On Saturday I had two events to attend. First I had been invited to a student’s event by the University of Nairobi School of Law Christian Union. The meeting was at the national museum. I was also to lead a meeting of some of my friends who I schooled with at the same school until we completed our studies a couple of years back. The students meeting was to run from 10.00 am to 1.30pm. That would allow me to meet my friends at King’eero at 2.30pm.
I was at the entrance of the national museum at around 10.15 am, so I called my contacts so they could direct me as to where the meeting was. Nobody was picking my calls. So I started getting agitated and paced back and forth between the two museum gates. I usually carry a book with me, so that when I find myself in such a situation I just find a quiet spot to sit down and read as I wait. That morning I had with me a copy of C.S Lewis’ Mere Christianity and a copy of the Saturday Nation newspaper but I was for some reason too agitated to read.
There was a girl standing at the lower entrance of the museum watching me with interest perhaps as she waited for someone. I have been trying to imagine what she was thinking as she watched me, a short bald man pacing up and down with an agitated face. Had it been outside a maternity labor ward it would have made perfect sense. As a matter of fact, in the vicinity of a hospital it would be understandable. But a museum? She must have assumed I had been stood up by a date who had belatedly been inducted into Njoki Chege’s philosophy on short bald men. And by the way I am not short. Short of what? Please. I am just height deprived. That’s all.
At that point of course I did not care what the girl or anybody else thought. I was engaged in a sanctimonious (finally I get to use that word) assessment of my time management skills. I convinced myself that I must be a very awesome man because I don’t keep people waiting (never mind the fact that had the meeting started as scheduled I would have been a quarter of an hour late). I lectured myself about how important it is that people respect other people’s time. Not even the Christian Union Secretary’s text informing me that they had gotten late in another meeting could placate my self-righteous indignation. In the process, I actually walked all the way from the Museum Hill to Moi Avenue without realizing it.
Anyway, after running some errands in the CBD my indignation abated and by the time the secretary called me to tell me they were ready I was back to good spirits. Although the meeting started very late, I had such a good time that I forgot about the meeting I was coordinating at King’eero. It was only when my friends started calling me that I realized it was close to 3pm. I therefore I excused myself from the student’s meeting which was concluding anyway.
Outside the museum I flagged down a matatu and hopped in and sat next to the driver. The original idea was to get to Westlands and there get a vehicle to Wangige via Lower Kabete so that I could alight at King’eero. However when the conductor informed me that they were headed to Wangige via Mwimto, a quick mental calculation told me that going straight to Wangige was a better plan than sitting at Westlands waiting for a Lower Kabete vehicle to fill up. After all, King’eero is a walkable distance from Wangige. I therefore relaxed on my seat generally feeling very wise. You see, baldness comes extraordinary wisdom.
The feeling did not last long though. As we climbed the gentle ascent just past Sarit, the matatu started jerking and moaning like Baalam’s donkey. That’s when I realized my error of judgment. The thing was an ancient piece of junk, the type that move in a slightly tilted angle as if the rear wheels are tired of being slowed down by the front ones and are therefore seeking to overtake them. It did not help matters to realize that just behind the driver’s cabin were bags of cabbages whose stench seemed to increase every time the matatu complained of aching joints like my ageing grandma. If you have travelled to Wangige through Ngecha Road, you are aware that the ascent at Sarit is the gentlest of a series of hills. My situation was looking bleak indeed.
Anyway we crawled all the way to Spring Valley where the matatu stopped at Total Petrol Station to drop a passenger. Suddenly, I think as an afterthought, the driver declared that the matatu needed water as it was overheating. So he instructed the conductor to fetch water at the tap at the petrol station. Then he switched off the engine.
I turned to complain to this driver and realized I had not noticed his face before. This guy had a very interesting facial expression. His open mouth had a formation that suggested in every way that he was smiling. However, his nose was twisted in the manner of a sneer, and his eyes were squinted as though the sun was blinding him, never mind the fact that he was wearing a cap. The one thing I can assure you is that this is exactly the kind of a man I don’t want for a father in law. When he looks at you, he leaves you with the feeling that you belong to an interesting genre of idiots that he has not encountered before, but one he suspects he can tolerate if he puts his mind to it.
Of course I did not complain because I strongly suspected that he would just ignore me, or worse, he would say something that would multiply my ego by the factor zero. In fact, my assessment was vindicated when he called out his conductor and told him a few stinging truths in Kikuyu. You see, the conductor instead of fetching water for the matatu as instructed, had stated drinking it, pouring it on himself and generally behaving like a well fed kitten on a sunny afternoon.
Finally we did crawl to Wangige and I arrived at King’eero at about 5pm. I found my starving friends had not even taken lunch, waiting for me. It is then I remembered my earlier indignation towards the students. Truth is, my friends had every right to be mad at me but they weren’t. It is only my self-righteous self who had felt the need to remove specks in other people eyes while I had a log in mine. I don’t advocate for lateness. It is an annoying habit and unfair to people who have to wait. All I am saying is, sometimes when people get late, cut them some slack. It might happen to you and you require others to wait for you as well.