I was whacked with a court summon the next morning. I was proving to be trouble as Kenja concluded, leaving me short of an audience to offer moral support when the mentioning day arrived. Except for Gathabai and Mrs. Ruto, I had lost vote of confidence with others though they could not openly admit that they were disappointed in me.
“You went for more trouble yesterday. I thought you woke up early to apologize?” Kenja had asked that evening as we ate supper, all of us present including Koech.
“Why can’t you behave like the rest of us? At least like Koech, we wake up and see him in Boston Canada?” Jaguar added amidst large chunks that he was not willing to spit or swallow.
Gathabai was as silent as ever, only stealing glances at my every turn to notify me that he was not happy about last night. I had refused to tell him more about sleeping with a client. Koech swallowed hard, thought for a minute then shook his head.
“I am not as good as you think. If I was I wouldn’t be here sitting on this old crate in a substandard resident”, He lamented. Kenja sneered dismissively.
I could sense the hardness and pain that Koech had in his voice as he said it. Though he is a famous athlete, he has never won a medal, save the bronze ones he claims to have in his home. They belonged to a relative, a deceased relative who had inspired Koech to engage in athletics because “it paid”. He had introduced him into a training camp, but died before his influence saw Koech become a winning athlete. This left Koech a stranded, budding athlete. Now, he just attends, goes as far as Boston but returns home without money. He once told me that the little cash he receives is shared amongst his managers who get paid whether he wins or not. Moreover, the money is never channeled through his hands. Someone up the power tree is responsible for paying respective participants.
I stared at the envelope that lay in front of my house under the door. Even before I read it I could feel Omondi’s presence trapped in there. Not that he was very disappointed in my behavior; his company owed me money, very little compared to what he garnered in a single not so busy hour of day. For reasons that I was gradually learning, money meant a lot for people in Nairobi and could be swapped for life of a human without raising brows.
The seal had already been broken, though a statement carved from the biggest letters on the envelope clearly said that I should not accept if the seal was broken. I closely looked at where whoever had broken it laid their fingers to chunk the corner, and the tear told that it had not been broken that morning but the previous day. The lines of stress had had time to wear off. The corners appeared dirty, and a simple test with my nose told me whoever delivered it may have dipped their fingers in a mixture of grease and oil. He must have been a mechanic.
* * * *
Kenja was chewing something noisily because I could hear his mouth creak open and shut from the respondents stand across over thirty people who had arrived. The courtroom appeared imbalanced; ninety percent of the public overwhelmed the right row of the seats on Omondi’s side. They consisted of my co-workers. I saw faces that I knew seeming to attempt to convince the court that it should just ask ‘Inasmuch as those who agree Mwas was on the wrong side of the law and is guilty say aye….The ayes have it’, but that did not happen as quick as I imagined.
A shaky midget of a man appeared on my left towards the judges’ bar. A clerk announced arrival of Magistrate Otieno Munga in an old fashioned way and then directed all to rise and honor the court. Kenja and Jaguar were not willing to leave their skewed positions on the vacant defendants’ side seats. Luckily, Magistrate Munga did not notice any contempt. Everyone having sat, and a hush managing the chamber, Magistrate Munga rolled his sickly eyes around, watched the abundant eyes on Omondi’s side expressionlessly, then rested his gaze on my empty side. He individually scanned Katana, Mrs. Ruto, Kenja, Koech and Jaguar before pushing big spectacles over his eyes sluggishly. He waved at the clerk.
Gathabai had not arrived yet he had left home earlier than everyone else.
“Case number MH2018/5R, Mr. Omondi Otieno VS Juan Mwas Mwangi……” The clerk on duty whined the contents of the papers she held before sitting. Mgistrate Munga looked at me for the first time.