The walk back from Smothers Restaurant to the station was a pleasant enchantment; but not as fulfilling as the meal they had just had. It was the end of three days that had only been characterized by a biting starvation and sporadic temptation from everywhere. All he had been allowed to partake was water, and maybe…saliva. No fries. No Vanilla cake. No chocolates. No sweets or gum- oh and he loved chewing P.K. Not even drinking of soda or juice. In essence, anything that would justify the existence of his taste buds had been scrapped off his diet. And for three days and nights, he intentionally malnourished his body so that he could feed his soul. An endeavor that saw him brave rumbling stomach, a banging headache, excruciating ulcers… and farting dry air. That’s what the sanctimonious doctor had prescribed for his infirmity. And to treat his condition, there was nothing he was not willing to go through. For close to a decade he had been trying to get past it; and now he was at the epitome of his ultimate sit-down. This was the only option he was left with.
Dave had been fasting.
Now as he held Kate’s hand as they sauntered towards the waiting room, he felt a sense of accomplishment. When the reverend told him that he would have to read the whole of the New Testament; buy and finish reading three inspirational books from the church library, and go chat with a divinity at least three times a day; he knew he would not make it to the end of the first day.
The waiting room was notably filled with mostly women and children (and some of those men with plaited hair, glossed lips and skinny jeans) catching the last glance of Afro-Cinema. Dave particularly reviled these shows. He scouted around for twin empty seats but all he got was blank stares silently shouting for him to get away from their view of the television. Nonetheless he stoically checked until he was satisfied that there was no place for him and Kate to sit. Then took her gently by the waist and guided her outside. He loved doing that…holding her waist I mean. Not only because he loved the way he could wrap it into his arms, but because of the multifarious looks he got from onlookers. Especially the elderly ones, who often condemned them for being publicly intimate. Their eyes bled off approval. Dave did not care. He is a showbiz. He feeds off being on the spotlight. Kate often wondered why he has not asked himself for his own number yet.
Vanity. That was Dave’s second favorite sin. The first one being the reason why he was still hungry even after stuffing fries and pilau and a couple bottles of soda.
It was nippy outside. Heavily pregnant clouds eased their way on top of them, while a frosty breeze swept cynically to remind them that July is not a month of folk and dance. Dave’s ego would not see him in a jumper. He said that it was for sissies, which was funny to Kate because the cold was evidently having a field day with him. The trembling and goosebumps gave it all away. So she invited him to share her shawl. He obliged. Who wouldn’t?
They were clamped together like twin fetuses, with Kate’s head placed on his shoulder, and his arms dutifully fastening her in. Oblivious to the milieu of weariness that hung around the bus station. She could feel the furious beat of his heart rise to an almost deafening crescendo. He was nervous. Scared perhaps. Confused. It was chaos going through his head when she thoughtlessly filled the spaces between his fingers with hers.
“There are no stars today Dave,” she broke silence. “Not like the other day at the park.”
And he wished she had not done that. Reminded him of Tuesday evening; when they had come to book their tickets for the trip. Later on she had asked him to sit on a bench at the park, and then lay on his laps with her head facing up in the sky. She loved doing that…So that she could watch the stars. Dave could not relate with all the mushiness that comes with watching stars. To him they looked like holes punctured on a black blanket covering some lamination on the background. So when she asked him to look closely and think of something beautiful, all he could come up with was himself. But then to suit her sappy flight of thoughts, he had come up with something that would falsely compare her to a fantastic divine flying mammal.
That was also the same evening that she had encouraged him to call up the reverend regarding his ‘small’ crisis.
“Maybe it is because it’s going to rain soon,’ he managed a curt reply.
And it did. Slight showers began to pour, and university students rushed by in groups. He could tell they were campus kids from the way they dressed; geek glasses worn over a Mohawk haircut, colorful jeans and T-shirts that arrested strident muscles that they worked so hard to show off. He did not like them. Something that Kate found comically outlandish because they looked like a younger version of him.
Time check: 8.00pm. A voice from the P.A asks them to begin boarding the bus. The women dragged along their surly kids from the lounge, sullen. It must be because Afro Cinema was not going to continue shortly. The men on the other hand seemed rather indifferent, as they hurried past them carrying nothing more than a small traveling bag on one hand and a copy of the day’s daily securely folded under the other arm. The disembodied voice announced again for the remaining passengers to line up at the entrance of the bus for the routine security check. Which was understandable given the recent spate of terrorist attack, coupled with the fact that they were en route to Western Kenya…Home to the enemies within the gates. Come to think of it, they share one thing in common…their names sound like phlegm.
The queue grew shorter whilst the two struggled to disentangle themselves from each others embrace. Grudgingly and painfully. Dave gets up first, and then reaches out for Kate’s hand to pick her up. He leads her to the bus and eventually they find their way onto their seats, where they lethargically cuddle warmly again. The rest of the world continues indifferent of the chemistry that effervesces between these two. The conductor hands out bottles of tap water (disguised as mineral water) as the bus engine easily starts; and with the first roll of the wheels, Kate slowly drifts to sleep.
Dave looks out of the window. The city lights brave the wetness of the rain. Shining out rightly notwithstanding; as the falling drops from the skies reflect their glow, making Nairobi look like a glistering city. He watches as the lampposts faded slowly while the bus approaches the outskirts of the city. He always knows he is out of Nairobi when the Great Waiyaki Way Wall ends. There are no lights anymore. Just darkness. And on the window, a picture of him is painted. A blurry refection of himself with a background of trees whooshing by in the background.
His phone bleeps. A warning that it is almost going off. He is not expecting any phone calls, and since he is also getting sleepy and does not fancy waking Kate up, he manages a ‘goodnight hun. I love you’ text and then his eyes close inadvertently. It has been a long day.
They are startled to a rude wake when a phone buzzes. It is Kate’s mum calling. Calling to check up on her daughter to convince herself that she is safe. From the conversation, it is rather obvious that Kate had not told her mum that she would be traveling with Dave. For obvious reasons- she would freak out, and ask her to switch seats with the co-driver. Not because Dave is the kind of guy every mother warns her daughter of (which he is); but because the over-domineering lady has refused to acknowledge that after almost two and a half decades of ‘no men/boys in my house other than your father’ rules…it is time to let go.
‘Okay mum. For the last time, I will be fine….nothing will happen to me…yes mum…I understand…goodnight mum…I love you too.’
She hangs up. Then she sees it…
1 new message received.
She reads it and the looks up with an aww-that’s-so-sweet look on her face. The last three words of the text tickles her heart….and debauchery…
‘You looked so peaceful; I didn’t want to wake you’
She then does something peculiar, she places her hand on his chest, and then looks straight into his eyes. Dave looked back. At first he had thought it was a staring contest, then he noticed the warmness in her eyes. He recognized that look from Tuesday evening at the park. He could not miss those eyes anywhere when she wore that looked. They seemed that black blue beads floating in milk. His hand lethargically finds its way north, and he began brushing her hair with his fingers backwards. Nobody spoke in the bus except with the occasional cry of a baby somewhere at the front and the humming of the bus. She adjusted herself and moved forward. And just then she knew that she had lied to her mum. Something was definitely going to happen to her.
One of the women on the opposite them turned diffidently on her seat, and Kate quickly looked the other way. As if she feared it was her mum. But Dave took her by her chin and tenderly turned her head over to face him. Returning them to the same position that they had been just before the slight interruption. And when their eyes locked again, so did their arms in a tight embrace of confusion and uncertainty. He held her tight and felt her do the same in reflex reciprocation. She began to breathe fast, and in the midst her struggle to breathe, she remembered all that she had been taught since childhood. And she understood that she was going against all sensibilities of every teaching. She knew how her mum would go berserk at the knowledge of what she was doing on that bus. She pictured her mother kneeling at the side of her bed praying. Asking between sobs to deliver her daughter from evil. She pictured the expression on her face if she ever found out that she had abandoned her purity at foot of the tree in the middle of the garden and traded her innocence for a bite of the fruit of wisdom.
But what clawed her conscience was what she was doing to Dave. Or rather why. She was the same one who had urged him to go see the reverend on Tuesday at the park. She was the one who kept him going for the three days that he only took water and prayed during mealtimes. But now here she was, handing him the same pill that she knew he could not refuse.
So she asked Dave to let her go. And he did, only that as he did, she felt his supple cheeks do a soft rub against hers. She then stared searchingly in his eyes, as if daring him to rob her of the only virtue that she had left. And he did not disappoint.
He paused when their lips met. Perhaps in disbelief that finally he managed to get past the nose. Then he began sucking and suckling. She had never done this before. The last time she sucked anything, she was weaning from her mum’s tits, so she simply decided to follow his lead. They kissed with an unsettling urgency. With a passion exemplified in the Passion Morena introduction. A deep searching kiss that no doubt stirred something in that lady across the aisle that pretended not to watch. Her eyes were shut as if she was in pain. She was in pain. The pain of finally letting go of something she had been holding on to for the past whole of her life. The pain of mayhem thundering between her legs. The pain of a strange heartbeat, pounding through echoes of a dark heaven waiting for a call of response from Dave. And she liked it. It felt as if the earth was moving beneath her legs. It felt like heaven. Like coming home. Like magic. Like a dream. Finally, as quickly as it had all began, they untangle and she buries her head on his chest.
“Dave! Dave! Dave! Dave!!” Kate called.
He springs up from his seat and looks around in downright bewilderment.
“Why are you yelling my name? Jesus!”
“We are at Nakuru. Get up. Where is the umbrella?”
Street lights danced across her body while lightning flashed across the sky. He looked outside again and was confronted by the hazy image of himself against a backdrop of moving vegetation, as well as the thought of his slumber land nirvana. And he knew God had to be angry. Of course he was hers and she was his, but only for that particular moment in his dream. Because he knew only too well that as the sun would interrupt the moon at the break of day, the night would end; and so would they. For they both were a part of another family.