untitled. no. 099 by Msingi Sasis nairobinoir.com

of small boys and big cities

Forty five. Forty four. Forty three. Forty two seconds before the red light turns green and twelve more seconds before the bus slows to a stop. He checks his watch. He has just enough time to settle in his seat and let the lady next to him, think of him as a gentleman.

untitled 47 by Msingi Sasis nairobinoir

The sun has set behind central park and its orange hue is face-palming Johnnie Walker. Five years- that’s how long that billboard has been up there, now with a slight fade to its bottom left margin. They should probably change it. At least the canvas, they can keep Johnnie up there. He is a big man and fits right into the big city. He on the other hand, is just a small boy obsessed with small hustles, time and how Nairobi sunsets shine just fine on a young boy’s skin.

Sometimes, he stares at his reflection against the blue tint shopping-complex windows and checks his skin. The sunsets seem to highlight shades of his fore-fathers’ dreams as if the city knows him from a near past. A bold color-blocked “Uhuru Park miracle Crusade” poster placed atop another, often breaks his trance.
Why do walls hold on to their past?
He checks his skin, traces a scar and picks his pace.

He never minds the low-lit walkway down Moi Avenue- the few flickering streetlights and street kids with bare feet, wanting hands, wide-eyed grins and dreams that match the streetlights. He finds them as intriguing as the Tom Mboya statue on the opposite side of the street. Bronze mold smiling, right hand raised proclaiming victory over the street on which he was killed. Forty five years- but molds and dead men don’t count.

Fifty one. Fifty. Forty nine minutes before he boards a matatu wrapped in Nairobi-love and graffiti, finds a seat and heads to his campus dorm room. He has an early morning class on social-political demography and a week-long of waiting to make the return trip.

He lives for the return trips, the low-lit streets, the kids, the statue pointing to far off dreams, the reflections and the sunsets that smother his young black-boy skin.

city touting by Msingi Sasis nairobinoir.com

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