10:00 AM, at the foothills of the adorable Ngong Hills, a young man, an outsider, arriving from a hyper-kinetic city that had started hurrying on with its business, and, further, from the pale light of obscurity in his own slow paced one, alighted, after confirming from the makanga – conductor – from the moving discotheque of a matatu – a public service vehicle – and out, onto the pavement that made the bus bay.
With his laptop bag strapped over his left shoulder, and a big, but, thankfully for his small bod, not so heavy bag in his right hand, he set out to find the first mahindi choma – roasted maize – seller he could come across. A rumbling in his stomach had to be dealt with before he could embark on an unfancied down and up the hill trek to the home of his host. He was not willing to spend a single coin on a boda–boda – passenger motorcycle – irrespective of how the now friendly cyclists tried to salute and persuade him.
Down and up he walked; notably past the mkokoteni – cart – water distributor, the dukas – kiosks, the beautifully planned stone apartment buildings, and the only MPESA agent along the entire stretch, limping – as he had recently injured his knee – and switching his luggage from his right to his left and back, from his left to his right, until he got to the impenetrable black gate at the home of his host.
Ignoring the doorbell planted in the supporting concrete column on one side of the gate, he found the gate and house keys – given to him by his host when they met in town, an hour earlier – and opened his way, into the gate, into the first, second, and third doors, opening and closing each as he passed through.
In the front yard, he had noticed one of two cars, an Asian made family car, the one driven by his Mother’s, and, as of that sun-deprived October morning, an indicator of her presence in the house. That meant no trouble. After all, she called him Son, and he called her Mum.
The young man, Mr. Unexpected, paced through the living room, the corridors, and into his bedroom without much chaos, thanks to the silencing effect of the mottled carpets on which he stepped. There, he laid his bags down, unpacked them, made his bed, changed clothes, before fixing himself a breakfast that he would have prior to taking a much needed jog.
While he went about with settling in, he, Mr. Unexpected, as a matter of course, made a few presumably untroubling sounds. The uneasy opening of a door, the slamming of another, the running of a water tap, the heating up of the water dispenser, the sliding of the dining table chair, the depositing unclean utensils in the sink and the locking of the doors and gate on his way out.
None of these sounds was worth note – at least to Mr. Unexpected. To someone else, Ms. Unexpectant, they were. Mr. Unexpected sat, on the dining table, only separated from Ms. Unexpectant by a thin wall, and munched on not one, or his regular two, but four slices of margarine spread brown bread. He was hungry, having had his last meal at least twenty-six hours earlier. He sipped his tea too, without a care in the world, save for reminding himself not to concern himself with Ms. Unexpectant. In her room, she was all right, and would not have to be bothered.
However, on the other side of the wall, Ms. Unexpectant could be heard talking on and over the phone, to someone, probably a friend, a relative, or a workmate. None of Mr. Unexpected’s concerns either. What Mr. Unexpected did not know, as she spoke hushedly, was that the phone call was, in fact, about him. Ms. Unexpectant had been woken up by Mr. Unexpected’s actions. She had heard all the sounds Mr. Unexpected had made. They had unsettled her. They had given her a rather, as the event was, unexpected thrill.
Unexpectant as she was, she called her husband, with inquiries about whether he had left anyone in the house when they left for work earlier in the morning. The husband, replying in the negative, could not be any helpful. All he did was cause Ms. Unexpectant more tension and trauma.
As Mr. Unexpected set up his Runtastic, Runkeeper, and Sports Tracker mobile applications while on his way out, Ms. Unexpectant rose to the occasion. She covered herself, for decency, and, overwhelmed by fear, gripped not just one, but two machetes. Pangas. She was going all out, to attack and to annihilate whatever creature there was, the creature that was sharing the same walls as her.
She, all tensed up, tiptoed into her own living room, the dining room, her son’s three bedrooms, their bathrooms, and, in all, found absolutely no ne, and nothing close to a mysterious creature. She was lucky not to step into the kitchen. She would have fainted from finding used dishes. She is known for keeping an empty sink. She has famously said that a filled one attracts rats and cockroaches. Her two machetes, resting their blunt edges on her shoulders were well positioned and ready to cut into action. They were thirsty for blood. They, certainly, must have been disappointed.
Ms. Unexpectant , finding no one ad nothing, locked the front door – to bar the creature from escaping, and herself – in her bedroom – to bar the bloody creature from confronting her. If it managed to find its way, she would pull out her machetes, and fight it, till the death. A war was imminent. She could smell it in the air.
While Ms. Unexpectant went through her phases, Mr. Unexpected went on with his jog. For him, it was a wonderful morning. The weather was conducive enough, the traffic was slow, there were a few cheering faces along the way, and the matunda – fruits – at his resting and turn around point were tasty. After about an hour of covering approximately ten kilometers, on an injured knee, he was good to go back to the sharing the same house as Ms. Unexpectant.
As Mr. Unexpected ran, Ms. Unexpectant rang. She dialed the phone, again, calling her sister this time round. On sharing her experiences, Ms. Unexpectant’s sister convinced her that she, Ms. Unexpectant, was, beyond all reasonable doubt, dreaming as she had just woken up, with a deluded mind and was yet to come to terms with the affairs of her new day. She was probably hallucinating, and, instead of carrying around machetes which could injure her instead, was in urgent need of a nap to cure her of her misconceived delusions. Ms. Unexpectant was not convinced. Regardless of the fact that belief and delusion are incestuous siblings, she was certain of herself. She believed that there was someone, and not something in her house. She had heard the sounds. She was not dreaming.
It was not until Mr. Unexpected returned that it dawned on both him and Ms. Unexpectant that something was amiss. An undelivered message, informing her of his arrival, had b bringing their dichotomies into play, united them in a rather different way. Two movements, occurring in different worlds, but sharing the same atmosphere, could have, unfortunately, led to the early end of a young man’s life.
Neither Mr. Unexpected nor Ms. Unexpectant would have known about each other’s dilemmas until he; spent about two hours sitting, sleeping and stretching in a couch on the shade while trying to figure out who had locked the front door from the inside, and why they had done so for whoever it was would not be able to vamoose unless, under their current conundrum, someone was macheted into another realm, and; she, lying in her bed, overtaken by fear, and starving from getting to lunch time without taking her breakfast lest she, or he, became another homicide statistic.
Incessant knocking on the rickety metallic door, and a return to not ignoring the doorbell by the gate, and a few calls, made to all the necessary people, later, Ms. Unexpectant gathered just enough courage to let Mr. Unexpected in. They saluted one another, shared their experiences – her trauma, and his drama –recalled those who had been called before and informed them with the relieving news, apologised to each other and shared a jug of uji – porridge – before taking their respective afternoon naps as family, and not strangers any for the more.
Inspired by true events, at a friend’s residence.
Ngong, Kajiado, Kenya.
Friday, October 23, 2015.