Have I ever been ready for an examination or what?  It took a day off work, 4800 KSH, a registration ID and a Spanish brain to prepare for the Spanish DELE exam. I was ready for this! I had wagered to give the word success brand new meaning. My mind was reeling Spanish vocabulary and sentences as I left home that morning to sit my exam. If I passed this exam, I would get an international recognized diploma. This exam was it. The clouds were dark and heavy. My mind was set. Not even the weather could ruin my day.
As usual, I got into a 44 matatu heading for Thika Road. USIU, my Alma mater, was only minutes away. So was my exam. Punctuality was key. Punctuality was my middle name. Today I would lose my middle name.
The matatu I was in, used a different route. Pangani. It was pouring already. The traffic thickened. We weren’t even on Thika road. The six-lane super-highway was not doing tremendous either. It took one look outside my window and I baptized the China-made highway thickest Road.

As I contemplated on arriving in time, my matatu stalled. What was it now? The rain was enough delay already wasn’t it? I pulled in my sleeve and wiped the foggy window. The predicament was clear as day.

Two cops. No, wait, three. A female officer in the familiar blue opened the door and asked the conductor to step out. She popped her head in and out. In and out again. Poor conductor was anything but waterproof. It didn’t take long to discover that the matatu’s infraction was lack of seat-belts. The rest would need a Spielberg and a studio to bring out what happened in detail but I’m determined to express it. We were arrested.  Every single soul in the matatu. The police had no vestige of care. If they had, they would realize that Kenyans don’t have a wish list on what matatu to board and whether it has seat-belts or not especially if it is the only one on the terminus.  I was going to miss my exam. 

Kenyan police are the quintessence of irony. We were stuffed like old rags in a dirty smelly room together with other infraction breakers and taken to court in a van WITH NO SEAT-BELTS! It couldn’t get merrier than this. I had already had my fair share of awkward stares from speaking Spanish for 15 minutes on the phone with my lecturer. Only Natalia could get me out of this mess. She was most clear in Spanish so Spanish was our dialogue the entire time. She tried negotiating for me to do the exam on a later date. It was futile. Even in the van on the way to the court, I received the awkward stares. I wasn’t sure whether they stared for me having spoken in Spanish or for having made all the effort and still be in the same mess. I figured both.

I missed my DELE exam. I would have to wait till 2012 to sit the exam. 4800sh, strenuously saved, easily gone. I consoled myself. It was poetic justice. The police were actually doing their job. How do you have an improving economy? That thought fizzled before I could even say ‘ay caramba’. I was cuffed, put in a cell, taken before a magistrate and bored to tears hearing cases of chickens and motor vehicles sold to illicit traders. I pleaded guilty because it was a Friday. I paid my KSHS 500 fine and purchased my freedom. If you think it was that easy, don’t believe me. I’m still banking on Spielberg. 

As handcuffs were slapped on our wrists I was taking photos of my new prison bling.  As we were stuffed in one cell, I gasped for air and ran to the next available one before I was stunk to death. As I expected to receive a receipt for traffic infraction, I was handed a receipt for a criminal involvement. They got my file. They got my face. They got my umbrella. But they don’t have my attitude. I smiled as I was released at 4pm. What can a man do? Stomp out like the Hulk? Then what? When life goes rogue on you, give it a smile, give it a wink and thank God you’re alive. It could be worse? Zig was right. It’s your attitude, not aptitude, that determines your altitude. Make today worthwhile despite the pain. And if you’ve really tried and failed, get some altitude and fly a plane cause matatus have no seat belts.