I bet he gave them hell. Misbehaved. Sputtered. Jerked them around.
I can just see him now. Defiant. Gallant. Brave to the end.
I thought I’d never see him again. But he came back to me. Everyone said he would. Deep inside, I guess I knew it too. And when he did come back, he masked his involuntary creaking and groaning with a demeanor so stoic, so valiant, so heroic, he deserved his brush with death to be narrated by Morgan Freeman’s voice. In Samuel L Jackson’s body. With an A.R Rahman background score. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. With Salvador Dali as the set designer. Too far?
I love Tiny. My big silver ironically named Pajero with bullying bull bars and a slightly embarrassingly squeaky suspension. Actually, it isn’t Tiny….it’s Tiny….well, you have to say it with a thick Indian accent. Go on, try it. Your tongue needs to hit higher up the roof of your mouth, so it is more of a smoother ‘th’ sound. Not a clipped ‘t’ sound. Ok. Never mind.
I really do adore him. He is scrappy in a bumbling, lumbering way, not at all light on his feet, but steady and firm. And he is undramatically loyal. He doesn’t shout or scream for attention with flashy bling, shiny rims, silly moon shaped lights and utterly nonsensical buttons. No. But boy does he have your back. Always.
It broke my heart a little when they found him trashed somewhere in Kangemi after the six brutes had had their way with him. He smelled like a changaa den had burped inside him. They had left bits of themselves as reminders. A black beanie. A metal crowbar. And though from the outside, he had not a scratch, they had clearly manhandled him. He was broken on the inside.
When I drove him home from the police station, in 1st gear he was pensive, as if unsure of himself, not confident that he could really do this thing. In 2nd gear he had a reluctance, as if he had been burned, impulsively recoiling at the the thought of going further. In 3rd gear he dragged to the left, probably from being bashed against a kerb, but whereas before when he dragged, it was cheeky almost mischievous, this time he was like a little boy looking up at you with big tear-filled eyes, whispering that he couldn’t help it…but he had wet the bed.
😦 – I know a sad face is not a recognized literary technique, and I acknowledge the weakness in my vocabulary to properly articulate that feeling ….the feeling of….oh eff it. This 😦
I didn’t want him to have to see me look upon his indignity. Does that make sense? No? Yes, I am still talking about a car. Well, not just any old car. Tiny is probably the only thing in the world that I really own. Stop judging me. This is the consequence of a life rich in experience, but poor in wealth enhancing career decisions. I bought him from bleeding my soul in the world of raw plastic distribution, during a short stint, where I sold polymers to old Indian Industrialists sat in shadowy factories, who when I spoke, looked as if they wanted to say, ‘Awww, isn’t she cute when she tries to be clever.’ I didn’t last long. But Tiny is a constant reminder of a very important lesson I learned during my time in the world of commodity exchange. I am not very good at doing things I don’t believe in. Or love. Tiny is a symbol of freedom to me.
And he has been my partner in crime since then. When he was stolen, his number plate swiftly circulated the crime alert whatsapp/facebook/email/text message groups. I think he was probably a little mortified about that. He doesn’t really like attention (as you can see from the picture, he is rather shy).
Though he has had his moments of fame, chasing the indomitable Bjorn Waldergard in a Safari Rally, then gallantly towing a rally car to safety after an accident. He blushed a little then, and patted himself down declaring ‘all in a day’s work.’
Or the time he chauffeured Ben Okri to Electric Circuit so that the wonderfully crazy Australian travel writer Peter Moore could show Ben what a Nairobi handshake was. I whispered to Tiny not to embarrass me in front of an African literary treasure, and he certainly behaved himself. He was unflappable, even when Ben started waxing poetic about the landscape, he pretended not to be star struck.
Or the time he ferried me from Laikipia to Nanyuki in an hour flat, as I lay in the back with a dislocated knee, screaming in agony over every little bump we went over. He was uncharacteristically gentle.
Or the times he has had to endure me banging against the steering wheel, muttering like a crazy woman as I sit in traffic wishing bad bad things to overlapping drivers who cut me off at the turn off to Riverside. Yes you!
I felt a little silly feeling sad about losing an object in the face of such a horrific incident. I felt petty and materialistic and very ungrateful at having my life and my family’s life. Then someone reminded me. Sometimes things aren’t just things. They are memories. Symbols. Analogies. For life.
On Jamhuri day, as I started writing this, I thought to myself, my gosh. But Tiny is quintessentially Kenyan!
To Tiny. And freedom. And adventure. And imperfection.
If you actually read all the way to the end of this completely indulgent, admittedly slightly ridiculous post, thank you for humoring me, and thank you for all your prayers, kind thoughts, warm wishes and words of support after the incident. They meant the world to me and the family. They still do. Shukraan.
Photo Credit: The absolutely wonderfully gifted Nafisa Rayani