April 17th, 2008 12:47 EST
Kenya has been so dunked in political drama, transport frustrations and security chaos in the last few months that it actually feels really weird if I wake up and there is nothing to bother me. Of course, there is always something to bother me.
Bus fares have gone up. I have taken to eating left over Ugali in the morning with bad tasting tea made from tea dust that I buy from a roving vendor because it`s much more than what I would buy from the shop for the same price. I can`t miss breakfast because the label on my box of medicine says 2 after meals twice a day. Lunch does not exist in my lifestyle. Dinner is on mum. If it were not, I would be in a spot of trouble. Vegetable prices have shot up to double in the last 16 weeks. I am expected to contribute half of the rent for the little flat where my mum and I live. That`s the deal to get me back on my once independent feet. Between my medical bills and my tuition fees, I am left with a look I hope is plaintive enough to woo my mum out of the idea of kicking me out.
I have 6 bob so I go down to the Simu ya jamii down the road to call my girlfriend. I don`t get past, Ni mimi " " I can imagine her rolling her eyes, What do you want now? " I am not asking for a loan, honest. I just wanted to say hello. I flash the other friend with the 2.67 still left in my phone account for the precise reason of flashing. He calls back, What? What do you want? " Last year my motto was: I am not the kind of girl to flash people. I call. If I can`t call, I don`t flash. Quite emphatically. This is this year.
Day to day life has become very expensive but incomes are either held in suspension or sliding downhill. That is not just confined to the jua kali entrepreneur. It`s hitting everyone hard. Well, everyone except a few you-know-whom whose smiles are rather strained because they have not yet formed a strategy to convince Kenyan minds that they are worthy leaders. They are crossing fingers and toes hoping that we will live up to our reputation of short memories and forget a lot so that, five years from now, we will elect them back.
In the meantime, I am trying to get an appointment with a neurologist at KNH. The only success so far is the imprint of my ample backside on a bench at Clinic 17. Someone mentioned that I should talk to someone who knows someone so I can get through sooner. It might involve a few extra hundreds for the "selfish good`.
My brother from another mother called me after a very long while. The last time we talked he was about to marry someone from ruguru. My dad still hasn`t stopped frowning every time I ask about Mureithi. I asked the old man who he was to cast the first stone seeing that he was of mixed blood himself. He mumbled something to justify himself and I choked on the warm tea in a shady-looking cup at the something to something cafÃ©. Anyway, big brother Mureithi is having trouble with his wife because people up in Runyenjes have become rather unfriendly towards her. Nothing violent or outright discriminatory, but she`s going to her parents home for a while. Big brother thinks the while might be forever.
Then my little cousin called me. We had a nice chat over thin, milky tea and a mandazi at a Kinoo mkahawa. In the middle of a nice talk she turns to me and says, By the way, I`m pregnant. Will you tell my dad for me? " Did you know that it is possible to choke to death over a rather rubbery mandazi and too hot tea?
As if all that is not enough, I get into a bus that is commandeered by a bunch of youths with strange looking pieces of metal that look like guns. Wait, they sound like guns, too. The gun is not pointed at me and, for some reason, I am thrown out of the bus along with three other passengers. I literally drop to the ground before my mind can process what is happening and off the bus roars. I am still trying to dust myself trying to listen to the other three who saw more than I did, when three police jeeps whiz past. I realize that I am in the middle of a highway with vehicles travelling on the wrong side, and tear gas residue is in the air. It is over so fast I do not have time to be scared.
Later, much later, I watch the news and someone mentions that the terrifying youths had no interest in the passengers. They had, at some point, released the other passengers then set the bus ablaze in the middle of the highway. Apt was the observation, The Mungiki has quite effectively contained the police. "
In the middle of the night, the air is chilly, my mind is clear and I want to write. I have never been very good at descriptions. My friend texts me with, Hey! You gud? Me kindah blah. "
I guess that`s it. The excitement, frustration and fear has left me with exhaustion, just enough strength to live from one day to the next. Times are tough. Families still have to deal with the same stresses, only now aggravated by tensions and economic downturns. I hope for the best but remain way too skeptical. There is a residual taste in the back of my mouth. If you ask me to describe it, I will frown and flounder and come up with a mumbled, Kindah blah. "
Comment on this story, by emailing Judyth Piazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the SOP friend network with your Google, Yahoo, AOL, MSN or one ID account located on the front page of http://www.thesop.org.