Let me tell you something, i have a bad history with corner mbaya and the rough necks that pride themselves on ruling this joint.
Like i have mentioned before in this blog, i have lived in Githurai. Currently ni mambo na Mombasa raha but the mark from thriving in the ghetto is indelible, the memories sweet and others not so sweet.
Ever since i started hearing about corner mbaya i had conjured up weird and scary mental images of the same. I figured it as a real corner which probably reeked of stale marijuana (dude, don’t believe this, weed NEVER goes stale!!), cheap liquor (read Napoleon Brandy aka Nappy love) and a lot of mugging.
Read mugging gain, in caps if you wish.
Honestly, all the years i spent in Githurai i never at any one time went past, seen or even dreamt of going near it, but the characters who had graduated and were still learning in the corner mbaya institution of hard knocks were everywhere; and they are not the kind of characters you would fancy rubbing shoulders with.
So there was this dude, a friend of mine. He owned a video show shack opposite the market place. During school holidays when i was not babysitting my young cousins i used to hang around the video place, mostly in the afternoon.
At times i used to collect payments if Willie, the owner was busy.
People who frequented the video shack loved translated movies; the DJ Afro kind where Steven Seagul speaks in sheng and Kikuyu. At 10 in the PM Willie used to put blue movies…with no DJ Afro!!
If you have ever been into these video shacks you would know that they are usually very dark places; you never see whoever you are sitted next to and most other times when someone comes in late you would hear protests as toes are stepped on.
People smoke a lot inside these shacks and you have to squint every time you walk out into the sunlight.
One day am squinting after walking out and i step on someone’s feet accidentally. Being the humble boy Waithira my mother brought up, i quickly apologize, tapping the guy’s shoulder which is a very natural ungay thing to do in such a situation.
I walk away knowing that my apology had been accepted despite there not being a verbal confirmation from the ‘victim’. As soon as i round off a corner (there was a supermarket there, can’t recall the name) am jumped by 4 guys who could have been my age mates and the ‘victim’ was one of them.
As usual, they were dressed in the kawaida ghetto/corner mbaya uniform; safari boots, tight jeans, soccer jerseys and caps dangling from their heads not decided whether to fall or stay on top. Take my advice, if you ever see characters dressed in such and heading your way, change directions immediately, they are very bad characters.
I knew something was wrong but the coward in me decided not to run eti coz i wasn’t guilty of anything; i mean, i had apologized profusely and from my end we had no beef.
Little did i know, there was beef, lots of beef!
One of the guys punched my left cheek; i could feel his hard knuckles land on my gums with devastating effect. Another plastered a well calculated but ill intentioned slap on my right cheek, extending it graciously across my eyes, it blinded my right eye immediately. I felt a kick land on my abdomen and before i knew it i was swept off my feet with one clean kick, which ultimately found its way into my right ribs when i landed.
I cannot as of now establish whether i was dealt other blows and kicks while i was in mid air.
Now, let’s go back to the slap that was extended across my eyes. If this has ever happened to you am sure you know it’s not a good thing because it partially blinds you and makes you utterly defenceless to assaults that follow. Tears stung my eyes as i tried desperately to see what was happening with only one eye half open.
As i was lying there i knew they would break me like a twig. I covered my head and anticipated the worst.
From a distance i heard noises, it was Njuguna, a friend of my uncle. He was a butcher.
“Wewe, kwendeni huko,” he shouted. I could hear him approach quickly, “Mnataka kuuwa mwenzenyu?”
The boys scampered away shouting insults and threats at me. Njuguna lifted me to my feet. I could smell blood, dead cow blood on his stained white coat.
From my half open eye, i quickly took account of everything around me; apparently, the short event had attracted a lot of people and some girls were looking at me pitifully from a hair salon. It was embarrassing. Mama mboga, my aunt’s close friend was standing beside her stall, hand covering mouth in utter suprise.
It made me feel like a victim of not just a street beating but a whole goddamn war.
Njuguna encouraged me to be strong and i won’t lie to you, it made me shed some more tears. I tell you what my friend, never try to encourage a man who has just received a public thrashing; just let him be, it’s much better for him.
Deep inside i vowed to learn some kick ass shotokan karate. That was over a decade ago, am yet to start training. When i do, i will definitely blog about it.