What you need to know:
- Mr. Zhao Li of the Gong Dong Mall had been kind in offering me credit for the furniture and house stuff for the Airbnb, but now his first 50k (of 150k) had fallen due on Jan 31, and after paying it, I was back to almost broke.
- And the debt still loomed large for end Feb and end March. Kweli, kukopa ni harusi, lakini kulipa ni matanga, as said wahenga.
Most of you are happy that January is over, but your Safara here is not as delighted.
Whereas the last week of Christmas and first two weeks of January were wonderful for my hustles – what with the windfall from Chinese toys, then the unexpected boom in my new ‘Airbnb’ unit, I had been optimistic that 2024 is the year I finally make it into ‘monies.’
But the ‘ABC’s of doing business have hit me hard these last three weeks as we got into Feb!
A – for ‘Airbnb.’ Ever since that corporate woman Priscilla who owns the ‘Priscilla Palace’ apartment block found out how Dog, who was my partner-in-dime, was prioritising my flat over others for Airbnb, she found an excuse to get rid of him (“he was harassing Cheptoo at the gate,” as per Mutiso). His replacement was a hatchet faced caretaker called Tina, whose sura ya simiti exudes that seriousness of a judge someone cannot dare bribe. So, no deal with her – and, as a result, the rental demand for my flat collapsed overnight, pardon the pun, as Jan also bit deep.
B – for Bar. When I offered to run Tasha’s bar three weeks back for seven weeks and keep the take home in lieu of the 50k cash bail I gave her, I had imagined I had made an advantageous deal, kumbe it was more of a steal for her. As I soon found out, a W&Spirits bar is a crock in Jan.
Natasha’s, being round the corner from a police post, was frequented mostly by cops.
Most drunk on credit, and when I ask for money, I would be told things like ‘Natasha alikuwa mtulivu, wewe ngoja kwanza tupate payslip ...’ But my most regular clientele in dry January was a noisy Kamba cop called Charlo who couldn’t stop chatting, a dead quiet one called Kovoso (who seemed a temper away from pulling the trigger), and a Chebet lady who was ever intoxicated, and seemed to have an entire harem of police guys in the post, getting MPesa for drinks. Chebet, once drunk, would proposition me, but I would say, half in jest, ‘staki ku-shootiwa!’ In short, there was no way I was going to recover my 50k in 50 days from “Dead End Bar,” as I had nicknamed it in frustration.
C – for Chinaman. Mr. Zhao Li of the Gong Dong Mall had been kind in offering me credit for the furniture and house stuff for the Airbnb, but now his first 50k (of 150k) had fallen due on Jan 31, and after paying it, I was back to almost broke. And the debt still loomed large for end Feb and end March. Kweli, kukopa ni harusi, lakini kulipa ni matanga, as said wahenga.
After calling myself for a meeting, I decided to call Natasha for one too, to tell her Feb 19, 2024 was too soon to hand back her bar, “And you knew I would not make much money over Jan, Tasha.”
“Come to my place and we will talk about it,” she said. “I’ll send you the location pin on WhatsApp.” In an hour or so, I was at her place in Embakasi (what choice did I have?), not large, but cramped with expensive electronics so that we were squeezed on the couch next to the large TV stand.
“I want us to re-negotiate Tasha,” I said in my ‘I’m very serious’ hustler’s voice.
“Just relax first, then we talk,” she said cheerfully. “I will get you a drink. Your usual whiskey?”
Of course Natasha could afford to be cheerful. She had all the cards. She had in effect sold me 50k of dead stock via barter (cash bail), for a limited time, and still kept her bar open by proxy.
‘Na ulifikiria wewe ni mjanja,’ I could hear her inner laughter inside, even as my eyes involuntarily took in the long slim legs beneath the shorts she was wearing, and coffee-coloured skin. When she plopped herself beside me on the couch, apologising for having only rum-n-cola, I remembered why I’d briefly fallen for her.
Tasha has this long oval face with the strong chin the only giveaway of the determined hustler that she is. Otherwise soft hair is her crown, brows that are bridges over dark doe-shaped eyes that soften her broad African nose, and with luscious lips made for ice-cream advertisements.
If she wasn’t so crazy, with a predilection for men in uniform, Natasha would’ve been the bomb! And she still was, once the rum had taken effect, and we had gone all the way right there, with negotiations pushed to a later time.
“I want you to come with me to Abuja for the pre-Valentine weekend,” she said, as I came to.
“What?” I said, wondering if I was still dreaming.
“I am going to Abuja in Nigeria next week,” she said, then fixed those doe-eyes on me. “Come with me, Mike?”
“What about the bar?” I blurted, seeing she was serious. “And your clothes stall?”
“I am sure my customers, err, our clients will survive a while without us,” Natasha said.
“Not Chebet!” I quipped, and we laughed hard. Tasha opened a drawer on the TV stand and handed me a brochure: “Look at that as I go to the loo,” she said, getting up. “It will give you a clue.”
It was all about ‘Abuja fabric,’ great for hot weather, feels like linen, perfect for shirts, dresses and tops (also for home design accessories) and importable in 1.5 metre by one metre bits.
“We are going to be importers of Abuja fabric, you and me,” Tasha had returned with more drinks. “So cheers to us, Safara.”
“And here I had actually imagined it was a romantic trip to West Africa!” I mock-grumbled, as she laughed heartily, and we toasted. But I was worried. I’d opened that drawer when she’d gone off (I can be sneaky) and seen her passport. ‘Tamara Tande.’ Yet her ID is ‘Natasha Sande.’