One day she goes to one of those high-end salons where ladies read magazines as some gifted fingers work on their hair. When the hairdresser is done with her, Tina stands before a wall mirror to admire her braids. She delicately runs her palm over her scalp, a smile lingering on her face like gathering clouds. Someone touches her on the shoulder and when she turns she sees a lady in a long black dress that wounds down her curvy body like a river. Tina notices her dress first because it pronounces her body features. Her nipples stand out like a pair of antennas threatening to poke holes on that lovely dress. The second thing she notices is her short hair. Simple yet elegant. And then she notices her smile.
“Hi.” Tina was the first one to speak.
“Hi, my name is Gathoni and I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful you look in this blue pair of shorts. Is blue your favourite colour?”
“It’s not. But it could be once I get bored enough to discover something as mundane as a favourite colour.”
The lady laughs then looks down. When she looks up again she asks, “What’s your name?”
“My name is Tina.”
“Tina, I see you are done here. Have any plans?”
“Yes. I plan to go have at least four bottles of Guinness, smoke weed and go home”
“Such a well thought out plan.”
Gathoni joins Tina in her drinking escapade. Only she doesn’t take Guinness. She says Guinness is too strong. She instead takes Tusker Light. They sit close to each other, occasionally Gathoni leaning over to whisper something in Tina’s ear. Tina smiles. She then fishes out a roll of weed and points it at Gathoni’s direction.
“Light it. We will share,” says Gathoni.
They smoke weed together, staring outside the bar’s balcony into the busy Nairobi street. Tina feels Gathoni’s palm on her thighs. She allows it. Gathoni leans in and whispers something deep. Tina doesn’t remember what Gathoni was saying to her but she reckons it was something deep because of how intense she looked at her while talking. Later that night they both order different Ubers and go different directions.
But they meet a few days later and this time, after drinking and smoking weed, Gathoni whips out her phone and shows Tina pictures of a super nice hotel room. Tina gets interested. She loves hotel rooms. So that night they end up in that hotel room where they proceed to make love, Gathoni going down on her in a way no other woman ever has. She gets goosebumps just from thinking about her tongue. Tina returns the favour and after hours of making love, they both lie on their backs smiling, sweating, thighs trembling from orgasms.
A week later Gathoni calls Tina and asks her out but Tina says, “Not today.”
Gathoni tries again a few days later and Tina tells her, “Listen, we had a good time and I thank you for it. But I don’t want us to do it again because then it will feel like we are in a relationship yet we are not.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Why would I kid you?”
“I thought the feeling was mutual?”
“The horny feeling? Yes. Any other feeling you are on your own.”
“Come on, you know I am crazy about you, Tina.”
“I am sorry. But we can’t see each other again.”
Gathoni flips. She sends Tina’s mother all the photos they took naked. Photos that would have blinded her mother but thank God they didn’t. Now, Tina’s mother wasn’t particularly surprised. She wasn’t happy, but she wasn’t surprised. She had known all along that Tina is a lesbian because Tina is that girl who neither pretends nor gives a fuck about what anyone thinks. But she is her mother. So she calls Tina in her room, shows her the pictures and asks, “Now you are sharing my number with your lovers so they can disrespect me?”
“I am sorry. From now on I am changing how I have saved you on my phone from Mother to… well… something not so obvious.”
Her mother sighs.”I have no words for you. You know how I feel about your sexuality so I will not waste your time or mine. But since my words don’t seem to have any impact, maybe we should try something else.”
“I don’t know.”
“I am sorry you got to see those crazy pictures. I couldn’t have known Gathoni is capable of such. About my sexuality, I am who I am. I don’t need words to change me,” she says and walks out.”
She turns to face her mother.
“Maybe you should find God.”
Tina slams the door shut. She thought about her mother’s words. Find God? Where? How? Ordinarily, she would have ignored it, but in this case, she couldn’t. She calls and asks to meet me. Now, I have known Tina for a while. She is my drinking partner for when I want to get wasted properly. She is a guzzler. She drinks Guinness the whole night but still manages to blink normally. When she calls she says, “Today we are drinking until the sun comes out, sawa? I am buying.”
Mimi huyoo, kwa bafu. I take my shower while loudly singing Radio Love by Nadia Mukami featuring Arrow Boy, two of the finest Kenyan musicians. Not counting Willy Paul, who excites and infuriates you at the same time. Or Bahati, who reminds you of that passive aggressive street kid who follows you around until you give them your cold Coca-Cola because now you just seem like a bad person. Or Papa Dennis, whom we all need to gather the courage to tell him to stop singing. Papa Dennis, we appreciate what you are trying to do for our music industry, only you are making it worse. Nadia Mukami, when she finally slides out of her Si Rahisi hit’s shadow, will be a force to reckon with. Plus someone please tell her to go easy on her makeup. Sometimes I watch her music videos and see a reflection of myself thanks to her shining face.
Anyway, I am in a happy mood. My plan is to meet Tina, enjoy loud music, dance and drink responsibly because excess consumption of alcohol is harmful to my health. As I oil my dark skin and apply deodorant under my armpits, I make a mental note to ask the waitress, “So, what constitutes excess consumption of alcohol? Mmmh? Two bottles of beer? Ten? 20 shots of tequila?”
“Uhm,” she’d bite her lips and pretend to be thinking. “It depends.”
“I don’t know, it just depends.”
“On if you are dating a woman who wears wigs? Because I suspect that that thing hardens you. It makes you resistant to drunkenness and you just drink and drink because once your woman makes you run your fingers over her dangerous wig, nothing else can shake you.”
“Haha. So, what are you drinking?”
“Tusker Malt. Cold. I will pay for two but si you bring one-one ndio isikuwe cold?”
“But seriously, it depends on what? Gender perhaps? Or voice tone? I suspect men with soprano voices get knocked out after taking a shot of Delmonte.”
Haha. Anyhuu. I put on a black T-shirt, black jeans and red vans. One more look at the mirror and I realise I haven’t combed my beard. I comb it. Make small talk with the person breathing the same air as me and step out. I find the Taxify guy waiting for me because I believe if you are going to have fun you have to do it right. Boarding a matatu just doesn’t cut it. I ride shotgun because insisting on riding back left when it’s only the two of you in that car is simply being an ass. We exchange pleasantries and hit the road.
Tina calls to ask if I am in town already. I tell her I am on the way and that she should go ahead and start without me. When I get there she tells me about this project she is doing and which is stressing her out. The client is an ass. She is an architect. But she doesn’t love being an architect. She is doing it because her mother wants her to do something with her life, other than drinking and sleeping. They own a house in some leafy suburbs here in Nairobi, so Tina doesn’t see why she should be forced to work. To be honest, I agree with her. If my mother lived in this city and she was loaded? I wouldn’t have moved out for shit. I would carry the name Mama’s Boy for life because paying rent is more painful than urinating when gonorrhoea is ravaging your penis.
She flags down a waitress and orders Tusker Malt for me. I pull myself up onto one of those long chairs and throw my head back in exasperation. The night is gonna be lit! I can feel it. When I lean forward, hands on the table and look at her, I notice she looks different. She’s not in a well-pressed shirt and jeans as it usually is her case, she is wearing a dress. A sleeveless dress. She has a nice chain around her neck and her boobs are looking extraordinary outlined.
She sips her Guinness and asks, “Think I will get lucky?”
“It feels strange,” she says.
“Are you having a conversation with an imaginary guy? Because I sure as hell don’t know what you are talking about.”
She tells me the story I have just told you. About the crazy Gathoni and her mother. She tells me about the conversation she had with her mother, pauses, and says, “I don’t know if I have told you this before, but in my 30 years of existence, I have never been with a man,” she pauses to look at me.”
“Are you serious?”
“You have never been with a man.”
“Not even one. I have dated and had sex with women only.”
“In 30 years.”
She laughs.”I have thought about it,” she says. “What if the only reason I am not into men is that I haven’t been with one?”
“That’s bullshit. Even when I was a virgin, my sexuality was never in doubt. I knew I love women even though I was yet to see a vagina.”
“Haha. So you think me being with a man won’t change anything?”
“If your feelings lie with girls, nothing will change.”
“Are you sure.”
“I can’t say I am sure. But I believe that to be true.”
“But still, I want to give it a try.”
She ignores the beer on her glass and drinks directly from her bottle. She then leans forward and in a low voice says, “You are a nice guy. And a good friend. Would it be too much to ask, if I asked you to be the first guy I sleep with?”