What you need to know:
- And that’s how on Sunday night, with Sh90K in my pocket (representing over quarter of my assets on earth), I found myself on a Talmad Bus to Mombasa, a 10pm to 5am trip.
- Talmad is a terrible bus!
- The ‘VIP’ section I had booked, even a broke chap must celebrate small victories (like getting a quarter meter motorbike at a third of its usual price) was located at the very back end of the bus.
It is a Monday morning in mid-October.
I, Mike Safara, am seated in the restaurant coach of the SGR, First Class, having a cold beer as I stare out of the window into the afternoon of the savannah outside. But if you think it is wild animals I am staring at, you are wrong!
My eyes are glassy as I stare sightlessly out of the train glass.
If you were a heavenly lass, and came in through the bar coach, and caught sight of my empty eyes, you would sit as far away from me as possible. I look like a psycho, and that’s because my deal fell through.
You remember when we last met, how that nasty lady at the American Embassy had refused me a visa, out of hand, and with madharau mingi?
Well, because I am a hustler who knows a lot of people with street smarts in this city of sufferers, this guy called Ras Boda (because he is a supplier of motorbikes in this town) hooked me up with a really cool deal, all the way down in Mombasa.
“The Port Police just caught an entire container of second-hand Suzuki GSX5 bikes being smuggled into the country. Hizo burungo ni ka two fifty thao each,” Ras Boda informed me over a drink.
“But to recover the ushuru, they are selling them at only 100K each,” Ras Boda whispered.
“Sounds great,” I enthused, already picturing myself cruising the streets in my GSX5, picking up celestial lasses in my bestial iron beast, before I remembered how financially weather-beaten I was.
“I will prolly have to use the Suzuki to do a bit of boda work on the side,” the hustler in me told myself, as the fantasy dissolved.
Lowering his voice even further, Ras Boda said, “But if you fika at the Port Police containers mapema at sunrise, with just 80K in cash, you can drive away with one of those beauties as the sun comes up over the ocean.”
A conspiratorial wink. “Si you know how things there disappear?”
“Port ni place ya ma-acadabra,” I replied in my best street-smart tone, “na masaa ani ya Ngilu. So najua hakuna time ya ku-waste…”
And that’s how on Sunday night, with Sh90K in my pocket (representing over quarter of my assets on earth), I found myself on a Talmad Bus to Mombasa, a 10pm to 5am trip.
Talmad is a terrible bus!
The ‘VIP’ section I had booked, even a broke chap must celebrate small victories (like getting a quarter meter motorbike at a third of its usual price) was located at the very back end of the bus.
To make matters worse, a family of mites or kungunis, or something with itchy bites, had made a home in my seat, so that I scratched myself raw all the seven hours from Nairobi to Mombasa, as the mad Talmad driver rode like Jehu on the road.
I felt like a scratched and battered sack of potatoes by the time I alighted in Mombasa.
But worse was to come!
After getting a boda to drop me at the pin Ras Boda had given me, getting there at 5.40am, I walked through the pre-dawn gloom into the container area.
Sure enough, a chap in a cop overcoat signaled to me with a torch. “Umebeba dough?” he asked.
“Wapi motor bike?” I asked.
“Iko hapa,” he said, walking into the interior of a container, his powerful torch showing a gleaming Suzuki in the now half-light.
As I leaned in to inspect my new beauty, I saw the silhouette of two men, also in overcoats, then, BOOM!, lights out!!!
I came to just after 9am. Kumbe I am in an area where those deserted mobile clinics from a scandal of the previous regime had been dumped. I, on the other hand, had been duped.
And robbed of 90K. And Ras Boda’s mobile phone was off.
Also, my head hurt badly. And I needed six stiches at some nearby dispensary/clinic/ hosi to stop the bloody bleeding.
Luckily, they had left me with my phone. Too much trouble, with possible tracking, for a 12K device, which had Sh5,000 left on MPesa, after paying the small stitching fee.
By 2pm, I had made my way to the SGR Terminus in Mombasa and bought a proper First Class ticket.
As we passed Athi River, though, I saw the silhouette of the smashed houses, and felt woiye, bomolewad by the whole boda saga.