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That chic who sells chapos under the floodlights

BY SIMON KING: GUEST WRITER

The light of day was slowly draining away giving way to the nightfall skies. Underneath them, a small town pulsated to life as pubs, githeri, chapati, mtura and other night time vendors opened for business.

The rains had fallen all day and night and the roads were now wet and mucky. At the chapo stand, a boy is hypnotized by lovely orange floodlights being reflected into his eyes by a grubby stream. He could have sworn at that moment that that was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

He is high, the boy, and the munchies are driving him insane.

That afternoon he had smoked a roll of marijuana with his girlfriend, it was their little thing. The drug coursed through their veins, stripping them of every ounce of sobriety they harboured. And after that, they had hot sweaty psychedelic sex where they came simultaneously. It was magical.

At the boy’s home, no one was around during the day. It was the chill spot of the area. People came in in the morning and left in the evening. Some had lied to their parents, “Please give me fare for school.” Then they went to the boy’s home and used the money for other ludicrous business, like betting. They really did deserve hell.

There was always music in that house. It was mostly Travis Scott, and when they’d want to take it a notch lower, they would switch to The Weeknd. They called it trapping. And trapping, especially with The Weeknd on, would always lead to fornication.

They knew they were potheads, that they were slowly falling into the cesspit of addiction to the puffs. But there wasn’t much they could have done with their day. The lecturers were on strike more times than they were in class that year and that didn’t play well with them. They stayed home and indulged in debauchery, testing the limits of their youthful glowing bodies.

Hangovers were the order of every morning, and to them a pair of Mara Moja was like a mystical elixir that angels dropped from heaven to cure hangovers. They would later spend the rest of the morning drowning the remnants of hangover in junk food and cheap soda, the life of a campus student.

In the afternoon they would take a hot shower in shifts and their sobriety would be restored; that was their chance to be productive. But they had much more important issues than investing in their youth, like scheming and planning for the night.

Which club to start with.

Who to invite.

What to wear.

What to drink.

What to smoke.

How much to contribute.

They were all well laid plans, funded by struggling parents.

Night would come and they’d all dress up their best. The men in dashing jeans, a jacket and t-shirt and the ladies, the ladies deserve a paragraph of their own.

Short gorgeous dresses would be spread out on the beds. Different pairs of boots beside them. It was a pickle for the ladies. They mostly chose black tight lacy dresses that drew their asses perfectly. They’d pair it with high-heeled leather boots in dark brown and a jacket for the cold. They’d look stunning.

They would then request an Uber and when it arrived, they’d walk towards it laughing and flourishing in cinematic young spirits.

Inside, it wasn’t the driver’s car anymore, it belonged to them. They had paid for it, they owned it. So they would go on to put some millennial music, something with Young Thug in it, and the older driver would cringe the crass lyrics of fat booties twerking and seeping lean with hoes.

They would go on to sing along to him, the thug, roughening up their voices like his and having a wonderful time.

Then they’d reach the club and waste the night (and money) away in song and dance.

**

The boy stared deep into the stream, ruminating through his life and asking himself all the questions that mattered.

Will I really get a job after I am done with school?

Should weed surely be illegal?

Am I addicted to it?

Why does someone feel so hungry after smoking it?

Will writing pay off?

Am I even a good writer? Ha! I’m getting ahead of myself. Am I even a writer?

At what point does one refer to themselves as a writer?

Chapo girl who not-so-secretly had a crush on him would break him out of his thoughts, “Chapo zako ziko ready, ndio hizi,” always accompanied by a lovely smile.

She had alluring brown eyes that made him uncomfortable. He had never looked into them for too long because they made him feel invaded. He felt like she’d see into his empty marijuana-filled soul and he was never the type to show his insecurities. Other than that, she was a pretty girl with a light Kikuyu accent and a reassuring smile. She looked even prettier when she would push and hold back braids that had fallen loose as she mixed the dough.

The girl had developed her little infatuation the first they met under those floodlights months ago. He was sober that day and he remembered the girl chatting him up. Her voice was the huskiest he’d ever had. Hearing her talk made someone get the urge to give her water. And when she laughed, it came out like a high-pitched dry cough.

She was telling him something about how touts along their route had a bad tendency of not giving customers their change back, how they needed to be stopped and arrested. The boy nodded in agreement and gave that ‘mmmh’ people give to show they are listening.

He would say something silly from time to time to show he’s still in conversation.

“Those conductors will never change,” he would say with a smirk avoiding her eyes. She would shriek in laughter after getting the pun.

“Kumbe unakuanga mfunny, unafaa kuongea more uchekeshe wasee.”

“Niko na jokes kiasi tu, sitaki niongee sana ziishe.”

“The more utaongea, the more utapata jokes, haiya.”

“Sawa. Lakini promise utacheka hata kama ni dry.”

“Promise.” She would smile they interlocked their pinkie fingers to seal their deal.

Three days after they had met, he realized that she liked him after seeing how she would blush when she had spotted him from a distance. And because he was raised well, he would smile back. But he never paid attention to her when he got there. He would make his order of three chapos and take out his phone and rummage through Twitter.

But that night as he experienced a residual low, getting closer to sobriety, he took his chapos and asked disinterestedly in a what-the-hell-let-me-chat-her-up disposition, “What happened to hao madonda wanaibia watu?”

Her eyes had glowed up in excitement, it was the first time he had initiated conversation. “Hujaskia yani, walishikwa! Police alivaa kama civilian akakaa kwa matatu akaona what goes on, akawashika.”

“Hio ni poa. Na hio dough waliniibia ningebuy chapo zingine kama kumi.”

She chortled. “I doubt unaeza maliza hata tano.”

“Si unaeza nisaidia kula. Wewe huzikula, by the way? Sijawai ona ukikula.” At this point, he leaned in and put his phone in his pocket. He was getting into the conversation and barely noticed it.

“Aiiii, zii. Nilizikula excess tukianza hii biz, siku hizi nazichukia.”

“Hakuna kitu kama hio! Chapo haiwezi bore!”

He wanted to add, “That’s like saying too much sex, there can’t be too much of a good thing.” But they weren’t there yet.

By the time they were done talking, she’d sold all her chapos and was now packing her tools of trade to close for the night. He even met her mom when she came to bring more dough. Chapo girl had joked, “Sasa juu ushameet mamangu, utaleta ng’ombe lini, Simon?” They laughed heartily at that.

That’s when he had realized he didn’t know her name, so he asked. Her name was Catherine, “Catherine with a ‘c’,” she had insisted.

He watched Catherine walk home until she disappeared into a corner and thought, I really should talk more.

**

About our Guest Writer
I’m Simon. Simon Kinyua, but please, call me King.

I’m a sophomore studying computer science.

Like most 21 year olds today, I battle with quarter-life existential crisis. I personally blame the fake nature of social media for this unnecessary pressure I put on myself, the pressure to achieve everything now. At 21. I know it’s impossible but that knowledge hasn’t lifted this weight off my shoulders.

I’ve however found a bit of solace in writing, how words weave up together to paint a world to the most random of strangers.

It’s therapy for me.

I blog at thegaps.co.ke.

25
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Five pieces of practical advice I’ve picked from interviewing women in business

Comments (2)

  1. Ora

    If they were her words”…na hiyo dough waliniibia,ningemake chapo zingine kama kumi…”😂😂PUN👏👏

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Florence Bett-Kinyatti

@_craftit

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,
Me

#craftit
  • 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!

Anyway.

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. 

Ha-ha.

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.

Ha!

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.)

(Ahem.)

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
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