Where I work, it is a whole lot of street full of mechanics. If you step out of my office, chances are that you might step on a mechanic. If you trip and fall, a mechanic will help you up. I am not a mechanic; I just work in a company that sells solar products. On this road, like any other, there are several food places. I can’t quite call them hotels or restaurants or even cafés because they are nothing close to these.
On the far right, under a guava tree is one such eatery. The ‘chef’ popularly known as Nic is such a happy and jolly fella. He cooks the tasties mandazi on the street and sells them at 5 bob. His food though is bland. No taste, hardly any salt but he has the most of mechanics eating there because of his fair prices.
Next to him is a make shift kibanda. This one has benches and a table. Where Nic sells a plate of beans and chapati for 60 bob, here the same goes for 70 bob, maybe because they have a wooden table, I wouldn’t know.
Next to her is another make shift. Actually, two. They share tables and chairs, the way chicken inn and pizza inn do. But their kitchens are a tad different. When I say kitchen, I don’t mean an actual kitchen, no, just space besides a wall, where there are several jikos lined up against the stone wall, let us call it an open kitchen for now. Most women go here, because it has plastic tables and chairs? And big umbrellas? Your guess is as good as mine. The food is well cooked, tasty too with a big bowl of kachumbari sitting at the center, the kachumbari has more pilipili than all the debts Kenya owes China, you get the drift? Me too. Here, most men come as well, because the lady who serves them has a behind that rivals Vera sidika, big and round. She knows they ogle all the time so she dresses in short tight skirts. If your man works along this street, it is either he comes home with a hard on after eating here or he wanks off at the yard.
Then there is yule mama mkamba. Hers is right outside my window. When she cooks, I suffer, and most of the times from constipation. She cooks omena on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I suffer good people, I suffer. This is where I mostly eat, because it is right outside the office. I mostly eat green peas and rice or chapati. The four tables make a small circle. She knows all her customers by name.
I always see him, the mechanic, I know he is a mechanic because of his dirty overall. You may expect dirt and oil beneath his fingers, like most mechanics but lo! His fingers are clean, and trimmed almost painted with a colorless nail polish, I suspect he does manicures every weekend. I can’t compare his fingers to mine. His beard is well trimmed, his head clean shaven too. He eats alone and barely talks. I have seen him every single day that I have eaten here. He never looks up from his food until he is done, then he pays and leaves. I have never heard him talk. I don’t talk either, I eat silently hoping that the food will not choke me as I swallow.
Today he sat next to me, he looked at me and smiled, that hideous smile that unnerves someone, I managed a quick smile then went back to my food. Hot steaming green peas and rice, my everyday treat.
“You should try ugali and managu sometime.”
I almost choke, something I am always careful to avoid.
“My name is Joe, beautiful dimple.”
I blush, involuntarily though.
I chew and chew and finally swallow. Because I didn’t want to talk with food in the mouth, my mama told me it is bad manners.
“Thanks, Joe. I am Diana.”
“How is it working along this street?”
“It is an experience of some sorts.”
So we get to talk, and my big mouth out of my curiosity asks him,
“How come your fingers are this clean? I mean…”
“Are you saying mechanics are dirty?”
“No, but they always have oil under their nails.”
He laughs, raises a brow and chuckles even more.
“Diana, I have a life outside of here.”
“Are you saying mechanics don’t have lives outside of here?”
“Huh! No, I use gloves when working to protect my hands, unless whatever I am handling does not need gloves.”
“Oh I see.”
“I am a DJ, in some club along Kiambu road.”
“You should come and watch me spin sometime.”
He finishes his food, hesitates for a second then pays for my food as well.
“See you around Diana.”
He smiles and walks away, pulling down his overall to reveal a tattoo on his left arm.
My curiosity is piqued, I can’t wait for tomorrow lunch……….loading….