Settling down turned into a nap. I was still pissed. Even after the nap that I had hoped would calm me down, it did not work. ‘What was I going to do now?’ I checked within myself for any traces of aggression that would make me pull a stupid move. I took a shower, dressed up, and made myself a cup of coffee. An overdose actually – Like four sachets. I needed to think, or to calm down. I then settled in front of my computer and hit Google. I searched for the car hire company again. This time I was keen. I had a pen and a paper. I took down the important details. The office, more contacts, and the location of all the other offices they claimed to occupy around the city and its environs, from the website. I picked my phone ready for the most important call of the day.
I took a deep breath as I looked at the contact in front of my eyes… I dialed.
“Hello, this is Chris.”
“Ahh sema Maina,”
“Niambie Ndugu yangu…” I could feel my blood boiling. He had the guts to call me Ndugu!? Really? Really!!!?
“Saasa, nilitoka jana. Na OCs alisema tuongee udrop hizo charges.”
“Ohhh. Hivo ndivo alisema?”
“Eeeh. So ndio nataka kujua kama unaweza patikana leo nikuje Karen tuongee hii maneno.”
“Me, I don’t have a problem Mr. Maina, Hiyo ni sawa wewe kuja tuonane.”
“Sawa sawa. Nitakupigia nikifika.”
I folded my paper and started my journey. I was lost in thought the whole way. The only thought I remember was, wondering how Karen, a “Posh” neighborhood would have the oldest, most uncomfortable and top on the list of poorly maintained City Hoppa buses plying the route… They deserved better. It rained that morning and part of the afternoon and I was not spared. The conductor did not even care besides a resigned “hio inakuwanga hivo”. I was already in a bad mood, so it would not get any worse I figured. I don’t even know why I wasn’t carrying a book to drown my thoughts away on this day. I got to Karen and dialed Onkwani. He was offline. NO! WAY!!! Please No!!! I was not going to give up. I had my list of addresses. I decided to try the first one and the closest one on my list and the one that was listed as the main address. This was a third floor office in a building within the shopping center. The challenge with this plan was that he had not given the exact office name. Moreover, the address had no office number attached to it.
Luck was on my side though. Immediately after hitting the second floor landing, I met some people walking downstairs. I wanted to ask them but I figured they just might be clients like I was, and had no idea about the tenants of those offices. After the first group of people had passed, I met two ladies, and a guy near the landing of the third floor. The gent was holding a clipboard. He seemed to be enjoying the company of the ladies, and whatever they were discussing which was definitely not last night’s match and not the duties of the day. This was good for me. I supposed. I needed to use that mood of his. His attitude would be good to use. I said hi and asked him if he would help me find Mr. Onkwanis office. He acted clueless for some time and then he consulted the ladies who giggled before telling him. Some buildings have this strict policy about disclosing information to unidentified people. Here I was. I did not even introduce myself and they already gave it up. They were not sure themselves. Therefore, they suggested he checks the list attached to the clipboard in his hands. Happens the papers had all the tenants in the office block. Voila! His office was in the list and I got the number. I thanked them and walked in the direction that they pointed to me.
Of all the offices on that floor, his office was the only one that did not have a name on the door. Weird and suspicious, I thought to myself. To make matters worse, when I knocked on the door, it was not answered. However, since it was a working day, I knew there would be someone inside. Therefore, I knocked again… And again… And again. Then I waited. I saw a shadow shift at the bottom of the door. Ahaa! Someone was coming to open. A minute later, a lady’s face peeped through the partly opened door. A few inches actually. Where I never even got to see the rest of her body. She asked what I wanted and I said I was to meet Onkwani who had since switched his phone off.
“Ilikuwa biashara gani?”
“Ya gari tu.”
“Oh. Basi hayuko…”
“Atarudi saa ngapi?”
“Sawa basi nitakuja kumwangalia baadae…”
I tried his phone again and it was off. Damn! This guy!!!
I walked along the corridor slowly, part of me wanted to go back and tell the woman to let me into the office. I had a feeling the man was hiding from me. Being as exposed as I was, plus the few milligrams of pervert in me, I started imagining the things that would be happening inside that office. ‘Why did it take too long?’ ‘Why did the lady not open wide enough or invite me in?’ ‘They need clients, right?’ ‘Or were they…?’ ‘Or was I running mad?’ I let it be, and walked down the stairs towards the ground floor. I did not know how to buy time on this side of town. I did not have friends who I would hang out with neither did I know a pocket friendly restaurant, hotel, or cafe where I would buy a cup of tea for Ksh 30/- and drink it for ages, until the guy decided to pick his phone… another option was to wait at the police station’s waiting area. This was surely a bad idea. Worst actually. Talk of a goat walking into a hyena’s den. On the ground floor of the building, a notice board had advertisements. I got carried away by the numerous real estate adverts that dotted the board. 80% of the adverts focused on houses for rent and sale as well as plots and land tracts for sale and long-term lease. There were also a few service lenders and someone had summarized his resume into a notice and posted it there. Hope they got a job.
I tried his phone again. I wondered where I would wait for the guy. It was around 2pm now, and I had not taken lunch. I was getting hungry. A cup of tea would not do. I decided to pop into Kenchic because I do not think I was going to get a chapatti – madondo kibandaski anywhere around this place. Fries and a soda got me some energy. I also bought time with the nice location. I settled for the corner upstairs that had a nice view of Ngong Road, the Big Square, the petrol station, part of the shopping center and the activities below of people selling curios, ‘Big & Nice’ cars passing by, and at some point a former classmate of mine who I was not going to call at this point. I tried the man again. Negative.
It was almost 4 o’clock. A thought crossed my mind to try his other office but it was too late. Again, the cloud cover was not friendly enough. It would rain and from the days that I was here, this had to fall and I was not dressed for that occasion. I had novels in my phone but it could not sustain the power and I was waiting for the entrepreneur who was not showing up. I decided to give him up to half past the hour. If he would not have gotten back, I would be taking my bus to town. I was on one end of a notorious road – Ngong Road, it was almost raining and I would have to get to town and pick another bus for several other notorious roads – Haille Sellasie, Ladhies, and Jogoo Road that meant I would undergo through all that torture for nothing and get home almost at midnight. This was frustrating.
I looked outside again. Actually, all this time I was looking outside but was not concentrating. Sports cars, top of the range SUVs, and speed Bikes passed by the busy streets. Within that time, I saw a bevy of girls walk in the direction of Nakumatt and then return and settle at the couches at the Big Square. They then went ahead to enjoy a time filled with laughter, selfies, sharing from shake mugs and ice cream bowls. ‘I could do with some fun right about now’ I thought to myself. Besides me, couples came in had their late lunch, snacks or early supper and left. My soda was flat and warm by this time, but I still pretended to sip on. This was my leverage, and rent to be in this place for as long as I wanted. I was not going to finish it until that call came through. I did not even notice the clock hit 4.30pm. A few minutes after my target time, I woke up in a huff, almost hitting my head to the ceiling, left the fast food restaurant and headed for the buses. I was so angry I almost got hit by a car while crossing Langata Road.
I was dealing with a very useless man! He really wanted to crucify me!