The Next Table

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She’s in short, thin dreads. A purple top and light blue pants that cut off just below her knees. She’s giddy. She’s been bouncing off her table which is two steps away from mine, excitedly, her eyeballs bulging at something behind me. I turn my head, It’s a litter of kittens. They must have been born today because they can barely open their eyes. She skips back to her table and gets two other girls who seem to be on the same sugar high she’s on and drags them behind my table.

I am thinking about what should go up on the blog today. There is a sentence that keeps zipping across my mind. But it doesn’t have feet to anchor to the ground. It’s a lone wolf. An island. A sentence that I can’t do anything with. Like a tree without roots it’s without form, yet its not sterile. It could sire offsprings but it doesn’t have people skills to attract a mate. It zooms across my mind again, “After her fifth shot of vodka her tongue was losing speed.” I toy with it. I let it sit on my tongue a while. I allow it to slide to the back of my throat and then I gaggle it back up.

Maybe it could introduce something bigger than itself. A premise about a woman who can’t handle her drink and everything is falling apart as a consequence. No, the plot doesn’t get my panties in a bunch, it doesn’t excite my imagination enough.

The girls behind me are now making “aww” sounds as if the kittens in front of them have turned into Garfield. I shoot an eye at their table. It’s a peculiar looking table. That word peculiar, uh. Cut me some slack, I need at least a thousand words to finish this piece. Today is not the day I fight fair. Their table is peculiar. Last time I use the damn word, promise.

At the head of it is a woman, in a polka-dot African-type-regalia sucking on a bone. She looks like one of those angry stepmothers you usually spot in Nollywood films. Patience Ozokwor comes to mind. I look at her and try to squeeze her into my sentence. “After the fifth shot of vodka her tongue was losing speed.” No, she doesn’t fit. She doesn’t seem like the type that drinks vodka or wine. She looks like a staunch Christian, the kind who looks down on any type of indulgence.

I’m back to where I started, looking at girls go apeshit at kittens—with a pesky sentence that won’t stop slapping my brain cells. The girls are four, they are all yellow. Like the inside of an overripe mango. Three of them are gaping at the kittens, they could be seven, maybe ten. The other one is sited at the table. She seems a bit older than the rest and I guess a bit too cool to go gaga at cats. She probably goes gaga about other important things. Like Justin Bieber and bunnies on selfies.

I give her a second look and the word zaps me again. “After the fifth shot of vodka her tongue was losing speed.” No, she can’t have tasted vodka yet, she could be thirteen, fifteen if she’s older. The only thing she’s tasting is lemonade or a strawberry milkshake but who can tell with these Snapchat kids of today? I have the urge to ransack her purse. It’s sited on the table covered with stickers of that Tangled toon.

The girls are now trying to carry the kittens; in return they are making screeching disturbing sounds, probably calling out for their mom who could be anywhere from crossing the border to scavenging leftovers under the tables. Let’s go with the latter. Their dad (Not the cat’s dad, the girls dad) raises his voice and they scatter.

My full attention is now at the table. The woman, who I assume is their grandmother is still sucking on the same bone which is now almost as clean as my nagging sentence. Her mind probably whirring, ‘On this side of the equator we don’t waste food because there are families going hungry.’ It’s a memento that is passed down from generation to generation in African households.

I give the dad a gaze. He’s dark. Clean-shaven-head with wisps of silver on his goatee. He looks West African. He could be Ghanaian or Nigerian but there is an accent to his voice. A croissant-brioche timbre which makes me conclude that he’s Congolese. I want to ask him why he is not dressed like a sapeur. Why he is giving the gentlemen of The Congo a bad name in his simple shirt and riff-raff trousers? But then he is built like an Ox.

Could it work?  “After his fifth shot of vodka his tongue was losing speed.” No, no, no. That sentence was made for a delicate gender. Someone who can baby it. Someone who calls it kababa, wipes its eyebrows with her saliva and sings it lullabies till it snores not a man who raises his voice and gives the sapeurs a bad name.

The girls have completely forgotten about the kittens now. African parents, eh? They have formed a circle in front of me, and they are playing what looks like some skittish game. At the table the teenagers face is still glued on her phone, perhaps wondering why he had to be born in this particular family instead of that of The Kardashians.

I look at their table and wonder where the lady of the house is? I wonder how she looks. I glance at the girls. Those looks could not have come from their dad’s side. She must be a gorgeous woman who dresses to the nines. I steal glances at the table waiting for her to appear but she never shows. Perhaps she’s somewhere else; crossing the border, having a coffee with her girlfriends or a lover. Mayhap’s she’s on her fifth shot of vodka and her tongue is losing speed.


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