The sun slowly sinks into the belly of the earth, gently caressing her five-head (as Joe the joker always refers to her humongous forehead). That cocktail glass in her hand feels weirdly cold, so she empties its contents and places it on the makuti stool beside that beach chair she has been occupying for a better part of the evening. Initially, she had come to read a chapter or two in the Jeffrey Archer novel but the sinking sun was too beautiful to ignore. Too beautiful. Probably as beautiful as her 2year old daughter who was playing in the sand a few yards away.
Then she hears the sirens from a distant. Long annoying siren sounds which keep increasing by the second. Involuntarily, she reaches out to the makuti stool to fetch her shades. She’ll need them to walk along the beach or else sand wil find solace in her huge blue eyes. The sand around here has an affinity for eyes.
And she touches it. The alarm clock. The source of the annoying sound.
“Dammit!” she exclaims as she hits the snooze button. “Can’t a sister dream in peace?” she hisses as she fights the urge to smash the clock against the wall and slip back to her reverie.
But she knows it “arise and shine” time. She does not feel too shiny but she has to arise or else she’ll never shine. Neither will her daughter. Its 6:30am.
Groggily, her half sleepy self gets out of bed after the forces of sleep loose to the forces of harsh economic times in a short lived duel. She’s got 90 minutes to get out of that house and go chase paper, or what everyone else calls money. You see, she fails to understand why there is so much fuss over mere pieces of paper with numbers on every corner and the face of the country’s leader. Their circle metallic siblings are sought after but not as much as the Webuye products. If she had her way, she would create a world where money did not exist. She had no idea how that would turn out, but she had always sworn she’d do it given the chance. “Dream on!” her friends at work would always tell her.
She is at the bus stop, awaiting her ever punctual mathree to come ferry her to that place where money is idolised. And just like any other day, the 14 seater PSV comes to a halt barely a meter away from where she is standing. “Oya stella! Tunaenda ama?” shouts the middle aged tout as he leaps out of the vehicle in his maroon uniform. They call him Vinny. She smiles at him and gets in taking a seat behind the driver’s seat. “Si unaona throne yako nimekutunzia“, says Vinny as he slams the mathree’s side signalling the driver to take off.
Vinny is 32 years old but he looks 25. A decade of touting has ensured he never ages. Running after a moving vehicle is probably the best work out ever. He starts his day at 4am and retires at 4pm, after a day on the road to and from the CBD ferrying passengers from all walk of life. Life as a tout is not the best out there but he has learnt to be contented and lives a day as it comes. Bad policy but has worked for him ever since he moved out of his parents’ house.
“Pesa hapo mbele” he says as he extends an arm in anticipation of bus fare from the passengers sitting beside the driver at the front.
In 45minutes, Stella will be in the big city. A city she loathed. A city where money was everything. You can even buy a child in this city. She was sick of it. Too sick to leave. Probably because it was her lifeline. In this city, she earned her daily bread. It is in this city that she has met a lot of people who have influenced her life in ways she had never imagined of.
For instance, there’s Gregg the guy manning the main entrance of the office where she works. They call him Sojja, probably because of the regalia he dons that resembles that of the forces. Which forces? No one knows, but they still call him Sojja. Gregg has been at that door for as long as Stella has been working at that office. May be even longer. She found him there. He is in his early fifties, and a father to three sons. From his standing posture, it’s easy to tell he is not fit for the jib. He can barely lift that baton that he always clenching in his left hand anyway.
Then there’s Pat the receptionist. Patricia is her real name, but this make up doused girl insists on being called Pat. She says Patricia is too long and “kinda not cool”. At 22 years, all Patricia has to her name is a very colossal Infinix phone that is always in her hand, either taking selfies or chatting, and a huge collection of make-up. Well, you could say she owns her designer outfits and glamorous shoes but everyone at the office knows those are acquired via money solicited from her 72 year old Italian “boyfriend” whose pot belly is so huge he cannot spit straight ahead or else he risks spitting on his stomach. Guys at the office call him “Uncle Bae”. Uncle Bae is their boss. Crazy world.
How about Janet? Yeah. Janet from HR. The sentimental mother of two who has a heart the size of Patricia’s phone, as Joe the IT guys puts it. Janet is that calm, God loving lady most people in the office look up to when in distress. And she has never turned any one away. Not even once. Rumour has it that she even helped Reuben from PR sort out issues with his wife after she stormed the office with a machete and skirt in hand, claiming she was tired of him not living up to his roles as the man of the house. “Punda amechoka!” she kept screeching for 2 minutes straight before Madam Janet chipped in to salvage the situation which was a trending topic in the office for an entire month. The ladies even took up the phrase and would chant it every day just before work hours faded away!
Stella settles at her desk, and switches on her desktop which as always kicks start her day at work with the word “HELLO” boldly displayed on the monitor. It must be a Dell. Indeed it is.
As soon as she keys in her company credentials to the company’s e-attendance list, someone calls out her name. It’s Gregg. He signals her to follow him outside where she finds Ken, her bundles mwitu “peddler”, standing with a silly smile on his face and his signature black phone in hand. He has come to bring her the usual her weekly “dosage” of data as she likes to call it. “Leo nakupa bonus ya 1GB” ken says as they shake hands. She hopes it doesn’t take long since Uncle Bae will be walking in anytime soon and he doesn’t like it when his employees idle around.
She looks around, takes in the familiar surroundings for the second time this morning and braces herself for another day at work. It will be a long one just like the rest have been.