Posts Tagged ‘matters of the art’

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality”

– Lucius Annaeus Seneca

He turned off the alarm, pushed his black Egyptian-silk sheets to the side and sat at the edge of his custom made mahogany king-sized bed. He looked back to the other side of the bed, it was rough too. He tries to sleep on both sides now. He looked up to the ceiling

“Get out of bed

Brush your teeth

Take a shower

Get dressed and go to work

It’s a beautiful day!”

Those were the words written on the poster his therapist had advised he have made. He glued it top the ceiling above his bed so it would be the first thing he saw when he woke up. That was his mantra. He lifted himself off the bed, at least it took less time now. He walked into the bathroom, turned on the hot shower and tried to scrub the nightmares away.  He dressed up in his navy blue Armani suit, and as he fastened his tie in front of the mirror, he felt the loneliness start to creep in.

“Not today, not today, not today” he mumbled to himself repeatedly and quickly walked to his sock drawer. He can’t stop moving, helps to shut out the voices in his head. He has a quick breakfast, leaves instructions for his housekeeper and gardener on the platinum double door fridge and walks out to the garage, gets into his black, Audi Q7, opens the garage door and drives out. He is grateful for the buzz of traffic and a city awake.

Before, just a few years ago actually, he couldn’t wait to get home, now he worked overtime every day and spends the better part of the night having drinks or barbecue with his boys. They were his rock. Without them, he would have jumped off that bridge a while ago.  Therapy was working well and he had found faith somehow.  He prayed a lot. He still thought about her. Four years of history is hard to let go especially because of how she left and the mess she left behind. The mess he had been cleaning up for a whole year now.

Theirs wasn’t a story with happy ending but it had a beautiful albeit quick beginning. They had met in college where they were both pursuing master’s degrees in different fields.  It wasn’t love at first sight, far from it actually. He hated her, well hate is a strong word though that is what he felt for her now, back then it was more dislike. He should have stuck to his gut feeling but he was in a dark place back then which probably wasn’t the right time to get into any relationship but especially not with her.

He had lost his mother a few months before they met. She had died in her sleep. The autopsy said it was a brain aneurysm. There was nothing anyone could have done. At the funeral, Shaka had stayed back as everyone left for home. He fell to his knees beside the freshly filled grave and wailed. She was a mean soul but he loved her to her dying breath. His father had run off with another woman when Shaka was just 11 years old. He had left Shaka, his baby sister then only 3 years old and their mother alone. They weren’t destitute; she was a career nurse, doing well at a local private hospital. They lived in a nice house which they owned and lacked nothing, nothing but the warmth of love. His father had left him something, something Shaka wished he could scrape off; his face. Since he was a baby, everyone knew who his father was. He had his eyes, his nose, his jaw even his hairline. He truly was his father’s son. At the beginning this was something he drove great pride from because even as a child because everyone around him would make such a big fuss of it. But then that night came when an eleven year old boy’s life was turned upside down.

It was late but Shaka had always been a light sleeper. He heard his parents arguing, it was loud and pretty heated. As a curious kid of course he went out of his room to eavesdrop. His sister was asleep in her room. He walked to the staircase and sat on the top step. He could see both of them in the hall way downstairs. They were both very angry, screaming over each other like they were competing who could scream loudest. He had never seen either of them this angry.  At the time, he couldn’t really understand what was going on exactly. They would always fight in their bedroom if ever and even then, it would be in hush hush tones.

“Wacha iishe basi! (Let this end then!)” He heard his father say.

“ Sawa! (Fine!) Kwani wafikiri tutakufa ukienda kwa huyo malaya wako?!(You think we will die if you ran off with that prostitute?) his mother shouted back.

Shaka saw his father walk toward the staircase. It was too late to run to his room. His father stared at him for a few seconds at the bottom step, sighed then rushed up the stairs to their bedroom. Shaka ran to his room. A few minutes later, he heard a door bang shut, someone going down the stairs and the front door open and bang shut. He ran to the window and looked outside. As his father walked up to his car, Shaka silently willed him to turn around. Maybe if he saw his grief-stricken son’s face he would come back. He did turn around, their eyes did meet, he did see the tears fall down Shaka’s face but he did not come back. Shaka never saw his father again and his mother, well, any specks of gentleness she had left walked right out the door with that man. Shaka knew she tried so hard to shield them from the darkness that slowly crept over her over the years that were to follow and so he always tried to be a good boy. His sister tried too. They both did exceptionally well in school, did all their chores on time and essentially just stayed out of their mothers way. The hugs, the ‘I love yous’, they all stopped soon enough and all that remained when a little boy and a little girl hugged their mother was a quick pat on the back and instructions for the next day’s chores. After a while, they all just stopped trying.

Now as Shaka watched his woman walk away, he racked his brain trying to figure out what he had done to make her leave. It must have been his fault somehow. People don’t just leave, right?

End of part one…..

 

 

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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?

 

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I went for an RA meeting last week.  We meet twice a month because two weeks is all it takes for some of these guys to fall hopelessly in love; me included. We share war stories about grand-gestures gone wrong and romance stories we have enacted in real life that should have been left in rom-coms and romance novels of the damsel in distress and prince charming kind. This one guy, for Valentine’s day, because his girlfriend once mentioned that she would love to go to Paris, the poor fellow, unable to afford to take them on a trip to Paris went ahead and built a model of the city, Eiffel tower and all, just for her. That thing took him a total of three months to complete. He you-tubed the heck out of it. He really should have stopped there but of course he didn’t. Hopeless romantics never just stop at the one grand gesture. It’s all about the series of gestures that would lead up to the ultimate grand gesture. Bigger is always better.  So for dinner he takes her to this fancy French restaurant in a leafy suburb an hour drive away, gets a table by the pond and has a violinist play for them as they ate food that he ordered in fluent French. The guy couldn’t even say ‘Bonjour’ just a few months ago! What does he get in return you ask? A generic ‘happy valentine’s day’ card and a tie. A flippin’ tie! It wasn’t even one of those fancy knitted ties the cool guys wear nowadays, that he actually likes. Nah; the lady just got one off the street that cost like 200bob at most. It was black with grey stripes. Yes, he wore it to the meeting because we love to make points. We all burst out laughing at the end of his share, mostly because we would have done the same thing in his place. We advise him to stick to chocolates and teddy bears next time and maybe an Eiffel tower key ring but we all know we’ll be seeing a model of New York City next time because he said she mentioned that that was another place she would love to visit. I can’t wait to see what colour tie he gets next year.  I saw a few people taking notes while he spoke. We are truly hopeless romantics.

The next share was from another fellow. Now this one was downright hilarious. So this guy (let’s call him Mike) has a girlfriend, now fiancée that he’s been dating for about three months. Yes, three months is enough to date and get engaged and get married for a romantic. Their wedding was in two weeks. Who needs months or years of courtship and planning? When you know, you know.  In their defense, they did know each other briefly in high school. I use the term ‘know’ loosely because Mike just kind of saw her perform a narrative at a drama festival; chatted her up, got her name and school address and proceeded to send her love notes for three months straight, every week, like clockwork. Of course he used the flowery writing pads, and splashed his cologne on every envelope. He only got one letter back. The girl soon transferred to another school and didn’t give Mike the new address so they lost touch and reconnected just last year. You should have seen Mike at the meeting after they reconnected. “I found her guys, she must be the one!” He announced. We tried to caution him to take it slow because he didn’t know where the girl stood or even if she was available but he hit us with a “You know the saying guys, If you love something, set it free, if it comes back, marry it!” We laughed through the whole meeting and congratulated him on his upcoming nuptials. We all knew he was going to propose soon.

So on this random day he takes his girl out on a date. We romantics don’t know special occasions or holidays, we pretty much just smother you with love all year round. I don’t use the term ‘smother’ loosely. She had mentioned in passing that she had always loved camel rides down at the coast, on the beach, when she was a kid so of course Mike went ahead and hired a camel for the day. They went to a park where camel rides could be made available at the request of the visitors. They were at the gate waiting for said camel because the park has you sign a release form incase anything goes wrong and you have to pay a small caution fee. As the camel was arriving, this bike-rider (bodaboda) started taunting the animal. He roared his engine loudly and even tried to run it off the road. I kid you not; the camel kicked the guy off the bike and sat on his face! The camel’s caretaker quickly came to the idiot’s aid and got the camel to calmly get off his face. The bike-rider had to apologise to the camel from a safe distance. I have never seen a man so embarrassed. Camels don’t play. Suffice to say no one rode on that camel that day so they had a picnic together instead, fed it apples and petted it. Some of children who were at the park also came in to join the fun. It was delightful and a definite win for Mike; his girlfriend said she had never laughed that hard in her life.

I won’t be able to attend Mike’s wedding but I can’t wait to hear stories. We all know ‘grand’ doesn’t even begin to describe what he has in store. Why bother getting wedding ideas from wedding magazines or watching wedding shows or hiring a wedding planner when all you really need is a romantic to dream up your wedding from start to finish. You might have to scale it down a bit but you can be sure it will be like nothing you’ve ever heard or seen before and it will blow everyone’s mind.

Those were the only two shares we had time for that evening but they were more than enough. I like going for the support group meetings; they help me understand I’m not crazy, I’m just a loving human person who chooses to show love in outrageous ways sometimes; and that’s ok.

RA sayings:

  • * Bigger is always better
  • * When you know, you know
  • * If you love something, set it free, if it comes back, marry it!
  • * Camels don’t play

 

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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.

Superman saved me that night; he came in through the window. I didn’t even know I had left it open.I knew it was him because I heard a slight whoosh when he glided in. Plus,he had a cape and I don’t think those are in fashion yet. I live on the fifth floor, the house in the corner with the red door. All other houses had black doors. I painted it myself. The landlord threw a fit when he saw the *wet paint,do not touch*sign I had stuck on the wall but I think it was the smell of freshly baked brownies that really made him ring the door bell. By the time we were on the fifth piece of chocolate goodness it was all laughs from the bad puns. He asked for a wet wipe for his red finger tips, ‘next time,read the sign man’ I said as I ushered him out of my big red door. That was the last time I ever spoke to him face to face but I’d always get the usual monthly email reminder when rent was due. I preferred it that way, no need to get too social with people who you are in business agreements with.

When his wife was sick, I baked brownies and made cheesy shrimp pasta and took it over. He wasn’t home. That month I didn’t receive the email, he probably wrote it and forgot to hit send. I paid my rent on time either way.

Superman came into my bedroom; well, the space that is my bedroom in my dainty studio apartment. He took the knife from my hand and bent it halfway. He looked in shock at the blood dripping from my hands. I will save you,he said and whipped his cape to the side. Another whoosh.  I’m making blood sausage (mutura), you can stay for some if you want. I had just gone into the bedroom to check on the window, just in time too. Sorry about the knife, let me just bend it back,yes? He said as he got cozy on my couch, took the remote and flipped the channels. Guess what program he lands on; Justice league; narcissistic much?

Wonder Woman saved my life that night. I had left my kitchen window open. I really should put a child lock on those things. She took the rope from my hand and threw it out the window. The goat was watching silently in the corner and jolted past us soon as the rope hit the ground. Thankfully the red door was locked so it just sat downdown infront of it dejectedly . I’ve never heard a goat sigh but I’m sure that was the sound the poor thing made. We’ll have to use your lasso to tie him up or he’ll get poop everywhere. My bad, didn’t know the rope was for him, WonderWoman said sadly. She carried the goat with such ease and walked to the balcony. She took the lasso off her belt and tied the goat onto the rails. She stood there for a bit and just gazed at the clear sky. I never thought superheroes got sad. I think you could use a hug. I whispered as I took her in my arms and squeezed. She cried on my shoulder, her tears stung like hot acid. Ok that’s enough, I only have the one layer of skin. I make bad jokes in uncomfortable emotionally intense situations. Go keep superman company on the couch, the blood sausage will be ready in no time. I told her and ushered her into the living room.She walked to the living room space, said a flat hello to Superman and sat down on a pillow farthest from the alien man. I wondered what that was about. I divided the mutura; half for me and half for the barbecue the tonight. The Home Owners Association in my apartment building throw a party biannually. That’s when you get to meet the big wigs; private developers,real estate gurus,the kind that own half of the ground you walk on; corner office CEOs and other forms of gold toothed business moguls. They hand you their glossy matte-laminated cards and flash empty smiles, there is no soul in those eyes,just tinted windows. We are together you know, tuko pamoja, they say as they whiff past you to the open bar.

I prefer staying behind the grill,feeding their thirsty stomachs; shoving juicy,meaty goodness down their hungry throats. The blood sausage is divine Anike,they tell me as they go for another piece. I take a few plates and serve the watchmen, I give them the best cuts. After all they let me bring in the goats and chicken for the barbecue among other things. They even help me tie them onto the rails on my balcony and feed them if I’m not around. They also water my precious herbs when I’m away.

Superman and Wonder Woman make an entrance. Together. I guess they made up. Superman in a black tuxedo and wonder woman in a long cocktail dress. A bit much for a barbecue but you know aliens and their big gestures. They immediately become the life of the party telling and retelling the story of how they saved the girl in the apartment with the red door. The one who makes the brownies? The barbecue expert? I let them have their moment,they probably really need it. Time for dessert! I move to the dessert table. There are a few cakes, truffles,a three layer pie and my signature brownies. I have to make sure everyone takes just one otherwise there was going to be a riot. I put in extra chocolate and more than just a dash of my secret ingredient.I grow my own herbs. Everyone always asks what herb I use specifically. If I tell you it won’t be a secret anymore would it? I say with a chuckle. I served every piece with a generous pouring of hot fudge, a scoop of French vanilla ice cream and a spray whipped cream around it. I get a knowing smile from each person as they leave the dessert table. They’ve all tasted my brownies before but it’s always a new experience each time. That should hold them over for a while. I say to the other servers and walk back to the grill.

2am and the party was still lit. Second round of meat, drinks and dessert was underway. Superman and Wonder Woman were seated by the bonfire. Wonder woman’s legs stretched out towards the fire, the slit on her dress coming up to her ample thighs. She had a curious tatoo running from her left ankle up and disappearing graciously into her dress. Focus! Don’t burn the meat Anike! She smiles my way, I wink and smile back. Your rack of ribs is almost ready! I shout to her. Don’t forget your special barbecue sauce! She shouts back. She drinks that stuff like juice. That woman can eat. I love it!

The Green Lantern saved my life that night. When I heard the whoosh, at first I thought maybe superman had gone up to use the bathroom. He never just walks anywhere that one. The green, glowing alien knocked the lighter fluid out of my hands and took the lighter from my other hand. Fine then, you can light the fire yourself. I snapped at him and walked away. He came after me, swooshed in front of me on a green skateboard. Sorry Anike, I lit your fire,better get to it before it goes out again. Sorry for snapping at you, I told him and pointed to where the other aliens were seated. He turned the skateboard into green roller blades and rolled over to them. This guy with his antics, sha!

Dawn crept up on us like a teenager sneaking back home from a party she/he was forbidden to attend. As the first rays of the sun hit the ground, everyone kind of paired up with whomever was closer and headed for whoever’s home was closest. I called cabs for a few,including Mrs. Maanake.I was wrapping up the last of the meat for one of the guests to take home when her and her partner for the night walked up to the grill. Would you mind holding on to these and calling one of your cab guys for me please. She smiled as she handed me the man’s car keys. Mrs. Maanake lived on the fourth floor with her husband. Sometimes before he took his usual long business trips,he’d come up and ask if I could check up on her once in a while. She gets lonely you know,he’d say. Of course,tell her she can come over anytime. We’ll bake brownies,share recipes,you know,girl stuff. I’d tell him and somehow that gave him peace of mind. Convinced him that his wife would still be his and his alone when he got back. Let me know when you’ll be coming to pick them,I tell Mrs. Maanake as I put the keys in my jeans pocket. You are such a gem Anike. She smiles and goes back to smooching the gentleman by her side.I know I’ll get the full lowdown when she gets back. I don’t know why she shares stories of her escapades with me or why I look forward to hearing them every time. I guess I like to live vicariously through her.

The aliens waved from a distance signalling that they were about to take off too. Are you sure you can fly in that, Wonder Woman? I ask her pointing to her beautiful dress and stilettos. You are a funny woman Anike. She shouts back and whoosh! All three of the them disappear into the night’s sky.

The watch-men help me clear up what’s left and carry the grill to my place. Thanks guys and good day. Good day Miss. Anike. I go into the kitchen, get a tub of pistachio ice cream, a large spoon and collapse on the couch. I was still riled up from the excitement of the night so I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep for a while. So I just sat down, music playing in the background and fantasized about all the superheroes in my life; saving me even when I’d never admit I need saving.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Day 2…

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