You know it is holiday season when you enter the estate at 6pm after work and you run into a bunch of noisy, frenzied kids running and screaming all over the place. Nothing like December holiday. These kids bring back nostalgic memories. During my days I would get out of the house as soon as my parents left for work and return at sunset looking like I’d just escaped from a refugee camp. I would go back home covered in dust, with torn pants and grazes on my knees, and in extreme cases, with only one shoe, or some other kid’s shoes.
However as delightful as these kids may seem, you better be wary around them. A kid could take you down. There’s this time I bought mandazis in the estate and as I was returning my wallet into the pocket a kid thought it was the mandazis that I was stuffing in the pocket! I heard childish voice exclaiming, “Gai mandazi kwa mfuko!” (omg stuffing donuts in the pocket). My wallet is brown and it was at dusk and it hit me when I was already several steps away what the kid had assumed. I turned and saw her staring at me with her hands clapped over her mouth in amazement. Right then I knew I was doomed.
Of course that story made headlines and she shared with all and sundry. Now all the kids in my hood know I am the creepy weirdo who stuffs mandazis in his pocket. I’m sure even her parents, grandmother and all her dolls know they have a spooky mandazi-pocketing neighbor. My street cred has since dropped to a negative.
More than once I’ve tried saving face by telling her it was my wallet and not mandazis, but she would hear none of it. I’ve even tried wooing her by buying her some. Unfortunately all my efforts have been futile. Everytime we meet she looks at me with widened, doll eyes and a half-smile. She terrorizes me. I didn’t know 5 year olds could make your life so difficult.
I think I should get back at her. I suppose the best revenge would be to tell her that Santa is a sham. Now that should settle the score. I should just tell her that Santa is a fraudulent cock-and-bull. That even tooth-ferries know that Santa is a load of BS. Then watch her burst into tears and run to her mama.
But I’m not that mean. It’s holiday season for crying out loud. You don’t burst a kid’s bubble when Christmas is around the corner. I’ll wait till January when schools are opening, and she’s outside the gate wearing a long face as she waits for that Riara school bus, then I’ll break the news. I’ll tell her she’s more likely to find a baby mermaid chilling inside her desk than to ever see Santa crawling down her chimney. I’m gonna get you kid.
Anyway folks it’s that vibrant time of the year!
The weather is bright and the mood is right. The streets are colorful and the atmosphere, simply wonderful. A pal of mine says in December everyday is Friday. According to him it’s inexcusable to pass on a chance of making merry during the festive season, even if chance pops up on a lose Tuesday.
I agree with him. If you’ve been working hard all year, you would be excused for spoiling yourself a little. Don’t be too judgmental if on your way to work, at 7am, you have to side-step a sloshed staggering lad. Cut a bratha some slack and substitute that stabbing glare and the impulsive mscheew with a “happy holidays,” said with a broad smile.
I’m even willing to excuse those people who laugh out too loud. I don’t know about you but when a person roars shamelessly in a restaurant or a matatu I get tempted to smack off their voice box. I understand there are some really funny pips out there but good gracious does one have to laugh like they just went schizophrenic? I’m sure even the Almighty didn’t laugh as loud when folks came tumbling down the Tower of Babel. Anyway since its December, if someone laughs like that, I will not give him that disgusted look. Who knows maybe that’s their way of celebrating the birth of Christ. Before I sneer at them I will ask myself one question: What would Jesus do?
So be happy folks. Smile even when you don’t have to and don’t let anyone put you down. Refrain from sticking out your middle finger and cursing when a matatu driver cuts you off. Refrain from yelling at a guard when you’re late for an appointment and he’s busy frisking you like you got ‘al-shabaab strong’ tattooed on your forehead. Refrain from kicking a kid when he runs into you with his bicycle (happened to me in the estate and I forgot to smile). Don’t let anyone spoil your mood.
Try to be nice. I know being nice does not come naturally in this part of town but just give it a try. If you have a chance of putting a smile on someone else’s face, do it. I was jazzed on Saturday night when a friend stopped to say hi to a street child, and then she put her hand around the little boy and led us to a restaurant where she bought him a packet of fries. I don’t know if it was the December vibe that had checked in but she was feeling sufficiently philanthropic. Her compassion put a smile on a little boy’s face. She was so concerned I think if the clubs were not so strict miss humanitarian would have taken the kid straight to the dance floor. I have to say that seeing the expression on the face of that little boy as she handed him the fries was profoundly touching. God bless your kind heart ‘Mother Teresa’.
So just try to be nice. It might not seem like much to you but a random act of kindness might mean the world to somebody else.
I am excited this festive season and I hope you are too. Things might be tough but I’m sure each one us has a reason to celebrate, no matter the circumstances. On Friday night, at around 11pm, I met a bunch of destitute kids excitedly running around town singing ‘we wish you a merry Christmas.’ Clearly, it’s never that serious.
You might think you’ve hit rock bottom but wallowing in your troubles and curling yourself in that fetal position as you cry yourself to sleep won’t help. Dress up, get out and meet your friends and laugh your troubles away.
In that regard, I am officially not turning down any opportunity to make merry. If you have a plan and you need some folks over, contact me. I promise not to disappoint. P.K I am not letting you down again. No more disappearing acts. Just don’t make guys drink like you heard our kidneys needed a swim.
So folks, have yourselves a good one. Here’s to wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you on the 2nd of January 2012.
She was seated next to the window at the far end of the library. She always picked that same spot when she went to do her studies. Maybe Financial Accounting made more sense when she sat there. Her eyes were fixed on her books. Not once would you catch them wondering about aimlessly. She was consumed by the books before her. She always was.
He was seated on the other end. He was in the company of some noisy folks. They were murmuring while stealing glances at her. They had been gawking at her since the beginning of the semester. Whenever she passed by, on her way to class or dining hall, the subject of the conversation would change. She always stole the show. Her beauty stupefied the boys. She was light in complexion and had a very pretty face. Even in her buibui (Joe labs, Kaitlin; that’s Swahili for abaya), her curves were still noticeable. But she was very reserved and discreet. She was something of an enigma. And this baffled the boys.
That evening at the library, one boy was feeling chivalrous. After watching her for a while, he got up from his seat and walked across the library to meet her. He pulled a seat next to her and greeted her casually. She looked surprised. He introduced himself and admittedly told her that he was interested in getting to know her. She was not so charmed. She was not up for a tete-a-tete, and did not hide the fact. Moments later he excused himself but promised to be saying hallo when they met around campus. He had gotten a name though.
True to his word, he always said hi whenever they walked by each other. Occasionally he would stop her and ask how she was doing and attempt to make her smile by saying something witty. But he couldn’t really manage to break the ice. It was a gigantic ice block. Bigger than the one that sank the Titanic. She could break a smile once in a while, but she never showed much interest.
On his last semester, he chose a marketing elective. Coincidentally, she was also taking the class. He would always look forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays when they had the lesson, not because the lecturer was so fascinating, but simply because he would be in her presence for two good hours. He however never really thought he had a chance. He was the boisterous kind, and she was a reserved Muslim lady.
He completed his course and left campus.
One evening, a month after leaving campus, he logged into facebook and saw a friend request from her. He was ecstatic. He accepted it immediately and wrote her a message. Not one of those “thanks for the friend request” but a well thought out message. He wrote about that day at the library, and joked about how alarmed she had been when he approached her. If he had moved an inch closer she would have fled through the window. He asked her if he looked like he was about to propose to her. It took him forty minutes to come up with a one paragraph message. He proof-read it like ten times, then clicked the send button.
The next day there was a reply sitting in his inbox. He was impressed to see she had also typed out a whole paragraph. She had found his message humorous. And she admitted she was a bit scared that day since she had just been caught off-guard. She asked how come he was not in session.
He read the message over and over, and was glad the computer monitor didn’t make her as shy as his face did. He excitedly typed another message. And she replied. It became a ritual. They would write each other every day. He always took time to write each message. He had to keep her interested.
One Friday evening he asked her to go online. She did. His fingers were glued to the keyboard, and his eyes fixed on the screen for the next six hours, till late into the night. Same thing happened the next Friday. It became a convention. She would open up to him and they would share intimate stories.
This one time he told her that he remembers the very first time he laid his eyes on her, and he shared the account. It was on a Friday and they were both leaving campus. The time of the day was around 10am. They had been waiting for the bus at the gate for a while. When the bus came, he boarded and took a sit somewhere in the middle sits. She sat at the front. They were the only passengers. She was in a buibui and her head was partly covered by a hijab. But he still got a glimpse of her face. He thought she was very pretty. He did not talk to her though. What would he have said? “Hey it’s Friday! Cheers to the freaking weekend…” Nah.
But to his surprise, she disclosed that she remembered that day too. And she vividly recollected the episode!
He had not expected such a response. It occurred to him that he’d always had a chance. He solemnly swore to himself to pursue her tenaciously. Her admission had elevated their relationship to another level. A grander one. She had not only noticed him that day, she recounted the occasion with lucid precision.
He took the chance to ask her for a date. They agreed to meet the following Tuesday since only had one class then. And before she signed out from chat, he asked her for her number so he could say goodnight over the phone. Immediately, she went offline. He was nonplussed. He had not seen that coming. He sent her a message and grumbled. He asked her what kind of a person she thought he was. He told her he had assumed she thought more of him.
As soon as he’d pressed the send button, she came back online and apologized for the network connectivity issues, and gave him her number. He wished he could retract the message. But it was too late, and he confessed before she saw it. She did not fuss about it as he had expected. She said it would be great if he called.
The phone rang twice before it was picked. His could feel his heart beating in his chest.
“Hey, it’s good to finally get to hear your voice after such a long time,” he said.
She chuckled softly but did not say anything.
“Anyway I thought it would be nice to wish you a goodnight in person and to hear that voice,” he continued. He then wished her a goodnight. She was quite shy over the phone. She did not have the same enthusiasm she had on chat. This threw him off balance.
Nonetheless he looked forward to the date. He was fond of her, and he knew he had significantly grown on her.
When the day came and he was halfway on his way to meet her, she canceled the date. He was disappointed. He alighted from the matatu (that’s Kenyan for our common means of transport), crossed the road, and took another one back home. Later in the evening she sensed she had upset him and apologized profusely. She said she would be available the next Tuesday.
He had always been comfortable with the ladies. But the following Tuesday, as he stood at the rendezvous waiting for her, his stomach was churning. It even got worse when it started raining. He soon saw her across the road. She was in blue jeans and a white blouse. No buibui. Her umbrella was messed up and she was being rained on. She sighted him and as she walked towards him, he could see the tension on her face. He smiled as she got to him and hugged her. In an effort to melt the ice, he cracked a joke about the umbrella situation. He told her they need to invest in a proper umbrella. He put his arm around her and held her arm as they walked to a nearby restaurant.
They had pizza and a soft drink. She did not speak much during the date. Her sentences were brief. He could tell she was not used to male company. She however managed several fits of laughter. She would laugh heartily at his jokes. She would try to suppress the chuckles but once in a while she would laugh out loud.
He loved it.
An hour and a half later he walked her to the matatu terminal. Before she boarded, as he was hugging her, he told her he had had a wonderful time and was glad she had made it. On his way home he received a text from her. She said she had a wonderful time too and thanked him.
His heart leaped with joy.
They would communicate regularly. She was shy on phone but much more confident on chat and texts. He would compliment her as they chatted, and she would return the favor. He told her he thought she was really pretty. That her laughter was like soothing music to his ears. He confessed that chatting with her made him feel alive. And at one point he dropped the bomb and told her he really liked her.
She told him that she loved the way he always made her laugh, that he brightened her days. She thought he was good looking. And she admitted that she liked him too.
He was elated.
They would meet every Tuesday. With every meeting, she would become more and more comfortable around him. She even suggested he walks her home instead of taking a matatu. She lived at Museum Hill, a few kilometers from town. They enjoyed each other’s company. They would stroll while talking about anything and everything. She would even hold his hand. And when they got to her gate, he would try to kiss her on her lips but she opted for a hug. It was however not just the regular hug. She would extend it just a little longer as she held onto him.
Then one day he invited her to his place. They agreed she would skip class the following Tuesday and visit him. He was still unemployed and he lived off his brother. He looked forward to the following week with bated breath.
When Tuesday came, he lost sleep in the wee hours of the morning. His mind was racing. He was thinking about his visitor. And as soon as his brother left for work, he got out of bed, tidied the house and took a bath. Just before 8am, she called him and he went to pick her at the stage. They were both tense as they got into the house. He welcomed her, switched on the tv, and went to the kitchen to make breakfast.
After breakfast he proposed they watch a movie. He showed her a list of movies in the computer and she picked a Tyler Perry movie. They sat on the same couch. At some point during the movie, he stretched out his arm and she leaned on him.
When the movie ended, there was so much tension you could cut it with a knife. An uncomfortable silence filled the room. They however read each other’s minds in the silence. He looked at her, and she lowered her eyes. He went for a kiss. This time she did not offer her cheek. She closed her eyes as their lips touched. It was magical. He felt like a teenager who was kissing a girl for the first time. He did not want to overdo it the first time around so after a few seconds he pulled back. But to his surprise she put her arms around his neck and pulled him back into the action. She had kept her feelings bottled up for so long and she couldn’t suppress them anymore. They enjoyed each other’s company and had a wonderful day.
A passionate relationship blossomed.
In time, she completely opened up and let him into her world. She threw caution to the wind and offered her heart to him. She gave him her trust and fell for him like she had never thought possible. She says he transformed her. That she never thought she would ever have such intense feelings toward a man. She says it feels right. She tells him that he makes her so happy. And whenever he holds her she tells him that she wants him to hold her forever. She is never sad when she is with him. And when he is away she longs for the day she will see him again.
She is engraved in his heart too. He knows he found something special. Something that money would never buy. He knows he is a lucky man. She is everything he would ever ask for. No one understands him like she does. He reveals his true self when he is with her without feeling exposed. He tells her things he could never tell anyone else. She thinks more of him than he does of himself. And he feels like he could achieve anything as long as he has her by his side. No mountain is too big. He knows she is the best thing to have ever happened to him. He has his imperfections. But everyday he thanks God for bringing her into his life, and keeping her in it. She is the apple of his eye.
“They say a woman ain’t supposed to do… what I’m about to do… but you so fine beau…” If you like Cecile like I do, then you know what that first line is all about. The song is called Home Tonight and she sings about luring a stranger from a bar and taking him home with her.
Sally had the same intentions. She always did on those Saturday nights when she felt the itch. She would go to a high end bar, sit pretty at the counter and trap her catch. Her striking looks and her captivating charm were her strongest assets. A flash of her smile attracted men like moths to a light bulb. But Sally had a dark side to her: She did not let herself get attached to any man. Once a man fulfilled her needs she would banish him. Depending on her mood, she would go as far as kicking him out in the middle of the night. She had a good job and enjoyed her independence. She enjoyed going for what she wanted and being in control made her feel powerful. She never saw any man for a second time.
This particular night, she was seated on a barstool at the counter sipping her cocktail and bumping her head to the music. She was in a jovial mood and was having a great time. She wore a short, red dress and her yellow thighs were hung out for the men to ogle at. Before her were several tots of brandy and vodka that had been bought by men seeking her attention. She only drank what she bought with her own money. Occasionally men would walk up to her and attempt to start a conversation. Sally would brush them off with a sneer on her face. She did not fancy being approached. She enjoyed instigating the whole thing. But so far, no one had caught her eye. She was a patient prowler though. She knew what she wanted and never settled for less. She fancied tall, confident men and was inclined to the smokers. She found smoking alluring.
A funny commercial on the screen before her had caught her attention when she heard a deep voice next to her ordering for shots of tequila. She turned to her left and saw this princely man standing next to him.
His nifty looks and his composed demeanor caught her eye. Sally had some brains on her and she could always come up with a line that would interest her target.
“Someone’s looking to get sloshed tonight huh.” She said as she sipped her drink.
“Pardon me?” He retorted.
“I hope you got yourself a designated driver,” she continued.
He chuckled and explained that the shots were not all his and pointed at three thirsty-looking chaps at a table in the middle of the bar.
“But I think you should be worried more about yourself,” he said as he gazed at the numerous shots on the counter before her.
She too explained herself. She knew the explanation would impress him. It did and he asked her to join him and the boys at the table, but she declined. She was a master at her game. She knew when to press on and when to hold back. Prince charming went back to his table. She would periodically steal a glance and whenever their eyes met, she would smile shyly and look away. She was determined to take him home with her, and she knew just the strings to pull.
Half an hour later, she was startled by the same deep voice.
“You’re not planning to have all that returned into the bottle, are you?” He asked while pointing at the shots.
He introduced himself as Allan.
Small talk ensued and when he asked her what she was doing all alone in a bar, she joked and said the bistro in her basement was under renovation. She extended her arm for the pack of cigarettes before her and pulled out two sticks. She offered him one and as she placed hers gently between her lips, he reached into the inside pocket of his coat for his lighter. And she sucked the stick in short bursts as he lit it. He then lit his. She was seated with her legs crossed facing him; and he was leaning on the counter facing her. She gazed into his eyes as they conversed, and she would randomly flip her hair or lick her lower lip flirtatiously.
Then out of the blue, she looked at him squarely in the eyes and told him the actual reason why she was in the bar. She told him she was looking for a man to accompany her to her house that night, and then watched him as he struggled to digest her words. He raised his brow, shook his head mildly and chuckled softly as he tapped the ash off the end of his cigarette into an ash tray. She leaned forward and whispered in his ear as she stroked his sinewy arms. In a soft tone, she told him that it gets quite lonely back at home, and she would cherish his company.
A song she fancied came on and she rose to her feet and invited Allan to dance. She took both his hands into hers and playfully swayed them side to side. She would then spin around and with her back on him, swirl her hips sensually. Moments later, she then turned around, pulled him closer and put his arms around her waist as she rested hers on his upper arms. She liked the smell of his cologne. And when she looked up at him, and he gave her an endearing smile, she leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips. He did not resist, but neither did he kiss her back. He simply took her kiss. She was relishing the night. She thought Allan would be an incredible conquest.
But her joy was short-lived.
When she took her seat, Allan did not lean onto the counter like he had done before. He took out his wallet, pulled out some notes, placed them in the glass that contained the bill, and said the last thing Sally had expected to hear.
With a face filled with remorse, he looked up at her and told her his fiancée was expecting him at home.
With that he gave her a peck her on the cheek and walked away. She could not believe what was transpiring. She was tempted pace up to him, tap him on the shoulder and smash a beer bottle on his face. But she knew he did not deserve that. She therefore sat there in disbelief. Tears welled in her eyes as she watched him disappear into the crowd towards the exit. She felt like she had been left at the altar. She was dejected. And as she wore her coat ready to call it a night, she made a resolution. She resolved to get her own man: A man she would call her own; a man that would never desert her.