Archive for the ‘Firsts’ Category

Love or rather being in love is a beautiful but deadly force. It goes into the very depths of your soul. Your spirit holds on and your body yearns for that one touch. That daily dose of closeness and intimacy that is only yours. And when you don’t get your fix, you have chilling episodes where you can feel the pain crawling on your skin like a caterpillar leaving a trail of allergens all over you. I’m not making sense I’m I? And such is the concept of love.

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But lust, well lust is much simpler. It starts with the eyes. Sometimes with a voice in the next room. Sometimes with a scent that whiffs past you on the street and somehow sticks to your clothes. Sometimes with a touch, even just a slight graze. He sat too close to me in the matatu. Maybe on purpose? I don’t think so. The PSV was packed to the brim with a few people standing on the aisle. It was raining and water was sipping through the hinges on the window and onto his seat. He shifted to my side slightly and some water dripped from his wet umbrella onto my grey pants and some onto my black boots. He apologized. I said it was fine. It was more than fine. He paid my fare, citing the ‘inconvenience’ he had caused me. Wawili (two). He said to the conductor. He held up two fingers,left hand, his index and his middle. There was no ring on the third. Don’t ask me why my mind chose to emphasize that fact and write it in bold but I think you know. Veins, well defined, criss-crossed the back of his hand and disappeared under his black Calvin Klein watch and then under the sleeve of his leather jacket. He checked the time and sighed. Late for work? I asked him. I needed more words from that beautiful mouth with a hint of a beard. Yeah, but I got my friend to open the studio so it should be fine. He answered. An artist! My legs squeezed together. Reflex. It wasn’t just the streets getting wet. The prospect of discovering someone’s art, a stranger nonetheless has always enticed me. It’s like going on an adventure in some virgin island. You know you might find mosquitoes the size of your hand or get bit by a 6 foot snake no one’s ever seen before or fall of a cliff and into quick sand but the thrill of spending even just a few minutes discovering new beauty is just too alluring to pass up. I digress.

Traffic was a mess, bumper to bumper.

Two posh cars were in the middle of the road, not moving. There was some kind of a minor accident. Neither drivers had come out to even look at the damage. Maybe they didn’t want to get their designer suits and shoes wet just for a minor scratch. The irritated police officer just made sure they exchanged insurance information and waved them through. Excuse me. My seat partner said and pointed toward the aisle. He was alighting at the next stop. Nooo! I wanted to scream. Instead I  moved my legs to the side and gave him way. Sorry again. He quickly said and walked down to the door. I watched him move like you’d watch a baby taking their first steps, soaking in every moment. Weird analogy, I know, but you get my point. I probably was never going to see him again. Not physically anyway. But in my dreams; Yoh! On a horse going to war for his kingdom; Or in a blacksmith’s stall beating hot metal into submission ; Or on the beach,shirtless,sweaty,bringing in his catch; Or in a wizard’s den mixing potions and calling on powers above and below.  I have strange dreams(fantasies) sometimes. But such is the concept of lust, it lingers on, it evolves, it sticks onto you until your eyes latch on to another.

Intimacy is yet another complex entity. Into Me See. Closeness. Not necessarily romance as many believe. Just the very act of allowing another or a few into the most intricate parts of your life, your heart, your mind, your being. it transcends social rules and norms of relating, spits on them sometimes actually. You slide in gradually. It’s never forced, never coerced,never shoved down your throat and always years to be reciprocated. You see her/him/them and it’s an instant connection. She’s out of your league. She’d never be friends with you. You know how awkward you get around new people. Remember how that one time someone said they liked your pen and because you were crushing on them you went ahead and bought them a whole set of assorted pens, matching pencils and marker pens and a matching set of scribbling pads?

Plus, she’s really serious. Looks very together and you are a mess. She’ll never give you a second look. Crap! She just did. Well, smile back you idiot! Don’t just stand there. Oh my, now she’s walking towards you. Can we take a photo together? She asks. Yeah sure. You mumble back. I mean, we,are at an art exhibition anyway and they are allowing photography and it’s raining outside so it’s not like we are going anywhere and we both look pretty good, not that I was looking or staring just that when you were walking toward me you were in my line of sight and …..Geez! Stop rambling and just pose! You tell yourself when you realize you’ve been talking for 3 straight minutes and She’s been waiting for you to finish so y’all can take that photo. You go home that night reliving that moment over and over. You text that you got home ok. You have a long, unexpected chat. You sleep with a smile on your face. You are convinced that that night is the start of a long and beautiful friendship (something). Come over for lunch sometime,her last text said. Sure, I can cook a mean fried chicken, actually any type of chicken, chicken is my middle name. You text back then realize that you just called yourself ‘chicken’. Lunches,dinners, sleep covers, out of town camping trips,long chats, ridiculously long calls,family visits. Soon you realize, there is nothing about you that this person does not know. Even those deep dark secrets that wake you up in the middle of the night. Even the weird stuff like how sometimes on your way to work in the morning you kinda wish you’d get slightly hit by a small car so you’d just break a leg because you really hate your job and you just need a two-month “accidental” break from it and life in general. Bffs,soulmates,peas in a pod, birds of a feather, flocking all over town painting things red and mixing in other colors in the process. Always defining and redefining what levels of intimacy you are on or going on. Like I said, it’s complex. Mix it in with love and eish, that’s a roller-coaster ride you never want to get off from.

Until it ends and then..heartbreak. But that’s a story for another day. For now, enjoy the ride.

 

My best friend Lisa met a guy at a bar last night. I know; who parties on a Sunday night right? But the dreaded 64-day January was over and people always need a reason to celebrate. He was quite the charmer. And, no he didn’t come up to her with the tired cliché; “Hey babe, you look hot tonight.” He wouldn’t have gotten anywhere with that. Do people even use that anymore? And, no he didn’t buy her a drink and insist on joining her table as some men do and think they suddenly have a right to your time and space. I mean just because I don’t have the money to dirt-ify my table (kuchafua meza), doesn’t mean am not content sipping on my two drinks all night.

This guy actually did something new. She had to pass by his table to go to the bathroom. So every time she got up to go to the loo, he would see her approach, smile and offer to escort her to the ladies room, wait outside, tell her not to be long and remember to wash her hands after. When she’d get out of the washroom he would walk with her to his table then usher her to hers. Aside from asking for her number when he was about to leave, they did not exchange more than just those few sentences and a few glances and smiles from their separate tables. Even as the night grew older and the alcohol took its inevitable effect on the patrons leaving some passed out on their seats, he never lost that awkward charm.

Lisa couldn’t even give me a definite physical description of this guy even though they have been texting non-stop since then. She may not even be able to pick him out of a line up if he turned out to be psycho but I get the feeling she will remember those moments for a while to come.

Let’s not pretend; we have all met a few psychos in our lifetime as ladies in this big city and most would never come on too strong in the beginning. It’s when he texts you cheesy poetry at 3am in the morning followed swiftly by 10 texts asking why you are not responding that the warning lights start flashing. Or when he follows you on every social media platform including my-space and likes all your photos and posts from 2004-2017 and comments ‘Be My Baby’ on all of them. Or when he changes his status to ‘Married to *insert your name here*’ and changes his profile picture to a googled photo of yours. Thanks a lot Google! That’s when you know you need to have 999 on speed dial and send a – ‘If I disappear one day look for this man * insert psycho’s photo here*’- multimedia text to all your friends and family.

But enough of the morbid talk, what I am really trying to say is; there are charmers out there. I hear even I, am one of them but rarely would you find someone with new game, new lines and a unique brand of charm. A simple gentlemanly act such as an escort to and from the bathroom with no form of obvious intent is a welcome change to the usual;

‘ I got you a drink (s) now turn around, hands to the floor and grind up on me like I just sent 40 cows to your father and have now officially planted a flag of discovery on your behind’

Happy chivalry-hunting ladies. It’s not quite dead yet.

Hi, I am your next obsession, it’s nice to meet you.

You don’t have to be psycho to be obsessed. That day, I came in to the room;I was late as usual; I sat right across from you. You raised your head from your laptop to see who had walked in. Our eyes met and in that moment I knew you would never be able to get me out of your head. I played it cool. I knew I had you locked in. During the break, I was standing alone on the balcony, watching people. Those are actually my most enjoyable moments. I love observing people in a group setting; you always see the most interesting stuff. There’s this guy, loud, charming, and very keen on having people know he exists. He talks to everyone even the conference facilitators. My lecturers in both colleges I’ve attended didn’t even know I was in their class until I went to ask for their signatures on my graduation forms or for a recommendation letter. But this guy; he’s always talking. I don’t think I’d get along with him. He can’t really listen. I was talking to him once and I could see his eyes shifting constantly like he had better places to be or more interesting people to talk to. I just smiled and switched to talking about the weather, giving him an out to move on to the next person. I wasn’t offended; just impressed with how right I was about him.

The bourgeois chic (sorry, lady) just passed me. She looked me over as always, she does that with everyone. I just smiled and waved. She irritates the heck out of me. She always has so many questions during the sessions which would be fine except she sprinkles a whole load of criticism about everything in the conference. No facilitator is good enough for that one even though she clearly doesn’t know much outside of her profession (tiny bubble). She always sits at the centre of the class and it feels like she always has her hand up with a question or a point of correction for the facilitators. It’s so much fun to be one of the silent ones in class; you just sit back and get entertained.

The eccentric guy just gave me a big hug followed by a big ‘Hallo! how have you been?!’. I say a big ‘Great dude! You?’ He says he’s been awesome as usual. No need to tell him I had the longest, hardest week of my life and cried myself to sleep almost everyday. He’s a nice guy and all but we ain’t tight like that. He always sits at the edge of the semi-circle in class. He wears really bright, crazy clothing, has brass rings on all his fingers and bulky long chains hanging on his neck. Not a single piece was generic. All hand crafted; all African or African oriented. I would love to just sit with him one day and ask him about all his pieces. He’s an artist through and through. I wish I could be as carefree sometimes. But that would direct too much attention my way and I’m just not a limelight person.

Something clicks in front of me. The photographer dude is at it again. He’s always taking pictures with his camera with the big ass lens. He’s sneaky that one. He posts a few photos on his wall on facebook and Instagram. Action photos of everyone in their element. He took one of me buried in my notebook. I have no clue what I was writing about but damn that was a good shot! I’m pretty sure he also has one of me digging through my nose or furiously biting my nails. Can’t wait for those to come out. Haha.

You come back from the bathroom downstairs. I happen to see you as you come up; you don’t see me see you. You have no idea what’s coming. You look up once you get to the top of the stairs and as you walk down toward the conference room, your gaze is stuck on mine. Feels like we are playing  ‘who’s going to blink first’. You do, obviously. I’m a pro at that game. You say hi. I come in for a hug just as you stretch out your hand for a hand-shake. Awkward! I pull back, whisper a quick sorry covered by a cute giggle and stretch out my hand to meet yours. Shouldn’t I be the one blushing after that little awkward fiasco? So why are you? We catch up for a few. I can’t remember what we were talking about but it must have been very interesting because I remember laughing all through. You mention that you love the way I laugh. I say thank you and wink, I don’t know why, my eye just went there. Did you just blush when I winked? Did I just stumble on a piece of your kryptonite? I don’t mention it but I put that little piece of priceless information in my pocket to be used later.

The conference timekeeper who was really just one of the attendees who had volunteered for the job was nagging people to go back into class. I say nag because honestly the fellow is an actual nag. He’s always passing some form of instruction masquerading as a ‘suggestion’ or a ‘personal opinion’ about one thing or the other. Yesterday was the first day of the conference; we barely know each other because we are all from different pursuits and passions, different walks of life, different parts of the city. This guy walks in and the first thing he says after announcing his arrival is how maybe we could change the sitting arrangement to be more class-like so as to enable us to focus more on what’s being presented at the front.  I hope he saw how my face cringed at his ‘suggestion’. This is a flipping conference dopey not your chance to finally become the class monitor you’ve always wanted to be. Of course I didn’t say that out loud; nah, such outbursts are for my journal’s pages only. During one of the breaks I was having a light conversation with Mr. Eccentric and Mr. Class Prefect comes up to us and tells us to lower our voices and turns to me and asks if I could laugh less loudly. The nerve of this guy. We actually gave him props for having the audacity to come up to us to say that but then we went back to talking just as before. Mr. Timekeeper actually turns back and gives us a warning look. Whoa that just kills me and I let out a glass-breaking guffaw. Why was he trying to bring out the last traces of the rebellious teenager in me? I should probably tell him that I don’t think I was created with a built-in volume-regulator for my laugh. But I’ll keep the peace for now.

The last session of the day goes off without a hitch. Time to go home. The hotel venue is a fifteen-minute walk from the CBD where most people get their buses home, if they are not driving that is. I like taking long walks alone sometimes just to think on the day and unwind for a bit. I pick my backpack and head out saying a quick goodbye to whomever glanced my way on my way out.  Down the hallway, down the stairs to the ground floor, I wave to the nice receptionist and walk out of the hotel main doors and into the driveway-parking lot. Halfway through just as I’m about to walk through the main gate, you suddenly fall in step beside me. You apologise because you see that you startled me a little. Its ok, I wasn’t exactly complaining. You try to hide the fact that you are out of breathe because you probably had to jog so you’d catch up with me. Just another piece of information for my pockets to be used in the near future. As we walk down to town talking about this and that, I’m thinking; ‘Well this is going to be a very interesting five days’.

End of Day 2…

*All characters in this series are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.*

 

I used to be the coolest person you knew, I know how you laugh loud and boisterous, they used to say they could hear us from six floors up and they would know it was me and you, how you smile such a huge smile it is, how you walk even how you cough when you are sick or just clearing your throat, sneeze, yawn, chew. See I still love you, I still pray for you and yes I still feel uncontrollable rage sometimes, it bubbles up inside me and I can’t be near you for too long, small doses of you are enough.  That look grinds my teeth to dust, that shrug reduces me to a pile of nerves and that turn-away when you see me coming a mile away turns my heart to shreds so I take the long route to the water dispenser so I don’t run into you. I have made up Monday-morning-sickness so I don’t have to sit across from you for a hour during weekly staff meetings.  I have filled my roster with client on-site visits so I don’t have to see you all eight hours of the day at the office. I take long walks at lunch time and avoid all invitations to group lunches that I know you will be in. Basically my life still revolves around you even though I’m not with you. How’s that for hopeless? I know you know why it had to end but I don’t, I feel, I feel, I feel like..

I want to love and be loved. I only wish it could happen without all the complications. You love someone and they hurt you beyond measure. But so what, did u think u would be the exception? Well as stupid as it sounds, yes, yes I thought I would be an exception. So you have to go with it and you know you should because halloooo!, someone else’ life should not affect yours right? Yeah well someone should tell that to my heart coz it keeps finding itself constantly connecting, attaching, attracting, it’s like it can’t help it. No matter how many times I teach it the same lesson. So this is what’s left every time, just me and my writing and one heck of a mess to clean up coz I just made a fool of myself again thinking it’s me when it’s so obviously is not. No one really understands how much their lives affect those around them. You may care less but there is someone who does care and they hurt when you should, they cry when you don’t and they love you anyway funnily. I guess that’s on them though, I mean you cannot be responsible for their feelings too, not with all you’ve got going on. So you know you are sorry but there’s really nothing you can do. I mean this is who you are, if they are your friends as they claim, they should understand that and if not then screw them, you don’t need them, you were just fine before you knew them and you’ll be just fine after. Your world will keep turning and that’s all that counts. It feels selfish though coz every time it’s always me getting hurt, me getting left, me getting pushed aside, me confused about something, me not understanding why they act that way. So why not just turn it off? Coz it would mean turning off a part of me and nothing should be worth that. I will try though, try not to hurt so easily, try not to let that look break me, that ‘oh my gosh look at u getting hurt at every little thing when everyone else is just fine’… that look. I’ve gotten it so many times I see it coming a mile away. It’s selfish to always play this tug-of-war with people. Who’s stronger now…who needs who more; games we play with each other’s hearts every time there is conflict. It’s just pride causing strife where there was peace. The unspoken human affinity and craving for drama.

End of rant….

You’ve been eyeing this person for some time now. They’ve caught you stealing glances. It got awkward a few times because you can’t put on a poker face to save your life. That shy smile; like the one a child makes when they are caught stealing sugar, has become your face’ default setting.

You have stalked them mildly (read a lot) on FaceBook, Twitter,Instagram, Snapchat; even Google docs. You know they had frozen yoghurt yesterday at Sarit Centre and they didn’t like the melon flavor. You know they went out last night and ‘yolo-ed’ till 4am. You have wondered how you would keep up with all the partying because you and your bed have a long-standing agreement of a 1am sleep time curfew. You also know you cannot yolo two nights in a row. You are not superman or even superman’s sidekick. If you were to even try that you would be a zombie the rest of the week and have moments of regret on the hour every hour. Still, that doesn’t make the fantasies any less frequent. You still try to convince yourself of how you would be willing to give up your best-friend (sleep) for them.

You fantasise about how it would feel if one day they walked up to you out of nowhere (a fairytale storybook maybe) , reached out, grabbed you, pulled you close, so close you could see the pores on their face and (sucked the breathe out of you) kissed you. But you tell yourself it’s not going to happen. That is how hopeless romantics like you get through stuff like that. You tell yourself it’s not going to happen then obsess over the possibility of it actually happening. You are such a weirdo.

One day , out of literally nowhere, they actually (in reality) come up and hug you from behind. They hold your waist, their hands lock in at the front and they squeeze. You feel them breath on your neck. They whisper something softly which you obviously don’t hear because you have already moved in to your castle on cloud nine and you are never coming down. They slowly turn you around, one hand still on your waist and the other lightly teasing (caressing) your ear. They brush your locs back  lightly. It’s not like they were on your face or anything, they just know how to turn your insides inside out. Have they been light stalking you too; maybe?

Your eyes lock and both of you smile. They say something that makes you laugh out loud and you almost roll on the floor with laughter. You realize too late that their  joke was desert-dry and extremely cheesy yet you laughed so hard, you may have peed just a little. Dang it! Your dignity brakes are on the fritz and you are now running on flirt-mode full throttle. That  definitely escalated quickly. Luckily, they do not have x-ray vision so you are in the clear. By now you are in it for the win so your hand goes on their waist and runs up their spinal-ridge (dip?) right up their back. Your ‘not-so-long’ nails (your nails never grow to claw-height luckily) dig in just to their back  little. One of your g-spots is somewhere on that ridge too but they haven’t discovered it yet otherwise your legs would have been as stable as cooked spaghetti by now.

You have gotten to that awkward point where you aren’t sure whether you should lean in for the kiss or say you need to pee. You really don’t need another addiction do you? Your ears are hot. Your jaws ache a little because you have had that silly half-smile, half-laugh plastered on your face for the last 6 minutes. There’s a deep tickle in your tummy. That is when you know you have reached the point of no return. The point when you know that if you don’t kiss this person, you will spend the rest of the night wondering what it would have felt like if you  had.

You hear a car door bang shut and that’s when you suddenly remember you are standing in a parking lot. Your partner doesn’t seem fazed by it because they are still glued to you. PDA is really not your style. You actually  low-key despise people who have the audacity to (suck face)  make out  in public and with tongue no less. You are all for romance but eish, not in public please.

It’s a little chilly. You are outside a restaurant. It’s a slow night so there are not too many cars in the parking lot. You are from a dinner with friends. With all the glances you had been stealing all night; the kiss had obviously already happened in your head; quite a few times actually. Talk about jumping the gun. There are a lot of trees around that area so the air is very fresh. There is this earthy scent in the air, like the one just before it rains. That, combined with their scent is almost intoxicating. You didn’t really expect this moment to feel so surreal. It’s  like Mother Nature had been planning it too.

Your faces are really close now. You wonder how they can be that close and still maintain eye contact the whole time. You giggle. You didn’t plan to, it just came out. They smile. You feel their hand at the back of your head, their fingers run through your locs. It’s so slight and so smooth. It feels so gentle but it sends chills everywhere.

You never thought someone could shiver on the inside but you just did. You start thinking about the dumbest stuff  like ; would your glasses be in the way if you kissed and if you should remove them but that if you take a few seconds to do that, would that then kill the moment altogether? You decide not to risk it, you keep them on. Suddenly your eyes close by instinct because her lips just touched yours…

 

NB: It was an honour having this piece featured in a monologue event last weekend (poster below). It was a first for me but definitely not a last.

whos-your-daddy-poster

Her name was Sally. She took long walks on the beach, on the rocks. She didn’t like to go in the water. Too many unknown creatures in there, she would say. But she loved the sound of the waves coming in and going out, washing away the sand and bringing it back fresh. New.  She liked watching the younger couples; walking hand in hand, gazing into each other’s eyes like the world revolved around them. Splashing water on each other playfully. She also liked watching the older couples sitting in silence, comfortable in each other’s quiet presence. She wasn’t sure if she liked watching the breakups. The girl would be crying inconsolably, the man standing there with one hand in his pocket, gazing blankly at someone he once promised to never leave, then he’d walk away and leave her. The girl would pull at the necklace he gave her, the one with his name and ‘forever’ engraved on it. She would snatch it roughly from her own neck leaving a slight bruise and toss it into the ocean, then she would run as fast as her legs would carry her, in the opposite direction. The girl would trip; fall to the sand and just sit there willing the pain away, grasping at the gaping hole where her heart used to be. She would turn, her mascara dripping, dissolved in her now black tears. She would watch him disappear into the sunset without even a glance back. Break ups were funny like that, people get hurt the same; they just show it differently.

Sally would sit on the rocks as high up as she could climb. Sometimes she would find a spot where it was flat and smooth and she would lie there on her back, her knees folded up a little, the shoelaces of her converse sneakers undone. She just loved to listen. The sound of the waves, the chuckles and giggles of the couples and children playing, sometimes a crab would sneak past her unknowingly, and she’d hear the whisper of its tiny legs as it scurried past.

If you ever saw her walking on the beach, you would think she didn’t have a care in the world. She had a big smile for everyone, even the beach boys, crude as they sometimes could be especially if you ignored their catcalls. Hey beautiful woman with the beautiful behind! They would call out to Sally as she walked past. Hey!, she would reply and wave back with a shy smile. Just walking on the beach alone with your sexy self huh?, they would continue. Yeah, Sally would reply. Next time I’m walking with you!, the one with the longest locs would say. Sure, why not; Sally would reply. That was the extent of their conversations each time and everyone would go back to their business; the beach boys scouring the beach for tourists and Sally taking her daily think-stroll. Every day was just as ordinary as the next.

So as she gazed at the knife in her side and watched as the thick red fluid oozed slowly from the wound, she wondered if she had missed the signs during that day. He kept saying it was his fault. That he never should have loved her. That she had turned him into someone different. It was confusing for Sally to say the least. The steak knife that was now embedded in her side was for the steak she had specially grilled for him. Soft, juicy, spicy, medium-rare; exactly how he liked it. She didn’t even put coriander in the mashed potatoes this time because he didn’t like coriander but she loved it. The carrots and French beans on the side were perfectly done; stir-fried for under a minute so they were still crunchy. He had complained before that she would overcook them. Vegetables are supposed to be firm and crunchy, never soggy, he would always say. He wasn’t a chef but like everything else, he liked his food perfect. He was a perfectionist almost on an OCD level. Sally wasn’t even close to being perfect. Sometimes she left socks in her shoes when she came into the house and the next morning she’d see them in the laundry basket neatly folded.  When she was too tired to do dishes at night, she’d leave them in the sink to deal with the next day. In the morning, she’d find no dishes in the sink and none drying on the dish rack. She would then open the kitchen cupboards and find all utensils in their place, clean and dry. She didn’t like washing clothes so she’d call a cleaning lady to do the laundry every week. When he came back home, he would get his clothes from the hanging lines and rewash all of them. He never complained once. He just smiled. Sorry love, I just like things a certain way, he would say and peck her on the cheek.

Now there is a man who would kill you in your sleep, her friends would say when Sally told them some of these stories. Then they would all high-five each other and laugh hysterically in the crowded coffee shop. Everyone would stare at the loud women in the corner booth but they didn’t care. With demanding jobs and husbands and children and co-habiting partners; they could only afford to meet a couple of times a month so they made the best of every time. Her friends liked him. He didn’t talk much, not even about how accomplished he was as most men even half as accomplished would. If they were out together and he wanted to go home but Sally wanted to stay with her friends he would leave her his platinum card and ask her to be safe. He was a good man. A loving man.

Sally wondered why she was thinking about her friends while bleeding all over their beige suede L-couch. Maybe that is what people mean when they say your life flashes in front of you when you are about to die. He was pacing now, phone in one hand while the other hand struggled frantically to get the blood stain from his white shirt. He looked like a crazy person and the pacing was making Sally dizzy or was it the loss of blood? She wasn’t bleeding that much though because the knife was still inside. She had read somewhere or maybe seen it on TV that if you happen to be stabbed, you should never pull the knife out. She never imagined she would need that information in real life.

She wondered why she wasn’t feeling any pain. Shock, maybe? She had read/heard that too, somewhere. Maybe you should call for help, she told him.

“I won’t say anything; you don’t even have to be here when they come; I’ll take care of everything, I promise,” Sally begged.

“I’m sorry, baby I’m so sorry, I just can’t, I just can’t. They said to…but I can’t” he said as he put on his navy blue suit jacket. He took her phone from the coffee table, dialed a number and gave the phone to her.

“Hello, what is your emergency?” It was a lady’s voice. It was very calm, soothing actually. That helped.

Sally told her she was bleeding all over the couch and that she should send an ambulance quick. The lady said to stay calm. Sally told her she has never been this calm in her life actually which was weird considering she was probably dying. The lady asked for the address. Sally told her; it’s the last mansionette on that street and that security was tight (leafy suburb things) so the ambulance guys would have to say they were coming to house number 56, the one with a big lime green gate at the end of Loresho drive.

“Is there anyone there with you?” the nice lady asked.

“No, it’s just me,” Sally answered as she watched him walk past her with a black Samsonite suitcase.

It seemed heavy. It was most likely the prepacked one he had at the corner of their walk in closet. She had asked him once why he had a prepacked suitcase. For emergencies of course, he had said. Like an alien invasion? She had joked and they both laughed. She had learnt to love him with his little quirks. She liked weird because she always felt she was a little odd herself. She wasn’t even sure what kind of ‘business man’ he was. They had a safe in their bedroom. Well almost every house on their block came with a pre-fitted titanium safe. She didn’t know the password though, only he did. She didn’t really need to know. Most of her jewelry was hand made locally and brass. She never liked the shiny stuff. All her cash, she kept in a bank account and all her work she left at the office. She didn’t need to use the safe.

He talked in his sleep a lot. She was a light sleeper and liked watching him sleep when she couldn’t. Sometimes he would say weird stuff. He’d babble about deals gone bad or some boss not being happy or about something big coming. She paid no mind because most of it sounded like it was from an action movie. He liked watching those before bed. She figured if there was something to be told, that he would eventually tell her when he felt he could.

He was now standing at the door and looking back at her. There were tears dangling dangerously in his eyes. She had never seen him cry, ever. Her heart broke for him in that moment. That was Sally for you. Here she was literally dying yet still feeling like the pain written on his face was somehow far worse than the physical pain she was feeling from him stabbing her.

You should go, they will be here any minute now, she told him.

“I can’t Sally. I can’t leave you,” he said.

“Go!! You idiot! Go! Or I’ll pull this freaking knife out myself!” Sally yelled and threw a pillow at him then shrieked and winced at the pain that that movement awakened.

He picked up the suitcase and walked out. She heard the car start and drive off. A minute or so later she heard sirens. Ambulance sirens.

She was lying on her back now on the couch, staring at the ceiling. National Geographic was on on the TV. They were talking about some kind of crab or something. Someone entered the house and came up to her. He asked her if she was in pain. She wasn’t sure. She was thinking about the crab on the beach scurrying past her as she lay on the rocks. She was exhausted. She wanted to close her eyes and sleep just for a bit as she listened to the waves coming in and going out but this guy kept telling her to stay awake for some reason. She didn’t know him so what was he doing at the beach with her? Weird.

There was a song or rather part of a song playing in her mind as she watched the crab walking across the sand and go into its hole and as the strange man in uniform put gauze around the steak knife in her side. She loved that song but it was strange she would be thinking about it at that moment instead of panicking that she was dying…

‘…Baby I’m not made of stone, it hurts

Loving you, the way I do, it hurts

When all that’s left to do is watch it burn

Baby I’m not made of stone, it hurts….’

(Hurts; Emeli Sande)

Ok so that may be a bit over the top a warning considering one only has so much power against getting sick anywhere in the world and then you have China with the pollution, second hand smoke, the ever mutating H7N9 (or whatever the scientists are calling it now) and all other usual risk factors, there’s only so much you can do unless you can afford the luxury of living in a bubble or walking around with your own oxygen tank.

This is part three of my China experience series..

I, thank God, never got seriously ill while there except for the common cold and I have my own natural treatments straight-from-my-mama, God bless her soul so I can avoid hospitals. I literally do not step into a hospital unless I truly feel like I’m dying and even then my sister or BFF has to literally beg me to (BFF Duties 101). This was a sentiment my roommate then and I shared. You can imagine the panic when one day I walk into our room and find her writhing in extreme abdominal pain. I was just from a short trip so I was exhausted and just planned to curl up in my bed and call it a night but fate had other plans. Another friend was with her at the time trying to figure out what to do next. There was a Chinese dude too who really helped actually…he just got on the floor where my roomie was and started poking and prodding, next thing you know my roomie (let’s call her Amani for the sake of this story) is up and rushing to the bathroom to puke. Later he explained it was some form of acupuncture and honestly it was a huge help as it de-congested Amani’s tummy. Chinese peeps with their magic hands ey.

So we got a shifu (taxi-guy), that we had met previously and made friends with and now I thank heaven we did. He lived very close to our school. I would actually advice every foreigner to have one of these if you don’t have a car of your own that is. I called the guy up, he arrived in 5 minutes and off we went to the nearest hospital, because that’s what you do when someone falls seriously sick right?; first aid then dash to the nearest hospital? We got to the hospital; picture four ladies; one in so much pain she could barely walk, two trying to help her walk and me armed with only one year of Chinese language, never having experienced a real rush-a-friend-to-a-Chinese-hospital saga. So you can imagine my panic when the doctor said she could not be treated there and that we should take her to another hospital that is bigger and has more specialized doctors. I thought all doctors are specialized in MEDICINE!?!?!?!So the guy explains that because of language barriers there is risk of misdiagnosis or something like that; note, I could only get the general meaning of what he was saying. They don’t teach you doctor-speak in your first year. Have you ever regretted showing off that you could order chicken without chilli in a foreign language and then a real emergency comes up and everyone looks to you because you are the  self-declared ‘language expert’.  But I knew there was no way we were leaving that hospital without treatment. So on the brink of tears I begged the good doctor to look at how much pain Amani was in and have mercy on us. Finally he agreed but reluctantly. Aren’t we all lucky that I am an emotional blob and my tears live at the edge of my eyelashes?

At first we all thought it was food poisoning but after we did the regular blood and stool tests, they couldn’t find anything aside from a few deficiencies in the blood so he referred us to another doctor after ordering an ultrasound. Oh and you have to pay at every step so I have no idea how many trips I had to make to the doctor’s office then the cashier and then the treatment rooms and all the way back again. Amani was all the while complaining I was being too slow and almost punching the doctor demanding to be prescribed morphine! Amani, if you are reading this please don’t kill me. Seriously though, one time she had her hand on the doctor’s thigh and I could have sworn I saw a scared look on the poor guy’s face like she was going to grab his balls and squeeze till they popped if he didn’t do something.  I kept reminding myself to ‘Keep Calm, She’s in pain’, and the many prayers I made that night was the only thing that kept me sane. There were a few moments that tempers flared. We were all scared and exhausted; Amani was still in tremendous pain and no one knew what it was. It was understandable.

They finally discovered she had gallstones. We had to spend the night in hospital as she got medication intravenously; I have never seen drips go that slow. Felt like one drop in 5 minutes. The first doctor came to check on us a few times that night, he still had a panicked look in his eyes as if he was willing Amani to not die; not on his watch anyway. He kept suggesting we go to a bigger hospital with English speaking doctors; I kept ignoring that bit of our conversations. My friend was getting treatment; I couldn’t care less what hospital we were in.

I’ve never spent that much time in an emergency room aside from watching ER, Grey’s anatomy and Hawthorne on T.V from the comfort of my couch. I love medical dramas I just never thought I would live one.  I saw one guy coding and being revived by our doctor (suffice to say my confidence in him shot up after I watched him save a life). The outpatient ward was a choir of snoring through the night. I saw drunks who had had too much and were sleeping it off.  Sweet old couples taking care of their sick partners, busted heads, other people in unexplainable pain, seemingly overexerted doctors mobbed by patients and patients’ relatives yet still managing to keep calm. The nurses were really nice and helpful. As the shifts changed in the morning for the nurses and doctors we heard weeping and wailing from a room close to us. I said a little prayer for the lost soul. A very rude woman sleeping in the bed next to Amani’s kept saying in Chinese; “What’s with all the crying? If the guy is dead, he’s dead, that’s it”. I was too exhausted to give her a dirty look.

Thankfully Amani was pain free by around 10am, we went back to see the doctor, he suggested she come back later for another round of treatment and that we may need to consider surgery in the very near future. I could finally breathe easy. Once my head hit the pillow that afternoon, I was gone, passed out till we had to go back to the hospital in the evening.

Amani had to go on this crazy ‘gall-stone diet’ for some time but there was no more pain, just discomfort and exhaustion at the beginning. I never want to go through that again though. I already carry my heart on my sleeve and that day it moved to my fingertips. I was freaked out but at the same time I had someone depending on me so I couldn’t afford to freak out. I kept second guessing myself because of language barriers, wondering if maybe there was something life-threatening/saving that I didn’t understand and that if anything happened to Amani I’d always wonder if it was partly my fault. Sheesh, talk about being between a rock and an even bigger rock!

 

P.S: China for me was a ‘you live and you learn’ experience. I had loads of amazing adventures; most of which were non-life-threatening I promise. Haha! All worthwhile though. Have you been there? I’d love to hear your story. Look out for more posts on my experience in China!