A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine told me it was time to grow up and buy myself a wallet. Before we continue, I should mention that this friend was female, and to vanquish any other questions about her, we are just friends. You see, I have had this phobia of carrying money in a wallet ever since I got robbed in the company of a girl called Sofia.. I am not sure whether that was purely coincidental or not, because to date I still fear carrying lots of money when in the company of anyone called Sofia. Nhu, I decided it was a long time ago and bought myself a nice leather wallet. The kind that are just fat by nature regardless the presence of money, the ones you use to confuse both your enemies and would be chips fungas.
I was happy. I had just been paid. I swiftly headed to the bank after work and withdrew a sizeable amount of money, after which I proceeded to pay a house call on one of my oldest friends. Yes, the bartender. Within no time, I was singing mwenda wakwa mariru and feeling overly philanthropic. Alcohol makes you feel like you own the central bank. Knowing fully well I had to be at work the next day at 9 am, I was in no hurry. And that’s when she showed up. Shiku. She was beautiful. She had all the goods. With my blood draining from one head to another and with alcohol quickly replacing the blood draining from the former head, I made my move. We bonded almost instantly. I bought her a couple of drinks and when it was time to leave, you cannot imagine my joy at discovering she lived in Kasarani, which as it turns out, is where I live. The gods were on my side.
We boarded a matatu and very soon we were on our way. I had done my quick calculations and discovered that I could pass by her place and get some chips deep fried since her place was closer than mine, and that I would still make it to my place by 12 am. The makanga, after making sure all the seats were filled, started collecting bus fare. I told Shiku I’d pay for her fare. After all, a small amount of money was nothing compared to what I would get at Kasarani. So when the makanga was standing right next to where we were seated, I produced a note from my pocket without even bothering to check what its value was. I was pretty confident it was a Ksh 1000 note, which was sufficient to cover three objectives: one, pay for Shiku’s fare, two, impress Shiku that the money was not about to run out soon, and three, cover for my bus fare.
Except it turned out to be Ksh 100, as the makanga quickly pointed out. “Haya, hiyo nimelipia mresh,” I said in full confidence.
Shiku was smiling. Ah, simple mistake. That must have been the change I received from the bartender. I quickly slid my hand down my pocket to retrieve my wallet and get cash to accomplish objectives two and three in that order. So, you can imagine my shock when my hand came back with nothing but a few beads of sweat on them, more of which was quickly starting to form on my face.
“Mzae kama huna pesa ebu shuka. Ama hiyo umelipia mresh tuseme ikuwe yako alafu yeye ajilipie?” the conductor asked, with a menacing smile because he knew he was about to cock block me. I hated the bastard more because my fellow passengers, who had been intensely following the proceedings like a Mexican soap opera all laughed. As well know, Alcohol rarely lets you make well informed decisions. So, I found myself saying this next:
“Apana. Hiyo ni yake. Sa si juu tunashukia hapo Equity si unaeza nipea dakika mbili nikimbie ATM nitawithdraw nikulipe.”
The makanga after slight deliberation agreed, then as though we were thinking on the same wavelength, it dawned on both of us that there was no way I could withdraw money from the bank because, well, I had lost my wallet. My ATM card in it.
“Ah weh maze wacha za ovyo. Utawithdraw aje pesa ka ATM imeibiwa kwa wallet? Kwani wewe ni mwizi?”
More laughter. Shiku at this point declared she had no money on her either.
“Ama, hiyo simu yako si uniuzie elfu nne alafu nitatoa fare hapo. Halafu change nitakubeba sare miezi sita hadi iishe.”
If there’s one thing I absolutely love, it is my phone. I flatly refused. But then again, I was growing desperate. So, I slowly took out my phone and tried to call anyone that was willing to lend me cash on M Pesa at that time of night. As you might have guessed, I had forgotten to purchase credit before we boarded the matatu. All I had were internet bundles, which were of no use to me since my phone had no Whatsapp and all my closest friends have flatly refused to join Twitter because it is too complicated (?????). I decided there was only one thing left to do. I slowly stood up, much to the mixed emotions of amusement of my audience, some of whom felt I pity. By now, the matatu had stopped. I slowly walked to towards the door. Until one brave passanger, God bless his soul, suggested that I be given a chance to earn my money.
How you ask? I was to be a tout for the next trip to town and back to Kasarani. Everybody suddenly seemed to be on his side. Bear in mind that my knowledge of makanga-ing, if there’s such a word is limited to “Beba! Beba! Tao Mbao.”
Seeing as my only two options were to either sell my phone, was value was way above that Ksh 4000 offered, or to be a tout for two trips, I decided to go for the second option. The tout, having already completed collecting fare for the trip proceeded to hand me the maroon jacket all touts are required by law to wear and. Then after showing me how to hold on to the door and how to notify the driver how to stop by banging on a specific part of the vehicle’s body or window, left me to my means and went to his seat. Sorry, the seat I had been seated in next to Shiku. I deleted Shiku’s number from my phone.