Nancy at week 19: Waiting Room Conversations


I really don’t know how to start conversations with strangers. I don’t understand how strangers meet in a matatu, a mall or even a hospital and start talking to the point of even becoming soul mates. I’m not boring; I have conversations with these people in my head. In most social gatherings or even in clubs, I normally choose to sit where I can have a view of almost everyone and everything that is going on then I safely observe everyone and have awesome conversations with the fun looking ones in my head. This week however, I was forced to move out of my corner and I will have to admit, it was pretty interesting.

I went for my normal check up at the hospital only to find the place full. There was only one empty seat and as I was just about to take the seat, a lady came in quickly from outside shouting “That is my seat young lady.” I quickly apologized and retreated. I could not blame her, being an orthopedics’ surgeon clinic for most patients, even sitting down was not the most comfortable position. As I was busy trying to figure out where I was going to sit, a gentleman who was sitting next to the lady, God bless him, offered me his seat. I quickly sat down and started getting ready to socialize in my head. I took out my phone and started to scroll on it looking at basically nothing. The phone enables me to look at people without them noticing. Seated on my right was a mother with a very bubbly kid, I have never missed them on every visit. The kid always shouts “Sasa!” to everyone that comes in and even gives you a high five if you are game. The moment I sat down, he gave me his signature greeting and I gave him a high five. His mother smiled at me and greeted me.



“I can see you are progressing well. The first time I saw you, you were using crutches and you seemed to be in so much pain”

“Yes I am getting and feeling so much better although the physiotherapist is not so happy and has sent me here”

“You will be fine”

“Thanks, bubbly and friendly son you got there”

“He is, he has not let Down syndrome get the better of him.”

Just when the conversation was getting interesting and before I could even get her name, she was called in to see the doctor. I was left wishing I had the guts to start conversations with strangers. I wanted to ask the Indian guy why he is always complaining about the doctor being slow five minutes after getting into the clinic. How fast are things in his life? I also wanted to ask the lady seated opposite me what magic she uses to enable the boyfriend carry her handbag comfortably while holding her hand. The world will be a much better place if that magic portion is spread throughout the world. I noticed that the lady who had earlier on referred to me as young lady and had been on her laptop all this time was now staring at me. I told myself that she was trying to comprehend my bad manners; sitting on a chair that does not belong to me. I wanted to tell her that my list for bad manners is endless to the point that I had noticed the contents of her handbag, then I heard her talk.

“My God! What do you apply on your face? I have never seen such smooth skin”


“Yes you, unatumia mafuta gani?”

I wanted to tell her that I always allow people to have my seat “Nothing out of the ordinary really, mafuta ya kawaida tu.”

“Tell me the products you use, from the soap to lotion and makeup”

“I don’t even know the type of soap I use; it was the cheapest on the supermarket shelf. I use Vaseline and I do not use makeup. I drink a lot of water and avoid junk food”

“I drink water too; lots of it and I can’t stand junk food there must be something you are doing right”

“Hakuna aki, I think it is just genes then”

From the look on her face, I was sure that she thought I was lying and I was just being mean with my secret. I had told her the whole truth. I probably got the good skin from my mother, however since I started taking a lot of water, avoiding junk and took the no alcohol challenge seriously, my skin looks and feels fabulous. I could not even bring myself to take the allowed four glasses of wine on cheat day.

After seeing the doctor, who totally scared me by telling me that I might have to undergo a second surgery because the knee is not healing as expected, I decided to pass by slim therapy and get my mind away from the news. I found two ladies waiting, I said hi and joined them. So much negativity was going on my mind from the possibility of another surgery to the possibility of my leg being permanently damaged, I knew I had to find something to distract myself as I waited and the only option I had was to start a conversation.

“How long have you been coming here?” I asked addressing no one in particular.

“This is my third month, I chose the boot camp package, I have three more sessions to go” The lady on my left replied.

“Ah,nice, are you happy with the results?”

“Yes I am. My wedding is coming up and I can now fit in my dress kwanza at the stomach. Why did you opt for this?”

“I underwent surgery and exercise is out of the question for now. I still want to lose weight, my BMI is not so good and my son thinks I’m pregnant”

“Hahahahahahaha! At least it is your son and not your man. He cannot run away to look for a not pregnant looking and smaller mother. So you used to go to the gym before?”

“No, I hate the gym. I used to walk and jog when I could.”

The lady on my right started laughing “I see we are many, I have never been able to go to the gym after two sessions.”

I am glad I started the conversation because we were able to talk about a lot of things from Euro Bond to latest hairstyles, to men and even got to laugh at a gentleman who came in and honestly looked terrified at the thought of sitting next to three ladies. Things got much better when I got on the scale and realized that I have lost a kg. The pregnancy is also disappearing. I choose to believe that a second surgery will not be necessary and I will focus on the milestones I make. I will also try and start conversations with strangers once in a while….you never know.


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  1. I am also bad at starting conversations but truth is,it helps.Well atleast somebody complemented you on your smooth skin and,you made friends or associates.Good luck with the process.

  2. ‘I also wanted to ask the lady seated opposite me what magic she uses to enable the boyfriend carry her handbag comfortably while holding her hand. The world will be a much better place if that magic portion is spread throughout the world.’ Haha. Magic portion indeed.I’ve particularly found conversations with strangers more fruitful because there’s always something interesting about strangers and I just can’t resist the conversations in my head telling me ‘this stranger here has the most interesting story ever, talk to em!’ A Kg lost is a lot Nancy. Keep up the fight and don’t let the knee put you down. Kudos and best of luck!!

  3. …”Things got much better when I got on the scale and realized that I have lost a kg.” … So there are things worth losing in life

  4. The world will be a much better place if that magic portion is spread throughout the world. i am happy to know you are doing good a piece as you can get from a hospital visit

  5. Great piece of writing… I know women
    who have these amazing ability…. I wanted to
    tell her that my list for bad manners is
    endless to the point that I had noticed the
    contents of her handbag.

  6. Nice read…. I loove making conversations…. two of my closest friends are people i chatted up in a citi hoppa and another in a double M many years ago… My partner too i randomly chatted him at a party 8 years ago…..

  7. Hi 5✋✋…Get well soon Cheroh.
    I once had a conversation with a stranger in a botique and he really inpired me . It all started when I told him “I liked his suit” then to how the dollar is constantly rising and how to make a difference.To date he is like my mentor.

  8. My best friend said Hi to me many years ago back in campus and asked if I could help carry her luggage to the hostel.After that we used to do small talk in the dinning hall say Hi on the streets
    of campus now we she is my soul sister .I often
    joke with her she is my soulmate.I try to start
    conversations with strangers often. wish you
    quick healing .

  9. I do strugglw with starting conversations too and the way I usually really really want to.All the best,we’re all together in this journey of struggling with something you would love to get rid od.Usichoke!

  10. Gosh before I realized this was “Nancy’s” post I read wondering why Biko is being referred to as ‘young lady ” I so relate to you not being able to open up to a stranger.

  11. congrats on losing that kg despite the restrictions your knee gives you. glad that that face is still smooth(chepterian)!! nice piece Nancy.

  12. My younger sis alwaus comments about how easy it is for me to strike up conversation with strangers. A smile will always do the trick to break the ice. I pray that you won’t need that second surgery Nancy!

  13. I am not good at starting random conversations with strangers either, thanks to the many lessons my mum taught me. However whenever i do, i end up in weird situations and more often than not i regret it. Sometimes i wish people would come with a tag about their mood or character, “sad, crazy, chatter box, religious, middle-class-syndrome, judgmental, foodie, alcoholic …” etc then you would choose a safe conversation to have.