A SEAT-BELT A DAY KEEPS THE COPPERS
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.