Today I was reminded that old is indeed gold. We biashara people are experiencing lean times currently. I wish these elections can be held in a country next door then they just bring us the winner for swearing in. And for me the tougher it gets, the more anxious I get. So I woke up at 4.24 AM and sat in my TV room eyeballing the silence. I wanted to hear that small, still voice people say we should listen to. Is God a tenor or bass? I wonder.
When I was a little boy, my parents were my heroes and all I wanted was to be like my Dad. We wear the same shoe size so I think I achieved that. As a teenager, my folks were not impressive at all and I admired other random Kenyans. Then now at my age (and a parent) I’m back to seeking out my parents counsel in most of what I do. They’re now my heroes again. I’ve gone full circle in a sense. Recently I sought out a client who owes me money and little did I know I was going in for a counselling session.
This is an old lady I met last year and she gave us some gava work. Yet no payment since last year. After many unfruitful phone calls since the year began, I decided to meet her for tea and attempt to get my cash. It’s a pretty penny and getting paid now would feel like winning Angukia Chapaa.
So we met at Mobil plaza in Muthaiga in a funny cafeteria that seems to be in a dark corridor leading to the various shops. This mall must belong to a kyuk (I know my people) as this cafe is clearly an afterthought in an attempt to maximise floor space. After the usual salaams and political commentary, (the most popular Kenyan ice breaker) mama went on to tell me how the chain of getting cash out from gava has been like scaling a cliff with the rocks sweating soapy, Omo water. One step forward and three huge slips back. As I listen to her, I’m sipping my flat drinking chocolate and growing tense preparing my firm comeback. This lady qualifies to be my mum yet I have to be firm with her and demand my cash.
I started,” Mama iko shida, bills are piling up and you told me when we started working together that you pay 60 days max after the job”. I went on to tell her my frustration and how I feel she played me. I just want my cash, sio story mingi. I didn’t get the cash but more – still broke but wiser. You see, mama is a deeply spirii Lady and I believe her when she says hajalipwa. At least that’s what my fourth to seventh senses combined tell me (do men have more than five)
She went on to give me her life story, (including her business journey) and how at each stage the cheese has moved, so has she. She said, Kijana, when you’re in a tight spot like mine and you feel like you’re pounding a steel door that won’t open, then its about time you move on to something else, bigger and hopefully better.
This lady, who is my mum’s age, has been through highs and really low lows in biashara and in her family life and here she is smiling and telling me without a doubt that chums will come. She told me,” It’s not the cash you need, (of course I disagree), open your eyes to what is coming up next”. That was deep. Our tea date went into lunch hour and after we parted, I left knowing I have to first be psyched and positive to pursue other opportunities even when they are still unknown.
Mama then told me this cash will be exactly what I need to jump start my next gig that will keep me engaged and fulfilled for the next 17 years. Seventeen because I’ve been in my current hustle since the year 2000. It seems as we grow older we get more staying power and our temperatures rise much slower. Old age is life’s paracetamol. Uzee can also make one more generous. She’s getting into a new business of supplying building materials to some parastatal and says its guys my age doing those things and making money. So she’ll weka me inside once she learns the ropes. I didn’t even ask her, she just offered. Yaani… I drove off still broke, (in pocket, not in mind) but calmer somehow. Now it’s time to relearn how to trust God and reduce ujuaji so that faith can have a chance to grow. Back to Sunday school, 40s version, I tell you.