By John Masunga
The petrol station attendant showed him a corner near the drainage and generously dosed him with the water cannon. It was not a fire extinguishing drill. It was to cleanse the mud and sewerage filth from head to his bare feet sustained in the culvert pinned down by two strong men who had surgically rampaged thoroughly through his pockets.
That is where an expert wrestler chest blow from across the four double road lanes had landed him in a single force somersault. It landed expertly below his chin and spared his teeth. Into the culvert pond.
He had wandered to the petrol station near the polytechnic dejected. Body ached everywhere. Shoes and socks gone and a show case of a pigs’ sty. Filthy! He was stinking!
Crossing the roundabout carefully to avoid the 10 o’clock night traffic had been uneventful for Kivava Kikonze, a fresh graduate who had yet to secure any casual job to sustain the job hunt in the city in the sun. The economy was low in those late 1994 months.
And so was insecurity.
Ladies’ having their earrings torn off from their ear elegance was common.
For him on this night, he had visited a college mate past Nyayo Stadium. Madaraka precisely earlier during the day.
Night fall had caught up with him rich with fifty shillings assorted coins. He had chosen to walk than pay a matatu ten shillings to town where a cousin had put him up on a sofa set for temporary holding. Things would improve, he kept hope.
. . . .
In the CBD lazily later a journey of brisk fifteen minutes took two hours of retrospection. The fresh graduate who had the fame of composure even when the world is maddening around was in extra deep thoughts.
The robbed have no peace. The robbed have trauma. His only sweater was gone and the pair of leather shoes bought to last a two year projected tarmacking sojourn. Just like that as his people would simplify such misfortune with a dismissive tone.
Just like that.
The stairs to Monte Carlo Night club were slippery that night. He slowly took one at a time to find solace on some music or the smell of mixed odours and pungent beautiful faces in there.
A lone corner table was the target. He sat staring at the hazy disco lights playing games on his mind and the ambience in the room.
‘What do I serve you with’ jolted him to the waitress staring at him blankly.
‘‘Oh, I am waiting for a friend? We will order the sooner they come.”
And with no other word she had vanished to other tables. He reflected. The beauty of this world fades into nothingness as suddenly as it can get to switch on a chandelier light bulb.
The world had vanished. With his pair of leather shoes and a sweater. The only earthly possession he had total control. He looked down and his bare feet which looked back at him in an internal please to be clothed. The cold floor hurt the nails seems it was the plea.
He had to go. His bundle of nothing collected itself up and eased his soul to the entrance and the slippery stair as Donald Ericksson ending staccato of Traffic Jam faded. There was a traffic jam in his head and soul. And in this city. Perhaps the country too.
Then the canine’s long nose appeared on the crack of the door to the club. The sharp teeth chiseled to immobilise suspects and crash bones.
That police dog just gave Kikonze one more reality. Who would believe he was genuinely robbed? Even the police dog would be hard to convince. It smelt fear from Kikonze as they went past the dog and handler.
Fierce barks before the Administration Police Officer restrained the bull Mastiff. But Kivava Kikonze was already playing dead on the pavement.
‘Kijana imetoroka Jela? Wapi kiatu?Wapi kitambulisho? Wapi natoka? Wapi naenda? Wapi . . .
The succession questions numbering almost twenty stung more. It was all a conspiracy this night. The robber and the enforcement of cruelty to an innocent soul. The robbing system. From the culvert into the jaws of the canine and the armed officer.
His silence raised more suspicion and in no time he was swinging back and forth in two strong hands holding his both hands separately and as the legs.
One. They swung!
Two. They swung!
Three. There you go!
He landed into other into a police van full of other lifeless drunkards. Skimpy Koinange night shift workers on the floor of the Mahindra Police patrol. He lay still waiting for heaven and hell and earth.
Still cold Mahindra floor.
Four hours and more landed into this companionship by force.
Five hours and the Mahindra smelt as the public toilet adjacent.
At 4am the journey started.
‘Ni wakati wa kujitetea sasa.’ came the reprieve.
“Fifty Fifty tusisumbuane”
The scramble for the van’s back started. Handing over fifty bob and freedom back.
If you happen to travel to Mbooni East Constituency, on arrival near Mbooni Boy’s ask for Kivava Kikonze’s home. He resides there writing poems and children’s stories. And tends coffee and arrow roots. He was robbed of his pair of shoes, sweater and dignity. He reclaimed it back with the assorted fifty shillings coins then 7 years ago as the Mahindra was revving to Kamukunji Police Station.
He shakes his head at the mention of the capital city.
A pleasant conductor at Athusi Bus stage had listened sympathetically to his ordeal, bought him some bone soup plus andazi and hanging by the door of the matatu all the way to Ukambani had arrived home.
The prodigal son not necessarily but a robbed man.