Jacked Up Stranger: The Meet
Sitting in a matatu has to be the most stressful thing of this lifetime. I’m not only talking about finding the perfect seat. It begins with the matatu itself.
It needs certain levels of perfection that need to be quickly assessed.
Are the seats well spaced or will I reach my destination with cramped feet?
Does it look roadworthy or will it disrupt your schedule by breaking down somewhere in no man’s land where you can’t get another means of transportation?
This assessment is done in the three seconds you have as the matatu glides magestically past. One wrong move and you either let the perfect one go past you or you get into one with seats that have seen so much of the world all they know to do is dig into the next human that sits on them.
Then there is the issue of the sun. Oh God’s greatest candle. Usually I consciously check on the sun and map out the journey in my head so as to get the least amount of time on ray exposure. Those sun-filled seats always seem to have some sort of heat intensifier.
After this, it is paramount that you find somewhere with the minimumest (read most minimum) physical contact with other humans – this being the window seat. Bonus point: you get to look out the window and imagine yourself in Katy Perry’s music videos.
The isle seat kills me. All these people rubbing their hips on your shoulder. Bony hips. Drumstick-y hips. Thigh-like hips. So many hips!
Also, this perfect seat needs not be at the back, because in these Rongai matatus the journey from the rear to the door could literally kill you. PS – I wobble so much in those nganyas it’s always embarrasing. Straight up social suicide.
After the assessment, if you can, put on the meanest face you can.
Bring your eyebrows together, purse your lips, enlarge your nose holes. Do everything to make you look mean. This is to scare potential weirdos from sitting next to you.
If you come into the matatu late and all perfect seats are taken, I recommend sitting next to friendly-looking people who look like they know the value of minding their own business. Never sit next to someone trying hard to enlarge their nostrils. Never!
I had done the whole analysis on a matatu that I had my eye on. All window seats at the front to the waist were taken so I had to do the next logical thing. Look at people’s noses to see whose looked enlarged.
In my quest I see a nice looking young woman, University age. No luggage so I will not be forced to carry her cross. No scowl on the face. Knows how to sit (guys always have one leg on your side so you have the hour long journey with some random dude’s knee rubbing against you).
I say hi. Or hello. Good manners dictates you greet people. Even mean people soften their hearts a little bit when you begin with a hello. Wish someone had said hello to Hitler.
Take out my phone and type in Bikozulu on the Google strip-like thing. I’ve been reading from the present posts going back. I’m somewhere in 2015 posts right now.
This stranger is looking at what I’m reading. I can sense her shifting her eyes to the left but leaving her face facing forward just in case I catch her spying. I intentionally read the post much faster and I see her frustration and she stops spying. But then I feel bad for doing that so I too stop reading the post and look out the window.
“Is that your blog?” Stranger asks.
Pfffft. Yeah it is.
“Oh this? Haha, no. I wish.”
“A friend’s?” She prodes.
Yeah, Biko and I are amazing buddies. He wishes me journey mercies each time I travel to Ronga.
“No. I’ve never met him. I’m just a fan.”
“Oh,” she says and looks out the window.
Now I’m disappointed. This is a chance to add one more click to my own blog. Or even learn. She might have been a professional writer undercover looking for amateurs so she could train the to be super writers with codenames working for an elite agency that has branches all over the universe.
“I have a blog though,” I blurt out before I can stop myself. Can’t waste my chance to go to write-spy school. She seems interested so I leave Bikozulu and find this blog.
She reads ‘Coasto’ and says I write well. Well. My qualification to be a write-spy is well. I start thinking of codenames now. I’ve made it!
I laugh at the second one. It sounds like a water spot that is haunted by a corrupted mind that gives children goat nightmares.
“Why did you laugh?” She asks.
Nothing. I’m just hilarious in my head.
“Nothing,” I reply.
She takes her phone, it’s an iPhone. Someone once told me you never call an iPhone a phone. So she takes out her iPhone X (I hope you are proud of me wherever you are). She touches it randomly like a pedophile who knows not what they are doing then finally gives it to me with the dial pad on the screen.
Instictively, my fingers begin putting in my phone number and since I don’t know how to use it, I return the iPhone to her.
“Mirriam,” I say, trying to sound like I could have saved it myself but these little jobs are things I prefer others to do.
She still saves it wrong. Miram or something.
“I’ll text you, Mirriam.”
How does one say the correct thing and type the exact opposite?
Fast forward to night time. I am at home having a wonderful time listening to Simi’s album Simisola when my phone pings.
/Hey Miram. I’m blocking your contact by midnight./
\Uhm, alright. But why did you even bother saving it then?\
/To be polite./
Points for her politeness just went low on my scale.
/You still therr/
\Yes. What’s up\
I decide to make hay while the sun shines. Learn as much as I can from this mystery matatu girl.
She says she needs to talk to someone. A person who wouldn’t judge because they wouldn’t know her. I didn’t get her logic. Don’t strangers to us judge us more than people we know?
She tells me the story of a man she was is love with. She called him “Jerk” but we’ll read it as Jack.
Tip: For every Jack, insert Jerk
She and Jack met online. Not on those dating apps, no. She doesnt do dating apps. They met on WhatsApp.
One time, in her crazy bout of insomnia she was scrolling through the app, looking at people’s profile photos when a text “entered”. It was a group.
I ask which group and she says she can’t tell me. He might end up reading this and know.
/and new rule miram no more questions/
Oh I like her. Despite her lack of punctuation.
She clicked on the group and saw that Jack had asked if anyone was awake. As if he was looking for a heart to break. His next victim.
She had not saved Jack’s number yet so she went to the group’s participants section and searched for him. I ask why.
/to see his pic of course and know if he was cute/
He was cute. He played a sport too. She says his profile picture showed him in games kits. She however refused to tell me what game it was.
/he might know/
Now I think she is either giving this Jack too much credit or the extra credit is for my underperforming blog.
They sent four texts in that group.
She: /I’m up/
He: \You up early or late?\
She: /haven’t slept yet/
He: \Damn, sucks to be you\
Then he had invaded her inbox. It was 3.27am. They had talked all through the darkness and well into the morning. All texts replied fast. All parts of her texts covered. She felt she had found her Jesus. He came at a time no one knew and on a day no one expected. And at a time she had needed someone the most.
She gets vague in the details but she had also said no questions.
No questions yet I had so many. I look at the time. 11:55.
\Yeah. What did Jack do?\
/Jerk? I’ll tell you some other time/
\Do you love him\
/Probably, but I don’t know. Love is a strange thing, sometimes I think it’s bigger than just an emotion/
\Do you or don’t you?\
I didn’t post yesterday because I have been waiting on that second tick.