I’m sitting at my desk. A cup of coffee is right next to me. It’s steaming. And black. I don’t really like coffee but drinking coffee gives people like me some depth. You cannot look not busy if you’re typing away with a neglected cup of a half drank grinded medium range Burundian beans concoction by your side. My phone reads 9:01 AM and I let out a sigh. A deep resigned sigh. Like I have the world on my shoulders. I feel forty four. I feel like I’ve been married twelve years and my wife just called to ask me about Junior’s school fees.
“Babe, the deadline is tomorrow.”
I don’t know why I think this would be the most stressful part about starting a family. But you already know. You’ve known for weeks. You knew as you were buying rounds at the local for the goons. You even have reminders on your phone and Brian is going to float you a ka small loan in the afternoon. You have it covered. So you sigh, because she finds she has to remind you. You sigh because now you owe Brian money. You sigh because Junior doesn’t need the school fees – if how he spells his name is anything to go by. You’ve tried to help him with spellings. God knows you’ve tried. He is not the sharpest tool in the shed so you cut it – see what I did – and let him be. Your friends secretly talk behind your back. ‘Si he is a writer?’ they say. You hide behind the fact that he is a slow learner – at 12 – kids!
You can’t help staring outside the window. It’s downcast the clouds loom like some bad omen. After reading The Alchemist everything becomes an omen. Rain. You’re tired. At 9 AM. There’s nothing you want more than a glass of whisky. To throw outside the window and drink from the damn bottle. It’s one of those days. You have unread books in your collection. Usually they are an escape. An out. Not anymore. You don’t get home on time to read. In between your sit-ups and dinner there’s not really much time. By 10 PM you’ve conked out. Mornings come faster than a man with ED. You remember church. The pastor. His flamboyance and exaggerated gestures. His shiny suit and gold chain. Alligator shoes. Joy comes in the morning. He shouted one sunny Sunday. You look around but no Joy. No Mary. No Jane. Not even Ciku. Nothing. Just ruffled up beddings and strewn clothes all over the place. Joy needs a facelift you think to yourself. You almost snigger. It’s just you and your thoughts. Just your tired abdomen and heavy eyes.
Showers are bliss. Hot water hitting your bareback. You standing there. Despondent and pensive. You look like an RnB music video from the early 2000s. But not anymore. You just want to get out of the water. You want to dry up and get into your work clothes as fast as possible. You just want the day to end. So you get on with it. The sooner the better. Maybe if the day ends this feeling you have too will end. But it never does. It drags on and on. Your friends, at least the ones you talk to, tell you that January is one long Monday. It’s just the blues. You’ll be fine. You believe them. After all you’re not Atlas. The weight of the world has no place on your shoulders.
Then it hits you. The city. The traffic. The unpredictable weather. The routine. The laptop screen. The blinking cursor. The corrupt cops. The monotonous voice of the morning show guy. The writers you read. The droves of people walking the streets. The smell of stale garbage. The burst sewer pipes. The stuffy matatus. That cologne the guy who works at the 3rd floor leaves lingering in the elevator. The sound of your ringtone. The buzz of a message. The ‘hey’. You hate it all. You need a break. You need to get away from the city. You need to be away from the conspiring goons in dingy bars sharing the day’s spoils. You need to be away from those humans that insist the road is not big enough for the both of you and end up shoulder slamming you. You need to tune into a station and all you hear is static. You need to feel like you’re far away from everything you know. You need a vacation.
The endless lines of silky white sand snaking along the coast line kissing the turquoise blue water with white frills on the edges where they meet appeals to you. The feel of a cold beer in one hand and hot sand on your bare feet appeals to you. You want the smell of salty waters and humid winds to wake you up in the mornings. You want to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the shore line. You want to hear new sounds. You want to hear the sound of a local in a different accent haggling over the fair price of a tuk-tuk. Maybe finally finish reading the books in your collection. Let the feel of each page linger on your fingers and hang onto every word the writer wrote.
You want to stare at the blinking cursor and each blink sends a pulse of creativity running through your veins. You want to splurge this creativity onto the screen and spin words as beautiful as the sunset. You want to dive in head first into the sins of the new place. See what they look like. Have a brush with foreign danger. Bargain with a hooker just for the heck of it. See how low you can go. You want a shower in a strange bathroom. You want to wake up in a bed that’s not yours. You want to enjoy the warm bosom that is the love of another city. You want to come back to the city and feel different. Like when you find the love of your life and you’re already married.
You want the city. The place you call home. To feel the distance. To feel the coldness. To feel the indifference. To know that it is losing you. You want it to be scared. You want it to clutch onto you. You want it to get jealous. You want it to know that it wants you but can no longer have you. At least not the whole of you. Then you will be happy.
That’s what I need. To relax. A vacation.