I Wept

As the maruti snaked its way out of Naivasha town, manoeuvred by the skilful driver, I looked outside the window, taking in all that I saw as though for the last time; which was somewhat true because it would be the last time in a long time to come. Snack Spot, Antonio’s Pub, Naivasha District Hospital, Milimani Primary School, Consolata House, Guest Inn, Caltex Petrol Station… Keroche Breweries billboard – this is where my retina and optic nerve couldn’t take it anymore, handing over immense power to my lachrymal glands, which always put up a good fight to no avail for a week or two to come. Neither the chips I gobbled nor the soda I washed them down with as we sauntered towards ‘a home away from home seemed to stop my tears from flowing freely down my not rosy cheeks. Well, I must say, in retrospect, Lizar Junior School was doubtlessly a home away from home, ironical as it may have sounded to my ears then. The parting session at the school gate or outside the school dining hall after a half-term break or to go forth into a new school term was never easy, and approximately fifty times, I cried.

Navy blue is such a splendid colour. Regal, in fact. To be clear, I’m stating. I’m not suggesting. Having been granted the privilege of attending The Maryhill Girls’ High School, I now had two choices en route ‘unser Maryhill our home’ to be sad and maybe shed a tear or wail if necessary before arriving and encountering Hosea (if you know, you know) in addition to getting holiday assignments completed the previous day checked immediately upon arrival. Let me tell you Shanice; the Naivasha-Gatundu route’s melancholy cut deeper than the Thika Road one. Be that as it may, I hoped and knew that my girls would somehow ease the homesickness in me: Anita with her cool vibe and comfortable healing silence that we shared; Nana, bearing her motherly aura and jokes; Magdalene, whose behaviour may have been far from the one we all know but a beautiful soul nonetheless, and Linda, who always thought everything was funny until it was not, I cried. During the emotional parting sessions, Hosea would approach us, shouting something along the lines of “wewe mwanafunzi enda ukasome…wacha mzazi arudi nyumbani ama nikuitie Mrs Barasa”. Feigning obeisance to the mere threat delivered rather powerfully, slightly bruising my ego, I would walk up the lane leading to the school compound with my skirt rotating recklessly about my hip, and yes, I cried. I cried. I cried.

Needless to say, Heartbreak is a hotel we’ve all been to. Whether we had the onions chopped for us or took the role of executive chef and chopped the onions ourselves. This particular one came dressed to literally ‘kill’ in a ‘what are we’ evening cocktail dress. When I think about it, if that experience was a course unit, a retake would have come as no surprise at all. I thought it was all fun and games for roughly one week until it was not. On that fateful night, I used a hack disclosed to me by one of my girls disclosed to her by her elder brother allegedly: force tears out of your eyes for seven minutes straight while replaying all the memories you shared. Hiyo Kitu Itakutoka 101 or so I thought. Nilikuwa nadhani, kumbe nilikuwa, and boy oh boy, when the time was right, I cried; again I will say, I cried.

Nevertheless, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.

‘Something must ‘kill’ a man, ‘pick your poison, ‘whatever makes you happy’, to mention but a few slogans employed for the justification of our pleasures, guilty or not. In my case, chapati wins. Ambling joyfully towards the location of my recent chapati plug, I mentally prepared myself to have my M-PESA balance stripped of thirty shillings. On arrival, I fished out my sleek smartphone, ordered one of my best and began the routine process of making payment, eyeing the till number as though I was about to make a huge donation of some sort as I flexed my right hand into my hoodie pocket.

Hardly had I keyed in the till number when the cashier, in a soft voice as a pharmacist would explain to an elder a drug prescription, said, “Ni forty bob.”

I wept.

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