My Neck of the Woods

I stay along the Thika Superhighway. I won’t tell you exactly where lest you come snitching; when I’m just minding my shit like going to buy eggs in the morning, in a red flowered boxer. But I’ll tell you what, mine is one of those neighborhoods; super-chaotic – if you ask me. If you made a wild guess and thought Githurai, then you’re wrong. Dead wrong. Go pee. Githurai is not chaotic, Githurai is a pandemonium.  Githurai is saitan’s own workshop.

Let me take you there {my hood, not Githurai} just so we can be on the same page… So from the main road that pours into the highway, there is a feeder road – tarmacked -that runs 300 meters, then plunges into a relatively serene residential area complete with a school. My apartment is tacked away somewhere there. I have no qualms really with this side. The devil is on that feeder road. That street…

Sometimes I wonder how on earth I found myself caught up in this madness. I knew what I wanted. {I always know what I want}. And this wasn’t it! Never! I had the option of staying at a more decent address, but I listened to this friend; a masquerading know-it-all fixer more than I listened to my intuition. He prattled on about how my choice wasn’t worth the money I would spend on rent and stuff. And because he’s the Tony Gachoka type, and has been in this town longer than me, I took his word for it. Blunder.

So I opted for this neck of woods because the apartment was bigger and the rates were slightly lower than my other options. This turned out to be one the worst two decisions of my life. The other was this steamy love note I wrote to the beauty queen of my class back in primary school, Wanjiru, and she took it to this class teacher who couldn’t keep her mouth shut on anything, let alone forgive. She read it before the staffroom and worked relentlessly on my then small buttocks, not that they’re very big right now, anyway.

I didn’t know it would turn out this way. The first time I came here was on a Sunday afternoon. It was all clean and orderly and relaxed and everyone seemed friendly and sophisticated. I fell for this façade. I remember leisurely driving down with this fixer friend of mine, relishing the breeze and the vegetation. You should have seen me grinning, thinking I’d hit the jackpot. By the way everyone respects and likes you when you’re driving. That’s what happened. The reception was pretty amiable but reality hit me hard when the car got stolen and I had to go back to using matatus.

Matatus. There’s a time I used to stay in Juja and we would queue when boarding. Here, there’s no such luxury. It’s all a jungle; survival for the strongest. Guys scramble for the matatus. The conductors are super noisy and scruffy and smelly. They smell of everything from sweat to bhang to something I can’t put a finger on. They keep banging the matatus hard. The music therein is deafening. No one cares.

The streets are crammed and filthy and loud. Everyone sells everything. There’s a mama selling githeri every 10 meters. And then there are hawkers who sell Mugithi music. There are vans announcing herbal medicine, asking men who shoot blanks or who can’t shoot anything at all to go see them. There’s also this white fielder that sells SDA music. You know those well rendition choir songs done by the suave SDAs?  Yes, those ones. They stay on the street the whole afternoon. Sometimes while I’m at this cyber cafe trying to type something creative, they come and pack right outside. I usually feel like pummeling their brains out because I’m not wired to multitask. The most annoying is this lone, willowy guy who sells pesticides in the evening. He’s always in this jungle green Kaunda suit, and calling out customers in a recorded voice. {Insert heavy kikuyu accent} “umesubuliwa na mede, panya, kuguni na viroboto, karibia hapa utasaidika. Line ya yu, line ya airtel, line ya safaricom, karibia customer wewe.” And he replays the damn thing like a zillion times. I usually feel like calling recce squad. No, I’m serious. It drives me up the wall. Gets under my skin. Some days I feel like I could go ballistic.

Then there are the maids from Kisii, the type that drool over Willy Paul. Sometimes you’re just chilling in the house, and you want total silence; no TV, no phone, no nothing. You’re staring at a blank word document, trying to pluck words from space, and then suddenly next door this maid is being shagged loudly by her boyfriend. Who is most likely her favorite bodaboda guy, also Kisii, who popped in surreptitiously. They scream and groan and stutter incoherent things in Kisii. It’s ghoulish.  After he’s done and slips out {of the house, not her} as furtively as he’d slid in, she blasts the crime scene with music, usually Bongo, as if to bask in the afterglow. Mscheeew.

Speaking of bodabodas. I’m not a huge fun of motor bikes. I’d rather walk. But there is crowd of bodaboda riders who have put up shop where the feeder road ends. They play loud music. Bad music. You’ll find them lounging there, chowing cane as they dance to merimella. It’s a horrible sight. Just imagine grown men in heavy jackets grinding cane and dancing to a jam like merimella. And they ogle at chics who sashay by in tight jeans. Well, fact is we all steal glances at good stuff; problem is they make the ogling all too obvious.

Often times, a motorbike will burst through the street, speeding to nowhere. The noise is horrendous.

It gets yucky when the rains pound. The drainage gets clogged because the chain of grocery stalls feed the drainage system with all manners of shit; from organic waste to plastic bags to God-knows-what. So this sludge is dug out of the drainage channels to allow for the flow of rain water rushing south. The stench is acrid. But still, mutura guys insist on selling their stuff right next to it while passersby insist on buying the damn thing! And they munch on right there, as if the smell as an accompaniment of sorts. The world is hurtling to an end I swear!

It gets worse on Fridays when the garbage truck makes a trip down here. They collect garbage, the ones in ugly heaps of black plastic bags. It takes them almost the whole day. Those boys are never in a hurry to leave. Man, you don’t want to walk this street on a Friday. It’s a smelly situation. But the guys making chapos by the road side, they are worse, they don’t give a shit. They grind on, reluctantly waving flies away. Chapo die-hards don’t give a shit either. They buy on, they chow on.

I feel like a wretch because I stopped running. The terrain close to my block is rather ragged. The pesky human traffic in this freaking street won’t allow me. I’ve also heard of horror tales of guys being mugged at gun point, so I’m paranoid about waking up at 5 am to run. It’s ugly. It’s horrible.

I know you’re probably rolling your eyes and wondering,”why doesn’t he just then bolt out of that goddamn place. Truth is I even don’t know why I’m still here. Maybe it’s ‘cause of this geeky landlord who’s somewhat easy and lenient and flexible, or it’s the family of friends I’ve created, or it’s simply a man thing, we just don’t like moving houses.thika-road






One thought on “My Neck of the Woods

  1. I love reading your stuff Antony…my neck of the woods,makes me feel the intense,miserable life the author has gone through..something I hadn’t wished n wouldn’t wish to happen to him
    All in all you understand how to carry on ur reader,thumbs up man


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