I dreamt about this particular Ex of mine the other night. I have no idea why, because I hadn’t spent my day thinking about her, or her down to earth shortness, which made me tower above her each time I stood or walked next to her. I hadn’t sat in a corner either, fantasizing about her shy smile, which she mostly unleashed when I said something upsetting. And I always said things that upset her because God did not create me to be nice. I am not a nice person. I do not know how to lie that your wig makes you look like the bearer of Angels’ secrets. If your wig makes you look like you were thrown out of the salon prematurely, I will tell you so with a smile.
It was a rainy night in heaven. God, spread on His majestic bed, stared at the ceiling, wondering how else to punish Adam. He at first thought ousting him and Eve from heaven was punishment enough, but He yearned for something more. Something that will send an even clearer message to the man and woman He had created in His own image that He did not take lightly to being disobeyed. He tried to think of something, but the faulty roof, rattling with the heavy rain, couldn’t allow Him to think straight. He turned to the side, made a mental note to remind Angel Gabriel to martial his foot soldiers to fix the rickety roof, and drifted to sleep.
The next morning, as the sun was rising, He stepped out in His favourite black sandals and artfully crafted walking stick, which he carried for swag and not because His knees were failing Him. A few Angels, yawning and stretching their bones, walked to Him and bowed in respect before saying their good mornings. Angel Gabriel caught up with him as He made His way towards the pretty river wounding its way down the Garden of Eden, meandering between rocks and rattling some ducks in the process. He stopped to look at His favourite Avocado tree weighed down by big and fat avocados before pointing at it with His walking stick.
With an hour to kill before my meeting with a friend, I walk into The Peach Hotel on Moi Avenue, close to Samba Club, to the sound of laughter and loud banter from the men and women irrigating their throats with tea, others with freshly squeezed fruit juice, others with soda, and others with, well, you catch the drift. It’s almost 7 O’clock in the evening so I know finding a table is going to be a challenge. I go upstairs and the noise there is worse. For a moment, it looks like the men and women of Kericho Tea Farmers Association are holding their AGM here, leaning close to each other, noses touching, and whispering loudly, beating the whole purpose of leaning.
I spot an empty table in the middle of the room so I quickly walk over and make myself comfortable. A waitress, a young dark skinned lady in a yellow T-shirt and black skirt, walks over with a menu in hand. She smiles as she places the menu on the roundtable without a word before taking a step back to allow me a second to decide on what I want to eat. She obviously doesn’t know that Menus are wasted on me. I am not the curious guy who wants to taste the newest addition to the menu. I come in with an already made up mind and this time my mind is set on having black coffee. Without touching the menu, I turn to look at her and she leans over my shoulder to take my order.
“Just coffee?” she asks, surprised like it’s an abomination to order ‘just coffee’ in a restaurant. Like when she eventually retires to her village, a committee will be held and decide to punish her and her generation for serving me just coffee. An elderly woman with one foot in the grave, holding a walking stick in one hand and the judgement of their ancestors in the other, will pronounce the decision. “It’s despicable,” she will start in a trembling voice, “We did not send you to the city to serve people ‘just coffee’ when you could serve them something bigger and better like a hamburger.” Okay, forgive me, hamburger sounds bigger and better, right? Anyway, her punishment would be to clean old people’s ears until the day she (the waitress), dies and passes the baton to her eldest daughter who will pass it on to her own daughter.
“Just coffee,” I say.
“Black or white?”
“Black,” I say before changing my mind to White because why pay for black when the white one goes for the same price?
She serves me a few minutes later and while on my second sip, a shadow looms on my cup so I look up to see this fine lady smiling at me. Dressed in a black mini and a pinkish blouse, the lady, whose skin is lighter than my pocket usually is during the month of January, asks if she could sit with me.
“Sure,” I say.
“But it’s loud in here, God!” she says, pulling a seat.
I stare at her for a second. She looks like she’s in her early or mid-thirties. She has this mature look on her face, you know that look that says she will never call you swee or ask for bundles so she can send you a photo of her belly button? Yes, that look. I do not look away even when she catches me staring at her, I instead smile and mumble, “Yea, it’s loud in here. The Kericho Farmers Association members should take their AGM meeting somewhere else next time.”
“Oh, they are holding their meeting here?” she says, looking at the group of men and women seated on the red couches next to the massive glass window. The men have oversized coats and the ladies are holding notebooks, so I change my mind about telling her that I was joking.
“So they came all the way from Kericho to hold their meeting here?”
“You know how Kalenjins are. They were probably strolling, looking for the perfect venue to hold their meeting when they found themselves in Nairobi.”
I chuckled and sipped some more coffee.
A few minutes later, I watched in silence as she slowly cleared her plate of rice and chicken. The waitress who served me came back to our table and walked away with my bill before I could protest. When she came back, my bill and the lady’s were combined because apparently, we looked like we were on a date. I offered to pay anyway because it’s not like food cost an arm and a leg in that restaurant.
“No,” she said, “It’s not fair to burden you with my bill.”
“I know, but I will pay anyway.”
“Are you sure?”
I pay. We then make small talk which ends with us exchanging our numbers.
Sasa, she called a few days later to ask if we could meet over a cup of coffee and I agreed. After that meeting, she texted me, saying she enjoyed my company and I said I enjoyed hers, too. We met again. Then again. Until it became clear that she was dying to see what I was hiding in my pants. I wasn’t curious about what was in her pants though and I told her as much when she kept flooding my phone with messages. Eventually, I told her I am married.
“What? You are too young to be married.”
“I know. It was a forced marriage.”
“I am kidding, but I am married anyway.”
“Mbanacho, don’t be like that.”
“Things were going on so well between us.”
“I know, which is why I don’t understand why you want to ruin it by forcing a relationship.”
“I. Am. Not. Forcing. Anything.”
“Alright then, so kindly take your foot off that relationship peddle.”
You know, here is the thing. Sex complicates things. You have sex with someone thinking it’s a one-day thingy and the next thing you know they are decorating your bathroom with their bras and thongs or, God forbid, mothers Union. Or for the guy’s case, he is ransacking your phone when you go to the bathroom to see who else has access to your server. Unless I am ready to commit to a certain degree with you, we are not having sex. So I downplayed this lady’s advances for a while when she refused to believe me when I told her that I am married. I ignore her calls, texts and everything else because I am not a fun of waking a sleeping lioness in the name of Mama Natasha.
Then one day, a few weeks later, she sends me a text message saying that her sister had passed on. I thought she was just trying to get my attention but because death is not something you bring to life just to grab someone’s attention, I decided to call her to offer my condolences. She told me she was feeling lost, and lonely and just needed someone to talk to. Could I please go to her place to see her? I knew this was a trap. I told my friends as much but they said, “Baba, go see her bwana. Si she said there are people keeping vigil at her place? Just go and see her.”
You know, you should only listen to your friends when you are yearning to die, but I listened to them anyway and showed up at her place. Luckily, there were lots of people there. Unluckily, most of those people were her relatives and she wasted no time in holding my hand and introducing me to them as her boyfriend.
“Meet my boyfriend,” she would say, and I would shake her brother’s hand firmly like a proper boyfriend should. She introduced me to her brother. Then another brother, both of them staunch men in their 40s. She then introduced me to her aunt, who shook my hand vigorously and made me promise that I will take good care of her niece. She then introduced me to her sister, then to the daughter of her now dead sister, then to her friends, then to her neighbours, and I was cursing and fuming from inside because I couldn’t show my annoyance openly. Later, she said, “Haki, I am sorry for ambushing you like that, but they have always wanted to meet my boyfriend.”
I wanted to say, “I am not your boyfriend,” but decided to lenga. Because that was the last time she was going to set her eyes on me and it was until I thought of writing about that incident and guess who I bumped into in tao? Your guess is as good as mine.
She stares at his portrait photo. A photo that has been on her desk ever since she got promoted to Creative Director at the agency, a position that came with the coveted corner office. Her office sits on the fourth floor of The Mall in Westlands and, while at her desk, her back faces a huge glass window overlooking Waiyaki Way. She could hear faint noises of speedings cars and a few daring hawkers shouting the interesting names and benefits of their products. She smiles when a tiny voice in a surely old speaker mounted on a moving car narrates how lethal their bedbugs pesticide is. She doesn’t see anyone openly approaching that car to buy a bedbugs pesticide because that would be an open confession that they had bedbugs, and no one wants to admit that they have bedbugs, especially those with bedbugs. His smile is broad. She tries looking away but she can still see his smile and thick sideburns from the corner of her eyes. It saddens her, this smile. It saddens her because he doesn’t smile like this anymore.
Roméo is the guy who appeared in a condom advert some months ago. He was in very tight boxer shorts, his abs and nipples blessing the world with their loveliness. He was in a swimming pool with pretty girls, Brazilian hair flying, breasts pumped to the chin, crotches neatly waxed. He slowly climbed out of the pool with one of the bimbos and they made straight for his black Range Rover sport. He quickly looked around for his, or rather the girls’ “protection” as the girl wriggled and giggled sheepishly, and when he didn’t find it the girl slammed the door in his face and swayed away. But he looked so hot in that I doubt many girls would have thought of anything else but his biceps and hollywoody torso. Myself I could give many things to just have him hold me for a minute.
June is my sister. My twin sister. Apart from the scar on her left shoulder and the fact that she likes heavy makeup, we look alike. Physically, at least. She’s very short-tempered, a dominator in everything. A heavy drinker. Her skirts always stop right below her hips. She is a professional dancer and lives in a fancy apartment thanks to her ex-husband.
The lady, who worked for the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs in Kakamega County Government, looked like she was in her late 40s. She was elegantly dressed in a black skirt with a slit running up her thigh, you suspected if she bent to pick the piece of paper lying on the floor, you would see her knickers. A part of you wanted her to bend, even though you knew that was never going to happen. Her heels made a clacking sound as she paced the podium, banging on and on about how you, the youths, should take advantage of the opportunities brought about by the New Constitution and County Governments to venture into entrepreneurship.
You loved her youthful voice. You loved how she wet her lips with her tongue. You loved how her eyes looked like they were still in bed. You loved her enthusiasm, too, but paid little attention to what she was saying. You had tried taking advantage of the purported opportunities brought about by the New Constitution but the rough hands of government’s bureaucracy held your upper arm and pushed you away. Now you only attended County Government seminars, including those organised by the NGOS, for the free meals and allowances that came with it.
She had stopped to drink a glass of water when your phone buzzed to life. Mariam, your girlfriend, was calling. All eyes turned to you. You disconnected the call and sent Mariam a text message, telling her you will call her later because you are in a seminar and she replied, “One of those you attend for free meals and allowance? Don’t worry, babe, you will get a job soon.” Her optimism put a smile on your face. You loved her more because you didn’t understand why she loved you. She was from a well to do family. Her pocket money was enough to pay your rent for the whole year and remain with some change to pay the thin Maasai guy masquerading as your hood security guy, even though you were not sure why he thought you needed security. Chances of thieves stopping you at night were next to zero because the echo from your empty pockets was too loud for thieves worth their salt not to hear.
So for the sake of this story let’s imagine you are a teenage boy from Shangila village somewhere in Bungoma. You are a Bukusu, naturally, and your body is starting to resemble that of a grown ass man but no, you are not yet a man. You are not yet a man because you haven’t faced the knife. And because you haven’t faced the knife, Margaret, who everybody calls Mangrita thanks to the Bukusu’s natural talent of mutilating names in such a way you will never recognise them again, has been giving you a cold shoulder every time you profess your love for her. She is older than you. Even slightly taller than you. You are both in high school but she is two classes ahead. You are in form one. Her body is filling out. Of particular interest to you is her round breasts she has decided not to be heartless enough to cage in a bra. God bless her.
So yes, you love Margret, or rather Mangrita. But she has been taking you round and round so one day you bump into her on her way from the river, balancing 20 litres jerry can of water on her head. The can doesn’t have its lead so excess water freely flows out, down to her neck and further down soaking her blouse which now sticks to her skin in a way that perfectly outlines these very breasts tormenting you. You block her way and say, “Okay, Mangrita, today you must tell me why you don’t want to be my girlfriend before I let you pass.”
First, let me begin by answering the two questions I am sure you have been dying to ask. NO, you did not write any letter applying to be my daughter and, NO, me being your father is not a punishment from God for something you did when you were nothing but an urge and desire in our DNA. Now that we are clear on that, let’s move on to other groundbreaking issues.
A few years from now when you will be a proud owner of a smartphone, and hopefully Facebook will still be rocking, you will decide to take a walk through your father’s ageing Facebook Timeline. All the posts, comments and likes will have gathered dust and at the same time playing host to cobwebs. But because of curiosity, because you will want to know what your father used to ramble about, you will simply blow the dust off and proceed to read the shenanigans I used to write about your mum and yourself.
And I know that these posts will sound like nothing short of character assassination. You will definitely have this feeling that I loved your mum less and given an option, I would have left her for someone else. Well, for the avoidance of doubt, I have had so many other options but I still chose your mum over and over again. Reason? She is and has always been an awesome woman. You see, in this age and era, it’s easy to find a clean politician than land a woman, as beautiful as your mum, and as learned as she is, who would be more than willing to marry a man whose future is as dark as 3.a.m in the morning.
She walks with a slight bounce and dress in plain jeans and long sleeved checked shirts. Always tucked in. She is also in love with loafers and sneakers. Her dreads are sewed into cute thin lines with the finishing hanging behind her neck. Her skin is chocolate. And when you stare at her face for long you will feel the definition of beauty ringing in your head. Okay, I know you want me to say that she has a fine ass and curved hips so yeah, she has a nice ass and curved hips. Happy now? Yes? Moving on.
The lady I just described above is my neighbour for around 3 months now. I do not know her name because I have never asked. We exchange smiles when we meet and then everyone minds their own business, with my business being looking back just to make sure that her ass was still behind her. You know, if you are a lady with such an ass, it will come as no surprise if the ass decided to go its separate way and strike deals on its own.
If your mum used to be anything like mine, then she loved winning. No, the right phrase is, she hated losing. It’s almost as if all our mums back then were wired to win arguments and nothing, not even the truth, would make them accept defeat. Like when I was young and restless (hehee, the hell?) and water was my number one enemy, followed closely by books, and work, and waking up early, and the only friend I had was called “Play & Chapati” I was always in trouble. I hated taking my shower so much that my mum had to whoop my ass as a reminder that taking a shower was not optional for any of her children. It happened so often that when I happened to take my shower on my own accord, I would still be in trouble.