Reply to Vain Jango Letter
I had to show them. That stupid old shit of a father - who used to say I was his good gero, ati how I would go to Oxford! Yaani, be a doctor. But after uprooting his coffee, didn't he become an over-aged Mungiki? Said the girls had to leave school.
Did I sleep in his house again?
Instead, I waited. To get my first ten thao. And watched. So easy to go to Nairobi thinking you are mambo yote - ati-coz people in Kiambu were just dying to know me. The rebel. Fifteen. And so kabisa stacked, yaani my body made grown men grin like peeled cobs of roast maize.
Lakini, I learned.
I was ready to go. It cost me ten minutes of bad breath on my face as Mwangi huffed and puffed on the back seat of his matatu. Me, I was just thinking - is this it? Is this what makes men so stupid? For this, my father was so weak?
Mwangi gave me his boss' chapa in an envelope and got me drunk at Blue Post. Breathed on me again - choo-choo! Haki, if it wasn't for the smell I would have thought he was the night train. To Nairobi.
Nairobi, ehe, I bought shiny-shiny Dubai dresses and mitumba that looked like new. Sold them in Kiambu. Customers bought! I borrowed ten thao from Mwangi, more of his boss' chapa
In a month, I made twenty thao.
I selected the best outfits, cleaned them, put them in a suitcase and carried them to offices, banks salons - for sale. What did I know? Nairobi chillies are tough! All the time talking through their noses of Cactus, Carni, Kengele's but it's your fault if the dress doesn't make them look like Janet Jackson's twin! Then they spy my body and decide to get revenge by finya-ring me on price. And when my natural aras and eroz strip and stride or ofer the prace, they giggled hee-hee just like those tao classmates of mine did in Kamirithu Tech.
I kata'd my losses and bought men's ties. I zeroed on those ma-pot bellied tycoons, the fathers of those same girls who looked me up and down, mpake I felt like a snake and had to shwee shwee away. Lakini, si I know men? Ati me - shy mwiritu - I wore tights, but no lipstick. You know, to seem like a virgin from shags ripe for plucking, yaani you've got a chance if you keep her happy by buying her little ties. They bought and bought and bought.
Yaani, I fika'd
My plano was to take myself to a top class place one day. Like that Cactus sijui Kengeles. Yaani where fika-d guys heng - buy my own voddy, feel good, you know. Feel on top. Kiambu mwiritu on top! I was ready.
Si I'd been studying my customers. The ones whose clothes are imported fresh-fresh from London sijui New York via me, myself, personally. I decided to kill. Spent two thao in Gitush. Even bought those ma MTV Shakira stylo bum creepers that make men finya breath.
Cactus. Wawa! My heart hammered just like in those long-ago nights I used to wake up to hear my father beating my mother. Cactus, me, myself and I - Will I pass? Will I pass?
Lakini, the way I walked in, you could have mistaken me for Kabaka's wife! Nobody laughed. They ate me with their eyes! Women stared with maximum mathaa! Me, I just smiled aka-secret inside-inside smile, yaani those women were giving me power. I swayed my madiabs, the tights rubbing swish, swish, swish all the way to the bar.
Didn't I climb a stool knowing exactly what to show? Ehe?.
Next to me sat this jinga sporting a Kenyatta market fade - you know how those barbers kata lines to look like those American stylo waves on MTV? Lakini this jango's lines were kata-d too wide, looked like a tractor had ploughed across his head. He reminded me of my old Blue Post gari-ya-moshi. Me, I remind myself I'm here for my beer.
How was I to know even maendeleo'd guys act stupid when they see 'meat'? I saw him sneaking looks where, where? Jango's eyes criss-crossed up, down, round until dripping saliva burned a hole in his blue shirt! Now if he had just said , "Hello, is it me you are looking for?" I would have said, "Sindiyo!" then we would laugh and talk like real people. But - ai! Instead he plays this see-through jinga story. Ati talking on his mobile, about ati new Beemer, ati slipping me a line - 'Mind my seat for me, baby!' such a try. And jinga thinks ati with his game, his building a tarmac road leading to true love.
But, ukweli, he had one power:
When he opened his mouth I knew I was finished. Knew he would judge me from my eros and aras, just like those tao girls at school. Enyewe, these type of people scare me. When he talked, my mind became a piki piki togio-togiogioring. Thinking Ai! - how soon will he crack up and laugh at me? Ati me, clad to kill, sitting in front at a bar, those mathaa women watching, willing me to fail. They will see him laugh at me. Ai! I try to concentrate on what he's saying. Ati. Yo yo what do I do? "Nothing." Now, does he think I am going to tell him I sell mitush? Me, who is still dreaming about wearing a doctor's coat? If I tell him that he'll laugh mpaka tomorrow - yaani, a doctor-to-be who hasn't even fikad from three! Yo. Ati what qualifications? My mind is on this one so the answer shoots out quick, quick. "Kamirithu Tech, form two." I see the shock of horror pass across his face before he fixes it in a dismissive grin. Kwani lack of higher education is infectious.
He is spoiling my plano. Why can't he just bounce - bounce back to where he came from? Go and yo yo yo another woman, run his finger across his nose at somebody else instead of poke-poking in my direction. Ati, yo yo, Constitutional Review! Now, why would I want to come all the way to Cactus to talk about Constitutional Review? What does he want me to say? That me, a Kikuyu can believe anything that threatens those fools in government will survive? That we burnt a mountain of coffee beans when they came to Kiambu? Smoked them out kabisa? Ai! Ati yo yo, September eleven? Now, he wants to justify himself that he is not leaving because of my accent! He wants me to be tongue-tied. Asking me about September eleventh. Me, I'm trying to stretch like a giraffe in mind to see how many words I can put together without an R or an L. By the time my mind is back, my mouth, my tongue is having cramps. September when? I say. No Rs.
Does he think I will talk free-free while he smirks at my accent, as if all those generations of his jingo ancestors, with their fishy ways and funny accents have suddenly become like animals because he watches Channel 9! YO YO? I wonder if this is the way he talks to his rural relas. Me, I wonder, is this the Kenya we want?
I see he is mis-leading my silent disgust for ignorance. I let him. Yaani, if it makes him feel on top, sawa - if only he'd let me do the same Ati, Yo, future plan? My turn to have fun. I speak soft-soft like a virgin. I tell him my homy is organizing Stato papers for me. Jingo hops off the stool up like he's been shot. I want to laugh, yaani, jingo thinks he's a better representative of Africa than I? Anyway, me I think I want to have more fun than a poke poke place like this can offer. As I head out, I hear, "Yo! Onyango is looking fat? Did you hear he is buying a Bee-Em?"
The girl who says this has one of those faces, you know, smooth skin, black shiny mpaka you want to touch. Ma-cheekbone like that Italian actress, lips like fifteen kisses on one mouth, plus space for parking. Yaani a Jango beauty - like that ka-model Alek Wek earning dollar money. Lakini, you thin ma-men will notice a chile showing her tribe with such uchungu? Apana! The thing that sumbuas people's mind is that you can't afford where she comes from. Now how did looking African become ati- ugly? Fat? Jango looked skinny to me.
I hear there is a one-man-guitar in west. Let me go there. But you boy, in your virtual BMW, let me tell you this. I am hungrier than you. I have more to prove. While you are doing your sniff sniff, everybody say hey, Onyango twende kengele; me I'll be making cash money.
Come sniff sniff in my office when you're looking for a job. In five years. And I'll be twenty. Laughing at you, laughing at my father. I won't be 'fat'. I'll be rough and lady. Here, there, in Stato, anywhere.