‘House number 13, I won’t be sent to buy condoms like a small boy…yet you have rent arrears!’
The caretaker is not just the caretaker of the flat. He is also the cleaner, car wash guy, aerial expert, Internet and sewer fixer, water metre reader and errand boy. The caretaker, mostly a man, is the dude who sorts out blackout and water shortage issues and if you want a Mama Fua or nice Mboch who can speak English to your brats for Sh5K a month, he will recommend his long-suffering wife. The wife is either from Shags or came as a Mboch to a neighbouring flat.
Caretakers carry many keys and have many padlocks for double locking houses whose rent is overdue and he is not interested in cock and bull stories how the pandemic “ime haribu biashara.” For having many keys (which are mistaken for master keys) caretakers are usually the first theft suspects. Or when any Mboch gets paged.
The ka-chick who pretends to have some class in House number 7 is not spared either: ‘Nasikia ulishuta kwa kanisa wakati wa maombi?’
You will rarely come across overweight caretakers with hanging stomachs, puffy cheeks. Most are skeletal blood relations of the landlord. Their houses are normally below the staircase but facing the gate to where they open it to late comers who have lost or forgotten keys.
When the garrulous caretaker comes to open the gate gunshot eyes blazing, you will smell Second Generation alcohol. Despite earning marupurupu from washing cars, running shopping errands and tips from those who have defaulted with garbage fee, you will rarely catch the caretaker bending elbows in classy estate pubs.
‘House number 15, I won’t unblock your toilet tuone hiyo maringo yako kule itakupeleka’
He goes to what he calls “mashimo’, some backyard shebeen nicknamed ‘Guantanamo Bay’ where some mutura guy is the main source of stomach defense. The caretaker might treat himself to ulimi, mara, kichwa and thufu. He thereafter goes to the shebeen to order drinks with names like Yokozuna and Tornado while causing inflation with just Sh500.
Drinking Tornado does many things to the head of the caretaker. One is triggering use of English. You will hear the caretaker mouthing stuff like “work hard pays” and “Nairobi is nobody’s mother” while staggering home.
The caretaker suffers memory loss of all that he said come the following day
Inside the flat, the normally silent caretaker begins kuanika tenants: “House number 10, pesa ya garbage iko wapi na vile una gari kubwa?” “House number 15, I won’t unblock your toilet tuone hiyo maringo yako kule itakupeleka.”
This normally happens around 10pm when the flat is quite and everyone can hear the caretaker speaking up from the ground floor: “House number 13, I won’t be sent to buy condoms like a small boy!” The ka-chick who pretends to have some class in House number 7 is not spared either: “Nasikia ulishuta kwa kanisa wakati wa maombi?”
The caretaker suffers memory loss of all that he said come the following day.