I had never heard of Paradise House before but I find the building quite easily from the directions that I have been given. My appointment with the bank manager is for 10:45. I am early and the polite young man at the desk points to a door marked ‘Waiting Room’
“Please wait in there sir. We will call for you when she arrives.” I thank him and go through the door.
This is a Super huge building playing host to numerous government and private sector organisations. People come streaming in from the street. They come in and spend several sterile hours staring at the walls or reading old magazines as they wait for their elusive doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, bank manger, architect, MP, Public servant…..etc.
I slowly gather that the population right here comprises honest traders, criminals, priests, politicians, teachers, students, rich, poor, smelly, clean, short, fat ….in a nutshell the whole of humanity.
The waiting room patrons all despise their fellow waitees when they first come in and they furiously avoid eye contact. Presently someone will break the ice by declaring how hot or cold it is today or how useless the service at this establishment has become. Pretty soon the room is humming with dozens of quiet conversations. These are punctuated by the cries of hungry babies, unruly toddlers and desperate mothers. Calm is quickly restored using the age old technique of bribery where a piece of mandazi or a bit of chocolate silences the troublesome child. Sometimes nothing but a spot of breast milk will do. The few gentlemen avert their gaze or pretend to read.
More people have come into the waiting room. It suddenly occurs to me that during the hour that I have been waiting not one of my fellow waitees have been called for. Also despite my impression that they are all a complaining bunch not one of them has decided to give up the wait and leave. And another odd thing – the room is just not filling up.
After another half hour I feel that I really cannot wait much longer. I will speak to the man at the desk. I walk up to the door but a burly man six-foot something without a neck is standing in my way. I ask him nicely to make way. He refuses and I try to push him aside. Around 30 pairs of hands reach for me and I am manhandled right back into the room and bundled into a chair.
Now I am screaming and shouting insults and curses and making vain efforts to fight off my captors. Everything feels and looks queer. The room begins to spin around me slowly at first and then faster and faster. The arms on the huge clock on the wall now appear to move backwards. The clock reads 08:40. I am at my desk in the office. My crooked ways have been discovered. I need to get to the bank before the bosses arrive, withdraw the money and flee the country. I have spoken to Eva and our plan is to fly first to Lagos.
The bank is just across the road from our offices. I get across the Mombasa bound carriageway. There is an old lady on my left who has just started to cross the city bound carriageway so I shadow her. I look up and I can see the bank over on the other side. Freedom is just seconds away – and Oh my dear Eva. The woman screams and leaps back to the side – safe. I have no chance with six lanes of chaos around me and the 3.5 tonne van carrying empty soda bottles mows me down at 08:44 on that busy Friday morning.
As the truth sinks in I see even more people coming into the waiting room.