Steps. Not so long, not so short kind of steps. Those kind of steps you walk when the Almighty has showered you with abundant blessings unto your life. Each time the leg rises, you feel as though you are walking on a well-tarmacked road which you personally financed. And as you touch the ground, the lower part of the shoe smoothly caresses the ground, followed by the other part of the shoe, which lands carefully, raising tiny fragments of dust into the atmosphere. The wind blows in return, this time with a force never anticipated, dragging the fragments of dust suddenly from their resting place, which was at the back of your shoe, round and round the road towards a young man standing at the edge of the road next to a tiny green structure, inside it has a woman trying to go about her daily business. The wind blows past him, making him quickly turn him head the opposite direction in attempt to reduce the torturous experience of the wind gushing at his face armed with all sorts of crude weapons: weapons gathered along the way as the wind gathered momentum during its unexpected departure…some plastic papers, small stones here and there and what not. But little does he know that today lady luck is not on his side, probably busy with more pressing concerns. The tiny fragments of dust which were risen by that pair of shoe being worn as if it ruled the world, by chance or fate happen to enter the young man’s eyes making him shut them unceremoniously as tears in her eyes quickly react to the abrupt intrusion by foreign particles. The hands also grab a handkerchief from his pockets, covering the nose and mouth to prevent another foreign, irritating invasion from taking place. The dust corrodes his eyes as he tries all possible ways to get rid of that awful sensation.
“Wasee bet imeingiana…”
When you hear those words, know that the ancient spirits from your homeland have remembered you from wherever they are. Nothing brings as much joy as gaining money which you didn’t break much sweat for. Yes, of course you used your brain to mathematically calculate the probability of a certain team to win, so somehow one is reaping foe his hard work. But on that day, it was purely luck. For days on end, I had been wasting my precious bundles surfing the web for in-depth details of how teams had performed during the last century hoping to eventually predict the outcome of the oncoming match.it didn’t work, even a little bit. I was losing spectacularly. Money was flying out my account like bats flying out of their hidings when darkness arrives. So I decided on this day I would do things differently: totally differently. I placed my bets without even giving a second thought. And boom! Few hours later, the rarest of occasions occur. A message from the betting firm starting with the magical, soul-satisfying word “Congratulations…” followed by my full names known by the government. The feeling that comes with that message is simply amazing. But i tend to wonder, in real life, when we over-analyze something, nothing good comes out of it. Yet when we just do it without stressing, the universe rewards your efforts in plenty.
So after telling my friends how God shone his light on me, and how they began wondering why me and not them, they decided to escort me towards the nearest Mpesa agent. Winning more than twenty times the amount you staked during the driest part of the month is no joke. The nearest agent was some fifty meters away. Strategically located beside the road, a young, beautiful lady was seated inside the green structure, patiently scrolling through her phone as she waited for customers. Her shop was a hit in that area, especially for us boy-children. Her eloquent grip on the Queen’s language, her beauty, plus her politeness when talking to customers wooed us all to her shop. My entourage and I : and by the way the reason for the entourage(friends) which followed me was not to keep me company but rather most of them I had accrued debts from them loaning me during various situations so I had to pay them back. They knew that I was their lifeline in these trying times. The night was dark and full of terror. So I arrive at the Mpesa agent with a wide smile showing all my teeth to the outside world.
“Nataka kutoa,”I said in a confident, stiff voice.
She looks at me and nods twice, with her famous smile. I took my phone from my left pocket and quickly logged into my betting account. I hurriedly searched for the “Cash out” option, and it seemed, out of nowhere, to have vanished. The devil never ceases to amaze. I scrolled until the end of the page, went back at the top only to find it there, boldly written at the far left of the page. I had previously looked at the same place and couldn’t see it. I pressed it and in an instant, the Mpesa message soon followed, indicating that the money was almost within my physical reach. I went on and withdrew all the money I had transferred in the account. The feeling that in a matter of moments, the money will be safely in my deep pockets was getting the hang of me. The lady’s phone beeped. She took it and her eyes widened as she read the mpesa message. She looked at me, looked at the message, looked at me once again, in a rather uncertain stare.
A tight grip held my arm tightly. One of my friends held my arm as he pointed towards the road.
“Look at that!” he said.
I shifted my mind’s focus from the money I was about to receive to what my friend was trying to show me. I turned my head and faced the direction, which surprisingly everyone’s eyes were glued upon, unable to utter a single word.
It was there that I saw her.
I saw her.
Dressed in a black dress with white stripes, she majestically walked on the left edge of the road. Her black converse shoes carefully touching the dry, dusty ground as she walked: or rather cat walked. The dress, which was neither too tight nor too loose; it fit perfectly with her body. And it reached somewhere slightly on top of her knees. A perfect fit as her brown legs shone thanks to the evening sun. The way she walked. She took short, tiny steps each time she walked, slowly lifting one leg after the other, a clear show of how cautious she was. All eyes were locked on her. She swayed her long, black braids towards one direction as they neatly fell on one side of her shoulder. All this time, her face was facing downwards as she walked, obvious of the attention she was attracting due to her flawless beauty. Cars and motorcycles drove past her as they hooted uncontrollably, all in attempt to capture her attention. Necks were strained in attempt to get a good glimpse of her. We, on the other hand, were totally brainwashed by her presence. It was as if someone switched off our brains and left us for zombies. Our eyes and mouths were wide open as we followed her walking along the road. We were lost for words. Even the Mpesa lady was keenly observing her: obviously not admiring her of course, but rather in total envy of how she stole the spotlight just like since she thought she was the only center of attraction in that area. As she walked, she lifted the brown dust from the ground, which was slowly carried away by the wind. The dust headed towards us and we quickly closed our eyes and blocked our noses to prevent it from being inhaled. Some, unfortunately, landed on my eyes and soon I was endlessly blinking while wiping my eyes with a handkerchief hoping to get rid of the dust from my eyes.
“Sema ID number,”
The lady spoke as she took a pen from one of the drawers located at her left.
I quickly looked back towards the lady. The dust finally came off my eyes. She had placed the book in which she recorded the customers’ details on the table, with a pen on her hand, waiting for me to tell her my Identity Card number. My mind was clogged at the moment. With images of the pretty lady fresh in my mind, I tried to pull out the memory of my identity card but it seemed they were thrown out of my brain and instead replaced with her images. I dug deep into my brain, trying as hard as I can to remember it. It was nowhere to be remembered. My very own ID number? How on earth can I forget it? I scratched my head as she gazed at me telling me to give it to her. I slid my hands into my pockets but the ID card wasn’t there so that at least I could check the number.
“Yani you mean you’ve forgotten your ID number?”
My friends looked at me in disbelief as they roared with laughter. I tried one more time to recall it but nothing came into my mind, except the descriptive pictures of the girl that had just passed. I was totally blank. Brainwashed if I may add. Everything else in my brain had mysteriously vanished. Do I even remember my own name I wondered?
I looked back and saw her again. Her short steps had eventually gotten her far. She was now some meters away, slowly disappearing as the road went downhill. The wind gracefully blowing her dress in one direction after the other as her braids were neatly resting on her back. She continued walking and eventually vanished from sight. I then remembered how she looked at me for some few seconds, gave me the ‘smile’ which showcased her perfectly arranged teeth. A ray of sunshine indeed.
The Mpesa lady kept insisting on me to give her my ID number or she would not give me the money. My hard-earned money. And there I was, trying as much as I can to remember. I was even unable to guess.