So am in this Matatu from Westie and am seated next to the driver. That ‘ka’ smell we used to call spice in high school glides through my nostrils every time he lifts his left hand. His grey-collar’d brown shirt complements his brown teeth and his rowdy Kikuyu accent drives the hell of a divorced parrot. His fingernails is full proof that he is a smoker. Perhaps he’s also seen the tough side of the drunk Njoroge as an old scar close to his right eye ‘uglies’ his face; probably saying ‘You must have a mark of allegiance, just like any other matatu driver.’
I am from Sarit, worn out from another book fair. My face is full of make up and I feel all plastic. I feel as if mud has been smeared on my face and I kept wondering how some chic I dated a while back survived this uneasiness. My friends had insisted that I get the free make up offered by some company marketing their product. It took hours for them to convince me to, saying it was men’s make-up and accusing me am a Maasai from the bush who should know that the world has changed. So I decided to change with the world; outcome – a plastic face. Nkt!
So my driver, whom well call Muturi is all talkative, blurting all words that pass through his mind; from yesterday’s Inooro news to this morning’s Njoroge’s scandal. He talks of the police and NTSA and the nganya awards (how they ‘stole’ his prize) to politics and the economy. Am all grave. Passengers behind me were wondering who Muturi was talking to. The matatu was old, creaking at every slide of its doors and complaining as the driver ignited the engine. Perhaps this was a remnant of the Titanic soon to find another ice berg.
This Premio driver shifts lanes and Muturi grunts in scorn and anger. He goes all bananas accusing the driver of inadequate driving skills. We are in this jam and half his body is out of the driver’s window saying all forms of ill words to this guy. I was amused by one word he kept repeating. He kept saying that this guy is a cow. He then turns to me.
“Pumbafu sana, hizi makijana manachukua roan mananunua Toyota manakuja kujaza mbarambara venye manataka.”
I don’t carry earphones with me but I wished I did. I am all silent trying to wipe the saliva that showered my face through his ranting but as soon as am done…
“Ng’obe yeye, nimeedesha gari miaka thate; washana na hii gasia manakuja kuingia lane si yake, kwani manafikiria mbarabara ni ya mamake?”
I do not carry tissues nor those alcoholic wipes chics carry (I hear men these days do) and I couldn’t trace my handkerchief either. This rain, I wiped using the sleeve of my shirt, just like a blonde who never wanted to mess up her make up. I am happy that at least he has calmed down but all of a sudden..
“Kirimo giiki. Kwani matu hamajui kuendesha magari hii Narobi? Angaria hii kubafu ingine? Ng’obe kabisa.”
This was another Toyota Corolla guy who wanted to change his lane. I wondered why I became the fallback to his rants. I was not conversing with him yet he kept talking and talking. I close my eyes for a while and get deeper into my thoughts blaming myself why I applied the make up and why I sat close to this guy, then all at once am hit. I feel this sharp pain on my forehead. The car was on emergency brakes. My head had knocked the wind screen. To the front was this Range Rover eVogue booming with Hip Hop music. I then decide to talk, because I love a dramatical defeat; especially one from Muturi.
“Dere, kwani shida iko wapi? Kwa nini hawa watu wa Range Rover huwatusi na ni wao wako on the wrong?”
“Hapo shasa siwezi danganya, ni mimi nilikuwa na makosha. Nimesinzia kiasi.”
“Lakini dere huoni venye wamekuingia vibaya? Gari yao iko katikati ya lane mbili.”
I insisted to Muturi that he was not on the wrong and that he should also rant to the Range Rover guys.
“Kijana, washa nikuambie kitu, nimeedesha gali miaka ishio” (he raises 3 fingers up and I fool around).
Since the car had no audio, Muturi’s rants was our radio and this time round all passengers were all ears when I started confronting him.
“Thaate, ng’obe hii.”
“Kwani sasa unanitusi mimi na sijakunyang’anya lane. Ama unanidharau juu sina gari na sijaendesha gari miaka thate?”
“Apana Kijana, unajua makijana kama nyinyi ndio manaendesha hii magari kumbwa kumbwo. Mamepewa na mababa yao na huwezi jua kama ni matoto ya gavana ama matu makumbwa makumbwo kwa ninchi.”
“Kwa hivyo ule wa Premio na Corolla si matu makumbwa makumbwo kwa ninchi?”
The passengers cannot hold it any longer. They burst into laughter as they discuss about our conversation. I overhear them saying, “Huyu amepata mkali wake.” Muturi hearing this, goes defensive.
“Ata kama ni wewo, utaeda kura bibi ya shifo? Na wewe ni mkurima huna kanyamo? Si utauriwo?”
“Sasa bibi ya shifo ameingilia wapi kwa Range Rover dere? Alafu mimi nina bibi, na bibi ya shifo wetu amezeeka sana, wangu bado ni sweet sixteen.”
“Washa nikuereze kama kijana juu huwesi erewa mabo ya wazee. Ni kama uede ure Ngina wa Kenyata, si utamariswo?”
“Dere, mimi na Ngina hatuwezi patana, ningependa sana tupatane lakini tumepatana tu kwa Tv. Kwa hivyo sioni hiyo ikiwezekana.”
The passengers are all nuts with this conversation. Others have found this an ice-breaking moment between them and whom they sat next to. At this time Muturi is pissed. He gives a long pause thinking of what to tell me next.
“Nirikuwa nafikiria ure jamaa wa Premio ni ng’obe kube wewe dio ng’obe zaidi. Hiyo masaa yote sijajua nimekaa na ng’obe. Kwani hujui Yesu aritumia mafubo kufunzo wanafunzi yake”
“Lakini hakuwaambia wao ni ng’obe, (I start making fun of his accent) aliwachukua kama watu. Hawa wa Range Rover ndio wana makosa na hujawaita ng’obe. Kwanza hao wanafaa kuitwa ng’obe kama mia tatu, sema ng’obe mia nitakusaidia mia biri.”
“Hao unaachia Mugu, maadiko yanasema usirundishe mambaya kwa mambaya. Washa wafike pare bere wapabane na forithi.”
“Haiya, na si ulisema saa zile ati wewe ndio una makosa, imekuwaje tena saa hii wao ndio wana makosa. Na pia si wale wa Premio na Corolla ungewaachia Mugu na wao pia wapabane na forithi? Si hao ni madereva kama hao wa Range Rover?”
We are nearing Uhuru Highway and we shift to another lane. These Range Rover guys are but young boys and the Premio guy is next to us. Muturi hates me now and he blurts.
“Ndio ure ng’obe mwenzako wa Premio. Na si nirikuabio hawa ni makijana ya Sonko?”
“Haiya, ni watoto wa Sonko tena? Sonko hana vijana wakubwa.”
The matatu passengers give out a laughter that arouses the curiosity of the policewoman. She comes forth to our matatu and asks what the matter is. Everyone goes dumb and there was this grave silence then Muturi started singing a Kikuyu song by Franco Wa Subu titled ‘Wendo wa OCS’ and everyone bursts into laughter than before. The policeman walks away shaking her head thinking that we were all high on hybrid weed.
So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.
Previously, I had had boring meetings and a tough day but I had lots of fun in that matatu, because the Bible tells me to enjoy life. Not just sit like a robot when conversations like Muturi’s pass away. I will surely miss Muturi and his rants, but the sad thing is that he hates me.