You see this picture here, it has nothing to do with this story .I’ve always not liked security checks that much, some are pretty useless while others leave you feeling like Osama was a great uncle of yours. Those ones are the worst, they come inches close to stripping you to your underwear, and you leave stuff behind, your dignity even- when the guard wants to confirm that his detector has the ability to ‘see’ metal so he asks you take out that five shilling coin. Don’t let me get started on those who insist on me leaving my camera. No seriously, can we talk about this? Why all the variation in procedure? Everywhere should be like the airport, you know what to do where, you don’t have to be told, you even know where to take off your shoes. We all want to feel safe so I will respect what those chaps do but in a minute you will understand the reason for that little rant.
It’s a chilly Tuesday morning; I’m on my way to drop off my University application form at the institution. At the gate I’m met by a lady guard who looked a bit too pretty to be in that uniform. She takes down my details as another chap frisks me and opens my bag only to see, you know who, Sonia.
“Hii utawacha hapa?” but he wasn’t really asking.
“Sawa soja” (feeling very Kenyan right now)
They let me through. In the far distant I see them, campus people. I find them very weird, these ones; they always look at me strange but today I don’t blame them, my shoes are muddy and I’m sweating like I’ve walked from Kinangop. Moments later I see her, this damsel with a camera to her face, trying to focus on a bug upon a leaf. By gum she looked beautiful, gracefully holding that lens, carefully caressing it, I felt jealous for that camera really, you should have seen her my friend, totally isolated from the world. There’s something about a lady with a huge camera that gets me, I rise up on my saddle in some ways. Wink wink.
I stood there for like three minutes just staring at this phenomenon, pretending to be holding up my phone in case campus people over there at the corner start raising questions. I badly wanted a shot of her but Mr. Frisk back there has my camera. Sorry friends. I walk by and finish with the application process but this girl has some trouble escaping my head. I think, and this may seem weird, what if this was my daughter? Hold on to your knickers now, I’m talking about the future here.
I’ve always imagined that my firstborn child will be the one to carry on this spear that his photography, I’ve always pictured a boy with a cool laid back name like Ben. I would hand him Jacky as soon as he could walk, his age mates would have fancy toys but Ben would have a camera called Jacky. He would be that guy. I’ve always pictured myself stuck in Mombasa Road traffic with Ben in the passenger seat,
“Dad, haipigi picha.”
“Ah, zima uwashe.”
Now there was another picture. My firstborn being a girl, that’s a scary thought, I mean, I could see her with Jacky, taking pictures around the city, completely unaware of some other photographer with piercings and sagged pants called Jamal also with a blog, rising up on his saddle, hehe. And Jamal would approach my daughter wanting to know if she liked big black cameras like the one he had, very cheeky this Jamal guy. One hot Saturday I’m enjoying a cold tusker and she walks in with Jamal who tells me he would have come to introduce himself sooner but he was waiting for his new tattoo to heal. Jamal would stagger back home with a black eye that day.
So I didn’t get that shot of the girl with the camera that day, I didn’t talk to her either, but at least I came out with an essential teaching on parenting, I will say this to my daughter, “Baby girl, go outside and take pictures, but if a guy walks up to you and says he’s called Jamal, run as fast as you can sawa?”