It’s a typical Monday morning so thoughts of road rage and the city rush hour madness drives me out of bed into the bathroom as the nearest mosque sounds the Alfajir call to prayer. On weekends, I particularly find this early morning noise irritating since I just want to enjoy the morning sleep interruptions kepts as minimal as possible.
Today however, am grateful for the Muidhin, the caller at the mosque because I need this noise to keep me out of sleep and out of bed. As I step out of the bathroom, the rooftop settles into a familiar razzmatazz that can only mean one thing: it has started to rain. Strange times in deed. These days it shines for days on end only for the skies to empty in the night and at dawn.
As I step out of the gates of the apartment where I live I come to face with the full colour of Nairobians when it rains. Some politician in this locality recently deployed earth movers and gigantic machines to dig up roads in this end of the world as a “clear indication” of his intent to serve when elected.
But that was until the all-powerful voters pulled an equally supreme decision on him without a second chance for rerun. He must have aborted the project forthwith and the residents now have to grapple with pools of water and tonnes of mud at the slightest drop of rain. A man in front of me has rolled his jeans up to knee length exposing white stripped socks that keep soaking and turning black cotton like Nairobi soil at the back with every lift of his feet.
We are all walking to this crazy bus stop where drivers are hooting and overtaking as their turn boy makanga’s shout and drag passengers by the hemlines of their dresses and coats to board their matatus. Isn’t it amazing that they always overtake dangerously only to park right in front of the rear occupant becoming next ahead until the next driver comes and does the same?
Just then a rather tipsy young man steps on the shiny black leather shoes of the rolled jeans guy still standing next to me, perhaps bemused by his own indecision on which matatu to take and momentarily enjoying the drama of women being dragged around by makangas who are also hurling unprintable insults at anyone not showing clear intent of boarding their roaring rickety jalopies.
One wonders why they keep those engines running all the time even when empty and keep modifying the automotive engines so much they end up sounding like some ebola stricken wild elephant roaring and bleating in a forest somewhere in Congo.
Anyway, a quarrel ensues between the tipsy fellow and the rolled jeans guy who is taking none of the apologies offered. The two block the way momentarily and have to be shouted out of the way by the line growing fast behind them before both agree to cede way.
It has been drizzling from the moment I stepped out of the apartment and the little school girl next to me is shaking. No, I think her teeth are rattling simultaneously on their own and the sweater she so closely hugs herself into is not helping much. I allow her to step into the KBS first purely on humanitarian grounds then follow suit, taking cue to close my umbrella as I enter the bus. A train plies close to my estate but these are not the kind of days to wait for its schedule of 7:30 AM when you are at the station at 6:20 AM, it may arrive when you are dead frozen in this weather.
The traffic is nasty all the way from the estate to the CBD and we have to meander through panya (unconventional) routes in Eastlands before we come into town. It’s foggy and visibility is as far as the eye sight of a new born baby yet this driver is doing death speeds as usual, the matatus never learn.
As we alight around the national Archives area, I realize the rains haven’t forgiven us yet and are still pounding hard on the CBD tarmac. I look around for the nearest sign of the flourishing shoe shining business in town and thank God for the rains. Someone shall surely take home bread tonight, in bounties. I spot one where lines are long already and curse.
Must we always queue for everything in this part of the world, including to pay for the removal of mud on your trouser that a careless walker splashed on you?
As I make my way there, I notice women without umbrellas are grappling with even tougher questions having to place hand bags and cardboard boxes on their heads to keep the drizzle off their precious hair. Whoever occasioned the plastic ban better be looking for Nairobi women and FIDA to apologize.
Just then a lady crosses my path in heels followed by another who beckons her to notify her of the muddy mess the rising and falling of heels in her walking motion have occasioned on her tight slay queen jeans. The one with dirty jeans gives her a wild look and follows with an angry rebuttal “NAJUA!!” (I know) that leaves a broad smile on my face. Women can be quite some creatures, all in a rainy Nairobi morning.