The following events take place between 11am and 12pm on Christmas day . . . . . . .
Lavington, Nairobi Kenya.
The Uber driver slows down. He stops at the intersection, waiting for the lights to turn green. His indicator is on, he wants to turn left from James Gichuru Road and into Lavington Road. The roads are better here. The ride is smoother. The car slides gently over the tarmac. His passenger has said nothing most of the trip from town. He took her lead and has kept quiet himself. He does not want to jeopardize his 5 star rating. She taps him on the shoulder, tells him to drop her off at the Shell Petrol Station some 800 meters away. He nods. He hardly notices how she flinches when they pass a white house on the left side. He is too busy looking at her through the rear-view mirror. She has freckles on her thighs. He wonders, if the mirror blushes every time she wear a miniskirt. He drops her off at the Shell, she pays him in cash. She does not even ask for the change. A very unKenyan characteristic. She steps out and waits for the cab to leave. The driver happily drives off. He does not notice Gathoni walking back the way they came.
On the fourth lane off of Lavington road, just before you get to Kenya High School entrance, there’s a white building on the left. It has the number 822 on the left side of the gate. The logo of KK Security featuring prominently beneath it. Announcing that the occupants within are deserving of private security. Very unlike the rest of us peasants. There’s nothing particularly special about the building. It smells like ass. A troublesome scent, especially in light of Uncle Ezekiel’s forays into banning anything remotely related to the African bum.
Which is why the matron keeps spraying that fragrance.
This only makes it worse because the combination of ass and lavender fragrance (with a hint of mint) only diminishes the corporate aura of the building. The good thing is that the patrons of this respected establishment do not mind the scent. Some are drawn to it. Perhaps they lack this very bummy scent in their own homes. Relying on the matron to keep a steady supply of nubile young ladies to provide it. The house has a colonial mystic to it. It announces albeit discreetly that there is old money here. The house’s patrons have an intimate, carnal relationship with money. They love it and it loves them back. Even the vehicles that drop off certain unnamed politicians (Hello Governor) here are discreet. In stark contrast to the blue, bank owned, Subarus that carry the new money boys to overpriced bars in Westie.
It is 11:20 am, this Christmas morning. A fine day to be with family and friends. To celebrate the birth of our good Lord. However business, on house no. 822 continues unabated. The desires of Nairobi’s upper class men do not respect the Lord’s birthday. It is no surprise really, those desires have never respected wedding vows either.
Gathoni prepares to receive her guest. He called in some minutes earlier. He spoke to the matron, asked if Gathoni was in. If yes, he would like to see her. The matron wondered, was Gathoni okay with him coming. It was a rhetorical question. Gathoni, ever the smart one nodded, she was happy to receive him. This question and answer session being necessary to maintain the facade of respectability. A necessary quality for upmarket brothels. The matron had just finished berating Gathoni for her lateness. She did mention quite unkindly that if Gathoni felt she was too good for this job, she would be happy to let her go. After all, there were thousands of girls who would happily take her place.
Gathoni remains quiet during the berating session. She knows which side of her bread is buttered. She does not mention that her boss’s insistence on them being dropped 500meters away at the Shell petrol station instead of at the gate contributes to that lateness. She is not quite ready to resign yet. Instead she rushes off to the first floor bedroom. The one at the very end of the corridor. She uses it to service her clients. She will shortly make herself presentable. Mheshimiwa has a thing for red panties. And the matron always likes it when her clients get what they want. Gathoni knows Mheshimiwa will take at least 30 minutes to get here.
She decides to relax for a while. She sits at the foot of her bed, pulls out her phone opens it and reads. He wrote her a letter. Her fiance, not Mheshimiwa. It is something boyfriends think is romantic. She prefers Mpesa messages. He is modern though, so the letter is on email. It reads;
My dearest Gathoni,
You are at home in Shagz. Maybe seated outside, on one of those benches that are made from an awkward looking piece of wood. It is never quite stable. But not too wobbly either. It exists at the intersection of functionality and cheapness. Your uncle made it. He was drunk. Everything he makes bears the same qualities as that bench. Even his kids. It is a pity really. They could have been so much more, but they chose to become his children.
At the corner of the compound, there’s a small mishmash of trees. The white man would call it a forest. But you are African, and you have seen proper forests. So you call these by their proper name, a cluster of trees. They surround 2 lonely graves.They stand as sentinels. Silent knights watching over those two Sleeping side by side. A visitor would be impressed, to the point of wondering who they are…were. They were not particularly important in this life.
Everyone is still asleep. It is Christmas after all. Even the villagers allow themselves an extra hour of sleep. They will wake up at 7 today. You however, could now wait that long. The air in the house was musky. Too little oxygen in a house with poor ventilation. But perhaps the ventilation is not the issue, rather the extended family sleeping in 1 house is. Your family were never a big proponent of family planning. Your uncle’s 11 children are testament to that. This is why, the house smells like old shoes, smelly socks, stale farts and human sweat. A cornucopia of scents. Too much for your rich nose. But your father never taught you how to complain. You bravely endured it last night, though when your aunt Njoki farted for the fifteenth time at 5am, that was it. You had reached your limit. It smelt like unwashed ass and stale githeri. Your people are blessed with horrendously huge behinds. When they fart, the behind vibrates a little.
You are thinking, of me I hope. On that wobbly bench, which has endured so much in its short life. I am thinking of you. Well, not really you, but of what you said last week. In the morning, right after we had that big argument about where we would spend Christmas. I thought my fiance should want to spend her Christmas with the family she was marrying into. You wanted to spend Christmas alone, without anyone around. Something about Nairobi being a lot more peaceful without us in it. We argued for hours, rather I spoke and you listened. Making me seem a little more immature by the second. In the end, we slept, too tired to continue. You slept with your back to me, and not in the way I like.
You woke up early, you always do when you have something on your mind. You sat bow legged on the bed, at the farthest corner so that I cannot quite feel you moving as I sleep. I wake up and before I am fully aware you ask, “is this working?” It takes me some time to understand the question. And I do not quite know how to answer it. You have always had all the power in this relationship, ready to leave at any time.”….
Gathoni looks up, bored. He has never been particularly talented with getting to the point. Even in bed. She wonders why she keeps him. She looks at the time. Mhesh will be here in a few minutes. She puts the phone aside. She will finish reading it later. She goes off into the bathroom. She slips off from the dress she was wearing. She wonders if she should shower. That would mean redoing all her makeup again. She gives her left armpit a quick whiff, it does not smell too badly. Deodarant will do.
The matron knocks. She comes in and hands over the customary package. Condoms, soap, a toothbrush and clean towels. In case the guest needs to have a quick clean up before heading home to his wife. The matron even throws in a Santa hat. In case Gathoni feels the need to spice things up. Is Gathoni ready? She will be in a few minutes. The matron walks out. She knows Gathoni can handle the man. She heads over to the main entrance. The receptionist fidgets. Matron is always looking for existing and non-existent mistakes. She looks at her watch, everything is ready. She opens the right drawer at the receptionist’s desk. She pulls out the can, the one with the air freshener. She sprays it all over the entrance. She stops and breathes it in. She smiles for the first time. It smells good. He will be here in a few minutes.
It is 12 pm, on a Christmas morning. It smells like ass, and lavender scented fragrance; with a hint of mint.
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