I am writing this at 6:00 pm on a Tuesday, immediately after my run. I haven’t saved her number yet, nor looked it up on Truecaller. I haven’t even had a shower. Beads of sweat are forming on my forehead and dropping on my laptop and I’m wiping them off with the hem of my tracksuit. My body is sticky and my damp clothes are clinging onto it like grime. It’s gross.
I didn’t plan to run today. I think I opened my social media and saw someone doing leg day and there I was, creating a playlist and putting on my tracksuit. I was afraid someone might leave my class because of my wack playlist so I added: Drake, Future, Fabulous, and some guy called Fivio in there. I hope I’m hip enough for you now and you will stay a while longer.
I hit the tarmac. I have been running for over a year now and like anything you do frequently, you get good at it. It started as a dull run. There was no other runner on the tarmac. It was just me, the sun and Fivio.
I finished the first three kilometers and decided I was too exhausted to do press-ups and sit-ups. I decided to buy ten-shilling sugarcane instead, to get the energy I needed to run the three kilometers back.
I spotted the sugarcane vendor with his wheelbarrow on the other side of the road; took off my headphones and crossed over. There was a woman beside him; women and their love for sugarcane, eh? She was further from the wheelbarrow. She was in a red coat, brown pants, pink flats, and her hair was done in maroon braids.
“Nataka miwa ya ten bob, naeza lipa na mpesa?” I asked the sugarcane vendor.
“Eh,” he agreed, as I had expected he would. With Jayden’s economy, you have to keep all your options open. Next time I might find an ATM next to his wheelbarrow.
“Ya ten hatukatakatangi.”
I threw my gaze at you-know-who. She was still a couple of steps away from us. I didn’t need to buy a thousand bob sugarcane to impress her. Phew!
“Ni sawa,” I said.
She joined us as my sugarcane was being peeled. She looked at me. I held her gaze and she looked away and stared at her pink flats. We were both wearing trousers but I suppose we now know who was wearing the real ones.
She was young. She looked like a woman who hadn’t been disappointed by a man before—a woman who hadn’t had to wait with a plate of hot food till 3:00 am, till the food had gotten cold, till she had watched all the Telemundo she could watch and sleep had taken her—only to be woken up at 5:00 am by a drunk husband. I could be the first one to disappoint her, I thought with a smile.
“Number ya mpesa ni?” She asked with a sing-song voice.
I got the number as the sugarcane vendor said it and started keying it into my phone. While I did, she stole another glance. I lifted my head to find her getting ready to cross the road. I wanted to run after her and ask her, “Unaenda wapi kama hujanipatia namba yako?” It’s a good thing I didn’t because across the road was a man in a Toyota Axio waiting for her; who I realized had a sticky eye on us the whole time.
I looked at him. He was too young to be her dad unless he had her when he was fifteen. He could be her friend, her brother, or she’s a good girl who goes around Nairobi buying men in Toyota Axio’s sugarcane. It’s anyone’s guess.
I got my sugarcane and took a good bite while I walked. As I was chewing, a matatu stopped a few steps away from me and a girl alighted. She had a mop of curly hair. She was slender and wearing a blue denim jacket, brown sandals, and slim-fitting black pants. She looked at me. I looked at her. She looked at me look at her and started walking. I walked towards her. I suppose we were about to know who was wearing the real pants.
I caught up to her and we walked together leisurely like the sweetest couple for what felt like a minute. “Unaitwa?” I asked finally. I was sweaty from my run and I was eating sugarcane with primitive energy. I was in no condition to be wooing the fairer sex, but what is a man if not for the audacity?
She looked at me confused and I looked at her and chewed my sugarcane.
“Dorcas,” she answered.
I spat the chewed sugarcane from my mouth. I don’t have a Dorcas in my contacts, I realized. That was about to change.
“Utakula miwa?” I asked while directing the stalk towards her. She looked like a girl that eats food while dabbing her mouth with a napkin.
She laughed. “Sikulangi ikiwa hivo. Natakanga kama imekata katwa.”
‘Not ten-shilling sugarcane, maybe a thousand.’ I wanted to tell her. I began noticing her face. She was actually a beautiful girl. She had these big brown eyes and you know me and big brown eyes; she had a tiny nose with a nose ring and a tiny mouth that was coated with red lipstick.
“Dorcas hufanya nini?” I asked.
“Unamaanisha nini?” she said while I took another bite from my sugarcane and started chewing.
“Ako shule ama anafanya kazi?” I said after a minute and spat out the remains of my bite on the ground.
“Niko college,” she said.
I thought about telling her what I did for a living and thought against it. I had set the bar low and there was nowhere to go but up. I could be a carpenter. Joseph the carpenter. Christ, that has a nice ring to it. Or I could be a plumber. Mark the plumber. Let’s work with that. The world needs plumbers almost as much as it needs sugarcane vendors.
“Nataka kurudi kukimbia but we should hang out.”
I looked at her, she was now wearing a poker face. I also noticed we were somewhat the same height. She had these long legs that went on and on. I imagined getting a ladder to climb them. The story of Jack and the Beanstalk floated in my head. Who knows, maybe I would climb and find the hen that lays golden eggs up there.
“Unapenda kukula pizza ama kuku?”
”Mimi ni mluyha napenda kuku,” she said excitedly. Maybe she’s from Mumias I thought, and you know what grows in Mumias.
”Hii weekend sitakuwa but tunaweza kula kuku next weekend.” I removed my phone from my pocket, opened the dial-pad, and handed it to her. I looked at her keying in her number and Flexx’s song swum in my mind. ‘….Naomba tu unipe number zako hata ka ni za vako.’
I took my phone and dialed her. “Nisave kama Kevo,” I said. I suppose Mark the plumber is out of the picture. I put my phone in my pocket, put my headphones back on, and started running back while eating my sugarcane.
I had planned to finish eating it before I started running. It’s very strange to eat and run at the same time. I was also running on rough terrain and I realized if I was not careful I’d trip and fall and the Kevo and Dorcas story would come to a full stop.
One step at a time with Fivio in my ear and I increased the distance between me and her and the chances that she could see me making a fool of myself. That’s how I found myself at my desk at 6:00 pm, sweat dripping on my laptop, my damp clothes clinging onto my sticky body writing this moment—preserving it before it fluttered away.
It’s 8:00 pm. I have gotten out of my grimy tracksuit and had a shower and I’m seated on my bed. I have looked her up on Truecaller. Her name is simply, ‘Dorcas.’ I have searched her on social media but all I got was an avalanche of Dorcas’s and none of them were her. What? I won’t get to know if she’s a Proverbs 31 woman?
I look at her profile picture on WhatsApp again. There is the nose ring and that tiny mouth of hers coated with red lipstick.
I get up from my bed and go to the bathroom to piss; while I’m pissing I realize I haven’t been with a girl with a nose ring before. Maybe it’s high time that changed. What are girls with nose rings known for, I wonder? I shake my cock, zip up, and go to the sink to wash my hands. As I wash them, I realize the sink is leaking. Good thing I am no longer Mark the plumber, eh? I take a bucket and put it underneath the sink as my phone makes a notification sound in the bedroom.
I towel my hands and go to the bedroom. I have a new notification on WhatsApp. It’s from her. ‘Hello,’ the message reads. Seduction is a dance. You need to feel the music and move to the beat. I had planned to call her next week and set up our date but she’s already feeling the music and dancing to the beat. Maybe we will be the best of friends. Perhaps she is a plumbing student and she can fix my sink, or maybe we will have chicken and share some sugarcane. It’s anyone’s guess.
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