I walk toward the matatu parked near Pumwani Maternity Hospital. I slowly sip my cold bottle of Glacier water which I had bought from an incredibly kind Somali woman who runs a small shop that hosts a few other Somali men that are seated in a group in front of that kiosk. These men, holding up expensive mobile phones, (I feel jealous that they can afford gadgets that are ridiculously worth a plot of land in Ukambani!) have swollen cheeks as though they had the same jawbreakers that popular cartoon characters, Ed, Edd and Eddy used to have! They are talking, actually swallowing their words, in their rich Somali accent, but wait, do Somalis have an accent? I mean, I don’t have anything personal with Somalis though!
I slowly approach the seemingly tired taut and ask him how much the fare is. He shoves at me his right hand’s clenched fist and goes further to say, “brathe, tao ni hamsini kwa sababu ya jam!” (Brother, the fare to town is fifty shillings because of the traffic jam!)
“Fifty shillings! At a time when I’m only supposed to pay twenty shillings? This is absolutely absurd!” I think to myself but choose not to share with anyone my thoughts.
Without a word, I slowly walk towards other bystanders next to that lady who hawks smokies and eggs in a movable white oven ( let’s just call it an oven because seriously I don’t know what to call it, OK?) this young lady with extremely black irregularly drawn lines in the section of her eyes that is supposedly meant to have one’s eyebrows sit, is chopping some onions, juicy tomatoes and some tiny green peppers, she does this meticulously and when a potential customer approaches, she quickly empties the ‘salad’ she has prepared into a lunch box whose lid has been punctured and has a long table spoon sticking out of that hole. Her customer orders for a smokie and she quickly takes the knife that she used earlier on for chopping her salad and heartlessly stabs one smokie that was caught unaware. She now holds the ‘dead’ smokie atop a small black plastic sachet and again, without blinking an eyelid, she skillfully dissects it and asks the arguably hungry sweaty baldheaded man whether he’d like his smokie to have her special salad and when he accepts that incredibly amazing offer, she quickly stuffs the salad on the hitherto dead smokie and dutifully hand this man who now has down his baggage to taste the undeniably sizzling smokie. He takes two intimidatingly enormous bites and the poor smokie is nowhere to be found. He goes ahead to order another one and as usual, our inhumane lady stubs another little brown smokie and now operates it quickly as she receives the greatly folded fifty shilling note and hurriedly stuffs it into her red, tomato-stained apron and gets back to dressing this man’s snack. The man, after spending hypothetically what I’d been told by the taut previously, happily walks away and at that time, a black minibus with red lines of car paint running around it like a hula hoop around a ten year old little girl’s waist, stops by and another dusty, dark skinned young taut slams the minibus’ door and yells:
“Tao mbao! Wale wa haraka! Tao commercial mbao!” He repeatedly yells this mantra as if he’s been bewitched to say it over and over!
I walk in modestly and seeing how dusty the seats are ( apparently I’m in a pair of white khakis) I shove the idea that I’ll dirtify them and I heavily plop myself on to that goddamn dusty seat and within minutes, another passenger, a mature jacketed man sits next to me. I pull out my phone and try to put the remaining Tunukiwa Bundles into good use lest they expire. I open my WhatsApp and countless messages trickles in, the number of chats adds up to 99 and the story section in the middle has this dot (what colour is it by the way?) to show that there are some statuses I have to view. I click on to a few people’s statues and once that loading circle disappears, I see memes, memes on why Uhuru Kenyatta didn’t attend the Presidential debate, some other people’s stories have a hilarious video of a couple that have been asked to kiss each other in a wedding. (You don’t expect me to explain what that crazy man does to that poor bride of his!😂) I click on to my own statues and check out how many views it has gotten, admit it people, we all do this shit! Then without any forewarning, my phone vibrates, I know what that means, [Dear customer…blah…blah…blah…] I saw that coming though!
Now I’ve switched off my data and eagerly waiting to get to school and dandia the incredibly fast WiFi that allows me to at least log on to Instagram and Snapchat, you know what these apps do to our bundles, right? 😑 Then two women in buibuis board this minibus and sit in the seats that are right behind ours. They engage each other in a lively chatter as the taut now shouts out, “mtu mmoja!” When actually there are still four vacant seats! The devil is surely a liar. The two women continue with their chitchat, but now I get interested in knowing what they are talking about. Udaku utaniua! They speak in this arguably terrible coastal accent, and why do all gossipers, (here I’m talking about those women who are seasoned in this art) always try to pull out this accent that is best spoken by our Coasterians?
“Nakwambia huyo mwanamke ana mimba! Lakini mbona yuaficha? Ya Rabbi, kwani atatufichia pia mwana?”
I really don’t know where that conversation is heading to but I listen keenly. Now the taut has come to demand what is due to him. The young chap motions to the man next to me to hand him his fare which he honourably does and sits still as the driver, the typical Nairobi driver speeds the minibus that hitherto sounds like a tool box that is being tossed on the ground countless times! I stretch my hand and give the conductor [this term now leaves a better taste in my mouth!] my two-ten shilling coins which he closely examines 😕 before he goes ahead to the other passengers.
Our two women haven’t stopped talking! Suddenly a Jubilee branded car bearing the photo of Charles Njagua Kanyi [I’m simply talking about Jaguar!] passed by, this car, with speakers attached almost everywhere, was playing: “Huu mwaka lazima niwashangaze!” A major hit by this aspiring candidate vying for the elective position for member of parliament for Starehe. Speaking of surprising us, do you think he’ll find his way to the National Assembly? Give your thoughts in the comments below! 😁
One of the ladies behind me comments:
“Huyu ni Jaguar anacampaign na nyimbo zake yeye mwenyewe! Nakwambia mie namwona akiwa mbunge wetu tarehe nane!”
We’ve reached Ngara and the two women sadly have to alight!
“Twashuka baba,” they tell the taut, “Tumeshukuru sana!” They thank the taut and walk away.
Show’s over? 😖 Not yet! 😂
The taut quickly picks up another lady with spectacles and a bushy weave sitting on her head and the driver supposedly takes on the route that seem not to be in line with what she wanted and she quickly and furiously yells at the driver and conductor:
“Weka! Weka! Weka! Hausikii uweke! “
The driver ultimately hears her out and stops the minibus for her to be wekwad there!
Then enters another man. Now this one is not a passenger, he’s a vibrant marketer of merchandise who is constantly on the move to different markets, simply put, he’s a hawker! No need to sugar-coat it! He is a typical Nairobian hawker who comes to advertise his products.
“Ningependa kuwaambia kuhusu ID holder, hii ID holder inakuwezesha kuweka kitambulisho chako, kadi yako ya NHIF, pia unaweza andika nambari yako pale ili ukiipoteza ID holder yako, unaweza pigiwa kwa nambari yako! Leo nawauzia hii ID holder kwa shillingi hamsini pekee! Kuona ni bure!”
Nobody shows the least interest of wanting to own one of those ID holders and our aspiring businessman’s hope incredibly dissipates. He alights the minibus and we head to town. When we get to Globe roundabout, there’s an impenetrable traffic jam and as every persons’ conscience would dictate, we all alight that minibus and leave the driver and his taut to suit themselves out, apparently, even the taut himself walks away on the driver and lets him sought his shit out alone!
I quickly walk towards Garden Square to catch the 4:00PM bus that arguably most Strathmore student always want to board. We patiently wait for the bus as some people catch up on some light talk as others, (like me) crane their necks just to be alert when the tad blue bus shows up.
Thankfully, in the Strath bus there are no crazy people like the ones I’d met earlier on. I finally breath!