“Here, use this,” The man takes me out of my reverie. I look at him, his eyes are on the (his) so white handkerchief which he wants me to have. “No…no. I’m fine.” I quickly wipe my tear with my thumb and assume my previous position; looking outside the window.
Did he just try to give me a handkerchief? I was not even crying. Even if I was, he should not be concerned. That tear was not meant to fall.
He distracts my thoughts by nudging my shoulder, “Nikiwa kijana me and Uhuru Park tulikuwa hivi,” he illustrates using his right hand by moving his fore and middle fingers up and down.
I blankly look at him. What is wrong with this man? Can’t he see I’m in no mood to talk?
I’m about to tell him that I’m no mood to have a conversation, I’m tired bla bla bla when the bus’ tout comes to hand him back his change.
“Ah, ata nilikuwa nimesahau. Asanti sana, Mungu akubariki.”
Did he bless him because he really felt it was sincerely worth it? Or is it because rare are the times touts give him back his change, so he saw that as a miracle?
The money is well tucked in his wallet and he is not done with me, “Ile kurelax nilerelax na my wife, then alikuwa my girlfriend,” he taps on the window using his forefinger, “aaaah ata hizi nyasi zinajua.” At this point, he is somewhat leaning on me since I’m the one seated next to the window. He leans back and looks at me, I can feel it. “Whatever it is that is troubling you,” I look at him, he is talking with so much affirmation since he is slightly nodding his head, “it shall be well my brother.”
I don’t know what to say. nod my head to okay what he said.
Kenyatta Avenue. Around the 18th hour. In traffic, that is where we are. A snail is fast, it can’t be compared to this traffic. Before it was moving, but now, we are stuck.
The bus is playing some Rhumba, I think the songs are stored in a flash drive since they’ve been playing back to back. I’m not a fan of Rhumba, well I can familiarize with 1,2 songs but that is from hearing my old man listen to them back in the day. Like right now, the song, Rail on by Papa Wemba is playing. Even if you are not a Rhumba person like me, you have to have heard this song. Do you know, well obviously you don’t know, I used to sing the chorus of the song as ‘wellon’ till C one fine day corrected me of course with a mocking laugh?
And about the traffic, apparently there’s an accident at the round about, a hit and run, I hear. The bus is half empty since most people have alighted along the way. I’m patient and so is the man seated next to me, it seems.
“When was that?” I turn to the man. I think he’s trying to remember what I’m talking about because he takes time to answer. Bulb lights up, “Ah! That was in the 90s, late 90s.” I don’t know for how long we’ll be stuck in this traffic, I might as well have a convo with him. Where is the harm anyway? “For how long have you been married?” He weirdly pouts, “Aaaa…we were married for twenty three years.” Were? Does that mean she is dead? Or he’s divorced? He seems to read my thoughts, “She is late.”
The only thing I say is, ‘oh‘. “I don’t even get a sorry?” He inquires and I quizzically look at him. He chuckles. “Will that make you feel better?” I ask grinning. “Worse.” He says.
Much consolation or you could say many sorrys can either loose meaning to the consolee-if there’s such a word, or make it even worse for them, open wounds. My opinion or should I say experience?
“How long has it been? I mean, since she died.”
There’s just a way when you are talking to a person whom you both have something in common you just want to keep on talking to them. That is what is happening to me at the moment.
“She died in twenty, twenty three so that means it has been…” I do the math quicker and say, “fourteen years.” He affirms, “Yes, fourteen years.”
“That’s quite some time.” I say in thought. “Nikung’ang’ana tu.”he says. I look at him, “Do you miss her?” Before he says anything I quickly say, “I’m sorry for all this questions but it’s just that…” He cuts me off, “Deeply. I deeply miss her.”
Silence. We are both silent.
“Tukicheza tutalala hapa, why don’t we walk to town?” He cuts off the silence. I’m thinking, do I say yes? He is a stranger. But that is not the issue, the issue is, I’m I ready to speak about my loss? Because most likely that is where we are heading to.
“If I’m wrong, I’m sorry but I feel you’ve lost someone too,” I don’t say anything, I just look at him. He continues, “It feels good to talk, I know. You don’t know me, I don’t know you, which makes it even better. Zero judgement.”
I ponder. Allow me to say that this moment is rare, it’s not every day you meet such people. Without thinking too much that he’s a stranger and the nyef nyef that comes with that, we are out of the bus.
“First let me make a call.”
“Go ahead,” he says.
Kui is on my speed dial obviously I don’t search for her in my contacts. Probably you are wondering who Kui is. First, Kui was C’s very close friend while in campus, the grew to become best friends hence her being the maid of honor during our wedding. She is married to one man and blessed with one crazy boy just like the dad. The dad’s name is Oti, a man that has grown to be a great friend and brother courtesy of C.
Kui has been of great help in taking care of my girls especially on days I’m not in, like today. Oti too but Kui is too much, in a good way of course.
She picks after the third ring.
“Habari za Kui?” I playfully greet her. “Za Kui ziko shwariiii” she replies in a coasto accent. “And how are my girls doing?” I know they are fine but still I will ask. “They are great ata Zuri anawachezesha.” Zuri is the son,the son I told you earlier is crazy. I keep my crazy thoughts to myself. “Niiice! Cheki, I’ll be late but I’ll try to be as early as it is late.” What did I just say? “Whatever that means. Anyway don’t worry, we are okay.” We malizia the conversation with the usuals, do I have to say them? I believe you know already.
“We’ve actually not introduced ourselves, so what do they call you?” He asks. I simply reply, “T”
“Ati t? T like tea, chai?” I get that a lot, he is not the first. I laugh it off. “No, T. The letter t.” He is yet to be convinced. “Is that your real name?” I still get that a lot. “Yes it is.” I confidently say, no stutter. He is perplexed, however he does not say it out loud. “Weeell, if they call you T, they call me Z. Pronounced as ‘zee’, double e.” He is lying, it’s obvious. He thinks I’m lying which I’m not. “So far so good, it’s nice to meet you Z with a double e” I stretch out my right hand. “You too T, just the letter t” He plays along and we shake hands.
We cross the round-about.
It’s a cold night, slightly windy. Z seems to be warm by the look of his baggy leather jacket, however his hands being inside his pockets seem to betray that. “Don’t be selfish, share the sugarcane.” What sugarcane? Has he lost it? I ask my thought, “What sugarcane?” “You are making those shhh sounds as if you are eating sugarcane.” I chuckle and tsk
He pats my back, “Why don’t I buy us coffee? Ama what do you say my son?”
I’m no longer his brother. I’m now his son.
Child, go get yourself coffee.
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