Today was just the day from hell.
Waking up today,if she had known what awaited her outside the doors of her apartment, she would have built a fort under the blankets and gotten comfortable. Instead she had woken up.Since it was her day off,she did a thorough cleaning of everything she owned. She didn’t often get the chance to do that. Halfway through the laundry she got a call from her friend and colleague saying that one of the rescued girls had gone back to the streets. She wasn’t shocked much-this kind of thing happened regularly-but she felt hurt somehow. All that hard work and effort for nothing. It was hard, if not downright impossible,to help someone who didn’t want to be helped. It brought back the memories of a time when she would have given anything to get a chance. This girl leaving made her feel helpless and worthless,two feelings she had vowed a long time ago to never feel again.
It took the repeated assurances that all was well at the shelter before she could stifle the need to go back to the shelter and check it out herself. On her day off,no less. A couple of things stopped her, though. First,all her good clothes were drying and what saw had on-a pair of red shorts-was not fit for polite company. Secondly, her car was still in the repair shop where it had been for the past two days due to an engine problem. In fact, she was supposed to go and pick it up in the evening.
Two hours later, as she was just finishing up with the cleaning, her mechanic called with more bad news. Apparently, a break in had occurred and her car had been stolen, along with others. She could vaguely hear him droning on on how the police suspected that it had been an inside job as her mind struggled to come to terms with the fact that her cherry-red, BMW convertible was gone.A car she had saved up for over ten years and had affectionately named Andy. Gone
Just like that.
Her legs got wobbly and couldn’t hold her up. She collapsed into a chair as the mechanic expressed his deepest apologies. He also said that she was needed to stop by the garage and fill out some forms to aid in tracing the cars
Her part of the conversation was monosyllabic as she felt her ears ringing and the first stirrings of panic. She had to go to the garage. Now. She could not get there fast enough.
After a quick shower and a touched of makeup she was good to go. She had to wear the shorts as everything else was still wet. She was a bit apprehensive about that – Kenyans were notorious for their narrow
– mindedness and a lady in shorts in the middle of the day was bound to raise some eyebrows and inspire judgemental stares,or worse. It never used to be a problem when she was driving, as no one could see what she was wearing and the people who did didn’t care. She got her phone, identification, money and keys and left the house. She hardly noticed the uneven sidewalk or all the stares she was getting, both from men in admiration and women in envy. Her steps were quick and sure in most modest pair of heels – four – inch heels. A lady never left the house without her heels.
Years later, public transportation was still relatively the same. It felt like wearing an old coat. At the stage she had been touched by at least a dozen touts,each of them fighting for her attention and each wanted her to board their matatu. The music in some of them was ear – splitting and if she hadn’t been having such a bad day she might have enjoyed some of the songs. As it was she had a killer headache and opted for the quietest matatu. It was also the cheapest and three – quarters full. She had to take the aisle seat next to a matrony type, who looked pointedly at her shorts and looked her in the eyes with disgust. She inwardly sighed and sat there looking straight ahead. It filled up gairly quickly after that. She hated the way people brushed past her and she felt their junk. It nary made a difference if she tried to shrink back into her seat. As it was, the balding, fat man across from her never took his eyes away from her legs. She was certain he was mentally undressing her. What a creep!
As the matatu left the stage a man stood up. She at first thought it was the tout collecting fare then he started preaching. Preaching? She didn’t remember this from her days of public transport. Well, what do you know.The message of the day was about purity and not conforming to the ways of the world. Her seatmate kept stealing glances at her and murmuring Amen at intervals as if to say Yes, girlie. The man of God is talking about you. It seemed her sentiments were shaved by many as she could feel stares practically drilling holes through her head from all directions. Even the pastor couldn’t seem to look away. This time she knew these people where not seeing her exquisite (so she’d been told) beauty but a devil incarnate. It saddened her that these people, complete strangers, had judged her based only on what they could see and found her lacking. Inwardly, she quaked with fear and nerves but she portrayed a confidence she didn’t feel on the outside.
She was on her feet even before the matatu got to her stop. At the garage work virtually came to a standstill as all the mechanics ogled her legs. She was taken to the office where the owner and two policemen were waiting for her. They explained how there was a car smuggling ring that had been in operation for six months and had eluded every effort by the police to catch them. They worked by getting on of their own to infiltrate a garage, usually an intern, learn all the ins and outs then strike at an opportune time and steal all the cars. The police theorized that they probably had a garage of their own where they changed the appearance of the cars and resold them. They promised to do all they could to find her car. She had to sign a few forms for purposes of insurance and other details. The garage owner promised to get her a car that she could use in the meantime. He asked for her address so that he could have it delivered in two days. TWO DAYS! There was no way she was using public transportation again.
When the meeting concluded they all stood up and left, and even though they also stared at her legs, they tried not to be so obvious about it.
She had learned her lesson. This time she took a taxi back home. The man charged an exorbitant amount which she was forced to pay. She had no choice. The life she had carefully built for herself was disintegrating and there was nothing she could do about it. She wished she had never taken her car to that garage. To think of all she had gone through today because of their negligence!
She was fuming by the time she got home and had regressed to a habit she had thought she’d gotten over years ago. She was talking to herself again. Her mother…. No. That line of thought had to stop. It was too painful and she was not that girl any more.
Now in addition to being angry, she was now sad. She made her way quickly to the outer doors of her apartment building. Right now she just wanted to sleep and forget about this horrible day. If she woke up tomorrow, all the better. As she climbed the stairs, she wondered if she could sleep for twelve hours straight. Maybe she could take something to….
One moment she was walking, the next she was airborne. She let out a startled shriek as she tripped on one of three boxes that were lined up in the hallway, just across from her door. As she fell heavily to the floor, she winced as the heel of her right shoe cracked under the strain. What the….