My random thoughts begin on this Sunday morning. I am in this Super Metro matatu from Kikuyu, heading to town —and you are coming along. On my lap is my little daughter. She is three-and-half. On my mind is the emptiness in my pocket. The little tyke has just conned out of me a precious Sh25 on a smokie. Threw a classic case of tantrums at the stage, she just did. The disapproving looks from onlookers plus the fact she nearly rolled under a moving matatu forced my hand.
She is happily munching the stick of third-rate meats and I’m sulking. Ordinarily, I would buy her the entire world -even when she didn’t want it. But these are not ordinary times I am living in. I am going through an especially broke period. Fate, bad luck, stagnation; have all conspired to render my pockets thoroughly malnourished. I’ve just made a mental note to avoid any street in town with the slightest smell of chips, or any other edibles for that matter.
I have distributed the 125 shillings left between me and absolute poverty in three pockets. This is to ensure in the event I am robbed, it doesn’t all go. My wealth is secure. Then here comes the devil’s agent. On his muscular arm is sitting a carton full of Satan’s confectionaries. “Tropical, PK, Tropical na PK…” which is presently followed by a squeaky “Daddy, I want a lollypop…”. Kindly underline the ‘want’, thank you.
Of course, the mobile shop has seen the opportunity to sell some stock and has taken it. Completely oblivious of the angry stare, he has relieved me of another very precious 10 bob. I am inwardly sulking, asking God why he has abandoned me. I am feeling poor. I am poor. Soon though, I am humming along some gospel tune belting out of the surprisingly well-balanced music system. But I have the attention span of a chicken.
Soon, I am lost in the nothing box, my little world where I sometimes withdraw to and think about absolutely nothing. It is paradise, just being there, hearing nothing, seeing nothing… “Daddy, they are singing about a pussy cat,” I think I heard my daughter say.
“Eh?” I’m wiping drool from the corner of my mouth. No idea why my stupid kisser has to leak each time I empty my thinker.
“They are saying pussy cat in the song,” and definitely, it is my girl and she is referring to the song wafting through the speakers. Her eye brows are raised in that ‘I know what I’m talking about’ way. I’ve seen that a lot -in her mother, and loads of other women.
My little girl, after concluding that men are daft in conversations has turned to one of her own.
I take a listen and notice that in place of Christine Susho exorcising the evils from us, some black Americans were talking about bedroom activity, very graphically. The lyrics are going something like “I wanna f@#$ your Bi%$#h’s P^%$y nigga, hit it with my mother%$#ing seven inch d*#k till it c#%s…”. The only thing that’s changing song after song is the order of words —and the beat. I am dumbstruck.
My little girl, after concluding that men are daft in conversations has turned to one of her own. She is telling the red-faced woman next to us about her cousin Minari who has a pussycat called Chelsea. I open my trap to change the topic then shut it quickly after realising that would make things more awkward. I peer over the horse tails bobbing from the seats in front of me trying to make sense of the DJ in the cockpit. The matatu is, however, completely covered at the front.
I turn my attention to a teenage girl seated on the next row. Her lips are moving to the words. I try to figure out her age. By the looks on her face, maybe 13. However, her chest is alarmingly heavy, which could take her to 16. I suck at guessing ages, especially female ages. I’m a man. We all do. Anyway’s, she has caught me analysing her twins and we are both embarrassed. She must think I’m a pervert. I’m not. I am back to seething at the DJ. He must also be teenager, I am imagining. There is no way a grown man can play Tribeca-midnight music at such a holy hour. There are several sky blue Women’s Guild scarves on a few heads for heavens sake.
I imagine the driver has piercings all over the body while his pants hang half way down. I summon the tout and enquire why they are playing such songs to such a crowd. “Hizi song zinakuanga na beats kali sana,” that’s him, answering innocently. “You are Kikuyu, right?” I prod and of course he is. “Would you play Mike Rua’s Mugithi here?” I ask, to which he gives an emphatic no, saying Rua is a very dirty singer, “Icio ciendaga utuku,” he has added, of course assuming I’m Kikuyu, which I’m not. “Do you know then this music you are playing is just Mike Rua, only it is in English…” The burger is pleasantly surprised and promises to talk to the driver about it.
Unfortunately, I am unable to catch the glimpse of the DJ upon alighting. I’m also not sure I really wanted to live with the disappointment of finding that he is a fully grown man, one whose beard has robbed dozens razors of their sharpness over the decades. So allow me to address one Mutua of KFCB because this is not an isolated issue. It is shocking, especially with schools closed, to imagine that profanities are thrown around in public spaces, with little regard for the listeners.
Could you kind sir urgently extend the watershed hours to these matatus. I am afraid I will soon hear stories such as “my friend Dick from school…”, or “can we go spank a beach in Mombasa daddy…?” or worse, start retrieving felines from wells as tots try to make the ‘p@$#y wet’. Pray, do restrain them from playing unsavoury music until after 10 in the night (if they must), will you?