“Dude, what time will you pick me,” she asked in a message. I didn’t understand what Dude meant but I was sure that was the nick name they used to call me back then.

On Monday morning, Catherine sent me a text saying that Juma had beaten her to having me in his station. We had been advised to have some good sleep that Monday but I could not sleep. I was on phone chatting with Xtash the whole day.

Branton is away visiting his aunt Yunia for the vacation, and with Fiolina having travelled, I was all alone. Although we were to be at the poling centre by 9 pm, I left home early. At 6 pm. After taking one for the road at Hitler’s, I walked to Xtash’s home. Her mother had prepared super and was happy to see me. We took the sumptuous meal, and at around 9 pm we left and walked to the polling station. Her mother had parked for her enough beddings and blankets. As for me I had just carried one heavy jacket.

It was dark and cold and Xtash held onto me as we walked. We arrived to find other poling clerks already there. Different people had spread their beddings in different classrooms to sleep. I had planned to sit on a chair and cover myself with the heavy coat but Xtash advised me against it. “I have made a place for us. Come we sleep,” she told me. I followed her.

A few minutes to midnight we heard a car enter. POs were arriving with voting materials. All of us male clerks went to help them offload the materials. Juma was quite happy to see me and let me take charge of the offloading. He asked me whether I had seen Xtash but I said I hadn’t seen her.

I went back to sleep but my phone rang several times. It was Juma. He wanted to know where I was and if I had seen Xtash. I told him I wasn’t sure which class I was sleeping in and that I had not seen Xtash.

“Please send me her number,” he asked. I told him I did not have it.

“Ok, if you see her tell her to come to the HM’s office,” he wrote back. I did not respond.

Another SMS came later from him, at 2.37 am.: “I am told you arrived with Xtash and you know where she is,” I did not respond.

We woke up early and started work. Juma was quite angry, especially at me and another lady who was in our station. He kept correcting the two of us even in front of voters. Later on, the lady told me that during the night, Juma had severally asked her to join him in the HM’s office but she had refused. “Kwani anafikiria nilikuwa peke yangu? Pia mimi nilikuwa nimejipanga my friend!” she added, laughing.

Voting went on well. The only challenge we had was explaining to a lot of old men and women who the senator and women rep were. Many of them didn’t know these two offices and in many cases, they just chose the person whose face they like.

Ours was not a very busy station and we were done by 5.20 pm when counting started. We were done by 8.30 pm, and clerks were released while POs waited for transport to take returns back to constituency office.

I left together with Xtash, and we passed where Juma was twice so that he could see. Although it was cold, Xtash was wearing tight fitting trousers and sleeve-less blouse. What could he do? It was very late in the night when Xtash and I parted ways. Before I slept, I got an SMS from Juma. “It’s Ok what you did to me yesterday after fighting for you to come to my station. Kweli kikulacho kinguoni mwako. Malipo ni hapa hapa duniani.” I did not respond.

 

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