Sand

You may slip through my fingers.

You may be unable to hold water.

You may hold onto me, then watch me slip, like the water.

You, my dear, may be everywhere and nowhere,

But I am with you, right here, for you are like sand,

Each granule as distinct as the other, but when held, still remains sand.

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I see

“To each their own.”

You said it. I nodded.

It’s what I do best. I nod. I say “no worries” and watch you.

“So, do you drink?”

“Yes, I love coffee,” I said. You laughed, shook your head and said, “do you take alcohol?”

“No thanks.”

“Well, I do once in a while when I’m in the company of my friends. When we are celebrating.”

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We attended your friend’s birthday party and I found myself doing what I do best at parties- disappearing.

One drink.

Just one Hun. I smiled and kissed you on your cheek. “Go and have fun.”

It was a delight. Watching you. Not being at the party. It always delights me that I can see in you what I choose to. You often say “don’t overthink, it’s not good for the kids.”

Your friends immediately turn their gaze to my stomach. Too flat. What kids? Are you having kids? Congratulations! Boss! You finally did it!

“No, we are not having kids. It’s just something we tell each other, you know like you tell your wife you love her and stuff like that, isn’t it right hun?”

“Yeah, no kids here people!”

We laugh. You laugh with your soul. I laugh with my heart, we’ve never laughed with both but you know we will, I see it in how you struggle to let me in.

One drink. When I settle to a cup of coffee before going to bed, you reach out for one drink. You call and say “I just wanted to hear your voice.”

We talk about an episode you saw on National Geographic. You say you are worried about your Dad. He’s not himself. You wonder where I’d be if you attained his age. You ask me about home, the work I’m doing and you sip your drink. Each word I utter is washed down with a sip and you say “It gets lonely, this world I mean.”

I do not overthink our conversation. I do not overthink what I feel and I spit it out. When I’m done you say “I see…and you know what, it’s one of the things I would always love about you. You say it as it is and sometimes, I wonder what you are doing with a guy like me.”

Well, honey, sometimes I think of how I’m going to write a story that it slips my mind.

It’s raining

I thought the clouds had a torrent to say,

It seems they really could not sway.

Remember, last week, on Thursday? You were trying to balance some accounts and I was seated across the table, stirring my coffee, acting like it did not matter.

“Just give me a minute, okay?”

“Sure.”

You asked for one but took ten minutes.

My anger could not be swayed.

You said, “you’re like rain, if you decide to fall, you fall and I am the fool who forgets to carry an umbrella.”

It is raining now. It is half past seven and I am brewing tea. I wonder, do you know how right you always are?

Do you know how annoying it is to have to like you?

It’s raining. You are probably watching National Geographic so you can tell me all about animals in the wild.

It’s raining.

You’ll need an umbrella for I fear that one of us will be drenched and I have a feeling that it will be worth every drop. 

Chapter Eighteen: Jeff and Belinda

Belinda looked up from hugging Iman and Hakeem to see Jeff driving into the compound. She walked with the children into the house and took their bags. They went to their rooms to change into their play clothes as she waited in the sitting room for Jeff. He walked in a few minutes later, “I was hoping to see you today. Have you had something to drink?”

“No, I haven’t. What are you doing home so early Jeff?”

“I was hoping to talk to you. I called Mary and she told me she was in school so I guessed you would be here and seems I was right.”

“Yes, at least you are right.”

“Come home Besh.”

“It does not feel like home Jeff.”

“I know that things cannot change overnight Besh. You always used to talk to me, to tell me anything that came to your mind. It was easy back then and then we had Iman and you started retreating into the shadows. You know we never argued about a thing, we would talk things through and I miss that. Mary said something to me yesterday, it was almost as though, she was giving life to the pain you’ve been going through. She said that you did not just snap, that you broke…and Besh, I am sorry, look, if there’s anything you want me to do to make things right then I would do it. I just want you back home. I want you here beside me and I want Hakeem to wake up at night knowing that his mom is there. I want Iman to see you home because this is all they know.”

“You want me to come back to this house?”

“I want you in our lives Besh.”

“I’ll think about it Jeff and let you know.”

“Do you still work at that place?”

“I got a job. I’ll also keep working at Okwan’s but not as often as I did. We worked on a system that suited us.”

“Congratulations, where’s this new job?”

“It’s here in Kisumu. Do not worry about the details but just know that I am embracing the eight to five lifestyle. Mary will be coming over next week to help with the kids and after that I was thinking they could go home and spend some time with your mom when they close school. It will give me enough time to get someone to help around the house.”

“Sure, that’s great.”

“Okay, let me go and see what those two are up to.”

“Besh…”

“Yes, Jeff.”

“You are the mother of my children. I love you, always have…and though I have made all these stupid mistakes that cause you nothing but pain, I just want you to know that Michelle was a mistake and it took me a while to accept that.”

“Honey, no woman wants to be called a mistake when it comes to love. Can we not talk about this today?”

“Sure, I just wanted you to know.”

Chapter Thirteen: Belinda

Belinda was ready to respond to her friend’s statement when she saw her turn. She looked around and then saw that Mesh was biting her finger nails. “Mesh, what is it?”

“Look, I will talk to you later on. I just don’t want drama.”

“What drama are you talking about? I swear you are the only Drama Queen I know in my life.”

“I am not joking Belinda. Look, you see the lady in that green maxi dress?”

“Where is she?”

“Look through the window of the hotel and you’ll see her.”

“Okay, but she is far from us. Who is she?”

“Belinda, look, let’s just leave. Please.”

“I am not leaving until you tell me why you don’t want her to see you.”

“I am not being a child Belinda! She is Michelle!”

“Well, let’s go and join her for lunch.”

“Wait, what? I don’t want her to see me. She will get ideas and I cannot fight her. Belinda, God did not bless me with fighting skills. Look at me and then look at her, I’m like a pole she can lean on, please, let’s just go. She is not worth the drama.”

“Okay, we are not going to fight. We will talk and I want to introduce myself. Look at it as some form of enlightenment. I have to face the woman my husband is having an affair with.” Belinda walked into the restaurant and headed straight for the table where Michelle was sitting.  Maureen stood her ground and remained where she was. Belinda pulled a chair and looked at the man having lunch with Michelle.

“Excuse me, we are having lunch,” started the lady.

“Hello Michelle, my name is Belinda. You are having lunch with my husband. I believe I have every right of being here. Jeff, this is the Michelle I asked you about three weeks ago. Do you now know her?”

“Besh, please, don’t do this…”started Jeff.

“I am not doing anything Jeff. I was passing and I saw you holding her hand across the table and thought she must be very important to you. She is beautiful. I like how progressive you are with skin tones. I never liked Molly or the secretary you couldn’t stop taking to Mombasa, but with this one, I have a feeling she’s nice.”

“Besh, this is not the place…” started Jeff, but Belinda turned her attention to Michelle and smiled once more. She said “If I were you Michelle, I would get an HIV test. My husband has dipped his hand in many pots here in Kisumu and you two make a wonderful couple. I hope you have two children just like he did with me. Kids are awesome. Enjoy your lunch.” She pushed back her chair and strutted out of the restaurant and made her way to Okwan’s restaurant.

Ghosts in the forest

If you would have asked Grace how she felt in that moment, you would have glimpsed at something. My mother says it is like the oldest tree falling in the forest at noon, when the sun has fully kissed the earth.

Grace.

Henry.

He always said that he was named after a missionary. He brought good news, conquered her heart, toyed with her will. When he called she ran. When he said, “I want to see you,” she packed an overnight bag.

Grace was his light. She felt like his partner, the one drug strong enough to numb his nightmares, but nightmares called wife and children can never be wished or kissed away. If Grace were to ask anyone, or tune into any local morning radio talk show, she would have received her judgment. She was too smart to feed her brain such mush, instead she took it as it came; the love and kindness, but of all, she lived for the way he cherished her.

Dinner after a long day at work.

Career recommendations and the phrase he kept saying “never change yourself to suit a man, change to suit yourself, keep your dreams alive and never stop working.”

It’s why eight months later seeing Henry at a dinner party walking with his arm around her made Grace desire never ending sleep. When he found the courage to walk up to her, she shook her head firmly, as though each shake could wipe away the images that were playing in her mind.

He reached out for her hand, “Grace.”

“No, don’t,” she said and took one look around the room, but even then she knew. She knew that his wife knew and that is what my mother says is like sharpening a knife.

Cathy

Grumpy met a girl.

He says, “she told me to call her Cathy, but she looks more like a Katherine to me, but you know how girls are, they can be a Cathy to me, a Lisa to someone, Nancy to another, Sweetie to many more and when the time’s right a Mrs. to just one man.”

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