“One 2-Piecer Combo with fries and the other one with mash and gravy please”
I hand over my folded 1000bob note to the cashier. She has this permanent smiley face that reminds me of Cruela from 101 Dalmatians. All cashiers seem to have this plastic-fake smiley face. I guess it’s part of the job.
“Just one fanta orange, a cold one”
She prints out my ETR, then swiftly opens the fridge, grabs a cold fanta and a straw then hands me all the three. All her actions are swift and calculated, almost mechanical. I guess it comes naturally with repeating the same job for 12 straight hours. I breathe a deep sigh of relief, silently thanking my gods for not leading me to such a path. I’d die. Honestly.
“Wait for 2 minutes then come for your order” She says matter-of-factly.
I pick up the stuff and proceed upstairs to look for seating space. It’s a Wednesday afternoon and the place is a bit crowded. One one table, a mother is busy making sure that her kids don’t pour the chicken nuggets she just bough. On another, a bunch of noisy girls are posing for a selfie. After snapping, they both hover around the phone to assess the quality of the photo; they must have unanimously agreed that that particular one was sucky coz they were posing again, duck-face and all for another one. They are finally satisfied by the next one based on all the “aaawwws” that arise this time around. I already know that this picture will find itself on Instagram or Snapchat aptly tagged “Chilling with the Squad” or “Squad Goals”.
I shift my focus to finding a seat. To my relief, I see my pal Stephen waving at me; he already found a table. I walk over fast. I hate walking into rooms full of people.
As I sink into my chair, I can’t help overhearing the phone conversation of the lady seated next to us. She has this “IDGAF” attitude; blue braids and purple lipstick on. Her legs are stretched out onto the next chair; I can see her bejeweled belly button peeping from below her crop-top. She is mad at some supplier I presume. “You were supposed to bring those things here by 3. It’s now 4:15. What do you take me for?”
The couple beside us are busy getting cosy and the dude just stole a kiss on the chic’s cheek. The loud girls behind us are laughing at some humourless joke, all speaking in that “Barbie” Nairobinglish. My head is abuzz. I suddenly wish there was a mute button, it would have come in very handy. I stare at the Hilton across the street, it’s about to rain. Everyone is busy rushing somewhere in Nairobi; someone should tell them to take a chill-pill.
It’s been 10 Minutes so I go back downstairs to check on our order. Sure enough I find it ready. I rush back upstairs; my mind flashing with pictures of fried chicken. I love Chicken Inn kuku. The cravings had almost killed me the past week. Being broke sucks. Not that I am poverty stricken or anything. Just didn’t have chicken allocation monies.
We had just gotten paid for some job we did a while back; and we have this tradition where we have to spend some bit of the cash on food. It doesn’t matter how much we get paid. Sort of a way of giving gratitude to our bodies for the tireless labours. A man must eat what he sows.
I am having a ball laughing at Steve for ordering the mash and gravy as accompaniment to his chicken. Free advice, don’t do this if you love your tongue and your stomach. Shit tastes like wet cardboard. 3o Minutes later and we are done with the meal. I need to go get matatus to Naivasha, my home till the “wise men” who saw it fit to shut down my university over a strike decide to reopen it. Problem is, I have no idea where Naivasha matatus are taken, so again, my dear friend has to shoulder the burden of taking me to the stage.
After treading the congested paths full of sweaty and vulgar people, we finally arrive at the place. I find one matatu that has one slot remaining so I quickly hope in.
“Fare ni ngapi?”
I hand the conductor my cash and get given a yellow receipt.
The matatu is stuffy. I am seated next to two heavily built mean. My legs are cramped up because of the boxes of stuff all around. I already cant wait to alight. Soon, we set forth on our way. Well, we get stuck in traffic even before we leave the CBD. The guy on my left chucks a whole loaf of bread and a packet of milk and proceeds to chow it down. He must have been really hungry from the way he was swallowing that bread. I decide to distract my mind by following the Chase bank proceedings on Twitter but then again, I am not really interested. My mind is far.
The jam finally opens up. The driver plays some gospel worship tracks. It is annoying as hell at first but I get accustomed to it after a while. I check my whatsapp messages. Stale jokes on whatsapp groups.Nothing interesting. I see a text from the guy who told me he couldn’t handle me because I had “bipolar” tendencies once yet somehow we are still friends. I remember how crushed I was the day he told me that and the sleepless nights of overthinking that ensued afterwards. I quickly scroll past. My battery is at 8%, I needed to conserve charge. I didn’t really know the way to the house that well and I didnt want to risk getting lost in a place such as Naivasha. What if a warthog killed me or something. I switch off data, lower brightness and decide to nap a bit.
My thoughts keep sleep at bay. I cant help thinking about my life. By now I know I suck at being a normal social human being so I no longer even try. Last time I had a meet-up with a bunch of blogger friends, one of them accused me of “making them feel bad about themselves” or something of the sort. Something of the tune that I shouted at them or something and in the process hurt their feelings. That was pretty much the first and the last of me trying to be cool and social. I am better holed up in my room overthinking about life and stuff. Atleast that’s sorted. I cannot deal with humans and their fragile selves.I am too fragile emotionally myself.
My career life is what is a raging ball of confusion at the moment. See, I have restless feet. One morning, I can swear with my whole life that I want one thing, yet, as soon as I get it, I lose interest. Suddenly, I desire another. It seems as if I am cursed with the desire of only finding t delight in the Trek rather than the destination. I need to be in a position where I am constantly on the move. Yet, ironically, some part of me wants comfort and familiarity. Pretty twisted. I am about to finish campus in a few weeks yet I do not even know where to begin with my job search. All my classmates seem to already have places to go yet I, for some absurd reason, do not have the fickle drive to even apply or drop application letters for employment. Some part of me tells me to wait. All the times that I have doubted my instincts, things go wrong. So this time, I will not be in a haste. I will sit down and wait till it feels right. Maybe the desperation will finally force me; but until then, I will wait.
With that decided, I finally fall into some deep sleep. I am jolted awake by my phone vibrating. It’s the sister’s hubby asking how far I am . I quickly ask the guy beside me. “1o minutes to Naivasha town”.
I am given directions of how to get to the house via public transport. “The matatus will drop you right at the gate. You can’t get lost”
Sure enough, I didn’t. I get to Naivasha stage, get a motorbike to drop me off to the Ol Karia stage, get into a matatu and wait for it to fill. It takes about 30 minutes. A skinny man who seems to be in his 30’s enters seats next to me. He keeps giving me these stares; like he wants to start a conversation but is afraid. He finally says hi and I respond cheerfully. I am always cheerful to strangers; maybe because I know for certain that our chances of ever meeting again are close to null. A hawker selling groundnuts shoves his wares through the window. “Njugu ya kumi kumi!”
Mr.Skinny hands him a 20 bob coin, picks two packets and gives one to me. I refuse but he insists; never been one to be rude so I accept the offer. I hold the packet in my hands the entire journey. He alights at some point. Another man gets in.
“Usisahau kunishukisha Housing” I remind the conductor. He smiles at me “Madam, usiwe na wasiwasi. Nitakufikisha salama”, he assures me. I am not fooled by his charms. I have had so many incidences of being dropped in wrong places because I trusted the conductor and this wasn’t going to be one of them. I stay alert throughout.
Twenty minutes later, I arrive at my destination. Someone comes to pick me at the stage. Food is being served as I enter the house and I get asked so many questions about the strike at school as we eat that I begin wondering why I had never considered a career as a reporter. Turns out I am pretty good at recounting and retelling stuff. The conversation shifts when I ask about the oversupply of power that is being generated. They get carried away trying to explain to me the dynamics. Interesting. They joys of being part of an intellectually stimulating conversation. It’s way past 11 when we finish; my hosts need to be up by 6 the next day. Bed time.
This is good… about the strangers, have you ever met one again?
Not that I was broke but just did not have chicken allocation monies……nice line there. Great piece
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This is far by one of your best articles. Kept me engaged throught out. Great story
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Thank you Brian. I actually didn’t think much of it when I was writing it. Just needed to break the writing dryspell
Lmaoooo ati bipolar tendencies? 😂😂😂 LOL, being cool and social sucks. I have a loud mouth, and usually ends up blurting what’s in my mind(and what I think of someone/something), hurting people in the process. Just stay indoors, it’s much safer. And fun.
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Glad to see someone that shares my sentiments. Lol, hii maneno ya kukuwa cool kid nimeacha