I am looking for a certain lady. Lives around Kahawa Wendani. She was attractive to my judgment. Everyone is beautiful / beauty is relative depending on what educates you. But we are not just attracted to everyone – and it is not just ‘beauty’ that attracts people. One of my colleagues tells me beautiful people/ cute people are called ‘eye candy’ or its just for the men? I am not sure. But for the purposes of this conversation, she was eye candy to me. But that was not even the problem… the problem was that I have met this candy before. Once in town, at work, at the airport and at Wau – Sudan. Or so I was convinced…
I couldn’t wait to get home, one of those long days that you can’t wait for their end. In the confusion, fatigue and hunger, I feared dozing off on the afternoon ride back home. The bus was silent enough to allow me to play my podcasts peacefully the entire way. Some of these conductors do not mention the stopovers and you might find yourself way past your destination. My eagerness got me standing and walking to the door at the river just past Githurai because I did not want to end up at Engen or KU. These conductors are savage at times. He was already shouting “Ngooja Boss!” I did not want to assume it would stop at Wendani. After that new exit at Kahawa Barracks, I would not want to assume that the bus would stop there. Before that Kahawa exit was created, you would know you would stop at Kahawa Barracks when the bus used the Exit at Githurai. There are one off situations where the bus just zooms past your stop because there is no one who was to alight at that point. Pissed or not, I was the first to alight that bus. I rushed to the footbridge and after my quick scan, I settled on an attractive lady coming down the stairs.
By quick scan, I don’t mean “Perv-scan” – like I was checking out for beautiful faces on that footbridge. Actually, this is a lesson that came because of enough muggings on footbridges. You check it out left to right, and under. You never know who may be waiting for you especially at night – at night you scan the area even before you alight the mat. Kwanza hapo Wendani where guys are thrown tossed into the highway live-live. This is also one of the busiest footbridges together with Roysambu’s. Too much foot traffic is a vulnerability for some vice in itself.
So lady coming down, excites me. Not because she is ‘super attractive’ – I am confusing myself, right? I am onto her, because I have seen her before. I have been with her before and not for a short time, a long time. She is also gazing at me the entire way. Cinderella moment kind of thing. Is it just me or your eyes can call someone? Try it today, in a restaurant, in the library, or even in a public place – especially where someone is looking for a seat. I start walking up the stairs and we meet at the second landing. I am too excited for life. I mean, how can you lock gazes with someone for this long? She missed me! No, I had missed her. Or so I thought. Maybe I was just as confused as my trip from town to this point. I greeted her excitedly. People are bumping onto us from both ends of the stairway, but who cares. Reunion underway! *places some imaginary men-at-work signs*. She responds warmly, too warmly this builds my confidence to new levels. I hit the ground running and I ask how she has been all this time.
I ask her how she is doing, how the system is treating her and how family is doing. She responds to all these warmly enough including details. I am not even letting her breath. I am asking questions about work, questions about Sudan, questions about school, I have not even stopped to consider the evanescence of her responses. Then I stop myself, the bumping is too much on these steps. People, porters, business people… She manages to squeeze in some few words. “Hebu ngoja kidogo…” So I give her time. I take in some breaths. Then she drops the bombshell “Tulikutana wapi?”. How did she answer all these questions and she never stopped me at any point? Or she did not even pause. I think I was too inquisitive, too excited to consider some of these things I was asking her. How she managed to answer all of them, I don’t know. She had boosted my false confidence.
I set a fresh train of questions and started shooting – damage control. Embarrassment 101 argues that at this point, everyone is looking at you. Charlie Chaplin on stage moment. Make it or Mess it!
“Hebu chill wewe!…” “Are you sure, we have never met?” “Hatujawai kutana mahali?”
“Apana aki, mimi sijui?”
Now I am as confused as a cornered mouse. But it is fine, at first, I am thinking she is playing games on me, like she intentionally wants to embarrass me before we get down to the business of catching up. No. she was real.
“Unakaa mtu najua, wacha nione,” *Pauses* “Haufanyi kazi huku?” Pointing to my left.
“Wapi huko?” She was totally clueless, either she never saw my hand sign or she did not just get it.
“Haufanyi kazi CAU? Kama sio CAU tulipatana KAEME” I became specific.
“Apana, ata sijui huko ni wapi.”
“Hatukuwa na wewe Wau last year? – Si Sudan?”
“Hai, pengine umenifananisha na mwingine…”
“Na vile umekaa hapa si ungenilenga kama hunijui? Uko sure wewe hunijui? Hatujawai patana mahali?”
The challenge with this particular encounter was that I was also guilty of forgetting a familiar lady’s name. I did not want to state a name, and I ended getting it all wrong and that was why I was vague on descriptions and sticking on locations instead of sticking on her name. I even pulled out the career word. I was defeated. She was not the person I was thinking she was. I was sure that she was a lady I had met in one of those Sudan hops, and I was giving the locations she had told me she had been involved with. I also did not want her to be the lady I imagined her to be whose name I had forgotten. Playing it safe…
Besides the embarrassment, I was now getting scared. A part of me was feeling as if I had met a person who was now pretending not to know me. My first thought was to walk away before it got messier. Chances are that a guy would walk along that she knows and I would end up being a stalker. It was also possible that the lady I knew or the lady I thought I knew was just a plant. The problem is I could not even remember her name, so I could not scroll my phone-book and call girl x and ask her where she was, and what she was doing and if she could meet me to clarify something, or if this staircase-girl’s phone would ring in her bag. It was a dead end. I tried to save face by asking if she had a sister who worked in the places that I had mentioned and she responded in the negative. I was defeated. Time to leave the “scene of crime” – scene of embarrassment clearly.
I decided to walk away. In such situations when someone turns to look what they just passed, everyone else turns to look what they saw, and there I was, confidence all over me and talking to a lady who was confused and almost getting scared of this encounter. I hurriedly acknowledged my pleasure in meeting her, regardless of the circumstances, and climbed the stairs at the speed of my morning routine climbs. I did not even look back. But I was scared silly. Embarrassment was nothing. A part of me was sure that lady was the lady I met. Well, maybe she was a little slim – could be the effects of healthier food and lifestyle back in Kenya, but naaah… Or maybe the lady had been sent to spy on me some way by someone, or some institution.
I am bumping onto people on the bridge and almost breaking my ankle, tripping on the steps on the other side as I rush away from the area. I needed a place to think, or consider that encounter. I can stand being embarrassed every once in a while, but this one? Nooo. I was scared, really scared. That lady knew me, and she denied it straight to my face! The facial recognition stare from the top of the bridge to the second landing was not usual. That was no stranger! If something happens to me… 😨