Ships In The Night

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The truth is that daktari is not going to find love in those emails. She was never going to find love in those emails. Actually, it’s going to be many, many years before she finds love. Sure, she will meet men she’ll have to stand on her tippy-toes to kiss, she will meet men who will make her laugh, men she will desire furiously, but she will not find love. Especially not with an email like [email protected], and certainly not on the yahoo platform. That’s a death knell. Time and age turned their backs on yahoo. Yahoo is a technology mummy.  

For the most part, her life will move along on a windy belt of humdrum. For years she will slave under the macabre silhouette of death in ICU, rescuing children from death but she will remain un-rescued from loveless-ness. She will finish her masters. She will cut her hair and go natural. Then dye it. She will take a stab at a PhD and struggle with it. She will tour France with her sister, drink wine and leave red lipstick stains on her glass while sharing endless wonderful moments and laughter under the Eiffel tower. She will continue watching her weight through many a Nairobi Restaurant Week and Burger Festivals. She will attend numerous Koroga festivals. Bourgeois will eat from her palms.

She will eventually abandon checking that yahoo account. Grass will grow on it; long elephant grass that whistles in the breeze. Seasons will pass. Moons will come and go. She will wake up one morning and she will be 33. Her relationship with money will be better than her relationship with men because she met Alex and Verah of Moran Capital Management and they changed her fortune. But she’ll still not be married. She will say it’s cool. That she’s blessed. That it’s God who provides husbands. That she has a mother she loves and a sister she adores. So she will say it’s cool. She doesn’t need a man. She’s happy. She will be dealing with an ex who calls her at midnight when high as a kite saying things like, “Daktari, I still love you, come on, what do I have to do before you believe me?” and she will tell him, “How about you call me when you’re sober,” but he would not call in the morning because sobriety is not a great chaser of brevity.  So she will leave well enough alone.

If you catch her when she is at her most vulnerable, on a Saturday night, three cocktails down, and ask her what she misses about being with a man. She won’t say she misses the companionship, or the cuddles during cold nights, or someone to talk to. She will say that she likes when a man stares at her body while she gets out of her clothes to jump into the shower.

She will be living in one of those overpriced and pretentious apartments in Kilimani with a balcony that overlooks another balcony. She will be driving a red VW Passat with interiors that smell of the tail end of spring. She will have added three kilograms onto her frame. Every Friday she will drink three cocktails to lament each of those three kilograms. But she will look fantastic, filled out in the right areas. She will have become a woman.

She will often take holidays alone. Walking in Forodhani, Zanzibar, at night in a wonderful dress with an open back, eating a chicken shawarma alone on a park bench. Sitting at the edge of the infinity pool at Lake Manyara Serena Lodge, feet submerged in water, sunset stoking the brown of her face, a cocktail glass sweating an arm’s length away. Or struggling to uncork a bottle of wine held between her feet at the patio of Pinklakeman Lodge as a herd of Maasai cattle waddle past down to the shore of Lake Elementaita, trailed by a cloud of dust and a feeble-looking herd boy. Macharia, the proprietor, always the bushman, will be knocking 60 years old then and still driving his beloved buggy around – and breaking more bones.

Three months after her 35th birthday she will leave work early, drive to Junction Mall and sit at Frozen Yoghurt. She’ll be having cravings because she will be on the second day of her menses – excruciating lower back pains, an ugly pimple on her temple. She will be wearing black pants, golden-tipped flat shoes and a foul mood. She will order Fro-Yo Mashups and eat with her head bent on her phone, reading The Long Read in the Guardian. Across from her will be two fat brats making a royal ruckus. They will be kicking about a poor blue ball. At some point, the ball will hit her yoghurt clear off the table and splatter it across the floor. She will look up furious, her spoon held halfway between her lips and the now empty table. The brats’ guardian will grab the two by their chubby arms and march them to her and say menacingly, “Apologise to the lady right now!” The fatter one with the bushy eyebrows that can hide a rodent will start crying. The slightly taller one, will mumble with trembling lips, “We are sorry, we spoilt your dinner.” She will grin and say, “It’s fine, it wasn’t my dinner.” They will be dragged away without another word from the chap.

The next day, at 5.20pm she will be standing at the Shawarma place at Kasuku center, waiting for the attendant to wrap her shawarma. There will be a new guy, not that menopausal chap they have now. She will hear someone behind her say, “Day one dinner; yogurt…day two dinner; shawarma. Now that’s a balanced diet.” She will turn to find the guy from the previous day, the one with the fat brats who spilled her “dinner.” He will look taller than he did. She will smile and say, “It’s not my dinner!” then add half sarcastically, “And where are Yang and Yang today?

“Incarcerated,” he will say, his eyes laughing, “They were a danger to themselves and plants.”

A brittle laughter will explain her lips. “Father of the year you are. Congrats.”

“Oh they are not mine. Are you going to eat both those shawarmas?”

“In my last life I was a big-boned woman. Only fair I feed her memory.”

His name is Todosia. He’s Pokot. Nine months later they will be married on a Tuesday. On the steps of the church she will break down and weep on his coat sleeve. Her sister will bite her lips with emotion. Her mother will glance at the heavens and breathe a sigh of relief.

Life will settle into a comfortable routine for her. She will be the funny one, he will be the emotional and passionate one. A baby will come the next year. A little Pokot with beautiful white teeth like young maize and his mother’s gorgeous eyes. He will buy an expensive car she can’t understand. Her private practice will thrive. They will fight about money. The real estate bubble had blown up five years back, so they will put a down payment on a wonderful Townhouse off the Northern bypass. They will try for a second baby unsuccessfully. She will snoop into his phone occasionally. Their son will grow to look like her, then like him. She will continue buying shoes she doesn’t need. When her grandfather, ailing from cancer, passes on, he will take their son for a long walk to allow her time to have a good cry in the bedroom.

He will quit smoking for a year and lapse back. A day after his 40th birthday, as the rain pounds down (because the weather always sucks when you have to have a prostate exam) she will take him for one and then afterwards, with a mocking hand on his arm, ask, “Did that bad man touch you inappropriately?” One day, he will come home drunk at 7am on a Saturday morning to find the maid hanging clothes on the line and his son watching a cartoon about wild animals who fight with laser guns, and he will find daktari in their bedroom standing in front of the wardrobe and she will not talk to him then, or for the next two weeks and when she finally does she will say evenly using his full name for the first time in many years: “Todosia, I already have one child in this house, I don’t need another, so do whatever pleases you.” That night he will feel a restless guilt eat at his small intestines. On her 39th birthday he will buy her a blue spray-can written ‘anti-sarcasm breath freshener’. She will laugh about that for a week. She will stop waxing then when he complains she will say, “Well, my friend, Frida knows of a man who does great waxing, I’m thinking of trying him.” He will stop drying his hair with a towel and turn to look at her with such an intense look of loathsomeness. She will smile coquettishly and shriek, “What?! You have no problem with my gyno being a man!” She will add weight and then lose it, then add it again and it will refuse to go. Especially her arms.

He will accompany her to Entebbe, Uganda, to meet a father she never knew, a man she only refers to as George and they will sit and wait for him at the balcony of a cafe overlooking a massive Bell Beer billboard and he will pretend not to notice her hands shake slightly. George will not show up and she will act like she doesn’t care either way, she will smile bravely and say “It’s fine really, I didn’t know him growing up and I didn’t expect him to come meet me. He’s dead to me.” Back in the hotel he will press his ear against the bathroom door and hear her sob bitterly over the sound of running shower.  

On her 40th birthday, they will wake up in the signature suite of the Atlantis, The Palm, in Dubai. Her breath will be long, lecherous fumes made from the overnight pickling of two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon. A small village of pygmies will be playing drums in her head. Lying on her tummy, face buried in a pillow, she will groan, “I’m soooo old…and fat.”

“Perfect, now no man will ever want you. I win.”

Her shoulders will shimmer with laughter with her middle finger raised at him. She will pad barefoot to the bathroom wearing nothing but a white vest. He will hear her pee loudly into the toilet bowl and he will smile hard and think to himself, ‘Aki Kiambu mamas can’t pee silently.’

“Looking back at your 40 years,” he will say over the flushing loo, “what is the craziest thing you ever did?”

She will walk out of the loo and stand at the massive glass window of the suite and peek 40 floors down at the breathtaking lagoon below. Her: “There was this one time we were all drinking at your brother’s house and he slipped his hand in my bra….” and he will start laughing. “Impossible! My brother is not a boob guy, we don’t have boob guys in the family.”

Back in bed she will say, “I feel like eating lots and lots of bacon and pancakes. Does that make me an irresponsible 39 year old?”

He will laugh and say, “No, just a hungover 40 year old.”

She will purse her lips and whimper, “Why can’t I just be 39 years old? I want to be 39 years old. I don’t want to be 40 and start behaving like my mom.”

“I think your mom is very cool and stylish and I love her car.”

Sarcastically, “One thing I did right is to marry a very deep man…”

“Not to forget devastatingly debonair with great Pokot genes. Happy birthday by the way, and I honestly think you look fabulous, babe. I can’t remember you looking better in your life.”

“Aww, thanks, baby.” Peck on his Pokot kisser. “But I think you are only saying that because you are completely crazy about me and my beautiful personality and you know you will wither and die of boredom without me.”

He will laugh loudly.

“So would you tell me if I was fat?”

“No. But I would tag you in all the food-related Instagram accounts that specialize in salads.”

Her laughing. “You are a coward.”

Then he will say, “No seriously, what is the craziest thing you did looking back 40-years?”

She will stare at the ceiling in thought and a quick fleeting image of the little “incident” during the doctor’s workshop in Lagos will flash through her mind and she will shudder slightly at how he would react if she confessed to that now: Well, naturally, the trip would end immediately. He would probably throw her makeup bag out the 40th floor window in blind Pokot rage, her eye pencil floating in the Dubai heat like a scene in the Matrix. He would scream at her for hours and pace around the room like a caged beast. Then they would have the most silent and uncomfortable four-hour flight back home on the next available one out.

For months he would look at her like she was chewing gum that had been stuck to the bottom of his favourite shoe. During this time he would go on a bender and shag a few girls to feel even, to excavate his manhood, but every time he would bring a different nipple to his mouth he would be starkly aware of the echoing emptiness in him. They would eventually start seeing her church elder who he would quickly dismiss as an “out-of-touch religious purist” and stop going after the second session. So they would end up seeing a counsellor called Cornelius every Tuesday and he would say very mean and angry things during those sessions.

So yeah, she will remain mum about Lagos like any smart woman would. Instead she will say, “There was this one time I asked Bikozulu to write about me and my dateless-ness. So he did a blog post and I went on six dates with these guys, I remember one was a Suba guy who was convinced he was Luo. It was sad. I was young and adventurous and I…why are you looking at me like that?”

He will suddenly be sitting up on his elbow saying, “THAT doctor chic was YOU?”

She will say, “Uhm, yes, you read that story?”

“Yes, and I wrote to you!”

“Bullshit!”

“I did!”

“No way!”

“Can you remember the password? We can check now.”

“Come on, I can’t even remember our room number let alone a 13 year old password. But seriously I didn’t see your email, I would have remembered your name, it sounds like a pesticide.”

He would chuckle.

“No seriously, I wrote to you after he wrote about the dates.”

“You lie!! I stopped checking that email soon after… holy shit! Isn’t that freaky?”

“I know!”

“Oh f**k!”

“Stop cussing…”

“You always say it’s sexy…”

“Uhm, yeah, when you are drunk and naked…”

She will pull the vest overhead and hurl it across the room. “There, I’m now drunk and naked. Is it f***n’ sexy now?”

He will laugh from his belly.

         ***

Last week I thought to myself: What if daktari’s future husband is in those emails? The ones she won’t read. What if they are like silent ships that pass in the night? Isn’t that beautiful?

Ps. If you aren’t getting notifications please let me know asap. We were having problems last week but some genius millennial here in the office has fixed it.

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331 Comments
    1. I know!I smiled through it.Cute!But being 35, successful and single is one of my biggest fears.Who wants to vacay alone !??:-(

    1. I have checked. The notification emails actually check in between 11.45pm and 2.15am. That is why I always receive them in the morning, one day after posting.

  1. Hahaha! I wish life was scripted like that . I loved it and the mental scenes were so vivid . Good luck daktari. When you find more than one, sambaza . Who wants to be thirty and sorry

  2. I re-watched lion king the other day and I was so awash with details that I had to google lyrics to the song at the end – Elton John’s ‘Can you feel the love tonight’. And I think I finally hacked the whole love thing with this line “there is a time for everyone, if they’d only learn, that the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn”. Love find people and not the other way around. Love will find Daktari if and when she stops looking.

    1
  3. Biko,you held my hand and your blog suggested we were going somewhere-then we went everywhere,then you stopped ,let go of my hand.This blog is the one that should never have had a fullstop.

  4. Awww I badly want to be in love.Sad thing it can’t just happen.Biko you’re artistic.I would have remembered your name…Not sounds like pesticide.Like seriously?haha

  5. I was one of your ghost readers until you said kiambu chicks never pee silently…seriously Biko lets go back to bashing lughyas you do not want to offend the kiambu ladies here hahaha.
    great read as always!!!

  6. Biko, today you have out done yourself.Will def re-read it.And some descriptions there fit my life to a tee.Currently thinking of my Nxt major holiday lol

  7. “So would you tell me if I was fat?”
    “No. But I would tag you in all the food-related Instagram accounts that specialize in salads.”

    hahahah..this will have me smiling the whole week.

  8. What hath happened? She will meet someone in due time, no need for negative prophesying.
    Nothing wrong with taking holidays alone..loads of women hopscotch around the world on their own and have a blast except for the times they hand over their camera to someone else to capture those magical moments and they fiddle and snap a blurry pic.
    The world is huge..if her man is not in those emails, he just may be in another part of the world..God has His ways of bringing random strangers together.

  9. The first seven paragraphs are ugly literally, Pretty sad, pretty lonely. The doctor should find love asap. Happy ending at least. * Sigh*

    ‘Aki Kiambu mamas can’t pee silently.’ CHWAAAAAAAAAA. Hahaha.

  10. I loved this piece Biko.
    It was entertaining and beautiful
    I liked the flow…I didn’t want it to end.
    For a minute there I thought there was no happy ending.
    The way you play mind games man…write a book

  11. Hi Biko, hehe am not a doctor but I can relate to the single lady you are
    describing. Its true the part where we think of how blessed we are.
    A family that loves us ,great friends. I think of all the great connections
    I have made with both men and women and think, if I was married I would
    not be able to keep certain people as my friends. So I tell myself let me
    enjoy being single.

    1. Being unattached definitely has its benefits…benefits some of us would not want to lose should we partner up. This was an interesting social experiment. What gives me pause is this belief a majority of us seem to have, that we have to find that someone…get married. Maybe even have kids. That it will give us purpose…make life better. Does it, though?

    2. You and I think alike.As for me I just want one more year to adventure.Even telling myself kids are awesome but I need to see the world in one more year beafore planning for one.:)

  12. This conversation right here is the definition of trust “Her: “There was this one time we were all drinking at your brother’s house and he slipped his hand in my bra….” and he will start laughing. “Impossible! My brother is not a boob guy, we don’t have boob guys in the family.”
    Sigh…. Their conversations are dope!

    1. I am getting them…its my yahoo.com email address! btw i have kept it running for 13 years and check it every tuesday faithfully.

  13. If I were Daktari I would read and re-read this post until it becomes real. It felt like I was watching a very nice movie. Great read Biko, you got talent.

  14. Biko let this be the last time I say this. Write a goddamn book! **Rolls Eyes** And when coming for my copy I will bring you an Anti-Procrastination Deodorant, and a watch that actually works ( I’ve always suspected yours doesn’t). Fair enough?

  15. his pokot kisser, hehehe. Had me grinning through my investment banking training, trainer must have thought hes on point by the smile on my face. Loved it, such is love, it happens to you, normally when you stop looking.

  16. Biko stop hurting my ribs.. or else I’ll sue this blog…. ‘overnight pickling of two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon’

  17. Oh wow!! Definitely one of my new favs…
    If Daktari is not keen on those emails, please
    let her know she’s free to share that password.

  18. But seriously I didn’t see your email, I would have remembered your name, it sounds like a pesticide.”
    This one made my morning..

  19. I read it till the end..every word and i have a very short attention span and a bad habit of skimming.. Love it! Reminds me of my own convos with my best friend

  20. Is there a problem with the comments part too??can’t see any yet.
    The unread emails part is spot on… Now to write or not to write that email that might end up unread….

  21. haha. it’s a long way back from dating days at Forty I suppose daktari wont even mind if one or the other breaks wind in the house. it will just sound something like
    ” hun, was that you or junior? never mind, you Pokots with your meat! I know it’s that toxic mutura from mochamas, I’ve told you beer and mutura are toxic for your gut”

    “the air is toxic for my gut too, do you want me to die! “

  22. The last notification I received was for the procrastination story. When I didn’t receive anything following week I thought you were setting us up for disappointment. I got a notification today, hallelujah, kuna nuru gizani. I read the post up to the end “unlike watu wengine” eti No.1. Lo and behold what do I find there under previous post and it’s not titled the sickness.
    So Biko this is me apologizing for all the bad things I wished upon you.
    Now I have not one but 2 posts to read. It’s like finding 1k ukifua jeans in that small pocket.

  23. So what happened in Lagos? For a moment I thought this babe was Nduta (“how nduta got her groove Back”. Until i remembered that Nduta was previously married.

  24. Read the part that says,”her sister will bite her lips” and it took me unflatteringly long for it to register in proper context. Its what happens when you start visiting that Literotica website frequently.
    Nice read piece.
    Biggest Tanzanian fan.

  25. haki that screenshot from yahoo looks like my inbox!!! hundreds of
    mails that I don’t bother to read….that God for the button..”mark all as read”

  26. You write beautifully. I’m one of those who didn’t get notifications for two weeks and was wondering whether I mistakenly unsubscribed. Great article today.

  27. Enjoyable to the core! Took in every word, couldn’t wait to get to the end of it.

    Oh yeah, now the notifications are back, I was wondering there for a minute.

  28. what piece, you nailed it at “He will hear her pee loudly into the toilet bowl and he will smile hard and think to himself, ‘Aki Kiambu mamas can’t pee silently.’” i couldnt help but laugh.

  29. I need to know what happened in Nigeria. As in Biko you couldn’t even have given us a side note away from daktari’s hubby?

    I am now getting notifications, thanks.

  30. Ati when is your novel… The Novel you are going to write going to come out?
    ION, I was one of those not receiving notifications but today I did. So no biggie I guess

  31. I have never commented on your posts, although they are all amazing. This one has blown me away… could read this five times over and it will still be just as beautiful. Transcendent!

  32. How you marry reality and something out of this world puzzles me.. Keep up! Also, I’d love to know if akina Todosia really exist..

  33. I didn’t get the email for the previous post, I hope you’ve fixed the problem.Two, I hope the good doctor still reads s,

  34. Lovely reead as always hope le dagitari findes sambarry soon
    My greatest worry in a relationship is learning to share avocado

  35. That comment about kiambu ladies got me like…hmmm.really? Maybe maybe not…seems I have some self examination to do today… Just when I thought I didn’t have anything new to find out…will share the exam results here….

  36. Another ghost reader has taken word-form. A great read! Vivid descriptions and I loved Todosia.

    Receiving email notifications now.

  37. The most vivid piece ever. I could see the red VW Passat, a balcony overlooking another, the trip to Dubai et al.
    Nice piece as usual Biko. Can’t wait for the next one.

  38. All ambitious dream-chasing women will agree…. How we fear loneliness; holidays alone, dinners out with family who have been hitched for a life time …. Daktari will get overcome, lol!

  39. Chocolate man this can be a good script for a comedy drama movie. One of those movies you watch on an idle Sunday afternoon starring Jason Segel or Adam Sandler or even Ed Helms as Todosia and Jennifer Anniston or Essence Atkins or Tracie Ellis as daktari, would be very Hilarious. Very captivating and nice read as always.

  40. This piece emotionally overwhelmed me. I was so overcome I shed a tear… Maybe its because I’m 33 and I haven’t met him yet and my nights are spent reading quietly in the silence of my home. To some extent I enjoy it but once in a while I remember that I am alone and the clock (not biological) is still turning.

  41. I’m not in the medical field, but reading the piece, I felt like thats how my life will be.I love how you describe everything like this part (…silent ships that pass in the night..)
    always a fan.

  42. “But I think you are only saying that because you are completely crazy about me and my beautiful personality and you know you will wither and die of boredom without me” said confidence!

  43. Every girl has a Lagos kind of story. Could be naivasha..nakuru..Diana..even a bogus work related trip to cold Mt. Kenya region

  44. This blog and your other posts have with time become my happy place. The many stupid smiles I have had on my face while reading! Your way with words is amazing – I literally play the conversations in my head. I hardly ever comment, but I will pause today and say THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR TALENT with souls like me!!!

  45. I wonder what Miss Daktari would have say if she was to read all
    the comments above.
    She would be doing us pollyannas a huge favor by at least sharing
    a few thoughts of her own.
    We are all waiting, pregnant with anticipation.


  46. “So would you tell me if I was fat?”

    No. But I would tag you in all the food-related Instagram
    accounts that specialize in salads.”
    this was crazy…l actually love this piece..l really enjoyed reading it.Genius

  47. You can really write man,i never miss your articles,what happened in lagos fr the docter trip?,i wanna know,haha, but for sure i”d keep mum too if i were her

  48. “Shawarma place at Kasuku center, waiting for the attendant to wrap her shawarma. There will be a new guy, not that menopausal chap they have now”

    Eeh Biko, come slowly!!

  49. Eish, notification or no notification, i got the blog pinned on my computer, i check and refresh every Tuesday, always a good read, good work Biko

  50. Oh My Word! What a wonderful read.
    I think this is now my favourite; and I died after reading about the Kiuk funeral.
    Thank you Biko.

  51. Best ive read from you in a while. i honestly had stopped reading your blog for a while because the stories felt the same..but today i decided to read those that i had missed (am bored at the office)i loved this one the most.i love how you told it and that little humor was there.

  52. Hey Biko,
    I think this is the best you’ve written in a while, thank you.

    Just in case you actually do read through your comments section, there were kidogo typos. Fired the editor then?

  53. He is creative as the devil. Why he won’t write a freaking book, and first, is what I fail to understand. So annoying! But thanks, I never come here and read a sloppy article and above all, Biko causes me to laugh a lot. God bless you!

    1. I don’t know. But there is a just way that this series, that is, from “Looking for a date” to “A man A table A chair” and now finally to “Ships in the night”, has had me so hooked. Maybe because you really have a clear picture of what smart, focused ladies in society would want for a guy. I look forward to being that kind of doctor. With such work-life balance. A true inspiration. 🙂

  54. He would probably throw her makeup bag out the 40th floor window in blind Pokot rage, her eye pencil floating in the Dubai heat like a scene in the Matrix. He would scream at her for hours and pace around the room like a caged beast.

  55. Chief , you are the best humorist ( hope that’s correct grammatically ?) after the late
    whispers, son of the soil.Your vivid descriptions remind me of one Elechi Amadi who authored the Concubine.
    I would love to share with you very fine rare whiskey one of these days.Every time i read these blogs i shed tears laughing
    and my ribs ache !
    Kudos brother, excellent job indeed !! The nobel laureate committe in Norway shold start checking you out 🙂

    Cheers !