Archive for the ‘In my Journal’ Category

My father is a tyrant. I don’t mean he acts like a tyrant or is tyrannical in nature. I mean he is an actual, modern day tyrant. Kalala isn’t a big island. 242 kilometers squared of rich well endowed land  surrounded by magnificent coastline. About 10 million total population. I won’t go into details about just how technically rich my country is. I say technically because 62% of my country’s population lives below the poverty line yet we are the biggest exporters of tea, coffee, pyrethrum, limestone, salt,the list goes on. Infant mortality rates are at an all time high at 26%  because the health care system isn’t even fit to treat rats. But what do I know, I live in the president’s palace where a man made dam sits on our back yard and the president’s clinic is a golf-cart ride away just past the president’s golf course on our front yard. 

I am 35 years old now.  I was  home schooled up until highschool then joined my country’s top university for my undergrad. I majored in Political Science, minored in Psychology. I was top of my class. To my father, failure isn’t permitted in his house. After that, I was shipped off on a private jet to an Ivy league university in the great United States of America,though to be honest, I didnt find much great about it. But that’s just me. 

The first time I went outside of the president’s palace without armed guards was when I was 19; my friends invited me to shopping then a party and I didn’t want the hassle of being stared at as my security lifts and throws people out of my way. ‘Fine dad, just one bodyguard and he has to blend in’. I was in a store, a clothing store and a child approached me. He couldn’t have been more than 8 years old. I turned to him and gave him my best diplomatic smile. He spit in my face. Your father is a monster and all of you will rot in hell! He said. All my life I had never seen a child so angry. His mother ran up to us frantically asking me to spare her son’s life. Why would she think I would kill an eight year old boy? I turned to my  bodyguard who was now holding up the boy by his belt. It all happened so fast all I could say was ‘It’s ok! It’s ok! let him go!’. The mother took the boy and ran. Suffice to say, my attendance to the party was canceled . I tossed and turned in bed that night. I could still feel the impact of the spit landing on my face and the words that cut through my skin. The next morning I went down stairs, past the ballroom, past my father’s library and study, straight to the kitchen. Sometimes I liked to make my own breakfast. The staff was watching something on TV. “Eight year old boy falls to his death off a 5 storey building.”” Parents nowhere to be found.” “Police rule it as an accident,”read the headlines. The police seargant complained that the building wasn’t up to code. That the poor child must have just slipped on debris and fallen. They put the photo of the boy at the end of the broadcast. I ran outside and threw up a breakfast I had not had. 

When I was twenty two, just before I was flown off to the land of the free,my father called me into one of his home offices in the east wing. He motioned me up to him, up to the president’s seat, the one made of pure gold; also one of our biggest exports. The cushioning of the seat was custom made. It felt like what I suppose it would feel if you could sit on a cloud. No one had sat on that seat except him for the last 21 years and no one would until his death or until he decrees it so, whichever came first. He said he had watched me and my 11 siblings grow through the years and he was proud of each of us; even one of my elder brothers who went to live on an island in the Carribean, something about minimalismminimalism or staying true to the universe or whatever. Your brother was soft, I blame your step mother for all of it. No matter, I have ten more where he came from. He laughed at his own joke; a deep thunderous laugh that I think portrayed more pain than humor. He told me he wanted me to deliver a package; it will be with one of his security officers but that I was the one to take it to the door and put it in some woman’s hands. Easy enough. I thought. At exactly two thirty that afternoon I was summoned to the door, got into one of the armored cars and we drove off. I wasn’t ready for what happened next. 

When we got to the house; a mansion with perfectly manicured lawns, a fountain right on the parking lot and a huge wooden door with a golden door knob. My security ushered me to the front. I rang the bell. A woman opened. Her eyes were puffy and red and her hair messy. She wore blue sweat pants and a T-shirt with the Kalala flag on it. She looked very familiar. I said Hallo and stretched out my hands to hand over the parcel. The woman fell to the floor and started wailing. “Why are you doing this to us?!” “You have killed us!” Her voice and her words would haunt me for years to come. The security men forcefully stood her up and told her to take the package. That her family gotten what they deserved. My hands were shaking now; I just wanted to leave that place. It was a silent ride home. I knew better than to ask the bodyguards what that was about. When we got home I quickly ran to my room, got on my laptop, switched on my VPN and entered a name on the search engine. The woman’s face came up. “Governor’s wife says they will not stop searching for her husband. Pleads to the president to then just give her his body to bury.” The story was much worse than the headline. The police had laid siege on the governor’s property for three weeks. They had cut off the water, electricity even the  sewer system; nothing was allowed in or out of the compound. After twenty two days, the governor finally surrendered himself to the mercy of the government asking only that his family be spared. There was a leaked video of the whole thing on one of the ‘forbidden websites’. I have never seen a man cry like that.

 Akili was the only bodyguard I really trusted. He had started with perimeter-patrol detail but recently promoted to my mother’s detail. I found him outside in one of the parking lots washing my mother’s car. No one was allowed to touch the cars except the president and members of the security team of 53. I had to know what was in the box. You don’t want to know. He told me. But I just asked again and again. He explained that It’s called the ‘President’s Gift’. When someone wrongs the president or the president’s family or the president’s clan in whatever way, the guilt is on that person’s whole family.  Said person is given a chance to plead his case to the commander in chief which is really just a formality as the president at that time has already determined the ‘culprit’s’ fate. In special circumstances the family would be spared and can leave with just their lives and the clothes on their backs. Everything else is seized by the government as ‘evidence’ and whatever the government doesn’t keep is auctioned off in a secret auction open only to the president’s inner circle. Here is the gory part. The box is a sign that the president has pardoned the family and contains a body part of the ‘culprit’. It could be and ear, a finger, lips; whatever really depending on the message the president wants to send the family. The part is put in a black gift box that has the Kalala flag printed on one side and the president’s seal on the top. Once you get the gift, you have exactly 72 hours to clear out of the island; your photo and that of each of your family members is posted on every wall, in every office, in every newspaper and TV station in the country. You are never to set foot in Kalala ever again. It’s considered an act of mercy really. Akili finished.

 I regretted ever asking. I stayed in my room that night and the rest of the week just pouring through the internet reading stories upon stories of everything my father had allegedly done. Each one worse than the last. None of it was in the local news of course. 

I wondered why he sent me to that house. He must have known I would find out everything else. He’s always told me I can be annoyingly inquisitive sometimes. I kept it to myself nonetheless. I left for the US two months after that. On the flight, after saying goodbye to a man I could no longer look in the face, I spent 12 hours promising myself that I will never again set foot in Kalala. 

But here I am, 13 years later; Minister of Patriotism and Development.
End of part 1….

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I’ve never been to outer space but I knew this one girl whose head Was always in the clouds. She had the weirdest explanations for everything. She hated how much time we wasted doing simple ordinary things. Waking up, washing your face,brushing your teeth,taking a shower, eating. Yeah, she loathed the whole culture around eating; specifically the very act of chewing. I know, who would take an actual stand against chewing? Well, she did And would take the time to explain it to each and every one of her friends. She was a lawyer by profession and an astrologist by passion. She had studied for both and I feel somehow,one world had merged into the other. Suited up during the day;killing it in court. Sweat pants and comic character tees at night holding stargazing sessions from her balcony. She had one of those huge telescopes.
I never climbed mount everest but I knew this one guy who did. He used to say he’s never seen a view so breathtakingly beautiful. He’s into extreme sports. He was saving up to go to space. He said he had conquered all of the world’s wonders and that he was ready for the galaxy. 
I never sailed the open seas but one day I sat next to this old man on a bus and he told me that it was the greatest feeling ever. He used to be a fisherman, a really good one at that. The bus ride was 8 hours long, I didn’t sleep a wink, I just listened to the old man. His silver gray hair glistened in the moonlight peering through the window. He noticed me gazing and said the salt water gives it that shine. Is there anything sea water cannot do? He said he had had several close calls at sea. Showed me a few scars. Shark bites. Rope burns. Fish hooks gone rogue. Run in with pirates. I mean I fear driving on dry land, I even dropped out of driving school if you can believe that. I can’t even imagine being at sea; captain of a fishing boat. I never got his name but his face is permanently etched in my brain.

I have never been to Disneyland but I have a friend, her name is Ivy. She has some kind of personality disorder,I forget the name. Anyway, one time she mixed her meds with ecstasy and weed. I dont know what she was thinking. So for three days, she was convinced she was an evil queen in search of the ‘fountain of immortality’. Everyone at the hospital had to play along. There were knights, maidens of the court, there was a prince (she said the king died at war), there was even a court jester. The poor orderly had to tell her jokes and perform magic tricks whenever she called. She had had the previous one hung for defiance. Haha! That was funny. I had gone to visit her at the hospital and I found a gathering in her room of a few nurses and hospital staff. I actually thought something was wrong with Ivy so I Panicked only to be told they were having a mock hanging. They actually had to get some tubing, put it around the guy’s neck and he had to make it look like he was actually choking then they brought in a gurney and carried him out. the drugs passed through her system in a few days and when she came back to her senses she could actually remember everything she had done. We still laugh about it to date. She still says those were the best days of her life.
Reality sucks sometimes, yet we can’t exactly live in fantasy land; not for too long anyway. What to do ey?

 

*No disclaimer for this one; just open up your mind and enjoy. *

My uterus came to visit me last night. She walked right through the glass door. I really should put markings on it. I just heard the thud then the crash. It was a few minutes after 9pm but I was already in bed. I was feeling a bit feverish that night so I decided to retire early with a damp cloth over my forehead and the bitter aftertaste of ginger on my tongue. A friend had suggested chewing on raw ginger may ease the fever and it actually did for a few hours. She came into my room, leaving a trail of blood in her step. She sat down on a stool next to my bed. I handed her the towel I hang on my headboard, it was my favorite towel and also the most absorbent. She soaked right through it in minutes. Typical. Sorry about your door. She said with a shrug. It’s fine. I answered. If anyone was to come crashing into my house in the middle of the night, it would be you. It looked like she wanted to talk so I sat up and listened.

“I know I don’t usually do these pre-visits with you; ours is not a regular relationship but I just thought I should come over and give you a sense of what’s coming this month. It’s going to be a tough one. Remember how a few days ago you suddenly started thinking about that lovely young man you are kind of still hang up on? Yeah the one you, against my advice confessed your love to and he told you, you are not even in his top ten priorities at the time? You almost lost the whole friendship with that one move. Anyhow, so a few days ago you start thinking hard about him and you even reach out to him but didn’t hear back. You even thought of maybe just getting on a bus and going out to visit him in Kericho. Thankfully you were too broke to go so you just stayed home and cried about how your whole love life is a mess. Yeah, that was me. I thought this month I’d start early by sprinkling a bit of nostalgia on your mushy heart. Let’s not forget the meat craving you’ve had all month. Though you should probably get that checked, it’s not all me. Could be a deficiency of some kind. You can thank me later.

So here’s the low down. You’ll have a fever for 2 days, hotter than any you’ve had before. It will come with muscle and joint pains and a slight headache. You will also be feeling very wet in your special place prompting you to check check several times only to find nothing. So you’ll opt to sleep in a pad because you’ll be at your friend’s place and you wouldn’t want her waking up in a pool of your blood and for a millisecond think she may have just killed you in her sleep. Ha-ha! It’s funny, no? Anyway, you’ll wake up dry as can be but still feverish and weak, oh and also there will be slight pain on one side of your throat which will grow gradually to a point where you will have a lot of trouble swallowing. Oh and also because the whole system is connected, it will be a combo of a throat ache, a jaw ache, a toothache, an ear ache and a headache all on one side. You should probably get really strong pain meds before rushing home from your friend’s place which is what I know you will do. You are such a big baby when you get sick, that’s why you prefer dealing with it by yourself, whining and crying into your pillow, cursing at the heavens and calling out the depths of hell. Remember that one time you actually begged God to supernaturally remove me and place me on your nightstand for four days and then put me back into you when it was done. The big guy and I had such a laugh that day. Lucky for you this time you’ll be so full of antibiotics and pain meds, you won’t feel the slightest cramp.

I’ll have a surprise for you though. You know how you still bite the sides of your fingers and sometimes your nails?  You are always fiddling with those things against medical and social advice. Remember that bacterial infection you had when you were younger because of it? Well, guess who’s coming back over ten years later with a vengeance? Yup, Cynthia, meet your long lost nemesis, Miss. Acute Paronychia. She’ll just be living in one finger this time but she’ll come with all her toys; redness, swelling, pain, pus. She’ll even threaten to jump into another finger so you’ll feel the urge to walk around with your fingers spread like you have jiggers crawling under your skin. Thankfully with the antibiotics you’ll be taking for your inflamed throat, you will be able to kill two birds with one stone. Miss. Acute and I will leave at around the same time but the nastiness she will have unleashed on your finger; that will linger on for another week or so. The cold symptoms will never develop into a full blown cold but it will definitely feel like one. You’ll be chilly from the cold and have heat flashes at the same time courtesy of me of course. You’ll perform the ‘blanket off- blanket on’ routine like a ritual in your sleep (if any). A nightmare of you and your best friend (whom you have conveniently syncronised with) being shot and bleeding out on the ground might make its debut. Now that’s going to be scary. A few more weird dreams might be screening but you can blame that on your own wild imagination. The flow shall be thick and heavy as usual so no surprises there. It will only be made worse by the coughing and sneezing because any time you do either, you’ll feel like someone just blew up a dam in your panties. You might feel the urge to punch a few people especially the smiley ones and those who insist on sharing the same air-space  with you but you know how to smile through that or look so gangster that no one dares to speak to you so you’ll be fine. Taking public transportation will be a nightmare in itself. First of all it’s the rainy season so no one wants to open up the windows even when it is clearly NOT raining at that specific moment!!! So it will be stuffy and stinky then you’ll be seated next to an obnoxious man-spreader who will insist on hitting on you because you are ‘just so beautiful’. Let’s just say that there may be a lot of psychological trauma that might result from this particular period so to speak so here’s my suggestion. Call, text, dm, and messenger your whole inner circle of closeness; spread the whining around. Then call that one male friend and without warning; tell him everything! Every. Single. Horrific. Detail. Here’s the logic; with your female friends, sure you can get empathy but they have their own horror stories so in the end “take it like woman!” is the advice  you’ll get. But with a man, you’ll get so much pity and ‘woiyes’ and ‘oh my gosh are you ok’, and ‘is there anything I can do’ and maybe even a ‘you have received xxxkshs’ to go buy yourself something nice so you can feel better. I’m telling you, this technique works like a freakin’ charm.

My jaw was all the way to the ground with every detail she threw at me. I wasn’t sure if I should thank her for the warning or just go to a hospital and have them knock me out for the next five to seven days. She must have seen the horror in my face because she put the towel down, walked up and got into bed with me, wrapped her tubes around me gently and sang me to sleep. I woke up the next day, she was gone. I found the towel soaked in water in the bathroom. I went to the kitchen and found my roommate making breakfast. She had called fundis to fix the door.

Your uterus came over for a visit last night huh? She asked. Yeah. I said. You need a hug huh? She asked as she grabbed me and held me tightly. Yeah, and keep them coming. It’s going to be one hell of a week. I replied. She was slender, but she gave the tightest and warmest hugs.

Acute paronychia: an infection of the skin right next to the nail (nail fold) . the affected area may appear swollen, inflamed and may be tender.

 

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The incredible hulk saved my life yesterday. He took the syringe from my hands and threw it out through the open window. You know those were for the dog right? I asked him in shock. The doctor says I have to give him injections thrice a day. I hate doing it because he always looks at me dead in the eye with those sad puppy eyes, like you are right now. I said to him and sat him on the edge of my bed. It’s ok, you’ve had a long day, why don’t you go watch some TV as I get dinner ready and prepare for the guests. I told him as I led him into the living room area and turned on the TV. He just sat there flipping through the channels, I think it relaxes him. We all know we need him relaxed; no one wants a giant green thingy terrorizing the neighbours. My relationship with the landlord was already dicey after a few incidents I would rather not get into right now. I took out more medication for Papi, my puppy. I had to inject him through the neck. The vet said that the medicine would get into his system quicker that way. Just three more days of it and the poor thing would be in the clear. I found the little guy abandoned down the street, next to the overflowing county garbage bin. No one really emptied it anymore after the last workers’ strike. Every last civil servant and county staff were fired and new ones quickly shipped in from the neighbouring countries in the region to take over. Of course they were paid as expats and the country was practically oozing dollars all because the government refused to yield. This ego business was soon going to bring us to our knees. I wish I could say it wasn’t my circus but the bin was a few hundred metres away from our apartment building, I had to go by it to get to my place. I would always rush by to get minimum whiff of the stench. There was a rundown settlement right next to it. I wondered how people lived there with the smell from the bin and busted sewer lines that sent waste flowing in the shallow trenches that ran beside the shacks. They had to keep digging them regularly or they would have the black gunk flowing into their houses.

On that day I slowed down because I heard a muffled sound coming from the other side of the bin. I moved in closer to check after I picked up a rock just in case. It was a tiny rock, the size of my fist; not really the kind of thing that could protect you from say, a rabid dog but hey, it did give me a false sense of security. The tiny thing was lying in a box covered in black goo. I teared up soon as I saw it. I didn’t even know if it was a cat, a dog, a rat or some mutated animal thingy. I took off my scarf and scooped it up. I managed to wipe of most of the gunk and that’s when it opened up its eyes and looked right into mine. I can’t explain what I felt in that moment exactly but I think I saw a glimpse of myself in the wretched animal. It fell right asleep in my arms like it somehow knew it had found a home. I took it home, bathed it, fed it, called him Papi and I guess the rest is history. Papi fell sick often for the next few months but the vet said that was because of all the filth he had been exposed to and also because he never really breastfed at all. I wondered if his mother ever looked for him.

Catwoman saved my life last night. She came in through the fire escape on my balcony. I didn’t even hear her come in. She knocked the bottle of pills from my hand and held me for what felt like hours. You don’t have to do this Anike. You’ll be fine. She said in a whisper. Ummm, I just had a headache and needed Panadol and I kind of mixed everything together in one bottle so I had a lot pf pills in my hand because I was trying to get the right ones. She let go of me quickly; I could see the embarrassment in her eyes. What’s for dinner? She asked quickly desperate to put that awkward mushy moment behind us. I followed her cue and gave her a breakdown of the menu. Right, so I will need to borrow your pants, the ones with an elastic band at the waist because this leather costume will not be able to handle what’s about to happen. She said and went straight to rummaging through my closet. They are right where you left them last time woman! I said as I pulled them out of a drawer and handed them to her. She proceeded to undress down to her underwear. Well that escalated quickly, I said with a chuckle and briskly walked to the kitchen. I mean who wants to see their superheroes naked? Don’t answer that.

So what’s up with the little-big guy? Catwoman asked pointing toward the hulk on the sofa. I didn’t even hear her come into the kitchen. Maybe we should put a bell around you? I said jokingly. She wasn’t amused. He had a really bad day at work at the lab. I started to tell her the story. This other scientist had been using the lab’s funding and equipment to create some kind of freaky robots. They looked like human-sized dolls made of silicon but with a computer brain (I was simplifying it because I didn’t understand the science jargon he used but I got the gist). Anyway, this mad-scientist had them in some bunker not too far from the lab and claimed they were the ‘greatest breakthrough in artificial intelligence applications in warfare’. Soon the robots could talk like humans, walk like humans and even hold real conversations. He would have them watch all kinds or war movies and train in war scenarios. A few broke loose and slaughtered the guards and a couple of doctors that were there but thankfully did not escape from the bunker. Violence was all they knew after all. They had to shut down the project and destroy the robots. It was gruesome. They also screamed like humans. Hulk or rather Bruce Banner (his human alter-ego, the brilliant scientist) was there for all of it as lead supervisor. It took a lot out of him; I have no idea how he managed to keep calm. I finished. Cat woman looked at me and winked. I knew what it meant. The rizzlers and grinder are on that shelf and you know where to find the rest. Do you need a pen or something to help roll it? I asked her. She rolled her eyes at me and sighed. Do I look like an amateur Anike? She asked. Relax, my bad. I told her and blew her a kiss. She’s so touchy that one.

I heard the bell ring and went to open the door for the rest of the dinner guests. My younger sister Amina and her boyfriend Batman, who had to introduce himself every time he walked into a room even though we could all see the costume and he would always forget to put the bat-mobile in stealth mode. We could hear him coming from a mile away.  Shoes on the rack, drinks are on the table and no one talk to Bruce till he’s had his fix. I announced as I ushered them in. The landlord had come too with Mrs. Maanake nonetheless. They both tried to hide the fact that they came together but I got a knowing look from Mrs. Maanake. I couldn’t wait for that story. A couple more people from the apartment building came too even though I do not remember inviting anyone else. It must have been one of those polite ‘I’m inviting you but hoping you won’t come’ situations. There was more than enough food and drinks though so, the more the merrier I guess.

Soon the room was filled with music and chatter. Batman was showing off his latest tech and bragging about how not even Ironman could come up with half the things he did. Oh, how I wished Ironman was here, and then we’d have a ‘tech’-measuring contest right in my living room. And I only say ‘tech’ because this is supposed to be a PG story. Ha-ha!

Catwoman busted me staring at the hulk. Stop drooling and just tell the man how you feel. She nudged. Yeah, well you couldn’t tell Batman how you felt five years ago and now he’s engaged to my sister so you are one to talk. I nudged back and quickly regretted it when I saw the sadness that had crept into her eyes. Sorry love; I guess some wounds never heal. I said and gave her a pat on the back. I’ve never been much of a hugger. Whatever; here’s to past ‘what ifs’ and women in love with angry green giants (he’s never been a monster for me and even he was, I’d still be madly in-love with him)! She said as she handed me a glass filled with a mix of everything. Here! Here! I said and downed whatever that was. It didn’t taste good at all.

Like he knew we were talking about him, the hulk looked up straight at me and smiled. I lost the feeling in my legs and almost dropped the salad bowl. Cat woman just burst out laughing and took the bowl from my hands. I really should get new friends; superheroes can be mean.

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….

The lit mosquito coil scent soothes me believe it or not. It reminds me of days gone by,  a past I cannot get back and part of which maybe I wouldn’t even want to get back. Some find it choking or simply irritating, backward even.

‘Can’t you get one of those plug-in mosquito repellents?’ one would ask as they see me unfolding the metallic holder.

‘Or maybe even a net?’ another would ask as they saw me struggle to separate two coils so gently so they wouldn’t break in half (that was a very valuable skill back in my day). You wouldn’t want to break a coil in pieces and have your mother scold you about how you now want the whole family to die of malaria because of your carelessness.  Melodramatic much mummy?  Times were simpler then.  Back in Primary school, when the only real worry, at least for me was finishing homework on time. I also worried about how I was going to get in the popular girls’ good books because that would put you at the head of the juice-line at break time. The juice line wasn’t anything official. The popular girls created it every break time underneath the big mango tree at the centre of the school compound. They would have ready to drink juice that came in packets with fancy flavors like tropical and mixed berry. I remember vividly standing in line to take a sip from the juice box and a tiny piece of chocolate chip cookie. I savored every bite (it was just the one bite though). Even now every time I buy myself a juice-box I feel like I should pat myself on the back like I’ve just achieved something big.

I used to wish I could be one of the popular girls; but maybe not, I’m sure I’d be drunk with power, make the little brats build me a shrine or something. Maybe that’s why I’m not a millionaire now? Haha! Yeah, maybe not.

Anyway, Scents can take u back to a very specific point of your life. It’s like you are back there all over again.

I remember the soap I used to use back in high school. I was a real tomboy back then. A sleeveless ‘School of hardknocks’ tee, black bandana (I had a collection) covering my short hair, baggy side-pocket pants; the ones with the zipper at the knees that you could turn into shorts (I had a collection) and sketchers was my signature look. I also had a pair of those shiny, reflector Sean John jeans, if anyone still remembers those. They were baggy of course and I had a plaid blue shirt to match and a blue fisherman’s cap, because, why not.  I loved blue and grey and black. I only discovered other colours in college and I kinda went colour-crazy when I did. The combos I’d wear, eish! I wasn’t happy till I had the whole rainbow on in one outfit.  One time, still back in high-school,  I remember I went with my mum to buy school uniform and the guy behind the counter asks ‘Kijana anavaa size gani? (What size does your son wear)? I honestly should have been offended but I just smiled to myself as if to say, “Mission accomplished!”

I remember the lotion I used to put on back in 2005 to 2006, just after high school because that was when I fell for a basket- ball player. He was my neighbor.  I could sec catch a glimpse of him and he of me even if just for a few seconds. It’s true, I was hopeless.  He had an interesting African (specific country hidden) name that still echoes in my mind sometimes, 10 years later. Let’s call him Nani for purposes of this particular story. Back then, Nani was a phenomenon in my books. He was 6 feet something tall, he had a beautiful physique; a tight six-pack, chisel shaped biceps, well-toned legs, a jaw to die for and amazing eyes. He was somewhere in the middle of a dark and light brown. He had this deep, coarse voice. I could listen to him all day even though all he really seemed to be interested in talking about was what party he was going to and who got trashed last weekend and bla  bla bla. I, know, I’m ashamed that I would shut up just to listen to that but a girl was sprung sha. Even now if I smell that lotion anywhere I get the chills. Sometimes I buy it just so I could remember but also because it’s very good lotion.

This was my journal entry the day we met…

Sometime in January 2006

So we met these two guys Arnold and Nani-it’s French. Two of the sweetest guys I have ever had the pleasure and privilege of meeting. And no, I was not the one who introduced myself in some odd, corny way but Nani started. I almost collapsed, believe me. He is polite (courteous),sweet and drop dead gorgeous and so is his bro Arnold.

Suffice to say, I was whipped from the get go so when he asked me out soon after, February 2nd 2006 to be precise according to my journal, how was a girl supposed to say no?

I remember the smell of his sweat mixed with Deodorant after practice. I would probably find it gross now but back then I even contemplated getting one of his sweaty t-shirts from his gym bag and maybe not giving it back. You know those times when you really aren’t a stalker but for a second you come down with a case of stalker-tendernitis but logic kicks in soon after?

I’m not a basketball fan but I used to sit through hours of his practice sessions just daydreaming of being a flippin’ basketballer’s wife and having cute basket-balling children.

He turned out to be a complete jerk in the end though. Have you ever been phased out of someone’s life till you are completely out but you still think you are in? Once in a while, he would pop back into mine, flash that award winning smile, give me that signature bear hug, plant just one amnesia inducing kiss on my lips and in that moment I could swear that if he had asked me to go back to him I would have. And then two minutes later he’d go back to being a jerk and I’d kick myself for even thinking about going back.

I got stood up a lot in our, I’d estimate 3 week relationship. I could be wrong about the length. My journal tried to warn me but I didn’t listen.

Journal entry Later in February  2006

I just have one question; it’s recurred in my mind more than once. How come a guy can know a girl for just a couple of weeks and already fall for her? I mean he’s even told me he loves me a bunch of times. I mean, I do have feelings and can sometimes like a guy a lot after just one or two days but I would never say anything unless I’m sure I want to really go out with them. I hope he just doesn’t want sex because that’s a no-no. I need to really get to know him better, the swimming date will be a great opportunity to do that. I hope it works out. Hope I get a swimming suit and swimming cap. Hope both are fly and fit properly in and out of the pool.

Later that week…

Oops! Got stood up on the swimming plot. Ouch! I was devastated. Who can blame me? After gathering psyche for 1000 people for just one date. Anyway there must be a good reason why he didn’t show up. Hope he kujas (comes) with it soon coz I’m running out of guesses.  

You know how sometimes you don’t listen to your instincts and then that whole decision comes back to bite? Well, this one bit and chewed and regurgitated my sweet behind. You live and you learn though.  Let’s just say I have a love-hate relationship with that particular scent.

I look back at 14-17 year old me in high school and I am in awe of her confidence. Being a late bloomer (the hips, boobs and booty kicked in way way later) wasn’t exactly fashionable in high school but still she was so comfortable in her own skin and her own style and her own awkwardness. Fast forward to 18 year old me who had just lost her mummy to cancer and moved from a laid back, evenly paced  life in a Coastal town to the ‘Big,Fast’ Capital City. She was struggling with identity and self-esteem issues mixed in with a major crisis of faith, basically at her wits end. Somehow she survived.  I think maybe as the years went by the two finally found a balance, each learning from the other. Her faith kicked back in, full swing; she discovered her beauty inside and out and she continues to discover very interesting parts of herself. She is still an emotional blob but she owns it. Haha!

I can’t wait to get to 35 and look back at 30 year old me. I already have a few scents I will definitely be talking about!

P.S: Watch the kind of mark you leave in someone’s life while you are in it and if/when you leave it. Those things last for a lifetime.