At this point in life, I have decided, I will try my best not to drive another man’s car. Well I had already made my mind in regards to people’s cars with my dad’s car. I never touch that. The last time I drove it I was under so much duress I stalled twice on the rumble strips near Kirinyaga University. Matatus hooting all over and getting those mad eyes from the other road users. Including motorbike riders. My other attempts to drive even the company assigned cars has been met by awkward occurrences that just end up building walls between me and the cars in question. I think it is the world trying to save me from myself. When I get this paranoid, it affect me so much and it is converted to driving fears where we do not want to go. As I grow older, I have noticed I have become one impatient brat. Thought the childish factor is not existent. But wait, impatience in itself has aspects of immaturity or the other way round. Nevertheless, they are related. So on that impatience note, my dream car is almost coming around – The Forester is almost home, but the urge to drive is growing every day. Am I allowed to blame the devil for this? Somehow life shows you that you really have a genuine need. But there was a need by the way… I am not sure. At some point, I got really, really impatient & decided to hire a car.
When you are doing something wrong and random, the brain works against you in the perfect scenarios. It is like a bad virus. How your leukocytes will be on the invaders like there is nothing else to live for. The inner person will be tugging your shirt and shouting: “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Don’t Do it!” When you get that voice you better listen! & walk the other way for that matter. When you go against that voice. It ends up saying “You are on your own now!” & that is how my reasoning ability stalled. The other things that bring about this impaired reasoning ability are extreme emotions: anger, joy, excitement, anxiety and rare physical cases like when you are pressed by a call of nature – a bad one. My urge to drive was manifesting itself like a bad call of nature – the diarrhoea kind. So I needed a car & to do what? I mentioned that ka-immaturity up there. I was anticipating my retirement benefits that week & I have accumulated a ton of debt my two couches and a bed is almost getting auctioned. So in anticipation for this, I wanted to have a ‘convenient’ means of paying my debts in a secure way. I wanted to do it James Bond Style. Money from ‘my car’ etc etc… a man can dream. But I think the only reason I wanted to have a car was just to feel how it would be like to have a car, you know. Crisis & pressure I think. I don’t even know where the idea came from.
In the excitement of this evil urge, I over-looked many details. For instance, all my friends who have car hire businesses. I decided to go for a stranger at that last moment. Where did I find him? Online. This was a dumb move. At this point, I want to confirm I was very sober, not under the influence of any drug or any substance that might have compromised my thinking capacity. But yes. I went to Google, searched car hire services within Lang’ata and voila, I was browsing the websites listed. One was attractive enough and was not too complicated. I knew this was the place to find a nice car for local running. I liked a RunX that was on the opening banner on the website and that was the perfect one for me at this point. I called the numbers that appeared and the call was picked on the fourth ring. The guy was nice enough to bring the car around. I was at Wilson and had just come from a joyride flight to Amboseli. So you can imagine the excitement. I had already pictured how I would buy my cabbages for that evening from mama mboga from inside the car.
He gave me a mini lecture on how this is Nairobi and how cons are all over. So I told him, to bring the car around to Wilson, public enough and even has a police station to top it up. We agreed to meet outside the Airport Police station. He arrived just as the sun was setting. I introduced myself and we talked for a while. Vetting of course. After the nice to know and meet you talk I inspected the car. I may not be good with driving but I know my way around engines, be it tanks, planes, cars and other fancy fancy mechanical things. He asked me where I worked and I told him I am a Pilot. A Student pilot, I clarified. Then he asked for my documents. I had the three documents that they had listed on the website. I had my Identity card, my driving License and my Student Pilot License. I also had other documents with me but they were not necessary at this point. I mean, he just needed three.
He scrutinized my Identity card a little bit too much. My national ID card is badly mutilated. It still has the staple holes that had been imprinted on it over the years since 2008 as my card was, moving desks in different departments in my former work place. So my guy Onkwani, was looking at this card and comparing it with my Flying License and my Driving license. I took my driving license in 09 and back then I was a nice obedient disciplined private who always shaved his hair bald. Wait. Back then you only had to sit at the barracks barber shop and before you knew it he had already made a tunnel back to forehead through your head to the skin. So the guy in the driving license could not be the same guy in the Flying License which I took in 2015 – trending an afro. Onkwani asked me why my ID card looked fake. I told him it’s not fake and told him it’s a former job where the card had to be fixed to a file for safety purposes. The guy was fluent, but still had that Kisii accent.
“Unakaa tu criminal mbaya wewe!”
“Apana, mimi ni kijana mzuri, tena sana!”
“Mbona siamini hii Kitambulisho yako?”
“Hii kitambulisho inakaa ni kama imepititia Jela wewe”
So I had to tell him to cure his curiosity and calm his suspicion.
“Nilikuwa Askari na kitambulisho ikichukuliwa wanaistapple hivo kwa file”
“Wewe wacha bana! Kijana Mdogo hivi askari wa wapi?”
He picked my driving license again and took his time on it. It was getting darker and he was straining to see. The Parapet parking lot was deserted and only a few planes were doing circuits at the airside. So we were just the two of us.
“Unajua hii ni Nairobi lazima watu wakuwe ready.”
Clearly, I looked nothing like the bald head in that driving license picture. He noticed it was getting dark and he filled a form with my details, asked me to give him three contacts and how we are related so that in case I went to Tanzania and stripped the car, he would know how to find me. So I gave my friends numbers. Destination – Within Nairobi. My first idea was to drive to Kerugoya. Then I decided that was a bad idea.
“Hauna ya bibi?” “Huyo ndio angekuwa mzuri, lakini ni sawa nitakupata tu ukitoroka.”
“Apana, Bado sijapata”
After all was done, I paid Ksh 10,000/- and told him I would return the car after the agreed time. I asked where his offices were and he said he has several branches. Rongai, Langata, Karen and within the city center. As to where specifically, he just said when I need him, I call him he would appear, or he would send someone.
First intended stop was Rongai. To Young’s. We had to toast this endeavour. I had checked off hire a car off my to-do list. Or so I thought. Car was nice, handled smooth, had a nice system & even had a line in audio cord. Traffic was heavy on Langata road but it was flowing. At the time I was reading, rather listening to Amy Poehler’s ‘Yes Please’. I connected my phone, and played the audio book. Amy’s voice filled the car in a perfect surround that felt like I was in a concert hall listening to a performer on stage. The tank was full, so there was nothing to worry about in terms of fuel. All I needed to do was get to Rongai, say hi to my friend and show off my new car and then get back home later in the evening. Traffic from Catholic University was heavy but I wasn’t complaining. I was comfortable, in ‘my RunX’ and listening to a book. A few minutes later a friend of mine called me but it had not clicked in my mind. I answered and her voice came live.
“Hi Chris, do you know someone by the name James?”
“Several, but you have to be particular, why? What’s up?
“A guy called James just called me and asked me if I know Chris Gachau and if he has a wife.”
“That is weird!” “What!”
My brain was already perusing through my phone book, recent chats on whatsapp, twitter DMs, Facebook inbox, Text messages and Google Hangouts. No. Couldn’t be… Haven’t had any suspicious conversations with anyone’s wife. The lady who called also is a lady I am very close to. So I am also thinking why would a guy call a lady friend of mine to ask if I have a wife. But this one knows my issues so maybe he asked a different question.
“Are you sure that is what he asked!?” “He did not ask if you are my wife?”
“NKT!!! You are such a cow! He stated the question just as I told you!”
“Okay, send me the number and I will check it out.”
“Fine I will. But you are okay?”
“Yes I am”
“Am I on speaker?”
“eeerrr, kinda, but I am alone”
“You are such an ass! Bye!”
There was no time to explain the whole driving ‘My RunX’ audiobook on speaker thing to her. If she was not too pissed about the whole being on speaker thing, she would be sending the number in a short while. Maybe I should take her on an out of town lunch in “My RunX”. She sent the number. Traffic was not moving and I could hold my phone comfortably. Ran the number though true caller and it registered as James Onkwani. Aaaahhhh, the car hire guy. Probably still carrying on with his vetting. He never believed I didn’t have a wife it seemed. It would have been stupid for me to say I did not have one and then put my wife’s number there. I suspected she asked her if she was my wife. While still in traffic I decided to do a little vetting of my own and searched for the guy online. I learnt a few things and I was contented. Genuine guy he seemed. Was back to my book and staring at the taillights of the vehicles ahead of me as well as the drama with all the overlapping busses. Several cutting in when I least expected.
A few meters from the Multimedia University, I received a call from ‘My guy’ Onkwani. His Kisii accent was just on point, made me smile every time I saw his call.
“Weee, Maina, uko wapi?”
“Nikooo, Karibu na Multimedia, naenda Rongai.”
“Na si uliniambia unaishi Umoja?”
“Yes, Umoja ndio naishi, kuna kitu nachukua Rongai alafu nirudi.” “Iko maneno?”
“Sawa, wacha tu nitakupigia baadae.”
Then he hang up. Enter Amy Poehler’s voice again. She had just started the chapter on ‘Treating Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend’.