I took a break and it seems like things went up in smoke, or should I say shisha smoke?
You have your phone in hand and you swear you heard the damn thing ring. You look at the screen intently and the time stares back at you, 9:00 AM, unflinchingly on the hour.
You put it back in your pocket but not before convincing yourself you’ve felt it vibrate so you take it out and look at the screen again only the clock stares back at you not having moved a minute. No notifications, no text, no what’s app and no her. C’mon it’s always a ‘her’, even M-Pesa is a woman – her sister is the “Mteja wa nambari uliyepiga hapatikani kwa sasa”, maybe sister in-law. I think they hate each other and that she has a really horrible voice that’s why she always sends text messages. Maybe her larynx was cut-out, she is a voiceless beautiful lady that sends messages of joy around the world – much like Santa a hot sexy Santa that gives candy and has no voice.
When you don’t receive a message from your girlfriend and it’s 9 in the morning, sorry past 9, something could be wrong. Let me rephrase that, if you do not receive a message from your girlfriend and it’s 9 in the morning, sorry past 9, then you have done something terribly wrong. A girl will text you just to see if your phone is working, girls will text you and tell you that the ‘L’ on the keyboard isn’t working so if you receive an “I ove you” text you should know what that means. They will text you to tell you that some girl came to their class wearing almost the same shade of lipstick like she did and swear to never visit that beauty shop along Kimathi Street again.
“Babe imagine she had on dragon blood red!”
“What?!” you’ll feign, knowing well you don’t even know what shade of red your own blood is.
Then she will go ahead and seek validation from you
“Then she vaad it with a ka black top showing us her tu boobs”
You almost want to ask her if she took a picture to share those ‘tu boobs’ but you know better so you’ll be like… you don’t even know what you’ll be like, because although you might be clueless you know discussing another woman’s boobs with your woman is a definite no. She will rant the whole day and feel insecure about her breasts until you meet over coffee and ask her what she’ll have
“In a large or small cup?”
“Like hers?” you will point to a big bosom woman, and for a moment she won’t know what cup you’re talking about.
“Yes like that.”
Then the guy at the counter will look at you and sneer murmuring under his breath
“You need a surgeon not a barrister.”
Then you probably secretly hi-five when she is not looking because he caught your underhanded joke.
You check your phone and its 12:00 PM, still no text. You’ve been to her profile and seen she has been online the past few minutes talking to everyone but you. Now you know something is definitely up, you’ve possibly screwed up but you don’t know what you did. Could it be she saw you at the club with one of your boys buying rounds of guaranna and pots of shisha for ‘your cousin’ right before you became overly friendly and planted a wet one on her. You’ve told her you come from a close knit family but even that is too close for her liking. You go back to her profile and you see something that scares the hell out of you
It’s been hours and you wonder what she has to say now, what excuse she’ll use or what accusation she’ll front. Suddenly you don’t want that text and you put your phone far away. You hear that usual ping and the ferocious vibrate in your pocket – something you had been waiting for all day – but now you don’t want anything to do with it. The last time a text message had you this frozen, you were waiting for KNEC to spell out your academic verdict over some cheap booze in a dingy joint with reggae playing in the background. There’s something about reggae that’s depressing, by reggae I mean roots, maybe like its name it should only be enjoyed deep down in the earth buried under tons of soil.
“We need to talk…”
Just like that you know its trouble in paradise.
I woke up on Wednesday morning, giddy as usual. The weather was undecided, it reminded me of the Manny and Tyson fight – you know how we expected vicious blows only to be treated to warm hugs and cuddles? It looked like it was going to be torrential but then they were patches of glorious sunshine and that glorious sky blue that made it look like passing clouds. The floor was cold and I am not the type to sleep with socks on, socks on my legs during bed time feel foreign. The cold floor made my toes curl so hard my heels ached. The weather also made it impossible to predict the time, it looked like 4 AM but it was actually 6 so I knew I had to get going.
The ride to work was uneventful with the usual gang talking about men’s indiscretions and riled up females phoning in to share their experiences and ways of taming such men. Equally infuriated men would also call and threaten the guy with deserting the cause, betraying them, and a whole tirade of accusations that seemed to worsen their case. Then there’s the women who have learnt to live with such people in their life and know exactly how to handle them which isn’t really handling but allowing a necessary evil for the greater good (read financial security). The morning show has more drama than thirty seven thousand shillings soap.
Getting of the bus I felt a sudden rush that swept over me and it slightly made me stagger. I hoped no one else had noticed it and I brushed it off as sleepiness. I promised myself to sleep it off on the connecting ride to the office and that I’d be as good as new. The lies we tell ourselves. The day dragged and over lunched I graced the popular Kibanda and ordered my usual, relished it and went back into the office tummy full and looking forward to the end of the day like any other working person. That’s when all hell broke loose – a deep rumbling coursed through my gut and a nauseous feeling sneaked up on me. Just like that I was rushing to the bathroom, locking the stall and spitting my guts out. A sense of relief usually comes immediately with such and it did, however, deep down I could feel something was not right.
I was sick. I had been here before and I knew what the symptoms meant. I had to go pay the doctor a visit and money as well. You never just pay them the visit, you will always have to part with something small. When you’re sick the office is the last place you want to be, you don’t want your colleagues to see your puke face or diarrhea expression. You don’t want them to stare at you and ask
“Boss, what’s wrong?”
They won’t call you boss because you’re the actual boss…
“Nothing I’m fine.”
“Fine? Why do you look like you’re taking a shit?”
You’ll want to laugh but you won’t – when you’re in that state laughter won’t be the best medicine.
So I excused myself, left the place and went straight to the hospital. Here the nurses in their dresses and black shoes busied themselves with whatever they busy themselves with smiling occasionally as I filled out the forms. I took my seat and waited for them to call my name.
A hospital waiting room must be something like heaven. Maybe in heaven you go in and register and wait for Saint whoever to countercheck your name across all databases before they call you and give you the good or bad news depending on how you look at it.
“Umh see here” the saint will say pointing at some indiscriminate cloud before a projection of a moment of your life starts playing.
“You are deleting a chain message.”
“Don’t you know Jesus gets read receipts?”
“How? Wait, there’s Wi-Fi here? Look give me another chance buddy I’ll forward that stuff.”
“No it’s too late.”
“Am I going to hell?”
“Hell? No you’ve been good we’ll just let you in and not give you the Wi-Fi password that way you can live an eternity not forwarding messages.”
One of the nurses called my name and asked me go to room two or something. Her voice was mechanical and almost made me feel like I was in for the men in black admission interview. In that room was another nurse who curtly asked me to take of my shirt. I wanted to ask her to take hers off first and see how she liked that, maybe ask her to buy me dinner and romance me make it feel natural. But I didn’t I just took it off, like a cheap stripper looking for love in all the wrong places. She stuffed a cold stethoscope on it and ordered me to breath, I don’t know what was colder the stetho or her commanding voice. She then curtly told me to go into the doctor’s room. I felt like some cheap blunt that’s being passed from one godforsaken rasta man to the other.
There’s something about doctor’s that makes them like pastors. Maybe because they both sell hope and prey on the weak. The have this reassuring smile about them, almost cunning like they know something you don’t. You almost feel like they are not telling you the whole truth. You want to be on their good side though so you smile at them, you don’t show your smarty ass to a doctor. They can put you in your place. You don’t ask specific questions either –they might fee challenged. You’ll go into a hospital with a common flu piss off the doctor and end up getting a prostate exam just because. Kind of like pastors, you shouldn’t ask where the range rover came from, you accept that it’s a blessing from God. They might just decide tell the congregation they caught you red handed with your hands in the offering basket. No one will look at you the same.
“He was caught stealing in church.”
“What! Shame on him. How could he steal from the poor Lord.”
Umm excuse me, if he is poor how is he blessing people with range rovers?
My doctor had this warm smile, cute dimples and baby locs. She looked urban-ish and even threw in sheng into the conversation calling me Shad. We talked like we had been friends from back in the day. Maybe doctors have to have that about them, be able to talk to people. They have to ask hard questions like when was the last time you had a proper shit, or had sex or had unprotected sex or even the last time you washed your socks. You have to feel comfortable answering these – unless she is really beautiful and it feels like you are ruining your chances.
She was jovial and kept assuring me all would be well, sent me in for my tests after explain my symptoms. She asked me to shit in a small container called it a stool sample.
“Have you been running for long?”she asked referring to my stomach
“No. Just this morning.”
“So utajaribu uweke kidogo? Hatutaki mingi”
Then she smiled. Only a doctor can make you feel like taking a shit is doing them a favor.
Minutes later which seemed like hours but were spent with me trying to figure out the dynamics of collecting shit I hand the damn thing to the lab guy. This guy was literally going to be all up in my shit. I wonder how he explain himself to people that are curious at what he does.
“So Anthony what really do you do in the lab?”
“You know analyze samples…”
“Samples? What samples?”
“Blood and the likes”
“What are the likes?”
“Like a small coffee table?”
“Fuck you Jared, I mean shit.”
“Shit, you study poop?”
Results were out in a few minutes and the lovely doctor called me back in, the room was the same as I had left it but she was smiling even wider. When a doctor smiles then something is wrong, you are about to die. They want to let you off easy. There smile doesn’t say look I am a happy human being, no, there smile says this guy doesn’t even know how lucky he is to be alive. It’s like an inside joke before the prescribe something ridiculously expensive and equally ridiculous to pronounce with a myriad of side effects like defective breast implants.
“Shad, what have you been eating?”
“Just the usual?”
“Hizi vitu zmekuharibikia.”
She goes ahead to show me test results that I pretend to understand – nodding my head feigning discernment.
“See this…” she points “This means that your colon has been infected by bacteria.”
Now she takes a serious tone and the smile dissipates.
“It’s nothing serious, nothing we can’t fix but you can’t drink.”
I gave her a blank stare. The kind you give the jusdge when he finds you guilty after hiring a really expensive lawyer and bribing half the officials. A female doctor is like a stern girlfriend the kind to tell you to stay at home and watch gossip girls cuddling on the couch or else… She stared back at me.
“I’m serious Shad, don’t drink. Do you understand?”
I nodded my head.
“Good…” she said smiling again “Now go get this from the pharmacy and you should be just fine.”
“Thanks” I mumbled
On my way out I heard her saying something about going slow on the saucers but I was already too depressed and needed that drink I couldn’t have.