“Stops?” I asked.
“Petrol station, dry cleaners and supermarket,” Aunty T replied strapping her seatbelt on the passenger side.
“To or from?”
“From, except the petrol station, my baby is running low on fuel.”
Picture, if you will, a calm sunny Saturday afternoon. We slowly made our way to the main road, joined it and cruised slowly past the crowds at the local market that somehow extends to the edge of the tarmac. We drove past the yelling and hooting at the bus stop, Tuskys stage as it is called, towards the petrol station. Two of them adjacent to each other. Both were crowded and traffic was slow. I signalled to turn left into the petrol station but T stopped me. “Forget it, there’s a Shell far ahead,” she said. We drove on, past school, the police station, several hardware stores, a Mall, then another mall and traffic finally cleared out. It is stressful, but that is Rongai for us.
How we got there started with a phonecall, followed by a long shower, and when T came down all dressed up, I knew I would be playing chauffeur.
“Are you free?” She started, “why am I even asking, drive me to lunch.”
“Let me take a shower first,” I said getting up.
“Ten minutes. Any longer and you’re walking,” she shouted when I was halfway up the stairs. I just smiled and shook my head.
Half an hour from then, we were pulling up to the petrol station, the ‘shell far ahead’ as she had referred to it earlier on. She got off the car, spoke to one of the attendants for a while, then walked around to my window.
“Bring me a can of that good stuff, I’m going to get some fries,” she said.
“Aren’t you going for lunch?” I asked.
“It’s with them?”
“Bingo,” she said then walked away. T barely eats when they invite her over for lunch. Its always in Jackie’s old house in Lang’ata. T always arrives late, helps herself to a glass or two of juice, and leaves as soon as she empties it.
In twenty minutes we were back on the road. Choice radio kept me entertained with classic old schools as T was lost in her food. You don’t disturb an eating T, certainly not when its those deep-fried pieces of potato. Do your own thing and you’ll know when she’s done. First thing she ask for are wipes.
“Where are the wipes?”
“Backseat,” I replied.
“Woah that looks bad,” she said pointing to the far right on the other side of the road. A Subaru had driven head on into a lamppost.
“What might have happened?” I asked.
She turned to the back, reached for the wipes. Cleaned her hands and searched through her purse for her phone. “Back in Seattle,” she started, “when I was new to the firm, I was a bit of trouble. My boss would find a way to have me outside the office as much as she could. She had me tag along to court or follow up with clients while my fellow newbies were stuck on paperwork and coffee runs. One time she dumped a pro bono case my way. I had to, on behalf of some senior partner, represent a Julius Jones, accused of stealing a quarter million from the electronics shop he worked in. CCTV footage had the robbers jump into his car before it sped off from the scene. Jones had priors, a couple of DUI’s and speeding tickets, but he swore he didn’t do it. He had no recollect of the events of that night. Said he woke up the next morning, in the same car somewhere outside of town, with ten thousand left there for him. A few days into it and I got a tip from someone who claimed to be an employee in the shop, saying Jones was framed and cellphone camera footage that showed Jones passed out drunk in his car when the robbers jumped in and drove off with him inside…”
“Good story, but I don’t think Jones owned the Subaru in the accident. All I asked was what happened.” I cut her off.
“Okay. Then two reasons, Yesterday was Friday, and this is Nairobi.”
“You could have said that before.”
She smiled. “On that note, I won’t even finish my story.”
She paired her phone to the car stereo via Bluetooth and I watched her waiting in anticipation for the first song, ‘her song’, to play. Within no time Imagine Dragons’ Thunder was blasting from the speakers. I was sure without even having to look that she was mouthing the lyrics while on her phone. She once told me she listened to that song everyday for a week when she came back when she stayed at grandma’s place. “That first night I slept in a bed I hadn’t been on in ten years, in a room I hadn’t seen in almost five,” she had said. Grandma told her she could stay as long as she needed to, “but with everything the twins and I had planned, getting comfortable in moms house was a luxury I couldn’t afford.” That was over four years ago.
“Do you miss Seattle?” I asked after the song ended. She smiled then said, “I miss the office, the people, and the coffee. The hours not so much.”
“What about J?”
“I miss them both.”
“Jackie’s still there you know.”
“Shut up and drive.” she playfully slapped my shoulder.
“Now you owe me three stories.”
“I only know of one
“There’s that one, then another about you and Jackie and the Jones case.”
“Okay,” she laughed, “Which one first?”
“Not now T. We’ve already arrived,” I said pulling into the gate.
“You sure you don’t want to join us. Delilah and Jezebel have a cute niece who joins them.”
“Is she as cute as Njoki?”
“Not even close. Don’t go far I leave in thirty.”