Nairobi is the mistress that is never satisfied. Give her everything she wants but she still wants more. Digs deeper into your pocket with every passing day. She takes and takes and takes some more. No she doesn’t give back, unless you consider picking up 20/- on the street giving back. She is a temptress. I have had my fair share of her temptations. She knows how to lure you in, pulling all the right strings. Money is one of those strings.
I remember the first time it happened I was walking down Koinange Street after rehearsals. It was around 3pm if my memory serves me right and must have been heading back for my afternoon class. He had a turban and I was busy untangling my earphones when he spoke in a soft tone. “Umeona hiyo?” This was after he pretended to have collected an envelope. It was not the high school kind that only cost 3/- but the fancy-ish kind. Those that have some sort of clear paper on one side where you see the typed out addresses. Not the scribbling on ones we are used to. Through that clear paper you could see a thousand shilling note. The envelope looked like it was stacked with a bunch of notes. So I asked him ‘nini?’ He flashed the envelope and said that he had just picked it on the street and would like to split what was in it with me. My earphones were ready for work, so I just said no thanks and kept walking. I had only heard of such incidences but this was my first experience.
My second experience was one around Kenyatta Avenue as I walked towards GPO around 10am. Past the 680 Hotel just near the Equity bank. Well this guy was not subtle. If anything he was too obvious. He walked right past me and dropped the envelope just infront of me. I am guessing with the hopes that I would pick it and give it to him or call out to him. Well never trust anyone in these streets. Knowing that and given how he suddenly slowed down after that I knew too well not to pay it any mind. I walked over it. He ran back behind me to pick the envelope very fast probably afraid he’d loose the one real note in it.
Now, the third one was very clever and early. It was 6.15am. I was walking past where the old Nakumatt Downtown used to be before it burned to the ground. I was replying to a text when I noticed that my hands were dry. I put my phone in my pocket and tried to reach for some Vaseline that was in one of the tiny pockets of my bag. I couldn’t. So I removed the left shoulder strap of my back pack so that I could swing it to my right. Just at that moment when I was looking back and right at the ground, he picks the envelope. For a second I thought I had dropped it. I scooped some Vaseline with a finger and wore back my shoulder strap, kept walking. I had my earphones on and I could see him trying to really get my attention. I kept walking and he followed walking just a step behind on my right side. He gave up just as I crossed the road towards the CBA bank. I really wanted to see how far he’d go. Guess he wasn’t that patient.
It was at that point I realized that this guys do this all day. It’s a job. Someone was somewhere asleep this guy was chasing his dream. Not sure what it was but hey, I think we all dream.
Nairobi knows the buttons to push, the potential ‘clients’ and where to try. She is well aware that some don’t bite but that doesn’t give up. All she has to do it try. She has nothing to loose.