A Girl A Matatu And A Blind Date

image credit: Ashley Spencer
image credit: Ashley Spencer

Also published on Brittle Paper

I’m running late, I have just lied to baba again, I do that a lot of times nowadays. Baba doesn’t understand that I am a girl. And a girl has needs, I have to look like Barbie. You know the one beside my bed, that’s the only way I’ll find my prince charming. My prince charming? I’m smiling as I think about him, I write about him every day in my diary. He’s everywhere nowadays. In my dreams, my girlfriend’s sleepovers, he’s everywhere expect in real life. But what is real life anyway? Real life is what you make it.

I’m 22 and I’ve scored a blind date with a guy, he’s no prince charming but he’ll do for now. I don’t know what got me hooked? Maybe it was his robust online presence because it most certainly wasn’t his toon avi. Maybe it’s his interest in politics, the economy, and his flawless knowledge about almost everything. My heart skips every time I see his toon avi on the timeline. I know baba won’t have none of this online strangers shenanigans so I have told him I am going for a book club meeting. I have even called my best friend Wairimu to act as my alibi.

Wairumu is tall impressive and effervescent. She’s the mischievous and bubbly kind who gets away with murder. She says she envies my body but I don’t understand…especially because she looks like those skinny lingerie models that walk the Victoria secrets runway. Boys say I am thick but I feel fat…fatter when I am curled up on the couch with my bowl of ice-cream watching E!

“You know that new catch I was telling you about, I am seeing him today?” I whisper into the phone all the while giggling.

“And how do you plan to get out of your authoritarian dads house madam new catch?”

“We have a book club meeting or have you forgotten?” (More giggling)

“Do you want us to review Zukiswa Wanner or Ben Okri?” (Giggling getting out of control)

“I’m in a British mood today. I’m in my sundress so let’s try Paula Hawkins.” Line goes dead after chuckling.

“Dad! Dad!” I’m screaming frantically as I head towards his study. “Your driver is saying the family car has issues can I use your car?”

“No, I’m already running late for my meeting. I’m sure you have enough money to take a cab.”

I am already feeling frustrated and annoyed. Of all the days the family car could break down it choose to break down today? Arggh! I pick up my Givenchy handbag, that same handbag that I can’t imagine living without, and whiff out of the house trying to get a hold of my cabbie.

I always pride myself for keeping time (coughs) so I get jittery when my cabbie doesn’t pick up, I try him again and he picks on the fifth ring and I have to subject my ear to his mood killing Lingala ring back tone. He’s out of town, something to do with a wedding or is it a birthday? I didn’t listen very well must be the Lingala ring-back thingy. Public transport? No no no no no! There are Matatus blitzing off to the city and I reluctantly hop onto one.

The Matatu is visibly empty. I sit on the first row seats without the knowledge that, that’s where the engine is located. Two minutes into the journey and my Mr. Price flats are burning and raging together with my feet. I try to stand it for a few seconds but I give in and change seats. I’m now sited behind the first row seats. I stick my earbuds into my earlobes shuffle Adele’s album on my iPod and start scheming through outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and before I know it the Matatu is full and by my side is a seatmate.

He seems like a nice guy with an almost descent dark suit. A cute haircut and a nice watch to match it. To be completely honest he looks like one of those chaps who irons his briefs. He has a nice look to him too, the kind that screams mommy’s boy. The kind that whispers annoyingly into your ear while you’re on a date, “Mommy wants help getting the things in the top shelf I’ll be right back hon.” I roll my eyes all the way to the small of my back and burry myself deeper in my book and within minutes of him sitting beside me I feel his elbow on my hip. He’s sort of using me like an armchair of sorts. There is little space between me and the Matatus window so I move a bit, he notices and moves his arm from the armchair that was my hip and puts his hand on his knees so that it rubs my thigh. I move again and he removes his hand completely and folds both of his hands on his chest.

I’m getting freaked out but before I can say Christ on a donkey his hand which is holding his right arm has moved to my chest and is now rubbing against my side boob. “What are you doing?” I bark and he withdraws his hand embarrassed, he must have gotten overwhelmed with shame and he alights on the next stage.

A lady enters and seats next to me. I can finally breathe, I think to myself against my better judgement. She’s in a skimpy blue skirt, the size of a hand towel and a flimsy top, almost see through. It looks like a fuck me top. Maybe she’s visiting her boyfriend judging by her over worn perfume. Maybe she’s nervous, maybe it’s her first time. I open the window to get some of that Morten doom she has on out and have some fresh air in. And get back to Gladwell. ‘People don’t rise from nothing we do owe something to patronage and….’ I’m half way through the sentence when madam booty call removes a whole slice of watermelon from her handbag and starts sliding it down her throat. Spilling most of the stew on her tight blue dress leaving dark stains all over it.

When it rains it pours.

I flip the next page but I’m stopped in my tracks by a kerfuffle. A woman in the matatu has refused to pay her fare.

“Ulisema gari ni mbao na sasa unaniambia ni hamsini silipi.”

“Madam wacha kisirani, shuka utumie hio mbao kununua ovacado ujipake uteleze hadi tao.” The conductor howls back. I chuckle the madam is at a loss for words,

“Hii gari na venye ikona joto unalipisha hamsini?”

“Shuka upande fridge.”

The conductor shoots and the whole Matatu bursts into laughter. The woman then digs deep into her bra and miraculously finds the 50 shillings she apparently didn’t have.

A few minutes after the soap opera the Matatu screeches to a halt, the boom boom sound of “Leo mi na dandia tu kama mat.” Song coming out of its speakers is killed. From where I am sited I can see three boys in blue, one of them goes to the driver’s window and the driver comes out. They walk briskly to the other two cops and from my vantage point I can see them chatting, having a conversation like four buddies. The driver then goes into his pocket three times and shakes each of the boys in blue hands and they laugh heartily and tap him on the shoulder and then they depart like long lost friends who were catching up.

“Hard work is a prison sentence only if it doesn’t have meaning.” I let that sentence swish and swirl in my brain. I like how it fits in my brain like an exquisite wedding dress. I like how it hugs and caresses me but before I can finish having my brain orgasm the Matatu stops. “STAGE! MWISHO! The conductor sings.

I get out clutching my book and my Givenchy handbag. Dark clouds are forming, the sky looks ominous, like it’s going to rain torrents. We had planned to meet in a restaurant called “Mzungu Bay” he’s running late so I order a glass of something and wait. A few minutes into my drink my phone buzzes, “I’m here, I’m in a dark suit can you see me?” I pick my jaw from the floor, it’s Mr. Pervert from the Matatu. My heart sinks. I hang up and leave a two hundred bob note on my table. “Something came up and I can’t make it, raincheck?” I text as I brush right past him. ‘This is the last time I’m doing blind dates’ I whisper to myself.

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