A jingle of coins tickles the ear and teases the heart.
The following day (I don’t know which one, a weekday nonetheless, in that month of August, 2014), after I’d tricked Uncle into giving me a huge sum of money, I woke up a radiant man. In my mind, as I lay supine on that tongue-thin mattress, and observed a lizard track flies on the ceiling, I listed a number of activities I’d undertake before sundown. Chief of them, chief of those activities, being, locating a house. Since I hadn’t unclothed myself before sleeping yesternight, I wore my shoes and left the lodging room. At the reception, downstairs, I found a different lady from the one who’d received me last night. Over the counter, I leaned closer to her and said, “Thank you.” She didn’t hear me:
I stretched my feet and leaned more, but she stirred her head backwards. Notwithstanding my morning gaiety, I discovered my voice couldn’t issue, and that cold or influenza had affected my sinuses. Anyway, since the woman before me, in a white blouse and a brown wig, couldn’t apprehend what I said, I gestured with my palms, first around my neck, that I couldn’t yell, and second about my chest, my palms pressed, that I expressed mighty gratitude for their hospitality. While I performed these acts like a mad man, she set her eyes upon the movements of my lips, that I imagined she cared to catch my communication. However, with every motion I created, she slanted farther in her chair, and twitched her nose, and pursed her lips, and rolled her yes. Whatever she meant by these performances, I couldn’t tell. At her, I stared, wondering whether she dreaded faces like mine. Anyhow, remembering that I’d paid my room fees yesterday, and that both lodging and lodger owed the other nothing, I dropped my keys on the counter and made to dash out. Then she said, “Wait!” in a sharp voice.
I stopped and turned, while she rose and picked the key. Moving back to the counter, I said, “What is the problem?”
“I have to check the room,” said the woman. She squeezed herself through a minuscule door on the side of the counter.
Before she headed for the stairs, I said, “Look, I’m late, and I have not taken anything from your room. What is in that room to be stolen?”
“It is standard practice. We have to check that everything is OK.”
I took a full scan of her body, in the pale light, as some stench smell swayed about us. A taut, black trouser, and a silver necklace, she wore. And her head she slanted to the left, and her hands she rested on her waist, and her left foot she stepped forward, in a strapped, brown sandal. “Look,” I said, inserting my hand in my pocket, “I’m going far away…here—” then I handed her 50 shillings, all coins, “I don’t want to be late,” and stepped out.
A jingle of coins tickles the ear and teases the heart.
Outside, with the sky still dark, the fresh air bathed my face, and I felt my nostrils open up. As I left that building, I opened my mouth so the morning air could brush my teeth and tongue. My own breath, I smelt, and at that moment realized that the woman’s wacky performances back at the reception desk, represented her revolt against my foul breath.
Anyway, on the street, early risers busied themselves; some going to town, others opening their shops, others arriving from town and so forth. As I walked towards the bus stop, I felt relieved. I felt untroubled. I felt contented. I felt cheerful. To Fred, my former host—for the last eight months, I didn’t feel attached anymore. He’d ejected me from his house yesterday, and few hours later, I’d tricked Uncle into granting me 70,000 shillings. How I convinced my uncle no matter, I felt good about how things had turned. If I were a writer, I’d have recorded that ejection business somewhere. Anyway, a jingle of coins tickles the ear and teases the heart. Fred could go to the devil. To his flat, I’d only return to pick my property that I’d tucked in a corner at the parking lot.
From one of the shops, I bought water and dabbed my face using my handkerchief. Some of the water, I swirled in my mouth and spat all of it on the pavement. The rest, in the bottle, and some coins, I offered to a street child (I’d spotted a number of them here in Kawangware) that’d curled at a pillar along the street, and she took them.
Before I boarded a matatu to town, I called Shish:
“Ohh….no…you’re calling so early. It is 6 a.m. for heaven’s sake, is everything ok, my dear?” said she.
“Yap. Yap. Fred chased me yesterday, but I’m ok.”
“Really my dear?” she must have sat up on her bed now, for I overheard some swash swesh swish.
“Yap, but am ok. Look, Shish, I’m looking for a house, and I want to buy some stuff also. Will, will you help me?”
“Sure! Not today though. Please…today I’ve got to meet a frien—”
“Shish, please. I’ll pay yo—”
“No. That’s not it, my dear. I mean, I had promised my friend to see her today. You know Caren?”
“Yap. She was at the party at umoja the other time—I remember. Can’t yo—”
“Really, Shish? What if, wha—”
“Look, Caren stays at Dagoretti. Would you like to get a house around that place, my dear?”
“Is it a good place?”
“Ok. Then, as you go to see her, you could help me with the search for the house, right?”
“No problem my dear. Let’s meet in town then, at 9 o’clock.”
#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]