Written by Onguso Bw’Ochengo
It becomes a race. A chase. After you first set eyes on her. A damsel. Hot. Fire. A woman. A beautiful woman
Let’s say it is in Nairobi CBD. You meet two learned friends near Biashara Street. Just near City Market. And then she passes. You know they are three yet cannot recall the faces of the other two. Your eyes literally stick to her and your mind assumes she is static. By the time you load, she is gone and all you tell your friend is she was beautiful and the stories continue.
But nature. This nature is a funny thing. Just when the stories of the law class lessons fire up, she appears again. Three as they were. You forget all scholarly endeavors and now you set your system to block elements of civilization e.g. how will she respond? How will I approach? She passes you and the undisciplined Kisii in you whispers ‘sasa mrembo?’ Okay and they say our pitches are high, and the gods carry those words just to her ears.
Of course that is what they call ‘measuring the weather’. In West Africa you are warned not to test the depth of water with both feet. She responds, ‘Poa’. Okay. Did I say she smiled? Shining like silver, white like milk. That was just the description of the containments of her lips; her teeth. I remember it more for its effect on me than how it looked. The smile. Since that day, I learnt that smiles are contagious but some are more contagious than others; hers fell in the latter.
That is the time the rude Kisii in you adjusts all anger gears and all over a sudden you are ready to hear anything from her. Even if it is an abuse. You are ready. It is difficult for a woman to abuse a Kisii man and woke away unscathed! Very difficult. The difficulty referred to here-above is equal to that of the rich man, needle of an eye and chances of entering heaven.
Then you remember you are in Nairobi. Suspicious of everyone you meet. Virtually everyone. Even the Governor you elected! He plants grass, you doubt if it will grow. You see a woman with a blessed behind kumbe it is a product of the cursed river-road! Where the bus fare before you board a bus is Kshs 30 and when the rubber hits the road, it multiplies itself by two and everyone pays. It is difficult to live in the capital city of a country that exported air in the place of gold (Goldenberg they say). Will she think I am just another con in town?
As I think, she drifts, to a distance. There she goes. And I, here I stand. With two funny creatures in the name of learned friends. Then all over a sudden you remember some Physics text book we used to call ‘Abbott Physics”. It was threateningly voluminous. Part of the reason the academic angle walking style was invented. In high school. It required a lot of efforts to carry it around. How I wish the efforts reflected in my poor KCSE grades! She goes. She is going. All over a sudden that memory. You remember the image of an old man with white beards they called Isaac. Not Isaac the one who was to be fried as a sacrifice or Isaac the rebellious Governor who lost memory in March 2013 and gained it in late 2016. Remembering that Jubilee stole the elections! Isaac Newton and his first law of motion-an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force (external force).
It hits you, you are strangers. If you don’t act, the state of strangeness between you remains. Thanks to Newton you make a move. You become the external force. You dismiss the two objects of law school and then at a reasonable distance you follow her. From behind. Chinua once said that a man who peeps into another man’s bedroom hurts himself. I say a man who walks behind with a well-fitted defense mechanism hurts himself. It is what the good book could call walking on hot coal and expect not to be scalded!
Her left and right behind were in in close working relationship… Let’s call it harmonious co-operation. If only Kibaki and Raila had been like her behind, those five years of grand coalition government could have been paradise for Kenya. She was in a dress. A long one. Just exposing a small part of her legs, near the heels. That’s when you realize your mind is full of unexploited potential. Your imagination takes you upwards. Yes. Upwards. You can actually draw in your mind! I am an artist. And then her walking style. I am a fun of bongo music but I never knew walking styles can be rhythmic. Hers was. That very rhythm than that reminds you, you are a man. A man of two heads. The Greeks called such a double-headed god Janus!
She was now near Bazaar building, the Zebra crossing along Moi Avenue. She was 5meters, 3meters, 1meter away. And then here she was. The civilization that had taken a Sabbatical leave like Duale during the Waiguru issue reported to duty. She is by your side. The heart has a funny way of carrying away blessings. Faster it pumped. Harder it pumped. Something pushes you forward. You pass her. Without a word. Without a word. Behind she remains as I head to board a matatu.
Then your mind engineers a slow-down. Your feet coordinate to defeat the distance between the you and the her. She comes. She comes… You pray that she notices you again and say,’it is you again’. She doesn’t man! She passes. Inside you, you get pissed. Kisii style. And then the Kisii in you consoles you, “this lady is beautiful but empty-headed. How does she not notice you?” Sometimes you wonder. Kikuyu men are many in town. From hawkers to the Governor’s PA. Then the tribal you tells you that these majority in CBD are Short, Brown and ugly guys! With the standards lowered, you easily claim your position in the tall, dark and handsome list. This is what Raila Odinga calls rigging. You rig your way. Is this pride? No, Chinua said that if a lizard jamps from the Iroko tree and it doesn’t break its back, if there’s no one to praise it, it praises itself. I was that lizard. And I wondered she did not notice me.
She passed. I stood. She went. I watched. That woman. Super woman. I gave up. I boarded a matatu. No sooner had I boarded a matatu than she passed just in front of the vehicle. I remembered the primary compositions with the sayings like opportunity never knocks twice at any man’s door. But on my door, it had knocked thrice. “Dere Shukisha kuna mtu nataka kuona!” Being Kisii, that sounded like a command. Though I intended it to be a request. I followed closely. It’s like the goods of fortune and misfortune were playing with me. She dashed into a restaurant. She smiled at the watchman (Probably a Luhyia) and here I was. Outside the restaurant.
I hated accounting and mathematics. But here I was. A mind divided between entering the restaurant and just standing outside. Waaah! I barely had Kshs. 200, for fare, lunch and emergency. Yes, emergency. And here was an emergency but you could not trust the Kshs. 200 note to save you. With Nairobi women, even with contingency plans, the amount of damages you are likely to suffer is unpredictable but obviously they don’t joke with your wallet. Talk of the wallet. I own none. Again Chinua said that when the hunters learnt to shoot without missing, birds learnt to fly without perching. And I say, that when Nairobi women learnt to devour men’s wallets, I learnt to walk with none. And a friend told me that when Raila Odinga learnt to lose without accepting, ‘they’ learnt to win without rigging!
I had no option but to wait. Patience. Standing outside as she ate. Maybe her money, maybe a sponsor was suffering somewhere. But no. the way she dressed. That woman was an angel waiting for no one but King Me to conquer her!
She walked out. I followed. I feared costs no more. Her belly was full; that was a source of confidence. This time I sharpened my Kiswahili. It is difficult to seduce in English. I am poor in English. ‘Habari Mrembo. Ni mimi Ulipita pale juu na nina ari ya kukujua. Tafadhali naomba angalu nambari ya simu tukazungumze baadaye.’ Okay. I don’t remember the time I introduced myself but that was the first punchline. I thought I am Muhammad Ali of love with knock-out punchlines until she replied. She replied. In English. Good English.
‘I do not give my number to strangers,’ she replied. I got confused. But who am I. I remembered a little English from law school. I summoned all the principles of law and only one sufficed. I smiled. “I understand your concerns. But for every general rule, there is an exception. Treat this as an exception. Please.” Ok. Some of the few words that were deleted from a Kisii man’s dictionary are ‘Please’ and ‘Sorry’…not to a woman. But here I was.
I think she was impressed. Or later she so confessed; though worried by a bearded man in need of a woman. She became adamant. I became more creative and narrowed the chances of disappointment. ‘Take my number then!’ She took out her phone. I tried to put the number myself so that I could call my number but she was not the dumb lady I thought. ‘Acha niweke pekee yangu!’ She demanded and the Kisii man retreated. She promised to call but after some days. She went, I boarded the matatu. Days passed. And for how things folded thence, please mind your own business.