I’m not one of those 65-year-old types who type on their keyboard with one finger. You know, searching for keys with their fingers half suspended in the air, mouths half open, mumbling something under their breath. No, I type fast. I type even faster when I have an idea of what I’m writing about and, better yet, love that idea. This is because the window of love of an idea is often fleeting. I type with all my fingers because I don’t have favouritism. All fingers have to work for their pay. I have an All Fingers On Deck policy.
For instance, last week’s article that was easily 3,5000 words? I banged the first draft for 8-hours. Normally once the first draft is down the rewriting is the easier, but lengthy part, taking a number of days of cleaning and polishing and dusting and obsessing.
This whole piece you are reading is not more than 1,600 words but it took me over 12 hours to produce just the first draft.
This is because of a simple cuticle.
I tried biting off the loose hanging cuticle of the middle finger of my right hand last week and ended up ripping it off and unravelling it like a ball of wool. I don’t have to tell you how painful that is, but I suggest you try it out for a first-hand experience. My finger got really painful then it got sore. Luckily, I’m a grown-ass man, I don’t give too much attention to a sore finger so I ignored it and went about my business. The following morning the middle finger was swollen and throbbing. I had been there before, this hoo-hah with cuticles, so I knew it would swell and then heal itself if I ignored it. But it didn’t. Instead it kept swelling as if it had baking powder on it. It looked angry. I figured it was pissed off at me for ignoring it.
Then the pain started, excruciating pain.
I succumbed and said fine, I will take panadols. The pain subsided a bit, but now I couldn’t do much with that hand. I’d try holding things with my other good fingers and they’d fall off. You don’t know how important your middle finger is until you can’t use it.
I’m mortified to say that by the third day it looked plain ugly; like Baba Yaga’s finger. It looked like something a witch doctor would use to point at you to cast a curse on you. It looked like someone else’s finger, someone who often slept under a bridge. And when I accidentally knocked it against surfaces, the pain would shoot up my arm, up my neck and hit my brain and I’d gasp and sit down wherever I was – floor, tarmac, a lap – and grab my wrist and make a big O with my mouth.
I flew down to Kisumu, took a car to Bungoma for a Smile Train assignment, stumbled on a sweet Cleft Lip story and came back to Nairobi with a finger that was now obviously a problem. I recall that at the airport security, I put it in a tray along with my laptop to be scanned. If it wanted attention, now it had my attention. It looked like a crude club, something you could use to knock down a door. It looked like Lucifer’s lollipop.
On day four I decided that this wasn’t normal so while holding my phone with my two fingers, I thumbed a text to my pedicurist, Imelda, over at Posh Palace Hair Studio. [Yeah, sometimes I do my pedi when I manage to get over toxic masculinity.] She asked me to send a photo of the said finger. I did.
‘Whoa, Is that your finger??!’ She wrote back.
[No, it’s Marcus Gave’s.]
‘It was,’ I said.
‘That looks bad. What did you do, Biko?’
‘I bit my cuticle.’
‘My God! Why did you do that for?’
‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘So? What should I do?’
‘Do you have a needle?’
[Who does she think I am, Mother Theresa?”]
‘No, I don’t. But I can find one.’
‘Get one, boil it in water and then prick it. The pus will come out.’
Was she mad? I wasn’t about to prick myself. I’m crazy about myself. So of course I called someone, who we will refer to as Lady for now, who came and looked at it and cooed, “Uuu, that looks sexy.” I chuckled and said, “What, the head?”
By this time my finger was throbbing so hard it looked like it was nodding, agreeing to everything anybody was saying. You could say my middle finger was agreeable, which is something middle fingers are not known for. Lady said, “I think we should go see a doctor.” So we went to the nearest hospital which was Meditest Hospital in Parklands. It was virtually empty on a Sunday, so empty it felt eerie. “Maybe they have killed all their patients,” Lady whispered. My middle finger nodded.
There were only two ladies in the whole apocalyptic hospital. Our footsteps echoed as we (cautiously) approached the main desk. I raised my middle finger at the receptionist and asked, “can you guys help me with this?” Wide-eyed, she took one step back while not taking her eye off the finger. “I have a son,” she pleaded. Ha-ha. No, let me get serious. She said someone could have a look. Then someone came and sent us to a triage where I kicked off my shoes and lay down on the observation bed. “What are you doing?” Lady whispered. She was still whispering even when there was obviously no more need to. “I think I need a blood transfusion as well,” I said, feeling my (vast) forehead with the back of my hand. Truth is I’m scared of needles. Terrified of them. You can chop off my arm but you can’t prick me. Needles make me weak.
While Lady held my writhing hand down on her lap the Someone swabbed and pricked me and tried squeezing the pus but only about 0.01 mm came out. After forty minutes of these two women doing things to my finger against my bloody consent the Someone finally gave up and said, “maybe you should see a doctor.”
“Are you not a doctor?” I asked wide-eyed, the pain vibrating through me.
“No, I’m a nurse.”
Oh for f*kssake!
I wanted to kick her in the shin.
Off we went to MP Shah in Village Market with an extremely painful finger. I stuck my finger out the window to cool down. Some entitled motorists who thought a middle finger out the window was for their benefit hooted and showed me their own middle finger which, honestly, were not as impressive as mine.
MP Shah, thankfully, wasn’t busy. Other patients stared at my finger. OK, they didn’t but I felt like they should have. After the usual song and dance at reception we were led into the doctor’s consultation where a masked young doctor (black) was seated behind the desk. “Hi, I’m Doctor Kenji,” he announced.
“You have a nice family there,” I said, nodding at the framed family photos on his desk. They were of an Indian family. He laughed heartily at that joke. Lady sighed and shook her head.
I showed Dr. Kenji my sexy bulbous finger, now looking so angry after being prodded by those two evil women. He said he couldn’t do much then but he would give me an anti-inflammatory and some antibiotics then I’d come back after three days to have it surgically handled. I don’t fancy young doctors but I liked Dr. Kenji, he had great bedside manners, made snap decisions like he knew what he was doing. I asked him if he worked there full time. He said he worked at Kiambu Level 5 Hospital but only did Sundays at MP Shah.
“Like a locum?”
“Yeah,” he said.
“What’s a locum?” Lady leaned in and whispered.
“When you stand in for someone,” I said.
“What does it stand for? Where did it come from?” She asked.
“I will tell you later,” I lied because I didn’t know. Also, I don’t like being interrogated when my finger is throbbing.
“So, doc,” I said to change the subject, “I suppose you want to specialise?”
He told me he was studying to be a surgeon.
“You must be learning a lot at Level 5,” I said. He said it was exciting and busy; gunshot wounds, knife wounds, broken bones. Yes, surgery was busy and exciting.
He explained to me how when I get back after three days the doctor would inject my finger with local anaesthesia before the surgery. He demonstrated that with his finger. I turned to Lady and said, “that’s what they do during circumcision, inject your glans. Shit’s painful.” She held her head in his hands and sighed. Dr. Kenji laughed.
“I see how and your finger and that are related,” she said tongue-in-cheek. Dr. Kenji and I laughed at that low blow. “She’s a feisty one,” I told him.
Later I told Lady, “I think that doctor will go very far.” She asked me why. I said because he’s great with people, looked focused and hungry. “I bet he’s always working,” I said. “And his girlfriend is always complaining about how he’s always working. And he keeps telling his girlfriend that this, medicine, important to him but she doesn’t get it. She keeps screeching, What about us? Is this not important to you? And it frustrates him.” Lady laughed and said sarcastically, “Please continue, this is fascinating how you make his girlfriend idle and needy.”
[Remember my middle finger was back out the window again. I didn’t care so I continued]
“His neighbours hardly ever see him because he comes and goes,” I said. “Like a phantom, like Zorro. And when he’s home he’s always sleeping on the couch with the TV on and one leg on the floor. His carpet smells of an old unmemorable dream. The few times he manages to go out, most probably Bar Next Door because he looks to be in his late 20s to early 30s, he goes hard. He probably likes tequila.”
“Maybe he doesn’t drink,” she countered, seduced by the madness. “ Maybe he was raised by his mom who was very churchy and pointed at a drunk uncle and said unataka kuwa kama uncle Mwangi?”
“Oh, he drinks,” I said. “Med school is so hard, most of these guys drink. And did you see how he laughed at my jokes? A teetotaler would not have laughed at those jokes. He would be scowling while writing my prescription in his doctor handwriting. Dr. Serious.”
“Er, I think he was using a computer,” she pointed out.
“Sure, why don’t you spoil a good story with facts?”
Anyway, what I’m saying is that for the past few hours I have been typing with one finger like those 65 year-old types with their mouths half open. It’s no fun. Which means I can’t type my long story that I had set out to post today. We will do this next week.
Please wish my middle finger good health and happiness Gang. Pray for my middle finger. Send it words of comfort.
Also guys, don’t wait until the last minute to sign up for my writing masterclass. Si you just fill the class so that I don’t have to write this announcement down here? Sign up HERE.