I am in a matatu, seated between two young girls, who are talking to each other. I might as well have been a chair or (personal favourite) a ball of air. I wondered why one of them couldn’t move so that they could say whatever they wanted to comfortably, instead of shifting words to and fro, right in front of my face. Their weaves had a shine, made worse by the neon lights in the jav. They had very tiny tops (barely covering their derrieres) and these sheer stockings that would tear at the slightest touch. How they pulled off keeping them intact was beyond me, considering the appearance of the matatu, but I digress…
After singing along to every riddim playing on the stereo, the conversation kicked in.
“You know, I need new underwear,” One (let’s call her Joy- she laughed a lot) says.
“Me too. I no longer have going-out underwear,” replies Mariah (Pronounced Mrs. Cannon’s way)
She had me at going-out underwear. The urge to interrupt was profound: What do you mean by going-out underwear? And who is your mother?
Before you judge me, my mother taught me to always have clean and presentable underwear every day- whether you are in the house, or you are going to the market, or worse, when you are going to the hospital for an injection. No one knows what will happen along the way. To use her words ‘you may fall down right in front of your future father-in-law, with the hem of your skirt over your head.
So here I am in a jav, listening to two youngins (they looked nothing above 22) talking –no, shouting over the music- of going-out underwear. In my mind, I am rummaging through my underwear drawer: check, check and definitely check! Then I am reminded of one Crazy Nairobian’s Types of Underwear and I understand the ‘going-out’ underwear.
When I am back to reality, Joy is saying something about buying a number of thongs and cotton boxers. Mariah is busy nodding her head, swishing her perfumed weave over her bare shoulders. At this juncture, I have just about had it. And as if the universe hears me, a passenger some seats in front alights- see what wearing good underwear does to you, girls (insert diva snap) – I run and ‘grab’ that seat before someone else does.
As the matatu moves, and an old guy gets in; I look at the girls, look at him and I feel a sense of profound pity.
About the Author: Beenduta is a writer and a poet. You can find some of her work at Bee Illustrated