the other day in a matatu

I’m sitting in a matatu, heading from Westlands to Lavington, a 48. I am waiting for the matatu to get full and have sat on the first seat in the second half of the mini-van. Out of the corner of my eye I see a woman approaching and she is carrying a basket on her back. She places the basket on the seat and then swings two white live chickens under the seat. She then gets into the matatu and puts the basket of about 11 live white chickens on her lap. I look at the woman and notice the wrinkles on her face, new wrinkles of a woman beginning to age. I guess she may be in her 40’s. She apologizes when one of the chickens goes as if to peck my hand. As the matatu swings down Waiyaki Way, she asks other passengers to open their windows so that the chickens can get some air. White feathers are flying everywhere, as she fluffs the chickens’ feathers. She mutters under her breath, alittle embarrassed, that she has to make sure that they get to the market alive. 

I ask her where she got the chickens.






The woman got them from a fryer, they are the rejected chickens because they are too small and she is off to sell them. 

She gets to her stop, Valley Arcade and alights, swings her basket onto her back and grabs the two chickens under the seat. A man, maybe in his late 30’s, brown teeth and the faint smell stale alcohol on his breath, gets on. The man begins to talk to the conductor as the matatu swerves back onto the road.

He tells the conductor he is on the way to FIDA. The conductor asks him why he would be headed to the women’s lawyers league. He grins at me as he says that his wife is suing him for half his salary. He is on the way to complain and to try to stop the proceedings. The conductor asks him what he will do should he not succeed.

He grins at me again. “There is nothing else to do but to quit working. I will look for my two hundred shillings a day and then she can see where she will get the money she is suing me for.”

The conductor chuckles.

I think about the woman with the basket of chickens on her back and about the man’s wife. I wonder if either of them have children. 

At James Gichuru, I get off the 48 and board a 46.


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