The events in this post are all factual even though I cannot promise that a little hyperbole will not be applied.
We (ol’ man and I) woke up nice and early every Tuesday as we always do. Being harvest day, I was particularly in a good mood, already calculating how much heavier our pockets would be as we returned home later that day.
Let me explain how it all works. The tomatoes we grow, once mature, usually avail a lump sum of fruits every week for harvesting. Sometimes the farm manager does the plucking alone, other times we do it together. On this morning, we were glad to find that he had already done the plucking so all we needed to do was package them in handy plastic bags ready for sale. And that’s exactly what we did. A little over an hour and we were done. So we went back to the house and prepared to head to the market.
Now here is where the drama begins. Our ‘market’ is not really this kind of market.
Let me refer to them as a selection of ‘uptown’ clients who appreciate our product. Acquintances and old friends of my father. They call him whenever they need the product delivered. Normally we do it in bulk, either on tuesday or Thursday.
To operate in such a set up (the one illustrated above) one needs to fulfill a number of requirements and obtain a of business licence failure to which you shall need to regularly lubricate the pockets of the ever-present city council askaris. Expenses that we were not ready to consider just yet. The little business I learnt in high school taught me that for one to make maximum profits, any activity that involved money leaving the business account destined for someone elses pocket should be the final thing to be dealt with. Besides, the farming project was still taking baby steps so we were waiting it out first to see if all went well before we went legit 😀
So my father and I we arrive in good time; mid-morning just when the post breakfast hunger pangs kick in. The time most employees look for ‘mathee wa kuuza food’ to sell them chapatis or mandazis to wash down with 11 o’clock tea. Sure enough we found that other vendors had already made way to our ‘market’ and grabbed the best spots. Some even had the audacity to tell me ‘kijana songesha gari huko mbele usitufichie customers’. Since I was sort of new at this,I decided to honor their request. I have in the past heard that it is best if the vendor next to you has your back and you will soon see the reason for this. So I ended up finding a spot where I would not be barricading anyone’s potential clientele.
No sooner had I opened the trunk to display the merchandise than customers started trickling in. Of course the usual posers were there, asking kama bei ya nyanya imeshukishwa hadi twenty bob so that they can finally buy. I figured it was too early to start paying attention to these fools. The kikuyu in me was ready to make millions from just this one batch of stock :’-D
It was approximately 10 minutes into my shift when an elderly-looking man walked up to my ‘shop’. I noticed that he was awkwardly upset when he did not respond to my cheerful morning salutations. “Unauza nyanya?” This guy asked, completely ignoring the fact that he was really testing my sarcasm! I responded in the affirmative, even going the extra mile, cheerfully informing him of our ‘big harvest’ discounted price. (I realized that Kenyans respond to anything with the prefix ‘discount’ or ‘sale’.) To which he replied “Eh? Na wapi koti na license?” (Is that so? And so where is your overall and business permit?” I froze! I can’t really remember what I mumbled back to him but from the corner of my eye, I saw the one thing I did not want to see- The dreaded city council van that I had on many occasions seen in town nabbing those who broke the city’s bylaws.
I looked around to try find my ol’ man as he was much better at this deliberation sh*t, but it was too late! To make matters worse, there was a lady, a potential buyer, who was standing next to the city council askari. She raised her voice at him, going on about how the geezer should just let me be and that it was my first time. Hurling a few insults in the process. The so called ‘geezer’ was not amused by her outburst and since the guy could not arrest her, I was lucky enough to get harassed on her account! As the guy reached out to grab the back of my trousers in the typical city-council-askari-fashion I smacked his hand and shoved him away, but not too hard. “Eh, mbona unanivuruga boss?” I asked! You should have seen the look of surprise he had on his face as his eyeballs almost bulged out of their sockets. ” Ala, so kijana unajaribu kunichallenge?” Clearly, he was not impressed by my antics and I suspect by the sturdiness of the shove I gave him, better judgement prevailed and the guy opted to use brains as opposed to brawn. “Kijana usinipotezee wakati. Enda uongee na mkubwa pale!” He pointed at the dreaded city council van ushering me to go speak with the fat-cats sitting at the front. Quickly, I glanced at him and decided that it would be better if I locked the car, in case the guy decides to impound my merchandise as well. I turned away and started the longest walk of my life! I took a deep breath and swallowed hard knowing that I had no story in mind that was going to save my skin! Part 2 coming up soon…