My neighbors house smells of poverty. No, wait, before you judge my strong sense of smell. Yes I know how poverty smells , I have lived in poverty for two decades so I not only know how poverty smells I know how it looks and feels.
You see my life has been a string of miracles. Being born in a middle class home then getting thrust in to pure poverty , you develop a talent (sense) for these things; who you are, where you have been and know how each of the places smell like literally.
So basically we are still at the poor level or my mam is ,for me am yet to find out.and for I still have nothing that’s how I know my neighbor is poor. Because I have been to different kinds of poor levels and I know how each level smells distinctively.
My first poverty sense of smell was aroused by common sewage smell which of course cuts across in all poor neighborhoods , but here the stench is stronger cause the Nairobi river is an actual sewage at the point we lived. And everything else is below the line of cheap all the waste products of companys are sold here very cheaply and everything has its own bad smell from cheaps cuts of meat,sewage grown vegetables, to toilet papers ,over chlorinated tap water, badly smoked fish (mbuta)…… To all roads and alleys stenched with urine that was a product of second generation liquor(busaa) and little water intake. There are actual busaa places with a stinging aroma of fermented maize flour with the occasionall fat woman with her young boys turning fire who reeked of smoke,rotting sweat and cheap cigarettes.
Then there was the sun warmed garbage on the side of the roads that eventually carpeted the roads that is if these roads can be called roads (for lack of a better word). And on any particular day of the week they would burn the garbage at the damping site and everything would come to you with better clarity and then confuse you at the same time; smells and aromas from things like roasted meat, or feathers,or tyres, or plastics or feacal matter or whatever it was and there was a dark dirt smoke that clouded our plots for a day or two.
My second kind of smell pure embarrassing though I was not as embarrassed I was supposed to be,I had already developed “shock absorbers” as my mam would call it. It was the stink of moudly water that stagnated too close behind the house with a hint of sewage that got a lot worse when cars passed through it and seeped into the house when it rained and accumulate under the cheap PVC carpet. And since everyday I cooked I burnt the carpet a little more the stench of it was unforgiving. Right outside it reeked of shit, human shit, chicken shit ,dog shit…..and occasionally blood. On weekends we had fresh oranges, I loved it. And my then neighbor with the odor of old moudly books , had well kept porn magazines titled seen and stank of chopped kale and dirty sex.
We then moved to a place I like for the jolly family like neighbors and we called the place ‘upper ghetto’ it was a happy place for me. This place smelled like my current neighbor’s place ; of moudly walls from rain water seeping in , of rats, dead rats stink that never went away, it was like the walls trapped the stink in ,of kerosene that also never left ever after we cooked and left the stove outside…. Combined with the aroma of cheap spices and the never ending smell of spoilt kale. Minus the kale my neighbors are at that stage of poverty.
Our next house smelled of pure sewage, with clog sinks ,toilet, bathroom. I lived there for a week. Then my next house just across the street smelled of dust the the occasional sewage when sinks clogged.
Our current place is of course too dusty, outsides there is the sewage smell in the air, the smell of tolders , the smell of pure poverty and sweat striken men hanging about and unknowing young mothers gossips. Inside there is a deep aroma of desperate hope and nice perfumes and deodorants.
I hope my neighbors house will soon have nice aromas of deorants.