LIFE BY LOUIS: When the heavy rains conspired against me

Monday May 7 2018

It rained heavily and visibility was poor. I drove into an area and before I knew it, a contingent of guards armed with all manner of weapons jumped out. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH

It rained heavily and visibility was poor. I drove into an area and before I knew it, a contingent of guards armed with all manner of weapons jumped out. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH 

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The ongoing heavy rains have brought blessings and misfortunes in equal measure.

Some drivers and pedestrians alike have been marooned for hours, and the fierce floods have been reported to wash away small cars into the storm drains, only for them to emerge somewhere in Tana River bearing foreign number plates.

My first experience with heavy rains in the city had nothing to do with getting marooned.


I had just bought my first car that cost me a tidy amount then.

Although I still lived in a bed sitter and all my earthly wealth was confined in a 10ft x10ft room, I invested heavily in this metallic contraption that was capable of its own mobility.

I call it a contraption with all due respect. The engine had spare parts all the way from Germany to Singapore. The wheel caps belonged to a Ford Cortina and on the bonnet proudly stood the insignia of a Volvo.

As a value add to this exciting machine, I had installed a music system that cost double the buying price of the car. The whole boot and half the back seat were occupied by big speakers and woofers, and the entire system could host a respectable disco party in a large stadium. 

My only advantage then was that fuel was more affordable than it is today, and I could afford to take long road drives over the weekend with no particular destination in mind.


This weekend I was doing my escapades around Runda and Gigiri areas where I intended to make the inhabitants of those suburbs take notice of this new machine that was the talk of my estate’s girls.

On my way back it started to rain heavily. The windscreen wipers, which must have belonged to a Datsun 120Y, were not working, and the interior windows were all misty making visibility poor.

Almost coincidentally, it became pitch dark, further aggravating my current predicament. My lights could not illuminate beyond five metres at full light, and I felt like I was driving in a dark and foggy tunnel.

I manoeuvred my way through the leafy suburbs where big cars with diplomatic number plates blinded me with their powerful fog lights and honked impatiently at my erratic movements.

Later, I found myself at the dead end of a road, and I decided to turn back at an adjacent gate that looked all palatial and robustly secured.


That is where my real problems started. The wicket gate swung open and a contingent of guards armed with all manner of weapons jumped out. Going by their facial expressions and body language, they were sure that they were dealing with a most wanted criminal who was intent on disturbing the peace of this tranquil community.

The guards wore crisp uniforms and their leader spoke in flawless English infused with a heavy western accent.

Although he was less than friendly, he displayed impeccable manners and accompanied all his requests with the word please which filled me with a sense of false importance.

After thoroughly searching my car in order to confirm that I was not carrying weapons of mass destruction, one of the guards conducted a further body search on me and led me to their office.


The office doubled up as a communication centre and currently an interrogation room for this intruder. Two armed guards were left guarding my car lest it gained a life of its own and decided to take a walk further into the estate.

The interrogation was intense and intrusive, and they wanted to know how I just found my way into the compound of a highly respected diplomatic figure, and who had sent me.

Midway through the interview that was interrupted severally as they made frantic calls to their headquarters to seek further instructions, they must have noted that I was a pretty harmless character.

I was instructed to get back into my car and drive out of the estate, and four senior guards were assigned the duty to escort me until I was safely out of their jurisdiction.

Although I had not encountered any floodwater anywhere, I reached home shivering like a chicken that had been rained on.


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