An Immortal Precariat Goes into the Night
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Kimwana Kithini Nikyalika Kivinduni
Elliot esima tiivii na ayulwa ni stalehee syakwe mituki, ayiungama kuma sovasetini nikana asome SMS simuni. Awĩnja niwamuandikia nikana mathi makatembee. Ĩndĩ eiwa woo mwingi nunduwa mechaniki uthukukumaa na kelele mwingi vakuvi na vala wikalaa Roysambu, vau utee wa lelu munene wa Thika. Nundu ndatony’a kumwika undu, eũma makaniki usu ngooni, aũmanitye maeyo na esilitwe mesilwa maingi. Simu yake ya Samsung Galaxy yiĩwa yi ngĩto muno yila wesilwa yiulu wa Mũlatwa na wasya wake wi mwololo muno. Namo moko make na syaa mausie yuũtia yila yiutuma kioo kya simu kiyithiwa kikwatene. Lakini nundu ena wendi munene, emantha namba ila sivwaa ta swina wikwatyo wikavaa. Kuma yila wookie Ilovĩ niwamanyĩie kwitasya silingi ngili imwe. Amĩtaa K, ndeto ya Sheng ila umitumĩia muno ayienda kuvoya mbesa.
Eĩwa wĩa mwingi ki, ta isatani yiũmwĩta ngingo eesilwa kumukunia simu Mũlatwa. Nĩ wĩa utaawiwa ona aitembea stlĩtini sya Ilovĩ eweka utuku kati, ayenda kwiwa ta ve vandu vaseo wita musyi. Mithenya mingi ewaa emenete vyũ. Mũno mũno yila ũendaa maũfisini maingi kumantha wia na andũ asũ maimwia tũ atie mathangũ make ma kumina sũkũlũ. Ĩndĩ masaa ma utuku vyu wiwaa amendete mũno, yila musyi munene wa Ilovĩ wikalaa ta ukomete. Masaani asũ no andu anini methiawa leluni: ala matakomaa, athukumi anoũ kĩ ma maufisi matwaite gali syoo nene sya Toyota na Mercedes maĩmantha kwendwa, twilitu twikĩite tukula tukuvi vyũ, na ĩndi syokola. Onthe maimantha kwiwa o nesa kiwiyooni mateusumbuwa ni mũndũ. No askali tũ mamakĩiaa maikakwate ni musako. Ona ou wiovo, Elliot aitembea Ilovĩ masaa asũ ma utuku ateũkia kindu ona kimwe. Lakini yũ ayenda kumukunia Mũlatwa simu eiwa vinya wonthe uimuthela. Esindwa vyu kivinyiia kambaton kau ka girini kumukunia simu mwanake umwitaa mwanaa iya.
Elliot etina kavakũli mwou yila ukuũngama kuma kisovasetini athi kisũmbani cha ukoma. Nũndũ ndekwenda kuthamba eona tũ evake marashi ma aũme ala metawa Yardley Legacy. Kamunthyũngo kau kaseo niko kindu chai cha mbee Awĩnja wamwendeĩe. Mũthenya usu Awĩnja amwonie aungamite nza wa mbaa yitawaa Gipsy, aikunda kundanga vangĩ. O vau tenange mũthenyani ousu we Elliot niwatetanisye na mbosi wake ula waleea kumuandika kwawo onaethiwa niwamuthukumite mwei muonza ila meewanite. Vangĩ ũsũ ni wamutetheeasya ndakethiwe na meswilya maito muno.
Nake Awĩnja anywĩtwe ũkĩ mwingi ukatũmaa ayelũka, ayumya mũnyũngo mũthũkũ mũno. Oyĩla mũnyungo ũsu wathelĩle ona mayaa ona kana vai na thina ona vanini. Awĩnja amuvalukiĩla Elliot ta maĩ anyanya ma kuma tene. Nake Elliot eewa kamũyo kaingi nundu wa kukoomewa ni nondo isu nene swa Awĩnja kithũĩni kyake, Awĩnja amwiĩlile matau ngingoni na moko make makwatĩĩle ĩtũo syake o sekondi nini. Na maĩvakũvĩ kuvalukanya yĩla Awĩnja watangatangie. Elliot niwamũkwatĩe na mitũkĩ na kwoko kwake kwa aũme kwekalanga o vaũ yĩũlũ wa kitimba kwake kinoũ kiseo, na kĩkonde mũongonĩ kyai kyololo nesa. Kwa ndatĩka oĩmwe, metho moo nimakomanĩe vau mamũlĩkitwe ni kyeni cha nza cha mbaa ĩsũ yeetawaa Gipsy. Navo vau mokoni make Awĩnja niweewĩe kaundu kaseo. Metho make asũ maĩ ma mbraũnĩ makwatwa ni methoĩ. Ĩndĩ Elliot niwaleile kwitikila kana methoi asu maĩ ma wendo. Metho ma Awĩnja ona mayaakomwa ni ũnywĩ, makanite tamamwene mbee wa mwĩĩ wake ngĩnya nthĩni ngooni.
Awĩnja ndaaeka kumusyaĩĩsya utuku usu ona yĩla mekalile vau nza ya golofa isu yai utee wa mbaa. Nĩvo Awĩnja wamanthie sikala muvukoni wake kwa mĩtuki mĩtuki. Elliot nake ndaa ananga ndakĩka, oosa kĩlĩvĩtĩ amukwatisya. Awinja aendeĩe kũmũsuva, nake asyoka na ĩtĩna nikana aũngame nesa. Nĩvo ĩndĩ Awĩnja wakũndĩe kasikala kaũ na aathamya nikana syuki yukile yo mbeene ateũyilasimithwa. Na ĩndĩ Awinja akũna sĩmĩtĩ ĩkovĩ oĩnini, ayenda Elliot oke kwikala vakuvi nake. Mekalite vaũ Elliot niwasiisye oona ivisi na elĩĩtu maitembea makwatene moko, angi ala manywite muno makwatĩliĩlwe maĩkavalũke. Na vaĩ o elĩtũ elĩ kakonani vandũ maendee na kũmũmũnyana, na vakũvĩ namo kĩvĩsĩ cha yĩika yake kwaũmanaa simũni. Ni wekalile vakũvĩ na Awĩnja, ũla nake waĩlĩile manyũũ make satĩni yake, akunda munyung’o wa marashi. Nĩvo Awĩnja weewĩe muyo na asisya kungi, muvaka ĩvu ya Elliot yeekũnza. Ila wamanyie kana ndenekee niwookililye kituo kwake na anyungĩa makwava make.
Ĩndĩ Awĩnja amusiswa na amũkulwa: “We nũe ũũ?”
Nake asũngia: “Elliot.”
“Elliot? Wimanisha Elliot ta ũla waandikaa voemu?”
“Ayiee, ta mwĩni wa mbathi sya kisasa sya Amelika. Nye kondaumite kuya New York, na ni vaa Ilovĩ tu mweĩ o nini, na ĩndĩ Njanuary ndisyoka kuya Amelika.”
O athekete vanini, Awĩnja asya: “Winyung’a nesa, Elliot.”
Ĩndi kwivaka marashi ni kindu George wa Mũlatwa woona ta wana, tĩ kĩndũ cha ndũme take. Mũlatwa avũthitye tabia ĩsũ vyũ, oundũ ũtendete kukengana. Noo uvũngu nawo Elliot niwawendete muno. Nicho woonie kunyunga nesa kwi kuseo kũvĩta kũneena ũwo yĩla mundu wina mwendwa wake.
Ethĩ mbavũ na ayĩũngama nthĩ ya kĩwũ kivyu cha kĩthambio, avũngĩte metho na vĩnya aeke kwisilwa ĩũlũ wa Mũlatwa. We eenda mesilwa ala memuyo ma matũkũ ala maseo na Awĩnja, yĩla wathukumaa vengi ya utũĩnĩ. Mavinda asu athukumie tu mwaĩ ĩtatũ na avũtwa nũndũ wĩa niwathelile. Ĩndĩ maũandiki aa ma ĩvalũa kũya vengini, kampuni site swa silikali, na ũsomĩnĩ maũndu asũ ma ĩvalũa ni mamwiwithisye woo muno.
Kĩwũ kĩmwĩtikĩĩa na kumũnya savũnĩ mituki. Ona ndanakĩĩta mũongo kana maaũ atanambakuma kithambĩonĩ. Nasyo ngũa eisyikia mĩtũkĩ, ekiite itĩĩshati yiasa yiendanye na njiins swake sya langi wa matu. Ĩndĩ kĩndũ kila kimwaĩlite vyu ni ĩatũ. Niwaendia ndukani nene swa Mr. Price na Avilas aimantha ĩatũ nzaũ sya matuku aya. Lakini nawo kila wakatano nuamukaa tene vyũ athi syoko ya Kĩkomba matũka kuũ matanavunguwa. Kuthoowa mutumba museo wa kisasa tĩ vinya wavika tene. Elliot muno muno niwisi kumantha na e vaati nzeo. Lakini niwiwaa ve vĩnya aĩmũelesya Awĩnja nduka ila kuya Westlands wathooĩe kiatu kyu. Ũmunthi ekiĩte kĩatũ cha nduka ya Atalĩano yitawa Salvatore Ferragamo. Etata muno kutumia gluũ kikwatanyithwa maandiko ma kĩatũ nundu nimekumakumanga. Naĩndĩ yinthangu yiĩtilika aĩendee na kuyilasimithya. We tĩ mundu wa kwika maundu nesa, na eona vala ithangu yũ yiandikitwe isyitwa ya brandi ĩsũ yiumwanangia saa sywake. Ayivaka marashi aũngamite mbee wa kĩoo, na munyung’o ũsũ museo nĩ ta ngua nyololo imwilingite.
Aũmaalũka nyumba eĩsila kasilani kala kakwatanitwe Roysambu ya tene na ila ĩnaakiwe oyu. Eona tũ ve mundu wĩsĩ kila ngaliko ya kasilani kau ka TRM. Lakini vaĩ umwe ukũungama kumukethya nũndũ ena halaka. Nyumba ĩsũ nene ya kuthooa syĩndu yĩo ndakĩka ĩtano kuma kwake, na kila ĩtambya yimuetete vakũvĩ na George Mũlatwa.
Elĩkĩila TRM kwĩsĩla mũoma wa ĩtĩna. Andũ aĩngi vyũ nimekalite vau va kuthooa leũ, maĩneena na wasya munĩni. Vamĩlĩa na endani onthe maendee kumanthana na kwendana maiya leũ sya muthemba wonthe. Mbaa nene yitawaa Persia ndinandũ yũ nũndũ ni muthenya, lakini wĩyoo yĩthĩawa na andu aĩngĩ maiya laha. Golofanĩ ya keelĩ ya nyumba ĩno yĩ na matuka maĩngĩ, lakini ndekwendeesya yũ ni ndũka ya kuta syĩndũ sya mathaũ kana ĩla ya kuta syĩndũ sya kompũta ya Apple. Veo ivinda wendete ndũka ĩsũ muno. Eenda tũ kumwona Mulatya uvisini wake, ula ni kakivanda kanĩnĩ kethiawa vau katikati wa matuka. Mulatya emwona na aithingithya mũtwe wake kumyonya nĩwamwona. Atanamba kumuneenya ekeuka kusisya muthooĩ wake ũla ũkwenda kaseti ya kivindi cha Game of Thrones. Uthyu wa Mulatya uũsia kyeni yila ũkusmĩli lakini mataũ make manoũ mavyaa ta mavakĩtwe maũta maĩngi kĩ. Eĩtu eli maũngamite o vaũ maĩsyisya mavuku ma sinema nikana mathooe, na nomeũvinduka ĩmwe kwa ĩmwe mamutheche Elliot.
Ĩndĩ mwĩsyo Mulatya nukukeuka amusisye Elliot, na ayiendeea kuneena ta eusomaa musoa.
“Nye niniamue kumantha mbesa nikana nongeleele nduka ĩno yakwa. Ikonomi ya Kenya nĩyithi naku. Nye niĩka undu nitonya, na nienda yu we undĩve kila niunengete nundu nikuma tene naukovethya.”
“Wienda kumbanya mbesa siana?”
“Ngĩlĩ maana atatu. Ve nduka nzeo muno vaa maisye yiithiwa yi nthei mwei uũ ukite na nienda kumyosa nikana none biashara ĩi yakwa itonya kuthi va.”
O yila simu yake yaĩa Elliot nukulikana na kyeva kingi kana niwamutavitye Mulatya yiulu wa wia wa mbesa mbingi unakwatite vau mwei uyambiia. Amwie wia ũsũ akwatie kumana na anyanya ma ĩthe wake ma biashara.
Simu niyakunwa ingi, na amisisya Elliot eona ani Awĩnja ũkũnite. Alea kumyosa simu ĩsũ namo mamessenji melika kulika. Awĩnja emwia kana kethiwa ndeuka we eona nukuthi na anyanyawa make kundu kungi makasherehekee kusyawa kwa umwe woo.
“We, Mulatya, nĩenda unenge o ngĩlĩ ĩtano o mituki mituku ninguutungia mbosi wakwa ambiva matuku miongo ĩlĩ na nthyanthya. Ona ni na mbesa ingi niteele o vandu matuku o asũ. Ninguũsoti mani.”
“Yaani mwanoo wienda ngunenge ngĩlĩ ĩtano oyũ oyũ?”
Yu Mulatya kouteulea na vinya na kuneena na wasya mwingi nginya eitũ asũ matindie masyitwe ĩatũ sya Elliot mamusisya ũthyũ.
“Yaani mwanoo ona inya wakwa ndakwata silingi imwe kuma kwakwa yũ. Nganenga mundu kindu omunthenya ula biashara ĩĩ ngwetwe yooka sawa sawa. Niĩkwatwa nuelewa yu kimwana, na no wisi kana wĩ na ngili sykwa ikumi na itano.”
Elliot ena woo mwingi kwiwa undu Mulatya ukwisilwa, nginya akaumana:
Ena woo usu wonthe Elliot ayumaaluka matukani asũ ateunjali Mulatya na andu onthe ala wakomana namo measya ata.
Ĩla woosa simu amukunie Peter, nivo ukwona kana o na nde na klenditi. Lakini Safaricom nayo ndimunengaa ‘please call me’ na ko unatumia syonthe. Kooũ ayasya asanda kwa matu na nthi kwa kumunenga syama on nini nini. We na Peter nimesene vyũ kibiashala, na niwisi kana ndetindwa thinani ũũ wa mukwata yu.
Peter aimwosa na kumutwaa kula Awĩnja wikalaa. Ĩndĩ we Elliot ailea kuthi kumwosa nyumba, aimukunia simu oke nthi.
Nake Awĩnja aĩmwia:
“Nenge o ndakika ĩmwe kindu chakwa. Nitukite.”
Elliot na Peter meetelile vakuvi na ndakika miongo ina na itano, na nivo Elliot watumiĩe ivinda yĩu kutata kumwia Peter antheeanje mbesa ila wendaa kuivya. Ĩndĩ ndeto ĩsũ niswamwiwithisye woo mwingi muno Peter, nũndu mamwĩite eteele na Elliot nowendaa aninivyange mbesa. Ĩndĩ mwiso Peter niweetikilile kuivwa ngĩlĩ itatu kethiwa nimaekanie nake athi mawiani angi na aimosa mamina kunywa uki woo. Ona ve ũũ Peter niwaisye nilasima aivye nusu, na nusu ila ingi ayiivya amenukywa.
Awĩnja aumaluka ookie na Caro, mwĩitu munyanyae Elliot wamwonete o imwe vaũ mbeange. Namo kotemeekiite tusulwali twoonanitwe matako moo vyu. Nichokitumi imwana syaungamite nza wa nduka ya Samu maekie kuneena na mamasũviliila tu. Onasyo iveti ila syaumite kuthooa mboka nosyavindukie kwona eitũ asũ. Ĩatũ ila ndaasa Awĩnja weekite syauitwe ni asyai make mekalaa muiongo kuya Paris, Kivalanza. Namo ni asyai umonaa o imwe kwa mwaka. Ona ve uũ niwendete aĩtu ĩsu, lakini nisya mulasimithisya kutembea o mbola. Ĩndĩ mwiso avika ngalini evũngũa muomo kwa mituki Elliot atanamba kivikia kwika oũ.
Eĩtu asũ eli ona mayaaea ngewa ya maana na Elliot. Ĩndĩ kati woo nimaneenie muno uilu wa tivi na ivindi ila meloelaa. Oimwe kwa imwe Awĩnja nowe wamukulalya Elliot kana niweetikila undu waasasya. Lakini Elliot ndendete ngewa ĩsu maneenaa yiulu wa eĩtu mendate maundu ma ĩndanetĩ na maisha ma yiulu muno. We asisya o vanini vau ivila sya itina eitu mekalite, na niwoonie kana Caro niwamusimiaa metho, ayukilya maau make o vanini ta ukumwia Elliot ni asisye uthei wake. Ndakika o ikumi siithela mai mavikie Mountain Mall. Eĩtu mauma ngalini we Elliot atiwa vaũ aineena na Peter. Ĩtĩna wa ndikika o ĩli niwamaatĩĩe na malika liftini nikana mathi kilavu cheetawa Comfort golofani ya katatu. Makwatie ivila vakuvi na kiwanza kya kusunga vai vakuvi na mbaa.
Weita amina kumakulya mendaa kunywa chau Elliot niwamuatiĩa na kumutyetya muno, na eĩtũ nimeuseng’a nichau kĩendee vau. Ona yila wasyoka vala maĩ simu yake yitindia kuia. Ayienda maikone oũ, Elliot emitiliila vau muvukoni, lakini nake Awĩnja ula oona nichau kieendee aimyosa kwa mituki muno.
“Itila yii! Niki uteosa simu ya ndeleva wa taksii?”
Ve kuseng’a kwigi mbee wa woo wasyani wake Awĩnja. Nivo Elliot ukumea mamweteele o vanini athi kuneenya Peter vala umutiie. Yuyu ona Peter niwumie ngalini aungama nza, ekiite ivulana ya grini yiutuma ayikala ta imwana inene ya sukulu.
Ena woo mwingi Peter aimwia:
“Nienda mbesa syakwa oyuyu na ndukone ta uũndindya vaa. Nina wia wa kwika.”
“Tuliza mboli naku Peter. Tuliza.”
Onakau vayai mundu wi vakuvi kumewa, Elliot emukwata Peter kwoko na kumutwaa ovau kando maneene. Metetanwa muno, Elliot aneenete Kikamba kiito kiutuma Peter ayisilya notamaumite o vandu vamwe kuya utuini.
Ĩndĩ Peter ayisa kwasya: “Nye ninguelewa kimwana, lakini, konisa kuungama vaa wiyoo wonthe nikweteele nandunandiva.”
“Nisawa ĩndĩ tutwae kuya Westalands ngakuivie vo. ATM ya vaa ndiuthukama.”
Awĩnja ndeenda kumwa kiwanzani cha usunga. Elliot amukwata kwoko ekukukuna amueke. Esunga na ĩmundu ĩnoũ yina kitambi kinene, na kwoko kwake Awĩnja kukwatiie ngusu ya itina ya mundu usu, vala vena woleti noũ vyũ. Awĩnja kukuna kwoko kwa Elliot aeke kumukwata, o yila ĩmundu yĩu yiumuthengeea Awĩnja matuni nikana yimusuviliile kaundu. Nivo mwiso Elliot amukusya na vinya mathi nza. Awĩnja aisemba kwosa ũkĩ wake na kuvuvuutya. Nivo ĩndĩ aĩthingithya mutwe wake ta mundu ukwatwite ni majini. Elliot aĩmwia Caro amutwae Awĩnja ngalini, nundu vau itina ve weita umuatiie. Vala mavika nza memweteela vakuvi ndakika miongo ili.
Nivo ĩndĩ Awinja ukumukwata kwoko na vinya na kumukulwa:
“Nichau kieendee ĩndĩ? Ndavye oyu kana nikume?”
Indi Elliot aimusunguia:
“Tuendete kuya Westlands nikwo kwi maundu maseo mbee wa kuu.”
Mavika Westlands emea eĩtũ asu mamweteele kilavuni cha Aqua. We Caro ethi imwe kwa imwe kusunga, atingithitye kitimba ta elitu ala ma vindio sya musiki tiiviini maisunga wathi wa Njaman njuisi. Nake Awĩnja ayikala kwa aeini ma ndaia na kwitwa isovi. Elliot e nza aineene na Peter ula yu wambiie kukita na askari ma muomoni ayenda kulika.
“We, we, aume, ekanai nake uũ ni ndeleva wakwa wa taksii, ninguneena nake.”
Masonga utee Elliot ayambiia kuneena na ka aksendi ka Amelika, o undu MuAmerika mwiu utonya kuneena. Lakini Peter nake ndeenda kwiwa utumanu ũsu, ndeto syake sya Kikamba siteuma nesa nundu wa woo. Elliot aimwosa kumutwaa vau utee, lakini nake Peter koukwenda kwiwa kĩndu ona vanini.
“Ithukiisyi Peter, naku ithukiisye Peter niki? Ninguunenga simu yakwa alafu uindũngia uni nakũiva, sawa? Sawa Peter?”
“Ati simu? Simu yaki nye ko ngwenda simu yaku. Nienda undive mbesa swakwa ndia ĩno. Koona ta nisa kulwa kana chumwa kithelu ndwaandiva ona ndululu imwe.”
“Kino. Peter. Kino.”
“Ndukaumane we ndia iĩ. Ndukatate kuũmania vaa.”
“Ĩndĩ naku Peter ni chau yũ nanotwisene? Simu ii ngũunenga ni ya ngili miongo ina na kenda, yaani wiisilwa…”
Peter aĩmyosa simu ĩsu na mituki na kuthi taksiini yake. Elliot einguma ovu amusyaiisye. Ĩndĩ avinduka eona Awĩnja auingaminte itina wake, aumanitwe maeyo na woo mwingi kĩ. Nake Caro eo vu itina wa Awĩnja, aumukomba.
Awĩnja nake aimukulwa Elliot:
“Ni chau kieendee?”
“Vai kindu, nisawa vyu.” Elliot aimusungia. “Kwani ko mwaeka kunywa?”
“Weita ni watuetee mbilu yitu, asya ndeenda kwiwa kana nue ukuiva. Yaani mwanoo ukaa mbaa na uĩnywa na klenditi na nduivaa?”
“Klenditi kiva we?”
“Ndia ino nuu ula withiawa ena mandeni kilavuni?”
“Tuliza mboli Awĩnja, nilasima weita usu ndesi kila ukuweta.”
“Sawa. Aya yu ndavie, niki Peter wathi, na tena athi na simu yaku?”
“Ĩthukiisye ngutavye kendu wakwa, sawa, ĩthukiisye ngutavye ũwo. Nyie ndinakwata mbesa umunthi ila ngwonaa ta ngukwata.”
Awĩnja ayambiia kuthi, ateenda kwiwa oũ. Onakau alevi aingi nimambiisya kumasyaiisya, Elliot we ndakwete oũ woo. Ayosa kwoko kwa Awĩnja nikana amwisuve.
“Nienda kwinuka nye, mbitie taksii.”
“Nionaa twambe kwosa matatu kuma vaa nginya taoni alafu kuma vau tuyosa taksii nginya kwaku? Ĩi, wiona ata kendu wakwa?”
“Nye, yu? Yaani ko wimutumanu ata? Wiona tanikiie ngua ta ii nikana nilike matatuni?”
Elliot esisya kuu na kuya, on imwe aimwia Caro amutetheesye. Lakini nake Caro ndeenda ou wake. Ona kula kumusimia metho nikuthelile. Eĩtu asu me eli mayienda kuneena nake ona vanini. Nundu wa aivu Elliot ayiungamya taksii yambee kumyona, na onthe mailika mituki. Mavika leluni munene wa Thika ngali isu iyosa spidi nene muno. Nivo ĩndĩ Elliot aisonga vakuvi na Awĩnja.
“Naku mwendwa wakwa mbelewe tu. Niendaa wone kana ninikwendete.”
“Yaani wiendaa kwithiwa wi ngũmbaũ, ee?”
Elliot aimukomeea kithui na kwambiia kũĩa o mbola. Awĩnja nake ayiwa tei, amukwata mutwe na kumunweenwa na kawasya kaseo. Nake ndeleva wa taksii ndananeena ona ndeto imwe. Kethiwa ena wia wa kulea kuivwa ni alevi asu ndiowananwa ona vanini. Ona yila mavika Roysambu ndeuweta kindu, nayu Elliot ayambiia kwiwa wĩa mwingi nundu ndesi ndeleva ũsu atonya kwika ata. Ona no kava ala maneenaa na mawasya manene mayenda kuivwa. Ila Elliot woona ndeleva usu ayosa kindu ungu wa kivila chake ngoo yake ikunite kukuna. Veo ngewa weewie yiulu wa ndeleva sya taksii syithiawa na pastola siitumiaa kuyia andu. Yu vaa ko mayaina kindu oteo thayu syoo.
Ĩndĩ ndeleva usu aimea:
“Osai namba yakwa na muindiva uni.”
Nivo vau onthe meewa matetheka muno. Ona utuku usu wekala ta weeuva. Yũ Elliot akwata kĩnyunyu kya Awĩnja mwiitu usu ona ndaamuvata. Maitiana na ndeleva usu mewite o muyo mwingi. Caro nake aimea makome nesa na kuthi vala wikalaa. Nivo ĩndĩ Elliot na Awĩnja maithi nyũmba makwatene moko.
“Kiwiyoo kii kumbe no kikwisaa usauva?” Elliot amwia Awĩnja. “Tui tuisane o nesa nikana tulwe ni maundu asu mathuku.”
Mavika nyumba Awĩnja elika kithambioni mituku. Auma kuthamba emwithia Elliot eyovete taweli ila yake ingi. Nivo ĩndĩ ukuthi akamukuna kakisi matauni na aimwia:
“Enda wambe kuthamba.”
Nake Elliot aimusungia: “Nivo vau yu kendu wakwa.”
Ethamba mituki muno, ota undu wikaa yila uteuthamba vamye na Awĩnja. Ona ndanakua ndakika itano. Aumaaluka eithia muomo wa nyumba ya ukoma wa Awĩnja wi muvinge. Navau kisovasetini ve ivula ya kwivyika. Emukunangia Awĩnja muomo, yambee ombola mbola, ĩndĩ Awĩnja alea kuvungua nukukuna na vinya muno. Awĩnja aelea vyu kuvungua. Na ĩndĩ Elliot ayikala vau kivilani mbee wa isaa yimwe, aimwisuva Awĩnja avungue lakini Awĩnja ndeitika ona imwe. Lakini Elliot noukumwiwa kindu wake vau nthini. Mala nukukooa, lakini muno muno eneena nai na kumana, ngiti iĩ!
Mwiso nukuma nyumba saa nyanya sya utuku, itina wa kuya masilingi Awĩnja eeite kavalukini vau vakuvi na tiivii. Elika matatuni itena abilia ona umwe, lakini yiendete tauni. Ngali isu kawaida ikuaa andu ikumi na ana. Lakini nao makunite musiki wina wasya mwingi ki, uutuma kelele isu iyananga kukilwa kwa kiwiyoo kiu.
Niivo ĩndĩ ukumiswa Ilovĩ ta0ni nthini kula ukwiwa thayu wake ta ukwitwa ni mandaimoni. Etembea mituki mituki athengee eitu ala maungamite laini vau stlitini wa Koinange. Evungua metho make muno, ayona kana amalasimthwa kuvunguka ou nukumwona mwiitu wa inya ula witawa Aggy. Ni Aggy eweka umulilikanasya undu mundu wiwaa kwithiwa na usyaaniwa, ona kethiwa ndaila kumwona mwaka mingi muno. Na ngoo yake yina thina mwingi. Namo mesilwa ni maito ki. Nivo ayiwa wasya ndu ya ivuti, na indi swwiiii wa kisasi yiathite kungi. Ĩndĩ o mituki ayiwa ivuti yingi yamuatha kituoni, yikamulasimithya kutulya ndu, vakuvi avaluke nthi vyu. Ivisa yake ya mwiso kuyona ni ya Aggy, auite mbu nene na asembete kuka vala ũĩ. Ndesa kumanya Aggy amusembeete na muyo kumwona kana ni woo wa kila cheekika. Na o mbola mbola ayona kiwiyoo kĩi kiyusua kĩvindu kinene na kukilwa vyu, na ayiyiwa avalukite vandu vololo veumumelwa tene na tene.
An Immortal Precariat Goes into the Night
Elliot mutes the television and forgets the comfort of his couch as he sits up to read Awinja’s message, inviting him to take her out. He wants to scream at the arc welder next to his Roysambu flat along Thika Road, but lets out a silent and bitter curse instead, his thoughts racing. His Samsung Galaxy Trend feels heavier when he thinks of Mulatwa’s soft-spoken voice. His sweaty palms and fingers make the touch screen sticky. But he scrolls on and on, looking for promising contacts. It seems he has called almost everyone in the past month, except Aggy, his sister. Always asking for a K, a letter he has become too fond of, for the ease with which he can say it when he needs money.
When Elliot wants to call Mulatwa on the phone, fear becomes a devil suffocating his daring soul. He feels no fear when he takes his solitary, nocturnal walks in the streets of Nairobi in search of something to call home. His days are clouded with thick self-loathing, having knocked on office doors in and out of town and handed out copies of international business qualification papers. His favorite hours begin when the city seems engulfed in a strange sense of sleep—when only the insomniacs, the love-desperate, the pot-bellied office-holders driving Toyotas and Mercedes dominate the streets along with half-naked girls and homeless boys and girls. Each seek their piece of nightly space and freedom, interrupted only on occasion by Askaris on patrol. Fear never shows up at such moments. But he is paralyzed when he goes to press a button, a simple green button, to call a man he calls brother.
Elliot rises from the couch and knocks over an ashtray as he makes his way to the bedroom. He considers just changing clothes and spraying himself with a bottle of Yardley Legacy for Men. The fragrance is the first thing Awinja noticed about him.
She walked up to him on a Friday night when he stood alone outside Gipsy Bar, smoking a joint. Earlier that day, he had an altercation with a boss who would not confirm him for a permanent position after seven months, and he turned to his joint because the puffs helped create a universe where everything seemed laughable. Except there was nothing to laugh about in Awinja’s two belches that night, enveloping them in rotten breath. But after a few seconds of disgust neither seemed to care. She just slumped herself on him like an old friend. And he relished the soft feeling of her rather large breasts on his chest, her chin on his neck as her hands wrapped around his neck for a few seconds, and then slipped away as she fell backwards. He reached quickly for her and with his right hand, held her tightly just above her exposed waistline, a soft curvature of flesh, smooth skin. For a single moment their eyes met under that colored glow of Gipsy Bar’s security lights. In his hands she felt delicate. Her big brown eyes seemed wet, but he dismissed the thought that she’d been crying. Not dimmed by her drunkenness, they shone bright as though they could see past his physical elements and into his soul.
Awinja did not take her eyes off him that night as they sat on the next building’s entrance stairs and she fumbled in her bag for a cigarette, which he quickly offered to light. For a while her facial expressions didn’t change, she stared at him, even as his dark face retreated and his body regained an upright posture. Finally she took a long puff and let the smoke rise from her mouth without effort. She motioned for him to sit, slapping the stairs rather crudely with her right palm. He looked around and saw boys and girls walking hand in hand, some propping each other up because alcohol was fast immobilizing them. In a corner two girls were kissing, and a boy about his age was cursing on the phone. He sat. And she brought her nose closer to his shirt, took a full, brief inhale that took in his mild cologne. She smiled and looked away, making him tuck in the muscles of his abdomen. Discreetly, he lifted his left shoulder close to his nose and breathed in deep.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Elliot,” he said.
“Elliot? Like Eliot the poet?”
“More like an aspiring rapper. I’m from New York, visiting Nairobi for a few months, and then I’ll go back by January.”
“You smell nice, Elliot!” she said.
George Mulatwa thought adorning oneself with cologne was childish, not sexy. He despised it perhaps as much as lying, a trait that came to Elliot almost naturally. But to smell and feel fresh in the company of his lover was more important than any truth that could bind Elliot to his brother.
He goes into the shower and stands beneath the warm water, eyes shut to block out Mulatwa’s face. He wants to think only of the better days with Awinja, when he had a stint at a local bank, when he had worked for a three-month contract until they said they were no longer hiring. A few contracts later in banks, NGOs, academia, the word “contract” became something he mentioned bitterly.
The falling water quickly washes the lather from his body and he barely scrubs his back or even his feet before jumping out of the shower. He dresses quickly, wearing a long white T-shirt with his faded blue jeans. His signature is his shoes. He has been to Mr. Price and Avilas in search of the latest fashion. But on the first Friday of every month he wakes up at five in the morning to make sure to be at the Gikomba market before the stalls open. A haven for copycats, it’s never hard to find something fancy and new. And Elliot has always been lucky, although he sometimes finds it hard to explain to Awinja the particular shop in Westlands where he gets each pair. Today he chooses something from Salvatore Ferragamo Italia. He tries to stick the loose label back on with super glue, but the paper tears. He is too impatient to join the two halves correctly, so he just leaves them. He stands before the mirror and sprays his armpits, only lightly, so the cologne falls like a soft cloak around him.
He takes the path that connects the old Roysambu with the new. On each side of the TRM Drive, he sees someone he knows, but he does not stop to catch up, even though he feels he should. The mall being only a five-minute walk from his house, every step he takes draws him closer to George Mulatwa.
He goes into the mall via the back entrance. To his right, a low hum hangs over the food court, teeming with families and lovers cementing their living bonds over choice foods. The Persia Bar and Sheesha Lounge are empty for now, as if carefully preserving themselves for the life-giving night. On the second floor are a variety of shops, but neither the Sports House nor the Elite Digital, which sells the most expensive Apple products, interest him as they once did. He just needs to see Mulatwa in his office, and he walks straight to the third stall in the hallway. Mulatwa sees him and nods, but then turns immediately to a customer, demanding to know whether the sixth season of Game of Thrones is out. Mulatwa always wears a smile that brightens his face and makes his flabby cheeks seem oily. Two girls flip through booklets of printed posters and make their orders. Every now and then they turn and smile at Elliot.
Mulatwa turns finally to Elliot and addresses him as if continuing a monologue he was already having in his head.
“I have decided to raise some money to expand this business. Fuck corporate Kenya. I will do my own shit. And I am counting on you, bro. Pay me what you owe me now, it’s been too long, bro.”
“What are you looking to raise?”
“Three hundred thousand. I got a very good deal with a larger shop that will be vacant in the mall by next month. Man, so much space to explore what this business can become. And you have my fifteen K.”
“But I told you about my job situation, Mulatwa.”
Just as his phone rings, Elliot remembers with a deep sense of sadness and confusion that he’d told Mulatwa about a new six-figure salaried job he had gotten earlier in the month from some business associates of his father.
The phone rings again. Awinja. He does not answer and texts follow almost immediately. If he can’t make it in an hour, she might go with her girlfriends to a birthday party out of town.
“Look, Mulatwa, I need 5K urgently. My boss will pay me by the twenty-eighth and all my other money will mature by the twenty-eighth as well. I will sort you out, man.”
“You want me to give you 5K? Now?”
Mulatwa shakes his head and raises his voice, and the girls who had been looking at Elliot’s shoes look up at his face.
“Nah man, no no. Not even my mother is getting a cent ‘til my business deal goes through. You understand now, don’t you? And my 15 thousand you have.”
“Fuck!” Elliot curses under his breath.
He walks away fast, not caring about anything that Mulatwa is saying behind him, or even the giggles he thinks are coming from every face he meets.
He calls Peter, his cab guy, only to realize he does not have credit on his phone. He is fortunate to have one more chance to use Safaricom’s Okoa Jahazi service. Thank the universe for small miracles. He and Peter have done business on many occasions, and Elliot is confident about navigating the crisis.
He does not go up when Peter parks outside Awinja’s house.
“Honey,” Elliot says when he calls her on the phone, “I’m downstairs.”
“Just a minute, sweetheart! We’ll be out in a bit.”
For close to forty-five minutes, Elliot negotiates a fair price to keep Peter there.
But each passing minute seems to make Peter angrier, unwilling to be kept waiting even as he keeps negotiating the price. Finally he settles for three thousand, but he will leave to do other runs and pick them up when they are done drinking. Elliot is eager to agree. Half now, half later is what Peter wants. Period.
When she walks out into the cold breeze dressed in hot pants, Awinja is accompanied by Carol, a friend Elliot has seen only once before. A few boys seated outside Sam’s Shop stop talking and stare. Heads turn even among the women who are returning from the mama mboga. Awinja wears high heels brought in from Paris by her parents whom she sees once every few years. She walks with long but steady footsteps, opening the door for herself before Elliot can do it.
Their conversation in the car barely involves Elliot, except for the occasional “Don’t you think so, honey?” from Awinja. They analyze and overanalyze television, and all the latest misadventures by the town socialites. Elliot glances at the back seat once in a while, and Carol always seems to wink at him, raising her leg rather slowly as if daring him to look in between. In ten minutes they are at the Mountain Mall. Elliot lingers, and speaks to Peter for a while. They take the lift to Club Comfort on the third floor, and sit at a table close to the dance floor.
Elliot stands to follow the waiter who has taken their orders, in a conversation that seems both longer and more heated than necessary. When he sits down his phone won’t stop ringing. He fumbles in his pockets and disconnects the calls. Awinja grabs it.
“What the fuck? Why are you not picking the cabbie’s call?”
There is more surprise than anger in her voice. Elliot excuses himself and goes downstairs to Peter. Still wearing his green sweater that makes him look like an overgrown high school kid, Peter stands outside his car.
“I want my money now. And don’t keep me waiting; I have work to do.”
“Calm down Peter. Calm down.”
Elliot takes his hand and leads him aside, even though there is no one else around who would overhear them. They have a long conversation, Elliot spewing words in unadulterated Kikamba. Peter thinks that they may be from the same village even.
“I understand you,” Peter says finally, “but I have to work and I can’t stand here waiting for you all night.”
“Okay, take us to Westlands. I will give you all your money for the night there. The ATM here is not working.”
Awinja shakes off his hand when Elliot tries to lead her off the dance floor. She almost clings to the pot bellied man she is dancing with, her hand roving into his back pocket, stuffed with a huge wallet. The man whispers in her ear, and she smiles each time, pushing Elliot behind her. But as they walk out she takes a long sip of her drink, and shakes her head. The waiter is still trailing Elliot with the bill, so he asks Carol to lead Awinja out. He joins them almost twenty minutes later.
“What is going on, Elliot?” Awinja screams. “What is this mysterious bullshit you are giving us? Ah?”
She grabs his hand.
“Talk to me. Okay. Tell me what the fuck is going on.”
“We are going to Westlands, okay. It’s better fun there.”
In Westlands the girls are asked to wait upstairs in the Aqua Club. Carol jumps on the dance floor and begins to shake her bum, imitating the video vixens on the TV screens, doing it to “German Juice.” Awinja sits in the VIP section and orders a glass of red wine. Elliot goes back downstairs to talk to Peter, who is pushing his way past the bouncers at the door.
“Yo, what’s up guys? This here is my cab guy. Let me sort him out.”
Elliot speaks with a practiced accent, a pathetic copy of American gangster rappers. But Peter is shouting at him now. His Kikuyu words are distorted by anger, and even when Elliot takes him aside he does not quiet down.
“Look, look, Peter. Look, I will give you my phone, and then you can return it to me when I pay you tomorrow. Okay?”
“Phone. I don’t want your phone. I want my money, you fool. You want me to forget that last month you did not pay me for a whole week straight?”
“Fuck. Peter. Fuck.”
“Don’t curse me you empty-headed fool.”
“Peter. You know me now. This phone I am giving you is worth forty-nine thousand.
Peter grabs it and walks to the taxi. Elliot does not move for a minute. When he turns Awinja is standing there looking at him, frozen with anger. Carol is behind Awinja, making faces.
“What’s going on?” Awinja asks.
“Nothing. Nothing.” Elliot’s voice is almost shaking. “Why are you not upstairs drinking?”
“The waiter brought the bill. She says she does not want to hear that you are the one paying. You have a debt from last week and the week before.”
“Who the fuck has a debt in a night club?”
“Hey, there is some confusion here.”
“Alright. Why has Peter left? And why did he take your phone with him?”
“Listen, babe. Listen. I just didn’t come into the cash I was hoping for.”
Awinja starts to walk away. Elliot follows, trying to hold her hand and not caring much for revelers that have started to snoop.
“I want to go home.” Awinja says. “Please get me a cab!”
“I was thinking we should first take a matatu to town, and then from there we will get a cab to your place.”
“Me? On a matatu? You think I dressed like this so that I can get into a matatu?”
Elliot’s eyes rove all over the place. He turns to Carol for help, but the girl does not wink or smile at him anymore. Neither girl wants to talk to him, so he waves down the first cab he sees and they all get in. As they cruise down Forest Road to the super highway Elliot reaches out to Awinja.
“Please honey, just understand. I wanted to make you see that I love you.”
“You wanted to be a hero? Yes?”
Elliot leans into her chest and he begins to sob slowly. A sigh escapes Awinja, who takes his head against her and calms her voice. The cab driver says nothing. If he is worried about the possibility of unpaid labor he does not show it. When they arrive, he does not say anything either. Elliot is more worried by this than noisy demands. When he reaches for something beneath the seat, Elliot feels his heartbeat rise. He once heard rumors of a taxi driver who had a gun in his car and stole his clients’ belongings. Here, they have nothing but their lives.
“Take my number,” the taxi driver says, “and pay me tomorrow.”
There is a collective sigh of relief. The night brightens, and Awinja does not move away when Elliot places his hand around her waist. They part with the taxi driver with an elated mood they don’t believe they deserve, and as Carol walks towards her flat alone, Elliot holds Awinja’s hand.
“The night has finally gotten better.” Elliot says. “Let’s have fun and forget all this shit.”
Awinja gets into the shower immediately after they step into the house. When she comes back to her room, she find Elliot wrapped in the spare towel. She walks up to him and gives him a peck.
“Why don’t you take a shower first,” she says.
“Alright, my love.”
He showers too fast, like he always does when he is not sharing it with her. In five minutes he is done. He finds her bedroom door locked. He can see a blanket has been thrown on the couch. He knocks on the door, slowly at first, but receiving no reply, he knocks harder.
She does not answer. He sits there outside of her bedroom for an hour, begging for her to open, and not once does she answer. But he can hear her inside. Sometimes she sneezes, sometimes she screams.
He walks out of the house at two in the morning, with the coins from the jar that sits beside the TV. He gets into a matatu going to town, the only other passenger in the fourteen-seater with music so loud it feels like a violation to the sanctity of the night.
He is dropped in the heart of a city whose caged demons suffocate his soul. And he walks faster and faster towards the girls that line Koinange Street, his eyes bulging as though the wider he opens them the easier it will be to see Aggy among them, the fading memory of his only blood relation. And as his heart sinks deeper into the abyss, his ears are shut temporarily by the shrill, initial swish of a stray bullet, and then the penetrating pain of another through his right shoulder, driving him to his knees. His last image is of Aggy, running towards him screaming. With joy or pain he does not know. And then slowly the night grows so dark and quiet he feels himself fall into a soft, swallowing infinity.