It was winter here, it was summer there. I was in Barcelona, then I was in Sitges, a small astonishing coastal town, Southwest of Barcelona, Spain. I love water, Sitges has a long stretch of beach. I was in the company of a lovely woman because what psycho goes to a beach in Spain alone? And this small fact sparked a chain of events that signal the hallmark of this story today because at that beach there were women, hordes and hordes of women. And they were topless. I will repeat this statement again. At the beach there were hordes and hordes of women, and they were topless. In other words, their mammary appendages were all out.
Allow me to paint you a picture.
We sat at a quaint wooden makeshift restaurant that faced the sea. The type with a bar served by a shirtless and bearded fellow, the type of man who would cause women to fan themselves upon laying their eyes on him. We were seated on these bed-like low chairs sunk in the sand, nibbling on grilled sardines and tapas, eating with our fingers. I was on bourbon, she on prosecco. A game of beach volleyball would soon start and these women, this band of topless women, started jumping up and down hitting the ball, their said appendages following their trajectory. What would you do, gentlemen? Your woman is sitting right next to you, drink in hand, the sun is overhead, you are in bloody Spain, what would you do? What would Jesus do?
Look away. Right?
It’s in the men’s handbook and this handbook, I believe, is updated annually for anybody to read: Attractive girl incoming at 11, turn your head towards 3. Look away. Looking away is the modern version of turning the other cheek; it’s painful, it requires self-sacrifice and respect and honour. Only pickle was whichever way I looked, there were more topless women sunbathing, or just passing by, licking ice cream cones, speaking in strange tongues. This goes to show that sometimes we stalk trouble, sometimes trouble stalks us.
I sat there acting nonchalant, as if what was transpiring before me was completely normal; like watching a military passing parade on TV on Jamhuri Day. Women have compound eyes because how else would they be looking that way and also manage to study you? I could feel her watching me. I could feel her energy, it had changed slightly. In addition, there was a nascent pocket of silence that was becoming increasingly apparent. I could sense it. Any man does. And it wasn’t a good pocket. It was not unlike the pocket Judas kept the 30 pieces of silver in. A metaphorical cloud was gathering and I was suddenly taking larger sips of my bourbon. I had also instinctively sunk lower into my seat to reduce my surface area for the impending bombardment.
“What do you think of her boobs?” She finally asked me. A trick question. A landmine. An unfair question. Surely, what do women want when they ask inane questions like these? Why do you persecute us so? There is never any right answer when women ask you certain questions. It was not even a question at that point, it was a booby-trap. [Ha-ha, oh boy]. There is a song that would have made a perfect soundtrack of that moment, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ by Michael Jackson.
It’s too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
You’re too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
You’re stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder (yeah, yeah)
This was not a hill I had chosen but sometimes we die on hills chosen for us by the universe. I clearly was being punished for some transgression. What was that quote by Martin Luther? ‘The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice?’ It’s a load of crock. This arc was hardly the length of my arm but it sure was quickly bending towards injustice from what I could tell.
“They are okay,” I muttered with as much ennui as I could muster. I could feel that she had turned slightly and was now staring at me. She had on those round reflector sunglasses that she didn’t like at first, but had ended up buying from a shop in Barcelona. I was afraid to look at her for fear of seeing my guilty reflection staring back at me. The pious crowd at the front might ask, but why would you be guilty if you haven’t done anything? Well, there is a look women can give you that just gets you on the defensive. I suspect that same look can also turn water into chardonnay, given half a chance.
“Just okay?” She asked, a friendly smile in her voice that I wasn’t fooled by, it was entrapment.
“Yeah, they are okay.” I repeated. This is always the only situation where less is not more. She turned back and said, “I think they are nice.” I didn’t offer another comment, I didn’t even look at the girl in question. In fact I cast my gaze farther in the horizon, where the sea met the sky.
There was a brief silence before she said, “Wait, but so if you say they are okay, you mean mine are also okay because we are the same size.” I swallowed a little too hard. “They are certainly not like yours,” I said, trying to sound offended that she had dared compare hers with those! “Yours are much better. By far.”
She smiled and said I was sweet. I wasn’t; I was sweating.
“Which is the best pair of boobs on this beach?” she asked.
“Really!?” I said, sighing.
“No, I won’t be offended.” [Lies!]
“Look, you know I’m not even a boob guy,” I said looking at myself in her sunglasses. “This spectacle here doesn’t even move me that much. Can we just chill? Yeah? Can I get you another drink?”
She laughed and said, “I like that other one there.” She pointed with her chin at a girl in red shorts, sitting on a towel, squinting at her phone. I kept quiet. Silence, my friend, is your ally. Less is less.
Anyway, since Tuesday was due and you all expected a post I remember thinking, I’m going to write about this. I wrote a rushed post from the hotel bed that night. It was titled “Dear Nairobi.” You can read it HERE, if you want.
Enter a reader here called Peter Waweru but nobody in their right minds wants to identify themselves as Peter Waweru online because you’d sound like a debt collector. Peter Waweru sounds like a guy who buttons all his shirt buttons even when he isn’t in a tie. So our man goes by the name WESH – PETERWESH, like James Bond; the name’s Bond—James Bond. It shows chutzpah with just the right sprinkling of grandiose. His picture is that of an exuberant bespectacled chap who probably loves beetroot. He hails from Timboroa; trees, farms and nduthi guys in gumboots sending milk to the milk centers. He started reading the blog when he was in Maseno University studying Business Administration. His comments, if you go back to read them, are long and thoughtful. He read my story when he was working as a business and social researcher at a company along Thika road. Then he commented. You can read it. It got 110 Loves. WESH- PETERWESH was literally running a mini-blog on the comment section. It’s like your tenant subletting the SQ to someone else. Everybody wins.
Now under his comment [people often commented on his comment], was another regular reader BUMBLEBEE. She was all the way in Taita Taveta in university there, studying procurement. She had noticed PETERWESH. “I always enjoyed reading his comments, they were detailed and thoughtful,” she says, “from his picture he looked like a weird kid. He had weird glasses.” She commented on his comment as she often did. She said many things, a little rumble that amounted to saying, “You, with your weird glasses, are my kind of guy. I think you are cool. Hit me up.”
Because it takes a village to raise a child, a reader PATT picked the vibe and egged Wesh to clarify BUMBLEBEE’S queries, “over coffee.” Then MWARE (who likes ‘hare’) said, “Peter, give this chick your number.” Twenty nine people agreed one of who was MWAX who confessed that he too liked BUMBLEBEE but the lady had shown her hand and he would be a gentleman and bow out and if – WESH- ever went to Spain, he should carry BUMBLEBEE with him because it seemed that girl was a scream. Eight people nodded at him in agreement.
All this was happening while PETERWESH was having chapos and minji in a ka-joint next to the office. He wasn’t dating, nor was he looking. He lived alone in a one-bedroom with no plants or pets, just him and his microwave. He’s the serious type who says stuff like, “I was looking for a meaningful relationship.” At about 3pm he logged back online to see if his comment had started a small warm fire where people gathered around instead he found a groundswell of cupids rooting for him and BUMBLEBEE.
So he commented on her comment and said, ‘Girl, are you sure you are ready for Timboroa love? Because it’s a funky kinda love!” No, no, he’s a gentleman, he wrote, “Hi Bumblebee, please share your email address.” This is the point where we say that “and the rest is history” but that’s not who we are here, we like history because upon sharing her email address on his comment in public, things got pretty funky.
A chap called Brian pinged her immediately while PETERWESH was still powdering his nose in the washroom. He wrote, “Hi ma, you sound like you are up my alley. How’s the day going? “He was pretty interesting, I will accept,” BUMBLEBEE says, “but he would email a bit too much and when I didn’t respond in a day he would email a “knock knock, anybody there?’ That was a bit suffocating.”
So, no knock-knock jokes, gentleman.
PETERWESH didn’t knock on anything. “He went with the motion, that was pretty cool,” She says. They emailed each other for a whole year; usual mundane stuff. PETERWESH is not good at emailing, he would respond after days and that would really get her goat. Then one day they organised a meet up at Artcaffe in Garden City Mall for 6pm. That day she took the morning train from Voi. She stared outside at the passing landscape but her mind was already in Nairobi, probably waiting for him at Artcaffe. In Nairobi, she took a quick shower at her pal’s place, did her face and slipped into a devastating short black dress and red high heels. “His profile on IG had a hashtag with Jesus or something and because of that I didn’t want to be inappropriate,” she scratches the air, putting that word in quotes, “I decided to throw on a trenchcoat on top which felt like I was wasting that dress. ” It was July. She sat at a table by the door, crossed her legs and waited. “I was feeling really sexy,” she says.
Because even the best-laid plans can’t go as planned, PETERWESH’S phone died as soon as he left the office. So he couldn’t say he was running late. Eventually he got there. “I found a very gorgeous woman in high heels waiting for me. She literally towered over me.” He says. “To be honest I had stalked her pages during the year we were emailing each other and she struck me as sophisticated and phenomenal. Even my friends thought I was punching above my weight.” BUMBLEBEE was running a company (still does) called KININI CREATIONS. She designs, cuts, stitches the clothes herself, a powerhouse.
They ordered fries and wings and they talked. He told her about how his family had to abruptly upend their whole lives in Timboroa during the post-election violence. She told him that their family home was built by her father from top to bottom using his own hands. “He’s a mason,” she told him proudly. [Her father is now deceased]. Made sense, he thought; she worked with her hands, she had inherited his creativity. A dextrous woman. He stared at her hands as she delicately peeled the flesh from her wings. He laughed at her jokes because she’s the funny one in person but he’s the funny one on paper; a writer of sorts. When the sky outside got dark and the cafe slowly shed customers he asked for and settled the bill. They took a matt to town and he walked her to her bus stage, the sky opened and thin sheets of rain started coming down. All around them people rushed home but they strolled through the streets like they were in some romantic movie.
Later, they sat in her matatu, him keeping her company as it filled up. Her hair smelled of raindrops, his shoulders a dark patch from the rain. They spoke in low tones. “Did you have a good time?” He asked her, “because I did.” She smiled and nodded coquettishly. He wanted to keep her smile in his pocket. He tried not to hold her hand, those nimble-looking hands that built beauty. Her father’s hands. When the matatu was full he paid the conductor and hopped off then stood on the pavement and waved goodbye with his small victorious smile then he thrust his hands in his pockets and ambled away into the darkness of rain but not a drop touched him because he felt invincible.
Later, he texted her to find out if she had gotten home safe. From her bed, cross legged like a Buddha, they texted each other for the first time, having freshly graduated from emails. She wore a private smile as she thumbed words into her phone, her body still vibrating from the rhythm of the evening. “Don’t curve me like you used to with emails,” she texted him, “taking days to respond.” He texted back: “the only curves I now know are the ones I saw today.”
She now laughs heartily at the memory. I look at him like, damn-dawg! He sits there wearing that yeah-what-can-I-say? look, “And to think I was covering my dress with a trench coat!” she squeals, “By the way, I was a bit cynical when I first saw the word “Jesus” on his bio. Most men who have bios reading ‘’Jesus’’, “proud father/ husband or a bible verse in their bio always turn out to be trash.” ( So are men who write GGMU, I’m reliably informed).
We are seated at Pallet Cafe in Gigiri’s Gigiri Close; a massive lovely garden that rolls down a tire to a wooden area. A beautiful wooden outdoor bar. A charming waiter wearing ostentatious Congolese loafers. We are seated by the swimming pool at the bottom of the compound. A beautiful snow-white poodle belonging to an Asian couple playfully skirts and yelps around. They are both having wings and chips, their food language, it seems.
I’m here because after dating for three years BUMBLEBEE AND PETERWESH got married six months ago.
“One day I went to his house after work, “ BUMBLEBEE says, “there were fresh flowers and some slow music playing from the TV, which was showing a reel of our pictures. He had a look on his face and as I looked around, taking it all in, a bit surprised and confused, he went down on his knee and he asked for my hand in marriage.” I look at him like damn-dawg!
“How long was he on his knee?” I asked because I have always wanted to ask someone this.
“A while.” She says, looking at him with a look that suggests that she’s ready to wear his skin.
“Yes,” he chimes in. “ I had sort of practiced my proposal. I knew what to say and when.” They are not only happy, they look happy. Joy bounces off them. I feel like a fly would accidentally land on their skin and die from an overdose of their sanitised happiness. They smile a lot. They look into each other’s eyes; lingering looks. While she’s vivacious, outgoing, and bubbly, he’s more demure. She looks like the risk-taker (as exhibited), while he looks like the type who wants to mull over things a bit longer. The kind of fellow who measures twice and cuts once. She’s the wind. He’s the windcatcher. Want to know how BUMBLEBEE knew for a fact that she would want to marry him? “I like potato crisps,” she says, “whenever I would go to his house for the weekend I would see that he had added potato crisps to his shopping. I would imagine him walking down the aisle in the supermarket, passing soap and detergent, looking for my potato crisps. Maaan, that for me really touched my heart. It meant that he was a thoughtful person who always had me in mind.”
A friend of mine, Shona, sees me and comes over to say hello. “These two guys met on the blog and got married,” I tell her proudly. She says, “Whoa, no way!” I say, “Yeap, would you believe that? Six months married now!” PETERWESH grins loudly. BUMBLEBEE smiles hard.
“Whoaa, how’s it going?” She asks them. He turns and looks at her as if she has better words to describe this overwhelming joy he feels. She says, “it’s going really well. We are very happy.” She looks at him. An angel sings. Of course it’s going really well even though he leaves the toilet seat up and it drives her insane but then again love is a form of insanity, isn’t it?
Well, congratulations to you Kinini Abigael and Peter Waweru. One day in the distant future when your marriage has been buried under the rubble of life and its relentless demands, when disappointments have finally been washed to the shores of your marriage and the language in your matrimonial home has changed its timber and now it feels like more teeth and less tongue, your words suddenly weighed with resentment and your reality gloomy and without a tongue of flame to light its walls and it all seems so impossible, I hope you all take a moment to at least read this piece and remind yourselves how beautiful your love was and how beautiful you all were in it. Then perhaps therein you might find a reason to fight for it again if it deserves a chance. Thanks for always reading and commenting and on behalf of the gang here, I wish you guys all the joy and health.
Well, I guess we now just have to wait for CLIFF-THE-TALL’s love story. Boy, is that going to be a tall tale or what?
The registration of the August Creative Writing Masterclass is ongoing HERE.
If not, just buy my books HERE.