THE PAIN OF A CITY DWELLER
When I felt the need to move out of my old man’s place, I did it though accompanied by untold opposition. The reasons would be better defined by mututho. I even started looking myself as a politician. With all the opposition and obstacles and still managing to come out clear, it was awesome. Only 210 politicians out of thousands accomplish that feat every five years, unless stated otherwise by even more smarter politician accompanied by a lying lawyer. Looks like a lying tag team. Moving out when you are a college student has numerous problems. The first and mother of all the others is that you are demoted from being a city resident to a city dweller. These are two completely different people.
I moved out in to an 8 by 4 cave situated at the 8th floor of a flat. I thought that every flat which exceeds five floors must have a lift but that is a pipe dream here. Every day I have to content walking up those stairs, by the time I insert the key in to the lock, I feel like Armstrong when he conquered Everest. This is no small feat. For one you must get a considerable rest before embarking on any activity of the night. The corridor is littered with kids who make ear-splitting noises you wonder where they get all the energy from. After a rest you wake to a reality that the communal taps are dry. This is a disaster and you have only two options. The first one applies if you are lazy bones like me. Burry your head in the sand……sorry blankets like the proverbial ostrich (excuse the cliché) and wait till the next day with the hope that the caretaker will release the water. That is if he deems it right to do so. Economic professors would find this environment very satisfying. The second option is that you grab your jericans and go to a communal watering tap the next plot where the queue resembles the one in equity bank during end month. If you choose this and you are living on the 8th floor like me, you are doomed. You will use the water to wash out high amount of sweat acquired during the climb.
Something I find amusing is that come Sundays, you don’t have to visit a church to attend any service. The churches in the neighborhood are enough to feed you spiritually dawn to dusk at the comfort of your bed. Your ears must be sharp enough to stick to one or else you will confuse yourself. They wake you up at dawn while it’s still dark with messages of apocalypse. The first time I heard it I shot out of bed imagining that the Armageddon was here when I was so unprepared. I nearly jumped out of my skin imagining the worst. Now I know better. I always say a silent prayer; NEMA should one day pounce on them unawares and give back to me what’s mine. A good Sunday peaceful sleep.
Once you become a city dweller ,privacy is a thing of the past. Other than sharing the washrooms with your neighbors, you share stories, cockroaches, rats and any other vermin able to slip through thin slits. Through the walls you are able to eavesdrop to the bickering of a drunken husband and a philandering wife. You do it unwillingly because you cannot help it but it has advantages. It is better than the late night breakfast shows which you are forced to listen in the morning aboard a matatu. This is always real and uncensored. You are able to know the husband who abuses his wife and the wife who punishes her husband by kicks, blows and slaps. The dramas are never ending. Recently I was woken up by a loud commotion outside. On further investigations I found out my fat neighbor who never misses a church service and is always humming a hymn (I can differentiate a hymn and a rock song) was being accused of husband snatching by equally big boned woman. They were in the verge of clawing each other were it not for the quick action of party pooping idiots. This type of drama always elicits many rumors and you hear them via the walls. Nocturnal activities are always free for listening. You can learn different sounds made in different positions which is highly uncomfortable when you are used to cold nights in the self confused room.
The rooms are always under the control of the land lord. And they are always mean and selfish. Failing to pay rent in the stipulated time puts you in the risk of finding a massive padlock on your door or the key hole super-glued. In many plots, dwellers do not pay electricity bill which in itself is a disadvantage. Sometimes he fails to pay the bill in time rendering the whole plot lightless. This mainly happens during the end of the month when he is collecting rent. High power consuming electrical appliances are strictly prohibited. By this I mean a water heater or a iron. Immediately you plug one on the socket. A black out occurs on the whole plot. The land lord has installed circuit breakers to check on this. It is a matter of high level economics. The main switch is switched off during the day and on during the night expect on weekends and gazzeted public holidays. Where you happen to be lucky to pay your own electricity bills, you share the meter with the next door neighbor, so you split the fees by half. Woe unto you if your neighbor is the kind that spends the whole day in the house watching oga movies and ironing vitenge. You always pay extra and you cannot complain.
You do not determine your hours of sleep. Your neighbors do. You sleep late due to the next door lady who plays mugithi till late in the night. The moment you tell her to lower the volume she tells you proudly that she is paying rent just as you. Blaring reggae scares you off the bed before dawn. This is from a self proclaimed Rasta who could not sleep because you cannot chew miraa and the same time close your eyes.
If you are a city dweller, you have a long way to go in terms of good life.