Posts Tagged ‘Pride of Africa’

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loving you, the way I do, it hurts

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

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

(Hurts; Emeli Sande)

In my head from Nairobi to Kisumu.

I took a flight to Kisumu a few days ago. We almost missed our flight actually. We got to the airport at 5pm for a 5pm flight. I know what you must be thinking and you are probably very right. We walk in (stroll in) having already accepted our fate, planes don’t respect traffic jam rules do they? We go up to the counter to ask to change our tickets to the next day hoping the fine won’t be ridiculous. We hand in our e-tickets to the lady at the counter and she just looks up and smiles and not a tired, ‘I’ve been smiling all day and I don’t even like people’ smile. It was a sweet ‘seriously guys?’ smile. I think she saw how embarrassed we were for getting to the airport at the time of departure. She quickly consults a colleague and what do you know, turns out the flight had delayed and we could actually make it if we start sprinting right that second. She quickly prints out our boarding passes; we say a big thank you to the ‘Pride of Africa’ peeps and rush off! As we go through the last check point, we hear our names announced over the P.A; #celebritiesmuch #weoutchea. We get to the boarding station, hand in our tickets, the lady and gent there give us knowing smiles, we return a nervous laugh and onto the tarmac we go. My seat is at the very far back. I make my way down the aisle.

Welcome to 35 minutes in my head, on a plane, from Nairobi to Kisumu. 

Polite disclaimer: Science or any form of logic not allowed (will not make sense) beyond this point…..

‘So many bags in the overhead compartments already, where the heck is mine supposed to fit? Yaay, I found a spot. I got the window seat. Score! I’m seated next to some random dude who insists on chatting me up and he really needs a mint or ten. Just smile and wave Cynthia, just smile and wave. The pilot is welcoming people onto the flight over the P.A. He has a really soothing voice. Do they train for that? Does the trainer have to measure the soothing capacity of each aspiring pilot’s voice? Can one fail the ‘soothing test’ and have to retake the class?

Maybe I should have been a pilot. Ha-ha, who am I kidding, I panic at the thought of riding a bicycle on the main road and I am the only human being I have met who dropped out of driving school. 

They are doing the safety thingy now but I can’t see the attendants (back seat things). Well I guess we are winging it. It’s ok though, I watched the first two episodes of Lost so I can totally handle a plane crash like a pro.

We are moving. Wow, planes are huge! Imagine a traffic (flight) jam on the platform and runway. Planes everywhere bumper to bumper; hooting at each other.  

Some pimped out planes on the sides trying to jump the queue, wings tilted almost touching the ground. Tiny charter planes trying to make their way between the lanes. Helicopters just hop-skipping their way through the runway. Airport traffic police trying to untangle the mess. Pilots screaming at each other through their intercoms.

Pilot 1:“toa hiyo bamba hapo kizee!”(Get that tin out of the way!)

Pilot 2: “Si uruke!”(Jump over then!)

And then Pilot 1 actually does.

The plane is taking off. Suck it gravity! Oops maybe I shouldn’t have said that. What if gravity is in a bad mood and she decides to pull the plane back and smack it on the ground and because I was the idiot who dissed her, the back of the plane where I’m seated gets blown off.

“I’m so sorry your Excellency Madam Gravity”

I start to get that bubbly feeling in my tummy as we ascend to 26,000 feet above sea level. I love the clouds up here, they look so fluffy. We are flying between two layers, the bottom poufy and cotton-candy like and the top streaky. OMG! We are in a flipping cloud sandwich! I wonder if that would catch on if I hash tag it. Maybe. All my 11 followers get ready to tweet this mad hashtag yoh!!! I really can’t speak hip.

The bottom layer looks like flocks upon flocks of sheep sleeping. There’s one that looks like an alien baby though. Uuh! There’s one part up ahead that looks like the clouds are swirling together, like the water did before they ‘released the crakin!’ on the Clash of the Titans movie. That would be fun, no?

I wonder if our pilots are trained for alien invasions. What if a huge alien dragon spider thingy appears like; 

“Run, Kenya Airways, Run (insert evil laugh here)!”

 Would our pilot know what to do or would he just park the plane, get a parachute and with a ‘see ya suckers!’ jump off the plane? 

I wonder what I would do if we have terrorist in the plane. They stand up with machine guns they assembled while on their seats somehow (technology dude) and asked for me specifically.

“Give us Cynthia and we will let everyone else live”

Would I be a hero and give myself up or would I be an absolute woos, tear out the ID page of my passport, chew it up and swallow only to find out they have the passenger manifesto and they could find me anyway. Then I would be the idiot who got shot on a plane with her passport stuffed in her mouth.

Ah, they are serving juice and nuts. I like the tiny tumblers and the tiny packs of nuts. I like cute, tiny things. I recently made a friend buy a bulb just because it was cute and tiny. In my defense, we were on a budget and this little thing was the only energy saving, fluorescent bulb in our price range. Later, we get to her place, she fixes the bulb and the little thing is so dim it barely lights up the top half of the sitting room. It’s like the little bulb that (couldn’t) could. 

I eat one pack of peanuts and decide to re-gift the other one. Maybe I’ll give it to my friend, to make up for the dim light bulb. The pilot is speaking again, something about it being a rough landing. ‘Bumpy ride’ he calls it. I wonder if part of the co-pilot’s job is to look out for cloud bumps. Dude, watch out, big bump coming up ahead he would say. They should really mark these things, the pilot would joke then they’d both laugh out loud. Pilot-humor is weird. 

I wonder if pilots would get first dibs when we invent flying cars, I’ll stick to the ground personally because I think that is you have an accident in the air then you plummet to the ground that would be a double accident, no? There would be a negative % chance of survival. You’ll be turned mush or ash, road-kill (air kill?). I really don’t want to die ugly. I really don’t want my spirit to be looking down at my lifeless body when I die thinking; ‘Ouch, I did not know my limbs could bend that way’ or ‘geez Cynthia, that’s the look you went for?’

We start to descend. The butterflies in my tummy start to wake up. We are flying over Lake Victoria. It’s huge! I wonder how deep it is and whether anyone would survive if we crash landed in it. I really should have paid more attention to the safety routine thingy. Its ok, I’m sure my superhero instincts will kick in if anything happens. We all have them right? It’s like the ‘mummy-switch all women supposedly have. It’s supposed to help you stop thinking( and saying out loud) that some newborn babies look like aliens and why the heck do people insist on posting photos of everything their babies do. ‘aww, baby burped today’, #babythings, #mybabycuterthanyours, #blessed, ‘baby’s first nap’, baby’s first smile (it was really just gas)’, ‘baby’s cute booties’. I mean, I love cute little things as much as the next guy but have you watched Rugrats? ; Those tiny humans be cray cray!

What was I saying? Oh yes, the lake. I think maybe we might survive if the plane doesn’t explode on impact. That would suck. I thought the hyacinth was a lot more than it looks like from up here. Maybe we could hold on to those as we wait for rescue. I’ve watched National Geographic though and there are a number of scary things that live in fresh water lakes. I really don’t want to swim with the fishes.

The plane takes a right, mid-air like it is turning a corner. Air roads are funny. What if a pilot deviates from the flight pattern? Would he be going ‘off-air’? Hahahaha! Get it? #idie . Would he land in a ditch? Climb onto a cloud pavement? NTSA air squad would be on his case eiy. Hahaha! A girl has got jokes.

We land smoothly.

Stink-breath guy seated next to me asks if I know how to get to some hospital in Kisumu. I tell him I don’t know, I don’t live in Kisumu, I’m just visiting. He really isn’t the least bit interesting person to talk to is he?

You should all thank him though because if he weren’t such a dull conversationalist, you wouldn’t have just spent 35 minutes in my head, on a flight from Nairobi to Kisumu. Thank you random guy!