The thieves in Dagoretti Corner were bold. So bold that they would stop you during the day, rob you, and then walk away counting their loot as you counted your loss. They were mostly young men who dropped out of school to venture into thievery, or who robbed people to keep themselves busy during the school holidays. So fierce were they that everyone knew who they were, where they lived, but no one dared say anything or point accusing fingers. One evening, when our neighbor, a senior bachelor back in the days, ventured out to buy some githeri because times were hard, he came back with tears in his eyes and not githeri in his hands. The boys had not had any luck that day and so they decided his githeri would serve as consolation.
“Pole sana,” we told him. “But it’s only githeri, why are you crying?”
Haha. We were not helping.
Anyway, the boys continued to terrorize people until one day they stole from a Masai guy, because they had not yet received a memo not to mess with a Masai guy. They made away with his kabambe and the guy decided to inform all the Masai in Nairobi about it. I imagine them hurdled in some mabati house somewhere, shaking their heads in disbelief and swearing to bring the perpetrators to book.
One week later, he spotted the guy who had choked him while the others relieved him of his possessions. He alerted his team and the unsuspecting thief was nabbed. With their knives drawn, they made the guy kneel and asked him why he thought the Masai would be okay with losing his precious phone to a riffraff. The guy insisted that he was not a thief, and I suspected if they had allowed him time, he would have said he was an altar boy somewhere and so him and stealing cannot be used in the same sentence. But the Masai battalion was not joking.
They cut deep into his skin each time he denied the charges. They slashed him the way you would slash meat for roasting. But even as blood oozed out of the culprit, they remained calm.
“Utatoa simu hutoi?” One would ask.
“I swear sikuiba.”
Slash. More blood.
“Utatoa simu hutoi?”
“Haki si mimi.”
Cut. More blood.
“Kijana, utatota simu hutoi?”
Haha, ruthless or not, Masais need to upgrade their interrogation skills. Listening to them repeat ‘Utatoa Simu Hutoi’ was so boring I wished I could use that time to do something productive with my life, like milking rabbits. Anyway, the chap finally gave in and promised to lead them to where he had hid the phone, and they made sure they got their phone back.
So Dagoretti Corner was full of adventure. But other than the thieves, most of them kissed the bullet, by the way, my favorite memory of that place is that of our neighbor whom, for the sake of this story, we will refer to her as Anna.
Anna’s upper body was the size of a small cup but her lower body was the size of a, well, bigger cup with two handles? She was light skinned, and when she spoke, if you listened keenly, you would notice some bits of Kikuyu accent holding hands with her words. Her hair was braided most of the time. Her face was painted most of the time, her pointed nose sticking out of that pile of makeup like the black sheep of the family. We all loved her because of her contagious laughter and also because she was not pretentious. In the evenings, and sometimes during the day, she stepped out dressed in clothes that revealed more than they hid because she had customers to attend to, and those customers liked her underdressed.
Bidding her goodbye as she went to quench the fire burning between the men’s loins and filling the hole in her bank account was her boyfriend. I know, I will allow this to sink. So Anna had a boyfriend who not only knew she was a hooker, but was also okay with it. The guy had fallen in love with Anna and even after she told him what she did for a living, he was still not ready to look the other way. She agreed to be his girlfriend and they move in together. In the morning, she would come home to find him ready to leave to work. Tired and sleepy, she would fix his tie, run her palm over the shoulders of his coat and kiss him a good day.
It was unreal. Everyone who heard this story exclaimed, “What?” followed by, “Is that man okay? Jesus!”
He was okay. and Jesus had nothing to do with their unreal love. Or maybe He did, who knows. He had known that Anna was used to making money through prostitution. He had a job, but it wasn’t a good job, so he couldn’t take care of Anna even if he wanted to. She made some good money. She had a CD changer, and I hope you know what owning a CD changer back in the days meant. She sent money home and bought herself the fine things she needed.
I think about it now and ask myself how many men would be able to do what Anna’s boyfriend did. I am told that nowadays husbands video call their wives to spy. A chap finds a “Hae” suspiciously cuddled in her girl’s inbox and hell breaks loose.
“Who is Jonathan?”
“JONATHAN. Are you sleeping with him? Rose, I am asking you. Look at me when I am talking to you, Rose, are you sleeping with him? Is this how you repay me? After everything I have done for you? How many men are telling you ‘hae?’ Mmh? Is this what you do when I am not looking? Haki ya nani you will see me today.”
The next thing you know is him going live on kILIMANI Mums & Dads to warn everyone to STAY AWAY FROM MY GIRLFRIEND. Or call all women SLUTS.
But not Anna’s boyfriend. He was cool as a cucumber. Sadly, they never got married because I met Anna a few weeks ago and she told me she is married now, to a man who isn’t the one I know.
“Does he know what you used to do?”
“That I was a hooker?”
“Where did you think we met?”
Continue looking for wives in churches. Mtashangaa sana, gentlemen. And when you die alone and your family members, who did not even like you, lower your lonely ass into the grave, do not tell God, or Satan, or whoever you will find yourself in their presence, that I did not tell you.
Anyway, this post is not going anywhere. But I thought you should know that no perfect woman exists out there. The same way there’s no perfect man. And if you try to live your life pleasing women you will die miserable because no one knows the secret to a happy woman. Even women don’t know. If they did, they wouldn’t be shaving their eyebrows and repainting. So do what you can and leave the rest to whomever you always leave the rest to.
And oh, the title of this meaningless post has no correlation to this story. It is actually a song by my sweetheart Winnie Nwagi, the only sugar without copper.
I am out. Go get married. Or divorce. Or . . . Okay, now I am out.