You’ve been walking. Walking most of the day. From the time you left the house the fire that once burned in you has snuffed out. Now you’re exhausted. The freshness, almost like the smell of new rain that you felt in the wee hours of the morning has turned into a body odor, just in 6 hours. Your back aches and your feet are sore. Your white North Stars are no longer white – grime has taken control. Little sprinkles of water mixed with salt can be seen on your forehead. Possibly your armpit has a patch, an offbeat color from the t-shirts’. Your cheeks turn hot; thank God your fingers aren’t wet and clammy. Like a runner who goes off track, your boxers is no longer symmetrical, not in its place. But you just cannot grab your crotch and rectify ‘it’ in broad daylight, worse yet the middle of the City Center. You were born dark and doubtless you’ll die dark unless you pull off a Vera Sidika. The sun peeps down between the smoky white clouds and finds favor with you, nick-naming you ‘The Chosen One’. It deems you trustworthy to absorb all its heat. If you wanted to strip you call to mind you have no vest and the pot belly that might make one think you’re malnourished with kwashiorkor is worth adding a sweater on.
From afar, like the mirage of an oasis, you notice a curvaceous young girl moving towards you with feline grace. Your mind tells you that you know her. But your eyes don’t want to hear any of that. Especially not now and specifically not at this state you’re in. You wish without praying. Her complexion is chocolate. She’s wearing red lipstick and has black tights on that bring out her curves well. Really well. Her fine hair swept back in a ponytail. She isn’t alone. Her friend, you think. It can’t be her sister since you know her. Yes. Now both your eyes and mind agree that you know her. And she definitely knows you. You cannot run or cross the road even if you longed to. Traffic is on. Cars are slowly following each other in a single file and with the drivers having basically nothing to do, their foot just on the brake pedal, they roam their eyes around. And as they move their eyes, guess whose outside? You. With the girl. This leads you to surrendering more water from your body. You deny your nervous and prove it by slouching as if you were a deflated balloon.
She lays eyes on you with a big grin. A friendly but not a normal one. It showed signs of a warning. A warning of ‘dare you pretend you haven’t seen me’. You don’t want to open your mouth leave alone show your teeth. For you’re just from munching mahindi ya kumi (maize of 10 shillings) and God knows what’s stuck in between those teeth. You offer your hand and she goes for a hug as her ‘friend’ keeps walking and comes to a halt further down, a safe distance where she can’t hear the conversation.
“Heey, it’s been a while.” She says giving you a light, faint hit with her fist on your chest.
“Sure. It’s been a minute.” You blurt out with half the energy she had.
Minute? Really? Your tongue now sticks to the roof of your mouth. You knew you’d mess up way before she’d say hi. Silence falls and it was a wonder lightning didn’t strike the ground between you and her. She looks at you; her brow furrowed apparently waiting for you to engage her in a conversation. But knowing even a fish wouldn’t get caught if he would keep his mouth shut, you decide to shut up. You lost it – long ago. You are tired. All you want to do is get home, have lunch and watch ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. It’s bad; awful. It’s awkward; embarrassing. She steals a glance and sees her ‘friend’ holding back. She then motions her body hinting that she has to go. You don’t want her to leave yet you have nothing to put forth in words. Suddenly you feel the way you always do when a fever is starting; hot and cold at once.
“But you’re well?” You glumly pose.
“I am thanks. How about you?”
“I’ll see you.” She mutters in a disappointed tone. As she leaves you give her a big smile to make up for it. Stubbing your toe against the pavement as you turn, the smile still pasted across your mouth, you wonder how worse this day could turn out to be. A couple of steps marched you find your tongue has slipped:
“Aaahhh, Shit! Shit!”
Your tongue has a mind of its own and it often speaks without consulting you first.
A 3-D picture emerges of the drivers shaking their heads, bursting into loud and rough guffaws as you walked away; thinking a wimp of you and it leads you to making a dolphin cry, “Shiyyeeet!”
Having changed the lanes and crossed the road, you console yourself by thinking it wasn’t that imperfect. Saying she ain’t your girl and most likely you’ll never get to see her again. That everything happens for a reason. That Uhuru Kenyatta also had an ex-girlfriend. That probably Janet Mbugua also at one point got dumped or there’s somebody in this earth who fumbled on the chance of dating Michelle Obama. Yours ain’t that bad. It can’t be. But deep down inside of you, where thoughts and feelings cannot be hidden, cannot be brushed off or watered down; you wonder…
As you near the bus stop, you wonder whether today you’ll have an altercation with the conductor for hiking the fare or like a rained on cat you’ll be at his mercy pleading to be charged less.
You have a seat next to the window. Slide it open as the breeze rushes in. You close your eyes and ruffle your hair, soaking in the cool breeze. Hardly do you have enough when a big guy, over six feet, hair cut very short takes a seat next to you with so much force causing an impact, his wrinkled face like a carving of stone.
Excuse you too! You didn’t say it quite that way but that is what you meant with the look you gave him as you reclaimed your balance.
“Shut the window, too much wind.” His voice soft, and utterly sincere.
It’s air. Not wind. Air! Again you didn’t say it.
“Too much, sir. Sorry.” You push the window back with a smile having learned that people were satisfied so long as you were courteous and made no sudden moves. You pull out, from your bag, the book that you’re currently reading. The page you left off is now about baseball. The vocabulary such as batting, pitching, inning; fly over your face. At that instance, that very second, it occurs to you that you know as little about girls as you do about baseball. You close the book and lean your head against the bus seat, feeling like the first mate on a sinking ship. Making a funny huffing sound, you wonder… Wonder whether really the prayers you composed at the crack of dawn beside your bed, reached the heavens. A good day today shall be. That favor will follow you and your name shall not be put to shame. That His protection shall cover you, Angels will carry you and peace shall rule all around you. That… But either God did not hear you or He chose not to answer.
All you could catch sight of were happy faces happy people. Couples holding hands giggling as some shared their ice-cream. Sons holding on to their mothers tightly, not wanting to let go. Two men, grownups, held hands as they howled with laughter. Strolling off, you could hear their snort. They are not gays (I presume). It looked as if they were catching up on their former High School wild days. This big headed guy next to you is smiling as he dials his phone. The conductor chortles in a galling manner as he gives out tickets and collects the monies, presumably having won the attention of the young woman in front of you. And you’re just from meeting a friend who had a friend. You were alone. You make a phone call hoping that your good friend is around though you know she’s miles away. You like her. Love her. For even in her darkest moments, she is warm. You didn’t see any street urchin around or a man being barked at by his Indian boss or get the chance to laugh at a lady whose shoe strap got cut leading to a funny walking style or who tripped on their heels. Today you saw happiness. A feeling of frustration, maybe anger sets in. But you don’t know what to be angry about. You wonder whether to be angry at Marc Webb the director of Amazing Spider-Man, for letting Gwen Stacy die or angry at how insensitive the director of Suits could be to let poor Louis Litt get fired. Sorry Louis.
You just wonder…
You no longer frown when people pronounce your name wrongly. You actually plead with them to repeat it again and again because you took the time to wonder how ‘this’ building might be feeling having been named, ‘Nginyo Towers’.
Do you wonder?
And in wonder, you compare writing to preaching. That the congregation (readers) will regularly come back week after week expecting a sermon, a good sermon (article) but in most cases the preacher (writer) has no clue what his sermon (article) will be all about. BUT God is faithful… Likewise to a writer, God is the source and the secret is prayer.
Having read this, don’t you just wonder how powerful our minds are or can be?
But, hey, wonder no more.