In Summary
  • I don’t know if it’s just me, but the first time I give a tailor business, they deliver fast and make neat clothes. I am always impressed.
  • Then, after a few months, the relationship starts getting sour – so many delays, broken promises, wrong designs, stealing of leftover material, dodging calls.
  • I get tired and look for another tailor.
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Madam, haiko tayari. Kuja kesho, nitakuwa nimemaliza (It’s not ready. Come back tomorrow, it will be ready then),” the tailor told me for the umpteenth time.

I had a mind to pick up my material and leave with it but it was already cut into the design and partly sewn. And more than anything, I needed peace – it had been a long day.

I sighed, looked at the tailor angrily, then bit my tongue because I knew I was about to say something I would regret.

BROKEN PROMISES

Sawa (Fine),” I said tightly as I stepped out of his shop, weary and regretting why I had passed by. Then I turned back and said: “Ka haijaisha kesho nitaichukua na sitalipa (If it is not ready by tomorrow, I will take it as it is and I will not pay you).”

I watched the tailor’s jaw drop (let’s call him Tailor M) and turned around walking away. I bet he has never seen me angry.

But I was livid and was growing tired of his kesho—he had told me the same thing two weeks ago, and this was not the first time he had stayed so long with my dress. The lie was getting old. Much as I wanted, I couldn’t take it just yet as I had already made a down payment.

I realised it was time to move on to another fundi as this relationship was no longer working.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but the first time I give a tailor business, they deliver fast and make neat clothes. I am always impressed. Usually, I can’t wait to buy another kitenge and take it back to them. Then, after a few months, the relationship starts getting sour – so many delays, broken promises, wrong designs, stealing of leftover material, dodging calls...I get tired and look for another tailor. I build rapport, get good service the first few times, and then the same disappointing cycle begins.

But it hasn't always been like this. I once had really good tailors and enjoyed their services with minimal problems. But some moved away and my favourite one died a few years ago. I do miss them.

Anyway, the next morning I called him and said I was on my way to collect my dress.

“Give me an hour and it will be ready,” he said.

It was 9am, but I decided to give him more than an hour.

At 3pm I was seated in his stuffy little shop and he was still working on my dress.

FIT OF ANGER

A woman, fuming, got out of the small cubicle he calls the changing room.

Hii ndio siku hizi unashona? (This is the kind of work you do nowadays?)” she asked in anger, turning around, her back towards us. The back of her dress looked like it had some sort of leaf and the side of the dress looked like crumpled paper, but worse, the dress could not be fully zipped up.

Hii ni ribbon? Hii ni ribbon? (Is this a ribbon?)” she asked, pointing at the back of her dress. “Ni mimi ulinishonea ama mwingine? (Did you make this dress for me or for someone else?”

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