CLOSURE BY SARUSH.

You know it’s been a good day when you find yourself dancing to “The Wake-Up Call with Grauchi” that’s blazing through the premium membranes of your Xiaomi Bluetooth Earbuds as you head home from Clabu. Home is Chiromo; a step up from the shady life you lived at Hall 16’s Mamlaka A hostel. There you were regarded by some as one of those bright geniuses who lost faith in God and turned to Anasa and Sherehe. But to many, you were the Master of Form. The Formist. Mr. Sherehe Teletele. You loved the life but have soon grown weary of it and now your life moves on slowly with caution. At Chiromo, you are the guy who decides to live miles away from school. If such a person lived next to me, I would have questions that deserved answers. Why so far away from school? What are you running away from? What happened in your past life sir? I would take to sleeping with my lights on and with the security guard’s number on speed dial. I digress.

The last time I was here, I was very virgin. Very. I’ve gone on to have this much yearned for sex that you all talk about. It is not overrated. It is not underrated. Well rated. X-rated, like this article. Goes a long way to show how much time has gone between the last day you read my work. I had sex. I have had a lot of it. It was mind-blowing. Sometimes disappointing. Sometimes very awkward. Sometimes very satisfactory. However, the last time I was with Elizabeth was the last time I had sex. That’s over one hundred days ago. Wait, one hundred and forty-seven straight days. I’ve not had any more since. I don’t want any more sex.

So, Elizabeth. Poor thing. I met her on Tinder. You remember Tinder?

She was a beautiful bag of innocence and bones. Still is. I was a big bag of confusion and lust. And we seemed to be the best match for each other. Sometimes I tell myself that Elizabeth was like the stitch I needed at that time to save nine. She was everything I needed in a warm cozy packaging of tender love and care.

Elizabeth came from a not-so-humble family. Her mother was one of those businesswomen that imported women’s clothing from Turkey and later became a nominated Member of the County Assembly. Her father was a Dairy Farmer and doubled as a Headteacher at one branch of a well-known Group of Schools. She grew up always having what she needed, but when it came to me, she made compromises out of love. Lots of compromises for love.

I can picture her growing up in a loving home. With two siblings and three hired laborers. One who cleaned, one cooked and the last one was the shamba boy. I picture her dad giving her the ‘why working hard is important’ talks that were riddled with clichés like “Failure to plan is planning to fail” and the all so famous “When the going gets tough, only the tough get going.” Oh, and an absent mum who was either abroad or busy passing whack by-laws in the county assembly. The kind of by-laws that banned liquor stores from areas near schools and worship places. Or that banned selling Mutura without a government license.

Some days I called her Liz. Other days Eliza. But Beth was my favorite.

***

“Is this the kind of life you want for yourself?” Beth asked, still standing at the entrance door of Room 53 – The Penthouse of Mamlaka A, my home.

“I plan to bathe more often though,” I tried to joke, “but everything else seems fine.”

“I love you and I’m here for you whenever.” “But Mark, you need help. You are hurting yourself, and you are hurting me.”

“You sound like my mother. Babe come here. Let’s cuddle,” I suggested drunkenly.

“Get your shit together. I love you, Mark. Goodbye.”

And that is the last time I saw Beth. It was the last time I drank Flirt Vodka Green Apple. It was the last time I said ‘I love you’ to a slamming door.

***

The first day I saw Beth, she had that frown-smile. You know that smile you give your tinder date that has kept you waiting two hours at Sarit Centre, leaving you no other option but to explore the giant mall praying not to end up at Atwoli’s backyard in Kakamega. Like you’re happy they didn’t cancel but also mad they took Uhuru’s tano tena years to get from Kilimani to Sarit Centre. The first words I uttered were, “Phew, landing a chopper on Sarit is harder than it seems.” She didn’t laugh. It was stupid. But in my defense, good things take time, and I was the best thing she would be having that day.

The chicken fajitas at Java weren’t as tasty as her lips a few hours later. But a few hours before the kissing began, we ravaged our way along escalators, up and down elevators and across basement parking lots until we exited the huge mall and ended up at Oilibya’s Marhaba chicken inn for a quick lunch. That day, the three-piecer cost 300 bob. I managed two, each for us and an extra 1050 bob that religiously bought the Flirt vodka litre bottle that came with a 1.25 litre Krest soda. After the third shot, in her house next to Pride Inn Hotel, she touched my goatee- said it felt like her father’s, the headteacher. Then my side bans that had not really connected yet (Like Jalango’s). Then my lips. Especially the lower lip. And she looked into my eyes. Our first intimate interaction was her licking my dry lower lip.

“You’re dehydrated,” she said, kneeling directly above me, both her legs across my torso and hands on my chest, “I can deal with that because I’m wet.”

I looked into her big black pupils. Was this sex? Lying on her bed, I start picturing the seventy positions I could contort her in within the next seven minutes. Then she kissed me. And we kissed. And we broke each other’s innocence. And my life (and future articles) would never be the same again.

***

I was startled by my own reflection in the mirror. I had shrunk to a shell of my original frame. Deep set eye bags underlined my swollen eyes that lately barely saw anything. I smelled of alcohol. My light skin looked leprous. My lip was still bleeding from an encounter I had with the bathroom floor the previous night. I was a mess. My hands were now visibly trembling. I was hungry. I looked unhappy. I was. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and asked yourself where you went wrong?

Was Beth going to come back? Was I going to beat my drinking problem?

The time on my Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro was 11:30 am. I loved this phone. It now had a cracked screen, well because. But it also had photos of the dates we went on with Beth. Saape Lounge in TRM. Big Square on Mombasa Road. A BnB in Kitengela. It had photos of Beth smiling, laughing, and talking endlessly, asleep, awake, sad, happy and tipsy. It had videos of us kissing, dancing, cooking and even one where Beth was chasing down a kitten that had refused to fall for the puss puss trick that summons cats. She caught the poor thing but won herself a few scratches and bites.

“She will be back.”

I need to brush my teeth. My breath stinks. Oh, glovo is offering free delivery. Let me order my last ever bottle of vodka. I’ll quit tomorrow.

I was wrong. It was downhill since. I’ll tell you all about it with time.

***

Well, as I was saying, you know it’s a good day when you head straight home from Clabu without a single regret in mind. It is a good day because it has officially been seven straight days without a drop of alcohol touching your decolorized lips. You feel on top of your problems. You feel in control once more. Your parents would be proud of your progress in sobriety because the drinking had forced you out of school. Beth would be proud of the man you were slowly but surely growing into.

You don’t want to relive all the wasted months. You don’t want to find yourself waking up in your friend’s house in bed naked next to a skinny girl with dreadlocks who looks awfully identical to Boutross. You don’t want to find yourself contemplating suicide by throwing yourself towards Waiyaki Way traffic hoping to be taken out by a speedy SuperMetro from Kikuyu or better, Limuru. You don’ want to break another heart. You don’t want to cause another tear roll down a loved one’s cheek.

You want the liberty. The control.

You want Beth back in your life.

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