In my twisted mind, I wish she falls.
She walks in front of me in Nairobi CBD in the highest heeled shoes I have ever seen. They are sharp and make a clicking sound with every step she takes, this stilettos. She wears an expensive looking gray skirt suit that go well with the shiny black heels. On her left elbow a nice bag hangs and on the other hand, she holds a small metallic thermos flask. Her hair rests gracefully on her shoulders and is suspiciously too smooth and long to be her natural hair.
The morning sun shines upon my face viciously and I feel a drop of sweat running down my armpit. It’s ticklish and resist the urge to laugh. I wipe it off subtly before it reaches my waist.
Madam in front of me struggles to balance occasionally when her heels get caught between the pavement’s cracks. One time, she stumbles to a near fall and my reflexes kick in. I dash forward to assist her but she regains her balance. I retreat and luckily she doesn’t see me.
I keep checking on my phone in my pocket because Nairobi is full of talent. Like magicians who make your phone disappear from your pocket only for them to sell it to you a few blocks down later at an offensively lower price.
Pssst, Champe, Niaje. Kam ucheki mali. The magician will whisper as you walk down a dingy street.
Si leo. You will say as you look forward because your mother – before giving you permission to go to town the first time when you were 14 – said that town was the most insecure place on earth. She said your levels of alertness should be as high as humanly possible, and since then, you’re perception of CBD has been a post-apocalyptic wasteland where it’s kill or be killed.
Buda, ni S8 oriji. 12k pekee.
This will pick your interest and you will hesitantly and rigidly turn your neck and look at the said S8. And it will be true, the phone you truly love will be in front of you at the lowest price you’ll ever imagine. The glance reveals that it’s on and freshly stolen.
You ignore him and walk straight ahead because of what mother told you as a child.
A few paces down the road, you’ll think about that phone and wonder how the owner might be feeling.
If the owner was a girl, like the one in front of me, she won’t realize her phone is missing until when she will be seated in a matatu on her way home. You see she had planned to listen to the new Janelle Monae album her friend told her about. So in the mat, she’ll find a nice spot next to a window and wait for it fill up and start moving because her mild OCD doesn’t allow her to start listening to music before vehicles start moving.
When it finally sets off, she’ll dig deep into her bag and get her white entangled earphones and place them on her laps. Then she’ll dig around for the phone like she always does.
She’ll dig and dig. Toss around a few items – lip balms, lipsticks and wet wipes. She’ll open the small pockets where she keeps her coins knowing well her phone can’t be there because losing a phone makes you insane and you look for it in the dumbest of places.
She will grow frantic. Her heart will start to beat faster and drops of sweat will tickle her too, only that for her, they won’t be funny. She will fumble in her seat, lifting her bag to check underneath it and standing up to see whether there’s a chance she sat on it although deep down she knows it was in her bag – as I said, insanity.
Uneasy and confused, she will start to suspect her neighbour – a man with a jacket that smells like cigarettes. She will throw a few glances at the man thinking of how to approach him. He’ll realize this and ask, Madam, kuna shida yoyote?
Eeeeeh, nimepoteza simu. Unaeza simama niangalie hapo?
He will stand and she’ll frantically check the seat and its environs.
Uko sure ulikuwa nayo ukipanda? The man will ask as if he’s seen this situation a lot.
Eeeeeh. She will say because she’s in denial but will take some time and think about it.
She will trace back her steps for the day. Where she ate. The table she sat at. Which offices she visited at work. And the last moment she used her phone.
She last used it to text her boyfriend to buy maziwa on his way home. That was on her way to the stage. And then it will all come back to her and she’ll see it all so clearly.
First of all, it was downtown, where the city hustlers are. Taking out her phone alone had attracted a dozen magicians. And since she wasn’t wary, she just dropped it in her open bag and walked on, all the while a lucky magician trailing her, planning to make yet another one disappear.
After sulking the whole night, she will pick herself up in the morning and head to work in her longest heels only to be followed by yet another creep. A creep that doesn’t want to steal from her but wishes she would lose her balance and fall because the truth is that no one wants you to prosper in this town. It really is kill or be killed.