Nairobi: The Dilemma and the Odds

The street is in its bustle season for the day. You can start looking for a non-hooting car and sure you will go home empty handed. A man darts over there, pulling his cart like it were some featherweight thing. A vagrant, I place him at about fifteen, dashes in swift manoeuvres between bumpers of impatient cars. There is a continuous buzz of a stale day in the background of the active noise. The music of a civilisation mourning for itself.
Lights in the CBD are something in the evening. From disco lights in the commercials to the bare naked fluorescent bulbs, an evening CBD air looks like a painting of midday rainbows. They glow and spectate humanity in the streets. They behold a humanity caught up in the most bizarre endeavour of chasing itself. In silence they behold as tired limbs still drag their last kicks. They sympathise with men and women worrying about the bus to take them home this late, knowing that still the bus will have to take them into queues and queues of motorcades euphemised internationally as traffic jams. It still is a paradox of life: how a Nairobian will be impatient not to give you a minute’s wait, yet sit quietly as the traffic jam takes toll to flip in the books of time and sometimes stop to re-read a catchy line or phrase.
The evening outburst of lights is a silent signal that the city wants to start over once again. A different life that accepts a dark sky up in the clouds, fists, beer, women, and sometimes a few gunshots.
Wading along Ronald Ngala Street in the evening is a tricky affair. In a split second I knock into multitudes. An elderly man trudges along with a rosary and wooden cross. A beggar passes in a wheelchair and she is shaking her cup with coins to alert passers-by that she is passing by. A yellow yellow hurries ahead, struggling to pull down her skirt that seems to have spotted a gold mine up north. In a nearby shop a man is promoting telephone lines and telling Africans why they should all switch to this wonderful network. I bump into an old man and his bag drops, scattering on the street a guava, a shaver, two exercise books and a stone. He collects his goods and rushes on without giving me the chance to apologise. A woman is dragging a younger chap in the humanity. A man speeds by, balancing on his trolley and whistling to fellows to make way. Everywhere, the evening city is trapped in its own dose of chaos and turbulence, painting in the minds of people the deceitful illusions of progress and civilisation.
From the opposite direction, a uniformed cop is walking slowly, posing as a 17th century lord. Which is understandable. In 2016, only people who have everything can walk like that. So he will spend the rest of the month fighting his colleagues and even bribing the boss to be posted at the same roadblock he served today. Otherwise our very own traffic men in blue don’t walk like this. Not with a happy face and stepping with the back of their heels. A day well lived is seen even in the evening.
I am still walking up Lithuli Avenue when I meet Tim. Tim and I have come from far, to put it simple. Primary school. Looking at us today, however, one won’t agree easily. One of us is cheerfully dressed while the other is in anything that was available today. One has car keys, the other might just die without knowing the difference between a clutch and that other thing in the driver’s cockpit. One has a confident step, the other doesn’t. So I report my situation to Tim. Straight and quick. I tell him what life has been doing to me all these days and that I’ve spent all my age today roaming Lithuli and Ronald Ngala for a job. Tim scratches his head and laughs one of those hearty laughs fat guys use to soothe the poor. The idiot hasn’t changed since campus. He tells me I’m not serious I don’t have a job. He eyes me critically while saying so. I tell him I am. I’m even willing to swear to him but I discover he is in a hurry so I let him go. I only lie to give a call later. But as he is swallowed by the street, I don’t know whether I detest or understand him. After all, he was always a good guy.
In the chaos, the events of my day still find time to play at the back of my mind.
Flashback, six hours earlier. My twelfth destination today is this school near Landhies Road. I’m grateful when the guards allow me in without much ado. I ask to be taken to the principal’s office. I’m told to first sign a visitor’s book at the reception. I try to hide my second name by merely scribbling it in a doctor’s handwriting. The lady gets so nosy she asks that I write it “well”. Well, I do. Then hell breaks loose. She asks to search me again. Then she runs that thing round my bag. When she isn’t satisfied that it has not picked a nuke, she asks me to open the bag, much to my embarrassment because apart from the CVs, the bag has a boxer short I don’t remember putting there.
Then she tells me to move back and wait as she thinks. You’ve never seen a woman, uniformed in her security company regalia, just sit down on a bench and start thinking about you. You wonder if she is thinking of offering coffee or planning to rise with a speedy mawashigeri right into your crotch. Or she is thinking to want me: about which I will accept as long as her salary is five figure and she can handle my creditors pronto. She then tells me to leave the bag behind. In fact, sit here on the bench as I book an appointment for you. In the long run:
“We don’t allow people like you in. I’m being frank,” she says. Her tone is so cold you wouldn’t need to buy a fridge.
At another place they told me the staff was full. Another told me to drop the CV and wait see if they’d call. Another asked why I had not included my marital status in the CV, before asking me to go write a “full” CV. A gate man told me not to waste time because there were no vacancies for people like me. Another told me the earliest I could talk to the management was today next month, by which time I’d have died of hunger or Nairobi cold or anything that kills a person without food and shelter.

unemployment dilemma

Another secretary just offered laughter. She even put down her mirror and face brush. Then she gave me that look. “Here we don’t hire.” But why didn’t you just tell me that instead of laughing? “Your name sounds coast, and don’t you see it funny a coastlander seeking a job in Nairobi? Actually, though there are no vacancies now, the policy here is also too stringent a coastlander has never ever landed a job.”
Maybe I should start rehearsing Kimvita or Kingazija so I pass as a son of a sheikh or sharif and gate crash religious ceremonies where there is free food and incense. I’m told religion is the third most profitable business after drugs and politics. The name has already done half the job. But I can still prefix it Alhaj or Mawlana. Alhaj Mawlana Bakari Selemani Al-Sanduku bin Sheikh.
Last week I made a career threatening mistake and I regret. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I was welcomed well. Then the boss must have been fascinated by my CV because the next thing I was told was, let’s discuss the salary. And they began at 6 effing K. I said no. I didn’t tell them I was expecting at least 35 starting. I said 20. In the full hour of our negotiation, they had only managed 5 hundred on top of the 6K. My travelling and lunch expenses would total to 7K. So I declined. And left. But on the way I decide to come back to take it. Just to fool hunger, fear, the landlord and other collective enemies of being. When I come back, I’m told the young man leaving has just taken the job already. That is the week I also learnt that a man can cry in the escalator, soak in the tears and dry before hitting the ground floor.
I ascend Landhies Road, leaving Race Course, and take the child born of Landhies Road and River Road towards Kenya Cinema. It is called Ronald Ngala. The city sun is so wild today it should be taken to a game park. I try to ignore. Those who know Nairobi well also know that its evening sun always picks a fling with the face as you climb RN towards Kenya Cinema and no matter how indifferent you pose, you will always blink first. I eventually give up at Temple Road. I off-shoot to the left.
I am to come back to Ngala’s street a dejected man. I’ve just fired my 19th and last round of ammunition and nothing has come of it.
They don’t take anyone with less than a four-year experience. There has to be a way I could buy on River Road those four years so I see their next excuse, those idiots.
So here I am on the queue. The latest bus left almost one and half hours ago and we continue to hope. A school girl has collapsed for standing too long and she is receiving first aid (only reason I put on clean underwear). A street acrobat has performed and left. I look at the fast food shop next to us and it reminds me the last time I took a meal. Lord, yesterday can look so distant. If I land a job, I promise to make to God burnt and fried offering in the name of GMO chicken everyday till I die.
A man comes. Looks like a mental case until I hear him speak. He preaches that we should all go to live in Kibera or Mathare. One, there is no queuing to wait for a Mathare bus for three hours. Two, and here he points at a madam behind me, you can always save on your rent and fare surplus such that at the end of the year you can buy your own X-Japan Probox or at worst Hitler’s Volkswagen. The lady is initially stone-faced but she cracks a big laugh as the queue joins in. See, humour at last. I try to do the maths. I think the man has a point. Only that, wait, and where is his car now? He answers this almost immediately. Night boys. Night boys have been on his sleeves all the years he has struggled to save towards buying one. From his tone, I’m sure there is not even a bicycle wire to his name and if he died now we would have to plead with the county government to buy him a shroud. Or if he is Christian, a second hand casket and shirt. But one thing is clear. There are thieves on both ends of the road. When you come to the city you only need to choose which thieves you prefer.
As we await the bus, and pray to God to remove obstacles from its way, my reality slowly settles in. The debts, the pledges, the responsibilities, the expectations. I may really want to go back to that house and rest. Spread myself on the floor or couch and air off the small molestations the city has done me. But again, every metre towards home is a metre towards my landlord, towards that shopkeeper, towards the water guy, towards an empty house and an even emptier stomach – another metre towards the depths in the coals of hell.
As the bus finally zooms to life, ready to fight for space and time on the road, I sigh and call it a day fairly spent. Tomorrow, if God so willeth, I’ll be back.

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GUEST POST: Protus, Shit and Other Shit (by Babji)

I’m four years old in this Nairobi but trust me, I’ve seen more shit than all the nineteen years I spent in shagz. My own shit I mean, not others’ smoking shit. Leave alone the time I landed my first job as a cleaner just after secondary. The time when a fat potbellied Mhindi would go across the road, eat pizza, croissants and top it up with a mug of Cappuccino then come to the loo. It was very usual to see a man straight from Galitos to my workplace straight to the washroom and seven minutes later, he gets out of the room, orange handkerchief in hand (it always is orange since it doesn’t show dirt) wiping his forehead, nose and moustache. The stench that would come out is worse than that of smelly feet, decayed carcass and soiled pampers combined. Some would not even flush the stinking shit, they’d just walk out and then I’d go clean it up.

I saw people’s shit, trust me. Smoking and steamy.Hard and diarrhoea, green and yellow, all that. And I had a chance to see mine as well. I walk into that room, drop my pants, squat then push like a woman in labour. Thereafter, I look back and look at the work of my rectum before finally turning the flushing water on. In shagz I never had the chance to see my own poop. Once you walked into a latrine, you just heard the sound of your dropping hitting hard against the bosom of earth. There, it’s met its fate. If you didn’t hear the sound, then it was obvious you had dropped it on the floor of the loo. Me I would move my right toe, knock that thing into the right place and go on. Once or twice, it happened.

You see, the latrines in shagz are floored by use of wood off-cuts. The pieces that saw mill guys feel are of no use are nailed together to make a floor with spaces between them. The doors are just gapings that always face the hedge, so when you come you have nowhere to knock, you just cough and whoever is inside coughs as well. The walls can be anything. Anything can be mud, iron sheets, tree branches tied together…. Anything.

Let me tell you about Protus’ latrine. A latrine and a half. This one, Protus’ latrine, was rumoured to be so clean till one would lick yoghurt from its floor. So clean that before you went in, your conscience led you to wipe your muddy shoes on the long grass nearby. No, it wasn’t cemented by the way. Just like the other latrines, it had a small opening carved at the centre of the room for poop. But so clean.

And then, it happened. It always happens, sindio? Especially during holidays. Protus was living in Nairobi, leaving only his wife and kids back at home. Two kids. But women whose husbands work and reside in the city always travel to see them. Even when the husbands make efforts to come over after every two Saturdays, she will always call the mzee that one Wednesday he is trading his sorrows with Wanjiku.

“Hey, Baba Nanii…. I’m here at MaaiMahiu…. Nitafikakitusaatatu (I’ll arrive around 9 p.m.).”

Then the man is taken aback.

“Ah, kwaniuliamuaje? (What did you decide?) – hic. Si you should have told me I buy (hic)… flour? Then the mama goes silent. He can’t even hang up. He’s looking at his pretty untouched Shiko.

Sikujiiunga.Kwanikwetuukinitoahatukuwanaunga?” she retorts what can only be translated as: I’m not coming for flour. When you got me at my parents’ home didn’t we have flour?

“But I was there last week. And I was coming (hic). And the line goes off. It happens, right?

Protus used to come, once after every three months. Early in the morning he’d pass at the lone footpath, loaded with a bag, a carton, another bag on the woman’s head and a paper bag. A really nice man, Protus. But then one day his Jaber said no. She too wanted to go and see Nairobi. One calm evening she clutched her handbag, a paper bag full of sukuma wiki and some onions, tied her younger child onto her back and walked behind some lady. This lady had on her head a sack.

Now, any Kisii person can tell you that sack carried a lot of matoke, then some avocados. We watched as the sashayed Protus’ wife so careful not to dirty herself. She took a Nairobi-bound bus. Then the lady who had escorted her came back. A young nice new lady who had never been seen in the village before, looked like her sister. Let’s call her Moraa. Now, you know what a new carcass means to a hyena. We watched from a distance, four heads together the way players stand conspiring on how to take a free-kick.

Now this is where the story begins. I however have to tell you that my cousin Oscar spent all the nights at Protus’ house for a better part of that holiday. We would eat our supper, go to our esaiga and when it approached ten he would dress like a mercenary. The head would be covered in a godfather, a large black overcoat and boots. Then he would carry a large metal rod. By four in the morning, he would come knocking… tired like a dog on a sunny midday, sleep for the next two hours then wait for the next night. Till when Moraa told Oscar that Protus would come the following day with his wife. You know, he always travels at night, and arrives here in the wee hours. That meant end of business between the two.

But nothing is sweet compared to the last drop of milk from a gourd. Nothing. Oscar knew that too well. And on that final day we all decided to escort Oscar. All the four of us- Oscar, Jeff, Farid and I. You know, it’s a few minutes past ten and we are walking silently, dressed like vampires. Nobody is talking. We’re just quiet, hands in our pockets, eyes straining to see where we are stepping. The only sounds we hear are of crickets, croaking of frogs and whistling of porcupines. Yes, porcupines whistle. A story is told of Mzee Nyamongo. This respectable old man, after having one too many, staggered home at the odd hours. Then he stopped and listened, someone was whistling rhythmically from the maize plantation. He listened again, that must be George.

“George” he called out.

Silence.

“George!” He called again. “Don’t you dare whistle at this time again, you are calling snakes!” He retorted. The whistling had stopped. He asked George what he was doing there at such a time and when he got no reply, he clicked and walked way. Then the whistling commenced.

We walked amid the whistling. Not scared even of the night runners. Night runners do not dare touch a group of people, they only scare you if you are alone. At the gate Oscar sat down, passed his right leg below the gate and pushed the stone that was leaned against the gate, that’s how the gates are locked in shagz by the way. And we slithered into the compound. Now, we did not intend to do the lady all of us. No. Neither were we planning to go and eavesdrop by the window of the bedroom as the two made herstory. It’s just Satan. It’s Lucifer, I tell you.

The kitchen was open with so much smoke coming out of the grass roof, and the lamp was still on. A child was crying from the bedroom and a lady crossed from kitchen to the main house. We dashed into the latrine nearby. Its door faced the thorny hedge and I’m sure I heard Farid cry out an Ouch. We hid inside the latrine, the much appraised latrine. It felt slippery. At was also used as the bathroom. We were so cautious not to slip into the hole at the centre, so we huddled close to the door, and peeped to see what was going on. The dogs had begun barking but none came to the doorless room. We shivered, we shook. We knew that shit was pending. We could see a spotlight moving around. It was Protus. He shone his torch towards the hedge close to the latrine, and then went away.

We were sure he would go to sleep, and probably Moraa would sleep alone in the kitchen as Protus and his wife slept in the main house, so there was still a ray of hope. We just stayed in the latrine, trading stories. Jeff told us of how he thought the next Bible would be. Yaani, the Bible to be used after God comes back, burns some of you and creates new beings. The Bible these new beings would be using. How many books it would have, how many testaments blablabla. Said the Bible would have a verse reading, “And behold that night, Satan lied to Jeff, Oscar, Farid and Babjy to go to Protus’ place. He spoke unto them. Isn’t this your last day to that place oh Oscar, why don’t you take with you…. We laughed. You should hear Farid laugh, wuueh! He forgets everything.

toilet

And the dogs heard the laughter, and then began barking. We knew Satan was on our necks. I particularly was upbeat. And I had to release the pressure. I tore a piece of newspaper I had leaned against that was tucked into the corner of the latrine.

“Shhhh, careful bana….” Oscar warned.

“No, I want to poop,” I hissed.

“What, but we can be heard yaa!”

I was already peeing. I would hear them breathing heavily. I would smell the fright in them. A torch lit somewhere close to the latrine. That fool was out again. I dropped. The poop hit water inside that pit making the sound. The spotlight began becoming stronger, reducing in size. A figure dashed out of the loo, another one followed and before I knew it, I was alone. Squatting in somebody’s pit latrine, less than two hours to midnight. Here I was, pushing shit like a woman in labour, my face wrinkled as the light finally fell on me.

“Babjy, is that you?”

“Yes Uncle, I was on my way from town and pressed so bad. I had to rush here to relieve myself”

“Mmmh, nice story you have.”

(For more mouthwatering stories from Babji, visit his site: www.babjy.wordpress.com)

 

Dirty Hands in A Jam (H. Waswa)

I couldn’t tell what colour her skin was due to the tons of makeup that complemented her not-so-fair face. Funny, I could tell the colour of her thighs though. She struggled to make me not see but despite her efforts to pull that mini-whatever down, I still got a glimpse of them goodies.

Traffic jam at a peak hour.
Traffic jam at a peak hour.

I don’t know why things in the city are done much differently from the normal way things should be done. By normal I mean something the village way. Ever since I set foot in this big city, I have known no peace. What with the hooting and honking of vehicles implying the end times? And have I told you about the jams? I hear the jams on the roads to the west of this city are unfathomable, everyone possibly owns a ride in those parts I think. The ones I am much well versed with are the jams on these roads leading from the central and western parts. There are no southern, neither the northern and thus you get the point Eastlando. Nice places indeed, Eastlands. But again the worst if you ask those used to the other parts.

Well, I personally don’t like the Westerners. I think they lack manners completely. How do you explain them coming to the eastern sides dressed like sons of kings with those big phones  that are bigger than their palms, and still expect someone dressed in torn….wait a minute. That’s not even dressing. They expect someone wrapped, for that is the word, wrapped in sheets, to look at them and appreciate them. This is a society of the have-nots. And the haves ought to humble when venturing in this society, just like we do when washing their toilets, guarding their premises and even asking for our meagre wages from them. It’s called breaking the imbalance in the society.

And why do they even come to these sides? I guess they too have eastern friends and think it best to come and have the feeling of a poor soul. Or eat some obusuma cooked from floor milled in a posho-mill and not in those millers at Unga House. I hear those GMO goodies are always giving them complications every now and then. But they ought to come dressed decently, not like that lady I saw the other day.

I couldn’t tell what colour her skin was due to the tons of makeup that complemented her not-so-fair face. Funny, I could tell the colour of her thighs though. She struggled to make me not see but despite her efforts to pull that mini-whatever down, I still got a glimpse of them goodies. This eagle’s eye. I was tempted to ask why she dressed in that manner only to try hard in hiding her thighs. Didn’t she see that it was a short skirt?

Verbosity has got its way with me, some dirty hands. So what were we talking about? The things done differently or the jams? I guess it’s one and the same because these jams are a different thing all the same. The main road back at home is a football pitch most of the days. And small children train marble playing on the same. Those three vehicles that are the public means of transport rarely affect the other activities on the road. Are they even roads? With all those potholes in potholes?

I haven’t had peace visiting my uncle at those high brows of the city. There is one thing I am not used to doing, not that I care less, but because I fail to see why I should do it. Why should I wash my hands before eating? I have not been doing so for the better part of my life you know. And I am sure my granny hasn’t been doing it nearly her entire life. I am yet to see her complain of stomach pains or germs ingested at any point to this point when she has been crying of back aches. I bet that’s old age at puberty. But it’s OK anyway. In the meantime, I will wash them, wash them in the toilet sinks as everybody does, before eating. But not after, that’s news. Before I got myself in this jam, I ate after washing my hands.

Well, this woman seated next to me has been nagging me about some place. We are headed for the west if you never knew. To my uncle’s. And I am not even sure where to alight. I guess this woman is headed to the same destination, for the first time most probably. So I tell her to wait till we get there, I will tell her. Huh! I can’t figure out why she can’t afford her own ride.

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The Six-Thousand-Bob Job

A home on the other side
A home on the other side

Ever gone for negotiations? At a negotiation table, you mostly meet people at the furthest extremes. The bride’s mother wants a grand wedding, 12 plus 9 cows for dowry and a promise of a honeymoon in either Zanzibar or Istanbul. The groom’s spokesman thinks otherwise. So he clears his throat, looks at his watch with the expression that he doesn’t have time and then looks the prospective in-laws in the eye.

“Our in-laws, look here. We did not come to buy the State House. We did not come to suggest that you take us to Mecca for pilgrimage. All we came for is a girl whom our son has been naughty enough to sweet-talk. And we have not changed our intent. With us your girl will be happier and healthier. But now you speak as if we came to buy a kidney…. We shall give you two goats and a hen for the ushers.”

The bride’s father, who has been silent all along, signals their spokesman and whispers something. Then the spokesman nods vigorously and starts:

“It is not just a human body we are giving you. Please let’s respect each other. The girl whose hand you seek is a graduate. We have taken her to school and we are not even adding the school fees to the bargain. We have taught her good manners and how to be a good mother. Will she mother our children? No. She will be mother to children you will call yours. We even don’t know if the young man runs at night or not. Any family with a level head will quickly accept the offer without a word. But it is good you’ve shown your character. We now fear that perhaps if we let our daughter go, it is to either hungry or stingy people we are sending her. (…) Now, grand wedding, 12 plus 2 cows and Zanzibar – final bargain!”

At this time, both sides must maintain their adrenaline. Otherwise I’ve heard of people who exchanged blows over the dowry scale. The negotiators will slowly move from their extremes and finally settle on five cows and three goats payable within three months after the wedding. And the mother-in-law never mentions Zanzibar again.

Those are bargains for you. But I’ve personally  grown up with this problem with negotiation. I don’t like traders who give a price and tell you that you could still negotiate. If it can go lower, why then do you start up there? If you say your jacket is 1k, stop there, otherwise you are a thief.

My mother, on the other hand, has the medicine for such. There’s this day we went to buy a pair of shoes for my elder sister. The guy said 2k, negotiable. She laughed so much the seller became uneasy. Then she said she had 50 bob. She called him all the good names north of Limpopo until eventually the shoes went at 300 bob. All along, I went through their bargaining like someone whose kinsman runs naked at the market centre.

Anyway, too much verbosity already. Let me get to my gossip.

I just remembered the last time I went for negotiations and laughed how come I hadn’t inherited this gene. Someone had advertised that they needed a house help. I had quickly wired an aunt back in the village and she came running. So the guys asked me to take her for introductions and negotiations. You see, this was a Caucasian family and I expected she’d give me a tip if everything went well.

So we arrive and the man at the gate points at the far right corner of the compound. People still own large compounds in the city. We walk there and find the couple taking the Chinese black thing they drink in cups the size of bottle tops. Every time we watched a Bruce Lee movie, people said the liquid in those bottle tops was a drug against hunchback. As I see them, my mind tries to picture them with a hunchback. Bad manners.

We are welcomed and I tell my aunt not to touch anything because these Ching Chongs eat snakes and dogs. Soon the negotiations begin.

The lady has stayed around for some years so she understands Swahili fairly well. She tells us that they need a house-help (says ‘maid’ but who cares whether it is house manager or house slave or house-anything provided the cash is healthy?). She’ll look after the house. Look after the kid (about to turn 2). Take care of the dog (I think of that Ching Chong visitor who may want to celebrate a birthday over a dead dog’s tail). Do the laundry using the machine and accompany mademoiselle to the mall for shopping. We say we understand. Then the real part comes.

Negotiating the salary.

She says she is offering 6k. Arabs call it sitta aalaaf, elfu sita in Shakespeare’s Swahili. We look at each other, aunt and nephew. I smile. Perhaps it is six thousand Euros. Or it could be Yens. I ask the lady what she means. She says six thousand in the local currency. Our baloons deflate.

Just to confirm, I ask if the 6k is the daily salary, exclusive of lunch. The lady talks to her husband in Chinese and she tells us it is monthly. She’s been smiling since she saw us.

I tell my aunt let’s go. Let’s get out of here. On my mind I am thinking how bad dog meat makes of someone’s mind. You see, I tell her, that’s why we didn’t take that drink of theirs!

The end of this story is that the Ching Chongs remain adamant. After an hour’s bargaining, she adds only 200 bob. Yet we came planning on at least 50k.

They say they pay that because it is not a graduate. Hey, to mean a graduate has two stomachs? Or that if you never saw university doors you can eat stones and still get laid the whole night? I know professors who teach that Pluto is a planet and preachers who say God is white like snow. Yet I am still to find this dummy who will feed his kid on rock pebbles every midday and say he is done with proteins.

So because you have decided to be here, you accept that tin walled house by the riverside. You negotiate with life and finally accept to stay at a hood named after Azania’s Soweto. When it rains you can’t reach your home.  But if you successfully swim home, there will be no demarcation between your house and the public toilet 300m away. Sometimes you will get what to eat.

Maslow didn’t separate the needs of a poor guy from those of a rich guy. If it is food, food it is and every breathing soul must eat. Imagine a guy taking home a pay of six-zero-zero-zero shillings, what a conspiracy nature pulls! It squeezes all the juice in the life of those that cross over from the village. They soon end up owing everyone everything in the neighbourhood. If length is measured in metres and weight kilometres, debt and credit those sides are measured perfectly in their names. Debtors embed their names in porcelain books and the only escape is by suicide.

This woman will need pick-wear and heeled shoes for Christmas. She will need STI drugs occasionally. She will need red lipstick and school uniform for the kids. Yet her employer gives her 6k and reminds her that graduates have rumen and reticulum.

How will her kids grow up knowing how to skate? What tv programme will they narrate to their classmates? How do they distinguish between a rodent and a pet? What do they know and what don’t they? When you answer these, you are essentially giving reasons why society has destitutes.

(Okay, okay, word count you are actually a freak. The red button is blinking which means that with the laziness of this generation, even I won’t manage to read through this article for editing.)

At her death bed, she will reflect and ask herself why she didn’t commit suicide that year they asked her to cook pilau with dog meat. She will ask herself if there has been any justification for her struggle. The truth eventually sinks, but late. It is like that campus guy who spends two years looking at the pictures of his crush. She is expensive and in a different league. Sometimes he looks through the curtains as she passes to her hostel. Then luck comes, he wins her and discovers that her heels are cracked and she even shaves a beard every 3.30 a.m.