After three years without even a wink from a man, Jessica will finally have a lunch date at 1 PM.

She should be excited, but she is not. She’s apprehensive, confused even. What made him think of her as a prospect? What had changed? She had not injected cellulite into her buttocks, or silicon into her breasts.

Her previous encounters with men left her with a sour taste. They’ve been fruitless encounters with boring, tasteless, sugarless, and clueless men. She hadmet men with pumped chests, blown-out biceps, and triceps. Others had chiseled faces, nicely cut lips and bright eyes. Others were tall and lean, clean shaven and good humored. Others had bushy beards, torn jeans, bad breath, and even smelly feet.

But she had wanted to marry each one of them. Not out of desperation but out of principles she held dearly. She could not say no; she was not supposed to say – even think, even imagine -that a nose looked crooked or that a right arm was longer than the left arm. Even if a nose was too long or one eye did not sit proportionally with the other one, she was supposed to understand that God’s creation was perfect and sacred.

Every night, she lies down on her large bed – after work; she works with a blue chip company – and thinks about all the possible reasons why men went for her friends and left her. Did she have strong body odor? No. Was she not beautiful? Sleep evades her. She twists and turns in bed.

A tear often falls off her eyes.

Jessica was a Christian woman, part of a large community of women without dates and wishing they had. Tired of waiting for Christian men who were disillusioned with marriage. Christian men said ‘marrying a Christian woman is like carrying the world with your pinky finger’. First you need to buy a thousand plus coffee cups to gauge the situation of her heart. Because you must be careful. Most, perhaps all of them, are healing from some sort of hurt – real or imagined. You’re lucky if you hit the jackpot at the 1000th cup. Most Christian men get ‘you’re such a nice guy, why don’t we just be friends?’ Those days excessive dowry was paid to gluttonous parents, rogue uncles and condescending aunties. Wedding rings, sprayed with fake gold but costing the price of pure gold, were mandatory. Then wed. The wedding price was too heavy. Bank loans and spirited begging from friends saved the day.

Christian women were jinxed. Sad days they were. Many were passed their sell-by date. The world blamed them. Many of them, the world said, wanted a perfect life – blessed men, men who had had their knees calloused from prayer and fasting. Men who now owned big wallets and big cars, big houses and big jobs.

Jessica suffered in that collective sin. But Jessica had never been that pretentious. She was a good woman from childhood. Her mother, raised Catholic, married into the protesting Anglican before crossing into a contemporary church once warned her that “God expect you to be pure, uncondescending, and respectful. And He’s the only one who shall get you a man”. Jessica was baptized at three years and from then on, she started her walk with the Lord. At 21 years she graduated from Nairobi University. Three years later, she got her master’s degree from USIU, and three years after, under the canopy trees, close to the charming Charles River in Boston USA, Jessica was awarded her PhD.

That’s not to say, well, she decided to get married to education, why does she cry foul? Her story makes sense.

At the Nairobi University he met the shy Joel. Joel was a lean and handsome Christian man, a staunch member of the Christian Union. Jessica remembers him for his manners – drawing her the chair at the restaurant and making sure he called to find out if she was home. Even though he never hugged her – the prick of a woman’s breasts conjured sinful thoughts – he often looked into her eyes until her heart began to race. Thinking about it now, Joel was the man. Even though she hated the thoughts of sleeping next to Joel, she had her private fantasies about him. Joel was a good Christian man. He said nothing but shared a lot of bible verses. After graduation, Joel wanted to say something, and Jessica wanted him to say something. By the time the Christian Union said farewell, Joel had not even complemented her hair.

Jessica cried later that evening. Jessica loved Joel.

Life had to go on. Life took her to USIU where she met Peter. Ohh Peter. Everybody thought they were going to get married. Her friends told her that Peter was telling the other boys that she was going to take her out for dinner. Peter did not. Even at the airport on her way to Boston, she’d wanted Peter to say something. Finally Peter said something.

“May God protect you. May the good Lord watch over you. May his face shine upon you.”

Jessica cried in the plane. Jessica loved Peter.

But she was still young. Two days before she left the country, her father, a wise man with long hair and shiny bald at the center of his skull, had told her, “You have many years ahead of you. Use them well. Don’t forsake the faith. America is a rotten place, my angel. Make daddy proud, will you?”

In Boston, Jessica shared an apartment with a good mannered Chinese-American young woman – a pious grandson of a Chinese immigrant who had dumped her Chinese goddess Feng Po Po for Jesus. Jessica remembers her for her sheepish smile and fruity voice. Together they repulsed the leer and whistles of the rotten American college boys. They studied the bible and walked along Charles River talking about the bible and academics.

Jessica thought she would survive American sugar and junk food. Her body was soon full of sugar. Mc Donald burgers soon jump-started her hips. Or maybe she was just becoming a woman. Whatever the case, Alec, the Christian who showed up at church early every Sunday, soon took note of those African hips, the sway and firmness.

Jessica like him too. Jessica still remembers his handshake, his full lips. Soon they were going out. They often bought burgers, Coke, and sat on the meadow next to the football pitch. She spread her leso on the grass so their skins did not itch. Alec told her stories of Scotland. He was a Scottish Pict with a shade of British blood. Jessica told him stories of Mau Mau and MajiMaji rebellion, even GorMahia myths. Once he said, “I like you – very much” and then looked away. Jessica loved him but she did not say.

‘You have beautiful lips’ was all she managed.

Alec never said anything more. At the airport, on her way back to Kenya, after her graduation and an emotional embrace from the Chinese- American roommate, Alec said something. “God loves you very much, sweetheart”.

She cried in the plane. Jessica loved Alec.

And her tears, who said they won’t finally dry up? They dried before she touched down once again at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. That wonderful afternoon, the breeze was warm and the scattered trees at the airport waved their welcome. His father, the bald on his head larger and shinier, and his mother, her skin beginning to sag from her cheeks, were there together with her brother and sister. Later that night, when Jessica had retired to her room and the mother and father were wrapped in bed, her mother quipped that “she’s finally a woman. With a PhD she’ll bring us good tidings.”

Later she asked about Joel. Joel was married. To who? Nobody cared. Jessica sighed. A good Christian woman should wait. Wait with patience. Patience pays. In good time, soon enough, the Lord will provide. Jessica waited. She’d secured a plum job with the UN, she lived in the lushest corner of the city, and drove a red plated SUV. She ate at Java and slept in a six-by-six mahogany bed.

Life, as it looked from outside, was sweet.  But at night, the six bedroomed bungalow was too lonely and deserted. The only flower that sat on the stand, next to her bed, was her mother’s gift. Every night she prayed to God.

“Give me a man, a good man”. Sometimes she cried. “How can you give me all these things, this big car, this wonderful house, this…” she would caress the arm of the bed, the smooth expensive wood, “this large bed”. She would cry, douse her sheets with her tears and then sleep and wake up with swollen eyes.

She also wanted to say add that ‘God how can you give me these nice hips and supple bosom?’ But she respected God.

“Are you sick?” a young, tall, IT intern at the UN once asked her.
“Do I look sick?” she’d retorted.

It was showing. For three years she’d not sat across a man, in a restaurant, talking about her how beautiful her lips were, how large her hips were, how charming she was.

About charming, she was delightful. In church, she showed up fully beautified; her skirts were not too short, not too long. As men said, even Christian men, she had loin-warming legs, long, sinuous, smooth as silk. Her blouses hugged her, not tightly, not loosely. She had the kind of breasts that swung moods. There was a general agreement that God had placed them symmetrically, puffed them out so that they stood like wild fruits.  She liked to paint her lips deep red, a color that complimented her brown cheeks. And eyes; they were huge and arresting. She detested weaves and wigs and braids. So she had her hair combed out with a result bordering on kinky and sexy.

On Sundays interested Christian men escorted her to the parking lot, each buying time, fighting the fear before attempting to say something. But then they would see her red SUV. It lay full length in the parking, big side-mirrors like elephant ears. They’d quickly say ‘the Lord keep you, sister’ then dash away.

After the service, she often drove to Java for lunch, then proceeded to IMAX Cinemas. Sometimes she met with her workmates, the single alpha females. Single femi-nazi women. But they were different from her. They were happy. They were not sexually starved. Being single does not mean you don’t have to enjoy life – even sex. There were“my little pleasure toys”. When they needed a pleasure toy that talked and smiled, they baited university students with their big cars and big cash.

“Masturbation is sin”, she told her workmates and added that “fornication is abhorrence”.
They giggled and made faces.
“You’ve been a virgin for thirty-two years, cute face”.

They did not mean to hurt her. But why was she judging them? They would leave her alone to her dog-eared bible, while they each jumped behind the wheels of their expensive cars. They would head to Tribeka, opposite the towering media house and drink themselves silly on Tequila, enjoy the leer of boys and the seduction of sugar daddies. At the end of what Jessica called drunkenness, they’d pick broke-ass but gorgeous men.

Jessica wanted her share of bliss. A sense of belonging. Then last evening occurred.

Last evening while seated at Sankara, sipping her coffee, reading an article by Christopher Hart, after a trying time in the office working on a refugee report – what the heck…was the UN going to solve this refugee stain on Africa’s hellish face? – a man in a black Italian suit, black Spanish shoes, and spotting a rock star hairstyle had brushed past her, spilling her coffee.

The medium height fellow with a brittle voice, a cute face with three pimples, one on the tip of his nose, another between his eyes and the third one inside his left dimple, had profusely apologized.

“I am so sorry, mami,” he had said. Even after Jessica had said “it’s okay” he made sure the table was cleaned, demanded that the bill be taken to his table. Before Jessica left, the man had showed by her table, cleared his voice, and said: “My name is Desire” to which Jessica had nothing to say but nod. Desire had licked his upper lip and rubbed the tip of his nose. That nose was red and sore from constant rubbing. Allergy from the cold Nairobi winter. But the itching from that red nose did not dampen his spirit.

“I would like to show you around the city,” Jessica looked at him, studied him from his Spanish shoes passed his gold watch, to the tip of his red nose. “I mean sometimes – may be tomorrow, you know. Heck may be over the weekend. Whenever you’re free.”

Jessica’s heart skipped. Wasn’t this boy younger than me?

Jessica was paralyzed, not by the brevity in his voice, but by how soon he wanted a date. His brazenness iced her blood, his insistence burned her bones. She wanted to say a word. Instead, her lips trembled. Her armpits perspired, miniature streams of sweat popped from her palms. She wanted to cry, or run, or shout her mother’s name, or pray. But her lips refused to move.

Desire leaned over the three legged table, cleared his voice and whispered. “How can you be so beautiful? How can you be more charming than all the women I have ever met? If you allow me, I would bring my star into your milky way.” And Jessica immediately reminded herself of the beauty of the stars shining in the Milky Way. Jessica looked up. Their eyes met. Desire locked the stare, then he bored into her eyeball, digging through her pupils until he saw her mind. There they were – the heartstrings. He disentangled them, churning away the threads until her lips parted into a smile. Desire smiled too.

Jessica, her hands trembling, had fished out a business card. He hooked the card with two fingers, looked at it as a bird looks at a worm after killing it.

“Until next time, mami,” he said and left. Jessica remained rooted on her chair.

That is why today, in an hour’s time, she’s going to meet him. It’s a lunch date. The previous day, just as she kicked out her shoes, tired and sleepy, Desire had called – three days later, just when Jessica’s Milky Way had given up waiting for that star. Seated on her heavily cushioned settee, her legs on the table, they’d spoken for five straight hours. She did not forget to pray and remind God that this man was her best bet. “He’s not a Christian, Lord. At least in the classic sense of the word. But she’s not a Muslim. He’s not Buddha or Hindu. He’s the first soul to ask me out.”

Jessica had told her boss that she wasn’t reporting to work today. She wasn’t feeling well. It was a lie for which she did not repent. Secondly, she told her friends that she had crumps. The second lie. Again she did not repent. When she woke up today, it was bright, the birds sung with a lot more enthusiasm. Her Sony played “For the Lord is good”.

Jessica stepped into the shower, allowed the warm water on her skin. She sung “Lord let your glory fall” and scrubbed herself clean. She took half an hour before the mirror. She loved L’Oreal mascara for its magic in lengthening and thickening eyelashes. She began with the roots of the lashes, then she stroked them until they were thicker and fuller. Then she laced her hands on her round, button-like lips before she applied her favorite lipstick on it. First she applied a thin layer of chap stick then did some lipstick before she gave it a finish on it – a shiny gloss.

She chose her shortest skirt, red in color with a slit her sisters at church had disapproved of. Her pastor had said that each day, a woman must wear modest enough. You should be able to meet Jesus and not feel ashamed. Well, she was meeting Desire. After that, she would avoid Jesus until she came back home. She wanted kinky and sexy. It was her last stab at this. She was tired of a lonely bed. She deserved a man; every woman desired a man’s touch on the arm and other remote places.

Now she unwrapped the wool-white bra she’d bought at Mr. Price this morning. They were Chantelle pair. Chantelle promised craftsmanship and expertise and power. That’s what she needed today. She fitted it over her supple breasts. They capped them, fitting perfectly. She smiled. What else? Yes, her blouse. The lightweight Voile tunic. To make this work, she summoned her silver watch and diamond ring. The weather was perfect for her Dior sunglasses. After two hours she took a pose before the mirror. She was literally sixteen. Hail to beauty and apparel companies!

Now she stepped outside her veranda and behold the sky was blue, clouds were gone, perhaps afraid to taint her beauty. High heels, very high, and red in hue put an icing on the cake. And she straddled towards her SUV. Seated behind the car that had been at the car-wash early morning, she reminded herself of who she was.

I am a virgin. I am a Christian. Don’t take any booze, don’t flirt. And lastly, you need to say your prayers.  And with that, she leaned on her steering will. “Father it’s been thirty-two long years. Here I am. Still untouched. Do something, Lord. Amen.”

getty_rr_photo_of_couple_dining_outThey met at a classy restaurant, next to the window, at the remotest corner overlooking the city. The city skyline had never been so beautiful, she could see KICC in the distance, Nation Building was closer, and Afya Center was further towards the Railway Station. Humans of Nairobi, looking like little ants from 20th floor, walked up and down.

She was anxious. He was calm.She hated the sharp contrast. About his dressing. Well, Desire is never dressy.  A royal blue polo shirt hugged his shoulders while his pants, slim fit chinos, reinforced his sense of style. He had a silver watch, a Nate Chronograph. She was already seated when she walked in.

He drew out her chair, often smiled without any a show of sheepishness.

“I hope the traffic was smooth.” He said “yes it was smooth.” The waiter was at their service. There was a tall wine bottle dwarfed by two lagoon wine glasses. Classical music filtered from speakers hidden from God-knows-where.

She liked how isolated they were from everyone else. In a sense, they were all alone, their words trapped between the two of them. He told her stories of England where he’d studied law and he told her stories of Boston. The food finally came. Mustard stuffed chicken and fried rice for her and Salmon with sweet chilly glaze for him.

She declined to take wine. He pressed her ‘why’ but she refused to say she was a Christian. He said fine, but laughed.

Was she that naïve?

She did not like the laugh, but she giggled too, for the sake of diffusing the awkwardness. So while he enjoyed his wine, after the meal, she lapped at French Vanilla chocolate.  They told stories of their families. They laughed, they high-fived. Time had wings. Out of the restaurant, along the buildings, they walked to the nearest park and sat on the grass. They chatted and giggled. He tried thrice to hold her hand. She resisted. A sister from church could spot her. What was he doing with a man with a funny hairstyle? Holding his hand?

Five hours later, they were still in the park. She wanted to be here with him – for a long time. This is what she had missed, playing a Christian, being dumb, and wasted. What a sweet man he was; wasn’t he just as sweet as the French vanilla ice cream? She looked at the shape of his lips. And about lips, she’d never kissed. Why did people kiss anyway? How could lips be tasty? Did it taste like French vanilla ice cream?

The first star appeared, then the next one, and soon the sky was like the Milky Way. It was time to go home. Desire insisted on taking her home. But how? Two cars, two people. It was hard. He had a plan. “I’ll drive you home in your SUV, then I come back by taxi,” she said. She couldn’t miss the opportunity. For the first time – in how many years? – a man will take her home. Her heart melted. He was a fast but careful driver. It was a short journey for her.

In the parking lot, they held hands – finally. She was thankful to the Lord. All had been fine. No mishaps. She was home. Above them, a quarter moon joined the patio lights in making sure the crickets saw them. “Come and see my house, sit down…take coffee as you wait for the taxi,” she said. He tarried but said ‘yes’ at the end.

Huge chandeliers hung precariously in the middle of the room. Soft settees hugged them as they sat down. They forgot to call a taxi. Who really wanted to see the face of an impatient taxi man? Another round of stories and a lot of chortles. It was a soulful night. Sam’s voice and his song “Stay with me”, now playing on Desire’s phone, floated in the room. They breathed through their hearts.  Two strangers trapped at sea.

‘Would you hold my hand,’ It was not Desire. It was Sam the singer. She gave him her hand. He squeezed it, lightly. He was tender. They inched closer to each other. Now her head rested on his chest, his other hand on her lap. On the metal gear clock, the one she had brought from Boston as a souvenir, the hour hand was on twelve.

And the night crickets continued to sing and the moon slid under a cloud. “Can I touch?” he said. Jessica saw where his eyes were directed and she shuddered. He took her silence for a yes. He capped them with both hands. And the shock waves tickled her fancy. She closed her eyes. His hands slid away. She opened her eyes and looked at his busy hands; he unbuttoned her blouse, slowly until the last button. She lifted her eyes. She did not see the crucifix on the wall. She saw his face, bright. Did he have a hello around him? No. May be yes. She started to gasp, helplessly, something was burning her carcass. Her carcass was on fire.

Then he drew her to him, looking into her eyes. How inviting his eyes were; those two eyes, like two stars, were joining her Milky Way. Now their lips collided. And as they kissed, he bent over and fell on her. He slipped and tumbled, falling on the floor. He followed her. He grabbed her… Hey hey!

She grabbed both his hands. Tears welled from her eyes. She was crying. “Please marry me first. Please marry me first,” she said. “Let’s go to church now. Just me and you and God. We can say our vows.” “Or just here,” he said. “Let’s say our vows here”.

“Do you believe in Jesus?” she asked him. “I want you to.”

“Why, why do you want me to believe in Jesus?”

“I don’t know. May be I have seen what he created. All he created is good. He must be good.”

They went to church, the Anglican Church across the road. The priest was there, reading his bible, at the center of the pew. He saw them enter. The priest was taken aback. “How shall I pray for you?”

“We want to get married, priest,” Desire announced.

“Sure. Why not. Her mother is praying in the other room – she has been bothering God about her. She would be our only witness.”

It was 1 AM.

© Oduor Jagero

 *******

oduorAbout The Author 

Oduor Jagero is the 2011 African Playwright winner and acclaimed author of the musical sequel Color of GodConfessions Of a HarlotEyes on the Rock, and the winning Musical Makmende Vies for President.

Oduor is trained journalist, documentary script writer, and a poet. He works for his company KoaMedia LTD {www.koamedia.co.ke}, a media consulting firm, magazines, and online publications. He is also a tech enthusiast and Lead at CMS AFRICA, an organization that carries out tech tours around universities while also organizing the tech event, CMS AFRICA SUMMIT every year.

He plans to get married – in the future , have a cat and a dog, and later have a son and a daughter.

 

Shoot him a rocket here:

Email: jagerome@gmail.com
Facebook: Oduor Jagero
Twitter:@jagerome
Website: Live Love & Laugh with Jagero
Book Site: True Citizen

 

Replies

About Author

Author - True Citizen. A satirical Kenyan thrilller

8 Comments

  1. Great story and themes. However the she/he mix-ups sometimes lost me. Needs editing then it will be excellent. Someone ask Oduor how he knows so much about how make up is applied. 😀

  2. wow!this is nothing but a masterpiece.you should do this often.wild advice;create a blog and a huge following assured.you are in the league of magunga and biko.kudos

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: