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MAN IN THE HOOD: A Sunday to forget

Thursday March 28 2019

Five minutes later, a cop showed up to assess the damage. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH

Five minutes later, a cop showed up to assess the damage. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

PHILIP ETEMESI
By PHILIP ETEMESI
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When it rains, it pours. But sometimes when it rains, it just doesn’t just pour. Sometimes there’s a devastating storm, characterised by dark, gloomy clouds that spit lightning remorselessly and capricious winds that seem to be on a pointless mission of vengeance.

At least, that’s the picture I got this past Sunday.

My mum had come to visit me and to make her comfortable, I had rented a car to chauffeur her with.

She has developed back problems so matatus are a huge inconvenience for her.

On Sunday, she said she wanted to leave so I dropped her in town where my brother picked her and took her home. I had initially wanted to return the car immediately but the devil told me to drive back to the hood and relax first. I did exactly that and on the way to my house, I stopped outside a fast food joint to get some lunch.

PARKED CAR

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I parked the car and walked to an M-Pesa stall that was just next to the food joint to withdraw some cash first. I found the attendant doing her nails.

“Naeza toa 2k?” I asked.

“Uko na ID?”she responded, without looking at me.

I checked my wallet for my ID but surprisingly it wasn’t there. I was sure I had put it there when I left the house.

“Sina ID. Nimeisahau. But nitakwambia ID number,” I told her.

Hapana. Enda ukuje na ID,” she responded.

WORRIED

All this time, she hadn’t looked at me even once. I checked my wallet again but the ID was nowhere to be seen. I started getting worried. I always fear losing my ID or any other important national documents because I hate going to government offices.

All my experiences in government offices and institutions have never been pleasant.

I recall how a lady at Nyayo House talked to me very rudely when I was trying to get a passport a few years back. I told her to style up and in return, she refused to serve me.

I am a calm guy but I don’t like being pushed or disrespected so I refused to step away from the counter. This led to a standoff.

The security guards were called to escort me away but I was as immovable as the rock of Lwanda Magere.

More security guards came over and upon realising that I would be the loser in the end, I came up with the bossy lie - “Mnajua uncle yangu ni nani hii Kenya? Mnanijua kweli?”

UTMOST KINDNESS

I acted like my uncle was a big fish. I picked up the phone and pretended to call him. All of a sudden, everyone became humble and they all urged me not to take any excessive action.

The lady then proceeded to serve me with utmost kindness.

You can see why going to government offices is my least favourite things to do.

So, I left the nail-painting M-Pesa attendant and decided to rush back home to look for my ID. I went back to the car and immediately started reversing. All of a sudden, there was a bang.

I had collided with another car that was reversing as well from the opposite side. Both cars hit each other from the back so the bumpers were significantly damaged.

Disappointed, I stepped out to examine the car. The other diver stepped out too.

He was a fairly young fella, way younger than me. I was sure I wasn’t the one of the wrong because when I had initially checked the rear view mirror before reversing, there was no car moving.

Nevertheless, he began accusing me of hitting him, saying that I should compensate him. I strongly declined. I demanded that he be the one to pay me.

An argument ensued and soon, a crowd gathered. A security guard that was sitting nearby happened to be the only reliable witness. She said that we were both on the wrong since we both kept reversing and none of us stopped until the moment of impact.

The other driver was having none of that. He insisted that I pay him and upon realising that I wasn’t going to bulge, he began issuing the same kind of threats I had issued to the Nyayo House fellas a few years back. The only difference was that my threats had been fake but his were real.

“Unajua baba yangu ni nani?” he shouted, his face burning with vexation. I, with my sardonic grin, told him that I didn’t care whether his father was Alexander The Great or a village elder. He then called his dad and told him to call some of his police friends.

I began sweating at that moment, to be honest. I tried thinking of whether I had any police friends too but none came to mind.

Five minutes later, a cop showed up.

There was a garage about 200 metres away so the cop told the security guard to go call a mechanic so that the damage could be assessed. The mechanic came and concluded that it would take 4500 to fix the damage on my rented car and 3000 to fix the other car.

The policeman insisted that I pay the full amount. I refused. I was on a refusing streak at that moment. He then tried to arrest me but luckily, the security guard was on my side.

She told the crowd what had happened and they all backed me up. Eventually, the cop gave up and concluded that each person should cover their own damages.

So, I went back home and looked for my ID but it was nowhere to be found. I called the car rental company and they told me they won’t accept the car back until after I have fixed it.

And the more I stay with it, the more extra money I will pay.

Now, I am just sitting here, thinking of how I will go to a Huduma Centre to apply for another ID and probably meet another rude government employee.

I am also thinking of how I will get this car fixed.

The month is at a really “bad place” and no money has checked in. But as the legendary soul singer Gloria Gaynor once put it, “I will survive, I will survive, I will survive.”

***

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