Nairobi Chronicles

Original story – Lary H. Omodhi *5 min read*

“Bro, unajua nini? I’m being evicted from my house,” Hilz, my cousin, one early Saturday morning, rumbled my ears over a phone call.

Unsettled by the disturbing news thrown my way in quick succession, I asked Hilz to slow down and allow me imbibe the information package in manageable pieces.

As he narrated – I could still feel his fury and shock over what was unraveling before his eyes – I gathered that his landlady, in whose two – bedroom house he stayed, had quietly sold the house to another buyer without informing him.

The buyer, having been given a green light, stormed the house as a stubborn kiherehere – prone, lastborn child sent by his father to break a door would.

He had come with his team to declutter the very ‘vacant house’ so he may move in. He had no clue of an existing occupant let alone one who had no notice of vacation.

Hilz had narrated to me weeks ago about the predicaments he was facing in his stay. Apparently, for months, the landlady had failed to wire house service levy which she obviously duly collected from Hilz every month end clustered with the rent.

Waste collectors and the security men had warned him that they would dump wastes on his door and fail to allow him through the gate if he persisted the default in service pay.

Alarmed by the developments engulfing his stay there, he informed his landlady who stayed in some leafy suburbs elsewhere.

*****

He inquired why she had defaulted in remittances. He told me, the quiet lady, finely wrinkled at eighty with the old – fashioned sophistication of an honorable retired civil servant, assured him there was an error in account details in her remittances which she’d swiftly correct.

She also mumbled something about servicing a loan she was struggling with, a disclosure she quickly dropped as one who had just realized her animated beak vomited excess incriminating information before a grand jury.

She firmly stuck with the account – error – anomaly version and assured her little son, my cousin, the small matter would be swiftly sorted. But Hilz was uneasy, especially after that slip over a failing loan.

You see, the pandemic hardship – thanks to some strange invisible virus from Wuhan China – had just set in and the government curfew plus other containment measures were falling into place day after day with stricter measures announced. Businesses were falling and the economy was taking a bitter beating from the counter – pandemic measures.

Hilz believed the old lady was up to something. He just couldn’t figure out what exactly, but when he called, a few days after the service levy teleconference with his landlady, he told me as a matter of fact, “I think this lady has challenges paying for the loan she used to acquire this house.”

“Look for a house elsewhere and move out, plan faster or else you’ll be planned,” I urged reminding him that a ripe maize is identified by seeing; one doesn’t need to fist a cob to isolate a ripe maize from the unripe gang.

When a handshake goes beyond the elbow we know it has turned to another thing.

Achebe once said that when a handshake goes beyond the elbow we know it has turned to another thing. No magic was warranted for one to sniff the coming doom.

*****

Africa is oozing with blessings of diversity. The majority of the natives are agreeably peaceful, straight and trustworthy. But as with any good seeds, there is always a section of the pod that hosts weevils and destructive pests.

I remember two months ago, as the world superpowers were struggling with the race to develop vaccines for the Covid – 19 virus, some African native loose nuts, in a bid not to be left behind, started jamming the internet from South Africa all the way to Egypt, that they had found a cure, forget about the vaccine.

Doctors will cheaply inform you that viruses have no cure, but hey, here they were, our dear African self – certified herbalists selling at a throw way price, wonder drugs to prevent and cure the virus.

“With this little concoction, I can cure all manner of illnesses from Cancer, HIV, Corona Virus even to Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E,” asserted fifty – five – year – old Ben Amodu, a Nigerian con herbalist.

What however amazes one was the irony of why his miracle drugs could not take care of his own apparent ill health, the BBC Africa investigative reporter noted in the video that was later uploaded on YouTube.

“Why his self – made wonder drug can’t take care of his own obvious ill health is a mystery” – BBC Africa reporter.

*****

Nairobi is in Africa and by no means can be left behind in hoisting her fair share of fraud and conman ship. Nairobi’s gorgeous display and solemn rites fascinate the senses of the people and silence the voice of reason and of conscience.

It has a tendency to make you believe the city is flooded with good noble men and women. Its magnificent cathedrals, imposing processions, golden altars, jeweled monuments, choice paintings and exquisite sculpture appeal to the love of beauty.

Unbeknown to many, beneath all these glam lies a deep knotted web of charlatans, cartels and soothsayers who will sell you air, swindle your pockets and shift goal posts so frequent that the proverbial chameleon will be put to shame.

One minute you are tapping from the wisdom of a soul you thought you could trust, next minute you’re conned and dropped by the very soul who all over sudden doesn’t even recognize your face; Nairobi chronicles.

It was to such that Hilz fell. Soothsayers, smooth talkers. We grew up believing that old age oozes wisdom, breathes trust. Well nothing is farther from the truth in this city.

He was shortchanged by an eighty – year – old!

Fraud knows no bounds, not even age

At that age, one would assume such a senior citizen would be more obsessed with making peace with the world they are about to exit, than indulging in obsession to con more wheat. Perhaps the only thing that halts a con is the final nail on their coffin, sealed and cast away six feet under.

*****

Had Hilz cared to remember my own experience with the lady – of – light, a quiet ‘holy’ mother who ran away with my rent deposit four years ago in the city, he could have drawn how to be smarter.

My lady – of – light’s walk was perforce slow and deliberate, like the walk of a revered priest sprinkling anointing oil on devoted faithful, lifting and resting each foot with measured ceremony.

She weighed her words carefully, intermittently punctuating them with a little verse here and there. Her cellphone’s ring back tones were carefully selected soothing lyrics from heaven above and there was no time we ever met that she failed, for thanksgiving and blessings, to call on the name of Him who lived in the high.

Despite all that show and dazzlingly near perfection, she still ran away with my deposit and officially became a fugitive on the run. She must have decided that her ring tones and crammed verses were no longer potent enough to hold sway of my ignorance.

Nothing is more lethal than an unveiled con, having traded herself far too long as a daughter of righteousness. It may explain her metamorphosis from a goddess of wisdom and tranquility into a haughty, combative hoodlum whose style of bare knuckled conversation knew neither bounds nor restraint.

Back at Hilz’s, the new buyer, himself upset at the turn of events, was however an understanding man. He let Hilz stay a few more weeks until he could organize his exit plan.

*****

While the buyer displayed utter dismay, I couldn’t help but wonder whether his alarm was directed at his failure to clean and move in into his newly acquired house or his realization that maybe he was the next victim of a well – orchestrated city’s high – life fraud.

Our people have a saying that when a slave sees another cast into the gallows, he must know that when his turn comes, he shall go the same way.

Hilz’s twin love for the house and trust of his grey – haired landlady almost earned him a night in the cold that restive Saturday. He discovered reality was much different once the chips were called and numbers counted.

To date the smooth talking old lady has never been seen or heard from. From that Saturday, Hilz’s calls went unanswered and when she supposed he’d called too much for a day, she’d switch off her phone.

Hilz’s cleverness to use cell numbers unknown to her to reach her were equally well dealt with. She’d pick the call and say nothing, perhaps keenly ‘sniffing scents’ and voices to filter if those were her demoralized tenant’s.

*****

No one knows where she went, her own gate guard who just months before opened Hilz doors all over sudden became dumb, his only mean response being, “there’s no such a person as Mama Zipporah here.” And that would be capped with a slammed door.

Perhaps it was just a matter of time before some Chihuahuas were let loose on him if he kept visiting.

“What I find so heart – rending,” Hilz later told me, “is not so much the intent to sell the house as her audacity at such an age to engage in such acts of deceit.”

One thing you must remember in dealing with natives is that like children they are great liars.

Dear strangers and the less – versed,…

Dear strangers and the less – versed, as you go on with your businesses in the great city, be in the know that while aiming to mingle and bond with the plenty good men and women of the society you must be on the lookout for the fiery spears hurled your way by fraud – feasted quacks masquerading as esquires.

Based on a story by https://www.facebook.com/laryhilz

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