There is something unusual about them, but I can’t figure out what it is.
Every five minutes, Phirum pulls out a yellow handkerchief from his pocket, and wipes Sotha down, rubbing at his spiky haired scalp, so you can literally see the sweat drops flying off his head.
Cambodia this time of year is hot. Sweat drips down from parts of your body you did not even know it was possible to sweat from. Everyone glistens and everything is slicked with sheen. Even the flies seem suspended mid- air, too lethargic to do anything but hover. The little boy Sotha, is sitting on his dad Phirum’s lap, gazing out from the Tuk Tuk at the chaos on the roads. Whole families perched on motorbikes, weave in and out, giving each other way in a gentle fashion that is truly bizarre to the Nairobian in me.
We are on our way…
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the saturday before the last one, at about 11:30 pm, a friend and I inadvertently walked into a situation.
we were fresh off an attempt to wolf down a ‘bad mexican’ at a midnight cafe. in my case, it was came up too fast up in a projectile by the roadside. alongside walked clearly inebriated youths, howling like mad dogs. i paid them no mind, until minutes later, ahead of us, a fight broke out and died out as first.
we saw some people scatter.
nonchalantly, i was first on the scene.
right on, a lanky fella still in the combat mode, turned and pounced on me. i was instinctively on the defense. he did bother to hear if i was ‘one of them’.
still at it, and absorbing the ambush, a second guy, a gym enthusiast no doubt, leaped at my scruffs hurled me from the pavement over to the road in an attempt to pin me to the ground. my cap was knocked off, but i had stubbornly held on.
as i rose, dusting my hands, i was ready to fight, looked back for my friend and back – up, only to see him fleeing. i exclaimed my surprise, turning back – gym guy now had me fasted by the chest, staring at me with intent.
i was half-expecting a blow, raised my hands in a half gesture of diplomacy, half self-defense.
he held on.
it was under a mulika-mwizi floodlights. he was dark skinned, his eyes pinched with a detachment, and not as much drink as his mate. it is then he picked out his left eye which had a gush as if hit by a blunt object, and a subsequent swelling.
” you did this to me!? ”
still holding me by the scruffs, i knew then that my only shot was the encounter where i had thrown up the ‘bad mexican’ and that it was actually him who teased me on it.
the lanky fellow was now back, leaping over gym guy’s shoulder, trying to head-butt me.
– and so was my friend.
behind me, he pleaded, ‘we have surrendered’.
“surrender nini, hakuna ku-surrender hapa,” lanky fellow charged.
it is then that i picked a third guy, older, about 35, stubby beard, just by the road holding on to a black paper-bag, just watching.
suddenly, i felt gym-guy’s grip ease, followed by a pat on my back
” hawa hawana noma ” *
pissed off as i was, i could taste freedom.
straight up, i went to for my cap, dusted it as i turned to my boy, who for his stature, we call ‘biggie’
“why did you ran?”
they were strapped.
i felt an icy chill as the magnitude of the situation dawned. not at once did gym guy assault me, only roughing up, perhaps to provoke. they were not after money, or gadgets, just a fight that would likely end up with the victim riddled with lead.
‘biggie’ had scattered when lanky-fellow sized him and decided to fish his ‘number’ instead.
i was the bait.
all the time he looked me in the eye, perhaps he was looking out to see if i was the one.
You think you have seen them all until someone chucks a success card you sent them in class eight. This is a whole different story, altogether. I mean, all women are crazy but some are truly crazier than others. With the traffic situation today, I was stuck at a spot which reminded of an encounter I had some time back.
I was onto one of those random two-three many with a childhood bud, let’s call him T. His friend had a gig as a DJ at some haunt in the Ngara area, Nairobi. This was not my original plan, though. I had reluctantly tagged along from T’s prodding and more so, for lack of a better plan.
Soon, dawn begun suggestively licking the drowsy nightscape. I picked my cue to nudge T into joining the great migration that throngs nippy Nairobi mornings the day after. Well marinated and stubborn as ever, we just managed to moved joints. He said he was intent on grabbing some this or (l)ass.
We ended up in a smoky, stuffy underground spot where I remember following a South American football tournament. A cold Pilsner thrusted my already violated throat and kept the ‘Smokey Robinson’ image in check.
Right across was a lady. Or as they call it nowadays mteke!
She wasn’t particularly a thing of beauty, but those Gazongas elicited involuntary jaw-dropping. She was serious too, and not an off the mill ‘trapster’. Still, she was worldly and very particular on Stickmatisation which just intensified my interests as she appeared feeery ‘innocent’
All this, I learnt on the second meeting. It was on a random weekday and safely tucked in a corner ideal for canoodling. See, she was full of surprises. This time, she flipped some Chinaman phone and be hold, her glorious preciousness shot from several possible (and impossible) angles appeared in all the graininess pixels could offer!
I almost tilted the table over as levers worked my fulcrum when I peered closely enough –
Man, even Moses had not seen anything as dense one as that. The bush was stronger on this one!
Don’t ask why I kept on – I dropped enough hints for a smooth course of action, and on a particular Thursday evening, I was to transport the ‘Merchandise‘ home. One liiiiiiiiittle problem. I had about Kshs. 550 /- to my name. The month has taken a particularly nasty turn, but blue balls know no month, rather the many months gone by.
I had to wait for her to leave work (at some cinema) and had planned on hanging about the office until it was time.
All the same, I couldn’t sweep her off straight away to the stage. Tact. So I decided to gamble with one as I waited. She came, and naturally, had to order for her as well. She seemed in no rush. Therefore, even as I drained the last drags from my bottle, I steered the conversation towards leaving.
Then she ordered another.
My balls cringed.
Shortly after, I had only 150 /- to my name. Fare for both of us would be Kshs. 200… even as she kept asking what my plan was.
Bang your brains off ya mean?
“Yeah, yeah, we hang around this local, have a few, dance, at least before dawn…”
She had high heels and the walk to the stage was a painfully slow torture as my mind shuttled between how I’d make up for the fiscal shortage and giving her enough excitable reasons – in case she decided to change her mind mid – stream.
Boy, I dint even have fare back to work the coming day – but I was fery fery determined that the Syokimau Train spends the night at the Embakasi terminal.
We’re seated on the mat, at about 12:30 pm. It’s one of those late night javs run by a racket intent taking advantage of transport shortage.
Part II, en route.