As you may be aware, after running out of credible people in Mwisho wa Lami, the IEBC reluctantly hired me on as a polling clerk, even though they knew very well that I was qualified for a more senior role. Indeed, in both the theory and practical sessions I stood head and shoulders above my colleagues. I was the go-to person whenever any clerk wanted some clarification.
Come Saturday, every other presiding officer (PO) wanted me to be posted to their teams as they knew the value I could add to them. One of the presiding officers was none other than Catherine, Branton’s mother and my immediate former boss at Mwisho wa Lami – albeit in an acting capacity. You all know that although Branton is not my son, I honourably conceded and accepted to stay with the boy as part of my family – his cheekiness and rudeness notwithstanding. Although Catherine, or Catherina as my father calls her, is beautiful and bright, intellectually I am much ahead of her and IEBC has a lot of explaining to do on how she got a senior position to me.
By last Saturday evening after the training, most of the polling clerks knew where they would be posted while some of us did not know. I left without asking especially because every PO wanted me. One of the clerks was also well known to me, and a former student of mine. Those of you who have been following matters in Mwisho wa Lami will remember Annastacia, Xtash in short. She was one of my good students at St Theresa’s Girls when I was there on teaching practice.
“Happy to see you Dre,” she had said on seem me. “You haven’t changed much. You are still young, tall and handsome.” We had last met on the eve of my wedding.
“Welcome,” I answered her, blushing as my body temperature rose instantly. She had been in Nairobi since she did her KCSE a few years ago when she scored a strong D. Nairobi had changed her and she was looking quite attractive.
“I hope we will be in the same polling station Dre,” she said. “I have missed you all these years.” I had also missed her.
We walked home together from St. Theresa’s Girls as she told me stories of how Nairobi is, and how she now respects teachers.
“If you can help me join a TTC I will be very happy,” she said. While in Form 4, she had despised teachers a lot, and always said that she wanted to be a Kenya Airways nurse.
After I ensured she was safe at her home, I went straight to Hitler’s, where I found political discussions very hot. I sat a little far from the discussion centre. Nyayo joined me and we had a few pick ups.
LATER THAT NIGHT...
Later that night I received a WhatsApp message from Catherine.
“Hi Dre,” she wrote. “Have you been assigned a polling station?” I said I was still waiting for communication. She told me she was pushing to have me assigned to her polling Centre.
Mr Juma, a headmaster of Mwisho wa Lami many years ago and who knew how good I was when it came to work, also sent me a text, saying that he was fighting to have me posted to his centre. I made a prayer in which I asked God to let his will be done – but added that I didn’t mind if he sent me to either Catherine or Juma, as long as I would end up in the same centre with Xtash!
I spent Sunday with my family. We went to church and returned home. As you know, based on my father’s advice, I have been supporting Fiolina a lot. Fiolina registered to vote in her village and after church, I organised for transport to her place.
We received final confirmation of polling centers later that Sunday evening. And guess what? I had been posted to the same polling centre with Xtash. The centre had three polling stations and while Xtash was in a different station, Juma was the presiding officer in my station. It is actually Xtash who gave me the news and we chatted with her till very late.
“Dude, what time will you pick me,” she asked in a message. I didn’t understand what Dude meant but I was sure that was the nick name they used to call me back then.
On Monday morning, Catherine sent me a text saying that Juma had beaten her to having me in his station. We had been advised to have some good sleep that Monday but I could not sleep. I was on phone chatting with Xtash the whole day.
Branton is away visiting his aunt Yunia for the vacation, and with Fiolina having travelled, I was all alone. Although we were to be at the poling centre by 9 pm, I left home early. At 6 pm. After taking one for the road at Hitler’s, I walked to Xtash’s home. Her mother had prepared super and was happy to see me. We took the sumptuous meal, and at around 9 pm we left and walked to the polling station. Her mother had parked for her enough beddings and blankets. As for me I had just carried one heavy jacket.
It was dark and cold and Xtash held onto me as we walked. We arrived to find other poling clerks already there. Different people had spread their beddings in different classrooms to sleep. I had planned to sit on a chair and cover myself with the heavy coat but Xtash advised me against it. “I have made a place for us. Come we sleep,” she told me. I followed her.
A few minutes to midnight we heard a car enter. POs were arriving with voting materials. All of us male clerks went to help them offload the materials. Juma was quite happy to see me and let me take charge of the offloading. He asked me whether I had seen Xtash but I said I hadn’t seen her.
I went back to sleep but my phone rang several times. It was Juma. He wanted to know where I was and if I had seen Xtash. I told him I wasn’t sure which class I was sleeping in and that I had not seen Xtash.
“Please send me her number,” he asked. I told him I did not have it.
“Ok, if you see her tell her to come to the HM’s office,” he wrote back. I did not respond.
Another SMS came later from him, at 2.37 am.: “I am told you arrived with Xtash and you know where she is,” I did not respond.
We woke up early and started work. Juma was quite angry, especially at me and another lady who was in our station. He kept correcting the two of us even in front of voters. Later on, the lady told me that during the night, Juma had severally asked her to join him in the HM’s office but she had refused. “Kwani anafikiria nilikuwa peke yangu? Pia mimi nilikuwa nimejipanga my friend!” she added, laughing.
Voting went on well. The only challenge we had was explaining to a lot of old men and women who the senator and women rep were. Many of them didn’t know these two offices and in many cases, they just chose the person whose face they like.
Ours was not a very busy station and we were done by 5.20 pm when counting started. We were done by 8.30 pm, and clerks were released while POs waited for transport to take returns back to constituency office.
I left together with Xtash, and we passed where Juma was twice so that he could see. Although it was cold, Xtash was wearing tight fitting trousers and sleeve-less blouse. What could he do? It was very late in the night when Xtash and I parted ways. Before I slept, I got an SMS from Juma. “It’s Ok what you did to me yesterday after fighting for you to come to my station. Kweli kikulacho kinguoni mwako. Malipo ni hapa hapa duniani.” I did not respond.