6PM in Homabay

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I have been waiting for her for a bit over two hours now. I had thought of cancelling this tryst. I had looked into the mirror and thought, “That’s the problem with men; you think with that little worm between your legs way too much.” Well, it’s not that little but that’s beside the point. “What if she fleeces you, or worse, drugs you? This is how men wake up in the middle of nowhere without a thread of clothing on their body.” I had looked up her number on Truecaller and it led me to her social media. I scroll her page again. Twenty-four, slender, is into tight clothes and has a habit of looking at the ground in that way women do when posing for photos. No, this one can’t be a black-hat; this one is your girl next door.

If things go crisps, this will be my first time with a Luo woman. “What if I don’t like the way she sits or walks or breathes? What if our cultures clash? Will she come smelling of fish?” No, wait, this is a serious stereotype among kuyo men. This is what our mothers told us so we could stay away from women from the lakeside. It’s silly but valid. I mean, fish is good and dandy when it’s on your plate with a side of lemon but it’s a completely different story when it’s someone’s scent.

Preamble: I met this girl while crossing from Bondo to Homabay. I docked in Kisumu town thinking that maybe I could go to Lwang’Ni and see what the fuss was about. I’m told a trip to Kisumu is never complete until you eat the fish there. Time was, however, not on my side and I found myself rushing to connect a matatu to Homabay and that’s where I found her, apparently saying goodbye to a friend. She was charcoal-rugged-jeans, wedge sneakers, checked top. Black complexion. Think dark coffee no milk but pretty—a prettiness I’m not used to because all I look at is short yellow women with wide hips. I said hi. She didn’t reply at first. I like my women with a bit of sass so I ploughed on, “It’s my first time here. I wouldn’t mind someone to show me the best mutura joint around.” She didn’t flinch. Come on, even a feminist would have cracked at that. This one was a mercenary. I stretched my hand. “I’m Kelvin, with an ‘L’, don’t ask me where my mother got it from because I don’t know either.” She took my hand and smiled and I was in.

I was excited about this big hotel room at first but its gotten hollow and empty now that I have spent a bit of time in it. It swallows you in. So I rang her and convinced her to come over. I expected a no. I didn’t know what to do with the yes I got besides be anxious. “Look, Kev (I don’t include the ‘L’ in the short version of my name, some people call me Kelvo. Stop.) Look, Kev, you don’t even have to have sex. You can just cuddle and talk,” I think while flipping through the DSTV channels which have now become tasteless to me.  

“I’m here, opposite the hotel, at the petrol station.” The text pops in and I lunge for the door.

I swagger outside the hotel. I scroll my eyes around and spot her. She’s really gone out of her way to look good. She’s in a black dress and heels which means she’s towering over me but I have never been intimidated by tall girls and that won’t start today. We walk into the hotel in tow. Homabay is a small town so you can imagine the hotel is even smaller. Everyone’s eyeballs are on us, we could trip over an eyelid. The receptionist smiles at me. I smile back. I can’t be incognito on this one. We barely talk. I finally breathe when I swipe my keycard on the door and we gain entrance into my room.

I grab the remote and jump into bed. She sits on the small couch next to it. “That must have been a long trip, do you want to have a shower? There is soap and a towel in the bathroom.” She doesn’t talk. She gets up and goes to the shower and I spring into action. I ransack her bag, looking for anything that might tell me something about her. I find flats, a toothbrush, purple panties, make-up. I hear the door handle move and put everything back and assume my position. “There’s toothpaste in case you want to brush your teeth.” I usually phrase my words as questions when I want a woman to do something without it sounding like a demand or as if I’m questioning her hygiene. She gets back to that same bag I have been in and comes out with a toothbrush.

After, she picks her lotion. “No, let me apply it on you.” Her skin is silk-soft. I spread my hands up her long legs, inner thighs. She has waist beads around her waist. I ask her what they are for. She tells me they are for beauty. I tell her I have heard stories of women who wear waist beads as a badge for being seasoned in the arts of the sack. I ask her if the same is true for her. “No, they’re just for beauty.” After that she opens up like a burst pipe.

“I don’t really like light skin guys you know.”

“Why is that?”

“They have a pride problem, (I do) but you seemed cool, you’re really laid-back.”

“So, I’m not your type?”

“I mean, at first, but you look good.” This is the second time I’m hearing this from a woman this weekend. Which makes me start thinking that the women around me have been selfish with their compliments all along (we shall revisit). She goes on. “And your dress code, I liked it, and your shoes, they were on point.” We start kissing before she can say another word. I let my fingers wander onto her upper thigh and she allows it. She’s dripping, I can barely get two fingers in there. I reach for the Durex. My stomach muscles still ache even as I type this.

After, we sit in silence for a bit.

“I feel hot, let’s go to the balcony for some fresh air,” she chirps.

“I really don’t want to go.”

“Jaluo oksechi.” She says.

“What does that mean?”

“It means a Luo doesn’t beg, I won’t ask again.”

I get up and follow her to the balcony. Turns out she wants to take pictures. I tell her, “No, this is not the night for pictures. This is the kind of experience that only lives in your heart.” She gets sour. We get back in and order room service. Just then the phone rings, it’s reception.

“Kelvin, according to our CCTV footage, you were seen entering your room with a plus one?” She says it as if I will deny it.

“Yes, is that going to be a problem?”

“No, it’s just that, you have to pay for her: Twelve hundred bob.” She says it hoping it sounds like twelve thousand shillings.

“Put it on my tab,” I say like a popinjay politician with a fraudulent building in Upper Hill.

My lady-love talks some more and I listen. She tells me about her work, about her previous relationship, why it didn’t work. I nod with mmh’s and uhuh’s.

 “Why I’m I the only one talking, tell me something about yourself?”

“Like what?”

“Do you have a wife?”

“No.”

“Kids?”

“No.”

“A girlfriend?”

“No.”

“You know you don’t have to lie to me. Just tell me how things truly are so I know how to handle you?”

“Do you think we would be here if I had a wife or a girlfriend?”

“I don’t know. Men are tricky. You might be the kind who doesn’t see a problem having relations with other women when you are in a different town.”

She talks about taking me to the airport the next day. Asks me what I do and am I on social media. I stay vague. I can see her on my arm as a loving wife. Tribe-less kids who speak Dholuo and Kikuyu running outside our house, but this is not that kind of night. This is a night that will only live in our hearts. That night we sleep intertwined like a money plant. Tired from sex, tired from talking, tired from listening but happy for the company.

Morning comes. I’m stick-hard. I reach for another packet of Durex and let my hands wander. She’s dry as a stone. My flight leaves early in the morning, I don’t have time to try and get her to the ninth cloud. To be completely honest, I’m also not a big fan of her morning breath. I get out of bed and have a cold shower. Put on a shirt and faded blue jeans. “You look good,” she hums from under the covers, “Like a guy who is below twenty-five.” She adds salt to the compliment. I smile.

“We are going for breakfast. No photos,” I say in a reprimanding voice. “Point taken,” she chirps. Having showered and now applying makeup in the mirror, “But you promised one at the balcony, a promise is a debt.” People who use my words against me drive me nuts because then I can’t go against myself. She poses. This way and that. I take three maybe four and we are off to the restaurant. She has baked beans, two sausages and a glass of mango juice. I have chicken, baked beans, greens, and juice. I look at her and I cannot decide who is prettier, her or the backdrop of Lake Victoria behind us? We talk about fishing. She starts telling me how the fishermen take advantage of the girls in Homabay. I look at my watch it’s 7:15 am. My flight leaves at 8:20 am. I need time to check out, we have to get going.

The clock is kissing 7:35 am when I climb onto the boda-boda that will take me to Homabay airstrip. “We’ll keep in touch,” I tell her and I feel sad immediately knowing how untrue that is. Ten minutes after fly540’s Cessna touches down on Wilson airport she calls. I pick, “It’s noisy here can we talk some other time?” She calls later at night. I don’t pick. She hasn’t called since. Jaluo oksechi.

 

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