On Tuesday 19th of May 2015, somebody left blood in the second floor toilet. The men’s side. I was not sure what it was at first, I thought it was spit from a bloody gum. A wound from a bar fight the night before that someone had decided to rinse and spit and then forgot to flush. Just a red patch in the water, floating on a white background. I cleaned it, paid no attention to it, and went on with work.
The guards were gossiping at the entrance and I crept close to listen. The night before, that tall sales-boy who thinks he is too clean to greet people had been on fifth floor until late. Too late. And that HR manager had been there also, working late as well. We call her ‘Koko’ because of the sound her shoes make on the floor when she is walking in the corridor. There had been rumours a while ago that a few top women managers had been hunting for fresh blood among the young sales people.
Koko, she was old enough to be his mother. But one of the guards was saying that as soon as a man passes 25 years old, the age of the woman stops to matter if they are in agreement. Me I am keeping my nose out of this one. I just clean shit here.
Two days later, there was blood in the toilet again. This time however, the shit was still there too. There had been an interruption in the water supply and we were walking about flushing them manually every hour with buckets of water from the tank in the basement. The end of the shit was red, as if it had been prematurely plucked from this person’s bottom. And it was not even a hard one, those constipation pellets that scrape skin coming out. It was a soft pliable serpent, a bit on the light side, almost runny. This was sickness.
I left the water bucket there and went upstairs to speak to Mogire.
“Bwana kuna mutu anakunia damu hapo kwangu.”
“Aya, kwa gents?”
“Eeeh, kuja uone.”
We started to walk down the stairs with him. My mind was beating fifty-fifty. I was not sure if there was a health regulation on such a thing. If I could ask for extra money from the company for having to clean it. Or if they would finally send us gloves and boots if we mentioned this one to them. We could say that we were in danger of getting some blood-borne disease. Even AIDS.
But who was it? Who was shitting blood in my toilet?
Ko. Ko. Ko. Ko. She was coming up the stairs. We stood aside, this one was a big boss. We knew our place. The bosses have a way of passing you without seeming to have even been aware that you were standing there. When it serves them, they have this way of appearing quite surprised to see you. Especially when they are showing big clients around.
“Ah, Muraguri. How is your day?” they will say with crocodile smiles.
That is when you realize that they all know your name. They will go back to pretending they don’t when the client is gone. Today there was no client. Koko turned up her nose. I was about to tell Mogire about the gossip when he nudged me first.
“Na leo hii pahali iko na maneno. Wale wamama wa kuchukua takataka kwa ladies wanasema leo walipata condom yenye imetumika kwa takataka ya fifth floor.”
It is true then. Koko is sleeping with a sales-boy behind her rich politician husband’s back. I decide not to tell Mogire about it. He talks too much. Let him hear about it from someone else.
When we reach the toilet, the shit is gone. My water bucket is empty. The owner came back to the crime scene to conceal the evidence. Mogire bursts out laughing.
“Kwani ameogopa nini?”
“Yaani amerudi akaiosha mwenyewe.”
We return to work. We have toilets to flush.
But why? Why is this person so worried about that shit? Should I worry too?
Could I catch something, perhaps AIDS?
Cartoon by Bwana Mdogo