Dear reader, wherever you sit or stand—as you interpret the following words, a boy says, “Hello.”
A boy, named Taifa Mkenya (who is me) reported on the recent recount that he secured a job there at Nairobi’s River Road. Under Supervisor Ken, the boy worked. That occupation, like he said, revolved around supplies and all: household items, stationery, and so on. Other workmates existed too; in the persons of Eric Kama, Peter, and Adam Mwala (who combined with us after two months).
This work engaged me so. Early in the morning, day after day (but Sundays), I awoke and left our Kawangware estate for work; then I’d return to the house late at night. Ken Onyango he rewarded me fifteen thousand Kenya shillings, with a promise of increment, should my service fascinate him. Assured thus, I toiled like a mule. When a boy submerges his mind and body in a consuming enterprise, his time flies. July of 2014 appeared and disappeared. When August began, the harvesting season, more farm produce dotted the city—at groceries and estate markets. And prices, of those farms produce, on the whole, lowered. One Sunday evening, the second week of August, I recall, Jane Shish, she asked me to accompany her to Muthurwa, a downtown common market, so she could buy some farm produce for her family.
Hitherto, I had grasped and embraced the peculiarities of them city walkers and dwellers. Even in that populous River Road Street, where our work premise located, I learnt to shove against oncoming bodies, scurry—whether in a hurry or none, and to secure my wallet and any valuable in my pockets—by a-wearing taut trousers.
So Muthurwa, a wilder spot than River Road, didn’t frighten me much.
That Sunday evening, I encountered Jane somewhere along Tom Mboya Street, then we descended towards Muthurwa.
“I see you’ve grown man. You look good!” she said.
“Thanks,” said I. If she meant I’d compounded weight, I believed her. Reader, before I joined Ken’s employ four months ago, I’d weighed 49 kilograms. Now, in this month of August of 2014, I hit 50 kilograms.
“Hey, you’ve been so quiet man,” she said, “Did I bore you?”
“Oh, no, no!” said I, as I turned to eye her. She looked tired, or burdened, I don’t know. A-figuring out the disposition of a girl is complex analysis, say I. Today she wore a pink top and a black trouser. And her locks of hair remained unsecured.
My hand touched her shoulder without my express permission. “No, how could a girl like you bore any boy?” continued I. Her customarily bright eyes remained dull today. “Are you OK?”
“Ish-ish,” said the girl.
“Look, if you need anything—”
“No, no I’m good.”
At length, we reached our destination. Jane she bought a volume of goods, including farm produce, all stuffed in nylon paper bags. Carry these things, I helped her, back to town. To her bus stage, we headed; to those matatus that ply CBD-Buruburu route, stationed along Tom Mboya Street.
“How is Buruburu?” said I.
“Everyone in your family?”
“Look,” I began, “I haven’t been silent for any particular reason, just that—”
“I get it, Taifa. I do.”
Silence then prevailed awhile. The she continued, “Ken, Peter, Eric and the others—you are getting along well?”
The luggage I carried for her drained my energy, and I sweated like a pig, and panted like a dog.
“What…what about you and Fred?” said I. Reader, I told you in the past recounts that Fred hosted me, since the first day I materialized in this city in the sun. I waited for her to report she related well with Fred. I didn’t wish to hear they fought or broke up—especially on account of my two-time stint with her, a secret I buried deep in my soul. And prayed she did likewise.
“Things haven’t been the same since,” said she. I swallowed hard, cleared my throat and said, “Aallright…”
“Are you scared?” she said.
“Yap. No! I mean, Fred is my friend—he has supported me all this time. What happened between you and me—happened, but he’s still my friend, and—”
“So you didn’t like it?”
“Oh God, Shish, loo—look here,” we stopped on a pavement, near where she’d board a matatu to Buruburu, “what I mean is…wha—what I mea—”
“You liked it or not? YES or NO?”
“Shish…listen—please listen, Fred, Fre—Fred is…Fre—”
“Fred my thigh! I’m talking to you now. Did you like it?”
“Of course you know I did, but—”
“Would you like to have it again?”
“No. Yap! Bu—”
“No buts! He knows.”
“Jesus! What?” said I, a-placing all her luggage there on the pavement. Passersby they started a-looking at us.
“I told him.”
“You just woke up and told him.”
I grabbed her shoulders, shook them, and said, “Why? Why in the beautiful city would you do that? I thought this was a secret?”
Imaginations of all proportions flooded my mind. Fred would kill me. He’d hosted me for many months. And gave me money and cloths and a phone and food. Then I preyed on her girl. But I never initiated it. Jane Shish she started it—there at Umoja housewarming party. That day I drank myself into unconsciousness and some girl worked on me (and Jane confessed it was she). Then she came another day when you Fred was not in the house and we did it again. I’m sorry Fred. I really am. I would explain myself to Fred when I got home, then blows would ensure, nonetheless. Murderous blows.
“Don’t worry Taifa,” she said.
“Taifa!” she said, I’d began a-walking away, a-leaving her with her luggage, “Please don’t go.”
I returned and hauled her goods into the bus. Meanwhile, onlookers had found a fascinating scene in our act. After moving her luggage, I walked away without a word.
A matatu back to our Kawangware estate, I boarded. I knew Fred would wrench me, or I would hurt him—in self-defense. Why did I do it? I asked myself. I didn’t do it, I told myself. Jane did it, she should blame herself. But I did the second act, I should blame myself.
Time flew. Darkness had coated the sky when I alighted. Why did I do it? Why did she do it? She asked me if I liked it. Did I like it? No. Yes. Did she like it? Yes. Would Fred like it? Are you kidding?
I opened that our main gate. I made sure that metallic gate never creaked or tinged. What if Fred lay in wait for me, as soon as I entered? That building lacked power, a faulty power line somewhere. Quiet prevailed. Risky quiet. Dangerous darkness. My way, I knew. Up the stairs, I stepped. Like a cat. My right hand tracked the rail. My left hand touch my chest, where the heart beats. My mouth remained open. My breathing, noiseless.
By and by, I reached the landing on the third floor, stepped upon it. To our door, to Fred’s door, I groped. Why wouldn’t I use my phone’s flash light? Why would I want to betray my position—if Fred lay in wait? Before I could hold the door, I hit on an object, oh, two of them, then more of them, lumped at the door. Then the lights emerged, and I glimpsed all my belongings strewn all over—to the adjacent doors, along the corridor, and some had dropped to the ground floor, my towel and a sock hang on the rail. On Fred’s door, a mighty padlock stared back at me. So it happened.
#To be continued…
A week goes and languages grow; my stories so.
[The typer of these words is a breaker of English. Creator of words. Attempter of waggish things. Marveler of nature. Enjoyer of life. Lover of strangers. Taster of cultures. Author of Tom James. Editor. Snap-shooter. Storyteller. Future husband. Teacher. Learner. Soon a traveler]