Murungi: The Kind of person you never meet twice in your life.

Among all the pros of travelling, meeting new people is what keeps me cruising. They can be nice, nasty, friendly, Nazi, mean, generous, smart, ridiculous, boring……..etc or the result of combining two or more of these attributions but at the end of the day, they are all interesting because as John Lennon once sang ” we all shine on”.

Though, nobody is the same, nevertheless we can’t be all distinctive. I believe if we dig well in all directions, we will often but not always detect twins and duplicates of those we imagined are special. What makes such tedious scrutiny spellbinding is that merriment of sharing part(s) of time and space with who you might judge “weird” when I prefer considering ” unique”. I was so fortunate to meet Murungi…….. An African example of unicity.


Late at night, out in the narrow streets of Beyoglu/ Istanbul, under a hostel sign were a young man and a chubby black girl haggling over the cost of a bed in a dorm. As I approached them, the guy behaved and she lit a cigarette.

– “Hoşgeldiniz”: he greeted me as cheerfully as he could, leading me to the “reception”.

– “Hoş-gel-di-niz” I responded walking along the “lobby” peering at an old man sleeping on a table with a beer in his hand. Tossed the money, passed the passport, pretended to hark at him explaining the place’s silly regulations, got back the passport, clutched the keys and off to bed….

– Ah! What’s the password for the wi-fi please?

– “Fridom” 4444….67

As I stood there, getting my cellphone connected, The girl was wondering if she can stay the night for what looked less than 30 but more than 15 TL. He shook his head, confirming that there is no room for a discount/ charity.

– “I can pay the rest !” Me, thinking out loud

– “You don’t have to and……….. Well.. I don’t sleep with Whites! ”

– “I don’t think I have the energy to do that” I added, with the fake smile I master.

I took a hot shower to help sleep but I needed to smoke and as it’s not permitted in the dorm I went downstairs. She was there too and as soon as she saw me, she smiled and handed me a cigarette.

– “So what’s your name ?”

– “Murungi and I still don’t know what does it mean.”

– “I’m Khaled, it means immortal/ eternal” I uttered proudly. Pride, as feeling and some of its sources ( citizenship, origins, religion, achievements, career, lifestyle, philosophy, family) preluded a long tête-à-tête that covered questions about death, life, suicide, Africa, politics, syndromes, Media, people, virtues and goals ( hers was to streak in Wall street). Although, none of her sweet-anomalous views accorded with mine, thus none of what I said persuaded her. We didn’t even quarrel. Au début, we were both trying to defend our ideas but as the time went by and the themes diverged we realized that somehow somewhere in the back of our brains there was a device, responsible for welcoming whatever comes out of the other’s mouth lessening the gap in thinking and feeling between us. An apparatus, that I haven’t used before though I always needed such a thing and wished for people to obtain.

We went on – worn out but content- rapping for about five hours. We ran out of cigarettes and we thought it’s time to rest. I slept like a baby, and opposite to all those nights, I spent dreaming about eyes, faces. I was thinking of what she said during the night, picturing how my life would be if I live it her way. I woke up grinning and I still believe that I laughed a lot in that night’s dream.

Here are some of Murungi’s ideas:

* Love your job as long as your salary is higher than a cop’s. ( btw, she works as a sign language interpreter).

* I will not sign up on Facebook until I get married.

* Rice is the best thing to eat when you are stoned.

* Refugees should be sterilized.

* Education will see the sun, when mathematics are banned from schools.

* a girl is always 3 hours older than a boy born the same day.

* Rivers are dizzy seas, lakes are dead ones.

* Being born and raised in Africa doesn’t make you African.

* God gave us weed to think, but we use it mostly to stop thinking.

* Wearing yellow clothes at night drives the moon crazy.

* One plus one equals a schizo one.

P.S: Murungi left early in the morning, she didn’t say good-bye but she left (20 TL) under my pillow and piece of paper on which she wrote: Thanks for the good night and for helping me paying that bastard. Please don’t tell him how miserable is his life.