It’s January but there’s something off about it, the weather. It’s not as bright as it should be. It’s dull and the clouds hang low like most account balances. Traffic jam is at a minimum, the hired cars have gone back to their rightful owners and the car owners are tight on fuel. The stage is sparsely populated, it’s only 8 a.m. people have opted for the train, it’s cheaper and there’s the slight chance in between all that congestion you can get away without having to pay. It’s a free ride, in January, thank you Jesus, Shetani ashindwe.
Breakfast should be eaten like a king. At least that’s what they say. I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. But it’s January so you have to make do with tea irrigated with kidogo milk and measly slices of bread. Bread that looks like it didn’t join in the December festivities. The slices seem thinner, and for margarine you have to scrape the sides of the tin with a butter knife. The little you get you spread on parts of your bread you think you should eat with blue band. This must be what budgeting for the government is like. If you’re smart enough you put it on one half then fold the bread. So at least then every bite has some margarine. Here I thought I wouldn’t use my economics degree. It’s 2016, the fight gainst diabetes is in full swing so no sugar and if necessary a teaspoon (half of it) will do. January brings a word December disowns and neglects like a bastard child – sparingly.
You go to the stage, it’s 8.30. You’re meeting someone in town, some guy. Not business just a friendly meeting. A long lost friend. You wonder why he couldn’t stay a little more lost maybe until February, mid February. You’re meeting at archives, near Mr Price – you see the irony. You haven’t been to the ATM (people that say ATM machine how’s the world on your side? Enjoying 2015s?) since December. Actually you’re afraid of the damn machine. Sometimes it’s just better not to know just how broke you are. What you don’t know won’t kill you or will kill you and you won’t know what killed you either way there’s not knowing and killing. The balance might just give you cardiac arrest, the only time in your life you get arrested and it kills you. Safaricom is tired of telling you about your bundle balance and have taken to just wishing you a happy new year. You need the positivity.
January you learn new terms, money saving terms. Like ‘kushika chuma’ – let me educate you kidogo. While this might sound like a gay thing it’s not. Kushika chuma means standing for the whole trip to town holding that rail that runs across the roof of the bus. If you have a slick tongue, the right amount of January scowl and some sheng’. Here sheng is actual sheng’ not the English Swahili combination people use to seem more down to earth. Ladies from Athi River, Kitengela and Rongai know what sheng’ is. I think maybe it’s because when English came with the ship those areas were too remote. I digress. Armed with that you can have the conductor, sent from heaven chaps these ones, shave off twenty shillings from your fare.
I shikad chuma till town (still nothing sexual about this). I got to Mr Price and took out my phone. I had to call this chap find out where they are. I didn’t have to, this guy jolly fellow spots me and smiles. No. Grins. He waves and walks towards me. When you haven’t met someone in a long time you don’t know if you should shake hands, fist bump, do a bro hug or just go all out and hug like long lost lovers. I fist bumped the guy, C’mon I had all this chuma shikain blood flowing. Street cred nini nini. Even in this financial melee I had street cred. CRB can never take that away from me.
Hey, man long time. The guy says. He’s eying me head to toe. Umenona. He says, pointing at my non existent tummy. Now, when the first thing a guy tells you ni umenona that’s a red flag. Guy is buttering you up to ask for money or tell you something ridiculous like he’s banging your girlfriend. My point? If youre in a relarionship don’t get fat. If you know me you know if I had anything like a belly, pot belly or even sufuria one I’d look like I’m struggling with marasmus – is that how you spell that? Shout out to my class seven science teacher. Cut it man. Wapi? I reply and we laugh. Let me buy you a cup of coffee sawa? He asks. Time to catch up I guess. Why not, I think to myself. This would be a great chance to supplement my breakfast.
Guy takes me to some cafe that doubles up as a restaurant looking like Kanyari’s pulpit. It’s January. I don’t object, my only fear is that I’ll get tetanus from the spoons here. I can’t afford tetanus. I play along and order some coffee. Been to Java? You know how their coffee comes? Don’t expect that here. It’s a metal cup, saucer, spoon, plastic sugar dish and a sachet of nescafe. I eye the sugar, and put in three heaps. I’m making up for sugarless tea. So, he starts. I have a ka issue I need you to sort me. I knew it. Guy needs cash. What issue? I ask. I need some twenty kaay. He drags out the K. As if that makes it less of a burden to me. You know how hawkers tell you a price and add tu. Ni thao tu. You want to take that tu and turrorize them. I just made that up – shout out to my dictionary. I laugh and my non existent belly shakes. I adjust my coat and lean in. Twenty K? I ask. Yeah, iyo tu. He says. I take a sip of my overly sugared nescafe and hot water. Let me think about it. I say. I know I’m not giving this guy any money. I don’t even have it. But if I said no there and then I would end up paying for my nescafe. I didn’t need such negativity. Cool, end of day? He asks. Sure I’ll have an answer by then. We chat some more, I get up to leave and I shake his hand this time.
It’s a few days now and the guy still calls to check in on his twenty kaay. He’s resilient, I’ll give him that. But it’s January, she’s a jealous lover. She’s in competition with December. She can’t compete with her intoxicating kisses so she teaches us a lesson. She forgets that for a brief moment we loved her. From say 12.01 But maybe thats because we were drunk and still thought she was December. Its like calling out your other lovers name with your other other lover. Shoutbout to drake. Maybe if she was more gentle. Just maybe. Rumor has it she’s going to court to have Christmas moved to January. But shh you didn’t hear it from me.
P.S Netflix just launched. I have no bundles. Wifi is a luxury I can’t afford. So let’s just chill. Cool?