07 AMINI: Paint…

5.30am. An opportune time for me to paint Amini from its darkness to marvelous light. I’m going to lie about a blue sun rising on a yellow sky. My brush will stroke Mzee pacing through the 8 phases of the high-rise estate to deliver papers for his friends who are too frail to get out of bed. I will show Peter, through the wooden frame of his kiosk’s window, kneeling to present his requests before the Most High. With a charcoal pastel, I will design Professor Lach’s Kaunda suit as he quickly makes his way to the shopping area. Confessions will be made about Kayamba’s faded trousers firmly held up by matching suspenders. He will perch himself alongside Lach for a careful examination of Saturday’s daily.

I will throw a Pashmina shawl over Mama Frosa’s caramel nightdress to hide the slight rip on her left armpit. As usual, she will be buying eggs for her never-ending guests; a generous and warm soul she is. A royal blue and bright orange ‘Asiyefunzwa na mamaye hufunzwa na ulimwengu’ lesso will be seen respectfully wrapped around her African hips, her graying hair held together with a yellow scarf. Jeremiah will playfully dare her to a race after picking up cigarettes for his once-in-a-week visiting dad oblivious that this man who always gives him an extra shilling for candy isn’t really his father.

Dominik wa Phase 5 will be sharing a moment with the cabbies after his 10km run. Today he will meet their chai bill with the solitary intention of flirting with Cheupe. This white flower is as attractive as the coconut mandazis she peddles; absolutely no fault in her being. I will gossip about the Matatu drivers who opt for Mama Kadogo’s githeri served alongside Mama Raha’s porridge. Only a heavy meal can take them through Nairobi’s frenetic traffic. At the far edge of the frame, you will observe white passenger vans all with the yellow government mark queued up for a thorough scrub.

10.30am. The incomplete canvas rests from the ambitious strokes of my identical paintbrushes. This time I do not procrastinate about switching off the balcony lights. Amini will be beautiful when the government is done with re-carpeting its  roads. No longer will she be a blurry figment of my imagination or a painting that an enthused tourist can buy at the crafts market. It will be a truth that even our rattily automobiles will be too ashamed to talk ill about. Finally a reason to trade my Nissan B14 for a German machine and the company will no longer have a reason to withhold my promotion. There is a knock at the door. I haven’t showered but it doesn’t matter. Weekends were made for this – a painter and his model.2


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