I had vowed to myself that I would never tell this story in this column because it would surely make me look stupid, but here I am – in most cases, I tend not to keep the promises I make to myself. This is because I am prone to reviewing and re-reviewing something long after it has happened, and then convince myself it isn’t as bad as it looks.
That particular Saturday started off well. That afternoon, I had a chama meeting of former high school friends. My mother often told me that a wise woman made sure that her home was in order and her family well taken care of before she attended to AOB (Any Other Business), and so I woke up early that day, did a few chores around the house, went to the market and supermarket, and then returned home to get ready for the meeting.
We adjourned the meeting, which was held somewhere on Kiambu Road, at 7pm. We said our goodbyes and I headed home, intending to take the Eastern bypass, which would deliver me home in 45 minutes or so. I once wrote about how hopeless I am with directions, that even with a detailed map, I am still likely to get lost. Well, I did get lost.
I realised that I had missed a turn somewhere when after driving for several minutes, I still could not see the many flats that overwhelm Ruaka town. Not so wise, I continued on, telling myself that surely there was an intersection somewhere that would lead me back where I had come from. There wasn’t. By then, it was around 8.30pm. I had a mind to turn back when I came by a lonely-looking shopping centre, but which had a butchery and a pub open. I stopped, got out and walked into the butchery, and asked the man behind the counter how to get to Kiambu town. He explained to me that I had two options, to either turn back, or continue on that road, which would lead me to my destination. I decided to keep going, unwilling to go back.
And that is how, I am embarrassed to say, I found myself in Tatu City. If you know the sad tale of Tatu City, then you know that it does not exist. I spotted a small signage that said, “Welcome to Tatu City”, but there was no city of course, just a somewhat narrow, winding makeshift road bordered by dense waist high brush on either side. It was also a very, very lonely road, and the few cars that overtook me did so as if they were being chased by the devil himself. It is then that it occurred to me that carjackers are fond of this deserted area. These motorists driving at breakneck speed probably thought I was a carjacker on a mission, especially since I was moving at a snail’s pace, afraid of speeding on a road I was not familiar with.
It was with a sigh of relief that I finally emerged from the acres and acres of desolation, only to come face-to-face with a matatu that had overturned on the side of the road after a head-on collision with a private car. At this point, I was crying silently, having prayed myself hoarse. Police were on site though. I drove around the accident site and a few metres ahead, I found myself at another lonely shopping centre.
Anyway, to cut a long humiliating story short, at one point I found myself in Kahawa West, don’t ask me how, and finally Ndumberi, where a petrol station attendant smelling slightly of alcohol, patiently re-directed me to Kiambu town. I must have looked blank because at some point he asked, “Madam, kuna mtu mwingine kwa gari?” He wanted to know whether I was in the company of someone else, someone who would probably show signs of understanding the directions he was painstakingly giving.
Ladies, at this point, please allow me to profusely apologise for propagating the stereotype that women are hopeless drivers.
If you’re wondering, I eventually managed to locate Kiambu town, from where I got my bearing. I got home a few minutes past 11pm angry with myself and seriously questioning my intelligence. I mean, who gets lost for four hours? Who?!
[email protected]; Twitter: @cnjerius. The writer is the Daily Nation features editor