This is the story I recounted to someone recently.
A lifetime ago, I was just a normal village girl. I enjoyed planned trips to the city and as you all know, I still miss the simple days. One of such days is a trip to the city. In this case, the city was always Nairobi. Everything that required buying was always in Nairobi, including building materials, nice clothes and shoes.
A week before the week before Christmas, my mother would make an announcement that we would go to the city to find us a dress for the season. Make no mistake, one of the most important thing that happened during the season is the promise of a new dress, or new shoes. New dress was preferable because it was more flashy and shoes could come at any time of the year, or could be replaced with school shoes if need be. Needless to say, that week leading to the great trip was a very exciting one, albeit a long one.
Then comes the eve of the trip. My mother makes a point of reminding me that we need to leave early, seeing as we needed to get to the city early enough to allow for shopping and then get home. In those days, the roads were not actually very well tarmaced so a journey that would normally take 45 minutes would take close to two hours, not forgetting public transport is exactly that. Public. This means that there was provision for a few stops here and there, to collect people, refuel, buy roadside snacks (mostly bananas) and bathroom breaks.
Once the announcement has been made, I am now completely sure that the trip was going to take place. This then becomes the longest night of my life. First, I pick last year’s dress, place it nicely on the ironing table, pick out the ribbon of the day, and shoes (hopefully Sunday best but school shoes would do). Now, I undo the matutas (large african hair braids) that I have been holding for the past two weeks. This makes the daunting task of combing out my hair in the morning much bearable, and the threats of being left less threatening. Then after the hearty evening meal and talking about the plans, its time to go to bed. Early tonight because we do not want to be late getting up.
Then the nightmare begins. First, the tossing and turning is mind numbing. I would wake up four times on this night, checking the time or suddenly visiting the bathroom more times than normal. The excitement is too much and I do not catch much of sleep. Then thankfully, my mother’s voice arouses me just when I was dosing off for the fifth time. “Wanjiku, its time to get up! Do you want us to be late? We need to catch Mutheru’s matatu”. This was the old man who was known to be the earliest in the town and if you missed his matatu, then you would definitely be late getting to the city. Plus, it was amongst the cleanest and relatively fast ones (think 65Km/Ph).
I jump out of bed, and while normally I would insist that my mother warms my water for me, I go for the cold shower. You do not want to upset mother on such an important day, in case she decides that she probably has a pretty good idea of your size, having borne and brought you up and she can use this knowledge to get you the correct dress size. Now that would suck! After the chilly shower, all oiled, hair combed and dressed up, its time to gulp down the tea. I will chose, on this day, not to have any bread since I cannot afford to spoil my appetite for what is to come – the city food!
Then, we are out of the house, and into Mutheru’s matatu, which luckily has space for seven more people. Don’t feel bad for us, on this day, many people will be traveling to the city, so we do not have long to wait. One hour later, the matatu is all packed full of pass angers and off we go!
Tune in for Part 2. The Journey Begins.