So the landlord called to say he’s selling out that Mansion. He’s wrong. I thought. Why should he anyway? No he’s right. Am wrong. In fact Ave not been paying him the market price. But decision time is decision time. So he gives the option of linking up with the new owner but I doubt. Perhaps he’ll be a Chinese and did I say am no racist but I hate their small eyes; they might bump into you when drunk possibly. Or yet still they might be those Mafia guys who come walk around, put up some paint and say “add me money, you see paint is expensive. So I gotta get moving from this comfort crib…..
What next? I call my guy Jemoh; the one holed up on Ngong road at the Rocky school upstairs. He sits in a room so small with an ego so big. Sounds like he was planted there. His cluttered table is decorated with tired phones supported towards the middle with rubber bands. A pointer that he used to have lots of money tied on these rubber bands but now all he does is link people like me to vacant houses and make a cut of it. The jungle is indeed vast. The tired phones keep vibrating, dwindling and throbbing on the table. Calls come in at a rate you might be tempted to doubt authenticity of the callers.
“Yes this is the Estate guy limited” (read loud in Midiwos voice)
“Am well but need some house ASAP”
“What size and what location sir?”
“Will prefer Kileleshwa or Lovington. Fix me for a two bed spacious”
“I have a two bedroom in Lovington going for sixty thousands amonth” (says that with ease like he got triple that amount on his chase bank account)
Am seated across his desk trying to make sense of the jargon filled house search agreement form am tasked to fill. It’s boring long with no flow. Only rhetorical questions with spaces to fill against. I sigh, sit back and stretch the form in his face. Sorry enough of this Jemoh, let me just explain to you what I need precisely. He stares back with widened eyes and he’s about to say something strange then one of the phone rings.
(This one is on silent mode can’t hear what the madam says but he answers)
“Yah. Yah. That tenant is moving out today. Are you ready to ship in your stuff as well?”
(Long silent pause phone glued to the left Antenna surpoted with the shoulder bone, hands fumbling with pen and paper.
This one is boring. I can’t follow through. I switch off and ship my phone out of the pocket and fire up the data icon. What’s-up conversations stream in like they had just been waiting at the door like destitute Street kids scrambling for food. Am about to ammerse myself reading word for word, I hear him rush through the conversation promising to get back. “pole my friend. I have been home for a while. Am putting up some permanent house” he said struggling to break the ice clueless to the fact that I was already at home.
“Yes my boy, I have like five options for you. Am sure you will like all of them and choose one of them” Some guy walked in. He introduced him as his assistant. He pronounced his name as Ruben but maintained a shaky eye contact. “Please go round with him to check the options and update on which one you love” I tucked out a five hundred shillings note and rested it in his palms. He wrote back some receipt in a handwriting his mother would struggle to read. “Give him the balance sir”
We staggered out. Him ahead of me. Me behind his steps like a Dad with his son. It reminded me of the neglected Father’s day. The one I have to keep on reminding you happened yesterday. Sorry I will deviate and bring in something for that old man; my dad. The product washed away but the sign stayed put, centered and commandeering like a boy coming out of teenage hood. It read boldly “imperial leather” like this damn thing came home aboard KQ. It reminds me of my father as we grew up crumbled in his crib or is it our crib? No it’s his because all decisions were made by him. He taught. No he dint teach all his life. He was once a boy younger than me. Then a man of my age, unmarried and confused of what the future held. He went to Dar Salem University (I had to say that because he did say always; it meant the world to him. He did statistics while there, came back and worked at the treasury. He was a big man, he says. He’s big headed. He quit and went back into teaching college. Have always doubted if teaching is his passion. Every time I sneaked into his place of work to find him in class, they deliberately made me stay at the staff room then the head said “patieni mtoto wa mwalimu chai” dint I say tea is boring.
He was adult. Always occupied and absent from home. Mornings were characterized by him battling with his bushy beards. It was a battle. He coughed hoaserly and rattled the blade on the wall. Gillette was not invented by then. He dressed, left then tension eased around the home. OK point is, he bathed with Imperial leather. It was uniquely his. You smelt it. Saw it placed on the window pane leading to the bathroom but never touched. The rest of us used “Jamaa” You remember that notorious advert on Kbc radio. He’s retired. He lives upcountry and does small scale peasant farming but drinks alot. We talk. We met over the weekend at Nakuru and hit the locals. He ordered Allsops. I found it weird. We laughed. When I grow up I want to be like daddy. I want to bathe with Imperial leather. #Happy Father’s day.
Ruben- my house search guide smelt of cigarette. I hated the smell but had to follow on for the house. He dint talk much. He yawned soundly and covered his mouth with his palms mumbling some words at the end of every yawn. “Jesus of Nathareth!” (Just came up with that hehe). It made him appear tired beaten and vulnerable. His job sounded like boring routine. I could tell from the stare of his eyes. I broke the silence. “Will have some lunch later on” That jolted him back to life. He spoke in a fatherly tone. He asked of what kind of house I need. He asked of what my current house contains. I thought that was not a safe question but quickly connected the first and second question to need assessment. My house has lots of stuff. I said and stroded on faster to catch up with him. Had lost steps thinking of that unsafe question. “We start from the nearest option to the furthest,” he said. We walked on.