It rains on that side too

Once, there was Njaanuary. But that was before Rona.

And the way January does us, with an ego of a man, I think it’s seated at some dark corner praying “Lord, let this not extend to December. I’ll be deemed irrelevant.”

His sister karma is looking from a distance, a family of disaster. Rona is stealing the show but hey, Karma is not seasonal, she is a full-time employee – this karma bitch.

“Mscheew” Njaanuary chews at the pride of Rona, “Even AIDS was there, you are not the first one MF**”

Rona: “IDGAF.”

And yes you cannot give one on a Monday morning. The rush that comes with a Monday is like a race from the weekend demons; that Saturday hangover that just won’t leave you (men who mix whiskey with soda), your friend’s side mama who just realized she is in a long list of FWBs, now she’s so drunk and mad that she insists you drive her home, you of all people, the king of hyaenas. The demons that made you withdraw 30k from your mpesa to a club but still carry your debit card, just in case of emergency. Which emergency? The demons that stall your car engine on southern bypass at 1 am in the middle of the night, Satan working overtime.

With Covid, the demons stay, only the fields change.

And so yes, it’s that Monday morning in Nairobi, everyone is looking for space to get to town. The madness on offer is in plenty; cars giving way to carts, pedestrians crossing when the traffic lights are red and at Uhuru highway roundabout, the police stopping cars when the lights are green.

In Mombasa road, the traffic is thick and stuck, a tortoise could bounce past you. There are four lanes but you’ll always feel like the other lane is moving faster, so your eyes are always on your side mirror to detect any delay from a car behind you on the fast-moving lane. You indicate after the head of your car is half way in, because on this city roads, no one is happy when you get ahead of them. You indicate early and the gap is closed. Some will give you that scary loud hoot that make you pull back to your lane. They will tell you kama uko na haraka ungeanza safari jana.

It’s a hustle you can take.

There are little showers on this Monday, it’s my favorite weather so it does not bother me. I am a hot-blooded animal; I can take a few low temperatures. The patience that is needed to find a place to park in town can cook a stone. Parking slots are always either full or you will find a metallic stand written Reserved, some which can be unreserved at any moment as long as you know ‘how to talk’. In some instances, you get a stand of ‘Reserved for Radisson Blue Hotel’ on Kenyatta avenue parking lot, makes you wonder if Radisson moved their offices from Upperhill.  Nobody cares whether you have paid kanjo the parking fee or not, that’s your problem, for all they care, you can carry your car on your head if you so wish.

But you won’t have to practically carry it on your head because there is Embassy house, where young men, well dressed with tucked in shirts will ask you to leave your car with them, go about your business and come back at your convenience. Sounds like a good deal? No way! But do you even have a way out?

In this city we serve all dishes but trust.

I’m approached by this guy in a strip shirt and a brown khaki pants who asks me if I was looking for a parking space. He tells me the place is full but there’s no need to worry, he asks me to give him the key then go run my errands.

He asks me how long I’ll be out.

“Two hours”

Umelipa kanjo?”


Baas. Watu kama nyinyi ndio tunataka sasa.”

So nitalipa ngapi?” I ask him

Usiwe na wasiwasi,wewe chapa kazi ukuje tuongee.”

I suggest to myself that it is obvious it won’t go beyond a hundred shillings, my budget is to spend 50 bob, a hundred is even ambitious.

I leave the car to Kevin, it happens that is his name. I tell him I’m also called Cavine, and he should be careful to guard his name by keeping my car safe. This our name of Kevin has earned popularity elsewhere in the conjugal circles, it is hard to even trust oneself. I give him the keys, then side step to ask another guy who seems to be handling another car if I could trust Kevin with mine.

“Huyo ako sawa” is the response I get. So, I carry my feet away and hit the streets.

Somewhere along parliament road, an armed officer is asking a homeless woman, not so kindly, to move from the vicinity of parliament buildings. It’s drizzling, poor soul. When everyone else is headed somewhere, she is just trying to find a place to belong. She is carrying with her some luggage wrapped in a shuka, probably her beddings. Just when everyone seems bothered to cover their noses and mouths from corona, probably the only thing she can think of covering is her ravenous state.

The look on her eyes, she could be my mother. She could even be my sister. I know that these two she is not, but for sure she has had a family too. Life is not pooped from the sky; it is made somewhere. For a second, I imagine her at her very early stages of life, when she probably had that smile of a girl with at least some hopes in life, if not high hopes. Deep down I know there is a story behind her presence in these streets, but is it a story you’d rather not listen to on a Monday.

You only say sorry to her from deep inside your little heart, and as the norm, I try finding some coins in my pocket to send her way for her troubles, with a “Sorry mama” look, “Mungu atakuonekania.”

Then she sends her thanks my way. It is not bad for a Monday. But with a heavy heart I leave her, having not asked her story, thinking sadly to myself, what if she was the one writing this and I was on the other side of life. Would she ask my story?


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