The Mask Joker

That she’s outspoken, almost loud and averse on weighty matters is always very visible with the acts and verbatim she sustains in discussions, her social media posts and talks. Strangely, given a chance to introduce herself, each time – without battling an eyelid – she would describe herself as a soft spoken soul who does more observation than talk!

I have come to accept that she loves it that way, bouncing mind readers off her back with coined theories – more akin to lethal assassins who leave no evidence of their work on their trail. One such assassin, Jimmy Hoffa while looking for a killer, he called Frank Sheeran – a mafia hitman – and said to him, “I heard you paint houses.” It seems she adapted well, perfected ways of dealing with the shrewd.

It was a Sunday evening; I was bubbling with stories I wanted to offload to her. Being a writer herself, she has this magically rare gift to hijack your narration; sometimes to a point of telling it herself. How she manages to get a line from your hijacked story and later write about it still puzzles me to date. She, two days later, informed me – she didn’t ask –  that she’s writing a story based on what I told her!

That Sunday however she tried doing more listening. Perhaps she was intimidated by the tools I had brought along; a pen and paper. I had figured out, as Ndii would, that diagrams tell a story better than a million yells.

I requested her to meet me at Creamy Inn, in south B. It is closer to her place, and we could get some hot coffee for the chilly evening. She was bubbly as usual, when we finally met; a few yards from the Creamy Inn shop. As we walked to the shop, juggling on one end to force in wafts of fresh hair through my mouth to suffice the already choked nostrils blocked by the new norm in town, masks, and chatting on the other, I managed to push through her ears a few escapades I encountered in my trip the other week.

I must have been preoccupied throughout the walk by the urge to finally gulp some hot African coffee or the pressing matter of cheeky excitement – that I was at last going to tell a story, my way, with diagrams!


Standing at the entrance, the guard – a male guard – appeared more interested in taking her temperature readings than mine. I was dazzled. I stepped back, turned my gaze on her, she was innocently fixing her unamused look on the guard who minced not his words, “Madam hauna mask. We can’t allow you in!”

It was at that instance, that I realized that this one here, had decided to push her courage off the limits; her face was not only all round, smooth and bare, she didn’t even have the necessary nuisance, the mask, hanging on her chin. She didn’t have it in her flowing trench coat pockets either. Chei! This kind of boldness is unseen in the city these days. We were turned away.

As we cascaded the tiny stairs down the shop, she was busy rumbling curses on some invisible health official whom she claimed was stretching some jokes too far. She loved the teasing, I dropped in a word or two in support of her cause. This boldness, two days later, was put into fine measure, a true test while we took a trek from town through Kenya Polytechnic college stretch. They, the boys in blue, were arresting violators of the mask rule and bundling them in the ugly rover, the mini black Maria. They approached us from behind in their rover, so they never had a clear vision of her obvious breach of the law; she had the mask on but as a chin makeup.

Upon seeing two more characters caught unware in this murky mask business being shoved into the back of the slow moving rover, she quickly adjusted the mask almost to the descent of her eyes. A true keeper indeed of the law. So she can be scared after all; her daring knew new bounds! She just needed a little motivation in its right dosage from the perfect source. After that near – miss brush with forced quarantine, she went forth warning everyone who dared treat the mask abnormally of the impending danger.

She still writes and talks, Rumona is her style; her other name – she swears by Amadioha – was a product of an ill – fated ritual; she has learned to quietly live with.  Recently little bird whispered to me that she never parts with the mask nowadays; she sleeps with them on, for no one knows the day or hour Matiang’i boys in blue will cart her away for mask violation.


The health experts who advise us to put the masks on, practise social distancing and wash hands do not tell us thus to avoid the long arm of the law, the law can still catch us in our numerous non – health related areas of violation. They tell us to follow the guidelines for our own good, our neighbor’s and the society’s in general. Sometimes a crisis is taken lightly until the dreaded god of destruction, too long slighted, pays you a visit in the comfort of your own home.

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment” – Oprah W.

Be Safe***Wash hands***Wear a mask***Practise social distancing

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