If you use Thika Road, you have seen them. They are blue, a shade of blue overlaying another shade of blue. Then, as if all this blue is not enough, another shade of blue is used to write ‘ZURI’ on the sides.
Zuri is a sacco that plies the 44 route. The loud Nigerians that flood TRM dressed in slides and sweatpants like they just left dance rehearsals use Zuri. Well, the poor ones. So do the Twitter noisemakers that reside in Roysambu. I fall in that last category. I use Zuri everyday, to work, to town, to dates, to Garden City (which has better behaved Nigerians), to wherever it is I go, I tweet in Zuri… and then to get back to the house, most of the time.
Now, Zuris are tricky.
If you board one in the evening, say 8pm onwards, they’re guaranteed to make a fueling stop. And this is not a ‘just passing by’ kinda stop. It takes one long minute. It is quite systematic and just as annoying. The fueling stop happens just after you’ve eased out of the Alsops traffic, passed Homeland and are preparing your body for the literal home run that is the remaining stretch to TRM. The jav slides into the Total petrol station on your left and you want to cry out in anguish and frustration and bitterness and impatience…
Because all Zuri javs fuel here at around this same time, the driver will take three hours to maneuver his jav into whatever cranny he can find then the long wait begins.
After a while though, you get used to this inconvenience; familiarity breeds comfort, so you stop getting angry, you stop complaining. You stop noticing the stop, it becomes just another part of the journey.
After years, okay, months of anger I am finally at this stage. So when the Zuri pulled into the petrol station yesternight, I adjusted myself and got comfortable. If you’re going to be somewhere for a longtime it better be a good time too, right?
So, I am reclining on the windowsill watching them attend to the Zuri ahead of us on the queue and there’s this mayai boilo guy seated on the curb. He’s got his boiled eggs in a bucket, right in front of him. The eggs are in the bucket, wrapped in clear plastic. The bucket has a red lid and he’s laid a bowl of kachumbari on it. Eggs shells surround the kachumbari bowl in reverence. It’s a pretty neat arrangement.
Opposite the mayai guy seats a security guard in faded blue. The two of them are talking football. I hear an Ajax, Manchester, Europa and ‘hii ni yetu’. All this while, the mayai dude is serving petrol station attendants as they serve the Zuri guys. An attendant will come through and hand him a twenty bob, the money always comes first, then the dude picks up an egg. It looks like an art, the way he rotates it and then smacks it on one end with a teaspoon. Each time, like clockwork, he gets the hollow end. Then he pushes the teaspoon into the egg, slowly, tilting his wrist as he goes. The eggshell comes undone, it looks like a thread of potato peels only you know it’s really eggshells.
Without losing his beat, the dude gets a paper and slides the boiled egg onto it. Then he slices it with that same teaspoon in one swipe. He scoops a spoonful of kachumbari into the egg, the next spoonful he empties a little before adding onto the egg and hands it to the attendant. This whole process takes less than a minute, and this whole time, the banter with the security guard never faltered. I feel like egg-shelling might be an art. Or maybe anything can be an art if done long enough… another attendant comes forward and he repeats the whole process a few more times. It’s a loop.
Then no one comes forward and there’s a lull…
The mayai guy chucks a rose gold power bank from his pocket and he plays with it in his hand for a little while. The fidgeting gets to the security guard so he asks to see the power bank. I think it reads ‘Somesang’, I can’t be sure.
‘Hio bei buda…’
The security guard hands back the power bank and the mayai dude doesn’t push it. But there’s a lull in the convo and the security guard reaches into his pocket, out of guilt – I think- he has two five bobs in his hand. At this point, the idiot sitting next to me insists that it’s cold, I shut the window but the two guys outside go on uninterrupted. I assume the security guard says ‘bei ya jioni?’ because I see the two of them laughing.
Someone throws the security guard a ten bob. He hands it to the mayai dude and the dude commences his wrist work. I’m ready to queue happy tears at this point, but my Zuri’s finally been fueled and we’re pulling out, that moment is interrupted, gone.
I keep thinking of the guy that threw that ten bob and helped the guy get his boiled egg. If you can help someone get something, you probably should. Especially if it means a third party also gets to benefit. But you cannot be helped if you don’t put in the work, bring your own ten bob so you can get the other one and the mayai guy gets to earn a living. Tomorrow, the security guy gets to be the one coming to someone’s rescue (hehe) and there’s a ripple effect of goodness. That’s ideally the Kenya I want, people doing good until doing good is not something we are prompted to do. Until doing good is a national reflex action.