Mason’s hammers chopped stones in half with quick decisive blows. A few chisels chirped monotonously. A concrete mixer hummed away, mixing sand, gravel, cement and water harmoniously. Men sang terribly out of tune. This was chaotic melody. Music to my ears.
“Mzee, iko kazi?” I asked hopefully.
“Kazi ya mkono iko.” A tall dark man, in a helmet and a green reflector, bellowed back, not even looking at me. He was far too important to engage in idle chitchat with poor lazy ‘hangarounds’.
“Utapandisha uko juu,” he said, pointing at a towering heap of 6″ machine cut stones.
“Na mawe ni mia mbili. Utawezana! … kama hutawezana ata usishinde ukibeba.” He went on to add. This was no job for sissies. He had to show us who the man in charge was.
A few grunts escaped once I lifted the first stone off the ground and heaved it on my shoulder. I took them back, embarrassed, but not before a few of the men swayed their heads my way, smiling at me disapprovingly. I was supposed to take this like a man. Was that a grunt? Great. Now they all think I am just a little bitch. I took the next one in stride, determined to show them what I am really made of. This one would be a long day.
Four hours later, only two of us were the last men standing and we still hadn’t made so much as a dent to the jumbled-up pile of stones before us. Jesus! This is it. Why did they have to cut stones this huge? I’m not coming to work tomorrow. Even my thoughts were desperate gasps now.
Just I was beginning to think I couldn’t go on, the foreman came down and waved us aside. “Vijana wa sikuhizi…kazi kidoogoo na mshaanza kulia…” he said, shaking his head. It was the way he stretched ‘kidoogoo’, like we’ve been sitting on our asses painting our toenails all day. I coughed a few times bending down slightly to rest my palms on my knees. Thank God, it was pay time.
I made it just in time to collapse on the benches of Lion Circle, off Kenyatta Avenue. It will be a long walk home. Let’s just take in the sights for now, I thought to myself.
She had long dark wavy hair, very slim and feminine brown legs, and an ass that bulged invitingly out of a red dress, well above her knees. She had it all, if you like them four times bigger below the waist. I almost made a move but I figured I was still in my work clothes. I mean, what were the odds? You have to know when to hold on; know when to walk away; know when to run, right?
She was leaning on a green metallic pole just next to Stanbic Bank. The pole had one of those advertisements: Mganga mashuhuri kutoka TZ. Anatibu Ukimwi, Wasiwasi, Nguvu za Kiume, kufuga bibi/bwana, kukinga boma…(what time of day do they put up this signs, anyway?).
I noticed she had a box full of surgical masks in her right hand and a larger bag on the floor. She was selling masks. She also had a small pouch strapped between her large breasts, probably where she kept the money; way out of harms way.
A clean-shaven, pot-bellied, middle-aged man stared at her long enough to catch my attention. I watched him put his best game face on before he approached her. He moved fast too, for a man his size, from nought to 100 in 3.6 seconds, just like a Ferrari.
A pick-up line or some clever of-the-cuff remark. A hearty conversation. A few giggles. He was now resting his massive paws on her shoulder. The guy was that good.
He must have asked for a facemask because she bent over awkwardly to fetch one. She kept pushing her mini down, trying to keep prying eyes away. It didn’t work. It never does. He didn’t seem to mind the rear view. I didn’t mind, either. Small wonder why he wanted a facemask from the bag on the floor. He finally bought two facemasks and was happy to part with his money. The man must have really been under her spell. You would too if she put on a little private show just for you.
She was leaning against Stanbic bank’s wall now, just beside a three-step staircase and an adjacent ramp complete with a guard railing. She was even sexier now, against the wall. A young man in a green polo shirt approached her from Maasai market, way across the road. He too wanted a facemask, and a chat. Funny, the things we do for love. Or lust. The whole thing was over in less than a minute, she just wasn’t feeling his vibe. Sorry, buddy.
Her rivals started flocking in, like a bunch of vultures on a dead buffalo. They were not as skimpily dressed. Maybe that’s why nobody gave them so much as a second look. Hers was the sweet spot, and they all wanted in.
Not long afterwards, a parking space right outside the opulent Stanbic Bank opened up. A grey Fielder showed up, and an obese figure emerged. He was pot-bellied (probably from too much beer), and he too, wanted her services. Why only her? I wondered.
Maybe I should start selling masks too. I can walk around in briefs too. Maybe even in my pink boxers. Actually, that might work. Sure, they’ll call me some kind of nudist, but the money should more than make up for it, right? Lakini? Pale kwa mjei sijawahi ona slayqueen. Forget it. Maybe, God designed some jobs for men and others for women.
What a man can do, a woman can do better. Sure. I couldn’t agree more.
Also, written by this author, read:
- Valley of Good Hope, in which the author narrates the experience of surviving the floods.
- Watch out for Corona Con-Men.
- Pangs of Alcoholic Remorse, about how corona has affected drunkards.
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