Most days I wake up at 6:30 and as soon as I do the race begins, the clock starts ticking, the sand begins to run down the hourglass, the deadline starts approaching and all the other 5 word phrases that signify that time is running out.
The rat race can be literal and I know that some of it is my fault because of the high wire act that I pull every morning. It can be counted on two fingers the number of times that I have been in the office by 7:50. Most days I stroll in just as the clock hits 8:00. Its impressive if I do say so myself that I can be this timely.
However it means that every second counts. The alarm rings and I snooze it. It rings again and I snooze again. There are levels of explanation for this, the first is that the two snoozes are built into my daily routine. The reason they are is I’m tired when I get up in the morning. Sleeping is tiring and at the end of an eight hour effort I need my 20 minute nap. I finally began watching True Detective and one of the characters says in the first episode, “I don’t sleep I dream.” That’s how I feel sometimes. I dream and I dream a lot. They are tiring excursions to other worlds where nothing makes sense. Let’s be honest if I someone from anywhere else made it into this world they would wake up shaking and moaning from the nightmare being inflicted on them. Only with dream logic can it make sense that mpeketoni was attacked a third time.
My dreams are vivid and immensely real then I forget them. Except when I have one that confuses me about reality. I lost my water bottle and then I remembered seeing it by my bed. So when I woke up I reached for it and it wasn’t there. I looked under the bed and it wasn’t there. Then I realized that I must have had some bullshit dream about a world not too different from this one and in that world I still had my water bottle. Then there are these canyons between the dreams. Times when I fall into a sleep so deep and real that its scary. Blackness for what feels like seconds and then I wake up and my heart is beating so fast my chest may tear apart because there was something there I needed to escape. Anyway sleeping is hard work and as soon as I’m done I need my nap. I need my two.
I jump into the shower and it has to be a quick one. I remember long, languid showers. I remember steam coming off me like I had been raised from the depths of hell. I remember 30 minutes going by as water washed away my dirt and in some way my worries and stresses and troubles. That does not happen anymore. I can be in there for 5 minutes tops. 3 minutes after I’m in I begin to freak out. I’m not balancing on the high wire the way I should. I’m almost falling off, extremely late. Then I’m out.
Throw on a shirt and on the good days yesterday’s trouser. That’s the best. I hate the process of changing a trouser. I don’t like looking in my pocket for change and putting it in the other trouser. I hate knowing just how little money I have. I dislike the process of threading my belt through the trouser its another form of confinement. So the days when its yesterday’s trouser are the best days.
Put a cup of water in the microwave and press one minute then I polish my shoes as I wait. High wire acts are about balancing. You have to hold that pole and look around you, step carefully and feel the wind all at the same time. That’s why I can’t wait for the water to warm before my shoes are shined. As soon as the water is warm a dollop of honey is put into the cup. Stirred, mixed and drank.
Then I take my shit. I love my morning shit. A good book is necessary company and a nice ten minutes blocked out. I sit on that throne and I’m as patient as a king waiting for supplications. No problems at all just let it all out slowly and professionally. This takes up a lot of the time. If I could excise this then I would never ever be late. But who would want to excise this, its beautiful and important.
There’s so little time I don’t even put on my clothes. I throw them on my body and hightail out of there. The shirt buttons are closed at the stage. The shirt is left untucked and tie unfastened for as long as I can. Then the wait for the matatu begins. Kilieleshwa matatus also known as the takers of the scenic route fill up in the morning. As long as I can get one in 5 minutes I’m fine. This is not always the case. The other day I saw a mat driver and he ole lenkud so much I knew getting in was a bad idea. But I value my uhuru and I did. This guy had stopped for a cigarette. Nothing wrong with a cigarette but if you cannot smoke and drive at the same time there is a problem. He then went on and drove ever so slowly to the stop. It was clear that the matatu driven by this guy would take a ridiculously long time to get me to the stage and it did.
Prime bank I get off and walk to westlands. My,my, my are there beautiful women walking the other way. I’ve really studied my favourites till I know their gait. There’s no time for a chat because I’m always a minute off of being late. Notwithstanding all this I will stop at the bridge for a gaff. I love it. It cools everything down. It prepares me for the office, its at the borderline between work and home and once I do this I can begin tucking in and tightening noose. I walk the rest of the day and get there between 7:57 and 8:02.
Every day. It’s a well oiled machine calibrated to perfection. It serves me well and I know I can depend on it. If only I worked somewhere that gave me the leeway to be justa few minutes late. Instead there is this bullshit fine at the office if people arrive late. 300 shillings of bullshit. I can’t figure how anyone agreed to this. On the days its enforced even being one minute late means you hand over that 300. So there is a reason for the highwire to be better oiled.