With inflation, a donkey is better than a car

By - Jan 1st 1970

I have never understood why cars are status symbols instead of donkeys. The donkey, to begin with, carried the Messiah as he made his entry to his hometown. Cars weren’t conceived then.

Two, donkeys aren’t as fussy and as demanding as cars. After some years of use, cars want a fresh coat of paint to conceal scratches inflicted by errant nduthi. Donkeys get scratched by thorns daily but don’t demand to repaint. A donkey also fits the billing of what the West adoringly calls green energy.

Increasingly, if our breaking news is anything to go by, donkeys are becoming a delicacy for some. Thus, when the beast ages, one can always call a donkey meat seller and get some shekels to go with these hard times. Not so with a jalopy, which some jiko makers will buy at a pittance.

Due to the prevailing high fuel prices, I am contemplating selling my old contraption. But on our side, when you sell your car, we don’t call it selling. Instead, we say that you have made it fit into your pocket.

Old cars have their own attendant problems. With the gradual replacement of spare parts from the four continents-both bought and stolen, the car is no longer what it used to be. Instead, it’s a mongrel of car, with a radiator from China, a carburetor from Taiwan and plugs from a country I can’t pronounce.

The other day, the gas pedal jammed and refused to go up. We climbed a steep incline of one of our hills like a Bhugatti. Luckily, the car ran out of fuel and our lives were saved. Some other evening, one of its headlamps kept going on and off, making lady police officers think that it was winking at them. I had to pay for this ‘naughty behaviour’ of the old clunker.

Technology, as a rule, solves problems by creating ten new ones and my ancient car is no exception. While it gives me the comforts of hopping from here to there, it gradually isolates me from the same people I bought it to impress.

One time, we were lazing under the avocado tree in our home. My uncle started one of his favourite stories. Once, humanity was promised a machine that would make life extremely easy. It would also be fun to be around and came will a lot of prestige. However, that machine would come at a price, uncle continued. Each year, like a bloodthirsty ogre, it would have to be paid for these creature comforts with several thousand human beings. As if that’s not enough, it would maim a good number of those that it didn’t eat up.

‘That’s propestrous!’ Kamaley my cousin protested, employing one of those heavy words he picks from his Luo drinking buddies to impress us.

‘Shindwe pepo nyeusi’ Aunty Jerusha exclaimed, pointing an angry finger at the imaginary machine.

‘We don’t need ogres anymore,’ I told uncle. Who now surveyed us slowly while tapping his machete rhythmically on the soft ground.

‘That machine we are talking about is right there,’ he finally said, pointing at my old contraption parked by the gate. With this testimony from uncle, I am even more determined to make my car fit into my pocket before it kills or maims me.


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