Parking is shit at Sheba Lounge. Well parking is shitty when it comes to most lounges. It’s shitty because everyone decides to take their automobiles out for a drink on the first weekend of a new month. After a couple of hiluxes, notes and demios there’s really nothing to write home about. We sat at a table by the balcony that overlooked the parking lot. On the right side of the parking lot there was a mall, on the left side sat many customized shops. He was in a greasy overall. He had all sort of spanners and a torque wrench that seemed to peep out of his pockets once in a while. He looked out of place but he was comfortable in his attire. His hands were rough and had contours. I’m usually the last person to have comments on fashion matters, cause I’m a lost cause when it comes to such shenanigans. His hair is unkempt. He’s turning 26 in a few months time. He puts on shoes that would easily equate him to a guy that hails from Githurai. He is a mechanic by profession. You don’t have to know what type of mechanic he is, judging from all the manner of tools that pop up once in a while from his pockets.
That aside, he carries around a notepad, a pen and a felt pen. Next to his notepad he sets out five black pebbles. His nails are quite short and clean for a man of his stature and profession. Our guy here is an environmental clean mechanic. He is in the process of tying the note with his long profound love.
The reason I decided to link up with him was because he earlier stated that he was too young to deal with some vagaries of life and he felt that it was time that he should focus on the betterment of himself and his future.
For us to be on the right track, we have to delve around situations that led to such an occurrence.
“I’m the firstborn in my family. Basically I come from the lower middle class echelon.” He says. He completed his O levels when he was fifteen years of age. He went to the U.K for further education on a scholarship for five more years to study automotive engineering. He came back home without an accent nor anything changed about him or his persona. He stayed for two months figuring what he could do before DT Dobie handed him a job. The money was good. He didn’t have too much responsibilities apart from taking care of his parents and siblings.
“If you’ve gotten to 25 and you’re not a parent to either your parents, siblings, or both, you need to sit down and thank God for that,” he says. It’s 1845hrs, with the summer solstice in place the evening shadow having an overcast. A plate of lamb steaks with ugali and kachumbari seats between us. He plays with food while I dig in. I have to sort the hunger pangs. What’s wrong with people who play with their food?
He says it’s hard out there for young men who try to make ends meet and keep their folks alive. Such stuff plays around with one’s mind. He says he hasn’t talked to his parents for a while. He doesn’t know how he’d face his mother or rather how to speak when his mother calls. He is quiet fond of her. Everyday he prays to God so that he can bless his mother’s soul. The last time his mother called was when she was checking up on him. He says the checking up always comes with a catch 2-2 situation. The conversation began in such a manner, “you don’t send me money like you used to.” But how can he tell her that he recently sent money to his sister, papa, small bro and the other small bro simultaneously without sounding arrogant?”
It’s crazy he says with all the hectic plans revolving around him. Sometimes back he lost close to three hundred grand. He didn’t know whom to call or talk to. I asked why he didn’t call his parents. He said that he couldn’t call them cause they would listen then they would say sorry and then they’d list the problems they had. At such moments he would feel fifty when he was only twenty five.
“When you hit the age of 21, you’re basically 21, till you reach 25. Then you live 25 for a whole year then basically you practically stay 30 until you reach 30.” He said. But he’s only a few months before he turns 26. He feels like that he’s lived his ancestors age all combined together.
Last month he almost hammered silly some nduthi guy who rammed into his ride. He thought he had killed him judging from the force of the impact. He didn’t call home. He got agitated and dealt with the guy physically when he learnt the nduthi guy was okay. After that he went home and locked himself up for a couple of days and switched off his phone. He felt like he was dead for days.
He says he’s not alone on such financial occurrences. By this time we were done with the lamb steaks and the ugali. He had ordered a double two fingers neat of whiskey while I did some organic juice. I was on medication which didn’t allow me to be on any type of alcoholic drinks. I must say organic drinks tastes like shit. No offence. Each to their own preference.
“Do you talk to your father?” I asked. “My pops called sometime back around two weeks ago, I thought he was calling to check on me, but instead he said he needed some cash. He didn’t ask how I was doing or if I needed any support. Be it physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. He didn’t want to know how I was fairing. Instead he said that they were building a sanctuary for the children back home so that the kids would have a place to have their Sunday school gist. “How much money you going to send?” He asked. I told him I had none at that time. He didn’t seem pleased from the sound of his voice. instead he said if I got any I should send him.
“So how do you cope with the fairer sex?” I asked. At times I like to be intrusive. Just like the organic drink that was keen on probing my innards on what copious amounts of liquor I had taken in the last two months.
“Women think I’m deep, cause I no longer go out nor party that much as I used to. They say that I’ve matured cause I’m always talking about my ambitions and dreams and that I demand the same from them.” He says. The younger women who would correlate with him think he’s a tad too serious. He doesn’t blame them any more.
“Why?” I asked.
“They are (rightfully) thinking about the next pool party, all white party, and other vagaries. When they’re worried about that, I’m worried about how many lives I carry in my hands. Knowing that a wrong move would screw me all the way from Jo’burg to Timbuktu.” He says. It’s not the same train of thought I board in the subway as them. He wishes that parents would generally change their perspectives. He understands that parents are supposed to be helped when they hit a certain age in the African context. He requests that also parents should also try harder but not burden their kids with broken dreams that didn’t work out for them.
“The coastal city isn’t that all rosy as opposed to what our parents think. Have you ever cried to sleep, yet you’re a man? When you think what have your parents eaten back home while you’re busy chopping your money on some Wanjiku, Wanjiru, Nanjalla and Agrippa? Is mama okay?” He goes on. He doesn’t have a “me” persona in his vocabulary. Instead he worries too much about the family that made him reach there.
It’s really heartbreaking when you have to think that there are other people depending on you. The little extra cash you would have wouldn’t be self sustaining. Events and circumstances would occur leading to you sending out that money. It’s a pity on his side cause he thinks when he would lack money also other people from his close side would suffer too. There’s that voice at the back of his head which always ask, “what about him?” It nags his conscience like a religious person who hasn’t gone on a pilgrimage in his entire lifetime.
“What’s your greatest fear?” I ask him. He says that his greatest fear is that being the strongest person in the family, he sits down and wonders of when the cookie decides to crumble and his hustle hits rock bottom. What next? Whom would he ask money from? It always messes up his mind when he thinks of such. It makes him insecure. He has tried a couple of times to sit down with his folks and try to talk to them on what ails him. At times he thinks perhaps all is happening to him because he has never said no to them nor explain the dire situations that plague him. They expect too much of him and often he feels like a disappointment to them.
I told him; the guy in the greasy overall, that his folks/family would continue surviving the same way they used to before he got a job. If he helps let him help under his own volition and let him not feel that he is pushed. Otherwise they’d get more lazier. It won’t hurt if he sets a monthly amount no matter what happens to them.
It’s 2132hrs. I won’t do an organic juice anymore. Not in this lifetime nor the next. At times it’s good to take a break and drink water.