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BabaJimmi: The inquisitive kiosk owner who knows our secrets

By - Joseph Maina | November 4th 2012

By Joseph Maina

Now, if there is one person who knows everybody’s secrets in my part of the county, it is Kioko the kiosk guy. Somehow, that kiosk guy holds more secrets than a cat at night, and a little bird tells me that Kioko knows how everybody’s bank statement looks like.

He knows what brand of soap you use, your favourite brand of cooking fat, the amount of toothpaste you use in a month, how much sugar you consume in a week and so on. If you come to his shop for a packet of unga, he will definitely know what you intend to have for dinner. Again, Kioko does not need a crystal ball to tell him when you are dirt broke.

Friday evening caught me chilling in the house after yet another donkey’s day at work. With me were my comptroller, the mboys, Little Tiffany and my Deputy Couch Potato, Tyson the cat. I felt easy on Sunday morning as I held a staring contest with my TV, and things went pretty well before Shazam! Our friends at Kenya Power (KP) slapped a blackout on the entire neighborhood, and my TV went blank.

Now we were officially in the mpango wa candle mode. Thanks to KP, this was yet another night to have some “candle-lit” dinner.

So, I headed to Kioko’s kiosk and bought a candle. As it was quite early, I stayed back and engaged Kioko in some pep talk as other customers streamed along. First to arrive was Dan, a soft-spoken bachelor who sings at my comptroller’s church, the El-Shaddai Redeemed Gospel Church of Holy African Saints. Just like the other KP victims, Dan had also come to “adopt a light”.

“Two candles please,” he said, after which he ordered a giant can of Mortein Doom.

“Kwani mende hazijaisha?” Kioko wondered aloud, to which the bachelor nodded in the affirmative. Next to arrive was Baba Jemo, who lives two gates away from my hacienda. He too wanted a candle, along with something else:

“Na uniuzie Padrax pia,” he said shyly, indicating the packet of de-wormers on the shelf.

“Kwani ni nani mgonjwa?” Kioko asked kindly.

“Er... hehehe, hii ni ya mama watoto,” Baba Jemo replied with a sheepish grin as he walked off. Trust me, I wouldn’t say such things about my wife, as Mama Jimmy might subject me to corporal punishment using her mwiko.

Next on line was Mama Dan, who lives three gates away from our plot. Mama Dan bought two candles, a loaf of Superloaf, a packet of milk, a crate of eggs and 2 Kilos of sugar. Having taken her shopping, she made a quick about turn and sashayed off to her house, and Kioko had something to say: “Heh, watu wamelipwa, Baba Jim,” he remarked as the lady doddered off, only to re-emerge two minutes later.

“Pole Kioko, I forgot something important,” she said. So what was this thing she had forgotten? “Niuzie CD,” she announced in a voice barely above a whisper. At first, Kioko assumed she was looking for music CDs, so he perused his shelves and laid a box full of CDs and DVDs on the counter. The lady remained unimpressed, and she threw him the kind of look that’s normally given to people who smile with vegetables stuck on their teeth.

“Not those CDs,” she corrected with a wry grin. She then tried to demonstrate what she meant, using subtle gestures in the air, but all this sounded like nyef nyef to the kiosk operator.

“Nataka.....mpira,” she said, with what looked like an embarrassed smile. Now Kioko was officially confused. I could almost hear his brain creaking as he tried to decode this big-city jargon.

“Ati mpira?” he wondered while scratching the bush on his head. The lady nodded, and a stupefied Kioko could only stare blankly into space, wallowing in his own provincial naiveté.

“Aii.... Mathe ukitaka mpira enda Nairobi Sports House,” he advised. At this, she threw him another look like he had metamorphosised from egg to larva to pupa to idiot.

“Ah, Kioko wacha ushamba,” she lamented. This little encounter had degenerated into a series of hullabaloos, and the two were moving from one hullabaloo to an even bigger hullabaloo.

“Ile mpira ingine,” she added firmly, ending with a wink. That’s when the cobwebs fell off Kioko’s brain, and a sheepish grin developed on his face.

“Oooo, si ungesema tu gumboots?” he sighed at last, sounding like a brilliant scientist who had just discovered boiling water. So, the deal was settled, after which the lady grabbed her “gumboots” and waddled off to her house.

As it was getting dark, I grabbed my candle, bid Kioko farewell and made a beeline for my hacienda.



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