“Shika hii,” the gentle looking girl says to me, handing me three crisp 1000-bob notes.
It is payment for the love couch I had bought not so long ago for considerably more than what she just shoved into my palms.
I take the three elephants absent-mindedly and fold them into four before squeezing them into the small pocket on my jeans trouser.
I have no shoes on. All the people in my living room are wearing shoes, soiling my house in the process. And pissing me off ‘bigly‘
Am too tired to send any of them away. I need them here after all. Because am holding an impromptu ‘sale.’
Am still very worn out. Haven’t slept more than a combined twelve hours in the last three or four days. Anxiety and constant traveling. For the life of me, I find it hard to fall asleep in a moving vehicle. Trusts issues I believe.
I gaze at the old analog wall clock chopping away on the opposite wall, above where my head used to rest on my couch. My grandmother had given it to me a while back after my graduation (the clock, not the couch). It is almost as old as God Himself. I still cherish it because it has great value in my life. It is quarter to six in the evening. In less than an hour and a half, I have to be at the bus station to catch my bus.
My heart feels so tired. My mouth is desert dry and my head is swirling annoyingly. The movement of all those people in my house makes me even dizzier than I should be. I suspect I could even be slipping in and out of consciousness. Am very hungry and I think, a little sick. In the last forty eight hours I have covered more than 900 kilometers, by road. Eating only two, maybe three meals the entire while. Not out of choice but out of preference; I don’t enjoying eating while on transit.
A woman comes over, offering me a thousand shillings for my two burner gas cooker.
Elfu moja!!! She blurts out, not as much to me, as in my general direction.
I suspect she is joking. I am tired and not ready to haggle.
She looks oddly serious about it though. I can only afford a feeble head shake, to which she takes great offense. She inaudibly whispers something angry to her companion. They give me the stinky eye then proceed to stare at other stuff in the kitchen.
Because I do not have any faith in humanity, I have locked away in the bedroom, things that could be easily lifted. Only letting people in there under careful supervision. Because you can never be too careful with people.
My house now seems so strange to me. The desk on which I had been reading and working just a few days ago is already gone. Sold to a nice young couple studying for their masters degrees. They also bought the desk chair and my bookshelf too.
I still haven’t found the strength to sell my books though. Am a teacher’s kid, which means books are sacred!
I have managed to sell most of the things in the kitchen, including my spoons.
The house looks like Kongowea market at the moment. Too many people chasing too few goods. With too little money. The haggling and gasping and chatter that claim the air seems so surreal to me.
Just last week I would not have imagined that I would be selling everything I owned. At least not so cheaply, anyway.
I would not have imagined allowing any of these people into my house. But the son of man plans, and God the father laughs. So they say.
Because the couch and all the chairs in the house are long gone, I sit on the floor, with my hands resting on a twenty litre jerrican near the door, looking but not seeing. Listening but not hearing. And awake but barely conscious enough to perceive the gravity of my whims. As the crowd thins out, I try feeling my pockets. They have barely bulged.
I struggle to stay awake.
I have packed the luggage I will carry; my computer, a few books I will read, my phone charger, a small TV set to keep me sane, some toiletries to begin my new life with, and a few days’ worth of clothing.
I am going to a new place, so too much luggage would not be appropriate. I have packed away everything else, to be carried away in two weeks when I come back. They are locked away in the bedroom. I recall feeling a big lump in my throat as some guy I had let into the bedroom carted away my big ass mattress (sold for mere pocket change). The guy even took my phone number to call me later and thank me properly, because am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open – leave alone my ears. What a character!!! So I silently pray that the mattress will be as good to him as it has been to me.
Another pair of eager fellows is unscrewing my bed out there in the verandah. From the corner of my eyes I can still see the ‘cooker lady’ giving me the stinky eyes. She finally ups her offer to twenty two hundred. I had insisted I’d not take anything less than three thousand. But I am tired and it is getting late.
So I oblige.
My neighbors keep trying to peep through the windows to see what is happening, all the while pretending to mind their business. I do not care, after all I am leaving.
My phone rings as the ‘bed guys’ hand me a few notes, less than half the cost of that bed. It is Kamau, my taxi driver, he is outside the gate. He is here to take me to town to board my bus. I haven’t even taken a bath yet, or eaten or even finished packing. But time is up. And I have to go. Well, I don’t have to, but I know I really should. So I glance at the clock on the wall, and manage to chase everybody away.
I still feel like am in someone else’s dream…