So I have this meeting at Prestige that I’m running late for. Then adding salt and gasoline to this injury, I have no idea where Prestige is. But someone said I could board a matatu at Kencom.
So I bump into shoulders and shoulders bump into me as I hurry from Odeon to Kencom. Always hate walking this route because it’s always me and a billion other people sharing the tarmac at the same time. But it’s OK. Soon and very soon, the God that I pray to (well, on occasion) will enable me purchase that Ducati (that I haven’t been praying for) and it’ll all be OK.
By the time I get to Kencom, I feel like I could use a massage. But I’ll settle for a hug. But folks don’t walk around town hugging complete strangers so I just settle for the dusty air that I’m currently breathing. Yes. I’m in a terrible mood.
I like taking the window seat. Especially if the window in question can open. And like everyone else, I’m very choosy about who sits next to me. If I don’t like anything about you, I’ll place my phone on the empty seat beside me and say, “kuna mtu”
Like one day I sat next to someone who kept wiggling in their seat and pushing me against the “wall”. Couldn’t even lean back in my seat so I spent the next hour (most of it passed in traffic) seated upright like I’ve swallowed a crowbar.
Another time I sat next to someone who kept scratching their groin then their fingers would always find their way to his nostrils. Always.
And another time I sat next to this vertically blessed lady who wouldn’t stop man spreading. That was traumatic.
But I digress.
Today this girl sits next to me. I never take the time to describe a lady because they’re all beautiful to me, but I think I’ll try and set aside a few words for this one.
There’s the hair. It’s set up in these tight braids that makes a lady’s head appear small but that’s OK because it hides nothing of her circular face with eyes that seems to say “heaven I need a hug”. They’re the softest, most vulnerable eyes I’ve ever seen on a human being.
Then her lips curl up in the tiniest circle and her nose is this narrow and short object that God that must placed there as an afterthought.
I’m one of those creepy guys who observe and like getting details via the use of my eyes rather than my tongue. OK, my mouth. That doesn’t sound any better, does it? Anyway, I observe that she doesn’t have any piercings on those tiny ears of hers and her earlobes are extra small. Like I said; creepy. And she’s dark. Not the shiny South Sudan dark but the kind of dark that is evenly and alluringly distributed. So when she speaks or smiles, her tiny circular and red lips open up to reveal the whitest teeth that a human being can have. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the teeth are white.
She is in this sleeveless blue dress with a thin black belt tied around her narrow waist. The dress doesn’t reach her knees so when she sits, a bit of her thighs are exposed and there are these tiny goosebumpy (not an English word) dots on them. But I look away because thighs aren’t what I want to be caught glancing at.
In fact I look away so hard that my neck kind of cracks.
But of course I take the opportunity to see the legs and notice the red heels. She has tiny feet. Like so tiny that she must have a major problem finding good shoes. A problem she tackles quite decently I must admit.
Let it be on record that it is not my intention to commence a conversation with the lady. My plan is to ask her if she knows where Prestige is and if she does, could she be so kind as to let me know when we get there so I can alight?
Mind you I would have asked anyone who sat next to me for help but she just happens to be the one occupying that seat so…. Why am I defending myself? Well, maybe that’s because I find her completely alluring. Maybe that’s why my hands are trembling at the very thought of talking to her.
Finally I manage to crank up some courage from my Courage Reserve Account and say, or rather croak;
Her: (Not having heard my croak because I have like a clog blocking my throat) I’m sorry?
Me: (Clearing my throat) Ahem. Hi
Me: So I’m headed to Prestige but I have no idea where that is. I’m I in the right vehicle first of all?
Her: (Smiles) Yeah. You’re where you should be.
Me: So then that’s leads up to my obvious request
Her: You want me to tell you when we get there.
Me: Like I said; obvious request.
Me: Thanks (She passes another one of them bright smiles)
And the conversation ends that way. Just how I had wanted it to end. And I get back to staring out the window because I don’t engage in a conversation with every beautiful woman I meet; or I wouldn’t do much else with my life.
But then she talks. She opens her mouth and words flow out. Words like;
Her: Are you Kenyan?
Me: (Startled. Surprised. Wasn’t expecting her to talk to me) Who? Me?
Her: (Chuckles) Nope. That guy seated next to you inside the window pane. Yes. You.
Me: Yeah I’m Kenyan. Born and bred. Why?
Her: How come you don’t know where Prestige is? Wait. Are you for real that you don’t know where Prestige is or were you just looking for a way to open a conversation with .me?
Me: (I smile. I bite my lower lip. I am thinking. There are so many things running through my mind right now. I decide to spit them all) OK. (A) Do you flatter yourself much? (Her eyebrows rise with surprise so I add quickly) I hope you do. I like it. (She smiles. Awesome!) (B) Had I wanted to use that question as a conversation opener, I would have ensured that the conversation lasted longer; and (C) Wait. I don’t remember what “c” was going to be.
Her: That’s OK. It’ll come to you. How long have you lived in Nairobi?
Me: What makes you think I live in Nairobi?
Her: Well, it’s (consults a tiny wristwatch around her oh just so marvellous wrist – if you’re wondering how a wrist can be marvellous, you haven’t seen this lady’s wrist yet) 08:09h and you’re headed for a meeting or a formal gathering somewhere around Prestige. Your clothes are freshly ironed, your teeth are freshly brushed and your hands tell me that you took a shower not so long ago. That brings me to the conclusion that you not only live in Nairobi but that you don’t live too far from the city. (Guess I’m not the only one who observes)
Me: And you don’t think I could be staying at a hotel?
Her: That would mean you’re in Nairobi for work. Meaning whoever you’re working for would’ve arranged for another mode of transport and not a Kenya Bus ride.
Me: I could be crashing with a friend.
Her: (Squinting at me) Are you crashing with a friend? You look like the type that would totally hate crashing at people’s places.
Me: Really? How do you figure?
Her: Do you see how you’re seated? (I look at myself. Seated upright. Hands on my laps.) You look strained. Stiff. Uncomfortable. Like you don’t feel like you’re at home being in this bus. Like you’re in someone else’s territory and you can’t wait to get back to your own familiar neck of the woods. You my friend, wouldn’t crash at a friend’s unless your life depended on it. And you would hate it. I’m also guessing you don’t have too many friends because you’re very particular about who you let into your life.
Me: And you guessed that from how I’m seated?
Her: Among other things. For example, most guys recycle their trousers. Like a lot. They do it so much that the lining of their pockets get a dirty layer of brown. Your pocket lining is clean.
Me: Maybe I recycle my pants too. I’m just now wearing them for the first time after cleaning them up.
Her: Maybe. But couple that up with how well trimmed your nails are, there isn’t a speck of dust on your shoes and the way you handle yourself right down to how you sit, place your legs, choose your words; you’re organized. Meticulous. Predictable even. Safe. You like things done in a certain deliberate way. Crashing at a friend’s is random. Out of your comfort zone. You wouldn’t do that. So I insist that you live in Nairobi. I’m thinking Westlands, Parklands, Ngara, Pangani…
Her: And you’ve never had any business on the Prestige side of Nairobi so you’ve never much cared for it.
Me: Touché. Are you a cop?
Her: Nah. Wouldn’t be caught dead being a cop.
Me: Why? Because it’d scare you?
Her: Nope. Because I don’t like cops.
Me: I bet you like cops. You just don’t like the so called excitement. Adrenaline rush. That scares you.
Her: Are you going to go all Sherlock Holmes on me now? Try and return the favor?
Me: You have no piercings on your ears. That means you have no piercings anywhere on your body. You have no scars on your legs or hands, no tattoos on your arms or neckline or chest. I’m guessing you have no tattoos at all.
Me: If you don’t need it, you don’t want it. That means you surround yourself with what you need and nothing beyond that. Just the bare necessities. The rest you have no use for. That means you like to play by the rules, mind your own business, avoid life’s little pleasures like drinking or dancing… Do you read? You do read. I’ll assume you read. Reading is uncomplicated and it doesn’t involve you having to have unnecessary human interactions. You can control your “reading life”. You’re an indoors person and you and I aren’t so different. That’s how you were able to figure me out so fast. I may not be able to guess where you live, but I can guess that you like to feel safe. Warm. Meaning your relationships actually do mean something. That of course leads go the fact that you’re easily disappointed and allow me to ask. Did you cry this morning? I bet you cry a lot.
Her: I would answer that but we’re almost getting to Prestige.
Me: Let’s hope there’s a car accident up ahead so I can stay right here for a moment longer. Have you ever told someone “I love you” but what you really mean is “I don’t want to be alone”?
Her: (Chuckles) Yeah. Once. What I meant though was “I don’t want to hurt you”. Didn’t want a situation where a guy says “I love you” and you say “thanks” in return.
Me: But you did hurt him in the end. You couldn’t oblige him anymore so you broke him by saying goodbye through teary eyes. I’m guessing he didn’t realize that you hurting him hurt you too. More than he could ever imagine.
Her: (Chuckles) Or he realized and he just couldn’t care less. (She looks right into my eyes before dropping her gaze to my lips) Next stop is Prestige.
Me: And I wouldn’t want to miss that meeting because that would be random and I don’t do random, right?
Her: Yes. Also, I wouldn’t want you to miss that meeting on my account. It would make me feel terrible.
The conductor instructs the driver to stop at Prestige and asks all alighting at this place to move closer.
Me: Looks like I’ll get to my meeting after all.
Her: And this is where you ask for my number, right? Because you’re predictable?
Me: Yes. But first, this is where I tell you that I’m Charles and you intrigue me. I won’t ask you out for coffee because I hate coffee. I’ll just ask you to come to my place and I’ll cook as you tell my the reason why you cried this morning.
Her: I could say yes but (a) I’m not sure you can cook and (b) I can’t just come to your place. I don’t know you.
Me: I can’t cook but I could consult Google extensively between now and then. You know enough about me. I can assure you though that I am no serial killer.
Her: Well Charles, the bus has stopped. Run along.
Me: How do I see you again?
Her: I’m at Kencom at 08:00h every morning. I’m a routine girl.
Me: Well, I bet over a million girls have tried to get your ears pierced over the years without success. That means you don’t bow to pressure. So I won’t insist on your number or even your name. I’ll see you tomorrow at Kencom at 08:00h
And so I alight and as the bus pulls away, I see her seated next to the window watching me. I wave at her. She doesn’t wave back. But she places her hand on the window and keeps watching me. She doesn’t smile. Her face is simply set. I can’t decipher anything from that. But I figure she won’t mind seeing me tomorrow morning so I better set my alarm.