You and her had not talked for months. Six months to be precise. One afternoon, on your way out of campus, an unpremeditated decision crosses your mind that sees you text her. She replies almost instantly. But…
Not So Sugar At First
You meeting her was not really unique. Nothing really seemed like it had a promising or say, sugary-spicy factor the first time you met. It was just another casual way to meet someone new. Interestingly, it’s the same trend that comes along with mjangos who make a lasting impression in your life. You’ve noted that those people you’d work so hard to befriend or earn a spot in their circle and inner circle for that matter –never really seem to have deserved that level of struggle in the long run. Like back in high school, you were so keen on making lady friends who by then were crowned as the royals in their schools. Your mentality back then, quite innocently though, was that birds of a feather ought to flock together. Not that you struggled to force the friendship, but you put just the right measure of effort that is essential when you want anything good in life. The friendships were on top of the world but not for as long as you hoped. They were short-lived like they never existed. Like waking up after dreaming you were rich.
On the contrary though, friendships that just came through the back door with nothing more than a warm welcome are actually the ones that have graced the house of your life up to today. You proudly accord those friends the front seat of your life today. Among them and she knows this is Peshy. She also has a blog, In Christ Alone.
Anyway, you were on your way from class with a lovely friend, Del. (Best believe you’ll see her comment after this.) Just like you, she has what you like to call MCA personality. She stops to greet people or people stop to greet her distance after distance before getting to the university gate. This particular group she stopped to greet was a group of women. From your observations, they were school staff. The elephant among them, not literally by the way, quite the opposite in fact – was a young lady. She was carrying some books, a tag hanging by her neck and she had on a black polo shirt branded with the university logo. She didn’t say much amidst the chatty group she was tagging along with, so again, the elephant along the streets of campus. Del was done soon and you proceeded.
In May last year, you were privileged to emcee a Stand Up Shout Out Wildlife Summit– the first of its kind was hosted in Kakamega. She showed up in the last session of the event. It was by chance that you noted she was present. You were high on adrenaline and energy on the mic that day I tell you. You didn’t see her again after the event. Neither did she cross your mind until one afternoon at around June or July.
The regular academic year was over. You weren’t to be around Uni if it were not for courteously seeing an old friend through settling in for the May intake. You were leaving the administration building down the stairwell when a soft voice pitched a “Hello.” One that seemed obviously, to have been directed to you since you and your friend were the only ones at the bottom of the stairwell on that floor. And him being new around Uni, added on to the fact that you are an informally dubbed MCA, it had to be you. You turned not sure who to expect. This was the third time you were seeing her. This time, you were going to do more than just see her; you were going to say hi back and struggle for a while to remember where you had met before while behaving like it was not the first time you were speaking to her. She sounded confident that she knew you and you had to give the same vibe. Well, you had to because after that event, you met many people who knew you but you couldn’t remember shit about them. But you knew you had to be knowing them somehow since they normally started by calling you Mr. Emcee. They had to be from the event.
She didn’t call you emcee or mister though. She inquired about something from the event that helped you retrace the times you had seen her before.
“Sure I will have it organized for you. I can connect you with the one in charge of that if you don’t mind. So I dunno, shall I take your number?”
Mjango was quick on his feet huh.
Then followed a 0727 and a saved contact with two of her names. Normally people saved with two names are contacts whom you relate with officially probably until further notice. Today as you should expect, she is not saved with two names but not without an emoji. Fast forward, at some point she was saved as ‘Sugar’ along with a smiley-blushing emoji. However, the ‘at some point’ is not now nor last month, nor the other month. But you can be sure it sure was at some point. So we shall from now henceforth refer to her as Sugar for the sake of this story. A name that you don’t and would be a form of betrayal – if you happened to entitle another lady with.
“She is the only Sugar in my tea,” If you like. Hehe.
And it gets lovelier. As far as you know, she has a name for you too and only you. She confirmed the latter. But don’t ‘Aaw’ just yet mjango.
You developed a slight interest. Slight is like the size of a watch battery. It only made it as far as an AAA battery a while later on WhatsApp conversations. The conversations which were not as regular and seemingly not those that made your tail wag soon enough made you eject the batteries altogether. Call it saving energy.
Not one, not two and certainly not three months passed. The year came to a close. January clocked in and out and sometime in February found you seated in the library glued to your laptop. You had your earphones on since sometimes silence can be just as loud as a route 125 nganya. It paves way for your loud thoughts to scream like lunatic children across the hallways of your mind.
You would raise your head occasionally to think. You got distracted by some chic walking just past you. She had a fresh hairstyle that looks like locs but they ain’t. Amongst your thoughts that don’t see the light of day, you usually liken that hairstyle with a bunch of mukombero. (For more details on that, seek Luhya advice.) You study her face, complexion, height and walking style.
“She looks like someone I know. But maybe it’s a coincidence.” You tell yourself in dismissal as she crosses her eyes past you. She visits a shelf and back.
Sometime later, destiny has it that your eyes would meet someone absolutely familiar across the floor and heading towards your direction. She slew a corner however that became apparent to you that it was somewhere else within your direction but not directly to you. She stops at someone’s reading cube like 10 meters to the right of your position. You stole another glance and consequently, your eyes met. Her facial expression read surprised. Good kind of surprise. At least to you. But the fact that she didn’t pass by to say hello seemed to prove otherwise.
You were jarred by her exit without saying hello. In her defense though, it had been half a year and you were only acquaintances as far as your WhatsApp conversations could prove. You later texted politely complaining. In retrospect, she was playing the long game. Imagine if she came by to say hello. It probably would have puffed your ego and the rest? Definitely wouldn’t be history. And you, mjango, would not be here trying to squeeze the sugary sap from this cane of a story.
The silence in your inbox that had predominated like an uncommon pandemic for months was now broken. There was nothing really to be excited about. Yet.
One afternoon on your way out of campus, an unpremeditated decision crosses your mind that sees you text her, again. She replies almost instantly.
You brew small talk that makes her tipsy enough to spill her general state of well being. She says she is having a rather shitty day and you, unpremeditated again, ask whether you could try making that day less shitty by pitching a lunch idea. You offer to meet her at the place of her convenience. She gets excited about it, nothing you anticipated which gets you a little excited too. You bid your time around campus to cook the lunch plan certainly not aware that eventually, you’d cook the lunch itself. So call it precooking. You had in mind however, that a brief eat out at a joint would do. So you suggest it and she says she’d love to but she has been cleaning and washing since she woke up close to midday, added on to how messed up she feels, she looks like an abandoned househelp. But then she says she doesn’t mind the lunch. So you suggest then if she doesn’t mind, you could have lunch at her place. In your mind, you had it that you’d buy take away or something. A response streams in expressing that she is elated to hear that you don’t mind cooking lunch.
Who talked about cooking? You ask yourself but quickly craft a win-win situation. You say you don’t mind cooking only if you will cook together. She says it’s a plan and you swing your arm in celebration along the streets of campus. That’s a score for a mjango. You have one more thing to ask, her location. She tells you someplace in Lurambi and off you go, confident that you had dressed well enough to make a lunch appearance. You lucky nigga. Some days you’d dress up and nothing unique or anyone unique comes your way. But the days you spot a faded jungle green jeans, a matching jungle green t-shirt and a pair of sneakers, you meet unicorns of chics and the bevy of beauty from Disaster Management course, a course said to cluster beauty as a qualification.
You text saying you have arrived. Evidently at that point she has to either show up or shoot a flare in the air. You are not so good with patience, but you try. You never like to stand somewhere because it makes you vulnerable to idle eyes. It was worse at that point she had asked you to meet her since it was right next to a pub. You stand at a distance then she shows up at the junction near the pub. You, trying to maintain a neutral facial expression, head towards her as you kindly begin to nurse how an abandoned househelp looks like. A faded cream t-shirt or otherwise blouse, a pair of loose fitting sweatpants and pair of crocs that had kissed the ground one too many times. Crown that with a half plaited lines and half undone hair. You tell yourself, “Certainly not my typical first time official meet up but she had pre-warned you. What do you expect after ambushing her anyway. So it’s alright mjango.”
A shy hug welcomes you officially to her life’s space as you walk towards her house. As you walk, you realise just how tall you are and how short she is. You silently thank God for your height even if signs like ‘Watch your head’ are normally meant for people like you.
Then The Beef Begins!
Her house is a pretty bedsitter. Purple is the prime colour. When you jump with your hand stretched up, you can punch a hole in the ceiling. In there is the smell of a baby. A simple lady is seated on the bed. You learn shortly after, that the lady is the mother of the baby who was battling with hunger, sleep and annoying houseflies. (You really hate the housefly season by the way.)
Talks about lunch take the stage. She says that there is rice and the man in you, since you are buying lunch, decide that beef is not only the most worthy accompaniment, but a good first impression. You debate over who was going to cook the rice and the beef since the agreement was you’d share the kitchen. You don’t put up a strong argument about it since the lunch treat from the start was on you. So you accept the beef (hehe) but express that chopping stuff is really not your thing. The kind lady accepts to help there.
You both leave the house to buy the necessities. In her hand is a carrier bag and in our mouths is small talk about where she used to live before she moved to the current place. That she doesn’t like the bedsitter as much as she did the former house. You ask why she moved then and she says the place was so freaking far. In your mind you think, if that’s far to her, then she certainly should know where you come from everyday.
She cannot help but notice and mention how people’s eyes along the road seem to not have enough of her. She says most of them are feminine eyes unable to fathom just how a lady looking like she belongs to the streets has managed to be worthy to walk side by side with a decent good looking guy such as you. You merely chuckle and begin to be conscious of those eyes. It couldn’t be truer. (I just found out ‘truer’ is a word. I’m so amused.) It was made even more unbelievable when they hear you speak English while at a mama mboga stall next to Alfa Cafe, the most popular food joint for campus residents. You don’t mean to speak English however. You just cannot help it since that is the default language on your tongue during a first impression, with a lady especially. During those times, your Swahili would sound terrible like you’re a tourist reading a ‘Karibu Kenya Handbook’. So you’d rather not force the Swahili for the sake of everyone’s ear peace. Interestingly enough though, you wouldn’t feel like walking or being seen with her like that in public was a step down.
And The Beef Worked
Your conversations added fuel to the fire you came with. Since she later admitted that your coming and lunch treat had lit up her day. A shower and several laughters later she would look like her day was at its peak. Your beef, as you silently hoped, did turn out alright. She would sing praises of it, amazed that you’re a man who can cook and expresses that she wouldn’t mind having more beefs with you. You withhold the attribute to your brother you had lived with – in uni for close to two years. Through apprenticeship, you learned how to cook beef and what she, the lady, her baby and you – had partaken of was the result of a careful copy and paste. No prior revision had been done, but you passed the test anyway.
You hadn’t imagined that she had a jumpy and bubbly personality. Added on to how cute you think she looks, that makes her automatically beautiful. You ask whether that is always the case and she brushes it off with giggles. Giggles that will grow to replay in your mind and you just won’t have enough of them. But from her impression, you suspect that your addition to her picture adds some form to the bubbles. You don’t take it to your head. Instead, you unknowingly turn into a regular goal to always brighten up her day.
Visitor Vis-à-Vis Visitor
Since you have this aura that makes people comfortable around you, she happens to rather parabolically express the greatest contribution to the dump her day had taken. The days since the last one and a half weeks had been a series of accumulating worries. The only redemption would be when or if her menses would be kind enough to do their usual round. This one wouldn’t be taken for granted. It would relieve her immensely. Well one and a half weeks is enough to drive anyone in her spot crazy. That day must have been the full blown stage. Then, two things, miracles maybe happened nearly at the same time.
Two visitors showed up and you were one of them. In comparison, you texted and arrived later than her more important visitor at the time. You don’t feel offended because the first visitor, you believe, will only be celebrated for a day and you’ll try your best for it not to be two, then the rest of the days will be yours to contend for most important visitor.
At one point during the lunch that had turned into an after lunch, something made you resign. Not that you had already cultivated any major plans. In fact nothing of the sort had crossed your mind. But as normal manly reaction would expect, in the midst of her chattiness, she mentioned something to do with her master’s degree. That’s really nice. Makes her even more admirable; she’s a goal chaser. But as much as you’re a goal chaser as well, yours hasn’t graduated yet. You stand one and a half strides before the gown. You however are smart enough to maintain your composure. You cane that lunatic child trying to scream belittlement in your head – to silence.
It however remains as a permanent reality that no miracle can ever change that. Miracles could only go so far. Or not?
You happened to be the element her day needed but the interruption her hair didn’t. The lady, who is her mobile salon, had to go and come back the following day to finish plaiting her lines.
Visitor Vis-à-Vis Resident
In the evening, your exit window comes when a particular party walks in. By the style of entry that had nothing to do with knocking, surely this one wasn’t a visitor. As if coincidence had not had enough satisfaction from the styles you had witnessed it take already, the party that walked in was not a visitor in your eyes as well.
She sees you seated on the bed and you see her standing by the door, now puzzled as if you were the last ghost she had expected to see not only in their house but seated on the very bed she and her sister share.
She remembers you and you remember her. From the library. The same hairstyle she had that couldn’t escape your attention marked you as accurately correct that it surely was her. She indeed looked like someone you knew. That’s because she is Sugar’s younger sister who you learn not long after, that she is just as young as you are. Best said in Sheng as, “Size yako.”
Continúa la semana que viene mjango…