The 1500 PK makes AG a convict
Yesterday I got this special craving for a PKsince in the supermarket I hadn’t seen anything particularly tantalizing, I decide to shop at the Odeon stage before hopping into a mat. Little did I know that this would cost me 1500, lots of credit, dignitymy entire day!
I proceed to the stand where I usually buy (ok, mistake # 1). As I muse over the displayed variety of sweets, a huge man grabs at my right hand. The simple looking hawker does not seem moved or alarmed or about to help or warn me. I let out a frail scream as I try to run away- mistake #2. On taking one (false) step, another huge, muscular guy with a tough face holds my left hand. Now I’m a bit in mid air, trying to scream, shout,ask what’s up- mistake #3 (You know the rule, what you say canwill be used against you…” But no, don’t be deceived, no one says such things in Kenya when they arrest you. At least they did not tell me that.)
Then it dawns on me that maybe I shouldn’t be shopping there. I tell them I didn’t know that. Deaf ears. “Kwani you’re not supposed to sell here?” Gosh. Eh, leave me alone.
Come, let’s go to the car. By now we’ve crossed the road, or better still, they’ve crossed me the road. “Twende kwa gari.” Er, I’m thinking it’s a proper navy blue car for the plains clothes policemen. What! A small face-me you-look-familiar I’ve-seen-you-somewhere van. “Ingia.” Where? It’s full, no space. And if you don’t enter, you’re “helped” in. So I enter, turn, face the door, together with the other 7 or so standing/bending passengers. I hold on to the window grill for dear life as some lady cop orders us to “chunga” wallet. What? That now? I have flu, so I reach out for my tissues. Chunga bag! She gives me a head-to-toe assessment, I’m sure she’s raising my bribe amount in her mind.
Nchi ya kitu kidogo….
One man expresses a desire to get outis harshly rebuffed. The cop looks away, the man slides a 500 shilling note into her hand, then she shoves him out for ‘disturbance.’ I get a chance to sit, finally. More people hold on to the window grill,I wish for some fresh air. Shall I spray my perfume? The van goes round enough times for everyone to get out, ahem, buy their way out. I fight the temptation hard; this is when I have to stand as a Christian of integrity. But what kind of Christian gets caught?
A few more do that,get out. My hawker guy goes scotch free. Gosh! How I wish I could get out too. Now I’m getting late for my 7 o’clock work appointment. What were you caught for? A PK? Wow. I was going into a hotel, I was caught. Her purple lipstick, overly done eyebrows, manner of talking makes me think she looks like a ‘toot. It’s confirmed when she points at her companion. “Kwani hata masaa ya @#$* (excuse me, I have every intention of keeping my job) imekatazwa?” They feel they have every right for that. People talk bad.
We get to the all dreaded City Hallas our names are registered, I wonder if to use my real name. No way! So I give one name. Now understand this, my full name ordinarily brings controversy, not to mention that it’s hard to pronounce. Too much hassle. I secretly hope they’ll hear my last name badlywrite it wrongly. The last thing I want is a record of me in these places.
Then we are called to line number 2. I talk with James, a young man who’s curly hairfair skin clearly tells he’s from the northern part of Kenya, but he has given a fully Kamba name. I ask if he gave his real name. He says yes, why not. I chuckle inside. Yeah right, James Mutinda Musyoka*! We’re taken to court, called out,led to the front of the courtroom…did I say front? Those stairs lead to quite some dingy cells in the basement!
The men are taken to one place, more like huddledforced in. I am the only lady. So I am taken to my own cell. I decide to ask the cop what’s going to happen. Surprisingly, he’s kind to me,explains very well. That’s when it hits me that this is nasty. I huffsnuff, then compose myself. I had earlier sent a flimsy message to the office, “Caught up in town, I don’t know when I’ll be through here then I’ll come.” Lol. I ‘d thought by 9 I’d be out, go to the office,let the day go on as usual, without anyone knowing what had happened. Hehehe.
So I text my familyoffice with the most accurate news possible. I try to keep it simple. I’m not sure they can contain their concern. This flow of loveprayer would keep me textedcalled all day. What concern! Rupert (my hubby), his dad, his mum, his sister, my mum, my boss, my colleagues,my friend who would end up bailing me out. My baby sister sends the funniest text messages,I decide to play along. No need to dampen her evidently humorously happy day. And no responding to work or other messages. That can be done later.
The writing on the wall
I read the walls, hee, the stuff written there, I cannot write here hope to keep my job (or church membership). I don’t want to stand next to a wall. I can’t lean. So I clutch at my handbag,begin to imagine PaulSilas rejoicing in such a place. The huge, moist crack on the floor gets my attention. That’s where that hockey player developed his skills in his mindemerged a hero. John Bunyan penned Pilgrim’s Progress in such a place. Nelson Mandela believed in his cause in such a terrible place. And this is where people grow mad or wise reflecting on their lives. So I decide I’m going to think good thoughts, invest in my life,not worry. Now I’m getting lonely. If there was company at least I’d have an idea of what really happens in here.
I decide it’s better to read, but I’m frightened by the thought ‘cause I don’t want to be harassed for it. I don’t want to double or triple my bail.. I wonder if the men will break out from their cell come do the unthinkable. And the cops? Gosh, the stories I’ve heard. What if they bring equally weird lady-jailees? Smile. I decided to anyway read, after all, it’s my time I’m wasting or investing. I’m glad I’m reading because it talks about Eph. 2:8, how God has saved us through grace. Gosh, God must have shown to us so much grace, to deserve such harsh punishment (ok, much worse) but instead he offers us love. And then He gives us salvation from hell – much worse cells with no ventilationfull of darkness, firegreat stench. I am grateful for salvation.
Fire in the basement
Then a large crowd is brought in. I understand they had spent the night in a cell at Kamukunji. Reveling stories are told. The food at Kamukunji is awful,gives stomach-aches. It is served by equally dirty people. The teaugali are half cooked. Some chose not to eat, including the girl now borrowing my phone to call her friend so she can hopefully bail her out. Her friend happens to be in jail on account of her mother, who stole in her nameused her daughter’s ID card. Others borrow my phone, I’m cautious. I beep for them, text, receive calls,clean my phone every nowthen. Some are anxious, desperately hoping for their callssmses to be responded to, for some hope of being bailed out. They don’t want to go to Lang’ata Women’s Prison. It’s dreadful. Some don’t care.
Then there’s fire in the basement,the men in their cell are screaming. The girls in my cell begin to scream. Some cop comes to the windowtalks down on us telling us it’s going to be okso not to worry. Then she comes to the doordoes the same. The girls scream. Now this is could be our last day,in a cell………….!
Poor homeless girl
Then we’re called to court. We wait for like forever for the judge to come. There are all sorts of charactersstories. I just listen. The girl next to me is hungry for not eating for 2 days. She has no parents, is 19got a B- in KCSE about a year ago. She spots a tardy Mohawkis dozing on me. I want to believe her but I can’t be so sure. She tells me stories of the other ‘inmates,’ warning me not to share my stuff with certain characters. Now in retrospect I wonder how she knew so much if this was only her first arrest, as she says. But to give her the benefit of the doubt, I decide that since she’s been in the cells for two days, she must have learnt quite a lot.
More fake names
Then I meet Jane Wangui Kamau*, a pretty young girl apparently caught for “ukahaba.” But she says she was just going home. I can’t tell whether it’s true or not, you just listen to sympathize, empathize, out of curiosity,most of all to occupy your time. Now every name here with an asterisk signifies a fake name given to the policemen. But I won’t use those ones, in case they get wind of thisfollow those up!
Apparently, only we on a certain side of the court had been ‘caught’, the rest were lawyers, guides a lady who says she was caught after escorting her brother. She might as well have been really escorting. Wrong. Just about everyone has been ‘caught.’ The judge is tough, procedures longtedious. And I decide against some legal actions I wanted to take.
As this Miss Lady calls out, she giggles when the judge looks away, smiling at colleagues, like it’s no grave session. She seems to be the only one enjoying this session. The lady on the right hand side of the judge, seated facing us, is another story all together. She sneers chews both lazily“attitudiously.”She flashes her red painted nails gold jewelry. Black eye shadow, black eye pencil, black lip liner, I wonder if she has some unresolved childhood vengeance problems she needs to resolve as she rolls her eyes yet again. Our eyes almost meet, but I decide not to indulge myself lest I’m kicked out for “contempt of madam.”
Honor the judge
I notice that people are making a little bow as they enterleave the courtroom. I’m pressed,I gotta go. Have been is more like it. I wonder if I should gomake the little bow too. Must I? Then I realize that I might well be airlifted again if I don’t. Yep. Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess…
God must be a much “terribler” judge ‘cause not everyone was bowing in this courtroom. When it comes to Him everyone has to. Then I think that perhaps I shouldn’t bow. I should make a little court’sy. I’m a girl, right? And I learnt that a long ways ago, in nurs’ry school judge, perhaps you’d let me court’sy for you? I’m a girl, pretty please with a cherry on it? I can do it real well, see….I picture in my mind.
Then I decide against it as the long court session is almost over, save for a guy who asks for 5 minutesthe judge takes his word literally. He’s so frazzled. His advocate comes in…..and my mind drifts.
The girl on my right leans on me in a rather jerky manner. She’s hungry, sleepyhas a headache now. She tells me bitspieces of her story.
Then we begin to be called out. Soso “for walking in town with an intention to ‘toot; for selling without a permit; for shouting making noise about goods you want to sell without a permit; for littering; for buying from a hawker…. “
Now if you look at who’s being accused of the first offence, you wonder what they were selling. Dirty, disheveled, unruly hair, worn out nail lacquer (cutex),the shoes are not even dainty! They are dingy! Wh…wh…whaat! The clothes are not particularly attractive either. Well, perhaps “beauty” is indeed in the eyes of the beholder.
“…1500 per offence, you 2000, you 4500, you community service for two days.” “James” leans overasks me whether I’d be able to do community service. I remember my “Comm. Service” days in high school decide I can hack it. But when I think of being away from my daughter, I hope it’s not what I’m given. Then my name is called out,a fine is read. 1500. Fyux!
I wish I’d bought my PK
Back to the cell. We are now more than before,based on the hunger, thirstgeneral lock-up discomforts, PK’s would have been a treat for the atmosphere. The girls are not sorry,continue with the same bravado they had shown to the judge. They tell tales of how they’ll get their way out by dancing with the cops. They have such strong conviction about what they do. Is mine strong enough to counter theirs? A girl comes almost crying from the facilities. She says the sulphuric acid gests into the eyes in a nasty way. I hope I’m going to be bailed out soon. I walk around. I gotta go.
Funny waiting for bail…
My bossmy other friend tell me to invest for the kingdom of God as I wait for bail,show the devil that “he a liar, hallaluja!” Ok, that’s not exactly what they say, but you get it, I know. I decide I’m not Paul the evangelist, I’m me,I’m doing a one-on-one love – listening, helping with callssmses, telling them Jesus loves them, one at a time. Wishing they’d know Christ. Wondering what the parent-forsaken girl would do if released,thinking that she’s better off in jail than out roaming the streets with ‘toot friends. Gosh, how can I help? But I can’t bail her out. And I can’t ask my peeps to. It’s been tasking enough for me.
Rupert’s dad calls melaughs. I ask him whether he’s laughing at me, he says no, then laughs again. And that is what Martin does when we meet,what GS does when he calls me Ex-Convict for a PK. And my mother in love tells me that she, too, laughed after the initial shock of the news,so did Rupert’s sister. When my hubby finds me at home having taken 10 showers (only necessary), his first reaction is to laugh. “No, sikuchekelei. Nairobi huwa hivyo, unaona,”Rupert’s dad explains, amidst even greater laughter. The cop comes inI have to hang up.
My name is called out. Then Colleta, who’s been waiting since before 1pm to bail me out, meets me at the court door, holds my hand, rubs my back; even takes me to buy lunchwaits till I have safely boarded a matatu to gothank my savior of the day, Martin. Freedom at last!