It’s beautiful. Morning or evening. But especially in the evening, if you ignore the blinding sun that’s right on the windscreen at 6pm. That’s when I head home from work most times. It’s right there. The sun visor does not help. (Don’t worry, I didn’t know this is the exact word until I Googled. I was calling it a sunshade.) I’m too short. Bear in mind I hoist the seat to its maximum raised position. Anyway, I was talking about this beautiful phenomenon. The Southern Bypass is half empty half the time. Most times it’s just you and a truck. Once in awhile, a Porche Cayenne will whisk past. Or one of the million Harriers around. Sometimes, you’ll see those Kenyan Cowboy Pajeros. Then there will be a Vitz with a lady at the wheel. A red Vitz. A red Vitz that never leaves the right lane. You know it’s a lady because of the huge hair that goes above the driver’s seat. Not because it is a Vitz. Not because it will not move to the left lane. Tafadhali stereotypes peleka huuuuko. Other than that, it’s just you, blinded by the sun, and the sprawling nature. Sprawling in a nice way. That’s the beauty I’m talking about.

Either the Southern Bypass was built along lots of public land or people are yet to discover/develop it. I’m talking the part around Ngong Road and Kikuyu. People had to dig through a portion of it. My colleague goes on and on about how the undulating lands are such a lovely sight, the part of the bypass just after Dagoretti market, where they had to dig through to make way for the way. If you take your time, you’ll catch sunset effects, even though you won’t catch the sunset itself. This part of the country does not let you have that.The yellow and orange hues that you catch will be a sigh to behold, all the same. I remember all I wanted to see as a kid was the sun rising or setting at the coast, whichever is possible. For some reason it is not a priority right now. That’s how you let go of the beauty of life as you grow older. Go to the coast and miss such things every single time.

When you’re coming down the Southern Bypass in the morning, you can never miss the traffic below on Ngong Road. Like it starts right there and I imagine it drags on to Dagoretti Corner then maybe breaks for a few minutes till you get to another part down the road. The only part you’ll experience a remnant of a snarl up on the Southern Bypass is after you’re past Kikuyu in the evening. That one you can never avoid. The one time it happens, you’ll sail through into Gitaru asking yourself what is wrong. Or rather what is right. And then you’ll get home and know that something was wrong up along the Naivasha Nairobi highway. And so another traffic jam up there held up all the trucks that turn into the bypass. And that’s why you sailed through.

You are remembering this now because it is your weekday routine. At the moment you are on leave. You have two weeks to appreciate things more, when you don’t have the usual things that stress you up glaring at you. Time to think a bit more, like you don’t already do so. Pretend to work in the CBD and persevere the traffic in the evening. Nairobians have some serious patience, I’ll tell you that. At some point you’ll even miss it a little. The bypass, with its big cars with flashing lights. You’ll almost miss the familiarity. The routine. The beauty. Then you’ll remember beauty is everywhere. It’s in that Kenya National Archives that you’ve never bothered to explore. Except maybe when you were a hungry kid who just wanted to get on a school bus, get into a building, see a lot of pictures and artefacts that did not necessarily excite you, all for the end result of jibes/njivas to carry back to school, bought in one of the many cafes opposite Jeevanjee Gardens.

You’ll see the beauty while you leave home, in the middle of the day, the sun overhead, the clouds converging around it, but just enough to tell you that: a) There will be no rain today. b) There will be traces of cold here and there, but not the kind that numbed you a few weeks ago. c) You can wear a dress. Your cat will be around too, listening to you, because you’re the only one in the house for once. You will say anything and she will listen. You’ll tell her it’s time to get out of the house because you can’t leave her alone in there messing around with food, and she’ll dutifully put her head up from her paws, mew and walk out, in that majestic way of hers. The beauty of being understood by an animal is awesome. It’s like you’re in your own Jungle Book. She’ll walk with you until you make her go back home. You watch her and it hits you that she might very well be your little lion. She walks exactly like one. If she was brown, you might freak out a little.

You will soak in the happiness of boarding matatus that are almost free since no one is gong anywhere at that time. You have all the time in the world to sleep, but you don’t sleep through it all. You discover that you have some sort of clock that won’t let you comfortably sleep past 8 am. The wonders of mother nature. Who would have thought that would ever happen? You run errands, lots of errands, now that you are the only free one in the house. Errands that see you in buildings you have never been in town. You don’t even know the names of all of them until you have to get inside them. You know how you only know the shop on the ground floor, not the building? Uko wapi? Niko hapa Mr. Price. Nimesimama hapa Tuskys. Yep. And then you get inside them and get all disoriented, completely devoid of direction. You have to keep asking people what way you came in. You sit through a lecture from someone who cares. Operation Move Out, Shiku. He goes on and on about why and how you should move out. A lecture on how no man worth his salt will date you while you’re still in your mother’s home clinging onto her breast. I mean, for the love of God?! Where do such ideas come from? Anyway, he does get you thinking. He makes a lot of sense here and there, but you know yourself. You do not go down without a fight. Anywhere. So you sit and listen. A seed is planted. You spend a good amount of time on Pinterest, pinning apartment ideas. The beauty.

Oh, and you are running now. Small small first. 😀 Not yet out of the gate yet, but you run around the compound everyday long enough to get that stinging pain in your throat. It gets less every day you persist. Easier. Your limbs no longer ache like they did at the beginning. Your dad saw you the other day and made a comment, while feeding his chickens inside the coop, loud enough for you to hear. “You dropped.” You know what he means when he says that. It means you’re going crazy. You laugh as you continue with your laps. Nothing is going to bring you down. The sugar bowl will sit in front of you, tempting you to add sweetness to your tea, but you stare at it in defiance and tell it to stay away from you, satan. You even try a few exercises with some contraption that belongs to your mum. But that one gets the best of you, and you tell it to wait for the day you will be back with a vengeance.

You read and read, like there’s no tomorrow. As usual, if one book does not bake your noodle, you pick another one and find the joy again. Something like We Need New Names. Fantastic book. You watch all those series that have been waiting for you for many months, now that you never watch anything when you are worn and tired. Like seriously, the moment you try, you pass out in 10 minutes max, even if it’s on a Friday. Then you end up watching an episode for an entire week. That’s not fun. But not now. Now you can binge-watch into the wee hours of the morning and all those campus memories flood right back. When you could watch motion pictures for hours on end in your metallic bed, until you got sore from all your sitting and sleeping positions. You even make it for Sully. It impresses you so much, you forget that those IMAX ladies at the counter refused to let you into the ladies but opened the door for someone else. Like who does that and blames the lack of water? God is watching you. 😀

You cancel a trip. That one trip you were going to make. Oh well. Next time. You will do something else instead. That’s the beauty of finding pleasures in the simple things. You will write more. You will observe more. You will research better. Maybe you will visit that dentist, finally. Or get that medical check-up. Shudder. The beauty of knowing and bracing yourself perhaps? Or volunteer somewhere on short notice. Whatever it is, you will do it. Because it does not necessarily mean you can only enjoy your leave when there is a partner in crime involved. Even when the IMAX ladies give you two hotdogs and Mountain Dews. You take them all. Even when you’re given a lecture about how a man will walk away when they feel like they will offend your parents for bringing you home late. Like why does anyone have to bring you home? There is a reason you don’t bring yourself late in the first place. It’s the principle, not about where you lay your head at night. All in due time. You got nada to prove to nobody. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Look for the beauty in two hotdogs you can’t eat in one go. That’s supper. The beauty in the unsolicited lecture, people care about you. The moment people don’t tell you about the things you should be doing better, that means they have given up on you.

I read or watched that somewhere. I just can’t remember where. Wait, The Last Lecture. This too much reading is getting me confused o.

Don’t fight too much. Relish the beauty.

Written by Shiku Ngigi

Mum and dad’s daughter. Shouting big sister. Learning to listen. Jesus freak. Recovering tomboy. Mouse potato. Bass addict. Waking up the writer in her.

    6 Comments

  1. Njoki September 20, 2016 at 9:01 am Reply

    Oh, put the comment on another post. I like your thought flow, like you write the way you speak huh? Happy leave! 🙂

    • Shiku Ngigi September 20, 2016 at 9:07 am Reply

      Hehe. Yep! Thanks Njoki. 🙂

  2. Hannah Olukoye September 20, 2016 at 12:24 pm Reply

    So jealous of your leave days.. 2 weeks?
    Also, I am guilty of being that lady driver on the right lane on the bypass yet I am meant to keep on the left. I will change my ways.

    • Shiku Ngigi September 20, 2016 at 12:30 pm Reply

      Haha! You must see enough flashing lights then. As I always say, baby steps.

  3. Kamata Mbugua September 22, 2016 at 9:13 am Reply

    Small small first… haha … Interesting read. seeing beauty in the ordinary…

    • Shiku Ngigi September 22, 2016 at 9:04 pm Reply

      😀 you know what I’m saying…

Leave a Comment

Your thoughts go here ↓