Choosing a ride to get to town from Githurai 45 stage is never an easy task. I have to literally push my way past makangas (pardon me for using this name, but their behaviour allows it) who have outstretched their hands, blocking my path and directing me into their buses. All the while, they are shouting louder than a vuvuzuela at the sight of a goal. The ground must be accustomed to the loud noise since a disjointed chorus of hawkers selling their wares takes over from the touts at the fall of dusk. Welcome to GhettoRai. There is no signpost to show this, but nowhere else will you find such peculiarity.
I manage to muscle through several kondas, all of them male, and exchange blows with a few who are a little too expectant of me jumping into their rides. The place has often been a venue for my Tae Kwon Do sparring classes, and the ground can boast of owning a few of my teeth. My heroic journey is cut short by the shadow of an unfamiliar figure on the ground, the chest is a little bit bigger than the ones I have passed. I instinctively start figuring out ways of pulling down a muscled up man; a kick to the groin, a neck chop or gorge the eyes out with my fingers. A well executed chop to the neck sounds like the most feasible technique; the culprit will faint immediately without letting out any screams or leaving any traces of blood. I prepare for the deathblow and position my right arm near the right rib cage, ready to thrust. I plan to lift mine eyes and position them on the target, simultaneously with the striking hand in order to avoid suspicion. As per the practise, the biggest fear factor (which in this case is the chest) is to be passed very quickly to prevent it from negating the effectiveness of the technique. The practise could have worked, were it not that this time the chest bulged. A bulge like that of a big pawpaw after you hit it with a stone, except that this time the pawpaws were golden brown; the beautiful colour of human skin. I swear that the figurines in front of me would have produced milk if I had hit them, just like pawpaws. They had swollen in whatever fluid had filled them. I find no need to tell you that my hand stopped in mid air. A high pitched female voice ordered me to get into the bus, and I willingly obeyed under the spell. I was not surprised to find that the bus was full of men, the young and the old alike, and all of them were cramped to one side of their bus, their necks craned out of the windows in order to get a better view. It was a proof that there are more hungry dogs than there are bones.
I sat alone at one corner, lamenting at my failure to overcome the forces of nature. The bus soon filled to just a little under overcapacity, allowing it to move albeit slowly. My only hope in the alley full of dark sweating masculine bodies was that my captor would appear once more, and this time I planned to have enough courage to strike her dead even at the sight of big sweet boobs. The only advantage in the bus was the quiet environment since it had no music. I prefer such an environment as it allows me to interact with my thoughts. A few minutes later and I realised I had been mistaken. A preacher seized the opportunity to promise us heaven, as well as, earn himself a few bucks. “You all know the sins you have committed,” every face in the bus shrieked with guilt, “and you all need to be forgiven.” I have never heard a louder Amen; it seemed to add a kick of power to the bus climbing up the hill.
“Jesus said that whoever eyes a woman lustfully,” he continued, “has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” I can swear that I saw a man pee in his pants, and the rest I guess had not had taken any drinks that day. The preacher doubled up as the conductor. He laid hands on the sinners and collected their fares together with the offertory. A higher offering meant more prayers and perhaps, more cleansing. “Kijana, we kwanza uliangalia sana, unafaa kutoa sadaka nyingi ndo usamehewe ( Young man, you stared for too long, you are bound to give a higher offering in order to be forgiven).” I gave him a blank stare then reached into my pocket to remove my cashless payment card. I gave it to him and instructed him to credit the whole balance in the card. I was willing to be forgiven all my sins at any cost. As expected, he did not credit more than the required fare since the rest of the amount would go to the bus owner. Apparently, the man of the clothe was in no good terms with his boss. I was relieved when he moved on to the next sinner without taking time to offer prayers for my soul. I was pretty sure the only prayers he could have afforded me were hell’s condemnation. It now seemed that my soul had received cleansing without the need of prayers.
The rest of the ride went on smoothly. Nobody wanted to sin again by thinking of the whereabouts of their bait. At the end of the journey, we all alighted saved and a jubilant fellow at the front started a chorus. I did not fail to notice that the conductor was light skinned and had a high pitched voice, which could have easily have had him pass as a female. The events of the day did not seem to make any sense to me and I lagged behind the line, thoughts weighing down on me.
Thanks to the wind, the door closed partially before I could alight the bus. My eyes could not fail to notice two big and ripe pawpaws, partially hidden by the door. “Hey man, what are these for?” I enquired. “They are to be sold in the market in the evening,” came the reply. “Let me mark them so that I can come buy them. I really love them as they cast a blinding spell on me. They are so fresh.” I said these last words with a sheepish smile as I used my fingernails to strike one of the pawpaws, just to make sure that it could ooze milk. From the corner of my eye, I saw a large boot lift from its place. I quickly replaced the pawpaw into its rightful position behind the door and jumped out. I did not want to fight with a person who I was not sure whether he was a male, a female, a bus conductor, a preacher or even a market woman. He or she could easily change into the devil I didn’t know.
Tae Kwon Do – An Olympic martial arts sports
Makangas/kondas – tout, the word is often considered derogatory.