It’s never a good idea to go back in time, especially in the hope of rekindling romance. It never goes the way you think it will. Because there is a reason it didn’t work then. There is a reason you lost touch. Time has a way of eroding things. Beliefs change, personalities evolve, the shape you used to drool at bends or wears off because life, if you let it, will pin you to the wall and hammer your teeth in. I have gone back in time a couple of times and every time it has felt like a waste of resources.
There was Aggie. A sweet, tiny, brown girl who was always top five in class. She changed schools when we were in Class Seven but even that could not remove her from my mind. I didn’t realize I had a crush on her because back then I looked at girls the same way you look at a desk.
It was not until I had long cleared campus that I stumbled upon her on Facebook. She had ripened into a woman. Softly curving hips, full breasts, shapely legs. To put it simply, she had grown to be my type. I inboxed her and soon I was seated across her in a restaurant having pizza. I was still chasing dreams and I resembled a lout but she had cleared her CPA’s. She was an employed auditor and you could see the salary glow on her skin.
I somehow scored another date with her at my house and I remember she was the first girl to come over carrying a paper-bag of something. Soda, sugar, and spoons (Believe it or not, I have plates and spoons and, surprisingly, sufurias in my house). The images of her visit are hazy in my head. No, we did not jump each other’s bones.
I cannot remember the conversation. It was vague and shapeless and without form but I can remember the chit-chat we had while walking to the bus-stop. It was about church. I was telling her that I was not crazy about church but I had no problem taking her and picking her up if things ever got serious. Her whole demeanor changed, as if I had touched a nerve. That was the last time I saw Aggie and her auditing glow.
Kanyambu was a childhood friend. Rumor had it her dad was German because she was mzungu, with raven black, wavy hair. She was also a girl of few words and you could never really tell what she was thinking. After we went our separate ways and I started paying taxes I occasionally thought about her. I wondered what type of woman she had grown to become, how far she had pushed the envelope of beauty, how our kids would look like.
I got her number from my sister’s phone after she told me they were involved in an acting project. I met her in a club in the city center. I was in an ill-fitting coat and trousers that made me look out of space, like an outdated throwback. She was just as beautiful. Still standoffish but there was a new air of hauteur around her that told me I was not in her lane. It was the phone she was holding and how she was dressed—like someone’s mistress. Something told me that the men she paid attention to were the ones who gave orders not the ones who took them. After a couple of unreplied texts I got the message.
We met in campus. We were in the same class. She was a tall girl. Her skin a soft shade of dark brown. We never really spoke but she had a sense of humor and a ribald, come-hither feel to her. I never had the courage to start something with her back then but afterwards I stumbled on her contact in my phone and thought, why not? Our plans to meet never did materialize. We were always busy doing something or the other.
It was raining on the evening we agreed to meet. I showed up at the restaurant five minutes early. Fifteen minutes in she was nowhere to be seen, not even a message to say she was running late. I called her. “I’m sorry, there is crazy traffic because of the rain, can we do this some other day?” A soft, removed, mellifluous voice sang on the other end. That was the last time I reached out to her. She’s never reached out to ask what happened. Sometimes, when there is pain in my heart I can feel the edge of her heel stepping my ventricle.
Marion liked me, I liked her too. She was my colleague: intelligent brown eyes and a figure that could only look the way hers did at twenty-three. She had bubbly energy and a kind spirit. I could tell we were brought up in somewhat similar households because we clicked in a lot of ways. But we met at a really miserable time. I hated my job. I was confused trying to figure out who I was.
We texted on and off but I never really turned on the charm until I left the job and called her for a meet. She was still as beautiful, although she looked drained and there was an uneasiness about her. As if she had left the iron plugged in or she had forgotten to turn off the burner. We talked about work and my vile boss. I remember she complained about the food the whole time.
That was sort of it for me as far as going back to the past was concerned but there was one girl that was stuck in my mind. Last I heard about her I was told she was in something serious. Mercy. I would say she was my first girlfriend, my partner in crime. We would sneak and shower together knowing the scolding that would follow. I used to sleep and dream Mercy. Wake up and think mercy.
Our houses were close together and in the morning we would get up before everybody did. We would get together and I would ask her who she loved and she would say my name. She would ask me who I loved and I would whisper hers. It was cute.
I was toying with the idea of reaching out to her until the universe intervened and we bumped into each other outside Naivas.
I looked at her. I tried searching her in my mind and came back empty.
“Mercy mgani, tulipatana wapi?”
“Kangemi. Mercy wakina Jere.”
I could not have remembered her if she did not bring her brother, Jere, into the fold. Her brother was my best friend then. I tried to picture the girl I knew into this new one I was looking at in a baggy hoodie and sneakers and I couldn’t. Her head was somehow smaller because the rest of her body was bigger. She’s younger than me but she looked aged.
Next to her was an impatient gent in a football jersey and brown khakis holding a trolley full of groceries. I figured she had kids because that was too much shopping for two people.
“Ooh, Meeeercy,” I said in my chagrin.
“Eh, umekuwa buda?”
I smiled, my mind racing, wondering whether I should ask for her contact and try to create some semblance of redemption with a coffee.
“Jere na maparo wako fiti?”
“Eh, wako sawa”
“Wasalimie,” I said and entered the supermarket.
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