2.30 p.m. found six of us seated in the Chairman’s living room. I wore a yellow dirac. Yellow because fashion psychologists say it helps diffuse tense interactions. I also hoped that Mama Clevens, who had always met me late in the evenings, would see me in better material. Material she wouldn’t mind wrapped around her Emmanuel. Wife material. Mama Frosa, seated by me, chatted with other ladies of the Council who occasionally glanced at the ‘bad’ girl. Kayamba and the Professor went on and on about the doctors strike that had headlined news for 5 days running. “It is very wrong…” they lamented. I simply cast my gaze on the ‘No weapons fashioned against me shall prosper’ plaque that rested peacefully on the fading blue walls.
Mama Clevens walked in a few minutes past 3. “I am so sorry for coming this late. You know how these matatus keep kupandisha na kushikisha. One day my Clevens will buy me a car Oh.” “Ehe now…” The other ladies applauded. Naija movies had not only changed the intonation in their speech but every mama now wanted to dress like Patience Ozokwor and there was even a Mama G’s kitenge stall that provided the very service.
“So what do you have to say for yourself young girl?” Kayamba inquired after bring the meeting to order.
“Well Phena has been pouring water from their balcony dirtying my already washed clothes and she has been repeating this every single day of the week.”
“And why did you come to speak to me about it?”
“I have come to your place several times but she said you were not to be disturbed”
“And so you went ahead and decided to call her all sorts of names.”
“Never an abuse but I told her that she behaved like one lacking common sense”
“Common sense? I see you also lack it! Do you think being well read, making your own rent, fueling your own car makes you better than her.”
I kept silent. If they only knew the insults their Precious Phena had hurled, they would understand my common sense and not take musical turns in ‘spanking’ me.
“My girl is now so disturbed and always crying. I have my own fair share of troubles and I suggest you go and apologize immediately. Kayamba what do you say?”
“An apology is good but not good enough. You will have to buy her a set of lessos to completely settle the matter.”
“Nikuteleza tu. I’m sure it will never happen again.” Mama Frosa finally put in the good word I had been hoping for. And because I wanted to get over with the whole fiasco, I agreed – without question – to the council’s humbling demands. But just as I was about to serve the porridge Mrs. Kayamba had already prepared, Mama Juma stormed in.
“Mama Clevens, I was told you were here. I have warned your girl several times not to pour water over the balcony but today she’s soaked my grandchild’s mattress. You tell me where he is going to sleep? Just tell me how I am going to wash off dirty oily water from a mattress? But no no no you must give me another mattress. You just but must!”
“Mama Juma. Karibu kiti…” Professor Lach interrupted. “My dear girl, can you run up and call that foolish girl…”
Holding my dress by the side, I gallivanted up the stairs and told Phena that Mama Clevens needed some quick help. “Naufunge mlango.” I reminded. She sneered, pulled the door and dashed down to finish the trouble she had started. I looked to the heavens in relief. Day had broken. It had surely broken.