A bulb hanging from the roof sheds sharp light across the room, highlighting the neatly spread bed, the well arranged clothes in the open closets and a blue baby court. Soft jazz plays from a radio on one of the tables in the room; the serenading music dissolves in the space forming perfect collage with everything in the room. On the wall opposite the closet and the one on the left side of the bed, hangs two exquisite paintings brought from Malaysia. There is also a nice scent that oscillates in the room, thanks to the air freshener fit on the wall. Everything in the room is an impression of the fecundity of the individual who did the interior décor; it’s nearly the perfect bedroom, an acme of order and beauty.
Sindi is standing beside the bed, leaning over to a toddler whom she is literally wrestling with to tie a diaper. She chuckles as she corners him and ties it (the diaper). The toddler is her son and his hate for dressing cracks her ribs. Every time he is being dressed, he makes sounds, clearly protesting wearing any clothes. But he can’t have it his way. It’s mid July, and the cold air is taunting. The trees outside are clapping their leaves and branches as though also complaining about the unforgiving cold July breeze, so Sindi must dress this little man warmly. When she’s done dressing him, she holds him in such a way that his head lies peacefully on her left arm as he enjoys the warm breast milk. Soon he starts closing his little cute eyes and Sindi sings him a lullaby-(row row, row your boat, row row, row your boat, gently down the stream, gently down the stream, Merrily Merrily Merrily Merrily, life is but a dream). He grins at her in an appreciation of sorts, revealing a toothless gum, dark just like his father’s. Sindi continues to sing, watching as the little boy is swept away by sleep second by second. She gushes at the beauty that she and her husband brought to this world.
When certain that the youngling is on the deep end of slumber land, she carefully stands up and heads to his blue little crib right next to the king size bed. As she carefully lowers him on the bed she freezes midair, startled by the buzzing phone but more concerned that the noise will wake the little man. She glances at the phone then at her baby who is peacefully sound asleep, totally oblivious of the buzzing phone. She proceeds to lay him on the blue sheets and covers him with a brown blanket, which she sniffs with her eyes closed before covering him with it; perhaps making sure it smells of love. She stands beside the baby court- oozing with love and counterchecks that her baby is well covered, well laid down and comfortable; then turns her attention to the phone that has a blinking blue light at the top of the screen.
It’s a message from her husband;
“Hi,headed to Kisii for a business meeting; won’t be home for the weekend.”
After the succinct line, are two emoji’s
She reads and re-reads the message, every time shaking her head in disappointment, taking the message with a grain of salt. She had hoped they would leave the baby home for a few hours and spent quality time together in the weekend. But her hopes have been dashed by the fifty three words explanation or excuse to get more hours away from their marital home- a red flag of a marriage whose clock is ticking. It’s a Friday night, but this night in particular is void of the warmth and excitement characteristic of Friday nights. She lazily walks down the staircase to the dining room where the house help has served food in dishes and laid on the table. She is drowning in sadness and fighting tears as she contrasts her expectations of marriage and the reality at hand.
“Four years ago she was scrambling out of a crowded Economics class in Maseno University; it was one of those semester units that brought all Mathematics freaks under the same roof. She happened to drop a book and as she walked away, a guy ran behind her and handed it to her. He was a Statistics student but most importantly was well dressed. Well dressed means he was not one of the fashion weirdos who donned extremely tight rugged jeans, strategically lowered to reveal profoundly annoying boxers and an even worse fitting t-shirt printed ‘my money grows like grass’. A t-shirt that was tight enough to highlight biceps gasping for air. No, he was not dressed like that- he had black khaki trousers that were well ironed, a dark blue short sleeved shirt and brown well polished leather shoes. He had not been caught in the dread lock craze that had swept male students like a tsunami, which to be honest was just an excuse for some to evade combing their hair. His dark hair was neatly kempt, and by the looks, he had a good relationship with great barber.
That smart guy was the samaritan who bothered to pick up her book and take it to her, his name- Simon. She expressed her gratitude and before she could walk away, he requested to walk with her. In a University where the residentials’ were so far from the lecture halls that you needed an automobile to cover the distance, an offer to walk with someone under the ever angry sun was always welcome. That walk was 20 minutes tops, but they took nearly 30 minutes, so it won’t come as a surprise that their next meeting was a date on a Friday night. Some haters have described Maseno as the ‘bush university’, but Friday nights there were far from bushy. There was excitement and lots of alcohol and the air was filled with shisha and joy; just the perfect combo. A Friday night could not be mistaken for any other night, it was peculiar. It was the night needy greedy hostel janitors positioned themselves to receive bribes from alpha males who wanted to spend the night with their girlfriends- meaning one of them had to be somewhere they were not authorized to be in the still night. Mostly it was the girl to spend in the men’s hostel and like all contradictions in Kenya, this one also needed money to exchange hands; failure to which the janitor would camp outside the door and call some security guys to be an audience to the drama they would unleash. And on that Friday night, their love story was ignited in a small room, on a squeaky bed, on the third floor of the glorious Kilimanjaro hostels. A love story that went through thick and thin, mountains and valleys, good and bad times and one that found its way to the attorney general’s office two years after they left campus.
The eloquent smart guy she met two years ago, in Mexican soap opera fashion was finally her husband and she was his wife. But the Cinderella Prince charming story was taking an unexpected turn!”
(Sindi in the dining room)
She serves some rice and stew, takes the first bite- but the throat is too dry the sadness too much that it pushes the food up the tract, right back in the mouth. She pushes the plate aside and reaches for a cup then the thermos and pours herself some tea. It’s steaming hot, perfect for a cold July night, but will it be perfect for her? When she is done drinking tea she asks her house help to clear the table and heads to her bedroom, the bedroom whose physical décor contrasts the state of her life. The only thing she feels in this room is her baby, everything else is void and has lost meaning. She closes the door, and stands still at the entrance then sighs deeply, soaking in the loud loneliness and melancholic air.
She undresses then walks to closet to pick her nightwear, then she sees it!- the little black dress with an appliqué that no longer fits on her body, the one that Simon always went sexually nuts every time he saw her in. She stares for a moment then reaches for it and flungs it over the head, somehow hoping that it can fit again, but it refuses to go past the breasts. Since the baby came they (the breasts) have doubled in size and its crazy big because before the pregnancy they were bosomy full and firm enough to command an audience. She knew that her body would change once the baby came but she hoped with exercise and a healthy eating routine she would get back on track real fast, but this has taken longer and she suspects it’s repulsive to her husband. That’s why their marital bed is cold in the weekdays and colder in the weekends.
She tosses the dress in anger and pushes the closet’s window to see the true reflection of her body, the changes that have come with motherhood. But this is not the first time she is doing it, it also neither the second nor the third!! She knows what she will see… The reflection of once a confident lady, now choking in insecurity. She will see heavy skin dripping around the waist, elaborate stretch marks on her belly, the sagging skin right above her elbow. And that is exactly what she sees. She is aware that her flower is wilting from the inside, but she is determined to look beyond what the society defines as beauty, look under the muscles and right to the bones beneath them. She steps closer to the mirror and hunches her head forward to look at her eyes; the big round eyeball, the dark pupil and the snow white retina, then a smile forms on her lips. The lips that perfectly match her small nose and flawless skin. She finally pats herself in the back and slides into her nightwear. But before she can tuck herself in her blankets, the baby cries out…it’s feeding time.
A club in Nairobi along Ngong road is packed like a Trump rally. Some are quietly drowning sorrows in beer bottles; others are laying down their cares after a long hardworking week. Waiters are serving wine and beer bottles and writing bills and collecting their dues. There is loud music that somehow blends with the flashing lights (green, blue, yellow, pink and so on). There is a DJ on a pedestal, tiny towel on his shoulders that he occasionally uses to wipe dripping sweat that forms as a result of turning tables, music tables that is. Then there are girls on the dance floor in dresses that are barely there, dresses that leave very little to imagination. They are twerking to vibe Kartel’s ‘girl a bubble’; there are men standing around them. Each waiting for the opportune moment to join the girls in dancing. The lights, the music, the sweat, the drinks, the elusive sobriety, the money exchanging hands…all form a nearly perfect blend to push the hours of this cold July Friday night.
There are two men in a corner, one has an impression on his ring finger, his wedding ring is in his trousers pocket, this man’s name is Simon, yes the Simon who told his wife he is travelling to Kisii on official duty. The Simon who picked Sindi’s book three years ago in Maseno. The elegant Simon who a year ago signed a marriage certificate, legally binding him to Sindi and Sindi only. The Simon who while in a bath tub in a hotel in Malaysia took Sindi’s hand and promised he would stand by her through thick and thin, in sickness and in health in good and bad times. The Simon who on that night in Malaysia fertilized an egg in Sindi. There is a girl sitted across him, close enough for her uncovered thighs to merge with his legs. She is constantly rubbing her legs against his and he responds in a sheepish smile and a sip of his beer. The second man is Dan. His left arm is locked with the right one of the girl sitted next to him. All four of them are having a conversation on where to take the night next.
“We should take it up stairs or to your place”
“My place? No! How about yours?”
“I don’t mind”
Simon will do things to/ with this girl that he promised only to do to his wife. Things that will be covered in a lie once he is home…
Meanwhile Sindi will toss and turn on her bed, and have a dream that will cause her to tightly clutch on the pillow. Then she will wake up in horror and dismay, to an empty bed where the trickle of resounding sadness becomes a steady stream.