I had decided that I would do a balcony post. You know, sit (or stand) at our balcony during the day and take in the dust while I think of something to write about because let’s face it my life of late has been a little boring. A little short of adventure. Okay, maybe a lot. Depending on who is talking. We happen to have this big balcony that just stares at me like a business opportunity. Looks like I could throw a party out there. I would invite all my neighbors to come with their cats and dogs because with this space, you could start a farm. Shamba la Wanyama. But no cows. I don’t like cows. They come so close in name to what our agriculture teacher in high school used to call us. ‘Girls, girls, girls…’ (to be read as -‘ngaos, ngaos, ngaos…‘)Not to be confused with ‘ngao’ Kiswahili for shield, as in ‘Yesu ndiye ngao yangu’; or a guy I know called Ngao.
I could open a shopping mall, complete with a parking space and a food joint. But I live about two minutes away from the stage which also happens to have two supermarkets in close proximity. Bummer.
Outside there (the balcony, not the stage), there is plenty going on. There is the parking lot which I have come to associate with this guy with dreadlocks. I think he lives in our building, but every time I see him, it is Sunday morning as I am leaving for church, and he is washing his white car and then it is Friday evening and the car is not yet clean. It is like that is all he ever does. Clean his baby. I suspect he sings to it as he washes it because it has moods. It looks like a girl. A plain looking girl. But one with character. One who you fall in love with and you never want to stand. One who grows beautiful every day as you know them. Because seriously, I don’t know cars, but that one, there has to be something about it other than how it looks. No kidding.
Then there is our watchman. Usually, they are three. They take shifts. Today it is the luhya guy. He always rocks a navy blue marvin and a time worn face. I do not know whether I have seen him smile. He is the guy who harasses our visitors. The ones he does not know. Then there is the kamba guy. Three months into the time I had moved into this building, he did not know me. So one day I enter into the building, minding my own business and then he stops me to ask where I am going. We exchange words for a bit, with him convinced that I am visiting, and myself getting agitated. Eventually, he let pass. The guy has stories. If I ever feel inspired to do a gossip series on our building, he is the guy to go to. He probably collects his stories as he sells newspapers and hands us our over-priced water bills.
Then there is the road. Ever busy road that one. I am particularly fascinated by the PSVs. How the conductors hang by the doors, how they shout all day and still have strength to do that the next day and the day after that.
There is this guy, let’s call him Sammy. We met during an acting audition. He is the kind of guy who can play any character convincingly. He has an amazing personality to go with his talent. Those kinds of guys who always have a witty comeback. The ones who know how to walk the line between humor and offence. Sammy can make a joke at your expense, talking about the most personal thing you can think of and pulling it off so flawlessly you want to tell him thank you. Thank you Sammy, for joking about my being broke and my three days without food. Is it possible that my divorced parents can be the butt of your next joke? He will make you laugh when you do not want to.
I bet Sammy can make my dad laugh out loud. For the longest time I wondered about my dad’s sense of humor. The guy would watch Churchill show (when it used to be funny) and just lie calmly on the sofa with arms on his head. The whole forty five minutes. Sometimes he would chuckle, but that was all.
During the auditions, we all knew that Sammy had a bright future. With the lights shining on his dark face to compliment the make up as he stars in some local television show. It was just a matter of time. We all doubted our abilities, but not Sammy’s.
So on Sunday as I go to church, I see someone familiar at the stage. I doubt whether it is Sammy even though they could be twins. I want to call out, but he probably would not remember me so I walk slowly past him. True to my suspicions, it is Sammy. He is a conductor now. He calls me to his nganya but I turn down politely because the noise and me, they do not marry well. After I am sat at the vehicle of my choice, I watch Sammy go about his job with the confidence that was so much part of him. He looks happy. He always looked happy. And content with life. I wonder for a minute what must have happened to him. Did he choose to do what he does or is he barely making lemonade?
Soon enough, the matatu is full and I watch him perform the ceremonial rite of passage for every would be good Kenyan tout – He hits the vehicle and whistles indicating for the driver to move, while he is left behind paying the guys who helped with the job. He then runs after the vehicle and hangs by the door for about seven seconds before getting into the vehicle. Before he vanishes into oblivion I think to myself that seated at our balcony, I could have seen his face, his expression as he enters to begin collecting fare. I have a strong feeling that I will meet Sammy again.
But now, now in the balcony, I wonder where he is. Where the threads of his destiny have woven him into the tapestry of life. I wonder about the dreadlock-ed guy and his white car. I wonder about our watchman. I wonder about life. One day I will be away from here. I probably will not remember them and they me. Because such, such is life.