It’s half past five, eight minutes shy of 1738.
The weather; temperate, and Nairobi’s vibrant night life is just about to begin. You are not alone, it’s your birthday and Iskah is treating you out (Oh, and did I forget to mention that you two are dating?) She holds your hand as you exit IMAX at 20th Century Plaza after watching Logan. You cross Mama Ngina street where stands Dedan Kimathi’s iconic statue and she leads you to Pepino’s Pizza at Moi Avenue. You climb up the stairs and head over to the coffee lounge. The place is half full.
You cannot stand crowded places. There is a girl (She looks likes she’s from USIU) typing fluidly on a sleek MacBook Air. Her phone with the Mickey Mouse cover on the side.
Iskah buys two cappuccinos and you sit at the balcony overlooking Nairobi traffic. French Montana’s Unforgettable is on play and the ambient lights stage a dance in the mirrors on the opposite wall, saturating the entire atmosphere with a lazy feeling.
“Hun,” Iskah purrs.
You make small talk with her as you try to make coherent sense of your relationship with her. You knew it wasn’t right from the beginning but you both drifted towards each other from the very first time you met at the party.
Her addiction to you.
She had already hinted at moving in your apartment but you still wanted to put her on hold. It was too early. She excuses herself and says she needs to dash downstairs and greet a friend or whatever. You take out your phone and try to pass time by playing Tetris (Yes, Tetris) but you can’t seem to get to level two because you had opened a window in your mind and escaped.
At the corner of your eye is a woman. She’s sitting at the furthest end of the lounge and you decide she’s Indian (From M.M Patel or wherever) You notice there’s this little game you’re playing with her. You check her out. She checks you out.
The adult version of Peek-a-boo (See what I did there?) She’s nursing her coffee mocha and you can tell from her body language that she was yearning for something. A certain wistfulness in her eyes that you can’t really place. After what seems like an eternity, she stands up, coffee mocha in hand and walks towards your table.
“Is anyone sitting here?” she asks.
Of course there is someone, in fact, your girlfriend, but since you are not the kind of person to close doors that haven’t been closed yet; you say no.
She pushes back her long, wavy auburn hair with this brief jerk of her head.
You notice the red smear of lipstick on the tip of her cup.
Just the tip.
“I saw you here and thought you look so familiar…wait…you are a blogger…Authentic African, right?” she asks
“I knew it! Oh my God it is you…I’ll have to be honest with you…your stories…”
“What about my stories?” you ask.
“Well, I’ve just finished rereading your work for the third time this evening and I just can’t…..just can’t stop drowning myself in the emotions…..It’s like a Nolan Keats kind of thing…I…umm…”
“Aha…go on,” You prod her further.
“They turn me on,”
“Oh, well…Uuhh…thank you?”
You are quite flattered because one; it is not every day that you get a stunning woman talking to you and two; she says that whatever you write arouses her.
And trust me, I’m not using hyperbole when I say that she is ripe (If you say it in Kiswahili, it brings out the meaning I intend you to know, yes, that one)
She tells you that she is half Palestinian, half Israeli. That she has a younger brother who is a recording artist in Rabat, Morocco (Yours is still flirting with clueless High School girls) You learn that she lives in Kilimani. That leafy suburb.
And slowly, very slowly, you fall in a trance. The music and the traffic noise fades into the background, reduced to a fuzz.
At this point in time, Iskah seems so small, so insignificant.
She’s wearing a push-up bra, with a bomber jacket halfway her shoulders. She has two piercings; one on her navel and the other just above the curve of her exquisitely shaped eyebrow. Her ripped Balmain skinny jeans- the 50th shade of Grey- and monochromed Fenty’s that bordered on New Yorkan high fashion.
Ah yes, the pockmark on her left breast.
Her voice seemed like that of water before a waterfall. The slight half bend of her upper lip as though she was hiding an exciting secret. Her tattoo- a Black Star of David with the points peeking out of her bomber jacket every time she moved her hands this way and that way.
She had this oriental fragrance-sandalwood with a tinge of shisha.
“Hey…you look distracted…anything the matter?” she asks, swirling her index finger around the rim of her cup. Her cheeks full of color.
“Nah…Nah…I’m fine,” you lie.
Your emotions are turning inside of you. You refuse to accept the fact that a woman makes you feel like this.
This emotional mess.
“Can I show you something? It’s on my phone, “she says.
“Yeah, sure,” you say; unconsciously subdued.
You both lean over the table, she takes her phone and shows you some pictures on her gallery. You use your finger to swipe forward, and at this moment, she places hers on top of yours.
For a split second, your eyes lock.
Her lips parted.
It was like a conversion experience- Saul struck by light on his way to Damascus.
“.…I’m not your typical mzungu girl,” she says, in a voice that turns you into mush.
In this unexpected turn of events, you see Iskah’s reflection on the mirror, at the periphery of your vision, returning from wherever she went to.
The girl stands up and picks her phone. She touches your shoulder and gives you a peck, just above the curve of your lower lip; a subtle hint at what you could have had, but never will.
The hairs of your emotional being standing on end.
“Who was that Becky-with-the-good-hair?” Iskah asks with this salty look on her face and venom in her voice.
“Just a fan,” you answer, rather absent mindedly, no need in complicating matters.
She’s left her cup behind, yes, the one with the red lipstick smear. You pull it to your side and you notice a piece of paper sticking out under the cup.
You take it and read.
You don’t know when she wrote it, or even when she put it under the cup.
It has a number.
And a name.