I cannot say I am avowedly the world’s best aunt (though my nephew thinks contrarily) but I come pretty close. Every parent will tell you babies are adorable, heart rendering, delicate, challenging little beings. They are tiny yet pervade homes with exceptional warmth I can’t even begin to explain. At just the age of three, Curtis drops something and clamors Oh My God! Sings I love you my baby with proper lyrics and is a junkie of Boss Baby. Wait, when did Tom and Jerry stop being every kids’ favorite caricature? One time he sarcastically asked me, ‘Now what are you eating?’ as if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, he snatched it and tossed it away (Fay still laughs at me for this – I kid you not!) I don’t remember what it was but careful guys, you actually don’t think the health enthusiast in me would let me make such inconsiderate moves. Do you? At least not in front a kid. I adore this quirk and I get such a quick out of watching him grow.
But then, others would say babies are overrated. They have peculiar habits. They cry at strangers. They pee, diaper or not. Sometimes they poop. And sometimes it gets you when you least expect. I think they’re just hating on these little stars. Because if they’re really as bad as they say, Curtis will come to my room right now and bump my hands as Itypeheghedghoauqw0hrnq9Ewr139897iogn.
That really is beside the point. Thing is, babysitting counts as a good day for me.
Then there are sunrises that my people for lack of a better word define as ‘waking up on the wrong side of the bed.’ No matter how much positivity you seise, they’re fated to disappoint you. There’s a time I was in town from home and Nairobians being Nairobians, I couldn’t risk hovering around with my Mursik and Matokes. See, Nairobi has unwritten rules. If you’re lucky you’ll get wind of them, but mostly you learn the hard way. On the list somewhere close to number five, the rule is always give exact fare. Always. If not, the balance should not be something that will give you hypertension forwhy they seldom return on time or never do. On this particular day, my slothful self didn’t want to walk around in search of loose money. Plus, it was 1pm, no traffic, no distractions and folks were minding their own businesses (that’s what it looked like), what could possibly go wrong?
But guess who is smiling for having prior knowledge of the predicament that awaited me. The devil, that’s who! I gave the conductor five reds and he didn’t give me my balance immediately. See, never forget the rules! All the way from town I kept reminding him but it was pretext after pretext. I started to get angry and swallowed it. At some point he’d run to his counterparts and ask for the same. I don’t know if he was genuine or trying to pull my legs. Whatever it was, I wasn’t boarding. My mind was stuck on rule thirteen, no matter how helpless they look, DO NOT trust them. I didn’t.
As if that wasn’t enough strife, I started feeling something in my bladder (am a little embarrassed). In the beginning, it didn’t bother me because we were almost getting to my alighting point. Ten minutes tops. You can do this Sharoe! Remember you’re as hard as nails. I talk to myself every once in a while. Give myself very good advice. Sometimes I even take it. But tell you what, when the universe conspires against you, winning becomes a visitor. You know what’s worse? The fact that all along I tried to be a good girl. I mean, I don’t even withcall the last time I was this self-disciplined! Customarily, I use travelling as an excuse to bend the rules. But on this day, not even eight hours of travel could entice me. No junk. No liquids. Not even water. The only thing I took was a fruit salad. But here we were, moments away from pissing my knickers!
Ten minutes have never been so long! I tried to tell myself there was no option. My bladder didn’t believe me. I turned left, turned right, lifted my legs, dropped them, slouched, closed my eyes, popped them, but nothing! I even tried breathing deep gulps of air. It didn’t help. What kind of sorcery is this? And to think the devil had capitulated, he resurfaced through the woman next to me. She had an overstuffed osofia on her lap and whatever was inside made it loose its original shape; which I had no problem with until she started looking at me bad. Her head was probably telling her am not a good person. I didn’t blame her. Rule 13 was now acting against me. Plus, who trusts a dread head in socks and crocs and is carrying bananas?
For panics sake, she yanked the osofia closer to her as a token of not wanting anything to do with me. But in my defense, am the one who deserved to be terrified of her. She had too much eye make-up, like blue chalk smeared above her eyes and her bleached skin made her look way older than she was. When she stared at me, her presence crawled along my skin like insects. But that’s none of my business, I had a bigger elephant.
Enough is as good as a feast. I tell the konda to give me my change so that I can alight but he discards claiming it’s not a stage. I tell him first of he’s being rude and secondly if he doesn’t make it a stage I’ll make my seat a toilet! The man behind the wheel didn’t think twice. I want to help myself (do people still use that phrase?) and return but unfortunately he isn’t one of the good guys. Clearly. He tosses me what looks like half my balance and by the time I realize he has already lost his temper and is lambasting me – a spectacle that must have entertained bystanders but left me thoroughly baffled and looking for a place to hide!
First things first, I ask around if I can get a cloakroom but people are so reluctant. I even offer to pay a hundred shillings, they don’t blink. Are we normally this slow or people just don’t know what emergency looks like? I was shocked and annoyed and so Luo that I decided to no longer play it safe once I was out of vicinity. I just undressed and peed with my eyes closed (now am very embarrassed!) No sooner had I started feeling the fresh breath of alleviation than a woman from sijui where started screaming how I have no shame dirtying someone’s doorstep. Apparently, this was someone’s door, my bad! Alafu, her voice was so gaudy she invited a guy who’d refused to give me a hand to pry by pretending to be on a call. But we all know why he was here, and I was having none of it. I stared at him right in the eye and he shied off. When I was done, the adrenaline was gone, and I was tireder than before. A person only has so much adrenaline then you start running on numb.
For a second, I thought I’d die, or wish I had. I thought I’d be man handled, taken to the police, asked to wash the ground or one of those things mobs are fond of doing, but none of that happened. I guess that was my light at the end of the tunnel because when I was through I walked unperturbed back to the roadside and waited for another matatu. My heart felt as empty as my stomach, I felt leaden, used up. It was a tall order but a girl’s got to be strong. All I wanted was to go home and try to sleep. And pray I didn’t dream.