LOVE

MTUNZE

“Argh! Huyu jamaa si aende bwana!” The matatu driver said while pressing his arm at the centre of the steering wheel – hooting. He was pissed off alright. Seems he was having a rough morning. We had nn the loathed Mombasa road traffic. I am not the type that strikes conversations with strangers from nowhere like the mjango seated next to me.“Kuna watu hawastahili kuwa na magari bwana. Kama hajui kuendesa si apande matatu.” I found that humorous since he means people who board matatus don’t deserve to drive their own vehicles, like himself?
Both of us were seated at the front of the mini bus with the driver. The mjango was next to the passenger door. I was in the middle, straining with the length of my legs not to lean on the gear handle. My right leg had become numb. I regretted seating there. I had a thought that suggested I should ask to switch places with the mouthy mjango. That way, he’d be next to the driver that he wants to strike a conversation with. Even with three trials the driver had not responded to anything he said. A bad day indeed. Maybe if we switched places it would give him an added advantage to vibe the driver. 
I peeped at the driver’s face. It was creased like an unfolded ball of paper. I think he spotted me peeping at his anger-disappointed-blue-striken face. Maybe he was almost crying and you know a man wouldn’t want to be seen welling his eyes. Especially this man who was our matatu driver and pretty older than me. So I didn’t want ‘uncle’ to see me look at him cry or at least fight with tears. I actually pittied him.  People do go through hell.
Besides, I had enough problems of my own to try decipher what his were. I must say however, I suspected he was having a tough time with fatherhood or being a husband. His wife must have been on his neck for long enough. Maybe because of his job that doesn’t earn him much to cater for their two sons, one in form two-a dander head and another in university- a spoilt brat. Perhaps the lack of enough money and the raggedness of his sons is what he is considering as failed fatherhood. Maybe the wife is the type that is having this generation’s feminine crap get into her head. She wants to ‘slay’ like other women in the chama that have their husbands treat them like the Queen of England. Or maybe he realised that morning that she knows about his mpango wa kando, otherwise known as a ‘stress reliever.’ 
He might be more worried because his stress reliever is the female conductor in the same matatu – his own colleague. I unfortunately and helplessly thought of that when a hand stretched through the small opening to the driver’s cabin and a female voice followed, “Pesa hapo mbele!” I remember seeing her while boarding the matatu. I might just know what attracted our poor stressed driver to her if she was actually the subject of the issue that was eating him up that morning. Yes, she had quite a bum and killer knockers – the topmost things in the list that men cannot resist under normal human circumstances. She was young enough for him yes, but her face was a big no for me. I’m not sorry. 
Anyway, I quit and led my thoughts back to myself, back to my own manly problems. I held my phone under my armpit to put a long whatsapp my madame had sent me – away from my sight for a moment. I had read it twice, which was just enough. I couldn’t respond however. My mind was clogged and my heart was beating in the mercies of God’s love – convincing myself that whatever happens, the Almighty would never forsake His own. At least He knew how sorry I was to Him first and then to her(my madame) for what I had done. But it was not entirely my fault. I’m still sorry though. Such situations make mjangos say “Such is life,” or “Hizi vitu ziuhappen.”
The whatsapp text was a parachute bomb with a combination of anger, pain, brokenness, loss of trust and every other reaction only women know about when their men take the game outside their own perimeter of love. 
You see, a young man develops a ‘problem’ that comes naturally especially if it gets to his head that the ladies resist throwing lovely-tantrums when they see him. A girl friend of mine told me two days ago that girls only talk about cute guys while guys talk about all kinds of girls – saying both the negatives and the positives about them. Thus, when a chic sees a cute guy, that’s a thing my friend. So this problem is not induced by the mjangos themselves. It is induced by the ladies when the mjango tries to only be a friend. A lady having her crush make a move to become friends tends to speed up the chemistry on her own side. She ends up seeing the moves for friendship from the guy as the moves for a relationship, and that is what we call a tragedy. Why is it a tragedy? Because when a mjango realises that a chic wants to jump off the friend zone when he is not even interested, he might as well just help her to jump and the rest will be history. My niggas do you feel me? 
So that was my case that landed me in boiling mercury. Now sorry is not a sorry word. 
“How far did the two of you go?” She asked. 
“Not that far but I don’t know how it happened. Please believe me.”
“You knew what you were doing!” 
“No babe. I swear, I didn’t mean it.” 
“Do you expect me to believe that?”
“Yes because it is the truth.” 
“You even have no shame telling me it’s the truth. Do you think that makes it any better?”
“No, it doesn’t make things better. But si I told you by myself. I didn’t wait till you found out about it. Isn’t that not enough show of how sorry I am? Doesn’t that show how much I trust you to tell you my mistakes instead of hiding them from you?” 
After a short silence. 
“You’re always making mistakes…”
“But we didn’t go…”
“Do you even value me? ” 
“Ye…” Before I could answer, she hang up. 
The last conversation we had over the phone on the previous night and her last whatsapp ‘novella’ to me is all I had left of her. Out of all that, I deduced that she needed some time off. I hoped she would come around. But if she doesn’t? Well, such is life? That thought was about to be dissaproved to the resolution that I should ensure she doesn’t give up on me.
I snapped back when I heard the driver click and change the radio station quickly. The stereo was playing Classic 105 since I boarded the vehicle. Seems the old man is a die hard fan of Maina and Mwalimu King’ang’i. Almost all matatu drivers are. But not this time, when he heard Maina pick up a phone call from a woman who was fired up to talk about her cheating husband. Well, do I need more signs from the Almighty to show me that that was what my mjango driver was facing and didn’t want to hear about? Not even on the radio? He was not alone though. I also wouldn’t want to hear about that at the time. Funny how people are quick to listen to other people’s messed up lives only until they mess up their own and wouldn’t want anybody to know.
Clicking, “Wanawake ni stress tu! Hawa watu wanataka nini hii maisha?” Finally he spoke. 
I wasn’t sure whether he was expecting a response from me or the other mjango who had tried to strike a convo with him until he retired to sleep. We were at GM at the time. When I realized he was dead asleep, I automatically knew he was looking up to me for a man to man conversation. Maybe he wanted to let his heart out. He must have looked at me and not only did he see a young lad in a sparkling white shirt, a black slim tie, a grey trench coat, a pair of cream-khaki trousers and a pair of loafers – but also a young man of principle and wisdom. Probably the best resolution he had for his manly situation that haunted him through out the mombasa road stretch from Mlolongo to Nairobi. That’s my assumption. Had he known that I was not in a perfect situation either but I could offer some consolation, only because he had trusted me. Notwithstanding, he found that opportunity when the talkative mjango virtually left the scene in the driver’s cabin. 
“Eeh manzeh. Hawa watu! Waliumbwa hivo lakini,” I said while shaking my head and repositioning myself. 
I continued, “Kwani iko nini?”
He was silent, still with a crease face. For a moment I thought he wasn’t going to answer only to see that he was trying to concentrate on changing lanes – doing what he does for a living. You know besides having issues at home, he has an issue at hand. That issue is called taking a number of Kenyans to town-which must be done safely. 
One lane later, “Wewe kijana, ukona bibi au bado?”
Should I lie or something? 
My delay must have answered him. “Bado, sio?”
“Eeh bado.” 
“Lakini wewe ni mwanaume. Unakaa kujua hii maneno.” 
I was curious to know how he was able to judge that. Curiosity withheld. I was ready to hear about what he did to his wife. That ‘stress reliever’ she found out about. 
“Kama umepata msichana anakupenda sana, usijaribu kufanya mchezo na yeye. Mtunze kabisa.” 
The landing of those words felt like a plate of pie had been smashed on my face. I thought about my madame when he said that. She perfectly matches what he said. The Lord must have been speaking through him. 
Mjango, listen to the wise words of the old man. Thou hast wisdom out of experience more than I. Thus, tune thine ears of thy heart unto him and ye shall escape the tragedies that bring men to their knees. I was telling myself. 
“Mimi nikona bibi alinipenda sana. Mama ya watoto wangu. Vijana wawili na mschana mmoja…”(Kumbe I was not so wrong about the kids he had. Hehe.) 
“Alikupenda?” Taking keen notice on his choice of words. 
He went silent again. I was now getting used to the pauses. 
“Si anataka divorce sasa.” Clicking. 
My heart melted. 
“I have never done anything to jeopardize our union. Our children mean everything to us. Now one, just one rumour and she wants to end everything…” 
I resisted looking at him because from the way he spoke, I could tell he could feel the tears rising through his throat. 
“Na kama ni rumours, si that can be sorted.” 
Hitting the steering, “Hio rumour ni ukweli!” 
The sleeping mjango woke up quickly. “Tumefika?” 
The driver looked at him, “Ah! Wewe lala! Wewe unaona hii jam?” 
It was now clear that the old man didn’t want him awake. 
The mjango obeyed or he still owed his body some more sleep. I’m not sure. 
Nimechapa mpango wa kando na mmoja tu. Vile alikuja kujua, ata sijui. Na nimefanya tu hivo kutoa stress. Stress inakuwa mingi kwa hii miaka yangu mpaka… Inabidi!” 
Yangu ishakuwa. Kama umepata wako kama huyo kijana, mtunze.” 
How he addressed my issue without knowing, I don’t know. But all I know is he had spoken to the man in me for the rest of my life.
Nitamtunza kweli kweli.” Nodding my head. “Nitamtunza.”
I felt like saying and actually did say, “Mzee, usijali. The biggest problem of a man is his ego. Well, if you drop it and face her apologetically, then she should be struck by reason if she does love you. So if you’re sure she loves you through all those years, then she will reconsider.” 
I saw the smile on his face. A relief. Finally someone had told him what he longed to hear. 
“Mwisho! Mwisho! Gari mwisho! ” 
The passenger door flung open. 
Sasa sahi ni saa ngapi tunafika town!” The sleepy head woke up from a bad sleep it seems. 
Kijana asanti.”
Alighting, “Wanaume ni ivo ivo tu fadhe.” 
While laughing and driving off, “Pamoja! Na usitafute stress reliever.” 
The female conductor ran and boarded the moving vehicle like a pro, even with the weight of her everything. What a man can do, a woman can do better huh? 

1 comment

Patience October 24, 2017 at 7:26 am

Shout out to all men. Wise words sir. And very true indeed.

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