I love going to Thika, it’s the one place I probably will never tire going to. Thika is like 50kms from town, fare is roughly 100 bob one way, and it’s the one place if you are keen enough you will hear the last ten shillings of your fare get spent, right at a place called Kahuho. Plus a journey that long I get the luxury of stewing in my thoughts and contemplating on how to look at the neighbour who insists on playing riddims right in the middle of the night, what is that urge to remind yourself that you are badder than most at one o’clock?
When I go to thika it has to be in the morning, if am lucky I will get a window seat, then I settle in for the ride. Again if the constellation is aligned right, I find some Kikuyu morning soap opera on radio. Usually a story of a family feud or a badder than most (am beginning to get my neighbour Hehe) business man narrating his trek to the top but one who still plays victim to some eccentric presenter. The story will have the passengers hooked on like its charm. If it is juicy enough the driver will make witty remarks that will generate a discussion amongst the travellers. I have grown so accustomed to the radio operas; I always stand at the rank a little longer before bounding to tell if the one am about to hop into has a good one going.
The folks at thika are hospitable, industrious too but mostly enterprising, that comes as no surprise though but stay with a Kikuyu for a few moments and you will appreciate that money is fungible. That there isn’t a special kind of money, whether it comes from trade or labour, none is treated with disdain, or played about with.
The ladies of thika have this admirable gut that doesn’t allow a man to be a wuss, well unless he is hell-bent on it. A man in thika has to provide, call it gold digging or otherwise, the girls down there aren’t too concerned with definitions. Once I was in this matatu, a lady probably in her sixties, turned to the conductor and demanded a smokie, Hehe. I blushed at the request but the lady wasn’t about to bulge until she got her meaty treat. The young man was tongue-tied he didn’t have time to say no. I admire that, a man is to provide, no beating about the bush.
Then sometime back on one of my trips, them from the snatcher’s club paid me a visit. I was in a matatu, joyously looking outside, someone put their hand in my bag and drew my purse, realized it on alighting. Slowly I began to avoid thika, while I thought hard about that believe of money being fungible. Now I had to sit through a police interview to get an abstract, and deal with police men who thought part of my hard-earned money was destined to grace their digestive systems. I got my abstract but I was too lazy to make an application for a new Id.
Then, a few weeks ago, I got this call. A bubbly lady called purity came on the line as soon as the connection was complete and announced she had my documents; some mechanic gave them to her because she looks like a Meru. How does a Meru look like? I asked, but she wasn’t in the mood for funny touches she cut straight to the point where she wanted to know when I would pick them up. Thought this was too good to be true, I asked to call her back later to get further detail; she said I could call her.
So we arranged to meet on Saturday, said she worked Saturdays, at a garage called Kilimani in Thika. My room mates were glad I got my documents back; a friend suggested she should be the thief, a sceptical friend. My idea of a drop off was somewhat from the making of a movie, I appear with my crew, she shows up with her crew, my crew regards her crew by showing our weapons, we exchange whatever we were trading and walk away forever.
But instead I found a warm sister, and a friendly one at that. I mean what kind of person walks a stranger to their business premise and serve them a drink? She wasn’t in a hurry either she watched as I sipped the drink, like she was surveying my skin to tell the kind of knife that would be appropriate for skinning, (You know how first impressions can be misleading Hehe).
After what seemed like ages she slowly began the questioning,
Purity: Umesema unatoka Nairobi? (Why do kikuyus refer to Tao as Nairobi instead of calling it Tao like the rest of us??)
Purity: Unaishi huko ama?
Purity: Basi ulipoteza aje documents kwa gari za Kilimambogo?
I: (Mentally, I can go wherever the heck I want to, I didn’t know thieves around here gave restraining orders) Nilikuwa nimetembea tu.
Purity: (Regarding me with her eyes and settling on her seat), I see.
She then explained how she landed the documents, and asked me if I was going to press charges. I was a little confused. Apparently she had the mind of my sceptical friend.
Purity I came to later learn is a kind-hearted Embu girl who didn’t fancy running in with the law for being kind. She runs a motor spare parts shop; her own hustle, started from the bottom now she is close to the top. She run me through her re-order model, which basically is a weekly trip to Nairobi early before the posh birds of Nairobi wrap up their beauty sleep, told me she knows Kirinyaga road like the back of her hand.
She also told me of a loan she had just finished servicing, 100k, the reason it took so long, she was bedridden for the better part of last year; some misdiagnosis that almost killed her. She really was a good person; tell me, what kind of person tells you half their life story in less than an hour of meeting?
In her eyes i realized cruelty of this world would go down a notch if we did good deeds just because we wanted to.
As I was leaving it occurred she probably expected me to share my life story; how I thought I deserved a bigger pay rise or how my house leaks at times and every time the caretaker generates a new story of why he will not be available to have a look at it. Or how I gave my little sister some money that I expect paid in full though she doesn’t have a job. But then I realized what I really needed to be doing was being grateful that I met someone who was nice just for the heck of it.