David Ogilvy says when you think well, you write well. I haven’t been thinking very well lately so this piece might be all over the place. I thought of taking a break this week but I decided no, I will come here and wear my heart on my sleeve. I can’t just be showing up when things are good. I’m mortal, I have good and bad days and I want to show you both. I was hurt recently. I thought I had built a thick skin against trivial things like heartbreak but turns out I’m human.
I operate by a very simple code of conduct. If something gets to me, I don’t react. I sleep on it. The next morning, it’s usually chaff before the wind but this kept nudging at me. Pecking away at my layers of thick skin and forcing me to act out of character. You see, I haven’t been heartbroken before, not really. Not even by my first girlfriend. The one who said that maybe we should start seeing each other fortnightly. That’s how exciting our dates at Sonford had become—she could do without seeing me for a whole fourteen days. But it never got to me; it was water off a duck’s back.
I never got heartbroken, not even by this girl I loved after high school. A short, light-skinned fireball who had a sharp tongue and a thing for skimpy dresses. She would hang out in our house regularly and for her hobby, she had taken to visiting this older guy’s house in the same flat and she would cook and clean for him frequently. I don’t know what happened when the door was locked but I hope it was dusting, ironing and maybe elderly wisdom.
We were age-mates and I simply adored her. I would chase waterfalls and think, “Hmmm, is it possible? Could I take this one to mother?” My mom was more excited about her than I was. There was a time she came over and my mom cooked an entire tray of eggs; fried, toast mayai and scrambled. But even her excitement was not enough to cloud her judgment because she pulled me to the side one day and told me, “I don’t think that girl is a very good girl.” After that, things mellowed and fizzled out. Not because of my mom’s supremacy but because I started seeing less and less of her. She probably got a full-time job dusting and ironing. It’s really anyone’s guess.
I met her recently at the mall. It was weird, there were no feelings. It felt like two strangers meeting for the first time. She had a look of remorse, defeat even, but sometimes we see what we want to see. She was probably just having a bad day. She might have been in the salon and the dryer had cooked her head and she was having a migraine, I don’t know. But she didn’t look cocky, not the way I remembered her. Zesty, haughty and full of life. I had loved that about her. I don’t know who extinguished that flame. Whoever they are, they should be behind bars.
After broken smiles and niceties that began with;
“Umepotea. Siku hizi uko wapi?”
“We should talk some time.”
“Eh, we should.”
“I have your number, sindio?”
“Eh, I have yours too.” Neither of us have each other’s numbers by the way.
A half a hug and a ‘Sawa tutaongea’ later, we parted ways and I forgot about the whole interaction. It was only later that I thought, ‘Eh, I should have told her she owes my mom a tray of eggs.’
The most recent girl I could have loved did not break my heart either. She was a class act though. I still consider her a friend. She was short, with a coffee-with-milk complexion, and a fireball. Is there a trend here? Do I have a type? No, pure coincidence. She was really smart. I loved our intellectual arguments which she usually won. Who messed it up? You’re reading him. I was texting another girl profanities and I confused contacts. I am still waiting for my Donkey of the Year award. That might have been the catalyst but it was not the straw that broke the camel’s back. She told me later it would never have worked because our virtues were very far apart. I had to Google ‘virtue’ just to take in its full meaning. You see? Intellectual.
Not even my romps have broken my heart and they haven’t been many. I just counted and guess what? I didn’t run out of fingers. Virtue. (My experience with women, as it turns out, is not as wide as the Amazon.) A night over and there’s usually very little attachment except for the heat of frustrated passion and carnal need to feel and be felt. One or two might come around three or four times kujiongezea chakula but after that it goes up in smoke with no hard feelings.
But this one got to me. My heart sank when I saw the ceramic plate full of potential that I had built up, in near slow motion falling and shattering into a million little pieces. It was like a knife twisting in a wound and the pain grew every day. I won’t get into details because the wound is still fresh and she’s probably reading this thinking, “One wrong turn and I light up this donkey,” but it was the promise it held or the promise I decided it held because any kind of power that something has over you, you have given. Any time your character is breached, it’s not a time to point fingers outwards but inwards.
Our fears, after we confront them, oftentimes we find they are unfounded. Like the ghost hiding under the bed at night, that disappears once the lights come on.
I have been doing a lot of reflection lately. Retracing my steps. Is there a ghost under my bed or am I imagining things? And if there is a ghost, who put it there in the first place because I never want to feel how I have been feeling these couple of days. If I need to see a shrink I will see one. I have always romanticized the idea of therapy. Sitting in a quaint room, on an expensive divan, unpacking your problems to a stranger, sort of what I’m doing here, except you’re no strangers but uhm, sexy friends.
“What seems to be the problem, good sir?”
“I am no good sir, only a heartbroken wreck.”
“Well, that’s not really a problem. We all go through heartbreaks.”
“My mind also tends to wander and I sometimes create mountains out of molehills.”
“Oh, is that so?” the doc asks confidently in his bespoke dark gray suit and horn-rimmed glasses because we pay him by the hour. He then taps his pen on his immaculate armchair as if he’s not about to regurgitate the same spiel he has to hundreds of his patients.
“When do you think it started?”
“Doc, are you sure you want to go down this road? Eggs are involved.”
He taps his armchair and fingers his silver goatee. Yes, he will be an old doctor because with age comes wisdom.
He fingers his goatee some more, probably thinking I’m about to tell him about chicks, and I smile because he’s right.
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