They were deeply engrossed in conversation. The two ladies sat by the steps leading to the upper rooms. They both had pink coats but one was a bit brighter than the other. Their names were Malia and Talia, sisters by blood. Malia was a second year student in Egerton University while Talia was in the final year in St. Francis Girls Secondary School. She was younger by 4 years but they all clicked as though they were of the same age. They were sisters anyway.
The subject of the conversation was hard to decipher but Talia was seen to speak more while Malia listened keenly. It was not the normal chit chat and clatter that was common among sisters as they spoke of their escapades and dreams. Talia appeared to be greatly agitated and she kept swinging her phone up and down as if in frustration over something. The probability of their meeting at this time was negligible but the situation in the world had brought it to this moment. Their two younger brothers and a sister played with other kids as they ran around the block. To gauge whether they were sad or happy to be away from school was hard to know. Though not for once did they ask when they would go back to school. Their parents and sisters could not provide any tangible answer, for they too did not know.
Their compound was one shared with many other families and they had a common water point and sanitation facilities. Overlooking their place were other flats and a luxurious hotel than none of them had ever had a chance to visit. They did hope that in the near future it would be a reality. All the hope at this point was on Malia who despite their humble background had successfully secured an opportunity to study Education in the University. It was not her first choice but nonetheless she was thankful to have the chance and she promised herself to do all that she could to obtain the best and support her parents especially in educating the younger siblings.
The Tuktuk parked in front of their house was the only evidence of their father’s trade who operated the tuktuk transit business. Recently it had been grounded all along due to the reduction in the movements around. Sometimes the dad could be seen pacing around the compound in deep thoughts. Luckily he was good in saving but if the situation continued as it were, then his family could be in trouble. His wife operated a small hotel by the roadside which helped to buy some little stuff but again the gains from the hotel had dropped greatly. They all prayed for an end to the situation as they kept together. He was happy though to have an understanding wife and a good family for reports were all over that cases of domestic violence had gone up.
It was 4.30 pm in the evening and the flats across started to cast a shadow over the undeveloped patch of land that had the only naturally green vegetation. There was one huge acacia tree with a wonderful umbrella shaped canopy and a sole grevillea tree. By the patch was a post written “Plot Not for Sale” as is common with many such pieces of land. Between them was a road that led to more residential places deep into the area. People wearing masks could be seen walking by slowly and thoughtfully. Some had it lowered down. Donkeys ferrying hundreds of litres of water with their owners on top of the carts could be seen struggling by. Beasts of burden indeed. Up in the sky, an airplane moved in slow motion as it descended to land on Wilson Airport. The frequency of flights had dropped greatly.
The song ‘Ewe Kenya Nchi Yangu, ewe Kenya Baba yangu, ewe Kenya mama yangu oh, sitakuwacha milele’ could be heard from one of the rooms. It was a call to patriotism even in this tough times. The previous day, the Health Cabinet Secretary had spoken toughly on his intention to rid the Health Ministry of cartels over allegations of mismanagement of funds dedicated to the fight against Corona Virus. The Head of state H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta could be seen to be more aged as he delivered his Labour Day speech in State House. This was in stark contrast to the normal times when Uhuru Park or the venue of choice could be full of Kenyans listening to their leaders and the Trade Union Boss Francis Atwoli who made mention of the silenced BBI during the address much to the chagrin of Kenyans on Twitter (KOT).
At some point, Malia rose up and left, only to return back with her phone in hand. She handed it to Talia who smiled happily. Apparently the phone she had had stopped working and she had too much studying and chatting to do. Malia wondered sometimes with who she was chatting with too much and often tried to advise her to cut on it. Remembering back also, she was in the same situation only that phones were not as common as they were these days. She had also recently decided to stay offline for a while and avoid the many messages that she kept receiving from all and sundry. The post corona dates that she had already been promised were enough to ponder over. She often kept wondering on how to gauge the men that seemed to promise so much. Some were more aggressive than others while others still measured their words until it was not easy to know their intentions. She was in no hurry though to get into a relationship any time soon. Her school did not offer any online studies as the University of Nairobi had been reported to be doing. On Monday, she had seen a line of young people by the Telkom Outlet who happened to be students from the said university picking Telkom lines loaded with bundles. What a development!
Presently, three young men could be seen by their blue gate. Jeffrey, Kelvin and Timothy. Or by their common names: Jeff, Kevo and Timo. They looked excited as they spoke and Jeff kept looking in his phone. He had sent a message to Talia but it was not yet delivered. A notification presently showed the delivered status and he waited hopefully. It was Kevo’s idea that they come to the place nonetheless even without the reply. He had promised to employ his tactics to get the attention of the lady even without the use of technology. He was living up to the reputation of his name. Talia signalled to her sister and they stood up and headed to the gate. She remembered to carry her phone with her for Jeff’s brother operated a phone repair shop. And Jeff had promised to do it for her free of charge. She would not let such an opportunity go by. Just like the free food that her sister had told her ladies in the university were fond of in the name of dinner dates even with way older folks. It was a precarious world.
The time was 5pm. They had just about an hour before the shop was closed since the 7pm-5am curfew was still in effect. After an exchange of greetings, in the manner advised for safety, they all headed to the shopping centre. None had a mask on.