This will be a grumble on my neighbor and the quest to find a name for the readers here. If you like structure and a clear direction you might want to sit this one out. My neighbor knocked on my door the other day. You have to understand how unsettling a knock on a bachelor’s door is. When someone is coming over we insist that they tell us beforehand so we can prep ourselves. A knock out of the blue is frightening, it brings up a lot of questions: Is there someone we owe money? Is there a girl we’ve been with who has missed her period or worse, whose jealous boyfriend or fiancée is looking to see if his gym subscription is working? All these things do donuts in our minds and we cross our fingers and pray that it is just a Jehovah witness looking to introduce us to Jesus.
It is Saturday morning, I’m lying lazily on my sofa in my ratty, red t-shirt written KENYA across the chest and buggy boxers watching Masterminds: I’m usually picky on what I watch, I want to watch shows that are well scripted and directed but I have come to realize that I will watch anything that has Owen Wilson in it. His demeanor is hilarious, even the way he talks is funny. There is this scene in the movie where they are planning a heist and he is trying to convince this blonde dame to be their inside person. I couldn’t stop laughing at the dialogue. It went something like this: (look up the scene so we can laugh together)
“Kelly, seriously what are we talking about security wise?”
“Steve, please, sober up, for real.”
“I’m buzzed, I’m not drunk. Come on, how hard can it be? You load up a truck and you drive away… What I’m saying is, it has to be an inside job.”
“Well, that’s the thing Steve, I’m not inside Loomis anymore.”
“But you must have made contact, you flirt with every pair of pants that comes within five yards.”
I’m catching my breath from laughter when my door is knocked, a quick assertive knock. I press pause and push my door curtains aside; behind the glass is a middle aged man: Short, dark complexion, built like a mastiff. I try to think what would bring such a chap to my door. Does he have a daughter that we’ve rubbed more than shoulders with? One that is an ornament to the eye and has a trick she does with her tongue that you can’t resist, or God forbid she’s a girlfriend and he’s here to play Avenger? But then I think back to the knock, it wasn’t aggressive at all. From behind the door I ask, “How can I help you?” My breath misting the glass. The hem of my T-shirt is a few inches shy from my knees making me look like I am wearing a dress. This is not how I would want a strange man whose motives I don’t know to see me so my door remains shut.
“Open the door, we need to talk.”
I want to tell him that I am in a T-shirt dress and I don’t think it is good for my public relations to come out looking like I just walked out of a Kardashian set but instead I ask what he wants to talk about hoping it’s not politics because if it is he can find Mutahi Ngunyi on YouTube.
“It’s about our houses.”
I put on black pants and open the door, today is not the day my thighs are put on public display. He tells me his house is getting this periodic smell and since my house is directly on top of his and we use the same drainage, he thinks mayhap something might be faulty on my end. I’m relieved that it’s nothing life threatening, besides threatening my hygiene. I want to tell him that I might be a bachelor but I am keen on cleanliness. I ask him to come in and I lead him towards my bathroom so he can see for himself.
“There is no smell here.” He says while shaking his head. (His head is the reason we have the initials SMDH) He continues. “I had visitors from the UK the other day and the stench came, you can imagine the embarrassment I had.” I’m less baffled by his stench tale and more impressed by how he inconspicuously plugged in UK without batting an eyelid and I want to ask if it’s United Kingdom or Uthiru to Kinoo, friends?
“Come and see what I’m talking about.”
I slip into my shoes without tying the laces and I penguin-walk downstairs with my nostrils wide open. I get there and it looks like a house people from the UK would visit. There’s a wide TV and the kind of sofas you see in furniture palace brochures. There is an acridness in the air, something you would get used to if you stayed in the house for a while but would immediately detect if you came from the outside.
“His house, has no smell.” He says in a voice that is as soft as a pillow and a woman peeps her head from the bathroom. Petite and bony with natural hair and I wonder what they talk about on a weekend like this to pass the time.
“Can you smell that?”
Yes, it smells like spoilt milk.
“Ah the boy upstairs must have been eating noodles all week, you know he has no wife, eh?”
“Oh! All that house and no wife, you lie and the way my cousin Atieno is looking for a husband.”
“Eh, Atieno? I don’t think that one would fit the bill, I have seen the girls that come around his house, little tiny things. Atieno is built like a buffalo.”
Eh, is this how you insult my family? I’m sure once Atieno makes him samak and brown ugali he will be singing a different tune.”
And they laugh and laugh before they go back to talking about their UK friends.
“When did the problem start?” I ask like the plumber I am.
“Recently, I thought you were having the same problem too.”
I tell him the pipes might be separate and his must be clogged. I tell him I will try to flash my bathroom as often as possible but he should probably pick up the issue with the landlord. I leave while he’s talking about bicarbonate soda and how it opens up clogged pipes. As I climb the stairs back to my cave I’m unsettled, because now, when I’m uploading my medium rare beef into the Iron Throne I won’t be thinking about Owen Wilson’s anecdotes or humming to Despacito, instead I will be worrying about my neighbor and his UK friend’s nostrils.
A Reader Has No Name
Last week I came up with a name, a regal name fit for songs and poetry for the readers who pitch tent here every Wednesday but the David Maraga’s of this blog decided that the name wasn’t good enough and sent us back to the ballot. I could go on a harangue and say that a few people cannot overturn the will of the author. I could even say that some readers have always been an issue and after this we shall revisit and fix it. But this is a democracy and I am just a guy with ink in his pen not the supreme leader, besides that name will belong to you more than it will belong to me.—
Imagine you’re in a bourgeoisie restaurant. A place that serves sexy food like that new Spanish joint called Picazzo, at The Hub Karen. You’re eating spaghetti Bolognese and sipping a caipirinha with your favorite friends. You’re in short, shorts and your ivory legs are dipped in your wedge heels. Opposite you is your friend with big sunglasses wearing a hand-towel size fabric that she calls a miniskirt. Across her is another one of your friend, the one with a beard and a raspy voice. The tall one with wide shoulders that can barely fit through a door who wears dapper suits. The one you have the hot’s for but you haven’t found the right moment to tell him he’s the love of your life. Think of him asking, “Sheila, what blog do you read?” you respond, “Kisauti.” and then he casually lolls back on his chair and says. “Oh, Kisauti, so you’re a sexy friend too? And a spark is ignited and therein begins your explosive romance.
—But since some of you have annulled the name I’m throwing the ball back to your court. What name should we have? It has to be something you can whisper to your partner while cuddling on the couch, something you can say over a beer with friends and more importantly something you can tell your UK pals about. See you next week, hopefully with a name.
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I like to think of myself as a reader who writes, a Pan-African who thinks with the tips of his fingers, but when I’m not molesting the keyboard I’m usually destroying yogurt (not Frusion) or staring into the vastness of space.