At The Hairdressers: A Slice of Nairobi Life (Part B)

CCTV Cameras
Njoki and Sharon’s exit gives Njeri time to ask Mama Glenny about her Kisii girl. Mama Glenny explains that the Kisii girl is no longer with her, she was forced to send her away. She says her two-year old child had told her that auntie and uncle drink papa’s juice but she didn’t believe or understand him since she trusted the Kisii girl who had been with her for many years, since Glenny was small. Apparently, as soon as Mama Glenny and her husband left for work, the Kisii girl and Meru guard would act like the mama and baba (mother and father) of the home. Mama Glenny and her husband had earlier decided to install CCTV cameras in their home, seeing as they leave the house-help and guard in the house the whole day with their two-year old child. This they did in full view of the Kisii girl and Meru guard, which makes Mama Glenny wonder what was wrong with them when they decided to misuse her things.

CCTV footage at their house provided visual proof of how the Kisii girl and Meru guard after finishing their chores, would place the infant child between them and watch TV as they sipped wine and spoon-fed each other, just like the couples in the soap operas they watch. Mama Glenny is especially pained that the Kisii girl even if she has problems, cannot come to Mama Glenny for help, since she abused her goodness and broke her bridges.

A new mobile phone
It’s not long before Njoki and Sharon return. Njeri was right. Njoki explained her story to the same KPLC guard, who walked with her to the cashier. By coincidence, the cashier’s supervisor is standing at the counter with the cashier, and makes him do a count of all the money he has, and sure enough, there is an extra two-hundred shillings. Njoki is lucky. Had she returned after the cashier’s lunch break, he would have already done his cash count, closed his accounts and happily pocketed the two-hundred shilling without anyone’s knowledge. Feeling triumphant, Njoki and Sharon head on to the phone shops.

Njoki’s return to the KPLC office at Sarit center also allows Sharon to buy the new mobile phone that her mother is gifting her after passing her exams with flying colors. Njeri has instructed her not to get a phone with facebook, she doesn’t want Sharon to be corrupted by the internet. Njeri saw the deal (phone advertisement) in the newspaper and explains that, unlike Mary, she doesn’t buy second hand phones which cost exactly the same as the new ones that even come with a warranty. Ignorance, Njeri says, often is the reason why people without money remain without money.

The Kept Woman
Just then another client walks in. She too, is a long-standing client of Njeri’s. She wants Njeri to wash and re-weave her hair, but Njeri is not quite done with my hair. This new entrant fits my image of the skinny-tall-kept girl, clothed to draw attention and never -to-be-seen without the high heels and long fake hair (forgive my prejudice). She has no bag but in her hand is a small purse and mobile phone. The phone’s earphones are permanently stuck to her ears, as if to block out the world. When she speaks she takes one earphone out.

Her first words are an apology to Njeri for not coming sooner. She goes on to explain that her Sonko (wealthy white boyfriend) has been around and she didn’t have time. After a few minutes, she asks Njeri, “Kwani watu wanaopatwa na stroke hawaponi?” (don’t people that get strokes recover?). Njeri responds that people do get well. With heart-felt emotion, the client explains that Sonko had to return home (somewhere abroad) urgently because his father had a stroke and shortly thereafter passed away. She seems to know the father personally and is quite sad at his passing. She explains that this probably means that Sonko will not come back to Kenya till around August, so she is going to be broke for awhile. As she awaits Njeri, she decides to have Njoki re-apply her toe-nail polish; she can’t afford to get her hands done as well.

Time Flies
And before i know it, four hours have swiftly passed by. I’ve spent three weeks in Nairobi, meeting friends and family, all familiar to me. Yet these last four hours, Nairobi has offered me something different – a genuine ‘joie de vivre’. I thank Njeri for a job well done, pay for her services and head out onto my next errands.

*Disclaimer – this post is written in Kenyan everyday English, highly influenced by Swahili and other local languages. It’s re-told as observed with only a few name changes to protect the privacy of the clients. Apologies for any toes that may have been stepped on, I have done my best to keep to the facts of what I saw and heard.



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