By Caroline Ariba
I bet you are choking on pennilessness, huh? Well, unless of course, you are a minister…ahem… or a minister’s child, trust me things are bad.
On average, many of us received our last pay around December 15, 2012. Then we went on a spending spree during the festive season, roaming the village like oil barons.
Your gross salary is slightly over sh1m but by the time your net comes, it looks like someone is just amusing themselves! Your net? God should bring down some help.
But worry not, for you are not alone. It’s the trend in January. Just look around the trash cans in the banks and see people’s available balance off those stubs.
Oh, in case you are wondering what this net thing is, I am talking about that measly ka amount you take home after everyone has taken off their share — the loan guy, the Pay as Your Money is Embezzled (PAYE) chap, the phone network that gives you a friendly call rate and waits to recover the dime from your salary, the chap whose goods you took on hire purchase, name them.
They all take their share and the leftover is your net. Now is the time to pay through the nose for that bad net you blew up like you are a son to Don Corleone. And the hustle is going to be on until around March, when you start to recover.
So folks, if you find a serious-looking chap talking and giggling to himself on the street, do not judge... things are tight! I have taken a discipline observing what’s out there on the streets. Check it out.
Everyone is hiding!
You know how you always log onto Facebook and find a gazillion of people ready to chat? Well, not in January. No one wants to risk being seen online by a guy whose money they borrowed during the festive season.
If you doubt me, check your friend’s walls, they all still have the New Year’s posts and resolutions, pretending not to be back from the Christmas break. Yeah right!
When you knock on someone's door, instead of the door opening, you might notice the window curtains shift a little and the guy is peeping. No one will risk opening the door to find his landlord or the shop attendant standing there. And no one is going to pick a strange call, not when it might be a creditor on the other end of the line.
Stop tiptoeing. Log onto Facebook and don’t announce your presence. Just sneak in, look at your profile quietly, leaving no trace. If you are dying to comment on any post, go to the person’s inbox, and please, remember….ssshhhh!! It works. For the Landlord, leave like at 5:00am and return at midnight. As for the shop guy, just find another route because those ones nag.
An yone feeding the pets?
I wouldn’t wish to be a pet in the month of January. I bet the last time your dog saw a bone was on New Year’s Day! In fact, some of them dogs right now would let thieves into the house in exchange for a drumstick.
My neighbour’s cat has lately taken to mimicking all sorts of human sad sounds, but not the remotest chance of a milk pint has slid by.
And, stop wondering where the rats in your house disappeared to. They are in your suitcases, chewing on clothes and paper, as there’s no food left in the store anymore. And if your dog migrates to the minister’s house next door, you know what’s up.
If you are in this situation, you can’t help it. Just keep ransacking your suitcases and chasing the rats — the cats will hunt them down and eat them. As for the dog, get it off the leash, it can hunt. And pray it does not find a rich family.
Seen any benchers?
My sister the other day was wondering where the benchers have disappeared to, hmm. Ladies, seriously, when was the last time your bencher asked you out on a date, wasn’t it like in December? When and if he calls this month, it will be quick and unclear, kind of: “hi, just checking”, and the phone will go silent before you ask what’s showing at Cineplex or what band is playing at Boda Boda.
Dude can’t afford the day’s meal. What makes you think he is going to spend his last coin on airtime? Hahaha! And neither is he going to be picking your calls, especially towards the weekend. It is Jan, babe, the ‘bencherless’ month!
Guys, come clean about how broke you are or come up with a clever excuse about not being around. Something about going abroad for a short course might help, or better still, the epic move of, “I think we need some time apart... it is me, not you baby!” That should buy you time until like March. But also pray a dude as loaded to the teeth as Ivan Ssemwanga, who is not feeling the pinch, doesn’t land your girl.
Kyeyo returnees are agitated
Oh yeah, they are agitated and selling everything they have on them after overspending — you know how they have a need to impress. Have you noticed a number of cars being driven around with the “on sale” sign?
Well, the nkuba kyeyoz aka Ba Summer aka summer holiday returnees from abroad are selling things left, right and centre so they can gun some money for an air ticket back.
And they don't want to be seen as hustling, so you will tell from the pricing. Don’t be surprised when you find a posh Blackberry going for as low as sh200,000. That reminds me, if you wish to buy anything, I mean anything at all, January is the month! Everyone is broke, you will get the world’s best deal.
That Mu Summer needs an air ticket back abroad, so don’t pay an arm and a leg for what they are selling. Pay little dime, they will take it. And to the Ba Summer, you go back already before another distant relative calls. It's no longer safe here, not with this pennilessness.
It ’s cheap food time!
You will find many guys piled in these joints also known as Kafundas in Jan. I am talking those joints where 1k can fetch you a whole meal, a cup of tea and free drinking water.
The food is served on a plate so stained you might think it was painted intentionally. The tables (if any) are shaky like a sleepy hen on a rainy day standing on one foot.
Don’t expect to see a tomato or onion dancing in the pile of water they might serve you for soup, it is January. How can I talk kafunda and not mention the salons for belles?
Anyway, Mama Naaka’s salon suddenly has all the cream of society filing up to have their hair retouched, treated or even plaited at sh5k! Forget the massage and thorough hair wash you got in the posh salons. Here, they will grab, pull and torture your head, then rinse it with half a cup of water!
Carry a container from home, sneak into the kafunda early, pile your food there and eat it at work. If guys are puzzled at how lifeless your soup is, you can go like, “my maid just came from kyalo, and she is still learning how to cook.” Soldier on and just eat, you will be okay.
And ladies, plait your hair and keep it forever like a friend of mine. You do not want to come out of Mama Naaka’s salon drenched like you got electrocuted.
Seen any happening places?
So, my friends and I thought we should take a look around town last weekend to see what the nocturnal addicts were up to. It was as if a rapture had occurred!
Seriously, something had swallowed up Kampalans or they were they just hiding! The top joints that normally have people piled like a bale of second-hand clothes were empty, save for the DJs dosing on their consoles and waitresses snoring on bar counters.
Storm the places of leisure for unaffected chaps like Arab Money’s Susan Ochola, Zari, Judith Heard and Chameleone. There, the trick is boot-licking.
As in, compliment them. Tell Zari she’s more loaded than Judith Heard and vice-versa. Tell them how good they look. You will eat and drink on them — no hustle, just a compliment.
Vehicles are parked, it’s taxi time
It is that time when the hunk who used to drive the other sleek car is haggling with the taxi conductor over a sh200 change. You have seen them, right? Again, don't judge, help a brother out! These brothers travelled upcountry with cars that guzzle fuel.
Now, all they have on them are the few coins that fell in the car during the festive season. Trust me, fuelling a car would be the last thing on any one’s mind right now.
Fellaz, no one needs to know. So when you park that car, make it look like it has a fault, don’t show us you are broke. Pluck off one side-mirror, or put a ka scary sign on the car, like, “this car is highly toxic”.
You can claim, of course, that you had taken it for spraying and they sprayed some dangerous paint and the chap to remove the paint will be coming from Tajikstan in March.
Don’t trust the joggers
Have I seen the number of people jogging go up tremendously around this time? And I doubt if this is about fitness, not a chance. I am so not trusting those chaps and you shouldn’t too.
They are some of our corporate, with their office wear in that little backpack. They are jogging home — that ka 1k they are saving just might be tomorrow’s saviour when it comes to food.
Guys, we really understand, which is why we will not put you under pressure to spend that ka 1k as taxi fare. Keep jogging, you just might even get fit along the way— those ‘tyres’ around your belly surely needed these hard times.
And, the sportswear thing is working. It makes you look a fitness freak, after all no one is peeping inside your back-pack.