As I write this, the Nairobi Women Rep debate is on. Four ladies are on the stand and one of them is really bringing it. She talks in clean cut Swahili, taking jabs at her opponents and raising her voice all over the place. I forget her name, but the one next to her has legs for days.
I haven’t showered yet, and it feels like I’m wearing someone else’s skin.
As today rolled by under some cloud cover, the face that stuck with me belonged to a tout I spotted at a bus stage. He and a few of his mates were banging on a matatu, forcing everyone else to board. The guy then puckered his lips and let out a deafening whistle. I watched this in awe, of course, because I’ve always wanted to whistle like that.
Then I saw him press his knees together, hold out his arms, and unleash what must have been the silliest dance move. And I thought, “Is this really how you fill up your day?” And suddenly it didn’t feel so bad that I was headed for an exam.
So yesterday I went to bed with a grin on my face, I was bathing in that after-post glow and my heart felt like a feather. And when I awoke I was still jolly, I had had a good six hours sleep and I just couldn’t wait to start the day. But there was work to be done; there were sketchy notes to go through and some regret to carry. Especially when I’d be perusing through the notes and stumble upon things I had idly doodled on the book margins.
I couldn’t really get my head wrapped around what I was reading, though. So what I did was, I went in for a quick shower in the hope that it would put some life into me. It didn’t. And I was finally forced to accept that maybe this was just not going to my day. As we used to say when we were kids, “Sio kila siku Sunday.”
A few minutes later I was out of the digs. I was surprisingly calm for someone who had not studied, and even when I entered into the exam room there wasn’t a single panicked bone in my body. I found that the room was already brimming, so I took my place at the front and prayed to the gods that the paper wouldn’t torture my soul. It didn’t. In fact it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was in and out in under an hour, painfully confident that the last essay question was a complete bust and that my answer was going to give the lecturer a really good laugh.
Then I went to grab a bite at the cafeteria. There was much going on, so I typed some of it on my phone. It went something like this:
It’s crowded in here, and it smells like meat pie. In front of me there’s an oriental looking fellow with a red sweater. He has a fat bag placed on the seat next to him and on the table there’s an open newspaper. He’s taking tea, three of his fingers are hooked on the cup handle and on his left hand he holds a giant sized mandazi. He takes large bites of the thing and you can see his temples working when he chews.
At one corner sits a table of four girls. One of them has a luminous green head wrap. Another is spotting dreadlocks. They have a laptop on the table, a group discussion of sorts. They seem like they’re more than study buddies, and my betting is that they’ll study for a bit and then someone will remember something funny: “Did you see Kevo’s snaps on Friday?”
And that will be the end of that. No more studying for little miss head wrap.
Adjacent to my table are two more ladies. The amount of estrogen in this cafeteria I tell you. Anyway, they’re waxing some gossip or the other. I know this because you can always tell when a girl is gossiping. There’s a fashionable bag on the table. It’s quaint, with a brown flap and black and white stripes. I wonder what’s in that bag. Some make up perhaps. A fancy wallet for putting cash a few cards. Probably an extra pair of shoes. Maybe a tampon.
Because I have nothing better to do I decide to crane my neck a bit, so I can have a listen to this juicy news.
I can’t hear much of what she saying because the place is packed and everyone wants to talk and there’s an annoying beep coming out of the POS machine at the counter. So I lean in some more,
“So after I called him si me I went home?” One of them says.
“This was after you met Caro?”
“No. Yes. I mean, I had already talked to her.”
“Have you seen her hair? Gosh.”
“Imagine I don’t mind it.”
“Eh? Okay. Ati you were telling me you went home and then?”
“Oh yeah, so I went home. And then guess what I found in the bedroom upstairs…”
I couldn’t hear the next thing she said because she whispered it.
And then there was a brief moment I shared with an elegant Merc. We were stuck in traffic, and this guy’s machine commanded the tarmac. Its rims were black as coal, sunlight bounced off the body work and the thing sparkled like glitter. The man seating behind the wheel was a young bearded chap, with sunglasses and a dark blue shirt. He looked like he was doing quite well for himself. He had his window down and when he saw me I sticking my nose into his car I asked what a boy had to do to get one of those. He chuckled and said, “Pray.”
As my lane moved on I looked back and saw, through his windshield, a shiny rosary dangling on his rear view mirror. Pray.
Doubtless, it’s also what I need to pass these exams. Two more papers to go. Otherwise there hasn’t been much to write about today. What I need now, more than anything, I think, is a shower.