A Song for Old Men

The stillness of Moi Avenue was disturbed by a Citi Hoppa turning off the street. No.46, Kawangware: a big green rectangle on wheels. It took a sharp turn at the zebra crossing and its engine noise splashed onto the curb. Then it was quiet again. And it was perhaps the sound of that engine that kept me from hearing the street girl’s plea as I walked into the shop.

I imagine she had been walking up and down the street all morning. The cemented pavement was hot against her bare feet and she probably wished to sit down, even for just a bit so she could cool her soles. She couldn’t, though, because her Mom was closely watching, making sure the girl was doing the routine right.

All men were ‘Uncle’ and women were ‘Aunty’, the Mom had told her. She should hold out her hand and say, “Aunty, si uninunulie chakula?”

Some would respond with a shake of the head. Some would say, “Sio leo,” and skirt away from her, always in a rush. Some would give her an apologetic stare before moving along. Some wouldn’t even look in her direction. But some would be kind enough; they’d drop a coin in her dirtied palm even before she mentioned food.

Whoever they were, these folk of the CBD, she could always tell if they were going to budge. The ones who made eye contact could easily be coaxed; she just needed to prod further, tailing them until they gave in. And when she finally got the dough, she’d take it all back to her Mom.

Today had been a bad day. She had only managed to get two ten bob coins so far, and it looked as though it would rain. The girl willed the sky to open up so she wouldn’t have to do her Mom’s bidding. Plus she also found it comical, how these townspeople always panicked over a little downpour.

It was a few minutes before noon and, as usual, the street would soon be flooded by a stew of arms and legs. Surely a few of them would be generous as they went out to lunch.

She was heading towards The Hilton now. She peered into Cold Stone Creamery as she walked by, and she spotted a couple seated at a table by the wall. The gentleman’s back was facing the street and he was hunched over the table. The lady – wearing purple lipstick and loopy earrings – was sipping from a tall glass of milkshake.

The girl had seen this scene a million times. Uncle and Aunty would go in and come out about an hour later. Sometimes they would hold hands. Sometimes Uncle would have a smudge of ice cream on his lip – Aunty would wipe it off for him, then they would both laugh at Uncle’s sloppiness.

The girl had stopped wondering how milkshake tastes like, and what the hell was in it that made Uncle and Aunty so happy.

As she approached Teriyaki, that Japanese restaurant tucked near the corner, the girl’s eyes drifted to another couple. These ones were walking towards Cambridge Optics. But they didn’t seem to be having as much fun as the ones at Cold Stone. This chick was in a black hoodie and she was a few paces in front of the boy. And he kept stealing glances at her ass. Both of them had messy hair and it seemed their conversation was interspersed with long silences.

This was her chance. She would slip into the space between them. One of them was bound to look at her. The boy was an easy target because he already had his eyes trained downwards, at the chick’s bum.

She slowly approached him from the side – open-palmed and sullen-eyed. She saw that he had noticed her, but he gave no sign of it. His eyes quickly darted inside Cambridge Optics, closely following Aunty’s bum.

The street girl watched the couple disappear into the shop before she gave up and moved on to the next pedestrian. If she had looked at them for a moment longer, she would have seen the boy looking back out into the street. And at her.


“Why do you walk so slowly?”

Her question caught me unawares. My attention had been split by her curves in those tight blue jeans she had on, and the little girl on the street. The street girl’s pants were soiled and full of holes.

“Uhm… I was looking at, uh, something,” I said, holding back a giggle.

She ignored my reply and walked over to the reception desk. She was there to pick up her glasses and had asked me to tag along. I couldn’t say no to her, not when she was in those jeans. Before taking a seat at the waiting area I turned around once more to catch the street girl, but she had vanished into the melee of lunch break.

In the shop, a man and a woman were seated behind the desk and they looked bored out of their wits. I was greeted at the entrance by a framed Certificate of Participation; “Presented to the Cambridge Opticians,” it said. The floor was decorated with peach-coloured tiles and the place smelt like methylated spirit.

A few tables were neatly arranged across the room; rounded mirrors were placed on top. The whole store was awash with wooden shelves and drawers with gold-coated handles. The glass cabinets were lined with all sorts of spectacles and creams and eye check-up info graphics. Pretty dull stuff, if you ask me.

The girl I was with was now leaning on the front desk. The male receptionist – tall, bearded, protruding eyes – handed her a pen and showed her where to sign. I was wondering how the girl’s signature looked like when an old bespectacled man in brown slacks walked in. He was bald and walked with a slight bounce. He had a quick-to-laugh face and the skin on his hands looked like hard-boiled leather.

He went behind the reception desk, took out a grey box, and sat himself on one of the tables. As soon as he sat down, he got up again went behind the reception desk for a pair of scissors, sat down then got up again to finally sit down. He seemed like a real scatterbrain.

He emptied the contents of the grey box on the table and, squinting, started reading from the piece of paper that had tumbled out.

The word meticulous came to mind as I  watched him work. He handled everything with caution. He opened a spectacle case and studied the frames before repacking everything into the box. He deftly wrapped the box with white tape then picked up the pair of scissors and snipped at the tape. The sound of the cut reverberated in the room like a slap.

The old man started to softly whistle as he got up from the table, a high pitched tune that reminded me of Game of Thrones. His eyes had settled into a pleasant tiredness as he returned the scissors. He handed the taped box over to the lady receptionist and walked out into the street, leaving behind a deathly silence.

I felt as though I might follow him out just so I could listen to that whistle. Minutes later the girl was standing in front of me, grey box in hand.

“I’m done, we go?”

“After you.” Hehe.

When we crossed the shop’s threshold I thought about that little street girl again. And I wondered if she ever saw the old man. Maybe he always gave her some coin.

She would be grateful to him, of course, but her joy would mostly stem from hearing his soft whistles. Her soul would be filled with his sweet tunes, and those would always comfort her more than the feeling of cold copper in her palm.

Follow me on Instagram: Mike Muthaka

The Sad Man from Jus’ Chicken
Humpty Dumpty Remembers

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our content

Florence Bett-Kinyatti


Columnist Saturday Nation Writer Craft It Author of best-selling ‘SHOULD I?’ and ‘HOW MUCH?’ ~ Guiding word: Overdrive Subscribe to our Newsletter👇🏾 eepurl.com/igmN8P
  • Dear God, 
It’s me again.

I don’t pray as often as I need to, You know that. I don’t kneel by my bed in child-like humility, as Muna does. I don’t whisper a prayer in the morning. Or at noon. Perhaps just in the evening. 

This going-to-church habit is a constant false start. So is reading the Word. 

I’m often guilty but I also know: You and I have a language only we can understand. 

I speak to You through this gift You bestowed upon my Kale shoulders, this gift to write in colour. It’s a gift that sometimes feels like a curse, a burden I have no choice but to pursue. 

Yet other times – most times, actually – it’s the very breath of my essence. Everyday I sit to write, when the words flow from my head and heart through my fingers to the page, I feel You next to me. 

You are here, Lord. Hovering. Lingering. Swooshing about in Your regal robes, like a character from Bridgerton.

Sometimes You get so close I can feel You breathing on my neck and I’m like, ‘Err, God, do You mind, personal space?’

And You chuckle uncomfortably. ‘He-he, of course. Of course.’

I’m here to tell You, Thanks!

I hosted my first in-person event last March, Lord, thank You to all the lovely ladies who granted me their time and full attention. 

I’ve carried them in my heart since and every day, my prayer is that You bring them closer to the life of abundance they each seek. To their own version of wealth. 

I always call them by their name: Becky. Purity. Lindsay. Wangui. Naomi. Shiqow. Mercy. Liz. Winnie. Polly. Nduta. Lynet. 

And Mike. 

Dear Lord, I’m prepping for my next in-person event in June, Inshallah. 

Walk with me as I get there. 

Love always,

  • Highlights from our first-ever in person event hosted by Craft It and @financialfitbit 
Thanks to all the lovely ladies — and gent, hehe — who honoured us with the privilege of their time and attention. And colourful energy. It’s been weeks since and it’s only now that I’m coming down from the high. 

Thank YOU!

🎥 @mikemuthaka 

#craftit #author #MakeYourMoneyMatter #personalfinance #money
  • I am a woman.

I’m strong. I’m brilliant. I’m like a comet shooting across the sky, I’m so bright you have to put on shades to see me.

I’m almost 40, I’m almost fully realising myself as a woman and the power of womanhood I possess.

I’m so powerful that if KPLC connected me to the national grid, I’d power up this country and we’d never have another blackout.

Ho! Ho! Ho!


To recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day today, I’d like to recognize and celebrate eight women.

I have eight things to give away to each of these women:
a) Two tickets to my upcoming event on March 18 with @financialfitbit Theme is ‘Make your money matter’
b) Three autographed copies of my book ‘Should I?’
c) Three autographed copies of my other book ‘How Much?’

To participate:
1. Like this post
2. Tag women who deserve a win of either event ticket or book (tag as many women as you like)
3. Tell us what you’d like her to win and why she deserves the win
4. Make sure your tagged women follow @_craftit and @financialfitbit 

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
— One woman, one win
— Winners will be contacted via DM
— Giveaway closes at the end of this week, Inshallah, on Sunday 12 March
— Only open to people living in Kenya

All the best!

(Swipe right to see the women I’m celebrating.)

#craftit #internationalwomensday
  • My 2022 word of the year was Wholesome. 

Wholesome meant engaging in moderation and in pursuits that didn’t leave me feeling yucky.

An example: there’re weekend nights I’d go out then have too much to drink. On the drive home, I’d tell GB to stop the car every half mile so I could throw up on the side of the road. Then I’d take three working days recovering. 


No more of that nonsense.

Now I have only two doubles of Singleton whiskey and chase it with water. I eat less food and I eat better. I take my supplements. I treat myself to an early bedtime and arise with my body clock, no alarm.

I spend a lot more time hanging with my kids, Muna and Njeeh. 

I buy fewer things. 

I play the piano. 

I created a disciplined routine for my work and take Thursdays off. 

You catch my drift…

Wholesome has become my lifestyle. 

(By the way, I was asked, ‘Where does this word-of-the-year come from, Bett?’ I don’t know about other people but for me, the words present themselves when I’m journaling. My spirit tells me what it needs; I must be still enough to listen and brave enough to obey.)

My word for 2023 is Overdrive.

My two books have unlocked new opportunities for me as a writer and creative. As an urban brand. I’d honestly not foreseen them. 

I know that if I adjust my sails to where the wind is blowing, these opportunities will translate to wealth.

Last Friday, I listed all the work I’m already doing and all the new opportunities – potential and realised – knocking at my door.

I asked myself, ‘What am I taking up here and what am I dropping?’

The response, ‘None – we go into overdrive and smartly pursue them all.’

#craftit #urbanguide
  • Years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Bett, we’re almost 40 – forget makeup, let’s take care of our skin instead.’

I had to laugh because this was coming from Terry. Terry my Kisii pal, this fine gyal with skin the colour of honey, the only practising SDA in my circle. 

Terry had spent her 20s and early 30s sleek with Arimis. That’s right, the milking jelly with a lactating cow on its logo. 

Arimis addressed all her skin pickles back then. It was her problem fixer. Her Olivia Pope. It’s the one thing that always said, It’s handled.

Now here she was preaching to us about a consistent skincare regimen in the AM and PM.


It wasn’t until Terry shared her selfies on our girls WhatsApp group that I stopped laughing. It wasn’t until we stood next her – and took these selfies – that I reeally stopped laughing: Terry’s skin was youthful and toned, plump. Hydrated. Moistured but not shiny. 

It looked like it had been kissed by the Greek goddess of radiance. 

So we gathered around her feet and said, ‘Forgive us, master. We are ready now. Teach us everything you know.’

She did. 

Terry and I now spend plenty of time before work and before bed squeezing out little portions of expensive skincare products from expensive tubes, we layer them on our face in a calculated measure.

This serum here is for the circles under my eyes and the fine lines around my mouth.

Turns out I’ve been giving away too much of my face: I’ve been looking too hard, laughing too easily.

I’ll have to spend the next year into my 40s with my eyes half shut and laughing little. I'll have a resting bitch face.

Don’t blame me, blame the retinol.

And age.

#craftit #urbanguide #urbangirl
  • I’m Bett. I’m the author of your favourite books about money. I’m hosting an in-person event in March, Inshallah: This is my personal invite to you.

#craftit #moneymaker #moneyinkenya
  • I am hosting my first money event this March, Inhsallah. It’s the first of quarterly events I have planned for the year. 

(Give me a moment here so I pull myself together long enough to write this. I’m smiling very hard right now, ha-ha, I look like a donkey.)


The event will be in-person. On a Saturday morning, a loose three hours which, I am certain, you’d have burned on some other pursuit you couldn’t account for later. (I’d probably be oiling the hinges of a squeaky door or decluttering my sock drawer.)

My guest host for this edition is Lynet Kyalo. 

Lynet is a personal finance coach under her brand @financialfitbit She also hosts @getyourbagrightpodcast 

Buy your tickets from our Market.

Early bird tickets are discounted until the end of this month.

Limited slots available. 

#craftit #millenialmoney #moneyevent #moneymaker
  • Sometimes I sit down and read my own book. 

Odd, huh?

Reading my own stories is like an out-of-body experience. Or getting introduced to myself again. An outward journey inward.

It’s fascinating.

I also read because I need to improve my writing for my next project.

We call them the Elements of Craft: things like sentence structure and punctuation, word placement, story length etc, they all inform your reading experience.

This is what makes the book easy to read, and has you turning the pages.

Cop your autographed copy and #betteryourmoney 

#craftit #howmuch #millenialmoney #moneymaker

Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.