Celebrating East African Writing!
Written by George Magunga
He lay on my bed looking up at the white nothingness encrypted on the ceiling. His hands were neatly folded on his chest and his legs trimly forming an obtuse angle at his knees. All this time while he kept raving and ranting, I sat in silence and listened, occasionally scribbling something on the piece of paper plucked from the book of that subject whose classes I am still yet to attend. The whole tableau seeming more like a session with a headshrinker- only that in this case, I was not getting paid, nor was I obliged to give a prescription or advice. I had nothing else to do; a week with two CATs that had been sent (my suspicions) to scratch my brain was finally over. And what better way was there to get my head off things at the time, than to suffer a fully grown twenty-something year old yapping about his contretemps with the scythe of cupid and a Nyeri lady.
‘What do you think I should do?’ he asked when he was finally done.
‘I don’t know matey…you should not have got it twisted in the first place.’ and with that he, for the first time in over an hour, shifted his focus from the ceiling to my eyes. Giving that same look that screams REALLY!
A pause; like he was waiting for me to grace rhetoric with an answer. And just when I thought the conversation was over, he began from the top again. In his mind he probably thought that I had not understood him the first time.
‘Mazee Goon (my pseudonym in school) hebu imagine. Yesterday I was watching a movie- Pathfinder, but I couldn’t think of anything but her. So I went to her place again. This time, she was alone, but the moment I stepped into that place, a pungent of hostility flooded the room. I wanted to turn back and leave but I couldn’t. My legs couldn’t allow me. So I stood there foolishly waiting against all hope that she would beckon me to ‘feel at home’. And when I realized that such small talk wasn’t forthcoming, I made myself comfortable. And that was when she turned away from her laptop to manage a curt greeting. Just imagine…’
Another pause. Just as I began imagining, he went on…
‘Saa hebu imagine she cannot bring herself to exchange our routine pleasantries like we used to. So I sat there looking at her wondering what ever went wrong. What I did that was so unforgivable. I looked at her as she pretended to be doing something serious on the laptop. I presumed it was an assignment she was researching on until she put it down to make herself a mug of coffee. She offered me none…and she was browsing…googling recipes. I mean who does that? Who googles menus when their boyfriend is struggling to make polite conversation? Wait a minute, am I even her boyfriend?
Another rhetoric question, I presumed. So he went on.
‘Yet all this while all I wanted to do was mount on top of her snatch a fruit from the forbidden tree, the sweet taste of sin. Oh, the irresistible temptation of fleeting ecstasy. She sat up to drink her coffee, and to my realization, she had her short black skirt on. My favorite. It was pulled back to the beginning when she sat, and as she crossed her legs, it pulled back a tad further, willfully exposing her two smooth brown paths to heaven. And I know she did that on purpose as if daring me to rob her of that which she once gave me most willingly.
And then he walked in. That kasmall guy that all girls apparently find so cute and huggable. Remember him?’
This one was not rhetoric, but I did not answer, because I couldn’t remember. But since I did not want him to detour from the main story to explicate to me who that guy was, I simply nodded and then he went on…
‘He went and sat on her bed, just next to her. And even though, she was inside her blankets courtesy of the cold, I still felt unsettled with him getting so close. It bothered me that just next to me was this guy, and next to him was that blanket, and next to that blanket on the other side was that short black skirt I liked so much, and next to it were those thighs that I had only been given just a sneak preview of.
But then the final straw that broke this camel’s back was when he opened up to hug her…and she wholeheartedly complied. And it broke me…I almost literally broke down in tears. But I did not. Because even then as I witnessed myself being dethroned by a half a man, I still felt the urge to preserve myself. So I sank back into my seat. And so timely was the feeling of the cold metal that framed the chair.’
At this point I just had to hand him a tissue…he declined. I took it that he was still preserving himself. Like a clown, he tried to put up a show, but all that male machismo that he tried to employ did very little to secure his tear-banks, and when the first drop spilled over, he did not just cry. He bled. This was the second time I saw a man cry genuinely for a woman. Forget soap operas and all that fake jazz that guys use to solicit for embraces. I am talking honest and helpless whimpering. The first time was when I was in class four- at my step mum’s burial when my old man could not help himself that he had to be supported by his brothers. That was the first time I understood the sting of having a rib of you being plucked; and now my friend’s situation confirmed it.
And with that, the story ended…or so I thought, until he sniffed, and wiped his eyes dry then cleared his throat then continued.
‘I couldn’t take it anymore Goon. I wanted to get up and leave but my pride made me its prisoner; caged behind bars of steel of my own making. So for a moment, I sat and watched them as they googled recipes. And when I could not find anything else to pretend to be doing while they chuckled over chicken picatta and mango lassi punch, I gathered what was left of my ego and left without much of a see y’all later.’
When he was done, he looked up at me, as if seeking for validation. I looked away. I wanted to tell him the truth- that he has no business being hurt. All that time he spent being mad at her or that ‘half a man’, was wasted. Well certainly that chic was more to blame for his present disposition, but again truth be told, if he was looking for the guilty, he needed only to look into a mirror.
Never once did he mention anything about them exchange vows of commitment. He never said why exactly he went into her room. He never asked for a hug like the midget. And finally, he is the one who got it twisted. Theirs was a come-we-fuck. They were nothing more than social sex partners. He had no business catching feelings where none was required. Perhaps if he had stuck by the rules of the game, then this break up would have just been one of those things, instead of a freaking tragedy. And if he knew then what he knows now, then it was not my bed he would be laying on; it would have been hers.
That is what I should have told him. But I bit my tongue. This was an infant in this contemporary campus’ idea and definition of love. So I spared him the thrashing. The lady from central province had given him enough of that. So being his shrink for that day, I opened chapter one of Magunga Williams’ Essentials of Campus Dating and took him back to the basics.
‘Lesson number one mate; the doctrine of nemo chudex in causa sua…which loosely translates to: NEVER leave an epic movie halfway for a girl.’
So I finally taught my first student something and realized in the process that if I will ever make a difference in my campus, it’s going to be one broken heart at a time.