Multi-tasking : Gotta Make a Livin’
There was no water in the house.
Nyambura sat at the dining table fighting the urge to scream. Frustration was hard to escape. Her Nairobi home came outfitted with two huge three thousand liter tanks, indoor plumbing and even a washing machine. Granted that the washing machine and indoor plumbing might have contributed to the now empty tanks, still, here she sat, no different from the people who needed to fetch water from the river.
Nairobi’s water company had a special way of cutting the citizens down to the same size. Granted those with more money than she did solved their water problems with one call to a water broker. One full water truck about now would solve all her problems.
Sadly, she was broke.
It was the end of March, that no-man’s land between payday and tight budget. All the money in her purse was strictly reserved to basic needs: food, fare, credit for her phone.
Nyambura sighed again.
Curse the water company, to think she paid her water bill on time. Why couldn’t they service her with water on time too…such a one-sided commitment. She scowled. Sorta like love in Nairobi these days.
All the men she met had commitment phobia.
Nyambura laughed then.
Of course, water problems all led back to the lack of love in her life. If she had a side-dish, she would call him up for the four thousand shillings needed for the water broker. The water broker would bring her water, fill her huge tanks…
“Ah…,” she sighed.
She couldn’t do it though.
She couldn’t be the woman who called up a man to sort her problems. It wasn’t in her DNA. She’d never tried it anyway, and didn’t even know how one started.
She looked up from staring at the dining table to find her best friend and housemate staring at her.
“Talking to yourself is considered a sign of madness,” Rachel said. “Worrying about the water?”
Nyambura shook her head.
“I’ll call up Shiro. She can get us a water broker, and we’ll pay her later.”
“What about Phillip?” Rachel asked, her gaze filled with mischief. “He wouldn’t have a problem sending us the cash.”
“I’m not calling Phillip,” Nyambura said, shaking her head. “You shouldn’t either.”
Rachel gave a dramatic sigh. “Why do you judge him this way?”
“I don’t need a man to sort my problems,” Nyambura said, heading into the living room.
Her phone was on the coffee table. She found Shiro’s number and called her. Shiro was their Mama Mboga. Shiro had a great network of traders, from shoecobblers, plumbers, fundis, painters, computer repair guys…water brokers.
Nyambura smiled when Shiro greeted her.
“Eeh, Nyambura!” Shiro knew everyone’s number. “I’m guessing you need water.”
“You know me too well.”
“Can you pay him next week at least by Tuesday?”
“Yes, you know I’m good for it,” Nyambura said. “I don’t like to keep my debts.”
“I know, that’s why I like you, Nyambura witu**,” Shiro said. “If you leave the compound keys at the kiosk, I’ll make sure your tank is filled.”
Nyambura felt a weight lift off her shoulders.
“I’ll make sure to pay you back for this one, Shiro.”
“The concert tickets you gave my daughter last month were more than enough. She was so excited, she hasn’t stopped praising you,” Shiru said. “I’ll talk to you later.”
Nyambura ended the call with a happy smile.
“I guess that’s how you deal with it,” Rachel said. She was perched on an armchair. “I’d have called Phillip.”
Rachel had a serious obsession with Phillip Keitani. A software developer working for a prestigious IT company in the city. Nyambura had met him at a function sponsored by his company. She’d been the entertainment, while Phillip had been the esteemed guest. Of course, Rachel had thought it a match made in heaven. After all, Phillip was a man with a stable job, a big fat paycheck and great business connections. He was single, or so Rachel said.
However, Nyambura was wary of Phillip.
In this Nairobi town, men had a tendency to hide their wives well. Shaking her head at Rachel, Nyambura placed her phone on the coffee table and wondered if she’d ever trust again.
Her last relationship had left her scarred.
She touched the long scar on her left arm, a jagged disfigurement, from the inside of her wrist to her elbow. It was dark against her soft brown skin. A memorable souvenir from her ex-boyfriend’s wife.
The woman had meant to kill her.
Nyambura sometimes saw that woman’s crazy gaze in her dreams. She frowned. To be honest, it wasn’t sometimes, but most times. Most nights when she closed her eyes.
After surviving that incident, Nyambura had promised herself to never again allow childish dreams of love to color her world.
No, now, Nyambura focused on making money.
After all, she was Nyambura Gatano, the enchanting violinist. The enchanting sprite who did wonders with a violin. By God, she was going to play for the bloody President one of these days.
“Nyambura,” Rachel interrupted her dreams. “Now that water is sorted, can we go figure out the shop downstairs? Yesterday we were running out of stock. I’m sure we’re going to need to order more weaves.”
Rachel listed all the hair products the shop needed, squarely bringing Nyambura back to her day job.
Yes, the enchanting violinist needed to eat, pay electricity, the damnable water bill and membership fees to the growing quartet she played with on her free time.
To keep up, she ran a small hair salon that also sold hair products in a shop downstairs with Rachel as her partner. Her day job wasn’t boring, but it took time away from her precious passion.
The violin was her dream. The salon was her livelihood. One day, she hoped to make the violin her livelihood.
“Stop daydreaming, Nyams,” Rachel said, pulling her out of her thoughts. “Dress, and do something about your hair, will you? It’s not helping your image at all.”
Rachel hurried away to her bedroom and Nyambura sighed.
Rachel was the beloved nemesis in her world.
Rachel was the one who brought her down whenever her thoughts went flying into the ether. Rachel was the brave one, the one who could sweet talk men into doing anything for her. Even get a water broker….the only reason she didn’t now was because Nyambura ran their house and wouldn’t allow it.
Nyambura went to her bedroom, reached for her favorite jeans and a nice white sleeveless top. She ran a comb through her weave. Thankfully, it was easy to manage. Straight and short, it fell into place without a fuss. The only make-up she owned was a stick of strawberry lip gloss. She applied it now with liberal abandon, smacking her lips as she slipped the tube into her jeans’ pocket. She gave herself a critical glance in the mirror.
The woman looking back at her could pass for a twenty-seven year old. Hardships had a way of slimming you down. She was thirty-one: a struggling violinist, a small business owner, and very single to her mother’s chagrin.
She left her bedroom ready to face a day at the salon downstairs selling the merits of fake hair to women.
Life was good, Nyambura decided patting her hip.
Nyambura witu – Our Nyambura
To Be Continued….Thank you for reading!
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