So, as I was telling you the other day, Cindy did like she did and I had to accept and move on. I realized this country is bigger than someone taking my potential running mate in matters love. I said to myself, “Mungu mwenye amempa ndiye ameninyima.”(The God who gave him is the same that denied me).
Continuing to stay on Mutua’s plot was torturous because every time I tried to concentrate in my mind’s eye I would just see that boy child doing things to Cindy. So I decided to pack a few clothes in my backpack and locked my small house securely with a brand new solex padlock – I just bought it the same day and I guess it was feeling elated that the hour of its ministry had come. Or, is it this padlock that brought me bad omen by locking my chances at getting Cindy?
I passed Cindy’s house with a heavy heart, my head stooping low like the hands of the clock at 6:30am and noticed they had actually increased the volume of the music in the house; clear indication that two adults with ID cards were busying launching a social gymnastics project. I remembered a khanga I saw at my friend’s plot somewhere in the coast that had these words:
“Ukiona mgeni kaingia kwa jirani kisha redio ikaongezwa sauti, tumia akili”(if your neighbor receives a guest and they raise the radio volume, please just use common sense).
I silently went my way.
I arrived at my cousin’s place, somewhere in Eastlands and I have been here for a couple of days. I have realized in this city people have unique problems. So let me tell you a story that has motivated my precipitous return to Mutua’s plot:
There is a group of individuals the government should recognize alongside MauMau veterans and slot them either for compensation or tax exemption. My cousin should be number one on that list, for over a week, I have lived in his house and walked in his shoes. These are individuals that are or have ever lived on the ground floor of a flat in this city.
There are things that happen to you in this city when you live on ground floor – things that are beyond your control and you just look and say, “Ya Mungu ni mengi, ya kuku ndio mayai.”
You can imagine those days you are tired and just thinking about things that confuse you like the humility that comes upon you whenever you compare your ID photo and your terabyte of fine selfies on your phone, things like why the government has proposed to shut down bars and drinking spots on election day and on the contrary they are advocating for ‘high voter’ turn out, things like what is the power that comes with independent candidates in the forthcoming election, What are the implications of the President missing the presidential candidates’ debate since he is already president and only the others who attended are presidential candidates, then from nowhere you just hear someone shouting, “Maaaare, mare, mare, mare” and then some house-help a floor up is sent to call in the guy over the balcony.
When the guy comes in, the barter trade happens outside your door and for some reason the Mare Mare guy never talks in a low tone. You will find yourself listening into their stories and how the guy is even trying to‘put into the box’ someone’s mboch or wife and that silly laughter the victims give as they try to brush the vibes away. During this session your hunger pangs are sort of aroused and you just decide to walk lazily into the kitchen to prepare something.
Maybe you were listening to some music and you decide to increase the volume so that you can still listen and sing along while cooking. That is the time the guy who sharpens knives decides to show up and sets his monocycle right in front of your door. All the neighbors from the other floors come down in numbers to have their knives sharpened as they catch up with their friends. They make noise as if to tell you there is need to go upstairs next time you are looking for a house.
You finally manage to make your food and bring it on the table. You say your silent prayer or even assume you prayed while cooking and fill your plate right away. The time you lift the first spoon or handful, you hear a slight knock on the door – you ignore the knock. Somehow the other person persists to knock one more time and you decide to take them serious, so you stand half-heartedly and pace lazily towards the door. All the time, the doors on ground floor are rusty and hard to open (I don’t know why). You finally open the door to meet some lady with about three kids the youngest of them on her back.
“Hapa ni kwa mama Bryo?” She asks.
You realize even in the spirit of Nyumba kumi initiative you know not of any Mama Bryo. Somehow you try to think.
“Alizaa mtoto juzi” she adds to aid your memory.
Still you can’t you decipher a Mama Bryo. You often leave this place before sunrise and are back long after sunset.
You decide to forward her to the next house to try her luck.
As she leaves you walk back to your food and half way, you hear another knock on the door. You go back to open and this time it’s the caretaker. He tells you the pump is not able to pump water to the guys on other floors so they will come down to draw water from the tap next to your door – some more noise is coming.
Then he adds that the guys who collect garbage have missed to pass by so probably it will have to wait till the next week’s collection day – meaning all the garbage from all the other floors will remain on ground floor for a week! Why won’t you wish for Jesus’ second coming at this point?
You don’t even answer him except a mechanical nod of your head in agreement. At this point you feel like telling God politely, “Hey, we need to talk.”
Your food is now cold but you must eat.
You finish eating your food and decide to stand outside to be ‘beaten by the wind’ a little. While you are standing outside your door, there is a happy kid on some floor up. The parents have bought him soda and he is playing with it on the balcony. Somehow I think it’s the work of the devil or something, he decides to tort a little soda on your promotional t-shirt from the company you work for. Something inside you asks you to look up and your face meets a happy creature with about two teeth missing on his upper gum, smiling at you and then ducks into their house after you visualize a threat to them.
So you decide to just get your clothes off from the line and get back inside. Another shock hits you when you realize those clothes you paid Mama wa nguo to wash have been discolored multiple times by some neighbors on the floors up there who also shared your intentions of having their clothes washed on the same day.
Before you can register your anger properly and even beat yourself for choosing to stay on ground floor, some mboch up there is cleaning and now just doing her final touches with the balcony. You just notice some milk-tea-colored water gushing out of that ka-drainage pipe peeping above your door like a security camera and spurting on the concrete floor depositing on the ground some remains of sukuma wiki, rice grains, burnt out match sticks, buttons and other things that you can’t even identify. You just jump over your slippers at the door that have already fallen victim to this instant flood.
You enter your house and switch on the TV and there is poor signal – then you realize that your Gotv antennae must have been messed up by the neighbor’s kids playing on the top most floor. You decide to go and sleep so that maybe Jesus will visit you and whisper to you in a still voice while in your trance, the reason why you are going through this predicament and which sins particularly you need to repent and change your ways so that you can receive his blessings both in the country side and in the city, according to his word…