I was fired the next day for misconduct during work hours, drinking and driving, drinking and driving a client, endangering lives of two adults over ignorance and was referred to see a police commissioner to avert possibility of rotting in jail. My boss had received complaints from a customer’s boyfriend that I was sleeping with his fiancée, and co-workers laughed at me for not covering my tracks. They said that they also did things with clients, and that I was not different from them only that I got caught. Home I went to Katana, Gathabai, Kenja Mrs. Ruto and Jaguar who were more experienced in the work of finding jobs.
It did not stop at work. Kenja could not help but laugh when he heard how I had lost my job. He made me narrate the story over and over again, and every time he said he had reason to believe that I deserved it. For all that fateful day, I had not mentioned that I knew the woman in question, which made Gathabai even more suspicious. He was a gifted observer who read things between and behind the lines.
“A manager cannot just wake up and decide to fire you for breakfast”, Kenja said dismissively, luring me to justify myself. “Have you checked how many ladies you have driven home this week? Do you know any of them? One of them was not happy for sleeping with her”,
“Women are the only weapon in the world that can destroy a man completely”, Mrs. Ruto joined in, busily scouring a sufuria that was so old I wondered if it was the story behind the uncooked Ugali we ate the previous day “They can annihilate you from a thousand miles away”,.
“What are you all implying? So a man cannot be…fired in peace?” I posed.
It was getting dark as the last of orange sunshine beams seeped through the crack on the window curtain.
“What they are trying to say is that you might have slept with the lady in the car. Why else would a man file such a complaint? Yes you did, Mwas” Jaguar cracked the nut and shuffled out of the house.
“I think there must be another reason. How many ladies are driven home by taxi every evening?” Gathabai whispered privately to me, not wanting Mrs. Ruto to hear. He watched my reaction objectively and I knew he was getting somewhere. I winked at him.
“Ladies,” shouted Mrs. Ruto “There is no supper here today. My sufuria has a big hole”
That meant that we had to scrub our pockets for money if we wanted to eat.
* * * *
I woke up before anyone else in the neighborhood. Except for the howling mongrel that loitered during the night then disappeared during the day, everything was silent, a cool morning breeze blowing chilly air on my cheeks. It was nearing October when the mornings get chilly before the sun soars out of the horizon to bring warmth. I rushed to shower, sneaked into Katana and Jaguar’s room as they did not bolt their door and stole the last of their toothpaste.
I set out towards Nairobi hoping that I would contact Grace as soon as I reached a phone in town. But first, I’d collect my belongings left in the taxi company premises.
I woke the sleeping environment on my way. Before reaching Nairobi, the suburb was awake again, and noises were starting to escalate. Mandazi vendors were setting up their paraphernalia while Mama mboga spread their stalls before filling the spaces with fresh produce from Marigiti Market. Who will they sell tomatoes to at that time of the day? I wondered “They are only doing what they know, whether it yields or not. Probably not”
The only bunch of people who thrived at that hour was touts and drivers, as people were starting to mill around bus stages.
The night watchman was leaving the taxi company’s premises after being released by the earliest mechanic, Magoko. He laughed out loudly the moment he saw me close the gate behind me.
“When people have jobs, they come late. Then they get fired, and they are up early to come apologize. I reckon you’ve come this early to find me alone and ask for a favor which I will not grant?” He argued, full of self-gratification. He paused for a moment watching me uncover my scarf to expose my face.
“Stop Magoko, I am not here for your stupid favors”, I replied, then searched for an old crate to sit on. I found one and made myself comfortable to deal with Magoko’s stupid questions.
“Tell me yourself. Since I don’t trust people’s version of the story, what happened?” He asked.
“Why, so you tell the boss and plead my job back? Clients have feelings too, and if their men don’t take care of it, we will. You would, wouldn’t you?” I responded with ultimatum.
“So you admit you did it?”
He was finding it interesting. I knew who Magoko was. He would narrate everything I told him word by word adding theatrics and produce another version of the story.
“Magoko, they are not even married so what law was broken if it happened? I did not slept with anyone’s fiancée”, I retorted, which he bought then turned it to more of condescendence than empathy.
“Anyway, you have to take care in this line of work, Mwas, especially when you interact with different people. I also take care as a mechanic because I fix vehicles for women…..” And he went on to recite how he discovered that one of his clients wanted a baby with him and how he craftily dodged her demands without losing her to competing mechanics. I stared at his mouth as it opened and turned with lies, and wondered if it was the same mouth he used as an eating organ. His wedge-shaped head rocked to and fro, and imagined how his first baby would look like if he married a woman whose head looked like an egg.
I deduced that their marriage would not last.
Next week: Mwas’ last visit to the company brings a scuffle between him and the boss Omondi. This lands him in court, tragically ending his career in taxi driving. Tragic!