You know that lately I have adopted a semi clean eating regimen, right? And by semi, I simply avoid carbs as much as I can and will only consume them in the form of oatmeal and granola (which I recently discovered and I am obsessed with) for breakfast. The rest of my meals revolve around chicken, fish, traditional vegetables, sukumawiki and garden salad. I treat myself to guacamole occasionally. However, most of last week was filled with bad eating, culminating in my favorite meal in the whole world (pork and spinach at 1824) on Friday, Beef Sliders and Fries at Sankara and lots of champagne (thanks Trisha!) on Saturday and Nyama Choma with Ugali and Fanta Orange (I don’t even like soda, see the devil) on Sunday.
By Monday morning, I was pretty fed up with my eating habits. I decided to revert to clean eating and elevate my fitness game to a level that would undo the damage that I may have done. The plan was to be active six days a week, doing Bikram Yoga thrice and running a total of 40km in three sessions of 10kms (Tuesday), 15kms (Thursday) and 15kms (Saturday). But fate (rather someone who wants me really fat) had other plans.
At around 2.00pm on Monday, I am happily munching some delightful grilled chicken from my office desk while catching up with Anthony Bourdain’s escapades on explorepartsuknown.com (lunch break, don’t judge). My phone pings. An email checks in. I flip it up to view it only to read that the evening yoga class has been cancelled owing to the presidential election results announcement. The grilled chicken suddenly loses its flavor. The election fever rains on my parade! I can’t run in the evening because I am also worried about my safety on the road and I am not a member of any gym.
“Everything happens for a reason.” I say to myself and take the last bite of the chicken which is now cold and sad.
Tuesday morning. I wake up promptly at 5.00am. I intend to run but weirdly, I have no desire to be out in the dark cold. Perhaps I am still fearful about safety on the roads. I figure I can go for Bikram Yoga instead but the problem is that the 90-minute class will start at 6.00am and I will only be done at 7.30am, yet it is my turn to drop Xena to school. Luckily, after a bit of cajoling, the mister agrees to do it for me. I leave the house at 5.40am, get to Lavington Green at 5.50 only to find a bunch of yogis standing next to the lift wearing woeful faces. All Tuesday classes had been cancelled without notice! After venting for about 10 minutes, we disperse.
I drive out at 6.10am, still full of energy and yearning to burn major calories. What to do? It is too late to run. I like my runs slightly after 5.00am when the pavements are deserted and I don’t have to beg for way from the walking nation. So, I do what I should have done months ago and drive to The Junction at Smart Gym where I was a member earlier on in the year. Only Smart Gym can allow you to make such decisions on a whim given that membership is only Ksh 3,500pm! Finally, I have a permanent Plan B (well at least for a month) if I can’t run or do Yoga. I kill it (I would like to think of it that way hehe) on the treadmill for thirty minutes and lift weights for another thirty minutes. On Wednesday morning, the stars are aligned. I have an uneventful most rewarding 10km run at 5.00am.
But on Thursday morning, turns out the universe is not happy with me, something I only find out at 5.20am. As I drive down Oleodume Road lost in beautiful thoughts and loving the stillness of the early morning, I am suddenly thrust forward and I can almost feel my brain shaking in my head. I let out a loud scream born out of confusion. My seatbelt holds me in place. It occurs to me (30 seconds later, thanks slow reflex *rolling eyes*) that my car has been banged thoroughly at the back. Last I checked, I was the only one on the road.
I look through the driver’s mirror and see this Toyota 110, a dirty shade of silver. I don’t have the courage to step out because I am worried that the occupants could be thugs. In fact, I see (or imagine) the driver’s door opening and I speed off like I am the culprit. The car reverses so fast (no time to get the number plate) and turns into Diani Road. I tell myself that I did the right thing because my life is more important. After all, the car is insured, something that we begrudgingly pay premiums towards every month, but whose benefits we cannot downplay.
I get to Smart Gyms at 5.35am and I am on so much fire I could light up the whole of Kiambu County! I spend fifteen minutes on the treadmill and half an hour in one of those classes where you do one million exercises, each for about 30 seconds then you move on to the next. By the time I leave the gym in my black peplum mini dress and black cape, I am in such a resplendent mood and the accident is long forgotten. I only remember that I need an abstract when I see the mister’s text asking, “Ati what happened? You should have gone straight to the cop station.” There is no enquiry about how I am fairing but who’s checking?
At 7.45am, I drive into Kilimani Police. I step out of my car and strut through a gravel pavement in my green six-inch stilettos. A cop seated on a stationary motorbike outside a stony white building gawks, unashamedly. He smiles. I smile back and walk into the building. It is a rudimentary office with three desks. Four cops occupy it, three seated at the desks and one tall swarthy cop is standing in the middle of the room holding a mug of what I assume to be tea in one hand and a mandazi in the other.
“Karibu chai.” He extends the mug towards me. I politely turn down the offer.
All eyes are now on me, specifically on my mini dress. I can’t fault them.
One of them, a charming chubby guy seemingly in his fifties, asks me to take a seat. He inquires about the reason for my visit and I explain that I was involved in a hit and run on Oleodume Road. He says he needs to have a look at the car and I walk him to where I packed.
“Sasa madam, hizi viatu unatembea aje nazo?” He asks, loosely translated to mean “How are you able to walk in your shoes?”
“I am used to it.” I respond and move on swiftly to the matter at hand. “Here’s the car.”
He inspects it and we go back to the office, one that’s more basic than our security guard’s hut. In about five minutes he has recorded everything in the OB, that big book that’s the height of my two-year-old child. He winds up with the OB and hands it over to the next cop who is not in uniform and is wearing a hideous brown suit. His one and only job is to fill out Police Abstracts. In less than a minute, he is done.
I am impressed by their cordiality, the speediness (took about ten minutes to assess the damage and record my statement) and most importantly, the fact that up to this point, no one has asked for chai. If anything, they’ve offered me chai instead!
So, I stand up to pick the Abstract from the other guy but he tells me that it has to be signed by “Mkubwa”. I can see fear emanating from his eyes as he says Mkubwa. He carries a bunch of Abstract Forms and walks over to Mkubwa’s office which is right behind the office that houses us. Five minutes grow into ten minutes. I wait. And wait. I pull out my phone and go through Whatsapp messages to distract myself but twenty minutes later, I can’t sit still anymore. I spot the plain clothed police in his oversize brown suit having a smoke outside, so I turn to Mr Chubby guy and ask him how his friend is just enjoying a cigarette as I wait.
“Why is he not bringing my form?” I ask in desperation.
“The person who takes the form to be signed can’t be the one to pick it up.” He says.
“Ok. Do I need to go pick it?” I ask.
He laughs, and so does the cop on the other desk who has been on his phone all this time, issuing instructions to someone, maybe a foreman, on what kind of roofing they should put on some house I assume he’s constructing.
For about five minutes, the two then debate on who should go pick the form, one claiming that he picked the last batch, the other saying that this is not his case to handle. There seems to be a genuine fear of dealing with the so-called Mkubwa who is the Deputy Officer. The room which was previously filled with laughter and chit-chat is suddenly unbearably stifling. I listen helplessly as I am tossed from one cop to another. I check my watch. It’s 8.30am.
Finally, the tall swarthy cop agrees to go fetch it. He comes back fifteen minutes later and I am tempted to ask if Mkubwa was appending his signature of writing a thesis. Or if his office is in Rongai. I let it slide because finally I can leave, except that there’s a small problem.
“What is your number plate again?” He asks as he flips through the forms. I tell him my car’s number plate. He goes through all the four forms again and declares that mine is not one of them.
It finally dawns on me that Mkubwa has refused to submit my form because I did not give a bribe to accompany it. This whole ridiculous delaying tactic was meant to frustrate me enough to ask, “Is there anything I can do to have that form back now as opposed to next year?” Frustrated I am, in fact, I am boiling mad, but I suck it in and act a fool. I sit there and after about 10 minutes, I ask Mr chubby guy to go get the form.
“I am sure Mkubwa is done signing my form now. Even my five-year daughter writes faster than that.”
He hesitates like you would when you are forced to go see the school principal, and then steps out. I contemplate following him so that I can put a face to this monster who makes grown up men cower. I picture an extremely dark mean looking seven feet tall giant weighing about 175kgs. Just as I am mustering the courage to invade Mkubwa’s privacy, Mr Chubby comes back after five minutes and asks me to follow him to Mkubwa’s office.
It’s a small cubicle with one desk. A slender man in a neatly pressed brownish uniform sits behind it. He is no giant, but he has this spine-tingling countenance, the kind that Khaleesi’s dragons bear. I greet him. He ignores me.
Mr Chubby mentions that I am the lady whose car was involved in a hit and run accident on Oleodume road. Mkubwa dismisses him and asks me to have a seat. He says that 5.20am is too early for that kind of accident and I agree with him as I also found it strange. I tell him that I suspected the driver was a thug so I couldn’t stop.
“Why did you not report the case to Kileleshwa Police?” He asks
“Because I imagined that is Kilimani Police’s jurisdiction.” I answer.
“Madam, your story doesn’t add up.” He says.
“What bit is hard to understand?” I ask, as I proceed to narrate the ordeal again.
“Why did you not come here straight away?” He asks.
“Because I had to go to the gym first and drop my daughter to school.” I say.
“I know Oleodume Road like the back of my hand and there’s no way a hit and run could have happened at the time you state.” He says.
“Oh really? Are there roads that are more susceptible to hit and runs than others? You think I had nothing better to do with my time than come to this place at 7.45am to submit a fictitious story?” I blurt.
My rage cannot be contained anymore. For the first time he looks up, as if to get a good look of this woman who has the guts to talk him down.
“You want a Police Abstract to help with the insurance process but I do not append my signatures for the sake of it. To you, this might just be a piece of paper, but to me it is security.” He preaches.
“Do you need me to go over my story a third time? Will a drawing of the scene of accident ease your heart?”
He goes quiet for a minute.
“Did you say the accident happened on Oleodume Road?” He asks.
“Yes, I have said that about twenty times this morning.” I say.
“You should have reported it to Muthangari Police. This is not our case to handle.” He says with finality.
I tilt my hand to see the time. It’s 9.00am. Unable to take in his lunacy any longer, I stand up to leave but not before confirming one little fact.
“Isn’t that something your boys should have pointed out the minute I walked in here at 7.45am?”
“They don’t know how these things work.”
I want to hit his head with the OB but I restrain myself. I don’t want to give him a real reason to keep me there.
“So, should I head to Kileleshwa or Muthangari?” I ask as I walk out. I am willing to start the process all over again but will not part with a single cent. This imbecile does not deserve a salary, leave alone a bribe.
“Come back here.” He says. “I will sign the form for you much as your story is not convincing.”
I stand there with my arms crossed over my chest as he takes his time to append two signatures.
I read it. Pole for the accident… show us the shoes you were wearing… I am curious lol. I was trying to picture it as I read. You’re such a good writer Joy.
Ahhh thank you so much Ticho. I’ll share a pic on IG soon.
Pole for that..indeed ‘Utumishi kwa Wote’
It is sad how deeply rooted corruption is in this country, such that the cops expect bribes even when there’s absolutely no reason why one should be bribing them.
I can only imagine your frustration. Pole for that nonsense. Some people are so bad at their jobs hadi you wish you could go back to school, learn what they do and do it yourself
You wonder why some people cant just do their jobs without being coaxed. It is as if that stupid DO was doing me a favor. I pay him damn it, with my taxes.