“Even the blind can see” – Kodak Black
Switching on your Sony Walkman, an ancient gem you had kept in pristine condition since the time your uncle gifted it to you on your 7th birthday back in ‘06. Not that it was fancy or anything; it preserved lots of precious childhood memories you preferred not to lose. All you had to do was flick a tiny switch to receive an instant breakfast of cereal commercials. Its tuning dial was jammed, thanks to the misadventures of your youth and was permanently tuned to BBC Radio. It not only served to drown most of the incoherent noise in your head but also added an unpleasant growl of its own.
It’s Sunday, your eyes deeply lined with fatigue, on the account of heavy partying the previous night. You cursed. You’re never drinking on an empty stomach again; but like the miserable drunk you are, you never turn down any chance to get totally shit-faced, any day of the week. Last Saturday presented the most opportune moment, coming out of your goddamned Human Rights Class. Whose lecturer had the most exquisite talent of extending his unbearable rambling a whole hour after close of business at the Parklands School of Law.
The University was at an all-out war against the so-called Satellite students, and the magic that was 300 attendance signatures for barely a hundred students in class. If it were not for the unsaved son of a gun that was the attendance sheet administrator, you would probably be blacked out in your humble bedsitter in Roysambu, nursing a blissful blunt coma. Better enough, you would be enjoying your crisp, cold White Cap at Masari. Be that as it may, this wasn’t any other Saturday. Apparently, the demons that were working overtime in your brains were on meth, accelerating your excursion to the drinking den. Little did you know, that the gods that conspired to run you mad, had extra special plans for you then.
“Okay, that marks the end of today’s class, I will send case law readings for your urgent perusal before the next lecture…” the lecturer intoned.
You cared less about what he had to say. Your books and The Constitution were already in your Vetements Sling bag and you out of Sheria Hall before another cocky character in class posed a needless question in obscure legalese.
The incessant beeping of your token meter jolted you back to present day time, in a rather unpleasant manner, reminding you of your sad state of finances. With the gait of a slow-witted and clumsy oaf, you walked to it and turned it off. You did not feel good and you looked worse, catching a glance of yourself in the bathroom mirror. You looked sick, your body sparingly packed with flesh, giving you the sorry look of an emaciated lad. You had sacks full of exhaustion under your eyelids.
With the BBC Morning Service working the background noise, Greg James torturing his hopeless voice in a desperate attempt to make Radio One Breakfast Show any different from the regular. The tin-smith in your head was back to work, you badly needed a smoke, to calm the painful stirring in your head. As you opened your mini-fridge, grabbing a can of Sprite, your hand felt though your countertop shelf for your slim, silver-plated gas lighter, sparked your roach from last night, and took a long satisfying drag at it, feeling the Mary Jane pacifying your racing nerves.
You were good to go.
Sunday mornings are the loves of your life, cold and quiet, just how you liked them. Slowly putting on your faded Forever 21 black jeans, donning a Jack and Jones Tee and your favorite custom denim jacket, you took a quick look at yourself in the mirror, before spritzing some Tom Ford under your shoulder blades, then finally smoothing a non-existent crease from your shirt. A practice honed and mastered over time. You picked your favorite Meja Mwangi novel, before leaving for Nairobi’s Central Business District.
You checked your watch, it was 8:22, and eight minutes shy of half past the hour. The weather: chilly, and Nairobi’s streets as empty as your love life. You walked briskly along Mama Ngina Avenue, you destination in view. You liked that this beast of a metropolitan was empty. Shops closed, the maddening rush of human beings and vehicles conspicuously absent, an ominous premonition of what was to be the city in the coming months. You just didn’t know it yet.
While other Nairobians were preparing to head to their various places of worship, while others partaking in various atheist activities, you had the whole 1st floor terrace of your favorite coffee shop at Pepino’s to yourself. You climb up the stairs and head over to the coffee lounge. The place is deserted.
You cannot stand crowded places. You buy yourself a cappuccino and sit at the balcony overlooking Kenyatta Avenue. Rihanna’s “Desperado” is on play; fairy lights staging a dance on the mirrors on the opposite wall, saturating the entire atmosphere with severe badgalriri vibes. You take out your phone and open Twitter, this being more of a reflex action than a conscious one.
You can’t seem to make out the contents of your timeline, this is because you had opened a window in your mind and escaped. You were restless, recanting the previous day’s events. Your nightmares playing in your head like a daydream.
You knew it wasn’t right from the beginning. From the very first time you met Rae at the house party.
Your unhealthy obsession with her.
Your phoned beeped. Speak of the devil and he is sure to appear. It was her. She had DM’d you. Your heart raced a little. You hated that she made you feel this way.
“Why did you block me?” the message read.
Funny of her to ask that question. Funny how she acted like she hadn’t seen you for years when you bumped into her after class. It was as if the universe had this planned so surgically that you found yourself walking towards her, and her towards you. On that empty sidewalk near Stima Plaza. You had seen her before she saw you; and no matter how much you tried to rack through your intoxicated brains for an escape, all was for naught. Fresh from Masari; stomach full of liquor, vision hazy, your gait betraying you.
All the 6.5 pints of your blood rushed into your head and emptied out of it just as fast. Leaving your feathers sorely ruffled.
Here she was. Rae. The girl that you, in your drunken stupor, had been hopelessly infatuated with. Right in front of you. You had to think fast. You couldn’t bear the thought of having to talk to her. So you whipped out your phone, in a lost attempt to fake a phone call, walking briskly, looking away from her direction. You failed miserably.
She grabbed your arm, you forgetting about the important phone call you were on. She went in for the hug. You were defeated, in this battle with your emotions. Toxic masculinity thrown asunder. You were a wreck, making a total fool of yourself.
Everything came flooding back, not in a good-sort-way but in a you-drowning-you-need-help-asap sort of way. You had treated her like a celebrity and in equal measure; she treated you like a fan. It did not flee your mind, the fact that you will never escape her impression, that you were so option less; you resorted to being pathetic. Pathetic of you to beg her to rekindle her intimacy with you.
You were angry. You had to end this once and for all; or forever hold your peace. Picking your phone that was next to your now empty cup of cappuccino, typing furiously, you replied:
“…You want to know why I blocked you? Rae, you were very confusing and hard to understand. I was so into you and the fact that you seemed to give little regard to my feelings did not give me any peace of mind. And you weren’t telling me to beat it either. What options did I have? I decided to put my feelings in a jar, screw it close and tight and throw it out of the expanse of my mind. I couldn’t handle the way I felt knowing you did not give two shits about it…”
You wrote, pausing for thought. In the corner of your eye, you saw the waiter bringing over the second cup of hot cappuccino.
“….not that I needed you to care, all I needed was closure. Just tell me to fuck off and I would have gladly left; albeit with a damaged ego and self-sense of dignity. I’m over it though. Don’t misunderstand me…”
You looked at your cup, placing your phone inside your jacket. You took a long satisfying sip, washing away the bile that had built up in your throat. It was about time you picked your Meja Mwangi novel, which was neglected all this time. You thumbed through the ear dogged pages, a testimony to the number of times you’ve read this particular novel. ‘The Cockroach Dance’, the tragic story of Dusman Gonzaga, a character that you dearly identified with. Just like Dusman, you were tired of the gods that were playing poker with your life, you, an insignificant pawn in this massive game of chess that was life. You were soon deeply engrossed in the novel, your troubles forgotten.
“Hi stranger,” a pleasantly feminine voice wades through the silence, startlingly familiar, hearing small footsteps closing on you. Damn. It was her. The stranger. The stranger that you had met over a month ago at the studio. You thought, sadly, that you had seen the last of her. The conspiracy was complete. The small gods of love were back at it again. Seemingly, the fire that she had lit in you hadn’t died out; its embers burning slow and true. And seeing her ignited them into the glorious inferno it once was, fueling your long forgotten desire.
“You look lonely and sad. Can I join you?” she says, while sitting down, giving you both no time and space to recollect your thoughts.
She pushes her long, wavy braids with this brief jerk of her head. You notice the glint in her eyes, as though she was excited to see you, another connoisseur of Sunday morning coffee.
“I saw you here while I was getting my espresso; you looked kind of withdrawn, glancing now and then at your phone and typing. Are you crafting another of your delightful gems for your blog?” her cherub-like voice running your imagination to forbidden places.
You were taken aback. Scrambling through your head for any memory of you mentioning your blog to her. None existent.
“How the fuck did she find out??” you thought out loud, a warm sensation rising up your chest.
“Yes, I’ve just finished rereading 21 Confessions for the third time this morning, and I can’t…. just can’t help thinking how the girl in your story bore a striking resemblance to myself, It all can’t be coincidence right?
“ ‘The stranger that shared a blunt with you’ ”she asserted, the familiar slight bend of her upper lip in character.
You were tongue-tied.
“It seems you have a lot more confessions to make; but for one, I’m sure that we just didn’t meet for nothing”, her speaking your thoughts.
She was right, and painfully so.
You had confessions to make, and this was the second one.