21 Confessions

Número Seis

‘Stellar Death’


“Do you ever wonder what happens to them?” Mia asked.

It was 10:17 PM , and the both of you were sat outside the oversized Victorian porch of the townhouse. The rustic columns characteristic of the Muthaiga suburbia. Everyone else in the garden below is having a good time. The lush, shadowy expanse lit by red, oriental lanterns, setting the atmosphere for the after-party to her gallery exhibition. Bottomless Mimosas on rotation, dainty bartenders darting around making sure no glass was empty, Dom Perignon flowing like the Zambezi. Everything about this whole get-together was posh and overly grandiose; leaving a sickly-sweet taste on your tongue. Even the beer in your half-empty bottle had a foreign character to it. German, you figured. It was easier for you to nurse your chilled Budweiser, listening to the DJ spin some jams from Late Orchestration; your favourite Kanye West project recorded live at Abbey Road.

You had escaped to the recluse of your solitude, until the moment she found you after you wandered off. Her friends had caught up with her at the party and this was the unmistakable cue for you to beat it, your social anxiety at its peak; getting acquainted with her friends wasn’t the priority, she was. 

“What happens to who?” you replied, an inquisitive look on your face.

The breeze was slight, wafting her subtle but delicious La Vie est Belle perfume your way. The soft but heady undertones of sandalwood and spicy citrus tingling your senses. The warm evening typical of a January late night rendezvous.

“They’re really beautiful aren’t they?”

For a moment, you thought you were caught lacking; until you saw her index finger pointing to the Eastern skyline.

“Stars. Incandescent, gaseous blobs that dot our midnight skies. Light years away in distant galaxies, unblinking for centuries,” she intoned, totally oblivious of your presence.

She had thrown you into the woods; you hadn’t a single idea of what she was talking about or trying to get at for that matter. The conversation slowly slipping out of your hands, you mesmerized by her hypnotizing monologue. The overheard lamps highlighting the soft curls under her twin tight, double-pleated braids. Her halter-strap top the color of paprika, gracefully playing up her seductive neckline. A neckline that was tastefully adorned by a single jade-and-coral piece, sitting right smack in the middle of her bosom.

A delicate balance of mystery and revelation.

“I like your voice,” you say- quite sure you have set yourself on a path from which there is no return.

She looks at you, a flattering color rising up her cheeks.

“My voice?” she asks, a strange fire playing about her eyes.

In this tiny moment frozen in space and time, did the small truth in those hopeless romances in Mills and Boon novels jerk you. That because of a girl, your stomach would knot itself, your joints refusing to unhinge,your limbs turning to lead, your mouth drying up faster than the Sahara after a rainstorm. 

“Why don’t we get Remy for two, over a delightful discussion of Astrophysics?” you suggest, already up, offering her a hand.

In one swift, smooth movement, she takes your hand, you leading her to a table at the furthest end of the ballroom, a comfortable distance from the main floor. The dim lighting accentuating her flattering curves and edges. The glint in her eyes sending your imagination through the roof.

“Did you know that a star is brightest just before its death?” you say.

“Well, well, an Astrophysicist and an Astromortician walk into a bar,” she says, her eyes turning a shade darker than your cognac.

You take a nervous gulp at your drink, your head is swirling, and so are her words. You don’t know whether it’s the alcohol or her that’s fucking up with your hormones.

“Ever since we met at the studio, at the coffee shop that chilly Sunday morning, you’ve been looking like there’s a lot going on in your mind, you look like there’s an itch you’ve been dying to scratch, a feeling gnawing deep into your insides,” she says- the conversation taking a complete U-turn.

“You want to know a secret?” you ask, closing the distance between the two of you.

“Tell me, or forever hold your peace,” she croons, leaning forward, turning her ear to you.

“I’ve always wondered whether the feeling is mutual,” you confess.

Everything just became tense, and unlike all your other experiences,it weren’t as if you were watching it from afar, you were fully present, your senses amplified ten-fold.

Her face was dangerously close to yours. Her lips. Her spicy fragrance.

“Am I allowed to kiss you?” her voice faintly below a whisper.

“You never have to ask, ” you answer.

As you cupped her face in your hands and leaned in, her eyes closed with the sweet pain of yearning, a yearning that made her body tremble against yours, a long aching desire that made you breathe slightly laboriously.

You had to confess, that a part of you died, and a new one birthed in that singular moment.

Stellar Death begets Stellar Birth.

You had confessions to make, and this was the sixth one.


Número Cinco

21 Confessions

Número Cinco

“I love you and I want to be loved” – dvsn, Don’t Choose

Ivy was pretty excited, and fidgety, for two good reasons.

Waiting was not her particular cup of tea; and the palpable excitement in the air could not allow her the room of thought. She tried to calm her nerves by focusing on something else. She was seated alone in this spacious waiting area, a hallway sparingly decorated with Neo-classical West African sculptures. They looked ugly; the kind of ugly white people would gush over. The overhead lights were bare; three spotlights hanging over reed-lampshades. The white tiles on the floor squeaky clean, a red oriental rug adorning the centre of the floor; with visitors seats on either side. Even though the velvet seats were very plush and comfy, Ivy was on the edge. The large glass pivot door at the entrance reflecting the sun’s golden rays through the hallway, in her hands was Mia’s purse, an intricately beaded work of art. She had spoken to the receptionist behind the massive mahogany desk, her spectacles framing her Auntie-like countenance. She had asked how long it would take for Mia to get done. She wished that she hadn’t asked in the first place. Her response was curt, a voice that was whetted on broken bottles.

It was the morning of 17th January 2020, and Mia’s gallery exhibition brief was due at the organization offices at Dusit D2. Ivy recalled the events of the previous month as though it was yesterday. She was at her studio apartment in Kilimani; jamming to dvsn’s Morning After, blunt in hand, sub-consciously planning the day ahead of her., when she got Mia’s phonecall.

“Ivy! Oh my geez you are definitely not going to believe this!…”

In the first instance, Ivy thought that something had gone horridly wrong, but when Mia narrated to her the news, she felt an overwhelming feeling of pride for her. Mia was going nuts, telling her about receiving an email with an .org domain, how she thought it was the usual generic marketing emails from random companies, until she saw her name and VSCO Gallery Exhibition in the same sentence. She knew how much this meant for Mia; and how long she had been waiting for this break in her on-and-off love with photography. The fact that Mia’s application to the prestigious Gallery was accepted amidst the deluge of applications from photographers and visual artists who she considered to be way more advanced and professional than her, was a testament to her pure dedication to her passions. And it paid off.

Ivy was no doctor but it was getting hard for her to find the patience to wait. Mia left no word on how long it would take the panel of organizers to brief her. The anticipation was killing her, on the other hand, she thought about the entire situation. It was no easy feat, and for Mia to be presenting her works before a global audience was really the universe working overtime to make her dreams come true.

Ivy was like the sister Mia never had. They had gone through the same primary school, kept in close touch through their high school years. And since the grand scheme of things was set in stone; they ended up in the same university. They were an inseparable pair; through their happy-drunk nights, through all the boys; theirs was a true love whose strings no seeming scissor could cut through.

Amid all this, Ivy felt unsettled. A nagging thought nibbling at the back of her mind. Mia had talked to her the day before about some complimentary tickets that had been affixed with the invitation to the exhibition. She really wanted to invite him. The stranger that kept on popping up in her life, like an incessant reminder that sooner or later, things had to be set in motion.

Ivy wasn’t entirely trusting of a stranger, especially one who was the object of Mia’s adornment. She didn’t know him that well to offer proper judgment, although she had to admit, she had never seen Mia this love-struck before, Cupid’s arrow had precisely found its mark and sunk deep into Mia’s heart. Mia was swooning at every mention or slight nuance of him. She never missed a chance to point out the fact that he was an artist, and truly, imitation was the sincerest form of flattery. Her psyche craved for him, a chance to pick out his mind, know what he was thinking about, why the half-smile was on his face every time she tried to flirt with him. She had never fathomed that she would be this terribly infatuated with a boy who essentially was a stranger to her. But oh yes, there’s always something enticing about the unknown, and with every passing day, this feeling was amplified ten-fold. And it was now in this zenith of her photography vocation, that she felt it was only right to invite him.

Lost and neck-deep in her thoughts, Ivy didn’t see Mia walk down the stairs that led to the first floor offices of the gallery; eyeing her the entire way.

“What are you thinking about?” Mia intoned. Ivy looked up, startled, at the face of Mia smiling down on her.

“I think you should invite him,” Ivy said.

“I already did,” Mischief written all over Mia’s face.

Ivy looked at her, not entirely amazed at how sneaky Mia could be, and it was in this moment that her premonition about Mia’s feelings was reinforced.

She was unmistakably in love.

****

What does someone wear to an artsy event? You thought out loud. This was a particularly a paradoxical moment for you, that although you were into fashion and design, you couldn’t style yourself for a gallery exhibition. And to add to your conundrum, you had been, out of the blue, been invited by your crush. A true predicament that was hard to solve. You looked through your wardrobe, trying to find a fit for the day. She had mentioned something about there being an evening after-party, and you had to consider that too.

Maybe if you could start with the shoes you were going to wear, and work upwards, maybe that would work? No, your collection of footwear was 99% Nike and Adidas and 1% leather. You had little to work with. How about the pants you were going to wear? Not promising either, jeans was the staple of your wardrobe; black jeans, faded Amiri jeans, light blue rugged jeans, dark blue jeans, jeans with the rips, the Chrome Hearts jeans. And what about your top, would it be a t-shirt, or a shirt?

This was all turning out to be a Herculean task. And a head ache for that matter. Maybe less is more, you thought. Faced with many options, with varieties screaming at you ‘Pick me! Pick me!’ , it was only rational to go with a clean, simple look. White Air Force ones, faded black Chrome Hearts Jeans, a white tee, and rugged dark grey denim jacket. Mono-tone was the best thing to do since you were not especially skilled in the area of color co-ordination. Tom Ford was the cologne and as you combed your hair, you left out a slightly rough but neat curled top.

You had never been to Dusit D2 in your entire life. Neither was the miraa-in-his teeth Uber driver. He kept on asking you which side of Westlands it was and which exit he should take. You really had no idea and all you could do was read out the map to him. When you finally got there and paid him his 500 shillings, was when you knew this event was really no small-fish business. And you were a less than a small-fish, tinier than a plankton. And before you was this looming task of wooing your crush and not look like a buffoon in the process.

You walked through the security entrance, and the well labeled signage pointed you to the gallery showcase. People were already here, you tried as much to avoid the ‘fashionably late’ shenanigans that you knew would definitely not strike the right chord, especially on a formal invitation by a girl you were trying to make yours.

As you walked through the large mahogany doors, handing out your ticket to be screened by the intimidating door-men, your eyes were already scanning through the floor, trying to familiarize with the environment you were in. But in truth, you were actually looking for her. Mia.

You had called her before you arrived and she said she was tied up finishing up some business with the gallery organizers and told you to just walk in and make yourself at ease. What she didn’t know, was that you weren’t a people’s person as such, and this was all socially awkward. People of all kind, whose backgrounds probably was inclusive of high tastes in art, were strutting around the gallery, once in awhile taking a moment to snap a quick one with their favorites. You had no favorites, you were alone and Mia wasn’t in view. Your first instinct was to find Mia’s name on the catalog to see which section of the gallery was presenting her works. Section Five. You walked through the polished floors, finding your way around the various framed works of art.

You finally found the section, and on a sign, her name written, and along the white wall, were eight frames of her photographic works. You started with the first one, a colorful shot of the Nairobi sunset over Syokimau. The layers of light and color ascending through the clouds, nature fuzzed out in the background, an aura of warmth exuding out of the picture. You didn’t know how to feel about it, except the fact that you knew she was a truly gifted artist. You were a freelance photographer too, but this was just out of the world. If it were you, you definitely couldn’t have seen the angle through which she shot it.

The next one was a mono-toned shot through the window of a high floor in Panari. Her shots seemed expertly composed, abstract yet perfect. A black and white image meant to draw your attention to the lines and the curves that made the picture. The half grey blending into the blacks and the off whites blending into the half greys. The geometric balance of shapes and patterns playing a mesmerising waltz.

You felt like every shot she took had a story behind it, you felt like she wanted to take a picture because of how it made her feel, like taking a portrait of someone you love. She was painting and the world was her canvas. Every moment frozen in time possessing a character that she carefully though out. The gradient of the colours meant to evoke an emotion in the person looking at it.

You were so lost in her world, that you didn’t notice her creeping up on you. It was only after feeling her small hand, her palm softly clasping yours did you feel a surge of emotion you had never felt before. Another moment frozen in time.

“Hi stranger,” she said, her palm pressing against yours.

It was orgasmic. And you were left breathless.

As you looked into her eyes, you had to confess that she was a true work of art.

A work of art that you had fallen deeply in love with.

You had confessions to make, and this was the fifth one.


Número Quattro

21 Confessions

Número Quattro
“But the people highest up got the lowest self-esteem, the prettiest people do the ugliest things,” – Kanye West, All Falls Down


Seated in your Von Dutch Leatherette, the only prized furniture in your meek one bed-room apartment in Roysambu, gifted to you by your late Uncle. You treasured it like it was your only reason to live. Its leather seat slightly beat, the varnish on its red cedar arm rests faded by years of use. Yet, it was the only loyal and faithful thing in your life, waiting for you every time you came back from school, or from one of your many drinking sprees. It never betrayed you, nor did it kick you in the shin when you were at your lowest. It fed your solid belief in the unchangeable. An animated object of your insecurities. Your fetish for memorabilia was sickening. You clung to the past like a blood-sucking leech, feeding off dead fantasies.

The soft patter of raindrops hitting the bare floor of the balcony, an emptiness eerily ringing through the walls of your crib. The dim yellow lights like a wet blanket on your mood. Smothering you, suffocating your mind. Strangling you off the air you needed to think. The ethereal voice of Syleena Johnson floating through the air, Kanye’s hard truth driving you further into the abyss.

“I miss you,” you texted her.

“Uh-huh, what exactly do you miss?” Mia replied.

“It’s hard being specific when all I want is the whole of you,” you texted back.

“You sound scared, ” she replied, seeing through your veil of deceit.

In this little tete-a-tete, you could feel your world crumbling around you. Your joint halfway done, smoke lazily spiraling upwards, a fine ash on your tiled floor. Your ashtray as redundant as the façade you were keeping up. You badly needed a drink, fully knowing you didn’t need alcohol, you needed answers. You chuckled, a low laugh that was pit between a sad cry for help and a pitiful mourn. You remembered your own words, that drink was for the weak. And that is what you were then.

Weak.

5PM on a Friday night, who knew those sad nigga hours, could come this early. Your head hurt, not from the endless wrangle between the demons in your head, but from the realization that you were stuck in this unending loop. The sun seemed to already have set, going down together with your hopes and dreams, ushering in a night darker than your soul.

 

You were a miserable artist with nothing to show for. A lot of sadness and unlived dreams was all you could write about and it only served to suckle the tiny ravaging monster in you. Caged and chained. Unlike Paul and Silas in their Philippian prison, your endless prayers couldn’t bring down the walls. Doors locked, clock going tick tock on your sanity.

You took a laborious breath, taking an inventory of your senses. Your eyes were in good working order, despite the squint you acquired from peering through dusty Contract Law books at the school library. You loathed them and they didn’t like you either. Your ears were in good shape too, in fact, they were too good at their job. At 2AM you could hear with crystal clarity, the marauding rats scurrying through the steaming piles of garbage downstairs, sometimes, when the landlord’s fat cat was kicked out of his abode for stealing the master’s piece of fried liver, you could hear him clumsily lumbering through the metallic disposers, trying to nab a little Jerry.

On other days you could hear a neighbor shagging his wife in the middle of a hot and sweaty afternoon, despite your Sony Walkman on full blast. You never understood why people had to perform their tail waggling dance in the middle of the January heat as though the economy wasn’t already bad. The rusty springs of their metal bed grating on your raw nerves.

Your olfactory organ was in perfect order too. Apart from being precisely tuned to the harsh smell of hashish, it too, was a little overzealous in its functions. You could smell a frying egg three blocks away, you could tell that the person making it had a weird relationship with cinnamon on eggs. In other occasions, it helped you find the stoner circle at a party, when your other senses were heavily dulled by liquor, your nose served as the most befitting compass, leading you to your quarry.

It was your legs and body that was failing you. You looked like a 21 year old but felt like a 60 year old geezer with arthritis. Your body, like the saying goes, had less meat than could fill a skewering pin, wasted away by days on end of figuring out case law and legal precedent.

In one swift movement, with no aforethought whatsoever, you walked to your closet, picked your Stone Island jacket, put on your sneakers and left. You didn’t know where you were going; all you knew is that you had to leave this depressing hole. Your JBL earphones jammed in your ears, Kendrick’s good kid, m.A.Ad city on play, you find your way to the bus station. The Friday evening traffic picking up its maddening weekend tempo. By 7PM, cars and trucks would be stretched out the whole Thika Superhighway, everyone in a rush to get home, bars or to their mistresses.

                                                                 *****

It was easy to catch the weekend fever in these parts; there are people everywhere you turn. Everything in conceivable sight moves. They move in all directions, at the same time and with no particular direction at all. Very much like you. Koja in downtown Nairobi was this massive orgy of fruit sellers and young men trying to sell their pedicure services to disinterested women. In one corner is a beggar; permanently fixated at his usual spot, with an expertly twisted limb, thrust a rusty and mangled bowl towards the unsympathetic crowd. It’s eyes fixed on the opposite side of the street, unmoving, cold. It was hard to tell its sex by its disfigured form. They could be a millionaire for all you knew, despite the two small coins that were always present in it’s tin. Touts were shouting over your head, screaming their fare prices to Kasarani and Githurai 44. Young and old couples alike having cheap dates at restaurants; whose owners seemed to have a higher regard for profit than hygiene. You pushed your way through to Sonford Chicken and Chips.

The place was half full. Good. You took your place on the line to buy your hundred bob chips and quarter chicken. Anna Wise’s voice sang through to your heart, Kendrick Lamar punctuating her singing with blissful rhymes.

“Next please,” The cashier said, her lipstick generously applied on her cracked lips, she looked underpaid and overworked, an exhausted look in her eyes.

Picking your tray of hot chips and chicken, you sat. You saw your reflection in the opposite mirror. A sad shadow of your former self. You hated it. You weren’t who used to be. You felt like you were losing your patience. You felt like you were losing your focus. You felt like you didn’t want to be bothered. You felt like you were the problem.

You had betrayed your first love, writing, and went ahead to chase headlessly after the wind, a deceiving mistress. Your blog was in severe disrepair, you hadn’t written for more than a year. And it was killing you.

You didn’t want to drag Mia into your world. She was so pure, so pristine. And she loved you with a passion you hadn’t experienced in your 21 years on this miserable earth.

“You sound scared, what are you afraid of?” her voice ringing through your head.

You were terrified of love, you had to confess.

But what does love got to do with it, when you don’t love yourself?

You had confessions to make, and this was the fourth one.


Número Tres

21 Confessions

Número Tres

“…hakuna kushare joh, fisi akikam ng’orea…”- SWAT, Saba ,Ethic

Mia was trying to concentrate on doing her make-up. The excited chatter and giggles from the other room only did so much to calm her anxiety. She did not like going out when she wasn’t in the mood, let alone go out for a full-blown concert. Her girlfriends in the other room deep in their prattle, talking nineteen to the dozen. She did not understand what was with this Koroga Festival hype; it was like an infectious flu that everyone was catching, an exciting rumor nobody wanted to be left out of. She didn’t even know what edition of the Koroga Festival this one was, all she knew was that everyone was going because Ethic were performing.

The upbeat, Gengetone group of performers, who apparently had managed to garner an overnight, large and loyal following through their bop-worthy club hits. Nobody could deny it; they were true superstars, and the fact that they were the main act at the Festival only served to heighten everyone’s anticipation.

“Shit!” she cursed, running a crooked line of lipstick, her palms sweaty and her mind absent.

“Mia! We need to go aki, finish up you join us for this shot before we order the Uber,”

Mia and her three girlfriends were halfway through their pregame. Gin and Tonic. It was half past eight and they had just gotten their regular entry tickets from their plug; TicketSasa regulars had already sold out over a week before. The alcohol had already started coursing through her system; swaying her earlier stance on going. This might not be such a bad idea after all, she thought, downing a sizable shot of Gordon’s, feeling the familiar taste of a truly lit night on the tip of her tongue, followed by the warm sensation rising up her mid-section.

It was the first time she was going out and having fun with her friends; she wasn’t like this before. Sad, withdrawn and often introverted Mia. She hated what that boy had done to her. Her ex, the undeserving son of a gun. Make no mistake, she was over it; that she fully knew, but something had died in her, dried up, trampled on and thrown away. Put out like a candlelight in the middle of a Harmattan wind.

She had vowed never to be vulnerable again. She hated leaving her emotional-self unguarded, lest a malicious wolf comes along and snatches her heart, or whatever was left of it.

She overheard Ivy ordering the Uber to Tatu City, the venue to the Festival, and all she could think about was the stranger she had met over a month ago. He looked too stressed to be out on an early Sunday morning. Typing furiously on his phone, an already warm cappuccino by his side. His eyes sunken, his demeanor overwhelmed, like he had a load to get off his heart. She didn’t know what to do. To say Hi? To eye him from the corner of the Pepino’s terrace? She found herself walking towards his table, her palms sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy, her anxiety doing a real number on her.

It was only after having a conversation with him, did she realize he was deeply hurting. Just like her. She wasn’t so sure what to make of all of it. He was different, his soft demeanor, a half smile painted across his face, his eyes tired. There was a certain vulnerability he exuded; the kind of vulnerability that made her want to hold him close, to tell him that everything would be alright. Too bad they didn’t exchange numbers the first time she met him over three months ago at the studio. Over a blunt. She only remembered his first name, Imanda.

With every passing day; she felt an impatience growing in her, like an embryo in the womb, soon enough, she couldn’t ignore it. She felt it. She saw him everywhere she went. Every time she was in town, walking down Moi Avenue, heading home after school, she would catch a whiff of his Tom Ford cologne. Her heart would race, and immediately sink, the hollow feeling in her stomach choking her; it wasn’t him. Her mind was paying tricks on her sanity. Often, she would stare out the window of her Citi Hoppa, the maddening rush of people pushing though the full streets of Nairobi. Her mind unconsciously seeking for his face, for his gait. Once in a while, she’d see someone who walked exactly like him, but his dressing a tad too garish to be him.

She felt like she knew how he’d dress on a Saturday afternoon. His faded black Amiri jeans, a Nike Tee, maybe a cap on? A corduroy jacket? She’d follow another with her eye, with the same height, same body build; but this one was wearing spectacles.

Sigh. She was tired.

“Mia!! C’mon let’s go! The Uber’s already downstairs girl,” snapping out of her trance; back to reality.

“And you need to cheer up okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost gosh” Ivy said. And as they took the last mirror selfie, all glammed up and looking gorgeous; she couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of foreboding. She didn’t know what, but she could feel it.

************

“Bro! Open the door you coward!” you heard DK’s voice boom through your door, knocking hard at it.

You were annoyed. It was quarter past five in the evening, and you were listening to Kaytranada’s 99%, your most favourite album, high off your ass.

“What the fuck do you want?!” you retorted. Of course you knew what he wanted.

Earlier on, he had told you something about Ethic performing at Koroga Festival, and wanted you to go as well. You weren’t in the mood. You hated crowds, you hated lines and most of all you hated concerts. To make matters worse, you did not even have a ticket. They had sold out ages ago and you had given up on the entire idea.

You opened your door. DK looked like he had some really good news to tell you, you hoped; otherwise, on god you were going to slam the door in his face.

“Broooo…twende Koroga man”, he said, you were about to slam your door on him, but he had his foot firmly against the door.

“Before you say anything, look who I have here”

With a puzzled look on your face, you tried to figure out what kind of head-assery this boy was up to, till you saw Jannae standing at his side, with a full bottle of Gin. This nigga. You thought, in true fashion, he knew had to grease your palms.

“Hii Jannae, are you together with this idiot?” You asked.

Jannae was your best friend and classmate at Law School, and you did not know what she was up to with DK. You never knew what was going on between them; they always gave you mixed signals. They were an intriguing pair. One moment they would be all cute, flirting and all, and the other moment, furiously fighting, an excuse to even aggressively flirt. Theirs was like a pendulum in motion swinging from one point to another, there was a tension between them, that none wanted to acknowledge, you knew they had zero plans of addressing it.

But today, seemingly, they had different plans, and those plans involved you. You let the two in, DK feeding you profuse details about the event, listing all reasons why you had to go; a miserable attempt at convincing you. Either way, you were already bought cheap and fast, once you had seen the bottle. You didn’t even care about the tickets; he had already mentioned something about getting them from a friend of a friend. You were sure it was those unscrupulous Instagram Ticket merchants who sold the same ticket to the same group of unsuspecting revelers. You cared less. As long as you were knee-deep in the bottle, you could be convinced to jump off the Eiffel Tower. As the three of you pre-gamed, already dressed and ready to head out, you felt odd. Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it wasn’t, either way, you were going to find out soon.

**********

Tatu City was a hell of a distance. Two bottles down and you were already in party mode, your alter ego on full act. You were a different person intoxicated, more daring, more macho, your introverted self-non-existent, morphing into the alpha in your pack of wolves (Read hyenas), and ready to hunt down your unsuspecting prey. Any female would fall for your fluid lines and deceptive charms, charms that hid your crumbling belief in love and equally contrasting craving for affection.

High off Gin and Jane, dressed to murder. The place was packed; you couldn’t help but sympathize with the hoodwinked party-goers, now standing in small groups outside the venue, cold and desolate. DK led the way to the regular entry gate; had your tickets scanned; and in no time, you were in. Just in time for Ethic’s main act. It was exhilarating. Only if you knew how things would change in the next couple of minutes.

DK led the way to the open bars, to get enough fuel to burn through the night. The lines were long, and you couldn’t handle waiting. You trusted DK with the job. You stayed outside, enjoying the curtain raisers to Ethic’s main act.

“Hi Stranger,” you heard.

Your heart stopped. You mind unable to process the magnitude of the moment.

You slowly turned. It was her. Mia. The stranger you met at the studio over three months ago. The stranger that found you nursing your wounds over a cappuccino. “Why are your hands shaking?” she asks. You felt entirely fucked up; both inside your head and in your heart; or whatever was left of it, and even that which remained of it, was wild aflame. Questions that were ought to be buried deep down the reserves of your mind surfaced with such force that you couldn’t even see clearly. Everything just faded into a blurry mess. Had you fallen in love with her? Did you feel the same way the moment your eyes locked? Have you ever pictured the two of you for eternity?

The answer is singular.

You had fallen so deeply and irrevocably in love.

It was her. It was always her, a confession you were terrified to make.

Three is the number of times you’ve met her.

Three is the number of times you have felt this way.

And three, is the number of confessions you’ve made.


Número Dos

21 Confessions

Número Dos

“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.

Good.

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.

This mess.

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.


Número Uno

21 Confessions

Número Uno
You’d probably had thought you had just met her in passing. You know? Like how you meet a stranger at a club, both of you acknowledging your love for the bottle.  Rambling on about hazy details about your lives, a joke here and there. You laugh at their use of a very subtle reference of your favourite movie. The air is light and the vibes are infectious (pun intended). Both of you tipsy and light footed, before you lose each other in the blinding lights of the club.

You met her at the most improbable of places, or probable? It’s the usual bake up session at the studio, probably invited by one of her male friends.

“Hi, I’m Saint D, some call me Imanda. What’s your name?”

Both of you confess your love for the herb, and she says her name.

Just like you thought. Your tribeswoman. Unmistakable.

She was 4’10 and you kind of liked how your name rolled off her tongue. Effortless.

“So, what’s a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?” you ask.

“You mean, what’s a pretty place like you doing in a girl like this?”

Your eyes lit up. You let out a low chuckle, acknowledging a film reference she just mentioned. And you can’t help smiling at the fact that she immediately picked it up.
You finish rolling up and spark it, taking a big hit, one enough to send your eyes rolling back in your skull.

You notice her small hands, the spicy scent of her perfume, the defined curls of her edges, her eyes. Her eyes. Her eyes. You snap back to reality and realise she’s waiting for you to pass the doobie. She takes a hit, two, three.

She doesn’t choke, she’s a pro.

At this point in time you probably did not realise how much life would change after this. You, a 21 year old in your final year of Law school, your heart still tender and red from your previous heartbreak. You felt like you were losing your patience. You felt like stepping out of your emotional being and live without feelings involved. Your belief in love stretched out more than the patience of an underpaid waitress at Charlie’s.

Moreover, the fact that you were a hopeless romantic only served to antagonize your plight. The spade that dug deeper into your psyche, widening the hole of misery.

What was the point in giving flowers only to receive thorns in return? Not only was the ordeal agonizing, by also humiliating.  The ominous realisation that you had to live with the fact that you could not make someone love you. No matter the rivers you crossed nor the hoes you dropped.

Still, you were dumped like Wa Kamau’s sack of Warus from a beat Toyota Canter in rural Kiambu.

You demanded for answers. Why she had to hide her hatred for you under the cloak of pretentious affection. Why she stabbed you in the back when you embraced her. She called it revenge. For the mistakes of your past lives. And in this light, and to be particular, K1 Klub House Lights, halfway your Passion Daquiri cocktail, did you see yourself for who you truly were.

A clown.

A clown who loved to his fullest. A clown who got her comfort food when her anorexia was at its worst, a clown who held her close during those nights her demons came knocking. A clown who held her hands tight when she wanted to throw herself onto fast-moving Nairobi traffic. A clown who dived headlong into this sickening pool of lies and low blows.

You started laughing. It started out as a small chuckle at first; but built into a boisterous laugh. Your myopia was hilarious. That you loved without sight. That you loved without thought. Isn’t that what you lived by? Don’t think, feel? She looked at you like you had lost your mind or something.

When it finally dawned on you; it felt like your heart was collapsing on itself. You were drunk. And heartbreak never felt this good. It was almost like it was alive. Devouring you in your entirety. It came in waves. The shortness of breath. The heaviness in your chest. The blurred vision. The sting in your eyes.

It was real. More real than the love you had for her.

That was when you knew it wasn’t you. You weren’t crazy. She was poisonous, and her venom had seeped deep into your veins. To the furthest recesses of your mind. Slowly crippling you. Slowly building the insecurity in you. The hopelessness.

Again, it was all a means to an inevitable end.

An end you had lived over and over and over again. Like a terrifying nightmare on loop. You were hesitant to admit, that on her part, this was the grand scene. To a plot she had meticulously scripted, and this was her final act, the climax of the play.

In her last words to you, she said that you saw this long time coming. Maybe it was the irony of it all, that fed her carnal desire to rip your heart open.

“Hey…Are you okay? You seem distracted”

You snap back to reality.

Her steady gaze on you. Her hazel-brown eyes peeking into your soul. You couldn’t help but notice her cherry colored lipgloss, the slight half bend of her upper lip as though she was hiding a rousing secret. 

And slowly, very slowly, you’re caught up in a trance. The music fading into the background, reduced to a fuzz.

At this point in time, everything seems so small, so insignificant.

Overshadowed by her aura. Her aura that shone with a quiet polish. Her eyes were soft, as though they were inviting you to lay down your issues. Eyes that said she had issues too. Eyes that said you could all bask in the glory of your problems. Eyes that glowed with the kind of love it took to solve them.

You all of a sudden wanted to breathe the same air as she did. To run your hands through her hair. To hold her small hand in yours. To hold her tight against yourself and tell her not to think. But feel.


With a fairly less amount of effort, she had bust through the wall you had built around yourself.

And she had no idea.

This stranger that you just met. This stranger that shared a blunt with you. This stranger that made you feel oddly at peace.

This stranger that lit a fire in you. A small one, but that would; in the coming days; grow into a blazing inferno.

One that devoured you whole.

You had confessions to make, and this was the first one.

OLD DUKE OF ELDORET: CHAPTER III

Chapter III, Mecca of Marriages
The Mecca Of Marriages

Everything seemed to have stopped mid-action. Time frozen in its course. Your smug face looking back at you from the big mirror in the dressing room. Your best man’s hand over your shoulder brushing of  non-existent dust from you Muniton suit-his hand mid-air, not moving at all; neither were all the six  gentlemen seated who were to escort you to your wedding. Yes. Your wedding to Zahra. You never saw this day coming; every day prior to this hurtling forward as though time itself were impatient to have the both of you sealed within the confines of Holy Matrimony-and go on with its course.

Time was not moving. At least not for you. You were distant. It was as if you were watching this from afar. As Dzanny fixed the ruby cufflinks on your shirt; as he spritzed you with some expensive cologne-Tom Ford Fleur Der Portofino- you figured.

Why was everyone happy?

Why was everyone smiling?

Questions flew through your mind; faster than Rosberg before he beat Hamilton. You felt nothing at all.

Nothing at all. You tried to at least feel an emotion. Was that even possible?

Your emotions locked up in some dark Vatican dungeon, inaccessible-and further from your reach than ever before.

“It’s time Jeremy,” a voice echoed through the room-sending thousands of mini-echoes that reverberated across the walls-fading-fading-fading into nothingness.

You walked. Walked out of the door. Walked down the stairs and unto the street below. Walked into the heavily furnished Landrover Discover 4; all this bearing a heavy similarity to that damned short story in Damu Nyeusi you had read years back in High School.

Ndoa Ya Samani.

Dzanny was talking to you; feeding you with details of the program of the day; what to do and which palms to grease. Your mind was somewhere else.

Somewhere else much peaceful. Kasese. Your studio apartment. Your secretary.

“Jeremy, are you listening to me?” Dzanny implored. You slowly nodded; betraying your inability to stay in the present.

Your inability to fathom that you’d be married within the hour.

Your inability to take in that you’re already a father.

Your inability to understand why Zahra never got rid of it.

It.

You felt guilty. To dismiss life as though you had created it.

The money you had given her. The money she was supposed to use at the abortion clinic. Money that was not used.

Because she was eight months due.

 

Your phone rings.
The number looks familiar
.
You pick up to hear your own voice asking you for help.

 

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

Hiii people, so this is the shortest chapter I’ve written so far. I hope you took note of the change in the
posting schedule. I’ll be posting a chapter every fortnight Thursday which means a chapter every two weeks.

Cheers!

OLD DUKE OF ELDORET

Chapter I, Crossroads
PART 1

It has almost been a year since you moved out of Nairobi-a long time. You had the chance to stay at your station back in Nairobi and continue working for the multinational-but you felt you needed a change.

It’s been raining quite heavily the past few days; something that is not uncommon in the land of the Baganda-specifically-Kasese. Your studio apartment, a gem in the middle of a rusty and war torn country, is a painful reminder of your past life. Now you sit in your 1978 Von Dutch Leatherette, a cup of strong espresso in hand-looking out into the vast banana plantations. The soft patter of raindrops infuses itself into the background, with the almost ethereal sound of Miriam Makeba’s voice playing over the gramophone-probably sung for the pioneering spirits of Eduardo Mondlane and the Mozambique freedom fighters-takes you to an entirely different world. One in which you most decidedly regret to have left. But it was necessary. To cut off the baggage. The dead weight. You thought that you’d eventually get a new lease of life. But it was still there. That gaping pit. That abyss.

Your apartment-new and off the block- was built the other day by some enterprising Congolese real estate chap; who coincidentally was the spitting image of Papa Wemba and played the tenor saxophone. The nights are cold-with the local pub in full swing. Waragi flowing like the Nile. Getting a Tusker or even a Guiness was such an upscale task-with the country facing unrest-Museveni clinging to power-Kampala was unsafe.

It’s around 8:30 P.M. The rain reduced to a slight drizzle; blended in with the soft hum of the generator outside. You shift in your chair uneasily as your nightmares play in your head like a daydream.

 

‘I guess we’ve come to crossroads now,” Zahra says with her eyes glistening from the tears in them.

“I really don’t know what to do, I’m torn between two places and I can only follow the path I’ve chosen,” you say while fondling her left palm.

It pains you to the core that life has to be like this. When you have to separate with those you deeply love; all of this with no surety of the future.

“What about us? What happens to us?”She chokes

You take her into your arms as she cries her frustrations away on your chest.

Everyone else in the background is having a good time; it’s the end of year office party-and of course; you’ve been transferred to work at the company’s subsidiary division in Kasese. You couldn’t have brought yourself to tell her the moment the letter from the Group MD landed on your desk. You were elated, yes, only then did you realize what, or rather, who you were leaving behind.

“Tell me Jeremy, how will Chela survive without you?” she asks amid her sobs; her voice almost below a whisper.

“Chela will be fine hun; she has you here,”

“What the fuck do you mean? How will she grow up with her own father perpetually absent? Tell me Jeremy! Just fucking tell me!!”

And her voice echoes through your empty living space.

Casting a shadow darker than your own evil deeds.

PART 2

Chela sat under the hot, steaming hair dryer that made her a tad uncomfortable. The salon she was in was no different from the others that sprung up randomly on Oloo Street. She was the only student-high school student-in the saloon full of buxom ladies and hair braiders. She didn’t like it here, in fact, if she had a choice, she could have gone to the more up-market salons at Uhuru road – but here her mere 500 bob budget could only do so much in Mama Stella’s Boutique and Salon. The air was stuffy with the Sanyo radio on Radio Jambo. The smell upon smell of conditioners, shampoos, treatments, and the chips mwitu that one of the hand girls was eating, made her fragile stomach churn.

The head woman – as she was called (That is the owner of the salon) was loudly talking on the phone with some obscure import agent in Dubai bargaining over the price of cheap mascara. She was a creature to behold. With layers upon layers of make-up and red lipstick on her fat face; the long silver necklaces atop her generous bosom; the folds of flesh on her almost non-existent torso-and the highlight of it all (Drumrolls please) ; the gap between her lower set of incisors that stretched from here till Kinshasa. This only reminded Chela of her incorrigible Geography teacher who was fond of demoralizing young girls-tender flowers-probably jealous of what they had, that had long ago dried up in her.

Chela’s mind was like an impatient child-moving from one toy to another-her mind was unsettled. Being a student at Moi Girls High School-anyone would have thought her a normal, 16-year-old girl with a happy family back at home and a normal life-but hers is a whole different story that often rocked her emotional being many a times. But she had no option but to shut them down-the thoughts, the wills and conflicting urges of her young, lithe, feminine body. She was in the tender age of puberty-and this is what she hated. Having to contend with herself-to fight with herself. She hated that she couldn’t attend swimming classes when she was on her period. Neither did it appeal to her that she couldn’t maintain a continuous attention stream in class when she was on that day of the month, nor when the male Mathematics teacher called one of the female Guidance and Counselling teachers to come and ‘sort her out’ the day she was caught unawares by her own body. It was the most dehumanizing day of her life. Everyone in her class looked at her as though she had committed a cardinal sin-that any subject bordering on the menstruation cycle was always kept on the hush-hush.

She felt like a stranger in her own body. Like an antelope frantically struggling to free itself from a hunter’s trap. She was a survivor though-she’d at all times numb her feelings and focus on reading for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education. She badly wanted to be a doctor-and just not any other doctor-she wanted to be a pathologist. Diseases, death and the like fascinated her. She’d dream-or rather-see herself walk down the hallowed corridors of Chiromo Campus-Grey’s Book of Anatomy in hand.

This was her dream.

But dreams are just what they are.

Dreams.

And her future was almost as non-existent as her past.

A past she had furiously buried deep down the coffers of her mind.
AUTHOR’S NOTE:

Hi guys, this is the beginning of a long journey. I’ll be posting up a chapter every week; on Thursdays at 9:00PM for the next two years. Please walk with me in this little trip, it gets lonely sometimes.

Oh, and don’t forget to let me know what you think.

Comment below!