‘One day my friend’. That was the chief’s favourite phrase. It often resulted in short lived hope that whatever you had asked for, you would get. For instance, I remember when growing up,my brother’s and I asked the chief for a dalmatian. That ka-spotted dog. Of course the answer was ‘One day my friends’. Needless to say we never got that dalmatian. Though now that I think of it, I’m not sure why four boys would ask for a dalmatian. Very questionable.
As we got older though, we would question what he meant by ‘one day’. I mean, give us some deadlines. In a week? a month? a year? When? He soon saw that we had become smarter and so he started qualifying the phrase, ‘One day when you have your own money’
And so it became. Whatever we asked for that was beyond the budget of a civil servant, that’s what the response would be.
Could I get a Sega Mega drive like my cousin?
One day my friend, when you have your own money you can get one’
I saw a nice motorbike for kids, could I have one?
One day my friend, when you have your own money
Then adolescence and teenage kicked in and the requests became grander.
My friend has some nice high tops and MC Hammer pants. Could I get some?
What are those? Get them when you have your own money. And get your own pants, leave that Hammer fellows alone.
What about an earing? Can I get one?
Well if you want to be a girl, that’s fine. Do it when you have your own money.
I’m old enough to drive now, can I get a license?
Well I was not aware you owned a car?
I thought I could drive yours?
Haha. You’re very funny. When you get your own money, you will get your own license and your own car. Then you can drive to KBC and audition for Vioja Mahakamani because you’ve got good jokes.
The only thing the chief would not compromise on was books and school. Anything you asked for related to those two, he would finance. No questions asked. So we read lots of books and went to decent schools. Did we wear the latest fashion? Not so much. Karl Kani, Fubu and Enyce were just labels we’d draw in the margins of our exercise books.
And so it went on. Anything ‘fun’ and ‘interesting’ for a young boy was met with the same response.
Then I got a job. And money.
My ‘one day’ had finally come. I cannot speak for my brothers, but I’m sure they did exactly what I did. Or worse. I spent that money like it was going to expire.
I once bought a corduroy jacket from Enkarasha (whatever happened to that store?). I wore that jacket but once. I’m not even sure what became of it. Five thousand good ones were spent. Why? I had money.
The chief had no idea what he had done. He’d created a monster. No consumerist centre was beyond me. Fast food joints, clothing stores, bars and restaurants. Spending was my middle name.
Then there was the girls. That song ‘Mo money Mo Problems’ should have been more money, more girls, more problems. I was on my way to getting my diploma in being a ‘Sponsor’.
Ati you need airtime? Here’s a thousand bob.
Waiter, these girls are having wine. Bring two bottles, na ice bucket tafadhali. It must be chilled, yawa!
I remember once an ex girlfriend used to say that I couldn’t even afford to take her to Tamasha while in college. She had stirred the hornets nest. Now I had money. I took her and her friends to Tamasha. She was not ready for this jaluo. Never has a card been swiped with so much frequency. I even bought multi-coloured shots of drinks I could not pronounce.
Then she mentioned that Westie is the kicking place. Of course, I said we should go. And off to Sohos it was. And that is when I encountered unscrupulous barmen. The one’s who inflate your bill by adding strange sounding expensive cocktails to your bill. But because you’re an Omera like me, swiping your debit card at will like a samurai on a revenge mission, you accept. Si you have money? How can you start analysing your bill like you can’t afford anything?
I soon learnt that money is finite. That the smiles of some girls are directly proportional to the size of your wallet. That life has bills. Lots of them. That debt is real. I also learnt that I’d been lied to. Sometimes there’s no such thing as ‘one day’. MC Hammer pants were not in fashion anymore. I couldn’t find Karl Kani jeans in any store. Timbaland boots were too heavy for me, and had stopped being cool.
Growing up and having freedom sucked. Well played chief, well played. I started becoming like him. I started using that phrase on people.
If a girl asked something ridiculous, Aki si you buy me a new phone?
One day my dear. One day.
But then at some point it all started making sense. I had to live life, to plan and budget for things. I had to start living that dream life I had envisioned. ‘One day’, with a plan in place of course,actually made sense. I could achieve all my dreams, ‘one day’. Why didn’t the chief just say that? These old men and teaching through experience and cryptic messages. I’ll never understand. The message was received though. Loud and clear. Yes, I had to make mistakes, go through costly ‘sponsor’ duties but that’s life I guess.
Lessons are learnt a day at a time. And those lessons are supposed to make you better I guess. That’s why I have never set foot in Sohos again. Learning.
Life is a journey. And I’m still trying to figure out what the destination is. But I’ll get there. One day.