It is on Monday evening when I land at JKIA from Germany. There is no one at the arrivals to pick me up because I am not of that kind- the ones who make flying in or out of the country a big deal. It should not be. This is after a two-week long visit. Even after two weeks, JKIA doesn’t seem to have changed a bit.
I strap my bag at the back, pull the bigger one, and walk past the many people waiting for their friends and relatives and take a cab to Nairobi. There is no much conversation between me and the driver. My mind is not just at rest. It is around 6. Cza meets me in town and drives me home, which is the best VIP treatment he’s ever given me ever. Again we don’t talk much. Tucked inside my head is a feeling of exhaustion that keeps beckoning me to go over to the other side of slumber land. Using all my energy I swing my head around to keep it at bay.
At home, everyone is excited that I arrived safely. The most draining part is where you’ve to explain how things are on the other side of the world were you’ve come from. It is not easy as you’ve to make it scintillating enough without seasoning your story too much with lies that would make it unbind.
“What did you bring us?” is the only question that you can’t avoid. When you go abroad, always remember to come back with something for the folks back at home. It is a rule of the thumb. It is also a sign of courtesy, that you do have the interests of your kith and kins at heart.
I throw the two travel bags at their feet and ask them to find something for themselves. I care little about things. With lots of excitement, everyone leaves me alone and goes on to see the goodies, which gives me relief because I want to sleep very badly.
As mentioned on this blog before, I suffer from motion sickness. Even as comfortable as a plane can be, a little change of altitude can induce it. The only way to beat it is to sleep. There is no way I can sleep for over two hours straight. A journey of such many hours means I have to endure the sickness and try not to puke.
I walk into bed and kiss my blankets.
On Tuesday afternoon, I head to town. GPO to be specific because there is a consignment that I need to collect and deliver. I cross over to Posta, pick a receipt from Cza’s box address and later go on to pick the items from a shop in town.
I have a small bag by me, which I hope to use during this transaction. At the shop, there are three items that arrived from overseas-UK, for a client who has been waiting for two weeks. Two weeks because I was not around to deliver them. Normally, we order products or items for clients. They take a maximum of three days to arrive and we do the deliveries on the fourth day. So you understand my situation. My partner was laying bare chest at Diani Beach leaving some of our clients stranded.
“Hey yoh, I am having a huge break at the coast. See you when you get back,” is the message he’d sent me over whatsapp. Then he attached a few selfies to prove his point. So I asked him what about the business? “Since you took a vacation, I also decided to take one. We shall resume when you’re back.” He said. You wanna know how I felt- like wanting to punch his face off and make a slit on his upper lip so that he won’t be able to smile comfortably again.
I pay the guy 2k- 1k for the housing, another 1k for the delay to pick the stuff up. There are two MacBooks, an iPhone 8+ and a Nikon Camera. If you combine the worth of the four items, the figure will come to around 600k+.
Carrying such items around from one place to another is like moving money from one bank to another. Security is of essence because if something silly happens then you’re going to jail for a very long time. Anybody in here who fancies going to jail? No? I thought so- neither do I.
Chris tells me to take a cab. I am at Moi Avenue and Mark, waits at the Sarova Panafric- the one on Valley Road. It is a walking distance. With 600k on my bag, it means being extra careful. If someone mugs me, holy shit, then I am done.
I think of taking Chris’ idea. Then again I decide to walk. It has been my tradition when I do deliveries around town. I hit the streets one by one while keep a keen eye on everyone that I come along. Once in a while I stop and look if there is any suspicious face following me.If you think this was making my job easier then you’re wrong. The whole scenario made people know I was wary of something.
Afraid of the attention I was creating, I opted to hope into a taxi. One thing I’ve come to know is that there will always be someone who will notice your insecurities- someone standing somewhere doing their stuff or just doing nothing. He will notice the desperation or restlessness in your acts or even face.He will know you’re up to something or you’re afraid of something.
I meet Mark at the bar, sipping whisky slowly. He’s soaked in this silence that only few men who drink will be courting. I’ve been to Sarova Panafric once. This was in 2013 campaigns when we were campaigning for Uhuruto. Then, the money was good. And the future for the two young men was promising. So they enticed us there, hosted us there, talked to us nicely about this grand manifesto with sexy items they wanted to achieve once they took power. Being hungry for money, we took the deal. They flagged us off with our branded Mini Cooper cars.
That was the last time I ever saw uhuru and Ruto so close and greeted them by hand. The last time I was at Sarova Panafric.
Mark didn’t look at me. He just sat there like a log of wood, sipping his drink pensively. A bottle of whiskey sat on his left side of the table.
It was the first time meeting Mark face to face. On placing his order, he’d transferred the money from his bank account to ours and then sent the order to us through mail. Such trust is hard to come by. Trust where someone just knows you’ll deliver even if you don’t know them. In this country where many people ni watapeli, such trust is like a healthy plant in the desert.
“Hello Sir, you must be Mark.” I say meekly. One of the waitresses had showed me to where he was.
“Who is asking?” He asks without looking at me.
“I am Justine from Mzangila Shippers. I’m delivering the products you’d ordered for, Sir.” I tell him trying to catch a look at his face.
“Oh! Finally you came back. How is Germany?” he continues taking calculated sips but not looking at me. He’d expected the consignment after four days. Knowing that it would delay, I had written him an email informing him of the current developments and that we shall ensure he gets it exactly after two weeks.
“Yes Sir. I managed to land yesterday evening. For a first timer, Germany is as good as anything wonderful. Many white people of course.” While saying this, I am still standing at his side trying to be as confident and witty as possible. Wits can melt even the coldest of hearts.
He manages a small laugh. “I see you keep your promises. Have a seat.” I place the bag carefully on the floor and take a seat. “Have a drink with me.”He continues and signals the bar man for an extra glass.
“A glass of blended juice would do.” He looks at me for the first time. His face is radiant- the one that depicts that money is not a problem, other things might be.
“No whisky?” he asks.
“Who says no to whisky? It is an expensive drink.” He says. His face is back to its normal position. Looking at his drink.
“Yeah it is. I’m afraid it is not my kind of drink.”
“Never drank ever in your life.”
“How does a life of a non-drinker look like?” He pours two fingers of whisky to his empty glass.
“Sober. I experience everything in real time. Nothing passes me.”
“You never crave for a drink?”
“Everything depends on what you tell your mind. For me, liquor is like poison. No one likes taking poison.”
Two hours drop by. We talk widely on the subject of liquor. I know a ton about the subject because I have read widely. Having practiced counseling, somehow equipped me with knowledge on the same. I have lived with complete addicts, I have seen people lose lives over alcohol, some lose minds while others make it out alive. Even more interesting are the addicts I have seen recover under my arms.
I read people’s faces and eyes quite easily because I am keen. His deep seated eyes show someone whose life is not going on well. I guess it was the reason he didn’t want to look at people as his eyes would betray him. To drown his sorrows, he decided to drink because that is what drunks do- drinking to everything. When they are happy, they drink to celebrate. When they are sad, they drink to forget. When they are pensive, they drink to relax.
“I need to go.” I tell him after three hours.
“Why the hurry man? Stay a bit,” I can sense his nerves getting warmed up by his drink with the bottle almost empty. His hand finds its way to my shoulder as he pats me and tells me to relax.
“Got more deliveries to do.” I tell him.
“Don’t worry; my driver will help you out.”
And for sure, his driver drove us around town as I made two more deliveries for the night. Funny enough, he never looked at his stuff to confirm if everything was there. He just said I know I can trust you.
We ended up driving around town till late and him convincing me to spend a night at his place because he has a daughter I should meet. A daughter who wants to do photography but has no clue on how to even operate a computer, leave alone a big camera like this one I brought them. And now I have to teach her both computer studies and photography- a line of work that is not my favourite right now. It is not where I envisioned to be at or to move towards to.
The daughter is 28 years old, understands only English- which makes my job even harder. This means meeting the same person almost every day, teaching her things I want to put in the past (computer studies), and confining me into a small space. Getting used to each other is becoming something inevitable. Getting used to people will make you fall in love or just end up doing things not in the programme.
Her foot is fully on the gas pedal. The last thing I want to do is to betray the trust his father bestows on me.How I am going to stay away from advances of such a beautiful woman is a task I work on every little minute I am with her or when her calls come through.
This is my life at the end of another tunnel.
Yours Mzangila Snr,
Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?