Every morning, I have a checklist that is meticulously gone over before the faulty padlock is slapped on my door and I jump down the ten flights of stairs on the way to the carpool. The list includes my fare (should get a wallet. Can’t keep going around with a wad of crumpled up wad of notes), phone (damn you Safaricom. Why did I fall for that Ideos idiocy?), phone charger (yes Safaricom still on you) and my earphones. Stuff like dressing is pretty much a bonus.
Walk down the streets of Nairobi and you will find that we have plugged in to the earphone phenomenon. Mine go on for a simple reason; to keep the world away. As soon as they come on, everything drowns out. The drone of the engine becomes the violin solo in “Coming Home”, the woman complaining about her husband is melted into the guitar intro of “ Year 3000” and Maina Kageni’s incessant sex talk becomes “I write sins not tragedies.”
I find myself waiting for those moments alone with my music (my taste has been described as everything from feminine, to “awww Brian you are so sensitive right through to my favourite “Are you kidding?”) One Tulanana Bohela has had to deal with the pain of hearing a song replayed over and over when I’m going through that honeymoon phase. But here is where judgement is reserved. No one knows . It’s just me and my music.
I get cheap thrills from imagining what is on the play list of random people. The prim and proper woman listening to Soulja Boy, the important looking CEO rocking along to Lady Gaga or the tough kid with the mohawk listening to some Westlife. I can’t help but think they are relieved that here in their own little world, they can be who they want to be. Away from the expectations. Where their bespoke suits and below the hem skirts don’t have to point to the person within.
Yesterday though my checklist was forgotten due to my morning haste. The driver was hooting and on the phone at the same time. “Brian, injury time.” And so my ear phones were left on the table as I dashed down the stairs. And from there the torture started. Maina Kageni was on the radio, (I don’t hate the guy. Just can’t help think that we lose brain cells listening to him.), the topic of discussion in the car was also less than savoury (to protect the poolers I will keep that secret). Once in town the morning sounds are drowned out by the hooting and I start craving for the peacefulness of Sauti Sol’s “I’m Coming Home.
The world is closing in on me before I know it. Suddenly my work colleague wants to talk and the conversation at the cafe at lunch time rises to a din. I can’t hear myself think. But then I start to listen and in that I find a method to the madness. A pattern in the chaos. Feelings here. Deals there. The day goes and somehow the words make sense. Human beings reaching out to others. And just when I get used to it I’m back in my room and staring at my earphones again.
This morning I decided to.........listen. To the playlist. The one life provided. Waiting to see what the symphony brings. And that might just give my ridiculously small years (neither my mum or dad had small years hence reinforcing my idea that I was stolen) a rest.