The surrounding was more quiet than usual. He could feel the sound of his heart thumping inside of him as he walked briskly towards his house in the deeper ends of Kangemi. It was 7.59 pm. He was suddenly stopped by two men who on closer sight happened to be police men. They were on patrol to ensure that the 7pm curfew due to the Covid-19 was adhered to. This smelt trouble for him. For the experience at such times with them was unprecedented. Were they going to lock him in with other arrested people? Would they maintain the 1 m requirement for social distance? The next action was just as novel as the virus itself.
“Kijana, unafanya nini nje usiku?”. The question from one of the men brought him back to the reality. Away from his thoughts and fears for the night. He had had a pretty busy day at work and had run late despite the curfew requirements. A little traffic on the way had also contributed to this. But something else had contributed more. And it was not work. It was a she. “Afande, nimechelewa kazini kidogo ndo maana.” He answered realizing that his thoughts were taking longer than is necessary. Especially in that moment of urgency. “Kazi gani hiyo?, haujui kwamba kuna curfew” “Na mbona unanuka pombe?” “Ni hand sanitizer afisa” he quickly answered. The day was Friday, and it made things worse for on a normal day, the place would be full of revelers and those having merry to the wee hours of the night. But he was tee-toller. As at now 20+ years into his life he had not made sense of why people consume such bitter drinks just to get drunk.
“Sasa wewe tunakushika kwa hatia ya kutembea nje usiku”. The night was proceeding on a bad tone. Worsening the situation already. And especially that on the inside he was undergoing an untold turmoil. A state that he alone knew. He was ordered to follow the police men as they continued the patrol. On the way, they encountered a few more people who had to follow the bandwagon to await their fate. Some were willing to give the infamous ‘kitu kidogo’ but since cash was a risk factor and Mpesa unacceptable for obvious reasons, the two parties (uniformed and civilian) had to think of ways to act. At some point, they stopped. They were 10 in number, 8 civilians and 2 uniformed. Each in deep thought of how to deal with the other.
After some considerable silence, one of the policemen faced them and in unusual fashion lectured them on the risks they were presenting themselves to. And wonder of wonders told them to be on their way and be more time conscious going forward. It was a lucky night and the stars seemed to shine and smile down on the humans below. Some of the stars flickered as if in pity of the suffering below. The night sky was darker than usual and very quiet but for the occasional bray of an overworked donkey wondering why on earth did it have to carry 600 litres of water in one trip. And to make matters worse his owner sat on the cart and beat it vigorously. It is an unfair world. But maybe the creator knows why. Just maybe.
Kim, for that is the name of the man of the night, rushed back in the direction he had been arrested from. He tried to trace the way to his bedsitter but realized that he had somehow lost the way. What a night! He silently cursed. He had been rescued from one problem and now he was in another. And the time also was not the best. For now it was 8.59pm. He had to think quick and in the usual version sought a landmark. As on the first day when he got lost in Nairobi at Kimathi Street on the way to school and had to go back to Afya Center to retrace his steps. Fortunately, in the present moment, he saw one of the tallest flats and recognized it. It was quite a distance to his place but at least he now had a direction.
He then decided to brush away any thoughts from his mind lest he lose the way again. And especially, of the experience that impacted him today. On the experience that made him late. An experience he thought he would never find himself in. An experience with a lady…. To be continued.