Well, Easter is a season of giving.
In the words of Mother Theresa, “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” Previously, I have crowned myself the ‘chairman’ of our Nyumba Kumi at plot 10, a title that has only been known by those who followed my older blogs.
My door was knocked as I turned on the couch, watching ‘Black Water’, a classic-kind of new age action thriller (they no longer shoot those non-stop action packs anyway, they only do things they call Sci-fi, which I believe is a new age kind of movie which aim is to tell us, classic lovers, to get married and die already). So, the door is knocked, and I ignore it (I don’t usually ignore them, but damn, Van Damme is facing off three guards alone, who would flinch?)
The knock comes again, this time softer than the first, so I pause the movie and dash to open it, ready to quickly get over with it and get back to the movie. My immediate neighbors, a young couple stand there smiling, with the lady holding a plate covered with another. I placed the remote in my back pocket, fold my arms and smile.
“Happy Easter Steve!” They say, almost together. They must have trained in the house in hushed tones, so I couldn’t hear them. It was quite touchy-touchy. My stomach turned and grumbled.
“Thank you so much jiranis,” I say.
With that, they smile again and walk back to their house. The temptation to check the content burns, so I immediately I turn back the curtain, the covering plate finds itself trying to find balance on the coffee table, and behold, on the bottom plate lay three perfectly shaped chapatis, whose color shouts at me “Taste us, Taste us!” I do, and they are heavenly.
This happening moved me back a few weeks, on a day I was walking somewhere in the darker streets of Westlands. A client had stood me up on phone, you know how they do it.
“Hey am at your office, wanted to check that printer we had talked about…”
“You said you are?”
Some silence. Hushed tones in the background between some adults.
“eeh Steve, you said you had talked to us about it. Who did you talk to?”
“You sir, on such and such a date, at this time, face to face in your office.”
“Aaah, it’s you? Aaaah, I forgot, aaah, wait, listen” You wait, listening.
A short silence. Hushed tones in the background between the same adults.
“Look Steve.” Pause. When someone tells you on the phone to look, it’s their modest Lenten way of saying, ‘Look away and beat it’. “We are currently in Dodoma, then we will head to Jinja, Uganda and so, we cant do it until after four weeks.”
A short silence. This time I caused it, then breathed out, and like a good child who was taught good manners, I thanked the guy heartily, even though I had seen him jump from his office to the washroom when I walked into the reception area.
“All the best in.. aaah… Dodoma.” I said, sarcastically and hang up.
I walked out, after finishing a blog article I was eating into at the Envision Agencies website, about some of the web development services they provide (Ring them by the way, you won’t be disappointed, they have a team of quite awesome techs). At the junction between Mogotio road and some funny looking alley, a group of street fellows bends above a smoking fire. I couldn’t make them out well, as the fog had taken its time clearing.
Okay, guilty as charged, am always a curious fellow, so I decided to have a closer look, and switched my walking to the side of the road they were and took shorter steps. They were a group of six, two ladies and four gentlemen. Their ages, somewhere between 24 and 32. The lady looked the cleaner and youngest of them all, and surprisingly in control. She held the cup which acted as the stirring ladle to the full sufuria of porridge. They paid no attention as I walked up close to them until I was peering through two of them to the content of the sufuria, one of them caught sight of the ‘outsider’. He looked quite ready to stir some conflict.
They all looked cold, with their tattered clothes piled up to cover each other’s torn parts. I would say they looked pitiable, but the smiles and laughter they had as they talked made me think otherwise. Two had no shoes on, while the rest were as good as shoeless since toes poked out of their smiling shoes. The area was littered, and unhealthily dirty, but it seemed to concern them less.
“Hello”, I said, smiling at the lady in ghetto slang. She turned and gave me a serious look, holding the cup with the arm which held her waist.
“Hey,” she didn’t smile much.
“I see it’s time for breakfast… What are we having today?” I wanted to see their reaction to hearing of the possibility of another mouth to the not-enough meal.
“Kauji tu, sijui kama utadai” (some porridge, not sure if you are interested), she replied. The others seemed to have some different opinion, but her stern face kept them at bay. She smiled, a little, but the didn’t.
“I think your friends don’t like me,” I told her and we smiled, the others too smiled, a little bit though. “how about if I got some bread for our breakfast? At least I have to contribute something.”
That statement erupted some jubilation, and I feared the area MCA would get jealous.
“That would be so nice of you,” the lady said. I walked across the street, with one of them by my side to the shop, got three loaves, and as I collected my change, the guy escorting me tugged me a little.
“Could you get us some milk too? It would make the porridge better.” He said, avoiding eye contact. The shopkeeper smiled, took back my balance and handed the dude a packet of milk. He literally ran back to his clique, holding the milk like some precious trophy.
I became part of the group and confidently placed my backpack on a stone behind the make-shift fireplace. We added the milk into the porridge and had some small talk as the porridge boiled and had some little spill on the sides.
“Where do you get the porridge?” I asked the lady.
“We just Hustle and those with some money contribute, we buy what we need and share the porridge.” She said, pushing the burning sticks deeper into the fireplace, and using one to stab the fireplace.
“What do you do?” I asked, and then hated what I had just asked.
“We just do odd jobs, whatever we get is ours. We have learned to accept how we are.” Some guy in the back scuffled through his pockets.
“Look, I even have an ID, but it gets very hard to get any kind of a job. I wish I could get just any kind, and I believe I can work…” He had a deeper slang, so I managed to understand some of his words. He held his ID to my face, and in my heart, I wished I could help, but I had not moved on from my stand up by the ‘dodoma’ guy.
I was not really up for the idea of the porridge, not because there were no visible cups around, also not because I thought the porridge was not cooked in the best conditions… But because it was seemingly not enough for the six. I faked a call and put on a suddenly serious face.
“I really need to go guys…” I said, and the other lady laughed at my sheng.
“But it’s almost ready, you need to have some.” The lady insisted, but I was taught to be stubborn, so I insisted on the seriousness of the call. They let me go, but after making me promise to pass by the place on a not so busy morning.
I walked towards the group reluctant since I didn’t know what awaited, but walked away from them reluctantly too since I was walking away to the most genuine pack of people I had seen in a while. Some of the people we see around carry hearts which can melt diamond, they are only there because it’s the card karma dealt them.
Happy Easter Holidays to all friends of Tuketi from the Admin’s desk! Be good and do good. It will always find it’s way back.