We all know them. We call them names; lout, lay-abouts, good for nothing yuts. Young, brash men that hang around the bus-stops in our neighbourhood, talking, laughing chewing miraa. They take matatus on ‘squodi’, acting as drivers and conductors, touting and soliciting for passengers in exchange for an ashuu or bluu. They hit on the stern-looking working-class woman in the glasses, the well cut skirt suit and the 5-inch heels who seems get offended, but who finds herself, later that evening, thinking about the gruff voice, wondering how those calloused hands would feel against her skin.
They are the people to talk to when you need something; they know where to find
weed whatever you need and have no qualms helping you bury a body move boxes, as long as the price is right.
I’ve wondered about them; what do they do all day? Where do they live? Do they pay rent, and how? What kind of existence do they lead? The simplicity of their lives makes me curious; do they have existential worries, the kind we the pseudo-intelligentsia battle all day? Or is one of them Potash in his early days?
I have always been genial to them, and they to me. In fact, the ones in my neighbourhood have taken a liking to me, often giving me free rides in their matatus, inviting me to join them for a beer and asking about how biashara is going. One of them, on meeting me in town, asked me to buy him lunch, and I told him that if he made me laugh, I’d do just that. He told me one of the most hilarious stories I’d ever heard, and earned himself a meal.
This morning, I left the house at about 7 for some meetings in town and in the middle of one, I got a call from my building manager. She never calls unless there is something wrong, and as I excused myself, I racked my mind wondering what the problem might be; had my house been broken into? Had my rent cheque bounced? Was there a woman with her belongings in a green Cowboy paper-bag claiming I was the father of her child?
“Good morning, Son. Are you well?” the voice on the other end answered.
” I am. Is everything alright, Mary?” I asked, trying to get to the crux of the matter.
“Everything is,” Mary replied, ” However, there is a gentleman here by the name of Collo who says he has your keys. He’s insisted I call you”
“My keys?” I asked, surprised. My free hand reached for the pocket I expected them to be in. It was empty. My heart skipped a beat.
It turns out that I’d dropped my keys in the matatu that Collo had given me a ride in earlier this morning. He’d found them and figured they were mine from where I was sitting, and had gone back to my apartment complex and asked the manager to call me and make sure I got them. He didn’t know my name, didn’t know my house but knew the block and went up 10 flights of stairs, probably ruining his high, to make sure the keys got to me. He declined the offer I made to send him some money as a thank you, but wanted one thing in exchange;
“Tukipatana next, dadi, uwe tayari kunichekesha“