Ever had one of those mornings designed to play a prank on you? You tag at your blankets a little more because today you can afford one more hour of sleep. After all, all your scheduled activities begin in the afternoon. One more hour of morning goodness! When you finally get out of bed, the morning is warm, the sun is smiling at you, tempting you to take a selfie. You decline because you’re such a disciplined man. The chickens are less noisy today. The rooster whispered Good morning. Indeed the morning is all good. Even the tea knows it. It knows because unlike every other day, today when you look aside for that one second, it will not pour. Everything is in perfect alignment. You feel like you need a nickname because good named people have good days. You are literally cruising through life.
The afternoon comes and you would think the trend continues because it is not yet 11pm on Friday (Get it?) but no, it has something else in store. This my friends, is how you know that Larry Madowo is on leave.
Today I posted on my Facebook about this woman who made me think that finally, Naswa people have decided to pull real pranks. Funny pranks. Funny pranks that are not done in Uhuru park. She got into the Matatu as the fourth person in a three-seater . We, being the kind people we are, especially when a middle aged woman is involved, moved and let her inconvenience us. About a minute later, another passenger got in and the woman begun to complain. Long story short, I thought irony was just a stylistic device. Turns out, it is not.
While making the post, I was not to know that my relationship with her had just begun. Dramatically alright, but that is what you need to be a captured audience right? Wrong. The stage of life is not so calculating. It is much more. I will take a break here and ask Winnie if she can do a post on outfits to wear when travelling. No, not for me Winnie. I know you guys once complained about my love for black, but today it is not about me. I’m being quite selfless here considering that I’m the victim.
Turns out, this lady, decided to wear an outfit that feels like it’s made out of dragon skin. Rough dragon skin. An outfit designed to ward off any would be neighbors. I bet she did not think about me. Me, her neighbor in a short sleeved shirt. I felt every bump. Every dent. Every stone. Every valley. I felt them. More on the right side of my arm. For a three hour journey. Why do they do this to us Winnie, why?
Where am I travelling to you ask? In the Bundus. Here, you leave civilization by a feat. All roads leading to this place are dirt roads. As you go further down the road, green fades to brown. The air is light and warm and dusty. The people are, well, people. But don’t get me wrong, the life that the plants are devoid of, seems to have been infused into the people. You need it to walk the long distances to the river along the rough roads.
By the roads, past the dust-stained bushes, are houses. Mainly stone built round huts. The roofs are brown with what our chemistry teacher called Iron (iii) oxide (show off!). These people have refused to conform. We will take the white man’s stones. We will even use his iron sheets. But deep down, way deep, we will be Africans. We will live in a house with no corners because corners for who? We will sneer at neighbors who have chosen to go white all the way. Traitors!
Here, people shop only once. At the end of the month. You cannot afford to make the trip to Tala market every often. Unless you are the chief, and you have a yellow lorry. If you’re the chief though, you will be one of the traitors. With a multi cornered house, painted orange and green. Every 100 meters, you will see a big tree. You will not miss it because it is the only green around, other than the chief’s house. It looks like somewhere people should go to worship. A shrine.
Then suddenly, like a twist in a Mexican soap opera, a patch of green appears. Then another. Now we are passing through an impressively green region given that this is Ukambani where everything is supposed to be yellow. From the matatu, we can see a mountain. Looks like an image from a movie. Serene. I want to ask the driver to let us take a picture but I will not risk coming off as a spoilt brat. A traitor from town. A wanna be village girl. So I sit still and watch the selfie moment pass me by.
Meanwhile, the grind continues. My arm is now warm with hurt. If only I lived there in that mountain. It looks like it would be a good place to live. I would stay there with my hairy husband. My mountain man. Every morning, before anything else, we would comb his beard and measure its length. Our ceremonial dose of vanity. Then, my mountain man would go to do what mountain men do. He would comment about my arms before leaving. He loves them. They can harvest sugarcane and milk our two cows. He would not mind how hairy they are. My now bruised arms.
The green patch grows into a strip. Then into what we now know as Del monte. Some people say that hope is yellow, but I say it is green. Green because right here was my moment of hope. We were nearing our destination. The dragon lady had long alighted. I wonder for a minute about the journey. Whether we had to go through all that to get to a place that knows what Wi-Fi is. I smile a little because to me it looks like a metaphor for life. You know, trials building character, that kind of stuff.
As I type this, I am seated in my room at a place near ol-donyo Sabuk-Kolping centre. Their Wi-Fi has been named ‘Kolping Shade Santa’. Maybe a tribute to Santa Klaus. Maybe a humorless help was asked to name it against her will and she decided to find revenge here. Maybe he just didn’t know how to spell ‘Centre’.
Tomorrow, we meet other young people. Tomorrow we discuss the fate of Machakos county. Tomorrow we hope to fan the fire for a cause we set to do a month or so ago. We hope that our efforts will make a ten year old’s girl life better because she will no longer have to be defiled by her uncle. Her mother will know better than to watch all this going on because she is afraid. We hope that a chief somewhere will know what to do in the face of a sexual defilement case. We hope that our people, these people living in stone built huts, these our dragon-clothe-wearing people will have better lives as a result. We hope. Because hope is all there is.
Tomorrow, we do our little. Then maybe, if all goes well, the ripple effect will make lives better.