Celebrating East African Writing!
“Good morning Sir!” the dogs barked.
“Good morning, Mr. Associate professor.”
They know you are up by now because they were all up last night doing forbidden things when your engine and headlights interrupted their ceremony. You came home late like you have been doing the last couple of weeks. They watched as you fumbled to fit the key into the lock and finally disappeared behind the rusty Iron Gate. Your wife snorted and turned in bed but that did not stop you from falling asleep immediately. You haven’t touched her in weeks. You think she has grown fat and cumbersome from her last two births. She always smells of baby milk and you are not one of those psychotic men who get turned on by baby milk. And, anyway, you are lactose intolerant.
The next day you wake up late and without a hangover. You learnt to avoid them with a little lemon in warm water and a long stay in the bathroom pushing out the remnants of the previous night’s illicit niceties, tricks you learnt back in your university days. Your mouth feels like a urinal in a backstreet bar and lodging. The overbearing stench of onions, nyama choma and Tusker lager still heavy in your breath you hurtle into the bathroom to brush your teeth, knocking over a Kasuku can filled with tee pee pegs.
The feel of squeezing toothpaste down the tube is the subtle catalyst you need to conjure up the images of her hands on you, arousing you. You have learnt to store pixels of her face and svelte figure laid out in the anatomical position like a body awaiting a posthumous examination. You are her loyal pathologist. You will make incisions in her; touch her where she has never been touched. You will stitch her old wounds and heart breaks and restore her trust in men. Her, the current project, the one that has proven impossible to snare, the one who doesn’t remind him of the past three wives he has had the misfortune to pay for their upkeep. Her whose palpable organs you want to rip out and do abominable things to.
No, there is no time for that now. Instinct tells you that the wife is just about to wake up.
You clean up in a hurry and leave the house before sunrise, lucky to have avoided your wife’s routine interrogation about your whereabouts. It’s not as is she could stop you from coming late but you just prefer to start your day without threats of her leaving you alone with the kids, the same kids that haven’t seen you in a week. None of that matters. Don’t you provide for them like every man should? They eat Farmers Choice sausages and cereal for breakfast everyday for Christ’s sake!
You turn on the ignition in your turbo wagon and speed off to work making your way through the lazy streaks of virgin dawn and the howling of the street dogs and the croaking of crows. It is as if the ominous yells from the black beaks are sounds urging you on to your doom. They are spectators for the thing’s you do in the dark. They are urging you on with trumpets and horns: “Go Mr. Associate Professor, Go!”
“Someone needs to cull these beasts,” you say, to no one in particular.
You watch as the sordid sun rises above the hills. It doesn’t stir any emotions in you. She has told you so many times about sunsets and stars but you don’t really care about that celestial crap. All you can think of is her body under yours, her breasts orbs burning under your palms, creating little new tributaries that are a sorcerer’s foreshadow of plenty to come. The sum of your trysts is the catharsis you need to rise from your imminent nadir, the salvation from the crisis looming at your door. You have to get her. It does not matter whether you’ll need to build a church in the middle of Sodom and Gomorrah and burn incense and the tips of your fingers all night. You will light candles for her every other night.
So the sun sheds its shy rays on your daydreams as you negotiate the corner taking you into the institution. The guard at the gate gives you the normal “Habari yako, boss,” that means he has been sitting in that cold for hours and would appreciate some sympathy. Understanding his coded language and, being a God-fearing, generous man, you leave him a hundred shilling note. “Ero kamano jatelo!” He thanks you, the gums of his wide mouth as red as a fresh wound.
No one is at the office. Good. You always like to have a head-start before the co-workers and interns come in and contaminate everything. You shuffle for the Nseries in your back pocket and browse to the music files. She got you two albums from Freshlyground. Ma’ Cheri is your favorite.
“Benga is for old people like your father,” she had said when you had told her about the kind of music you like. “You are so young, live life a little.”
The Afro-fusion fills the lab with the ambiance of a good dream as you measure milliliters of compounds and enzymes into micropipettes. This is perfect, you think to yourself. You are always happier when there is a younger woman in the picture. Zolani’s melancholic voice brings back images of the student. Now she is a witch under your belly, hissing, purring in psychedelic mourns, intonating spells to free her from the bondage of your erect corpus cavernosum.
You decide to call her. She must be still asleep by now; you know her schedule from Monday to Friday; you’re her lecturer after all. She mumbles a hello dear. Her voice puts you on the edge.
“Er…I just called to check up on you dear, I’ve missed you.” She has missed you to Mr. Associate Professor. After a while you hang up and send her Kshs. 500 worth of Safaricom credit. She sends back a message full of happy face and kissing face smileys, making your aging heart kindle with insecure warmth, waves of arrhythmia spreading into that core of your being that rises and falls like tide during the full moon. She is like your little blue pill.
Zolani Mahola’s voice abandons you in the solitude of your morning ritual until colleagues slowly start to pour into the lab where formalities are rarely exchanged. Some of them look at you with suspicion when they here the indigenous sounds coming out your phone.
It’s a painful dive into a routine from this point onwards: supervising interns, too self-conscious to hold still a test-tube; checking correspondence on your desktop; marking exams from students who still don’t know the four bases making up the DNA structure, and smiling to people you don’t like.
You call her again at tea break but she doesn’t pick up. It burns you like cirrhosis when she acts like a teenager. You leave her a long apathetic text message. Your colleagues are deep in conversation but you don’t really seem to be part of it. You are thinking about her. You leave her another desperate message. She doesn’t reply. You log into Facebook and leave her two more messages and decide to go through your previous threads, some dating as far back as December, four months since you started dating. The long conversations about your escapades, of course spiced with exaggerated content, makes you smile. She is also a wild character, always talking about fantasies too elaborate to exist in 3D.
“What’s your wildest sexual fantasy?” She had once asked you.
“Sex in the middle of a football pitch, preferably City Stadium, complete with a referee and spectators applauding,” you replied.
“No one‘s ever made me laugh this much!” she said.
What you really meant was that you were an old-fashioned man; all you wanted was to spread her legs apart and soil her beyond the limit of any industrial detergent, to rearrange her body pattern in an alien motif and do irreparable damage to her, send seismic waves down her spine with such magnitude that they’d find traces of his sperm in her cerebral spinal fluid. Plans are already underway to get her away into an expensive hotel in Kakamega with bed sheets rinsed in Stasoft -which reminds you about making reservations at the hotel. The thought of you two together alone takes you even further from the conversations in the cafeteria. Your ginger tea is already too cold so you take two sour sips and follow your colleagues back to the lab.
5 o’clock: Time for your molecular genetics class, the same class where she miraculously turns into your student. You drive the 20 kilometers between the campus and the institution in wild amazement anticipating the encounter with your impure Freshlyground goddess.
The students are all in their seatts by the time you get to the lecture hall. She sits at the back with earphones on. Her carefree hair a wild maroon; her sickly eyes lost in the expensive glasses you bought her with frames the color of her skin; huge turquoise earrings perched on her ears like dream-catchers; her skin evolving into a the lighter tone of her Suba ancestors. Her friend, also as beautiful, has to pinch her back into class. Startled, she looks straight into your eyes with a cunning stare, feigning some guilt. You both love to play these games, to pretend that the rules apply.
Like every other lecture you’ve had this semester, this one draws on like sluggish blood in the veins of a pregnant woman’s limbs. It’s the same routine; you introduce a topic, explain its relevance, dictate the notes with interruptions to spell the hard words, make a few jokes and expect everyone to laugh, and finally wish the students a good evening.
Today’s hard words: endonuclease, Huntingtin, Okazakki fragments. Some of the spellings you have to repeat because she keeps murmuring that annoying mmmmh? to see if you will dance to her beat. She toys with you as if you were age-mates. You will get your turn, no hurry.
You stay behind waiting for the students to leave as you pretend to be sorting out your lecture notes. Once the coast is clear you stroll to your turbo wagon and press play on the CD changer as you wait for her. You are eager to impress so you play Freshlyground instead of your usual Tony Nyadundo. She appears from behind the lecture halls and sinks into the passenger seat, always feeling at home in the riches that you provide her with.
“Aaah, Freshlyground! Awwww…this tune has been playing in my mind all day,” she lies. Damn these lies. You wish she could just quote her price and get it over with. But you have told your friends that you love to be the predator.
“Wow Dear! I love how you understand me, this is telepathy!”
Exhaust fumes settle on the laminas of leaves as you both speed off the university lawns towards a club in a small town far from the curios eyes.
She orders bottle after bottle of fizzling, ice cold Smirnoff Black Ice, telling you how much she has missed you in between sips. As every iridescent bubble rises to the top and bursts you imagine annihilating her, spanking her bubbly buttocks like a percussion instrument, your arms like drum sticks ridden with leprosy, unable to grasp her. Oh good old telepathy, will let her know of my affliction?
The passing minutes are filled with irrelevant conversations just about anything. The bubbles still popping in staccato loops like beats from the music she gave you. Today you try to explain a concept about genetic vectors to her indifferent ears. You are halfway between the interaction of a restriction enzyme and the DNA molecule when she tells you she needs Ksh. 20,000 for a new computer.
“I’ll think about it,” you tell her, irritated by her impoliteness. Shameless bitch! You have to be mad you to think I’m giving you all that money without fucking you. You order more of her effervescent drinks, urging the arms of your Swiss watch to move just a bit faster towards bed time.
After six bottles she wakes up and fumbles to the rooms at the back of the hotel and like the loyal dog you are you follow behind, saliva dripping from your hanging tongue.
“We cannot share a room,” she tells you. Shit! You had only booked one room.
“I respect your decision.” A prostitute would have been much cheaper. The chase, remember, it’s the chase that you love Mr. Predator.
“Thanks for the company, you are such fun!”
Horny and frustrated, you have to drive back through 30 kilometers of bad tarmac and darkness to the cellulite thighs of your wife. You pick up Zolani and her friends and throw them out the window and play the music you like. Tomorrow will be another day. Maybe you will ask for her friend’s number, the darker one who always sits besides her.
©Clifton Gachagua Antony 2010
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