LITTLE MONEY,LITTLE COMFORT

The first time I came for training in Machakos town is a day that will always live in infamy in my memory.I had arrived from Garissa, smelling of camels, goats, and other bovids.

I took a late supper at Ikuuni Hotel then asked a boda guy where I could get good accommodation. The young chap answered that he knew a lodge which could host a man of my stature comfortably for the night. By stature, he meant a man who looked like a hippie because as said earlier,I was still smelling of cows.

We found ourselves at a place with a decrepit neon sign that read ‘Susana Lodge’ or something. After paying Ksh 150 for my room, troubles started. First, the claustrophobic room smelt of boiled fish. The bed looked like an abandoned nest of a bird of carrion. The walls-grimy and plastered with remnants of sin- reminded me of a forgotten dungeon. But since it was late and I was broke, I had few options.

I was handed a towel that was rougher than an uncured ox hide and was the size of a handkerchief. I realized that the only practical way of wearing it was by covering the engine leaving the boot exposed- which is what I did. But who cared about an exposed scrawny boot with tufts of hair?

I hid my phone in one of my shoes and my wallet under the bed. A lacy grimy piece of lingerie lay there, like the flag of a conquered kingdom. Then I headed to the communal bathroom, wearing slippers that were harder than wooden clogs. Those things must have been used by Chief Kivoi in his trips to the coast to sell ivory.

The ancient bucket that was provided poured half of the water along the way. But bigger troubles were on the way. After tucking in, the guy next door started snoring like an overturned tractor. Snores so loud that they made things around rattle. At some point, I thought we were sharing a room.

As I lay in the bed that was harder than a horse stable, some rhythmic creaking of beds across the room caught my attention. The creaking increased in speed, accompanied by some sultry soundtrack until it hit a crescendo, followed by a slump. Or plateau. But I am only describing creakings though. Let’s just say that what this tarty place lacked in looks, it made up for in exciting soundtracks.

When the creakingthlon( or fires rather) cooled down and sleep assailed me, I was woken up by a thousand itches all over my body.I was surprised since I had a mosquito net on. Alarmed,I put the lights on. An army of fat bedbugs was marching all over my torso, munching away with gusto.I am sure that pesky dudus had already taken a pint or two of my blood. And why is it that when they bite you one feels so cold? I don’t get it.

When I couldn’t bear it anymore, I went to the watchman and told him that my room had one thousand kungunis.’

Pesa kidogo, laa( raha) kidogo.’He answered gruffly, scratched himself here and there then went back to sleep. But ‘raha’ is relative, seeing there was a couple having lots it of across the next room.

Luckily, when I crept back to my room, another creakathlon- louder than a tractor ploughing- had just started in the neighbouring room.

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