Mombasa Mwaest

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I had visited Mombasa with my mum when I was very little and all I can recall from the visit was the Ocean with lots of water which scared me shitless. Years later I migrated (sounds sooo wildebeest, ha?) to Mombasa and made it my home as much as it adopted me as its son- its long lost son!

Ever since the epic migration I have never yearned to leave Mombasa. Well, I did, for a year on work assignments and I created lots of drama when they were taking me to the Nairobi bound bus. My boss had to borrow a tranquilizer gun from his bro who works at the KWS to ‘tranquil’ my ass with the same dosage they shoot Jumbos with just so I could chew a momentary blackout wanisafirishe!

They bundled me into the bus and gave clear instructions to the driver not to let me out when the tranquilizer’s effect died out. He was only to let me out at Mtito so I could pee, poop, stretch my limbs and grab a quick bite. Further instructions were to take me straight to Mathare if I created any more unnecessary drama!

I cooled down once I realized eish was real and big boss really wanted me to be in Nai.

Seated next to me on the bus was a very old gentleman, a kikuyu by the look of his clothes! I figured he might have been to coast visiting his kids or grandkids and they may have taken him to the beach for a swim. The old man had swam and laughed his good heart out cursing how the water tasted salty- salty like the rough ball of salt his cattle licked back home. In the melee of splashing around the water he may have seen a Mzungu chic in a bikini jogging on the sandy beach, and he may have stared at her white ass till she disappeared into the entrance of a hotel.

Now, chaps from upcountry swim funny, especially those from around Kiambu where there are no rivers or lakes. Even among thousands of swimmers they still stick out like sore thumbs, especially Iff they keep running around with those black tubes around their waists.

I don’t mean to offend upcountry fellas, no. I mention this because I feel them. Been there, done that and I have a tshirt to show for it. I was once a newbie in Mombasa and the first time I went to the beach was a mess; I made a complete fool of myself and the swimming costume I had that day was doing a poor job of keeping my jewels ‘undercover’. Haha!

When you go to Nyali beach and see a bunch of chaps in Cowboy under wears swimming haphazardly like cows in a cattle dip conversing loudly amid copious gulps of salty water, please do not blame them. Just know they are kyuks from Kiambu. Smile, take a snap for your Instagram if you must and move on- just let them be!

The Nairobi bound bus was Dreamline. It has this huge Telly at the front where they were playing a nasty video with slim chicitas shaking serious flesh. It was disgusting. I closed my eyes and midway I noticed the old man staring at the brown skins in the video, mouth wide open. He was seeing with both his eyes and mouth. I called the guy who was giving us free sodas and kindly asked him to remove the videos and replace them with something more respectable for the sake of the old man. Mr Grandpa protested, said he was enjoying it and that he did not mind.

Am like what the ef?! He stares on and I just keep quiet. I was totally right about him staring at mzungus in bikinis! See what Mombasa does to people?

The bus drifted from Mombasa town heading out of the town and as I watched the palm trees slowly disappear I was engulfed with a devastatingly dark cloud of nostalgia. Right up to that moment I had spent several years in Mombasa and to say the truth I had grown overly fond of it. I had even developed an accent and dropped most of the sheng I had grown up with. Now I was leaving my beloved Mombasa and heading to Nairobbery and all its hustles.

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Not that I have anything against Nai, but it just didn’t feel right going back. Sikatai, Nai had taught me a lot of stuff especially how to survive on the streets but compared to the laid back life I had gotten used to in Mombasa I kinda felt like Sucre, that jamaa from Prison Break. Si you remember how he got arrested after the escape and got thrown back in prison? That’s how I felt about going back to Nai.

I thought of the many instances I had nasty experiences in Nai, like that time I got stopped by a chokosh at the old Globe Roundabout. He was holding fresh human excreta in his let palm. I assumed it was his coz it would be utterly insane telling his pal, ‘Cheki mtu wangu (holding out his palms), si wewe ume dishi saa hii? Ebu niangushie kitu  nitishie kale ka babi ka nakuom hivi…’ and his pal would bend over, drop his pants and proceed to leave ‘kitu’ on the guys palms! No, that was his!

That day I only had kedo like thirty bob in my wallet which was my fare back home, and a fake chain I had bought somewhere. I parted with both and the chokosh told me that If I passed there again ‘nitakuvua njumu mpaka ngotha’! He ordered me to run ‘kama umetumwa na mamako kwa duka’. I obliged and ran!

I missed Mombasa like crazy. No, like an itch. I craved the weather, the beach, and the commodious people. I promised myself that I would hit the beach the moment I got back and roll naked in the sand. I would leave pretty bum depressions where I sat naked, stand aside and watch sun tanned mzungus take snaps of it with their fancy cameras, wondering what kind of creature made them!!

 

 

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Abu Amirah

Abu-Amirah is a Mombasa-based writer whose story “The swahilification of Mutembei” was shortlisted for the Writivism 2016 short story prize. He is currently working on getting his first short-story anthology published.