Chapter Seventeen: Akinyi

Akinyi knew two things as she took the stairs to the apartment. She was going to meet Maureen’s friends and she was not going to keep her thoughts to herself. She adjusted the strap of her heel briefly before ascending another floor. She knocked twice before the door was opened.

“Hi, my name is Akinyi. Mesh invited me.”

“Um…okay, come in. She will be with you shortly.”

“Thanks. I brought some wine, have it.”

Belinda followed the woman into her apartment careful not to utter anything offensive, but she had the air of being in-charge, it was like seeing an older version of Mesh. Akinyi kicked off her heels and sat on the carpet right next to Mesh after greeting Okwan.

Mesh waved Belinda over and asked, “You remember the friend I told you about?”

“Which one?”

“The one I wanted us to go out with? This is Akinyi, we’ve been friends for almost four years now and she’s a Programs Manager. She’s got beauty, lots of brains and is constantly serving people truth juice.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you Akinyi. I am Okwan, the uncouth friend who runs a restaurant.”

Okwan, seriously, how would you introduce yourself like that? Don’t believe the uncouth part, she is saying that because she is hurt by what I said this evening. I see you brought a bottle of wine, let me pour you some. I think we ran out of wine awhile ago,” said Maureen.

“Hi Akinyi. It’s nice to meet you. My name is Belinda and you can go with what Mesh told you about me.”

“Thanks. It’s nice to meet the two of you. Mesh cannot stop talking about you, so, why are we getting drunk on wine tonight?”

“I just confronted my husband and his mistress today and these two thought I needed friends. They asked me to prepare supper but showed up with two bottles of wine, so we drinking my sorrows away.”

“I see and who is going to nurse your hangover?”

“Don’t worry about my hangover, worry about your own and here, have some chips. They are still warm.”

“Thanks.” Akinyi looked at the three women and smiled, something about seeing them huddled together on the carpet inside the small apartment made her want to laugh. She wanted to laugh so much that her throat burned as she tried to swallow the fried chips she was eating. Maureen never ceased to surprise her with the kind of friends she rallied around. There was an odd strength to Belinda, the one whose husband was having an affair with her sister, she almost felt sorry for her.

Chapter Ten: Jeff

He waited until Belinda had tucked the kids in bed before handing her a cup of tea. She looked at him and then reached for the cup saying “thanks.”

“How have you been Besh?”

“Fine, thank you.”

“How is work?”

“It’s great.”

“Where do you stay?”

“In a house.”

“Where is this house?”

“It’s here in Kisumu.”

“Who are you staying with?”

“No one.”

“Are you safe?”

“Yes.”

“Look, is there any way I can come and visit?”

“No, thank you.”

“So you are still insisting on staying away from us? It has been three weeks Belinda. You are like the day time maids in your own home. You come in the morning, at four in the evening and leave by seven thirty; does that seem alright to you?”

“How is Michelle doing?”

“Who?”

“Exactly, so, it seems just fine Jeff. I am taking the time I need to sort out my life and you do not get a front row seat! Thank you for the tea. I’ll be on my way now.”

“Besh, you can’t keep doing this.”

“I know, but when I get tired of doing it, I’ll do something else Jeff. Goodnight.”

He drew the curtain in the sitting room slightly so he could watch her walk down the street into the night. The cup of tea in his hand was still warm. She looked younger, stronger and there was something in her eyes, something he saw the first night he took her out on a date. He walked back to the leather chair he’d been sitting on and settled in with the remote in hand. She wanted time; he was going to give it to her. He however did not know which version of Belinda would return to him, if ever she returned.

He thought about Michelle and felt his heart take a leap. How had Belinda known about Michelle and why didn’t she wreck havoc over her?

He finished taking his tea and then went to bed later on. If he would have taken time to mull over Belinda’s question, he would have known that the storm she’d raised was gaining momentum. He would have run after Belinda into the night and begged for dear life, but being the man that he was, Jeff could always say that he never saw it coming and that would be the only truth he ever uttered in his life.

Chapter Five: Jeff

He was making his way to the New Victoria Hotel when his phone beeped. He reached for it and put it on speaker, “Jatelo, tell me what do you need?”

“Do I always call you when I need something?”

“Yes, you do. I am driving can I call you later?”

“Boss, I didn’t know that Madam works in town. I just missed her and she looks great.”

“Wait, what do you mean?”

“You didn’t know that Belinda has been working at the kibanda near WinMart where we used to get our lunch? You remember the matumbo fry and ugali we used to dig into? She works for the mama there.”

“Where are you?”

“I am parked outside Denno’s base at WinMart.”

“I am getting into town now, how about I get you one or two and we can talk about this hallucination you have.”

Ati hallucination! I will wait then.”

Sawa thanks.” He sent Michelle a text saying he would delay by ten minutes. His phone lit up immediately, “Take your time.”

PS: Happy Writing Wrimos! I’ve got only two hundred words down today, but I’ll keep posting the Ushanga series as I participate in #NanoWrimo.

Voices in the forest

What is it about voices that make them storm through our minds at odd places? The places our souls frequent, to get that sense of calm; places like temples, churches, mosques, shrines.

These voices perch on our shoulder and proceed to mock every word, feeling or thought we have.

What is it about these voices that wake up a wife at three o’clock in the morning? The voices that help her watch her husband sleep and list the ten thousand ways she could kill him. She looks at his neck, the thing of beauty that holds his head, and smiles. She then slips the knife beneath her pillow and drifts off, her slumber summoning the voices.

If you would have asked Leah at that moment, what it felt like seeing the goddess that summoned her husband, she would have laughed. My mother calls it “the face,” and she says “every woman has that face, the one that neither the world nor her offenders can read.”

Leah would tell you that she does not care and isn’t that how a storm is brewed?

It’s a small world

Happy Easter holidays! How’s your holiday break coming along?

Well, mine was just fine until I ran into the one person I never thought I would. No, it was not in an elevator, but in a supermarket. I should really stop shopping at the Naivas Supermarket here in Kisumu, but I can’t help it…they do sell braids at quite a fair price, so when a Darling Dealer shop is closed, I simply get my braids from Naivas.

Enough about that, so there I was, distracted by the books when someone tapped my shoulder. I mean it, like they did tap my shoulder a good one. So, I turn and there’s this lady giving me the complete run down, assessing how far below her status I am, and I am thinking, in terms of dressing-way below her status. I walk around town in flip flops, fancy jammies and a t-shirt. However, I am standing next to books, so I still win.

She sneers and says, “Yaani you don’t know me?”

“I am sorry, but I don’t.”

“Well, anyways, you wouldn’t, but that’s okay. I still had his baby and I heard that you ended things with him, well, a little too late, but it seems life has it’s way of making things even. Our son is six years old now.”

“Okay, congratulations,” I said.

She smirks and goes on, “So, what are you up to these days?”

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“Nothing much, but I am glad you are doing well,” I say and smile, trying not to roll my eyes for real and say “bitch please.” She does not seem to be in a hurry, in fact she shrugs and then blurts ” Yaani, you seriously never married him? The way he would go on about you like you were the only girl in the world? Nilichoka kusikia jina yako yaani, and I was quite angry and jealous plus you were at some fancy school…haiya, na gari yako iko wapi mtoto wa sonko? Wait, did you pick an accent from uni? No offense but Mungu ni mwema! If you see him, say hello, I am so over that.”

I turned to see if anyone was witnessing this because it felt like a vivid hallucination. I said “thank you,” and side-stepped her to make my way to the aisle where I could buy those braids that brought me to the supermarket in the first place.

I have seen baby mamas but please tell me when you come across a sane and silent one! I mean one who is not angry at all women and ready to pick a fight if you dare smile at “her man.” She held a grudge for six years! 6 years just hoping and wishing that she would come across me and talk ill to my face, and I gave her three minutes of which she could not see through her bitterness. Maybe I could have pulled an accent…that’d be a disaster! A great one! I was tempted to defend myself and say, “hey, I was the one who left him…because I was young, dumb, in-love and pissed off when I found out he had gotten some chic pregnant.”

I reckon sometimes we remember what we ought to forget and forget what we ought to remember. I couldn’t fault her for her bitterness, but she reminded me of an experience I buried in 2011, and thank the Writing Fairies for Smashwords because I went back and 1033 downloads are something to brag about letting things off your chest uh?

And the next time you see me in boy jeans, a t-shirt and flip flops…be nice! I happen to love the look!

Forty Days

They say a thief has forty days. In Kiswahili it’s musical, more like a warning, a lyrical warning, siku za mwizi ni arubaini.

I came across some boards and lots of pins on Pinterest about writing challenges. There are monthly challenges, bucket lists and the greatest of them all NanoWrimo. The transition from The Currents Series to another book has been tedious. Some days I’m lucky if the words come out of me, but I still believe they will. There is a story somewhere in my notebooks, journal and book clips.

I decided to create my own challenge and set my own goals.

So, for forty days I will post twice on this blog. A 400-word post at 4 A.M. and another 400-word post at 4 P.M.

I’ll pick it up as I go and somewhere therein I’ll have gained back my composure and discipline to start working on the next book. Now, for all the readers out there and family, yes and those friends who constantly ask Writers, what are you working on now? Please know that it is not like opening a refrigerator door.

Until then. let’s see how this goes. See you at 4P.M. for the first post!

I think

It’s too hot, what do you think?

This restaurant is too expensive, what do you think?

People can be so rude, what do you think?

Blue shirt or the purple one, what do you think?

We should go to Mombasa, what do you think?

Jaymo’s business idea is good, what do you think?

Sweetheart.

Honey.

Love, are you there?

Have you been reading the whole time?

Did you hear what I said?

You know what? Just forget it!

We should spend more time together, what do you think?

Honey…

*walks out of the room*

I think…

A maiden for the King

The palace guards stepped aside to let the King and his sister through. He bid his sister goodbye and watched as she was led through the palace by the maiden. They walked like sisters and this alone reminded him of his youth, after all her sister was years wiser and older than him.

He turned to his brother-in-law when he heard, “Who is she to you?”

“She is the one who stands beside me.”

“I see, so when will you make her your Queen?”

“Only time will tell. I still see her whenever I open my eyes.”

“No! You will not mourn for her because you are stronger with this maiden. I see how you look at her, you protect her with your eyes and she in turn does not want to leave your presence, surely if that is not love, then the gods must be sleeping!”

“What if I never get over the one I love?”

“You said it, only time will tell.”

“Let’s go back inside, these walls are lined with gold but if you look close enough you will see the ears and eyes too.”

In the morning

We sit facing each other’s demons.

My hands lift the mug to my mouth and you sit and stare at me. Your lips have been moving and my ears have not taken in the sound coming from them, but you’d never know.

You never know.

You lift your mug. It’s the blue mug I got you for your birthday last year. You hated it, but you never went a day without drinking from it, like kissing your enemy’s lips every morning.

You rise and the thread of darkness follows you around the table slowly forming a thin line as you walk away. We are always here. Your demons arouse mine and they stare down each other. Your demons stir mine up but none ever attacks…I heard it was called self-preservation, but baby one of these days, one of these days, we’ll burn down this house, and it’s our love that’d be killed.

The Restaurant : You’re a Waiter

Ruth had lunch at The Grill for the next three days.

She had pilau on Monday, chicken stew and some chips on Tuesday and then she had a cup of coffee and mandazi on Wednesday. She was served by Maureen for those three days. When she walked into the restaurant on Thursday, it was Walter who approached her table.

“Hi, I haven’t seen you around, are you okay?”

“Yes, I had exams so I took some days off, but it’s good to see you too.”

“Exams? What are you studying?”

“I am getting my diploma in Food and Beverage, so I have to get that done before I get my degree. Um, so before my Supervisor gets on my case for taking too long with you, what will you have?”

“Um, actually I’m good, I just wanted to see you and say hi, but just get me a soda and then maybe that’s okay.”

“Sure, which one?”

“Fanta Pineapple.”

“Sawa, and kubwa ama ndogo?”

“Kubwa! Ndogo ni hasara!”

“I’ll get it right away.”

“Thanks.”

He moved on to other tables after serving Ruth and then went back to the counter to wait for the next client who would walk in. Thursdays were slow days. He made less on Thursdays, but he could always count on the old civil servants who always told him to keep the change. The men loved to let him keep the coins, but the women did tip better especially when they were with their friends. He lived for Valentines and the end of the month- dinner parties where the men actually gave him a fifty or hundred shilling tip to impress their dates.

He inched closer to Maureen and smiled at her. She stuck her tongue out and they both laughed.

“So, have you asked for her number ama unangoja Yesu arudi?”

“Eish! She is cool, nasikia you served her while I was away, thanks!”

“Wacha kujichocha! Huyo dame akiingia hapa anaangalia majamaa wote ni kama utatokelezea! Go get her number, ama ni game ndiyo hauna? Si nadhani unaishi uplands ama wajakushow how to get a girl?”

“Why must you talk like that?”

“Oh! So now you can act polished kama viatu za Rudisha! Haya basi kama umeng’aa enda ukamshow ni vipi!”

“You’re sick!”

“I know, it’s the only way I can stand being a Waitress in a country where people think ati ten bob ndiyo tip!”

“Haiya! Na si uende majuu!”

“We! Napenda maisha yangu, sitaki nitemewe mate ama nichomwe na sigara sababu mimi ni servant, tu juu ya mkwanja!”

“You need help Maureen, like seriously, you need Jesus!”

“Who tells you I don’t have him? I am saying the truth, and who loves the truth more than that guy?”

“She’s done let me show you how it’s done.”

He took the bill from the cashier at the counter and jotted down his number at the back then took it to her. Maureen shook her head and smiled. She always seemed to have moments with Walter. They hang out, and she even managed his Facebook page for him and helped deliver and market his cookies, mandazis and doughnuts in her neighborhood. There was that moment when he had asked about her life when they were having lunch. The truth spilled out of her mouth so easily that it shocked her. When she looked at him, he’d just smiled and told her, “you’re tough.” It was not like she had a bad life, but she’d been through some very bad stuff and to have Walter smile at her like that reminded her that she was human.

He had his own kind of cool, and even though she’d never tell him- she still hoped that maybe one day they’d hook up, or that he’d stop and kiss her, like that chick in Sauti Sol’s new jam, Isabella, who surprised her guy by kissing him.

She longed for a kiss like that from Walter.

On the other hand, Walter felt like he was setting himself for a huge disappointment by giving Ruth his number. Maybe he was reading the wrong signs from her, but if Maureen saw it too, then maybe he’d give it a shot.

He wished her well as she left the restaurant. He continued with his work until his lunch break. He rushed to the changing rooms to switch on his phone and check for messages or missed calls, but when he turned it on- there was nothing but Airtel reminding him of his Smartika bonus, something about walking to work when he could be driving. He switched it off, pulled the pack of cigarettes he had and picked two.

He was walking out when he bumped into Maureen and dropped his cigarettes. She picked one as he reached for the other.

“What’s up? You never smoke during lunch, nani amekuchokoza?”

“Usimind, so what are we having for lunch today?”

“Saddam amesema ni machefs watadecide, kama ni kabeji I swear nitaingia huko ndani niwatusi wote!”

“Okay, see you then, I need to clear my mind…”

“And cloud your lungs! You are too cute to smoke you know!”

“Yes, isn’t that why most adverts on those fancy magazines have pictures of fine women and handsome men holding cigarette packs, and name one artiste you love who does not smoke…and no, weed does not count as smoking…I am talking cigarettes! Real cigarettes!”

“Go clear that mind of yours and join me for lunch…and Walter?”

“Yes Maureen, what is it?”

“Look…listen, she will call, okay. If that chick is into you she will call, just you know…don’t kill yourself with cigarettes before you give her a chance, just saying!”

“See you Maureen.”

“See you in ten minutes Walter, and I said ten minutes!”

“Sawa, that’s five minutes for each cigarette! It’s not enough!”

Read:

The Girl with the Golden Smile 7

Some kind of Love

Unlucky 13

The Plot It Thickens