Twende

Call me Tony, because chances are you’d spell my name wrong: Antony instead of Anthony. It’s always the “H” that suffers as a silent partner.

My job involves motion and mathematics and more patience than I subscribed for. I report to work at 4am and leave at 9pm. On Fridays and Saturdays I leave at midnight only to return to my bedsitter at 1am and wake up at 4am. If there is one thing I seek, it’s an eight hour sleep, but we both know that for as long as I work here, that will never happen.

Call me Tony. I’m a Tout.

I am the man who shouts the route the matatu is going. The one who signals the driver to stop when you want to alight or board. Sometimes, I am known to whistle, shout or hit the side of the bus- anything to get the driver’s attention over the loud music.

I am the one who takes your money, and gives you change without complaining when you shout “Weh! Change!” or say how stupid touts are.

I have never missed a day of work because in this city, you have to earn your pay, and no matter what you do- we are all in the chase. Some get there easier like Politicians buying soap for thousands, or setting up Facebook pages for a million shillings. At the end of the day, it’s all about the money and am on my feet from four in the morning to nine in the night getting it- and it’s still not enough to get me what I desire.

So, here’s the deal, imagine always picking up this fly mama at a certain stage every weekday, and she always smiles at you when she walks in and looks you in the eye when she hands you the fare, and you start wondering, would she be into a guy like me?

It’s like looking at the bumper sticker on the vehicle in front of you in a traffic jam. It won’t move no matter how much you will it to, not unless the traffic police clear the lane. This lady is always at the stage at 5am waiting for the matatu. She smells like clean sheets, like those that have been washed in sunlight and left to dry then ironed to perfection just for you. The kind of sheets that summon you to sleep. If you saw her and then saw me, you’d laugh like Mike. He’s the driver who knows I have it for the lady, big time! When we approach the stage he shouts “Tosh! Mbona husemi twende ukifika hapa?”

She always smiles at me and I have never stopped smiling back, and a man needs motivation in life, but waking up at 4am just to pick her up is enough to get me going for now. It’s this life, twende!

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