I found myself super stoned today. And in the process, put myself in one of the freakiest moments I’ve ever seen in my life. I went home a bit later. For some reason, I found or caught a matatu right as it arrived at the stage and was picking passengers up. I don’t come from a town where the bus picks you up. Where I come from, you pick up the bus. They never stop at a bus stop in wait, except for mid-day and low rush hours (sic). Getting one can be quite the sport. Freezing in the morning draft powered by the sweeping air of cars passing by and a constant anxiety itch to quickly get a car that cannot let you neither dedicate yourself to the realm of the internet nor stand still. You’re caught each time in between exchanging cryptic gang signs with the matatu driver or standing scarecrow-still till the conductor throws gang signs at you instead. This however might stem from the fact that I use non-marked bus stops to catch the matatus.
CUTTING DOWN ON EXPENSES
I discovered that it saved me a well-deserved 10/- to get on the matatu from an un-marked bus stop a mere fifty meters or so away. As a matter of fact, it is what was at one point the bus stop for my use when going home but, delocalization, city planning, city decongestions and other fancy words I learnt in Geography/Civic education, happened in town. There are more words to this story but they had to move and shift bus stops to make a bigger one fitting the status of the town and splinter or old and forgotten bus stops criminalized with cops put in to man such bus stops and arrest anyone who boards, alights or pick passengers from the points. Of course it lasted till their dignities sunk to the 1$ bribe from matatus flouting the directive, then even lower to the 0.5$ bribe till it faded and became forgotten. So, we got back to using it. It seems that once offered anything of monetary value, there could not be an extent or an act too shameful and distasteful that a Kenyan cop could not do. There was no level of shame low enough for their dignity to surmise or cringe.
Anywhoooo, it was the bus stop I chose to use this fine evening.
A LAW-ABIDING CITIZEN.
A matatu came by. It was already filled up to the brim, but we knew someone’d alight. And the already stranded and desperate guys pounced and fell on it like chicken to a morsel. It seemed seven guys got out but only one seat was vacant. It had me confused. (Oh, it was at eight o’clock at night. I notice some may be mistaken that it is midday or whatever…) guys started getting on it. I chose not to. I couldn’t. I was rarely that desperate for a ride in the evening to give up my peace to shove and get squeezed like a stash of handkerchiefs in the pockets of a school kid for a mere five minute ride. If it was sitting, it was like the respectable gentleman I was and aspired to be. Besides, it was against the country’s traffic laws. I also low-key suspected that kush’d been loud. So when the conductor beckoned to me to get in, I shouted back at him, “hiyo nganya imejaa kizee” the car is already full! He mumbled something to the wind in defiant reply. It was always something with conductors when you choose to not get into these already filled engines of destruction. And passengers sometimes for thinking you were better than them. I have always desired for someone to come up on me with that question straight up. Sadly, seemed they all thought me better than them.
It wasn’t that I was the only one at the stop to warrant his attention; I was however the most formidable passenger. There were only four of us; a woman with a kid, a guy with a large lap bag and one guy who would not clearly fit the space – which had weirdly been created by two guys sitting on each other, wow! Ok, of course not to guys atop each other, rather a guy sitting upon the lap of the other. I thought black people were too homophobic to allow such a thing to happen. I mean it took guts for two black guys to even shake hands, let alone S.I.T upon one another. Anyway, no way I was sitti- the fat guy jumped in! Squeezed himself in rather. He must’a gotten tired of waiting knowing his trip was only five minutes so, he could make-do with a little squeeze to get to his destination (long as button don’t pop or mayo spill from a crack In his head).
And the guys sped off. And the three of us were left in the cold by ourselves and stranded. Alone. Cold. Stranded.
In my head I wondered, maybe there was a real and good reason as to why I did not choose to sit in a universe-dedicated space for me. I didn’t wanna to conform to things anymore anyway. I didn’t wanna label and be labeled by anyone…
As we were enjoying the moment, the most bizarre thing happened. A police car, chase lights on – a full firework mode- cut through the illegal stop. Literally through all of us who stood there. It nearly tore into some old lady but she moved a tad quicker and got off harm’s way. It chased after the matatu that had just left us. I thought I was seeing my own things. There was no way a police car can chase after a matatu this time of the night with the recent happenings around the world. They were too occupied. And it was way past the shift change hours for any cop to care. I had to ask the guys around.
The woman next to me confirmed that ‘inakaa polisi wamefuata hiyo gari’ it seems the police went after that car. Damn.
Who thinks that the car they just refused to get in while high would be chased after by cops! I had weed in my pockets for goodness sakes. And smelled like a hella stoned mofo. Damn.
LINGUA & ITS QUIPS
Eventually, a cab-car came along. Despite the fears associated with the use of personal cars when travelling at night, it is still common practice in this town as well as other towns. We climbed in. and sat comfortably. As gentlemen.
I was still petrified by earlier events wondering how dangerous it was for a police car to chase a public service vehicle through a busy street in that manner. I kept a strong lookout for this car and the matatu it’d been after, but saw nothing of it. It might have been chasing another car after all or going after a totally different thing but who was to know?
I was still restless.
When I got to my stop, I casually told the driver where I’d alight. In sheng’. That was the problem. Apparently, he did not understand what I was saying but he quickly made an inference on what I was saying and stopped me at the place thereof. I paid the guy and he gave me a ten shilling discount on the fare. The one I usually got from matatus but cab-cars were exempt from this special offer. It was because of the new sheng’ word I had taught him. This wasn’t the first time that this was happening.
A couple of days prior, after having a go at a fat joint, I thought to get myself a couple of sweets to help with the after taste. I used a term the shopkeeper had obviously never had of before. And he couldn’t help pointing out that ”chithe” was a term he’d never heard of before. It means fifty bob in sheng’. I decided language and of course
books novels would be my new souvenirs in new towns and places. Language represents how the society relates to each other and books how they thought. Back to the shopkeeper, I got a little extra sweets to the tune of about 20% of the purchase I’d made.
Sidenote: You go to a new town and get to see and experiences things you’d never see nor think of before. J.M Kariuki writes in his book Mau Mau Detainee, ‘One day in a village near Budo (in Uganda) I was surprised to see a cyclist with a stove fixed to his carrier; he was cycling along peeling potatoes, cooking them and eating them without dismounting at all.’ Savvy, right?
I got off this car and rushed to the shop right where I’d gotten off. I am a huge fan of wafers and sweets and generally sweets when I am not sober. They taste extra sweet and even the better. I got myself four of these. Notice that I saved ten shillings from each trip amounting to twenty shillings each day which went towards buying four of these each time I was stoned. A bout of irony, innit? Struggle to save up a shilling or two and squander it on your stomach. Oh well.
While walking home, I mulled over the events of the last few minutes. Despite being confirmed by one of the bystanders at the bus stop, I still thought that I might have imagined or hallucinated the episode of the speeding police car wheezing past us. It was not entirely impossible for that to happen; I mean I was high, right? I was however wishing that it was a real event but made a point to check my smoking and consumption of drugs in general. I did not want to experience instances that I could not explain whether they were real or had been imagined. I wanted to see all these and experience them in the purest form. They should.