Being the caretaker of a set of uptown apartments was not what you pictured yourself to be while in your mid-thirties. But what is life? Options are limited when you score a D+ in your O levels and nobody you know, or who knows you for that matter, is favourably wired in the high places. So the stepbrother to your distant cousin links you up to the landlord of some uptown apartments in Lavington. He is a short bald man who wears chequered untucked shirts and pronounces his name as Mechak. His tongue just cannot bring itself to saying Meshack. So Meshack agrees to pay you some cool 15,000 a month just to wash the apartments’ corridors every morning and to distribute the Garbage Waste bins once a week. And on top of that, he throws in the extra unoccupied bedsitter on the ground floor.
A roof over your head. Rich tenant neighbours. And a cool 15,000 to do what your kinsmen back in Chavakali, Vihiga County would call a woman’s job. Not such a bad deal after all. Occasionally, your rich neighbours ask you to wash their cars and tip you with the highest denomination in their possession. Others ask you to warn them when the main chick is on her way up so that they can hide the side chick at the balcony. Others send you to the Mall and ask you to keep change. The Indian cashier at Chandarana Supermarket at Lavington Mall knows you already. But she’s too Indian for you. Long soft hair and smooth flawless skin. You love yourself an Original thoroughbred Luhya broad. The ones with Zigwembe the size of your biceps and a big behind. They also visit the barber just like you. How can Roopali balance a jerrycan of water on her head with her smooth hair?
Meshak likes you a lot because he can always enjoy his Whitecap at Turacco Village in peace knowing that Meshdeb Apartments are in good hands. Meshdeb is a fusion of the names Meshack and Deborah, Meshack’s first wife. What is with people from Central Kenya and naming their businesses after themselves? And having multiple wives? And drinking Whitecap? One month, Meshack was too drunk he paid your salary twice. Of course you denied it when he asked you about it as soon as he sobered up. Meshack is a rich guy. Losing 15,000 won’t kill him. In any case, you frittered away the entire amount in one night, wetting your whistle at Kawangware Bar and Sports Club, with Masinde, the step – brother to your cousin that got you the job.
It has been long since you sipped something. So when Masinde calls you over for him to return the favour, you thump the air in excitement. You take a quick shower and grab your killer outfit. You spray the last drops of the Axe perfume that one of the tenants gifted you with, saying they did not like the smell. To you, it’s heavenly and you only use it on special occasions. Like this particular one. You grab a pack of condoms and put it inside your coat pocket. You know, just in case you get lucky. You prefer it raw but again, condoms are cheaper than child support. You were not very good at math but at least you know 1 + 1 = 3 if you do not use these rubbers.
”Same Place?” You ask Masinde
‘Of course!’ He responds
Minutes later, you step into Kawangware Bar and Sports Club, your hands shaking with thirst.
There is something about free booze that makes it rub on the throat so flavoursomely that you can’t tell whether you are on your fourteenth or fifteenth bottle. After all, who’s counting? The bill you will not pay will tell. Masinde is taking care of it. He is being very peculiarly generous today that he promised to have you dropped home in an Uber. You have heard of these cars but have never actually boarded one because you are still saving up to buy your first smartphone. A phone is a phone to you. As long as it can connect to Radio Jambo and have you listen to Patanisho every morning, you’re good. Masinde also brought two ladies with him. They are not your preferred short-haired Luhya broads but what’s the use being drunk and not changing your style?
Christine and Peris are telling you how handsome you are. They could be saying that under the influence but deep down you know there is some truth to that. I mean, back home in Chavakali every girl blushes when you smile at them. One time two of them fought over you outside the church on a Sunday afternoon. Your pastor warned you against promiscuity saying that a man who cannot choose ceases to be a man. He cited Joseph and how he made a decision to turn down Potiphar’s wife. Once again, you are spoilt for choice. Who do you go home with? Christine is light-skinned and a little taller than you. She’s dressed in a see-through chiffon top and a short maroon skater skirt that makes her long legs shine against the multi-coloured club lights. She is slim and does not have a big behind, but when the two of you hit the dance floor, she gave you a boner.
Peris is in a tight crimson jumpsuit that is semi – buttoned at the chest exposing some firm dark breasts. She is more voluptuous than Christine but her problem is that she is too shy. She won’t even let you dance with her. She does not speak much but from how she’s looking at you, she really likes you. Maybe if you went to a more private place she would release her inner beast. She seems like the type with an inner beast. Why does it have to be one of them? Can’t you have both? Even Meshack has two wives. Besides, Masinde does not seem to be interested in either Christine or Peris. Like you, maybe he religiously likes the short-haired Luhya broads. So you ask Christine and Peris if they would like a tour of your crib back in Lavington. They look at each other, smile and nod.
You were to get lucky after all. Masinde orders the Uber thing and pays the driver. He orders an extra bottle for the three of you to go. And the three of you get on your way to Meshdeb apartments. Can this night get any better?
The tenants at Meshdeb Apartments pay their rent faithfully at the end of every month. Meshack does a very careful background check on every tenant before they move in, to verify they can afford the Ksh 200,000 Rent he demands from them. Most of them are in their late twenties and mid-thirties and are either sons and daughters of the rich folk of Nairobi or are already the rich folk of Nairobi. They are the kind of people who say USB Stick instead of Flash Disk. They are also the people who almost begin every response to a question with the word ‘Well’. So when they received a letter from the Management of the apartments stating that there was a Change of Payment Method, they obliged as the faithful rich folk that they are.
Dear Tenant, the letter read.
In order to serve you efficiently, we have streamlined our Rent Payment Methods from the tedious and hectic Bank Deposit Payment to a fast and easy to use USSD Code option.
Simply Dial *8734# from your phone and when prompted, key in your Apartment Number, Amount (Rent + Utilities) and select the source of funds (MPESA or Bank Account) then key n your PIN Number.
You will receive a text message immediately confirming your payment. Forward the message to the number 8734 and you will have completed the payment process, in less than a minute.
We wish you a continued peaceful and nourishing stay at Meshdeb Apartments
CC – Hezekiah Sifuna – Flat Manager
The letters were on a cream letterhead with the Meshdeb Apartments logo beautifully engraved at the top. They were dropped at the doors of each tenant, beautifully packaged in branded envelopes with the Meshdeb Apartments logo engraved on them and the names and proper designations of the respective tenants printed on them. They were dropped on the Sunday morning of 31st May, 2019, Perfect timing. Most tenants receive their salaries (or monthly allowances for the rich kids) around this time and it was convenient for them to pay rent on time before they bought a Vitz with the money or something of that sort.
The corridors of Meshdeb apartments are unusually dry. It has been two days without them getting scrubbed. Not that they are dusty or anything, it’s just that, rich people hate germs. And unscrubbed corridors have billions of them. Also, nobody has set their eyes on you. Maybe he travelled to his rural village in Chavakali, they think. Your phone has also been off since Saturday night. Meshack has been buzzing you over and over wondering why he has not gotten the weekly report. Yes, you always send the boss a report of happenings every week. Stuff like, the guy in Apartment A5 lost his job on Tuesday. He may not afford next month’s rent. Also, the lady in Apartment D7 broke up with the rich Nigerian boyfriend who used to pay her rent. She needs to be added to the list of people who need to be kicked out.
Meshack is also checking his account and not much activity is going on there. Only two rent payments were made on Saturday the 30th May, 2019. Today is 2nd June and still, nothing has come in. By such a time, almost twenty out of the fifty tenants should have made their payments. Since Meshack can’t reach you, he decides to drive over and find some answers. His Lexus LX 570 Pulls over in front of the apartments and he strides hurriedly to your apartment. He knocks countless times and after half an hour of impatiently waiting, he asks the security guard to break open the door. He is the boss. He will replace it later. The door swings open and what they see is a sight to behold.
You are lying on the floor, face-up, buck naked with your manhood as hard as granite. There is a condom on it. You have goosebumps all over your body and you are barely breathing. There is a pile of dry vomit on either side of your head, with some debris splattered across your cheeks. There are letterheads scattered around the small table, a bunch of envelopes, a rubber – stamp and a small printer. Meshack’s attention is drawn to the paperwork as the security guard tries to rigorously shake you from your three – day stupor. He slaps you across the face. Nothing. Calls out your name. Nothing. He steps out and comes back with a pail of soapy – ice-cold water and splashes it on your naked self. It cuts through your numb muscles and slowly, you come around, and the first thing you see is a blurry figure of Meshack, bloodshot eyes and lips trembling in exasperation.
You try to get up by supporting your feeble body using your hands and Meshack helps you with that. He grabs you by the neck and pins you against the wall. He is screaming a dozen indignant words per second and you have no idea what he is upset about. Your nakedness? The vomit? Wait, how long have I been out? What day of the week is it? Before you figure this out, you are dressed in a tracksuit and are being dragged to Meshack’s LX570. You never imagined that your first time in this beast of a machine would be this horrible. You are protesting this animalistic treatment but nobody cares to listen. Your friendly neighbours are just staring at you. Your security guard friend is tying your hands with a rope and tying the rope around the frame of the back door. You feel like you are James Bond.
Now you are at Kileleshwa Police Station about to be thrown in a dingy dark cell. You have heard about these cells. They are hell. Meshack is talking about some 10 Million that you stole from him. You don’t remember stealing such a huge amount. The only amount you stole from him was Ksh 15,000 when he paid your salary a second time the other day. And technically, you did not steal it. He generously offered and you took it. He is showing the officers some papers that he claims he got from your house. He must be crazy. You can’t even read. The only papers in your house are back pages of newspapers with the Sportpesa Jackpot games that you believe you will one day win.
But the police believe him. They record a lengthy statement and start throwing words around. The words are court, fraud and ten years minimum. Hell No! This wakes you up. The dots start to form and you try to join them. Saturday night. Masinde calls you for drinks. He is in the company of two urban girls. He generously buys you your favourite drink until you are totally wasted. He lets you go home, in that Uber thing, with the two girls. You get home. They undress you. They undress each other. You put the condom on. They ask you to take some certain pill in order to be able to handle both of them. You oblige. And that’s it. That’s all you remember.
So if it’s true Meshack has lost 10 Million shillings, these ladies must have something to do with it. And Masinde too. The officers quietly explain to you the act they believe you committed and you deny it. You tell them about Christine, Peris and Masinde. You tell them about Kawangware Bar and Sports Club. You tell them about the Uber thing. But they don’t buy any of it. They say that you are very creative to come up with such a story after pulling off such a genius fraud. They also say you are stupid not to have disposed off the evidence and for drinking too much you forgot to escape. Meshack thinks you have been drinking part of the 10 million you stole from him. The officers jokingly ask you to share part of the money and they will let you go.
So you are booked to be taken to court the following day. The officers advise you that if you produce the other culprits and the money already deposited into the account on the fake letters, they can ask the prosecutor to reduce the sentence from 10 years to 7 or 8 years. 7 years is still a long time. They have to believe you. But even you don’t believe you. How could you be that dumb to not know that the deal was too juicy to be true. Two ladies! For free. Well, you know you are handsome but still…. Since the officers have closed the case, you sit inside the dingy cells wondering what weapon you will use on Masinde once this is over and you set your eyes on him. What about Christine and Peris? What will you do to them? You wonder.
‘Hezekiah Sifuna!’ calls out the officer.
‘Hakuna mshukiwa anaitwa Sifuna hapa?’ he repeats.
‘I’m here, afande’ You wake up from your extended three – day hangover that you had recommenced at the cold cell floor.
‘You are lucky. Your issue has been sorted.’ the officer tells you. ‘Go home and take a shower’
You don’t understand how this has happened but you don’t want to jinx it by asking too many questions. You creep out surreptitiously and just as you are crossing the gate, the officer calls you. A thought tells you to run but then you remember that this is a police station and they have bullets. You can’t possibly outrun a bullet.
‘This is for you.’ He gives you an envelope. It has an engraved logo of Meshdeb Apartments and has your name printed out.
You have had enough of this mind-boggling soap – opera kind of escapades so you decide to get some answers. You tear open the letter and try to bring together the little English you gathered from Chavakali High School.
‘Dear Hezekiah, the letter read.
Many apologies for having to put you through the gut-wrenching scenarios of the past three days. We had no choice.
Since you played an important role in making our little heist successful, we have decided to reward you accordingly.
Dial *8734# from your small Tecno phone (We saw it 😉) and follow the prompts. You will be asked to key in your account number and a bank transfer of Ksh 500,000 will be made to that account number.
I know this is not the Spotpesa jackpot you told us you want to win, but it should be sufficient enough to get you started in your new life away from Meshack.
The officers have been sorted and will not bother you again. Neither will Meshack.
Don’t you worry how. Don’t you worry who we are. Don’t bother looking for us. Don’t ask questions because you will never get any answers. Just enjoy the money. Forgive and forget your friend Masinde as well. He was just a pawn in this story. Just like you
P.S – Next time we meet, no condoms!
Christine and Peris.
What could you do? What could you say?