I get an idea for a story. The idea is sparked from something I saw or (over-) heard. I drop everything I am doing – even the baby into the bath water – and rush to a blank page to spew it out. Its words ooze out. It takes shape easily. I give it a head full of hair, limbs. It breathes. And it takes flight from the page, and plows into you, the reader. Those are the best days. On the better days, I am a few words into the idea and the writing moans and groans to a stop just as the idea fizzles. The writing is little but a torso with no limbs; an idea immobilized so it can’t get itself off the page. I try to give it something more than just its torso only that it comes off seeming like a wailing toddler (helpless) or a hairy grown midget (fatal). But I wouldn’t want my writing sprucing up to be a midget; even if it has the spank of Tyrio Lannister from the TV series Game of Thrones. Midgets are dangerous; they aim for your crotch and kick you in the ankle. And wailing toddlers, good grief, where do I even begin with those? I want my writing toned, tanned and tamed. Chiseled to charm. Brawny and brainy. Writing whose idea of an apology is having the French toast in France. “Would you fancy breakfast in Paris?” it says with a wink.
But me and my ideas, we all want things. These things I want, I get them on the best days and I miss out on them on the better days. So I end up with writing which is either fatal or helpless, sometimes both. A sore mix of potent midgets and wailing toddlers. Let’s see what happens when they are lined up in a row.
Life has changed from what I knew it to be. Take my wardrobe. Wardrobe changes were extreme; I traded in my Isaac Mizrahi heels for a pair of Atmosphere brogues; F&F woolen suits for Denim Co. ragged jeans; stiff-collar shirts for baby tees in orange and green, yellow. My wardrobe was restructured just like my routines were pre and post auditor.
I made also other minor adjustments. Adjustments which included, but did not stop with, leaving my car at home parked. I traded Total fuel cards for loose change. On one of such days, I see it from the #11 jav to town. Riding shotgun in mid-morning traffic. The road sign reads Ngara Road. From the angle I see it, its arrow head points to the left. Hanging around it – like a pendant on a neck chain of a teenage girl who wears it to add character to her blossoming personality – is a thick steel wire holding white bras and pink ones, green ones, cream ones and yellow ones, purple ones; floral prints and stripes, polka dots, teeny cartoons and plain ones. They are dusty and starting to fade. I wonder how long they have been hanging on that very spot these bras. Bras suggestive of adolescence and discovering the sensuality of youth, of double lettered cup sizes and of cleavage. Of tightened purse strings. Is this what this Ngara is all about? I wonder.
I make a decision right there: no matter how much life has changed, never to buy a bra that hangs around the neck of a road sign.
It is 9AM. I am seated with my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands. I am groggy and disappointed in myself for snoozing my alarm, and waking up two hours later than I had intended. I suspect I have a waking up problem. It is easy to tell what time of the day it is depending on the temperature of the toilet seat. The trickle tells of how sleepy we all are. I yawn. Was T.I and his poorly rated movie, Takers, worth staying up so late? I suppose not. T.I must not be disappointed in himself wherever he is. Speaking of disappointment, those toe nails need to get done.
The slightly open bathroom window brings in a cold breeze that runs over my back and jolts me out of the last embers of sleep I am struggling to embrace. Beyond the bathroom window, I hear the Hood’s workers sweeping the leaves off the carbro paving. The ground is wet from the rains that had pounded all night. There are two of them; one asks the other one, “Do you remember what the Hood looked like before these apartments were built?” She laughs and continues to sweep. I want to peek my head out of the window and ask her to please tell, don’t laugh, tell. Before these units of the Hood were built, what sat on this expansive property?
Young girls. 18, maybe 19. Not any older than my baby sister is. My first thought was they were not able to convince any of their male companions to tag along with them to the Wednesday night rendezvous. “C’mon,” they said, “it will be fun. Capital FM is in for the evening, they will be spinning reggae mixes all night. C’mon.” I imagined this coaxing was not enough to pull the boys out of their beds. So it was the reason they were now dancing alone together. Upon closer scrutiny, I noticed that one girl rubbed the nipples and caressed the waist of the other girl too often, too boldly. Blimey, are these girls The ‘L’ word?
The boy-girl was dressed in an over-size black vest that hung loose and ended right beneath her absent behind. The sides run open from the armpits all the way down to below her belt, revealing her bra. A bra holding breasts the size of a 10-year-old’s. She topped it off with a grey marvin and a pair of brown chucks. The girl-girl was in a baby blue tee and floral blue skirt; the short bubbly type which hang with grace, and stink of naivety and innocence. It contradicted the entire scene.
The irony of it was that a few feet away, our hosts were swaying to their first song, first dance. They wedded today. Vows were exchanged in church at half an hour after noon. Instead of a love candle, they filled up their love grains in a love vase a little before two. After the church, we went to the Karen Law School grounds to continue with the celebrations until seven. Now here they were, sharing the dance floor with a boy-girl and her girl-girl lover. Irony. So we looked on to the dance floor. All of Ed and Edna’s guests, we looked on with mouths in a big O. And we were disgusted. Repelled. Shocked. The boy-girl put up a show for spectacle. I could tell this was not the first time she had attracted an audience with her lewd behavior and her displays of affection toward her girl-girl. Running my eyes over the crowd, it reminded me of racist America back in the 1960s. A white boy getting out in public with his black girlfriend for the first time; such are the stares we gave to this couple right now. Stares of judgment. And similar thoughts crossed the minds of the onlookers back then as they did us right now: is this what the world is coming to? Thoughts of an older generation which was seeing first-hand how society is changing. How society changes too quickly for it to grapple with.
We all looked away when their lips locked. I heard somebody spit. It was me.
Sunday, 3PM. It is raining hard. I am seated on the couch with a book open in my lap, pretending to pay attention to its laboring storyline. My host and his guest have set up shop in the middle of the living room. Skinny to my right and Fatty to my left. If I stretch my legs out far enough, I can have them rest squarely on the chess board sitting on the coffee table. Fatty announces before the start of the game that he has not had a worthy opponent in over a year. “Everyone I have invited to play has walked out my door tail between his legs,” he says. His smug is inexcusable. Skinny eyeballs him with familiar disregard. Fatty chortles. Skinny rests his head in his hands and contemplates his next move. Fatty fidgets as he takes a sip from his glass.
Here they are, separated by a chess board and brought together by a bottle of Irish whiskey. In their mind’s eyes, they are chess grandmasters and whiskey connoisseurs. Not Skinny and Fatty as I see it from the couch right now.
I return to my book.
My younger self had pictured that at my age, my three-year old son would point at my belly and ask why my stomach was so big. Six months, and counting. His father would bundle him up in one swoop and rumble into his belly that I had had too much to eat. We would all throw our heads back in laughter and walk off into a certain sunset, hand in hand in hand. Silhouettes of perfect domestication. But you know what they say about men and their plans, right? Right. I am nowhere near that image. Instead now, I spend my days feeding off the bottomless pit of literature and operating on what I have come to temporarily accept as borrowed. Sometimes begged. Sometimes both.
It was because of such thoughts I didn’t leave the house today. I am dressed in a miserable yellow t-shirt branded ‘Kibaki Tosha’ and a Benson & Hedges bandana. A leso completes this thoughtless ensemble. I am the picture of many things unknown to me.
I make a mental note to take a shower tomorrow.
Channing Tatum is an American actor. Yum yum. Channing Tatum is handsome on any day. He is sexy on all days. That movie The Vow leaves me thinking about him in a way that makes my cheeks rosy. There’s a scene where he steps out into the morning light; topless with a pair of stripped blue pajamas. He’s taking out the trash then feeds the alley cat. But I am not interested in his ugly pajamas. Or his ribbed torso. Or his head of hair which has been combed to make it look as if it has not been combed. I am interested in the dip right above the waistband of his pajamas. The dip. Right where the torso dips and the waist bones meet then descent into the thighs and there’s a V-like dip that moves likes it winking at me. Crowning it is a trail of soft hairs which start below the navel then travel downwards until they are swallowed up by the dip right at the waistband. The dip.
It reminds me of D’Angelo from the video for his track, Untitled (How does it feel). YouTube it right away and see what I am going all gaga about. After that video, D’Angelo became the poster-boy for urban male sexiness. It was the dip that preceded him not his talent. Now, Channing Tatum and D’Angelo may as well go into war about who had the better dip. Me? I can’t decide who. I would stare at them both on any day.
Boys, take your places.