There is no scorch Today as it has been in the past few days flowing into weeks.5th March,the year of our Lord,clouds hang low and the humidity sure sticks within the nostrils.Still the skin aches with the heat that hangs loose all around.Threatening to disintegrate the dermis and epidermis;in whichever order heats faster that is.
The streets and walkways hold a halo sense of dissertation.A kind unexplainable only inuended with instantaneous creaks of that empty trolley with the single uneven rubber wheel,needing a change but must be worked to exhaustion to warrant that change.Work from which is proving a a strange term in these streets.
Across the pavement though, lay a clatter of wooden beds and old woven and nylon sacks well laid out in the name of business hustles.A pile of second hand clothes for males and another for children whilst yet a third and similar fourth and fifth border each other.Such used to be quite lucrative a venture count back three to four years but right now,right now creases strained faces with lines of sorrow harrowing over them is a sight quite common.A sign of resignation to fate on their faces and in others a matter of what to do.
Before it passes my vision a yard away is a pile of oranges,ukambani mangoes,in others imported grapes and yet passion fruits splay across the rest with a bunch of sweet bananas or normal huge bananas as well.Business looks quite slow as these ladies,I would call them mothers for emphasis sake;they keep spraying the fruits with water from a specially designed bottle mouth of strained bottle top.Quite creative and ingenious I must say,typical of our mothers,African especially,they always invented a new thing to deal with whatever predicament was at hand and this comes into play right here in this market place.
It so strikes me that this day might end up with the continued spray of the water on the fruits with little to no sales made by close of day.The capital input might look quite negligible but the dependence on the same business for basic needs am sure does not change whether in a small family setting or a big one for that matter.The same way the high riding class must eat is the same way this low income class must put food on the table this evening.A sad reality as where from I honestly can’t put a finger to.
My thoughts glare back at me as I stray back to the batches of mitumba(second hand clothes) down the street.The creased faces tell it all.Man left wife pregnant at home(definition of home can be quite varied at this point you know?),a single room affair with two children warranting a total room transformation when night falls to suit both kitchen,dining and bedroom for both husband and wife plus children included,a nuclear family you know,let us cross our fingers the in laws din’t visit from the village this time round as the dynamics become quite complex.
Well,here lies this man’s predicament,a situation of which with the current economic status if not squo is hard to tell if another day is gonna shine bright or the diamonds in the sky remains a mirage in Rihanna’s song.
While my mind still finds itself on the shoe-shiner down the road,there is a bit of commotion as the traders bundle up their wares,quite a handful it they are,they whistle to one another in high pitched tones and every one scrambles away with their bundles.The table mounted fruit make-shift grocers though have a hard time bundling it all up.Instead they scuff up their dresses and shukas round their waists and swing their voluptuous hips heavily as they hide behind corridors.Not a beautiful sight at all.Not as you may even imagine.
The bundles are thrown under parked cars along the pavements and every trader acts as if they were on their way.A jest of total unimaginable reluctance this is.
What was the scuffle for?Business is low and the county askaris are on their necks,this time round the soft pallets of notes exchanged under the guise of handshakes and fake smiles is not available and these askaris know no other kind of greeting.
You know the way you are used to coming home with a pack of bones for Spot your favourite pet dog,you whistle from the gate and he comes happily and jumps onto you,licks you with joy knowing he is getting a bone to chew on?Now picture a day you don’t get the bone while your friendship was based on nothing but bone exchange?Mmmh the dynamics are quite unpredictable here and I would easily predict a chase from the same dog down your pavement to the gate…I mean Spot your pet dog doesn’t recognise you Today,you are a stranger and he has been trained to chase down strangers.
Well,what do we do in hard-stricken times like Today?We scuffle and run away from Spot.But before we run and hide PePa,let us talk about the shoe shine guy seated at the electrical wares shop entrance.
I casually walk and sit at this spot that has over time become my favourite shoe-shine spot to go to,that is since I realised I din’t have to spend two hundred shillings to buy shoe polish and a shoe brush when I only had two pairs of shoes that need shining every once a month,not that I even do a job half as good as these guys do you know?I remember some of those days I would want to go on a date in my brown loafers,passing by one of these guy’s stools always made the regular market guy look like one of the shots in those high end Wall street movie characters,suave that is.
Speaking of Wall Street,remember the movie called eeer,the Wolves of Wall Street,played out by Leornado De Caprio?Yes,these guys transform your look like that of De Caprio in this skit,I would be led to mention James bond and how accomplished he looks in his skits but that would not bring out the ruggedness of De Caprio in Wolves of Wall Street and the transformation that ensues thereafter.It is more like a dirty mould filled silver bracelet and a wash to the same that makes you see your image right through it.
Now with the kind of transformation these guys bring,why would someone in their malnourished unthinking senses come and topple this nice stool of transformation over.All in the name of doing work through the streets of Nairobi in the name of congestion and obstruction?Surely what did we congest and obstruct.Am sorry but on this mind overdrive I don’t want to reason as my emotions and not as baseless as you may imagine have taken a total toll upon my thought process.
Well,what was the work of all the city planners appointed to high offices and why are they on a payroll if they can’t plan for this shoe shiner of mine.Before I get over and above myself I might not have mentioned I sauntered to his place he was engrossed in this heavy set novel.Am impressed to say the least cuz I can’t recall the last time I sat down and picked a book to read,let alone a newspaper column,not that I din’t want to but I found it too much work and most times the English confused my already exhausted mind.
I casually joked that I would like to take over the reading job and he gayly handed me the book.I set out to read the first chapter as he requested I remove the shoes instead so he does a good job.Brush brush he brushes away as English boggles my mind.Wished I had a dictionary with me.I ask him what level of education he attained as what am reading is quite complex.
He smiles back at me and says a degree.In what I honestly don’t want to know as am left wide-mouthed.The injustices of our systems and here I would outrightly point a finger at him and say,”If only you studied harder kijana(young man) you wouldn’t be here shining shoes.What am saying is that the places we find ourselves in society does not directly point to our mistakes in life.
So why should a failed system condemn the innocents such as these?
The sun starts scorching and the county askaris have left.At this departure of Spot,the mats and sacks have to be laid out again and second hand clothes re-arranged,the spilled fruits across the road after the raid have to be picked up and washed again before the ladies resume the water spraying action.The guy who delivers water from down the river as we don’t have a proper water and drainage system in place has to go round and collect 20kshs for the gallons of water he delivered early morning.I mean if the system is dirty we can’t all remain dirty so a little cleaning is inevitable and the water guy comes in handy.
What can we say PePa,it gets tougher daily and each day we learn to adapt to the strains that come our way.You never give up hope that Tomorrow,Tomorrow could be a better day.Yes Tomorrow,but Today we live.
We just don’t forget that these streets ain’t loyal and stay woke always.