A massive downpour caught me at the city the other day and my colleague and a friend asked me to drop him home.
It takes lots of bravery for anyone to hitch a ride in my un-roadworthy car and the vote of confidence was so exciting I immediately said ‘yes’.
But by the time I dropped him, the rains were still pounding, visibility was terrible and the section leading to his house was flooded.
He turned to me and said, “Ben, why don’t you come home? We can swallow tea as Madam fixes dinner. You relax and leave when it stops raining.”
I mulled it over for a second-i rarely decline free meals- and declined. In his house, I would need to be on my best behavior, sound intelligent and well behaved — no cursing — lest his lovely madam formed the impression that he hangs out with a bandit and a very “dirty” senior bachelor.
Most fearful, I probably would need to remove my shoes and I knew the pair of socks I had worn that day had gigantic holes-probably a mismatched pair too!
But perhaps my greatest motivation for declining the offer was that even as I struggled to see my way in the deluge, I had spied a pub 100 metres or so from his house.
In my brilliance, I thought nursing a shot of brandy to kill the chill in my bones would be more rewarding than playing with his young son, who probably wouldn’t like my fat old face anyway.
Unfortunately, when I got to the said pub, it was raining so hard I couldn’t get out of the car. So I switched off the engine and began thinking about the hot cup of tea I had just missed and the steaming and delicious bowl of stew madam was placing at my friends elbow as I sat freezing in the car-and the insult of having to make my dinner after declining a free one…
An hour later, when I cranked the engine to leave, ‘the car refused’. Darn thing couldn’t start. Cursing like a sailor, I walked to a taxi.
“Ku jumpstart ni mia mbili (I charge Sh200 for jumpstarting stalled cars),” he mumbled while chewing furiously onto a sickening lump of khat.
A week later, I got a puncture at midnight and discovered to my horror that I didn’t have a car jack. Once again, I walked to a taxi driver and asked for help.
“Jek ni mia mbili (the jack will cost you Sh200).” At least he wasn’t chewing khat.
At this rate, Kenyans will start charging accident victims for first aid,not to mention the recent traffic law that is meant to drive all cars off the road through very punitive fines!