I need a drink

Two things ring true about Grumpy; he is grumpy in the morning and he is grumpy in the afternoon.

When he called at 9:00am, I looked around before answering my phone, because he always starts the conversation with “where are you?”

Today, he said “I need a drink, have one with me.”

“What kind of drink?”

“Something black, hot, frothy and if it comes with chocolate cake, I’m all in. What are you doing?”

“I am at work.”

“Wait, what? You work on Saturdays? Are you serious?”

“No, I am not but my employer is, so when do we have that drink that you seriously need?”

“I’ll call you in the afternoon or the evening.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes I am sure.”

“Okay, see you then.”

coffee latte art froth cappuccino drink espresso milk foam mug caffeine dark cup saucer table kitchenware
Spencer Selover took this awesome photo on stocksnap.io

 

Swirls and Twirls

“Would you like, I mean, would you…okay, see there’s this great cafe down the street, I mean, lots of people are talking about it, so I thought, that is if you are free, maybe, you know, I like coffee and you’d love it, something to shield you from the rain, or just to unwind from work…listen, what I mean to say is that, it would be great, if we could, you know walk down the street, or meet there, I’m good with us being there, just to…you know, have coffee?”

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Totally loving Gratisography!

8/40

“You say that I like being in control, but that is exactly what you have been doing since we met,” I said.

“If that is what you think then let it be. I will not argue with you on it, but I insist that you spend a week with the team of LightKeepers. You will learn more about what we do and it might help you get creative in how to impact the society as an organization.”

“So, does that mean that you are against cheques?”

“No, I love cheques. In fact, receiving them is much better than writing them, but what does it say of the one who writes it? Most of the challenges we face need our engagement. I might buy clothes for the homeless or build them houses, but what good would that do in the long term? If I can engage them to understand their weaknesses and strengths, and also to know what their needs are, then I stand a better chance of helping them.”

“So, you believe that my participation is the kind of thing that is needed to come up with an action plan for my boss?”

“See, you are smart.”

“You are still bossy. Why did you start your organization?”

“Do you need the long version or the edited version?”

“I need the version you are willing to share now.”

“Sawa, so, I grew up in a family of six. My Mom was the third wife. If you don’t know what that means, allow me to spell it out for you. It meant that her cries were not heard. It also meant that we were the extra mouths that our father had no time to feed between his ego and athritis. He died when I was ten. My mom and all of her six children were kicked out of the home because she could not forge an alliance with either the first or second wives. We walked for two days to her ancestral home. When we arrived my youngest sister died of hunger and thirst. Three days later, my mother started sweating in her sleep and vomiting. She died of Malaria or as the villagers loved to say ‘tuo marach.’ We also had this disease and as such we ate only after everyone had eaten. My brother left every morning to dig and weed in people’s farms so we could eat. My elder sister cooked and cleaned and never missed a day of school. My Grandfather sold his bulls to pay for our school fees and he would ensure we had enough kerosene to keep our lamps on as we studied into the night.”

“How is that so far?” he asked, his eyes trained on me, but even as I set my cup back on the table, the words could not come out of my lips.

8/40

Jeremy was seated by the window. His eyes faced the window overlooking the road. His back was to the coffee house. If he moved an inch to his left he would spot me ascending the stairs wiping the sweat off my brows. He was in the same washed out jeans with a white T-shirt. He pushed back his chair and got to his feet when I approached the table. 

“Hey, thanks for coming.”

“We had an agreement and I could not go against it, even though I was heading home too exhausted with this week’s work. Tell me, how have you been and what do you have to say about the proposal I shared this Monday?”

“Can we get something to drink first and then talk? Or are you always strict about getting business out of the way first?”

“No, it’s fine.” 

“Relax, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, it is better to know the people you are dealing with outside the written contracts and office walls. But, I wonder, why did your organization send me three different takes on what we had discussed? Do I get to choose what we can do out of the three or am I allowed to combine the three?”

“Three proposals,tell me whose proposal stuck with you?”

“Your proposal did because you met me and shared the idea first but Nicole and some lady called Vivian just sent me a document with lots of numbers.”

The waiter’s arrival with our drinks gave me time to choke Nicole in my head. 

Nicole. She was keen on having this done her way,but what was it about this project that had the attention of the HR? Did the boss share the email he sent me with every department? Turning these thoughts in my head added to the grief I had all day. Nicole.

Nicole. My friend.

“Ni nini? What are you thinking of like that or are you still bent on getting those earrings at Woolworths?”

“Ai,no! I think I will get something else some day maybe. I was not even thinking about that.”

“How bad can it be? Do you have a roof over your head?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have food and water and a warm bed to sleep in?”

“Yes, where are you going with this?”

“See, you Marjorie, like being in control. You want to know everything and prepare your reaction towards it all. Life is not like that, and I have seen children who have not even touched soap in their life. They eat like vultures and their hands are bent because of all the begging they do, so that’s where I am going with this. Can you take a week off work and see what my day is like? There are other community volunteers who would take you around the homes during their visits so you have an understanding of what LightKeepers are like.”

“I will see what I can do.”

“No, you do it, besides I have a feeling that you will like it. But, tell me, did you ever go to Victoria?”

“Primary? Yes, why?”

“I knew it the first time we met, but that’s a field story. Now we talk about general stuff like what your favorite color is and your hobbies and things like those. I will email you details of my amendments on Monday.”

“Are you the sole decision maker in your organization?”

“I founded it and I make some decisions but not all. And no, mimi si kama wewe, I am not stubborn. Siko serious twenty four seven, binadamu hucheka saa zingine.”

Coffee at 4 A.M.

I sprung out of bed at four in the morning.

I did not ask to be awake, but I was so pressed that my body jolted out of bed and rushed to the toilet.

But, there is something brutal about getting your feet on a cold cement floor that keeps the sleep bugs away at four. I walked into the kitchen and poured the warm water from the flask into a plastic cup. See, coffee cools real fast…especially the instant that I use, so I opted for a plastic cup because plastic is a poor conductor of heat.

I sat down on the living room floor and slowly sipped my coffee as I pretended to be awake.

I thought of writing something, but was too lazy to get up from that floor. All I remember about what happened is the feeling that I was losing my touch and maybe a few words could bring back whatever pizzazz I thought I had.

Some legendary thoughts, books, speeches, and events have taken place at four in the morning, but what was legendary in my case was the need to pee and stay still while drinking coffee until sleep caught up with me.

You’ll hear from Me.

For as long as she could remember the scent of him and that smile, all Vanessa had been doing was waiting.
She  was the one who saw him that day in the school field. He was in a blue shirt and khaki trousers. The other boys were drawn to him as much as the girls were. He said something to make them laugh and that’s when his eyes met her cocoa eyes. They were dark and had a glint of mischief, but it was his height and ease that drew her to him. She had a few boyfriends in her stay in high school. There was the one she met in a bus on her way home who had written one letter but used a revised stamp. She had to pay fifty shillings to read his illegible writing and wrong musical dedications. Any fool knew that “Queen of my Heart” was a song by Westlife and not Backstreet Boys!
There was the great dancer in form three who though short had managed to hit on her best friend and get away with it.  His idea of getting back at her had been to leave an empty packet of milk in her locker. She found it quite refreshing. Their break up and his upgrade became the talk of the two streams for that weekend. She told no one the that she never loved him, but was in awe of his handwriting and grammar. Even  then she knew that she could not love a guy in high school. She could not lend her heart to a boy who had an influx of love letters from other girls. The thought of such deception made her cautious, but relatively stupid.

She fell hard for him.
He was talking to his friends that day but once he caught her staring,  he couldn’t look away. She stood there until he walked towards her.
She could look into his eyes, but the scent of him was all she needed.
He was charming, but she knew that charm was deceitful and her heart stopped.
They were called to the hall where the results were announced. She hated Physics exams. She loved the practical exams but the theory part always had her in knots.
When their teacher announced the results she looked down aware that her performance would prove to him how stupid she was. In fact, she hadn’t studied for it. The skirt she was wearing was a size smaller, and the elastic on those new socks were stressing her, so she couldn’t focus in the exam room.
How would he know that she had been attending an English Symposium the previous evening and had been the best? Or that she wanted to know his name and hear him say that he liked her?

The result came in and he stood when his name was called and the sound of palms meeting filled the room. She could not put her palms together, but he saw her. His eyes stayed with her until the end.

The smart ones stayed in the podium to receive their gifts as the room filled with music. It was a Symposium and some entertainment was in order. She slipped out and returned to the hall when she heard E-Sir’s song,  “Mos Mos” and found herself doing the Helicopter dance just like she had seen in the music videos and shows.
After a while she stepped out through the back door hoping to sneak back to her dorm and change. Those socks were really killing the muscles on her legs.
“You’re a very good dancer, Vanessa.”
He was right beside the door.  His hands were in his pockets and his right leg was raised as he leaned on the wall.
“Hi.”
“Max,you can call me Max. I was looking for you.”
“Well, you found me. ”
” I did. You’ll hear from me.” She wanted to ask when she  would hear from him but she didn’t want to seem desperate. She knew his name and he knew hers. It was enough to disregard the miserable grade she got in Physics.
The next weekend brought with it time to watch a Nigerian movie and read his letter under her blanket with the aide of a flashlight . He did not just like her, he really liked her. He was not afraid to admit it, but he found her confidence a little intimidating.
His handwriting was impeccable and he signed off better than she had hoped. She read his letter over the weekend, before she could pick a pen to answer his letter. But she knew even then that her heart would always beat to his.

That was ten years ago. Vanessa was still waiting. She heard from Max once in a while but his words never reached her heart or sparked the fire that he had kindled in her.
She had dated some guys, got dumped by three and set four in the friend zone. He had evolved into an accountant. She had evolved into a woman. When they met that day at the cafe, he had invited her to his apartment and treated her to lunch. He had the same glint in his eyes. She had the same stare.
He kissed her forehead that night, but nothing beyond that. She walked home tired and spent. He had drained her of the fire she kept burning for him.

She did everything to steer clear of him. No one she knew had married their high school sweetheart, but even then she hoped she would be the first.  The fire in her heart was slowly picking up. He worked in the same building as her, and they had lunch when his moods favored him. Her colleagues told her they looked great together every day. She smiled at the beginning but it became more of a burden like an unwanted constipation.
She stayed late in the office that evening. The proposals for the new Campaign had to be revised before the Shareholders meeting the next morning. She heard the knock and his scent.
“Hey, would you mind if I join you?”
“No, please do.”
“Thanks.”
“I brought you some cupcakes from the cafe. I know you always have house coffee and two chocolate cupcakes every Wednesday.”

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“Thank you Max, I didn’t know that I had a stalker in you.”
“I think it’s a good thing, at least a stalker who brings you cupcakes, look, would you like to go out with me, as in be my girlfriend Vanessa?”
“Max…”
“I know it’s been a while but I have been watching you Vanessa. Like how you frown when you want to say something but can’t. You also love blue scarves, and that everything has to be in order for you, but more so I have seen the way you look at me.”
“Max,can we do this later, um…”
“I have waited for fifteen years to talk to the girl I met at St. Anne’s during a Physics symposium who made me lose my cool. The girl who knew she came first and who wrote me the only letters I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I could sit here and go on, or tell you how much I have dreamed of this, but it is not in my style to live like am one of those Mexicans you swoon over in TV. So, what will it be Vanessa, be honest with me.”
“Max…”
“Are you seeing someone?”
“No, all this time I thought that it would never happen. You made me wait Max. I waited and dreamed and gave up and gained hope, it was like… Would you wait for me to finish typing this document?”
“It’s been fifteen years Vanessa, a few more hours wouldn’t hurt, but am not leaving this office without you.”
“You’ll hear from me.”

Other awesome posts in the East Africa Friday Feature
The Girl with the Golden Smile 2
Flashes of The Birthday Killer

The lady who sang at 5:09pm

She walked into the lounge at 5:09pm.
I know because I was chatting with a friend via whatsapp when I caught a whiff of her perfume. She smelled like a florists shop at dawn when the windows were swung open to let the fresh morning breeze in.
She made her way through the room her black trench coat spreading her scent around the room.
Her hair was cropped short, but she had braids falling on the right side of her face, revealing big eyes that did not meet anyone’s gaze.
She settled at the front and picked the microphone.
The patron stood up rushing towards her.
She did not flinch, but she stared straight into his eyes and he stopped then nodded at the Deejay who turned up her microphone.
And as I sipped my coffee, her voice started with

So this is my apology,  for saying all those shady things, I wish didn’t really mean, I’m sorry I’m not sorry

Then she took a deep breath and held the microphone a few inches from her face, and as we watched, her hand dropped and she stayed there, her head hung…I held my breath.
My friend pushed me, “Is she crying?”

Uh?

I turned to face the front with my phone in my hands waiting. I looked around the room, there were people who had stopped drinking and chatting who were as mesmerized as me.

She sniffed, and brushed the braids off her face and continued singing Kelly Clarkson’s Someone and she had us listening but what I could feel was her bleeding heart.

And when she was done, she stood and walked out the same way she walked in. The difference was that instead of her flowery scent, the room was filled with the pieces of her broken heart.

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