SHORT STORIES FROM NYERI

pickIn the creation of Dru Wambugu it was decided that Nyeri would serve as his umbilical cord. Meaning every time I travel to this town, it awakens childhood memories when my brother and I and my dad included, would pass by this town as we headed to my grandparents’ place

Nyeri was about tea farming, sweet potatoes, arrow roots, the mentally ill man from Kiathaimo village, hilly dusty roads, yellow speeding lorries that ferried bags of picked tea leaves, learning and forgetting how to pick tea, news of government announcing tea bonus and…and Chinga dam which was forever calm even with its humongous water body that evoked awe and sometimes fear especially when we were narrated stories of humans committing suicide in that dam.

Every time somebody mentioned Nyeri, my mind played recordings of my Shosh and her ageing hut and her cupboard and the fireplace and her 3 ‘convertible chairs’. I’m sure you remember the convertible chairs back in the day that were only found in shosh’s place.

At some point in life, I deserted Nyeri. Life became so eventful that to plan a trip to ‘Rware’ as is known by some, became too bureaucratic. Then 2016 happened and the gods ordered me to be making frequent visits to this nostalgic town.
This is what I have gathered so far;
I got fascinated the other day while walking in one of the streets only to meet so many shoshos queuing. My mind toyed that it was about Pesa ya wazee, but I was wrong. These shoshos were queuing to buy tobacco. How So? Yes in Nyeri we have tobacco vendors located in the down-town area, where it is packed using dried banana leaves. Actually, the smell of tobacco is so strong that you can’t miss it.

The funniest thing about Nyeri is that you can never get photocopy services on a Sunday. Ignoring the question why someone would be in the look for a photocopy shop on a Sunday morning; that’s beside the point. My friend and I traversed the entire Nyeri town with no success. That was a first for me. But the bars were alive and kicking way before Mututho hours especially those in shadowy streets hehe.

You have to believe me that this town is the safest of them all. You know, only in Nyeri do we have a large concentration of kleptomaniacs that chances of stealing from a passerby could lead you into problems. Anyway, i just made that up. But truth be told, I always feel very safe in Nyeri than in any other town. In fact, I hardly check on my wallet while paddling in these streets.

I have deliberately avoided to discuss Hotels-in-Nyeri just to forget my disappointments and shocker escapades. You see, if you are not willing to spend sh.700/- for lunch, I can bet that your lunch date in Nyeri will be upsetting. From the waiters, to the type of plates, to arrangement of the foods, to the baffling look of the overcooked veges; my advice would be to order for porridge that is usually served in a calabash.

Very disturbingly, the size of a typical entertainment house in Nyeri is the size of your table room. I’m not kidding you! Most clubs are very tiny and congested. Right from the entrance, you can order your beer, ask for a request from the DJ as you help yourself in the washrooms. By the way, I’m not referring to places where John De Matthew frequents or places you could dance to Kihiki Understandingo or Thie ukiumaga (A very vulgar song). No! Actually joints where the likes of Joseph Kamaru would visit, are quite spacious.

To the matatus in Nyeri (Coughs)…..If you happen to be plying between the neighbouring smaller towns and Nyeri, and the day coincides with a market day, then brace yourself for a long day. The thing is, matatus in this place don’t believe in 10 or 14 passenger capacity. Actually how closer they are to 10 or 14 pass is subjecting the said number to the power of 5 or 7.  Now, still on market days, conductors will insist on ferrying a 360 kilogram sack of sukuma wiki and fit it in a seat that would normally accommodate one passenger. Mind you, the sack would be 6 feet tall. Then picture yourself sitting next to this sack which means you will be hanging on the edge, squeezed by half a dozen humans hanging on the door, and few more dozens inside.

A strategic street like Gakere Road in the heart of the town is converted to a market on weekend afternoons trading everything from pumpkins, to affordable handbags and those popular music sold in River road. It’s always an epicenter of hawkers and endless mammoth of humans in their ups and about. In Nyeri we have vendors who go beyond selling maize; they do roasted yams, sweet potatoes and arrow roots as early as 9am. There is also this chap who sells Dawa ya mende dressed in a white suit and very official shoes and a tie in tow.By the way, this is the same town that caused stampede when residents flocked the popular Naivas Supermarket escalators to have a feel.

Something more important; Nyeri shuts down at 7pm. At this time you will bump into people running home especially the lazy and drunk men agonising how the encounter with their violence-talented-wives would turn as soon their site is spotted. Except for the bars and the usual tiny clubs, everything else between the borders of Nyeri town safely logs off  at this hour all for a day’s work.

Call it the price of keeping the ancestors happy and making peace with the umbilical cord.

 

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MISS RECEPTIONIST

receptionist 2Last Saturday I checked in at a doctor’s place for a random check up. I met an empty front office, well laid out, neat and inviting. I rested on the couch convinced that the receptionist would show up in a matter of minutes. She could be in the ladies, I thought so. Well, I waited for a boring 45 minutes, my only accompaniment being the diligent wall cloak that drooled at me, hanging a meter length above my damn forehead.

I stared at the pricey, clean, manicured interiors of this office until there was no more to stare. I went over my phone, camped in the social media apps, survived the heated arguments about Nakuru and Kibera rallies on Facebook,  toured Twitter streets and found them debating about the incredible CBK governor Patrick Njoroge and how he pockets a paltry sh.18,000 while giving the rest to the poor. I wasn’t convinced how a man of his stature could survive with sh.18,000 in Nairobi, never mind, I moved on. Across the streets were the financial and economy intellects the likes of Kenyanwallstreet and Aly-Khan Satchu debating everything from how Chase Bank will be less complicated than Imperial Bank to clean up, to how Tanzania gate crushed the oil pipeline deal between Kenya and Uganda and ran away with it.

I landed on Instagram and got dazzled by what I saw on that morning. Even after all this wastage of time, there was no receptionist to attend me. By now my patience had run out. My eyes got hold of this number artistically inscribed in a piece of artwork that was placed strategically. I called the number only to answered by a lady. Okay, I thought the voice would sound baritone and come stamped by white-like beards. Yaani I expected a Dr. Muthui* (Not his real name) to respond from the other end.

I went ahead and introduced myself before subtly throwing a complaint of how I had waited for a whole 45 minutes without being attended. The mellow voice changed in a matter of seconds. I could hear her cocking her throat and arming herself with all the ATT this world has got. This is how it went down;

 

It can’t be 45 minutes. I have just left 10 minutes ago for tea break.

 You can confirm from the security guys. According to my watch, I have been here for so long.

 It can’t be 45. I’m coming. (She went quiet.)

 (I hanged up.)

 

Before I screamed who cares about her tea break and how was that my problem, I had a tap on my left shoulder. It was my doting Angel hanging lowly and occasionally flapping his humongous wings. He calmed me down even before I got an explanation of how long 10 minutes were, in this part of the world.

She popped in. And there was an awkward silence between us taking shape. She was eager to meet this hell-of- a-client who was throwing shade to her amazing and futuristic career. She gave me a handshake and went straight to her desk. She had a Brenda Wairimu(Actress) resemblance. SmaIl face, a smaller nose, petite physique, extremely light skinned and a commanding persona. Dainty ladies have a way of commanding authority; if it’s not from their assertive voice, then it has to be their confusing hairstyle or resistful eyes or the miniskirts. Haha nature has a way of balancing things.

I inquired about the doctor and to my disappointment he was absent for that day. WTH!!………..How now. They should have placed a sticker somewhere or close the office.

I never like it when a day starts on such a low note. I left when we had made peace and even assured her I will be coming back next week.  That done, my Angel was at it again. This time hovering around me while I made my way out. He made me remember how lawyers accompany their clients from the courtroom heading to the parking bay ignoring the journalists.

 

What is it Angel?

 It’s time we wrote about receptionists.

 Well, I could try it soon.

You got me.

 Thanks Angel.

 

So, I thought about what makes a good or bad receptionist. Has anyone ever bothered to write about the different species of front office ladies? This would be hard to crack but interesting too.

Moody and Mean

These are customer care operators who make it our business to stomach their soaring levels of stress or bad mornings. You identify them by the moment you walk into a waiting lobby. They will pretend not to have seen you and go ahead to hit the keyboard hard, head lowered until someone walks from the opposite direction to have a word with them. That’s when they will be like, “sorry, how can I help you?” They also make long conversations sandwiched by disturbing laughters disregarding your presence and urgency.

Timid

Occasionally you will walk into an office and meet an extremely shy receptionist. She will hardly look to your direction and many a times have a voice that will not be audible. You will struggle to have a conversation with her and will leave with an unsatisfied look.

 Old Lady

You will find them mainly in government offices. They will be grey haired with loosely fitted specs and will take a million years to type a sentence. They will be motherly too, breathing heavily but quite reliable.

Men Only

This type pays homage to men only. They like it when men flatter with them for whatever reason. They highly have fun with serving the male clientele and even go to any length to please them.Typically, these are ladies who entertain a lot of men even in their personal lives.

The Multitasking and Smiley

These are best. They will answer calls from a different end as they take down your details while sorting out the files and reaching on the Messenger to give orders. They will depict high levels of energy, give genuine smiles and lend a keen ear. They will seem motivated and good at what they do. And the icing on the cake; they will recall your first name when you come back few days later.

My angel and I are so done with this challenge and on to the next one.

Blessed week Andreaders and may you Fiji all your good-for-nothing critics, competitors and haters.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT BECAME OF ‘PASTORS’

pastor standSomething happened this week. And as you would guess, I ringed Kageshi straightaway to have her opinion. She baptised me with endless laughter until I was like;

Andreaders should know about this. By the way, Andreaders refers to you and you and you that checks on my blog devotedly.

Great. Can we move on?

I got to the house one evening and even before I dropped-dead on the couch out of a day’s fatigue, decided to check on my Mama Mboga for some items. I had to wait for kindu 10 minutes since I didn’t want the juggle of going to and fro the house. So I patiently waited for my turn.

Meanwhile, Mama Mboga alerted me of her Pastor/Overseer/Bishop/Man of god quite a distance, making his way to her kibanda. She looked disturbed and even got pensive. From where I sat, I didn’t make anything unusual of a pastor passing by.

Probably he was making his home, you know? I thought. Haha. I was very wrong.

It appeared the pasi was deliberately making his way to this particular vendor. Why so? You won’t believe. Apparently Mama Mboga worships in his church and why this pastor was here, was for the reason that Mama Mboga had not been seen in church for a couple of Sundays including Easter time. In other words, the pasi was coming to look for a lost sheep. There was no way this church leader would watch his sheep flee away having succumbed to the ‘world’. He was here to denounce this bad spirit that was wobbling around his hard-to-gather flock. It was simply unacceptable.

Interestingly, I found myself in this unfolding melee and mission bring-back-our-sheep. God had placed me in the center of this crossroad. My God has a sense of humour. In fact I asked Him, seriously, God? You need me to write about this? And His angel that he has always directed to oversee my moves since I was in my mother’s womb and who often than not, let him down in my humanly moves; sorry Angel…conveyed a message that yes this would make a good piece.

Not for long, the pasi had already made his way to this not so ordinary kibanda. In fact, he announced his arrival by taking his time to have a word with the half a dozen playful kids next to the vendor. By now, he had stolen the show. Mama Mboga and I were reduced to flower girls smiling unrelentingly, nodding to his every word and sometimes clapping for him.

That done, he made two steps forward to where I was and immediately inquired my name putting on a charming face. You know of pastors when they want to understand which side of the clothing you were made from. Like, are you friendly, humble, intelligent, inquisitive, poachable, bla bla. They make these calculations very fast. This happens the moment they firmly shake your hands while posing a question and when you start responding to them. Pastors and psychologists are one and the same. They can tell who you are even before you open your mouth.

This is how it rolled;

What is your name sir!

While taking my time……Andrew.

Ooh Andrew the disciple of Jesus (chuckling)

It was long since I last had that…..Yes.

Who do you work for?

That offended me. Here was a guy whom I hadn’t met before, pestering me with such questions while he hadn’t introduced himself to me in the first place. I thought of lying to him…..I did exactly that. I lied to him I work in one of the local banks in town.

Which bank?

I mentioned the bank.

Aah, I was the first person to open a bank account in that place, back in 2010.

My mind was like; that was not necessary!

Did you know of the very first Branch Manager (insert name)?

Appearing clueless, 2010 was a long time ago. I was in college.

He was a great manager. Who is the current manager??

That got me flat footed. Why did I lie to a man of god. I would have saved myself this trouble….. aaaaaah Mr. Musyoka. (Where the hell did I get that name.) 

Right.

My face saved me. He believed me.

He moved to the poor Mama Mboga who by now was almost panicking. You know those pasis who roam around like public schools headmasters. Okay, I mean when headmasters were the real thing. When they were the only fellows who owned cars back in the day. And why was it that nothing would take away their love for the brown bottle? They would religiously frequent the bar next to the school than they would visit a class. And they commanded such tremendous respect. Wow! This pastor was throwing such an attitude. How did I find myself in this upheaval!!

After the pasi exchanged pleasantries with the Mama Mboga, I met my shocker. He made the Mama stop whatever she was doing and also requested me to check on her kibanda as they made their way to her house for a few minutes. I was made to guard this kibanda. You should have seen how confused I was, wondering how to react to this defeating shocker. Hail Mother Mary, I sighed. This was one big joke. From what I understood, he was checking to her house for a few minutes to tame this sheep that had shown signs of fleeing from the rest of the flock.  Why the house now, especially when his kondoo was busy attending to her customers? Don’t forget that he prayed for us even before shaking our hands.

A customer was turned to a guard for minutes that dragged on and on. I would touch the shock on me. Seriously, who does that? Okay, the mama had failed to appear in your church for several days and there was a prudent reason to visit her and find out what was happening. But again, wisdom has it that someone got to appreciate where his/her rights begin and end. The moment they start encroaching on the other person’s rights, then you got to stop. I was the other person in this situation. Not giving a damn on the lost and found sheep. I was here to have some stuff prepared for me to have supper. Whether this Mama had not shown up in church for some time now, was none of my business.

With all due respect to genuine men of God who do all they can to spread the Gospel and instill solid Christianity values, appearing too overzealous to an extent of being disruptive can be self-defeating and in actual sense negate the very essence of their mission. It was very disrespectful for the purported pastor to halt all that was happening at this vendor and even daring to drag this mama to her house for God knows what and leave stranded clients in waiting. I hope Kageshi won’t drag in a wannabe pasi to our house at odd hours for a cup of tea and a plate of omelette that is ostensibly never served to me.

Radicalisation does not only happen in matters terrorism but also in cases where Christians make church leaders command extreme authority and appear to behave like demigods.