I walked into the supermarket with one thousand shillings last night. My initial intention had been to purchase an ETR receipt roll for the little grey gadget that works as the Kenyan government’s private eye in all things VAT (Value Added Tax is 16% in this glorious nation).
Things changed as they are wont to. I had been holding back on a rare craving and decided to allow myself the rare pleasure of vanilla ice-cream on a stick with a coating of chocolate.
On my way down the stairs, from whence I had purchased the 57 by 47 by 13 millimeter roll, I saw a box of whole wheat biscuits that I had seen advertised on TV one too many times. What Kenyan doesn’t trust the House of Manji?
At the bottom of the steps was a ice box full of ice-cream. I had done the math in my head. The biscuits would cost me 80 shillings, the ice-cream 50 and the receipt roll 95 shillings- which I would refund myself from the company’s petty cash. At the till, I paid for the items, on separate receipts for the sake of official records, and walked into the dark Nairobi street.
It wasn’t long after I had dodged a few speeding matatus when my eyes landed smack on a tempting set of purple grapes. You’re probably judging me by now, but I am a nutritionist. So I will lend you the free advise to share with the world: fruits and vegetables do not work with budgets for they are pieces of life in colour and flavour.
The budget had not yet been too badly damaged and it was after I held the grapes in my hands that I decided I would use whatever was left as change to take me through the remaining 4 days before my paycheck was available in a form that I could actually use.
As if the timing was out to make jest of my thoughts, I saw a couple of pairs of shoes lining the side-walk. The vendor called out their price and I knew that I would be walking to and from work for the rest of the week. Upon failing to find a pair that could fit, I moved on to the next vendor. He only had heels. I moved up the street rather quickly; let’s just say that I am still breaking into a pair of wedges that I bought 3 whole months ago.
Finally, I saw them: a wide, plain, black pair of flats with a firm sole that would spare my poor feet the agony of feeling the prick of every pebble on any route leading outside our compound gate. Then another pair of plain Janes came in view. To cut a long story short, I got two good pairs, hopefully to sustain me for the rest of the year, at only 200 shillings each.
I had my ice-cream on my way home while enjoying the blare of music that I had last listened to in my campus days. I downed the confections with milk from the local kiosk across the street from my residential flat and shared a few with a colleague over tea at 4 O’clock today. Mother dearest couldn’t finish her bunch of grapes in one sitting; a rare occurrence if ever there was one. The new shoes I had felt iffy about, after chipping a bit on a rock this morning, are looking nicer than my harassed last pair ever did. I always manage to damage a new shoe in the first week of its purchase. I cannot, for the life of me, tell why. A debtor returned my money unexpectedly, so I celebrated by purchasing a chilled, green apple and 500ml of Daima yoghurt; thankfully, mango flavour hadn’t run out when I sent for it.
I am happy with the expenditure thus far. Even though I am still seated at the office at 7.02 p.m. which means I will not be walking home today. Life is short. I may as well eat, walk and make merry.
S. Ogugu 2012