were poorly…
My love, I was sure I was over you up until I stumbled upon a few of your pictures on my phone! I deleted all of them by the way… But we both know the pictures of you embedded deep in my mind can only be deleted by the silencing of my heart… The quietness of the chambers programmed to propel blood through my body… The stillness of my pulse… Only that can muzzle my love for you!
But this is not my story…
I took my car in for a paint job yesterday and I will not be getting it back up until Friday… This could only mean one thing… Matatu to and from work up until Friday!
I got onto a matatu to town with Alexander Muge at about 7pm. I had really thought about leaving my computer at the office because of the fear of it getting stolen! Alexander Muge, “The way you are tall you are scared!” Needless to say I carried it! The matatu to town was alright! Nothing too alarming. The driver kept on saying things about Westgate in Kikuyu which was a bit annoying because I was really interested in the topic!
I had 26 shillings between me and the nearest ATM so Alexander paid my bus fair…
“How can an adult walk around with 26 shillings in CBD here!?” he kept on asking!
Alexander took me to where Madaraka matatus are and left for the South B stage!
I sat on my best matatu seat… Co driver’s seat – at the window!
It didn’t take long before some lady came and gestured that she wanted to sit between the driver and I… She was on the phone, speaking in fathomless sheng! She was talking at the capital of her voice and laughing after everything she said… It was not too annoying!
Her handbag was the size of a body bag! With zebra print… But not black and white… It was red and white! It had massive gold coated chains for handles that jingled uncontrollably! The bag did not have much in it… I could tell because whatever was inside kept on moving back and forth every time she laughed! Her nails were neon pink… I could not stop staring! Her pants neon green… She had a white vest on that did not look clean… I did not see the dirt but I could feel it… You know how you can feel dirt? Not by touching it… It is like a thick cloud around you… You can’t smell it… BUT YOU KNOW ITS THERE!
A red shiny belt was tied tightly round her waist… It was not expensive… I have seen those belts being sold on the streets.
I did not see her shoes probably because the colour of her nails caught my eyes fast… And the ways she was waving her hand with every sheng conjunction, I could not concentrate on anything else!
She was now seated between the driver and myself…
“Haiya dakika kama punch hivi nakam!” That was the last thing she said before she hung up and threw her phone in the abyss of a bag…
Let me make this clear, she was not bad-looking. With a little L’Oreal here and a little Shower To Shower there she would be something!
There is this weirdness when you are seated there silent next to an obvious motormouth! It is almost like she is going to ambush you with a conversation!
And she did…
“We unado?” She asked… I was holding my laptop tight at this point. Not because she might steal it but because the matatu had started moving and I have watched the videos on Youtube where people steal things from matatus!
She caught me off guard… I had suspected she was going to start a conversation from the way she looked at me… But all normal conversations start with introductions… Like, I start all of mine by, “Hi, Ian is my name and I write books for children.” That is from the time 3 of my books were approved by KIE for the Kenya school curriculum! Just saying!
“Poa!” I answer without thinking about it one bit!
“Huh! Wacha presha!” she says… “Yani na-mean unado job gani? Ama uko Kole?” She continued!
I have never had this conversation in sheng and did not know how to answer…
I do a lot but was trying to figure out what in particular would stir a good conversation… So I answered, “Naandika vitabu za watoto!”
“Haki Gai! Wacha!” She burst out! I had not idea if this was a, “PLEASE DO GO ON!” prompt!
“Ndio!” I say! Ebu niambie kama gani?” She asks
Please be advised that none of the books I have written are out yet and they are kids books… This was a tricky question! It is not like Id go like Cinderella na Snow White… So I go like, “Can You See me, The Odd ne Out…” She cut me mid-statement!
“Hizo ndio gani! Gai!” She spits!
“Za watoto!” I answer innocently! At this moment I can’t wait to come out of the matatu!
The makanga saves me at this point by ordering, “Pesa mbele!” And at that split second it hits me that I have only 26 bob on me! The ride was 50 bob! My heart is beating so fast at this point! Thing is, I was more scared of what this lady would say more than what the makanga would do…
I am taking my time going through my multiple pockets hoping to find a coin or two I might have overlooked in the past… The 3 coins in my pocket were sure! A twenty bob, a five bob and a one bob! I was finished. The lady had paid her fair and gotten back her change and was now looking at me almost sure that I had no money!
“Hauna doe!” She asks almost laughing!
“Niko nayo!” I answer… I lie! I remove the 26 bob and continue looking for more coins! The makanga persistent! “PESA MBELE!”
I go through my laptop bag and get another 1 bob!
“Maze kuniaibisha nayo!” The lady says and gives the makanga a 50 bob! “Ntakusmamia hii riba!” She continues!
“Una doe home? Juu unajua lazima unilipe hiyo doe!” She says looking out the driver’s window! Like she was ignoring my presence! There was a peculiar graveness in her voice!
“Unashuka wapi?” I ask her…
“Pahali utashukia!” she retorts! “SI unanipa doe!”
I think fast and suggest we get off in Nairobi West where there’s an ATM so I get her the money!
“Na interest ujue…” She storms.
“Wewe unado?” I ask… It did not come out right because she burst out laughing!
“Unanibamba!” She says but does not answer my question! I did not know how to ask another one so I let it go… She was quiet for a while… Looking outside the driver’s window!
Then, “Niko KIM!” She says… “Niko karibu kumada lakini. Nipate kadiploma yangu!” She continues!
“Kenya Institute of Management?” I ask only realising how stupid that was after it came out!
“Kwani unajua ingine? Unanibamba yani!” she answers again almost laughing!
“Sijui hata jinaako…” She asks…
“Hata mimi sijui yako!” I respond!
“Kwani ni brikicho!” She comes back…
“Naitwa Genevieve!” She continues!
I wanted to lie… But I am a terrible liar… The only name that was in my head that was not mine was Ole Lenku… So I went like “Lenku!” I had not thought about it…
“Gai!” She says and looks out the driver’s window again!
We do not speak up until we get off at Nairobi West!
“Unastay wapi?” She asks as we walk to the ATM machine.
“Mada!” I answer. “Na wewe?” I continue!
“Siwaka!” She responds! “Umeandika vitabu ngapi?” She continues.
“Nne!” I answer.
“Gai! Nne pekee?!” She asks in a mocking tone! “Kwani zina pages thao!?” She continues now laughing!
She was still laughing by the time we got to the ATM 5 minutes later!
I had to look for change for a while. It is not like ATMs dish 50 bobs… Except Equity ones… Or do they? I do not know!
From the ATM we walk to Madaraka talking about how boring her lecturers are and how shy I am…
I walked into the wrong court because I feared she might come looking for me someday!
“HAUCHUKUI NAMBA YANGU!!!?” she asks annoyed. “Ow seven seven…” She starts. I am looking for my phone frantically because I had kept it so far inside my jacket for safety!
She gets impatient… “Ah! Wachana nayao… Ntakupata tu!” She says and walks away…
AND THAT IS DAY ONE…
Oh! And I do not think anyone knows what happened at Westgate just yet… We are all Waiting for Mohammed Ali to do a documentary on it!
As ever your devoted and loving man….