12 AMINI: Manu…

The evening found my phone switched off after sending a very strong message about our company policies. Kara is a really good person and I knew better than to compete with my boss. Really she deserved him, all of him. In fact, they both came from the same leafy suburb of Nairobi and would make a good fit. Maybe that was it! They were neighbours. I moved from my last box of tissues to a roll of paper towels. Where exactly was I when all these emotions were getting concocted? Truly matters of the heart are a mystery.

A knock on the door interrupted the blowing of my sorry nose. Aargh! Not on this day of life. I ignored it but the pounding got louder and louder and louder forcing me to attend to the reinforced steel. There he was with what looked like a very hot sufuria of lumpy porridge. He jumped in explaining his gas had ran out and needed to finish mixing his ugali. “Please grab the eggs and Mala in my fridge.” I laughed – Manu’s fridge was so much like mine and probably every other single soul in Amini.

As my friend whipped his magic, I rid the living room of the wet tissues dumped at the corner of my derelict sofa. Quickly, I ran to douse my face with the hope that it would conceal the truth of my afflictions. By the time I was done, a decent dinner for two awaited. He ate quietly, respecting the promise of what these nutrients do for our bodies. My attention was grabbed by the highlighting of cobwebs that stretched from the ceiling into my unfinished canvas. I wanted to get annoyed at Pendo, my once-in-a-week housekeeper, but remembered the many times Kara has covered my shortcomings.

As soon as I took the last sip of milk, Manu picked his sufuria thanking me for saving his evening. “But this is the thing…” He now said in a sober voice, “…It is never that serious.” Never that serious! The woman that usually isn’t me flared up in tearful anger accusing the poor guy of selfishness and insensitivity. Manu, who by this time had stepped out of the flat, turned back and held me. I wept like a most wounded gazelle.  Thirty minutes it took to detox before we finally sat down at the steps adjacent to my door. Manu stretched his hand across my shoulders, I leaned my head against one of his. Just what I needed. A friend. Everybody needs a sufuria wielding friend.

Ehe! Are you the one who is going to spoil our boys now?” It was Mama Clevens. We were so engrossed in the moment we didn’t hear her come. And being that the stairway was dimly lit, a whole lot must have gone to her imagination. Manu and I stood up, quickly moving to the opposite sides of passage in the hope that the chair of Amini’s Womens Welfare Group would find a way up to her flat.

Instead, she chose a tongue-lashing where she accusingly spoke of crafty lasses whose sole intent was to trick innocent lads like her Emmanuel into pregnancy and thereafter leech, out of their souls, every bit of goodness. Manu tried to explain the situation but Mama Clevens warned not to raise his voice against the woman who helped bring him to the world. “And do you know from whom your father used to borrow money when his disorganized employer delayed salaries?” We stood stiff. “Get into your cubicles and let me never catch the 2 of you together again!” With hands akimbo , Mama Clevens waited up at the next landing to ensure we were all locked up.

It was definitely not meant to be a good day. Definitely…


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