Six o’clock. The sun is just above a single hillock right at the edge of Sukunanga, through which I am walking briskly. It has been quite a while since I was here. Nothing much has changed about it. Still the same old uneven dirt road snaking and branching all over, still the same old smell of frying pork and mutura; still the same old sounds of reggae and Citizen TV emanating from the same old dingy hotels and pubs and of course, the occasional drunk emerging from one of these joints to vomit right in the middle of the road.
The only new addition to this real life rendition of Les Miserables is The Comrades Bar, a joint rumoured to be jointly owned by the Chairman of our Students’ Association and its Finance Director. Its initial capital is also said to have been snatched from the Association’s coffers designated for a condom dispenser project. Nobody is complaining, though. It is quite popular with the comrades (university students, nothing communist here) due to the cheap keg and spirits in a cleaner environment than other joints with equal rates. Most people dropped down here for some “Comrades Lager’ before descending on uptown joints. However, the real residents of this place prefer Waadan Bar, located more into the mashinani, further into the squalor and smack in the middle of shabby residential houses. In fact, were it not for the noise and the vomiters outside the door, this place would be quite hard to locate. An unmarked mass grave where one would enter voluntarily to slowly end his or her life.
I branch to the houses opposite the bar and begin my search for Boi-Boi’s residence. They look decent enough but nothing close to what we have on the other side. Upon inquiring from the mama mboga at the entrance, she points out to house 5A with a knowing grin. Seems to be quite popular, this Boi-Boi. As if by some weird telepathic instinct, he opens the door just as I am about to knock.
“Will! I was almost suspecting you’d gotten lost.”
“Nope, I could get here with a blindfold on, Boi-Boi.”
“Karibu basi. Some of us were getting impatient so we decided to start without you.”
It is a brief bachelor’s pad consisting of two rooms at most. We pass by the kitchen into a living-cum-bedroom. It is considerably darker than outside, the only source of light coming from a huge flat screen TV. I can make out the forms of two guys sitting in two of three plastic chairs in animated chatter as they sip from glasses containing any of a vast variety of drinks displayed on the table before them. Lying leisurely on a queen sized bed is a simple petite girl sipping on juice lost in the fantasy of the soap opera showing on the telly. The introductions are made. The rougher looking of the two guys is Omosh, the weed guy who came over to deliver the weed and is just taking “one or two for the road”. The other calls himself Innocent Boy or IB even though he is far from innocent looking. He will be our designated driver for the day. “I take Sprite”, he tells me, showing his glass; “mbachu is my poison.”
“And this is my woman, Jane…” cuts in Boi-Boi, reaching out to deliver a friendly spank on her ass, visibly annoying her. She says hello and promptly switches back to her soap. He switches to mother tongue: “and we all think women are multi-taskers. That right there is a one track minded woman, the reason why we don’t have girls up in this bitch! No worries, we gon’ get us some at the club, boys!”
We all laugh, well, all of us except Jane who has understood neither the dialect nor the joke. I sink in to the remaining seat and assess the liquor set out on the table. Clearly someone is desparate to impress – Wellington, Smirnoff Red Label, the tiny bottle of Johnny Walker, Meakins Rum and a variety of Ceres juices. A mzinga of Safari Cane, Omosh’s preferred choice drink, is the only spoiler to this impressive display and I make it known to my host as I pour me some vodka:
“Very nice vituz here, man. Did you win the lottery or something?”
Boi-Boi laughs. “It’s just the fruits of good business, my nigger!”
“Really? Then it must be the business of winning lotteries ha ha ha!”
“You might just have a point, bro!”
We continue in silence for a while, partaking in the drinks, lost in our own thoughts. The vodka seems to make my vision clearer with time. A few more sips and I can see the Morgan Heritage poster on the wall, the naked wire running across the wall down to the socket powering the TV and the home theatre system below it. Boxes and boxes of shoes are strewn on one corner of the room. Beyond the door and into the kitchen, I can make out a toasting machine, fancy coffee maker, a two burner cooker on the worktop and a thirteen kilo gas cylinder by its side. This is the ghetto edition of Cribs, no doubt. Even my place at Mushroom is not half as pimped as this. Seems like I have underestimated this Boi-Boi. I’ve always known that he is the kind to hustle and all that, but not to this extent. How can a dude from the bush who had hardly been exposed to such fine things of life get there so quickly? My curiosity as to exactly what type of business he is involved in is increasing by the minute.
It is as if everyone has been consuming the liquor at the same rate because the mood suddenly explodes to loud blabber, everyone seeming to talk simultaneously either to themselves or to someone else. Omosh has downed half the Safari cane already and his glassy eyes shield everyone else from the world he has now plunged into. He declares solemnly that he is going to conquer the mzinga and will still be able to get to town. We all place a two hundred bob bet that he will not make it past his next five shots and watch with clinical interest as he gulps down each shot. It becomes apparent that we may lose the bet so we extend his threshold to the next ten shots.
“Omosh slow down, at this rate you won’t be able to distinguish between a male and female poko!” quips IB, chewing on some mbachu leaves.
“That’s what I have you for, IB” replies Omosh, clearly on the defensive, “you are the designated driver and sex determiner. It is your divine duty to ensure that I don’t chips funga Caster Semenya’s twin sister!” He is overcome by a fit of mirth, clearly enjoying his own wit.
Boi-Boi, noticing Jane’s uncomfortable response to the lewd turn the conversation has taken, takes over the conversation, returning to the safety of vernacular:
“Speaking of pokos, one of those broads messed me up big time. She was a fine ass broad and, man she knew how to ride stick. Used to do her every now and then at her place in Huruma. That girl could zungusha you to cloud nine. Then she just disappeared with my phone one time. Into thin fucking air! That phone cost me like thirty Gs!”
“Let’s go to her place right now and teach her a lesson then.” That is the drunken contribution of Omosh.
“Nah, she’s already moved by now to somewhere like Kericho to keep a low profile. Broads like those are too smart. But if I ever see her in this town again, trust me guys, you’ll be looking at one fucked dead woman.”
Out comes the weed that has been hidden all this time in an empty soda bottle. I select a fat roll and light it. The acrid taste soaks my taste buds. I suck in the fumes contentedly. It is some really good shit. Perhaps today I will get to see that zombie world. Boi-Boi taps my shoulder. “Mind taking a walk with me? There is something you have to see”
I follow Boi-Boi out into the night. I’m not sure if I am staggering but my vision is slightly hazy and I am not sure if I am the one screaming “Boi-Boi, you’re the shit!” The path is visible courtesy of the street vendors’ lamps and butcheries that are still busy. I suspect it is around 9PM. Our two minute walk leads us to what seems to be an unoccupied house. Boi-Boi produces some keys which grants us access to the dark space, partly illuminated by the built-in torch function of Boi-Boi’s phone. I can only make out a bed and a rusty metal box through which Boi-Boi is rummaging.
“This is where Omosh devours his take aways”, he say over his shoulder, “and even you too can crash here if you get lucky.”
“No thank you, I prefer sleeping in the comfort of my own bed. So what was it you wanted to show me?”
He turns around holding a stuffed polythene bag and hands it to me.
I fiddle with the stubborn knot binding the contents of the bag. Inside are neat wads of what looks like nearly burnt rectangular papers, each of exactly the same dimensions.
“Do those look like anything you have seen before?”
“Hmm, no, never seen nothing like this.”
The clear whites of Boi-Boi’s smile are visible through the semi-darkness. He chucks a thousand shilling note from his wallet and places it atop one of the paper rectangles. They fit in perfect congruence! I’m even afraid of thinking what this means but there can be only one meaning. The gates of my zombie world are drifting far far away. Sanity is returning faster than I expected. Fuck that useless weed. My throat is instantly parched in anxiety.
“Fake cash?” I inquire.
“Not exactly fake. That paper is from some guys of mine down at River Road in Nai. Don’t know how they get it but this right here is CBK grade paper money…already printed by the way.”
“Doesn’t look like ready cash to me!”
I nervously look around. It is at times like these that you expect the cops to burst in and fuck up your innocent life or even worse end it that instant. Boi-Boi on the other hand is quite comfy and in his element:
“No, it ain’t ready. You have to get some reagents from the School of Monetary Studies, soak them for a few hours, wash them in special oil used in transformers then finally add some chlorine to give it the texture and voila, you got yourself free regular money!”
If it were not for the alcohol, I probably would have been a shaking mess. The liquor has given me a strange secondary calmness.
“So what do you do with it when it’s finally ready?”
“There’s a place in Nakuru to trade the stuff at some petrol Station. That bunch you’re holding is about two hundred and fifty thousand transformer money. It could fetch two hundred genuine cash at the trade.”
“How do you know whoever you trade with hasn’t planned to wack you and take all of the paper for free?”
“It’s a business of trust, my nigger. Besides, we trade in a public place, nobody would think of wasting us there.”
The missing bits of the mystery in my head are now piecing up. The expensive phones. The pimped up crib in a ghetto. The fancy shoes and clothes. Somebody screw me sideways, this is too fantastic to believe!
“So this is the business you’ve been talking about?”
“Yeah man, sisi ndio tunahustle usiku mukilala. My, nigger I’ve realized one thing about the way of the world. All you need is the money. If you got it then there is nothing you cannot do, you can be absolutely anybody you want to be, you can fuck anyone you like and make anybody love you. Paper is power, absolute power.”
He takes his bag of transformer money, reties the knot and places it back into the box.
“Enough of that shit. Lets go party, Omosh must be drunk as a skunk by now.”
* * *
The story continues HERE...
The story continues HERE...