HOME IS A CASTLE OF STORIES. WHEN WORDS SEEMED NEVER TO LEAVE OUR LIPS.

THE SHASH QUEEN



I had forgotten about her. Completely. Buried her in the memoryless pits of my mind. A place with an abundance of lost moments. I can’t say why she was locked up in this fogged past. Life happened. I moved on, she moved on, not like we had much worth remembering though.

A few nights ago, she popped up in my head. For no good reason. I was struggling to sleep. My old pal, insomnia, was visiting. I rolled in bed, no sleep, nothing. Normally I would wake up and watch some Morgan Freeman rerun, but electricity was out. My laptop was off, no late-night writing. My phone was at three percent. Sometimes I think a sleep cabal is working against me.

“Keep the dude awake, but make sure his gadgets are off. He thinks he’s the writer, we’ll show him. Dumb bastard!”

Kisii isn’t one of those places where you complain that electricity is out. If it were Nairobi, #KPLC would be trending, and those morons would fix the issue in a snap. But in Kisii, the circle is different. Nobody is on Twitter, even if you rant, no one will listen. Second, folks in KPLC behave as if they are kings, they are. They will fix electricity when they want to fix electricity.

So, it was pure darkness, at one a.m. And of unholy alliances, none beats darkness coupled with insomnia. You twist in bed, staring into a void. Lots of thoughts come into mind. Lines of songs pop up, poetry. You recall some paragraphs you read. It’s hazy. You make plans. You think of life. You think of people. You try to see if there are things you could have done differently. In that pocket of loneliness, so much rolls through your head. You finally understand why people so yearn for a companion. Sometimes it's fucking hard to sit out the dark storm. We need someone to walk with us, to cuddle us. Someone to kiss us and urge us on. Someone to share with, those lost thoughts of two a.m. in the morning.  Because there’s no much beauty in darkness. And the few who find it, are insane. I am one of them.


It was in this tattered hour, that the said girl walked back into my thoughts. Jesus Christ, I thought. It has been a fucking long time, why now?

I can’t place her hairstyle. My memory is foggy, and thoughts jut out like a few jaded trees. Her hair was dyed red. Bright red. Screaming red. The red you see in a distant and say to a friend.

“Bro, you see that red?”

She had a nice body. Of course, some misguided folks are going to shout on how we should look at the heart, fuck that! You see the body first, then heart talks later. Her skin was light, not from applying some weird oils. There was the natural tan to it. And her smile? Jesus! Her smile can make your stomach do somersaults. Her bosom jutted out pugnaciously. As if to say, “I am here now and you can’t keep ignoring me.” Her trousers curved around her bum the way a range rover driver goes around a roundabout. You see how those folks do it, it’s an art. She was hot and she knew it. Then there was a flimsy tomboyishness about her.


She wasn’t my type though. In a way, she was a bit tall and imposing. And a chick like that, no matter how hot, it’s hard to manage through the logistics. Heck, I have extremely short friends who date girls twice their height. I always wonder how they hug. Even worse, how does the kissing part go? And in the thick of things, when caution is in the wind. Who calls the other dzaddy? 

I prefer a girl who gets lost in the forest of my chest. Not one who I disappear in her bosom. I think the most defeating thing as a man is hugging a chick and your head is on her boobs. You feel lost. It happened to me one time, I felt like a penguin.

I was shooting billiards with my buddies when she showed up, the tomboyish chick. A friend of friends. I ignored her. At some point, we ran out of coins. She bailed us out, not bad I thought. I wasn’t keen on her. I know you will ask, how the fuck was you not keen on her but you have such a clear mental picture of her? What she wore? Her ass? Her hair? That’s me. I am the kind of negro who remembers everything I see. I forget names, I have no idea about numbers, but images stick in my head.


Insomnia plays games with you.

Have you ever thought that your duvet is cut in half? As if someone walked in and chopped the other half off with a panga? I swear as I lay there, writhing and twisting, thinking of this girl and trying to sleep, my duvet seemed to be cut in half. My strong legs left out in the cold. I think it was an illusion, my mind toying with me.  

A plane roared overhead. In the dead of the night. I did wonder? Why the hell was anyone travelling at such an hour? Who were the people on that plane? What kind of food do they eat? Which kind of whiskey did they poison themselves with? Or they were SDA folk going for a choir meeting? What was this they were chasing about life that they had to be in such a night flight? Was it worth it? Had they left a trail of broken hearts in the wake of their trip? Or they’d finally decided that Kenya held no hope for them. And maybe Qatar, or UAE, or Aussie, or the USA, or Canada, were better for their destinies?


In that plane were men and women. Children and grandparents. Folks in business class and those in regular. Chaps on a plane for the first time and others doing it for the umpteenth time.

Such extremities of life.

One woman might have been running away from her abusive husband. A man was traveling to join up with his wife. One person being deported. Yet another sneaking into a foreign country. All these people united by the hunger of life. Wanting better from life and doing their best get it, by hook or crook.

The plane’s drone drifted away, leaving me alone in my darkness.

I met the chick again, with her red hair. She was seated on one of those benches under a tree, buried in her phone. My plan was to walk on, ignore her, again. But as I approached, she made eye contact. Atta girl! I had to say hi. We got talking. Her seated on the bench, I stepping on part of the bench. At some point, I sat down.

She opened up like a flower in autumn.

She had broken off things with a boyfriend. I am a sucker for heartbreak stories, the moment she said this, I huddled in close. They had a weed business going. She got the weed, handled the packaging and rolling. The guy would handle distribution and bring the money back. Because they slept in the same bed and had more than a weed thing going on, they would split the money into half. Investing one half in the business and blowing the other half. Because we are young folks with no kids or loans to think of. Life was good. Money was flowing, the relationship was fine, the way a campus union can be.


At one point, she had 100k in her bedsitter. The headquarters of the operation. 100k may not be much, for you folks who down Blue label and Glenfiddich, but on campus, that’s a hella lot of dough. The boyfriend came around one evening, they stoned and fucked. She tells me that sex when you’re high is mind-blowing (I can’t confirm). At some point, she dozed off in this guy’s arms. They’d been together for a year now. She trusted him with her life.

Waking up, night had fallen, she touched around her bed, no one, she called his name, no answer. She stepped out of bed and turned on the light. No sign of the guy, his shoes were gone. She checked her wardrobe, where her money was, in one of the clothes. No money, her fingers met with an empty pocket. She called him, mteja.

He was gone with the wind.

She told me this without any emotion or trace of sadness.  She got cookies from her bag, sharing them under that tree, I thought, “who the hell I am I talking to?”

The guy who robbed her, her lover, is on some other campus. Her sources were trying to track him down, “and when they do, the nigga must learn a lesson.” She said.

 “You can’t steal from a woman,” I added, trying to be on the right side of history. 

I never saw her again. Days stretched into weeks. Weeks curling into months. One time I saw her at the university gate, walking out, but nothing registered.

Then I forgot about her.

Days ago, struggling to sleep, her memory lit my head. I have no idea where she is, I don’t have her number. If we meet again, I’ll have to ask her name again and that will piss her off I know.

 What I want to know though, is what happened to that thieving boyfriend of hers. Did she nail him finally? Someone who sleeps with you and steals from you, how are they punished? Is she still in the weed business? Or she found the lord?






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