When you are seated in a matatu waiting for it to fill up and you see a guy sauntering in without a care in the world there’s that brief moment you close your eyes and hope he doesn’t sit next to you. It’s emasculating when a guy sits next to you in a mat with many open optional seats. You feel, even in the slightest way, feminine. You don’t have that machismo you had when you walked in you almost feel like you should stare down at your feet and trace imaginary maps. You have that pit feeling that the conductor will ask the guy for both your fares pointing at you and slurring “Haulipii mrembo?” Should he tap you on the shoulder, you will shudder even if he just wants you to open the window. The whole ride will be uncomfortable. So when a guy walks in you close your eyes and pray. Sometimes your prayers are answered and the sauntering guy eyes the empty seat next to you and soldiers on to the back.
Ideally you want a pretty lady to seat next to you – you don’t really want to spark up a conversation – you just want her there. It’s not like you could strike up a conversation even if you wanted – you’d be forced to scream over the loud music and there’s nothing attractive about half shouting half mouthing ‘I like your dress’ which might get misinterpreted in the process for “You have bad breath”. So when a pretty lady walks in the mat you pray again. A pretty lady sitting next to you in a mat has the exact opposite effect to a guy sitting next to you. When people walk up and down the aisle you give them a look – it’s not the ‘we’re together look’ but the ‘yes, she sat next to me’ look.
So this one time I’m from some light pints I was in deep prayer – as deep as one can get in a mat belting out Konshens “Sumn deh” on the screen. A lady walks in and the vehemence of my prayer goes a notch up. It must have been something about how my brows were arched that tickled her fancy or maybe my prayers were answered but she sat next to me. She had carefully applied make up a white striped short dress paired those plastic doll shoes that look like they were suffocating the life out of her slender feet. She looked like she had come from a day of job interviews and the disappointment on her face was palpable. The first thing I did was take a whiff hoping to catch her perfume, instead there was a putrid stink emanating from her apocrine sweat glands with the concentration higher when she raised her hand exposing her axilia to put her bag down. My nostrils protested in acrimony.
I found myself wishing the guy had taken the seat next to me, it felt as if I was been punished for praying or such vane and useless things. This was God’s way of telling me my needs when I’m drunk in a matatu were a non-issue. I opened the window for a little reprieve but she casually stretched her hand across and shut it! Her armpit was literally in my face, thank God for the neon lights otherwise she would’ve noticed the obvious scowl-cum-retch expression that was plastered on my face. She looked at me and smiled saying its cold. Cold? How is it cold when she was sweating like a pregnant cow at a sauna in an upmarket gym around Kileleshwa? Not once not twice but for umpteen times I kept sniffing my own shirt just in case she happened to have rubbed off her DRA (deodorant resistant armpits) scent on me.
She was constantly on her phone shaking her head to the loud music. I took a quick glance and saw her type “I’m on my way be there in a few xoxo” Maybe I was been nosy and her social life was none of my business – but xoxo, hugs? Hug who? Her? Some poor chap somewhere was going to hug her and pretend the stink didn’t bother him. If that is love consider me loveless. I thought ladies were the prudes to uncleanliness. I’ve seen ladies get dolled up in the backseat of a mat before getting to town. How they managed to get the mascara on without poking their eyes when the vehicle jerked around is beyond me. In fact that that is a skill that should be best put to use in a profession like neurosurgery. So dubbing a little bit of perfume can’t be a hard task same as spraying deodorant.