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April 7, 2020
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Early survival days with Monica……

Life with Monica was better than I had hoped.

The day she picked me up the gates of the school, we headed to her uncle’s place in Ruai. The uncle seemed well off, though in all the days we stayed there, I never once saw him. He worked for a trucking company – Bayusuf & Sons, and was away for the few days we were there. I learnt Monica’s parents had died a few years earlier in an accident.

We lazed about the first few days like a couple on honeymoon. Her uncle had a great taste in Kenyan music: E-sir, Nameless, The Longombas, Maroon Commandos, Eric Wainaina, Suzanne Kibukosya, and a smattering of other pioneer artists.It was heaven.

He’d also left her some money in a peanut jar for her use – which ran out pretty fast. An ice-cream, popcorn and cake diet is a really expensive one.

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She soon discovered a stash of vodka bottles in his closet while on a hunt for loose coins her uncle might have let around. Back then we didn’t drink at all, but we knew we could easily convert vodka into legal tender.

And she had a network, so she called Jonte, a neighborhood vagabond. Slightly elder than I,but shorter. I had seen a lot of crazy kids in Approved school, but this dude scared me a little. He had tiny hands for a street urchin, but I later heard his weapon of choice was a rusty Army penknife – he had a stabbing record in Ruai, which was a little disturbing.

Our meeting, too, wasn’t exactly enjoyable. After the names, Jonte, bla bla bla, the first detail he thought fit to let me know about him was that he had made Monica into the lady she was….never mind she was just a wayward brat – and I didn’t want details.

So, we hand over a few bottles of assorted vodka through an hole in the cedar fence. We had no idea how much they cost at the liquor store, so Monica fished out a random figure from her head.

“..Jonte, we niletee soo tisa….” Monica says.

“…uko na wazimu mamaa….” Jonte says, and scoots off.

I knew we had been ripped off, but still, nine hundred bob seemed like a lot of money. Hello, it was in 2005, we still hadn’t seen Jubilee and its NYS-esque scandals that totally inflated the economy.

A few hours later, Jonte shows up and hands over some crumpled notes and coins, which totaled up to four hundred bob. We couldn’t do anything since his only retort through the cedar hole was, “…..fuck you…si uambie hio nugu yako hapo itoke ikauze basi…..”

Through the cedar hole followed a microwave, but sacked Jonte after he brought us a mere seven hundred bob. We had to learn how to peddle stuff, but we learnt fast. So, a blender, a wall clock, a set of china plates followed suit….

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One day, after a beat around town, we came home to find a Bayusuf & Sons truck parked outside the gate, so we walked straight past and never stepped foot in that home again. I asked Monica what she thought her uncle would say to her, but she shrugged and said something about not wanting to die young. Neither did i…

Luckily, we negotiated with Jonte for space in his crib – a bare room lined with a stained curtain hanging across the middle. Rent was a modest ten shillings per day, per head. We spent the first day searching for a sizable heap of cartons at the municipal dumping site.

That night, Jonte walked out to see God-knows-who in God-knows-where and didn’t come home ever again. We never saw or heard of him. Good riddance, anyways.

One less headache. Now I could get head whenever.

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