The streets are crowded as usual. People everywhere. They’re bumping into each other, bumping into poles, bumping into you! These people must have a defect in their programming that shuts down their navigation systems between four thirty and 8 o clock. Not really shuts down… more accurately, it focuses on “home” and that’s the only thing that they see, everything else is just a blur. It’s irritating. A burly woman barrages past you from behind. Clipping your shoulder and sending you into a quarter spin. You recover just in time to see her blubbering behind as it disappears into the sea of humanity. For a split second the thought that you could chase her down and kick an apology out of her. On second thought that plan would never work: between the a hundred plus kilos, whatever the contents of the fornication bag she was carrying and the general tendency of Nairobians to always be on the lookout for public physical confrontations, the only person who’d get kicked in that scenario is you. The thought is quickly buried.
The dance continues. Walk, dodge, turn, cross the street, jump a puddle, dodge and weave. This is the CBD tango, the dangerous dance of the streets. Where everyone is your partner with two left feet, one wrong move and you fall. Anyone who would take time ever to notice would appreciate the finesse with which you accomplish this, especially in those shoes! A quick dash across the street and you’re finally at the terminus. The worst part of the commute home is over, or is it?
There’s another sense you forgot gets switched of at this time, that of common courtesy. If there was an Olympic sport that involved teams of players trying to squeeze through a tiny passage way all while making sure that opposing players didn’t get access to their pockets: Nairobians would have a guaranteed gold every four years. The pushing, shoving, elbows to the ribs, attacks on your toes… that must have been a stilleto!! Either that or people are strapping nails and knives on their soles nowadays. It wouldn’t be the craziest fad to hit this city anyway. After a show of might fuelled by the extra energy you get from releasing the heavy weight of decency and politeness you’re in the matatu. You almost immediately question whether it was worth all that to step into what is the sensory equivalent of Lucifer’s buttcrack. You should be glad the part of your brain responsible for smell isn’t the same that controls your hands, because it would swiftly make them rip your nose off. It’s funny though that it’s only you who seems to notice. Bourgeois much?
You don’t complain when the conductor decodes to charge all of you almost double the dare. Not a word when the driver decides to try out his rally driving skills. You were hush when the cheap woofer kicked in and rattled every organ in your body. Hush. You comfort yourself that it’s only for a while. And it is. You get home shower, put on your pajamas and hope into bed. Rest. Sleep. Peace.
And then it hits you.
It’s not over.
This isn’t the end.
Tomorrow you have to go through it again.
And the day after,
And the next one…