B for Base.

Base/Maskani/Kitaa – It’s a designated area in a hood, estate or ghetto where a group of men or boys converge and sit to have a talk. Talks can vary from normal banter and drag all the way to vices ailing our society. A few of the talks would wander and might be centered on girls or women.  To the eyes of an outsider, one would deem the crew converged as idle, lazy humans who’d prefer to pass time by chewing cud or indulge in other drug related vices. Good kids would be warned not to join the bad company. They’re always viewed and judged harshly in accordance to their haphazardly laid back relaxed manner. Every good parent would frequently tell their kids not to join them. It’s understandable.

The guys who frequent the maskanis don’t share the same views. They see it as a way to pass and kill time . Everyday is always a good day for them. It would take a huge miracle for one to try and convince the base members that staying/sitting at the base every evening is bad for their health. The daughters of Eve often dread passing by near because of the ogling, cat calls and weird whistle noises that comes out from them. They’d find comfort of talking an alternative route or a detour rather than use the road that passes through the base.

It’s a common occurrence that when a lady passes near, all the conversation would go mute in unison as every pupil, iris and cornea would be scrutinizing. The lady would feel  like all eyes are staring at her. The bold ones would stop turn around and ask why they had gone mum. The talks would resume after she’s gone. They’d discuss her like a trending topic and forget her quickly lie the way we do forget the corrupt scandals plaguing our nation.

Focused guys know that kitaa/maskani/base is not the place to be.  They normally view it as a contaminated spot for losers. A base could range from that mutura/mahindi/mshakiki choma joint, muguka parlor, keg joint, outside a shop or a grocery store. It is said that if you want to have the best, one should never sit at the base. Some never even frequent nor pass near it. Both genders have learnt the art of shunning it completely.

There’s a ka-base a court away from home that is near the grocery store I frequent. I usually take the high route and only use the base route if it’s a necessity. I was walking leisurely back home after I had purchased some groceries and daily dosage of pudding, when a lanky tall dude called me,

Mjamaa, buda toklezea to dakika jamo. (you guy, would you come for a minute?)” He shouted. He was rather loud.

It felt weird but I heeded his call. My discomfort came from the fact that I was purely hungry and that delayed my time. The guy who had called me was some guy I knew just by facial recognition. I didn’t entirely know his name but he always said Hello or niajeHe had wanted me to help him configure some graphical settings on his laptop.  As I was sorting him out. I got to hear their talks and topics. They got into some addictive conversation. It made me understand why some would still frequent the base over and over again. The guy who called me was called Petero. He had an Afro-kinky hairdo and a twig of veve always stuck out of his mouth.

Then there was Ops. His full name was Opio. His eyes were glued to the huge screen of his phone. He was playing Clash of Clans on his phone. He was sulking after his clan lost by a mere one trophy. Frank provided a lively entertainment. He played coastal music, occasionally merging it with some reggae music which blared out from a Bluetooth speaker. Frank and Opio mostly talked about tech. Petero, Biko, Khalid, Imran and Makori’s talks centered mostly on betting and current economical issues. Time was the most delusional thing. “Nataka nishinde megajackpot pia mimi niishi maisha fiti. (I want to win the mega jackpot so that I’d be able to live a grand lifestyle” Adam said. The whole crew burst into laughter. His facial expression was dead pan serious.

I learnt that every base had a philosopher, joker and a guy who lived in the past shadow of his former self. Mufasa was the joker of the group. He was a teacher, he cracked jokes in order to relieve from stress levels accumulated after a long day in school. Tall was a first year student who didn’t prefer being in school and thought he’d get a job immediately after he finishes. Chris appeared anxious and his eyes were wide awake. I talked to him for a while and he said that his probation at the Aga Khan hospital would soon be over. He doesn’t know whether to be happy or how to react. It’s the first major milestone, he feels that would brinmg sense to his life. He has a wife and a one year old child. He goes to the base because its the only place he knows he can comfortably stay for a while without being bothered or nagged by his wife or child wailing. He seems sleep deprived.

I got up and left after I was done with the configurations.

The base has lots of characters. Some are there out of ignorance, others out of their own volition, others for their own amusement and to wind up. Some are there because the base is their only solace and vagaries of life has put them there.

Eventually they learnt a new alphabetical letter.

B for Base.

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