Archive for the ‘In my Journal’ Category

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?

Advertisements

 

*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.

 

IMG_5915-001

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.

“Argh! It feels like this is going to go on forever!” She cursed.

“Am counting on it,” came his reply. She looked up at him surprised that he would want it to continue pouring cats and dogs but when she caught his gaze  on her she  quickly realized he was in a world of his own and wasn’t in the least bit, concerned about the weather. He had barely taken his eyes off of her since the second they had met for their date that day.

“You are such a weirdo you know,” she joked and playfully nudged him.

“Well don’t blame me, I’m helpless when it comes to you; everything about you is enchanting, I can’t get enough,” He answered rather seriously.

He was in a weird mood today; he kept feeling like he should make a mental note of everything. Everything about her; everything about the day. ‘Must be the weather,’ he thought to himself and shrugged it off.

He had to get home, it was getting late. The buses seemed to have stalled in traffic because there was no sign of any buses going to his place. He’d have to go all the way to Muthurwa, another bus terminus on the immediate outskirts of the city centre to get a matatu instead. It was a bit of a long walk.

“I hate the rain!” he said out loud as he looked down at his now wet and slightly mud-stained white jacket.

“Serves you right for wearing that on a rainy day,” she jested while pointing at his jacket.

“I’m dating the most beautiful girl this side of the pacific, I have to impress,” he joked back.

“Sweetheart, you could dress in a sack and I wouldn’t notice any other man in this town,” she said as she pulled him down by his tie and planted a big one on his lips.

He was sure he lost the feeling to his legs for a second. If they kept this up, neither of them would get home that night. He had to be the man, ensure she got into a mat ok and then had home himself.

A No.108 matatu pulled in followed by two others, the line of commuters they were on moved swiftly till it was her turn to get on.

“I love you so much, you know that right?” he said to her putting more emphasis than usual.

‘What was going on with him today?’ She thought and felt urge to assure him she loved him too.

“I know honey and I love you with all my heart, my soul, from the top of my head to the little beauty spot at the bottom of my foot, always remember that ok?” she smiled up at him as she gently brushed his cheek.

His legs went off again.

“What are you smiling about?” she asked him.

“Nothing, you better get on, that old guy behind you is giving me this angry look, I’ll see you tomorrow, ok?  And the day after and that and the day after that and, well you catch my drift.”

“Shhh…..you talk too much sometimes you know,” she said as she put her finger on his lips and immediately replaced it with her own. She got on the Matatu and off she went leaving him with her sweet scent and beautiful memories of the day. Muthurwa was a long walk off.  It started drizzling again. He had to hurry.

The streets were bustling with hundreds of people trying to get home at the same time. Hawkers packing up their wares on seeing that not so many commuters were interested in buying today. A few were still shouting their offers, trying to persuade that last buyer with the “Bei ya jioni” offer, others still with the desperate look of still trying to find their first buyer while inwardly admitting they might have to go home empty handed yet again. There were a lot of women carrying bags of shopping as is characteristic of the first week of the month. Stress lines on their faces knowing that that won’t be enough for the month and yet no more money was forth coming. Some had the plastic bags wrapped around their heads. He stopped for a moment to shade himself just outside a bank. There were a few other people there too. He overheard a couple of men cursing at the government. Something about receiving an already small pay cheque, seeing the tax cuts and various other deductions, thinking of the due and long overdue bills plus a nagging wife awaiting them at home. Yet still having to dodge potholes and scramble in crammed streets as matatus and pedestrians both fight over the same tiny pavements; wondering about the government that promised 8-lane superhighways, new bus terminals and state-of-the art stalls for hawkers at market places. Of course that was during their campaigning period before they actually get into power. I mean, can we really hold them to their promises after they come into power? You’d just have to wait for the next campaigning period.

This was Tomboya Street, one of the oldest in the city. Right across from it was Moi Avenue which looked like some alternate reality version of Tomboya. Same Kenyan people yet they were seated comfortably in posh coffee houses, sipping espressos and eating fancy-name cakes that were worth as much as a family across the street had to survive on for a week. There was no scrambling here, as the patrons slowly drank coffee and waited for the rain to let up so that they can get into their big cars and drive to this club and that club for a night of partying. They did not curse at the government. Sometimes they would laugh at how some politician messed up his speech by mispronouncing all the words or struggling to even construct a proper sentence. Oh such silly politicians we have, they would say, but mostly they would talk of the latest I-phone model, Lupita Nyongo’s dress at the Oscars and Beyonce’s latest album surprise release on I-tunes. But such is the irony of life, two babies would be born the same way, naked and wailing yet they would live totally different lives but both will be buried in the same earth six feet under.

He was fast approaching the bus station; he just had to cross the road. There was a flyover though it had long been unofficially declared redundant. Two reasons; One; No one who after having to walk all the way from the CBD to get a matatu at Muthurwa would want to waste even more precious minutes going up and down a flyover that looked like it was being held together by chewing gum. Two; there had been several brutal muggings that had taken place up there. He’d have to cross the highway; yet another death trap though luckily, there wasn’t much traffic at that time. So there was nothing to worry about except for that one oncoming bus that seemed to be precariously moving really close to the pavement. There was a crowd of people around him all waiting to cross the road so he couldn’t move back. The bus was getting close, the driver kept swerving left then right each time driving closer and closer to the pavement. ‘Was no one else seeing this?’he wondered. He needed to move back but still couldn’t. It was noisy, the rain had gotten worse but no one budged, instead they kept pushing forward.

Suddenly it was like everyone noticed the speeding manyanga at the same time! The sudden screams confused him and for a moment, he didn’t really know which side to move. A bulky man pushed him from behind and he almost fell forward but managed to find his footing in a pothole; now turned puddle. The bus headlights flashed several times and the horn was deafening. He needed to move back now! But just as he did he realized his foot was stuck, he had stepped into a drain and his leg was caught. He tried pulling it out, pushing and tugging several times but it didn’t budge. All kinds of screams emanated from the crowd around him, some were shouting for him to get out of the way, others were calling out to their gods and praying for the poor boy’s soul. It was useless, the more he tried to pull, the deeper his foot went. He couldn’t believe this was how it would all end. He closed his eyes. Everything happened so fast in the seconds after then it was all over.

“White was a really bad choice today huh?” One of the men helping to get his foot out of the drain said. He opened his eyes and looked down at himself half expecting to see only half his torso. He was ok, just much wetter than before.

“Haha,” he chuckled. “You are the second person to say that today”, he said to the bulky man and thanked him for helping. His foot felt a bit sore but he was more than grateful that that was all he had to worry about. The manyanga was now firmly secured in a ditch just a few feet away with a few good Samaritans helping to get the passengers out. They looked shaken up but it didn’t seem like anyone was injured.

“Looks like a lot of people will be thanking God for getting home in one piece today,” he said to no one in particular as he stepped into the road to cross.

“Hey, thanks again for….”

“AHHHH!!!Oh my God!!!AHHH!!!,” he was interrupted by a gut wrenching, ear piercing scream and the excruciating pain that shot up his spine a second after and then darkness.

Mbugua hadn’t even seen the man get on the road as he drove up Muthurwa Lane that late evening on his way back home. It had stopped feeling like home and more like a prison to him for some time now. A ten-acre lavish jail cell; imported bricks, imported marble tiles, imported carpet grass, even the water that ran in the state of the art eternity pool was imported. But this house was cold, it had been for six years but it wasn’t always this way.

Mbugua’s wife was a beautiful woman, the envy of many her age and even younger. But even with her stunning natural beauty she had to make sure everyone noticed that she, Mrs. Sheila Mbugua now lived the life of a queen and would never go back to the mud and mabati shanties they had once called home. That she was now above the flying toilets and scavenging for scraps of leftover food from big hotels and lining up for hand outs from NGOs. That place was far behind her. Now she dined and wined in the same big hotels and they called her ‘Madam’. Nothing was going to ruin this life. Sheila had worked hard to get here, even her husband’s constant nagging about having children fell on deaf ears. She was not going to be tied down with children.

But Mbugua loved his wife with very fiber of his being, lavished her with all things shiny and beautiful. But he wanted children.  She said pregnancy would make her fat and ugly and she wasn’t about to ruin her figure for some little brats. He suggested that she at least get a job then so she wouldn’t stay home all day calling hair dressers and stylists and her loud-mouthed friends who only came to gossip; she accused him of wanting too much from her. He asked her why she didn’t love him anymore and wasn’t willing to satisfy him as a man; she accused him of having an affair and swore to strangle any woman who so much as breathed near him. He stormed out, got into his two month old metallic-black Chrysler and drove off, drowning out her screams and accusations with his favorite tunes from George Michaels.

By the time Mbugua heard the scream it was too late. The man flew onto the hood of the Chrysler and hit the windshield hard almost going through then got thrown back onto the road. Mbugua panicked, he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see or hear anything for a few seconds but knew he had to get himself together. He prayed aloud to anyone listening that the man’s life be miraculously saved but even he knew it wasn’t likely that the man had survived the impact. He opened the car door and ran out to where the man lay.

Her chest tightened as the matatu passed by the accident site, everyone peered out of the windows to see. The rain was down to a drizzle. A small crowd was slowly gathering around the scene though most people just passed quickly, shaking their heads but still rushing to get home. There was a manyanga few feet away from the crowd in a ditch. A metallic black Chrysler was parked in the middle of the road with the driver’s door wide open and a man with a sharp suit was walking toward the man on the ground in the middle or a small crowd. He looked distraught.

Then she saw it and realized why her gut was wrenching yet she was safe, seated in a matatu. The white jacket! She only caught but a glimpse of it, but she was sure. It was him!

She couldn’t breathe, all sounds around her faded like whispers into the background. She got off the matatu not really knowing how her legs were moving. She felt like a zombie staggering toward a light only she was running.

Cars honked and edged through as some crazy woman ran into the road.

The light in his head kept going on and off like a torch running out of power. ‘Why was everyone screaming?’ he wondered. ‘And why is there a man in a sharp suit leaning over me telling me he’s so sorry but that everything will be ok?’ But the thing that puzzled her the most was her. What was she doing there and why was she crying? And that’s when it all came flooding back; the manyanga, his foot in a drain, the bulky man and the posh car.

He wasn’t sure what to think or say. He looked up at her. Maybe she would know.

He remembered how they first met, it wasn’t the fairy tale love at first sight kind of meeting but they had both felt the connection. He remembered when she first spoke to him. It wasn’t ‘Hi, my name is…’ or ‘You look familiar, have we met before?’ She had just asked him to help her carry some speakers to the concert venue and that is how their journey had begun.

She remembered when he first gazed into her eyes and knew there was something there. He remembered when she looked up at him one time, smiled and he knew if he didn’t say something he would explode!

They did the craziest things together, one time they just cooked dinner, packed it in containers and went to the flyover at the university’s gate, sat on the steps and ate. It wasn’t a candle-lit dinner but they both admitted later that it was one of the most romantic nights of their lives. She remembered how one time he came, picked her up at her dorm, they took a long walk which was usual for them as they could stay up till five in the morning sometimes just talking. Anyway that night they just lay down in the middle of one of the streets in the school compound at around 2:00am and just gazed at the stars. He remembered how they would write letters to each other and to their future selves depicting their dreams for each other. She remembered how they had started writing a story together taking turns and now it was almost as long as a Lord of the Rings novel and they were still writing.

He remembered each time she laughed, each time she cried, and each time she jumped into his arms when they met.

“Aaaaargh…,” he moaned as a surge of pain brought him back to reality. He heard the sound of a siren, she heard it too but in their minds they had very different endings to this story.

She knew he was pretty banged up both inside and outside but she held on the the last strand of hope that he would make it through this.

He too knew he was pretty banged up. He felt the blood trickle down his forehead from where his head had hit the windshield. Every time he tried to move there was pain everywhere and he could barely feel the lower half of his body. He felt his organs slowly giving in to the numbness that was creeping up from his toes. He knew he was broken but as he looked up at her, seeing her desperate tears and that glimmer of hope in her eyes he couldn’t help but pray for a miracle.

“The ambulance is here,” Mbugua spoke his first words. He also saw that the young man was pretty banged up and it made his insides churn knowing he was responsible. Someone gripped his hand from below.

“It’s not your fault,” the young man said to Mbugua. “I’ll be fine,” he finished. And even though both men knew the last part of that statement wasn’t true, both held onto the slim chance that it could be.

“I’ll go with him,” she said, her tears now running freely down her already wet cheeks. The rain had started up again.

“I’ll follow you in my car,” Mbugua said as he tried with all his might to give the young man a reassuring look as he let go of his hand and the paramedics lifted him into the ambulance. Life had never felt shorter to him. He knew then that he was not going back to that jail cell he called a house tonight or any other night. He had seen what true love was and his marriage to Sheila was so far from it.

Inside the ambulance, the love shared between the two was so heavy. It seemed to transcend all the pain he felt and dispel all the helplessness she felt.

“His blood pressure is dropping fast! We are losing him!” the paramedic called out as he went through the motions of trying to save the young man.

All the while, the two in love just gazed into each other’s eyes so intently, so endlessly you would think they were reading each other’s minds; maybe they were. His grip on her hand loosened, his heartbeat on the monitor slowed down. She didn’t want to lose him but she knew she would have to let go.

“Amy,” he muttered in a whisper so low only she heard him.

“Steve,” she muttered back in an even lower whisper.

Thunder roared a flash of lightning and it was over. The rain stopped and the sky cleared and the two in love let go.

Matatu- 14 seater public service vehicle

Manyanga- 25 seater mini bus

Bei ya jioni- a price discount hawkers normally give in the evening when they are about to close business

Mabati- steel sheets used to build houses