Even as I write this today, almost nine months later, I can vividly remember how nervous I was. I could feel my anxiety slowly building up. I was trembling more than usual. My palms were extra sweaty. They are always sweaty for some reason, and cold too. Even on hot days. Even when I’m wearing woolen gloves. That day they were cold and sweaty. What a day to have cold hands!
My pulse was easily visible from my temple. My body was just overreacting. She was just a girl like any other. Not literally like any other, of course. She was a successful social media personality. She was famous. She was from a rich home. She still is. I know that was a heavy undertaking on my side, but that was not reason enough for my knees to keep buckling and to have my voice vanishing in irregular intervals. It most definitely wasn’t the time for my lips to run dry every two seconds. What a day to have dry lips!
As you read this, you’re probably thinking that this was seconds before the ‘real deal’. No. No it wasn’t. This was 6 in the a.m. It was still dark outside. No birds chirp at that time because I live right at the centre of the busy Kitengela town. No birds can survive the heat waves of this town and still manage to sing in the morning. If they did, it’d probably just be showing off, or maybe even cursing the day they were hatched. But many residents have hens and cockerels and the latter usually blast their crows across the town at irregular times. I always thought that these birds came with automatic timers that go off simultaneously. I was wrong. Our jogoo doesn’t crow. He lost his voice last December. He fell sick just before Christmas and stopped crowing. Looking so sickly, he wasn’t slaughtered for food. We decided to let him live and await natural death. Mysteriously, he recovered a few days after the festivities. But he still doesn’t crow, just in case. Clever jogoo. I’m sorry I’m digressing. I know you’re eagerly awaiting. Let me cut to the chase.
Felisha was at the door. I clearly heard her knock but it would be very unafrican of me to open the door immediately for a visitor. I took three steps forward, four steps backwards, moved one pillow from here to there, shouted “coming” then headed for the door. I tried to hide my anxiety with a gentle smile. I pulled the door open and like my heroes taught me, I hit her with the cliché “Haiya, ushafika!” before letting her in. The ball had begun rolling. It was game time.
I needed essentials for the day. I stood at the chemist door. This was a good sign. No customers, no patients, nobody, just that lovely looking mamaa at her counter. I cleared my throat thoroughly before ordering the goods.
“Naona wewe unapenda hizo original.”
“Hizo zingine niliskia hazikuwangi poa. Ata mtu anawezagonjeka.” I responded, trying to sound as sure about this topic as I could.
“Ukweli. Nikufungie flavor gani?”
“Hio mpya ya lemon. Funga tatu.”
I had a thing for strawberry scents but today I was in a citrus mood. Well, I knew that each packet had a couple of them inside but it never hurt to have some extra ones lying around. And I didn’t think that they would expire. Do they expire? Perhaps three wouldn’t be enough.
I had almost two hours before she arrived and today time decided that flying it would. The house had to be neat. I needed to be clean and most importantly smell good. Kunuka nguvu was no option. And some music. Ah yes, some Chibudi Chibude was in place. So I did what had to be done. By the time I was brushing my teeth, my anxiety levels were sky rocketing and my stomach was cramping. This was it. This was finally it.
I decided to visit the washrooms one last time to perform an African ritual called “Kutoa Uoga.”(Removing the fear) As I was busy answering this call of nature, my phone rang. It was Felisha. She was at the gate, almost half an hour early. Cue my panic attack.
I stormed out of the loo followed by a trail of pungent deadly gases. I ran around the house whirling my jacket around like the women in church when “Bendera yake Yesu, sasa inapepea” is being sang. I was hoping that at least my cologne would fill the air and make it at least less obvious that somebody had eaten one too many beans the previous night.
By the time Felisha was knocking at the door, I had everything going for me, except for breathing.
She was breathtaking. I know I have described hundreds of girls for you, but Felisha embodied the attributes of an angel. She was just an inch shorter than me. Her face was highlighted by a bewitching smile curved by two glossy lips. Her cheekbones glowed- it was as if she’d briefly been dipped in sunlight before popping up at my door. For a second or two, I was rendered mute by her enthralling eyes. The social media vlogs did her no justice. We stood awkwardly for five seconds staring at each other in the middle of the living room before she exclaimed how beautiful our house looked. She was only saying it for formality, I know. She lives in a palace.
“Gosh, you look elegant in that outfit.”
“Thank you. I chose it specifically for today.”
Briefly, we went on complimenting each other and she started ranting about how bodabodas make her feel, well umm, uncomfortable. Before I even offered her a drink, she decided to take a tour of the house. The music was working overtime trying to fill the silence. As I pretended to be busy before bringing up the elephant in the room, she called from the kitchen.
“So why don’t we do this as soon as possible? I don’t think I want to meet your family.”
Wow. Just straight to the point. No small talk. No foreplay? No icebreakers. Just straight into business. Okay.
“Ummmm… okay. Where are you going to feel comfortable? Couch? Counter?”
“I don’t really know honestly.”
Why I went to my room first, I honestly don’t remember, but she followed me, with her bag and sat on the bed.
“I think I like this room. You have a nice desk. That could work. I even like the lighting.”
She was the first girl ever in my room. On my bed!
Wait, lighting? Why lighting?
“Why do you need the light? Is it necessary?”
My question was met with a cheeky smile. She reached for her bag and pulled out a small video camera.
“Is it okay if we record ourselves? I know you are not shy on camera.”
I never thought to myself that I’d start to climb the ladder from the top in this business. I was a true son of an African father, no cameras would make me back out.
“Sure. If that’s what you want?”
“I know we had not agreed to this, but I hoped that I could be able to relive this first time. You know, the mishaps, the mistakes and the raw reactions. But this will be for our eyes only.”
She’d have a ton of those. We were amateurs.
So the several weeks of phone calls and text messages and whatsapp chats were just about to pay off in the next few moments. Of course it would not take more than an hour- or maybe it would. I didn’t know. I had never done this before. So I let her get ready and unwrapped my package from the chemist. Let me just have two on stand by.
As she set up, I ran through some of the texts we had sent each other. I had starred a particularly interesting one. She had asked me what I thought about relationships and abortion in particular.
“Well, if a girl gets pregnant and they both want to abort the baby, they should do it. No man should force a lady to keep a pregnancy that she doesn’t intend to. But also, no lady should decide to keep the baby and force the man to raise it.”
Next I went to the kitchen and poured us both glasses of water. I was shaking. My heart was pounding. Then I got to the room. Shut the door. It was silent. No noise. No interruptions. Felisha had taken down all my Lil-Wayne posters and put away all my books. The camera sat on the bookshelf facing us.
“Are you ready?”
“Yeah” I responded.
“Take off that jacket then.” She laughed.
I laughed back nervously. Okay. This was it.
“Alright Mark, come and sit on this chair.”
As I sat down, waiting for her instructions, I reached out for my lemon sachets. They would come in handy soon. Felisha unzipped her jacket slowly, gradually revealing her tantalizing physique. Wow. So many ideas flashed across my mind, but today we were here for just one. The first one and if I was good enough, the first of many others. So I picked up one lemon packet and tore it open with my teeth. I held the content in my hand.
“Already?” she asked.
“You’re ambitious. Okay. Let me just press record.”
She did. Lights. Camera. Action.
Then she looked at me and said, “Relax, it’s not even hard.” Soon, it would be. This was the calm before the storm. I looked at the content in my hand. Ambitious? Yes.
I held the two lemon strepsils and in a second they were in my mouth.
“Hello guys! Welcome to the Mamanene Podcast. Today I am joined by Mark who tells me it his very first time on a podcast show! Mark say hi.” It wasn’t hard. It was super tough.
But this was time to shine. Go-time.
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