Saturday, 24 December 2016

A STOLEN PHONE, A STRESSED OLD MAN AND A DRUNK POLICE OFFICER

EDWIN KIPTANUI CHIRCHIR edchirchir@yahoo.com edchirchir85@gmail.com

PHOTO CREDIT:  https://mobile.twitter.com/nriftshuttle

This story is about a journey. A journey starting from Nairobi and ending in Eldoret. So, we start off peacefully at Mfangano lane, which is just next to Mfangano street, off Haille Selassie avenue. I am using North Rift Luxury Shuttle and it is indeed luxurious.

At the round about, somewhere along Haille Selassie avenue, not far from Muthurwa Market, as we branch off towards River road, an elderly man, seated to my right loses his phone, valued at eleven thousand shillings to ,some crafty 'snatch and run artist' (thief). The man had all along been communicating with another person about some silage making business. A very hardworking elderly man that one. He must have been enjoying his early retirement. 

Immediately the phone is snatched, the guy tries to act brave, as if nothing really happened. He tries to dismiss the phone as cheap saying things like, "Kwani elfu kumi na moja ni nini? (what is eleven thousand shillings?). He even tells me that the phone had a cracked screen hence would not fetch much money for the thief. I want to tell him that the thief will not care even if he sells it for one hundred shillings but I change my mind. I would not like to lose some teeth to a blow from a stressed old man, who has lost his phone. I instead try to comfort him, because I could tell that beyond that bragging about a 'worthless' phone, there was some thin lining of bitterness. The bitterness for having to travel for six hours without a phone. The feeling that many worried people are trying to reach him on his phone, but cannot.

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At some point, he holds my phone which is valued at nine hundred and ninety nine shillings and marvels at it. He is surprised that such a cheap phone can get me to Facebook, Twitter, record sounds, download  music and even take videos and photos, despite having such a small screen. He then curses the thief for stealing  his phone and says he (thief) will never make it in life. He continues complaining in some painfully touching monotone which almost sends me into a comma. He keeps quiet at some point (out of stress I suppose).

The car moves on towards Thika road, from where we are supposed to branch off towards museum hill. Besides me is an empty seat. We are supposed to pick some passenger somewhere between Kinungi and Naivasha. Next to the museum, we encounter a vehicle involved in an accident. I try using the incident to comfort the old man who lost his phone, by telling him how disappointments are part of life. "See that man?" I begin, "Now he has to make arrangements to get another car. At least you are better off." 

The old man nods, but says nothing. He was grieving. Grieving for his lost phone. Do you know how painful it is to lose a phone worth eleven thousand shillings? Don't even tell me you understand. You do not understand at all. I know eleven thousand shillings is nothing to some of you, but no, for this old man it was something.

Finally, somewhere between Kinungi and Naivasha, we pick that guy who had booked the empty seat next to me. We later gathered that he was a police officer, going back to work after a weekend visit to his family, don't ask me how we found out. The guy is very quiet and he sleeps all the way to Nakuru. The only problem is that he uses my shoulder as a bed, but at least he is not drooling. I guess in Kiganjo Police Training College, they are taught how to sleep without drooling.

I somehow get some peace of mind, after the guy whose phone was stolen, talks himself to exhaustion, then finally lulls himself to sleep.

We shortly take a break from travelling in Nakuru, Nakubreeze restaurant to be precise. Everyone melts away into the crowds of other travellers to look for something to eat. The only exception is the police officer, who instead of looking for something to eat, he looks for alcohol, whose supply is in abundance within the Nakubreeze premises.

As we prepare to set off for Eldoret, the police officer gets into the vehicle. He is now drunk but still hungry. He even asks if we can share my packet of biscuits. I oblige since you never know when you might need his help, one day when you find your self on the wrong side of the law.

The once silent police officer finally finds his mouth and starts preaching to me. He starts off so well that at some point, I am tempted to think that his drunkenness is some kind of a manifestation of the holy spirit. Then he starts spoiling it, when he starts complaining about king David. He seems to have a bone to pick with him. In fact he is so pissed off with King David that he uses some 'F' words, directed at him. I could not bring my self to understand what King David ever did to this police officer. At some point, he speaks to me in Kikuyu language, his mother tongue I suppose, but at least, this entertains the guy who lost his phone and he manages to smile (a forced one for that matter).

We get to Timboroa, the police officer's destination, but he has no idea that he has arrived. He even refuses to alight when the driver asks him to do so. It takes the intervention of some sweet talking women in Timboroa, who call him 'sweetie' and 'darling' to make him realize that he has arrived. Thankfully, the rest of the journey was uneventful. 

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