Ken is the bodaboda guy who does deliveries for my kiosk. You work with a man long enough, you start to know stuff about him. I know Ken came to Nairobi from Kakamega three years ago in search of a job. He had just gotten his firstborn, a boy, and therefore needed to earn more. He started out as a watchman, and then by and by, he got enough money to buy a motorbike. That motorbike was usually just for his transport to and from Kibera, but then one day, a friend of his told him he would earn so much more with that bike than he does guarding a bank in Nairobi West. So he changed direction and became a bodaboda person. I met him when I was still working at Belva Digital, and we struck a deal. He would be carrying me for KES. 200 every day because I was a repeat customer. Things changed a mite, I left Belva (my contract ended), started a book kiosk and with that came the need for a delivery guy. Naturally, he was my choice.
Sometimes I call Ken and he does not pick up, which is annoying because there is nothing that worries me more than keeping a customer waiting. At those times, I know he is on another commission, so I find a better way. Last week on Tuesday, I called him and he did not answer. I had a delivery that was supposed to be made to a customer, a long lost friend of mine with whom I had reconnected when she heard of my kiosk. She was in town. I also had a few errands to run in town, so I figured, what the hell. Let me drop this delivery myself. In any case, we had quite a bit to catch up on.
I get to town and call Rose. It rings for a while before she answers.
“Hey, I am in town, where are you?”
“I am in town too. Kitamu House next to Revlon Plaza.”
“Sawa. Nakuja.” The phone beeps. Then it hits me that I do not know where Kitamu House is, and Revlon Plaza sounds like a place I should know but it keeps lingering around in my head from a distance. For sure I have seen it somewhere, but I cannot place where exactly. I call again.
“So, hebu remind me. Where is Revlon Plaza?”
“It is hapo karibu na Jamiya.”
“Aha! I know it. I am five minutes out.”
“OK then…” and then just before I hang up, she says “Wait, wait, there is a little situation here.”
“What is it?”
“Well, I am kind of in a salon.”
What does she mean kind of in a salon? What does that mean? Is she not sure whether or not she is in a salon? Is she in a bar which doubles as a salon? Is one of her legs in a salon and the other in a coffee house next door?
“Why is that a problem? It is only hair.”
“No. I am in a compromising situation,” she says.
“What? Are you having sex, or touching yourself?” Usually, when someone tells you that so and so were caught in a compromising situation it means they were having sex. If a woman is to catch her husband pants down getting secret service from a Monica somewhere, then that is him being caught in a compromising situation. Compromising Situation is a euphemism. Just like being at the movies or being exiled (in campus).
Rose takes a while before she answers. I am scared my Safaricom airtime might just start beeping. Then she says, “I am getting a wax.”
“That is not a problem. Big night, eh?” I ask playfully, “like I said, it is only hair. Need a hand?”
Truth be told, I was not really expecting Rose to let me see her. I thought that maybe when I got to the salon, she would send someone to fetch the book for her and then I would be on my way. However, when I got there and asked for her, a chick appeared from a curtain separating the main salon and told me to follow her.
I did, though, when I think about it in hindsight, I wish I hadn’t. The backrooms of salons are a scary place. Just like the backrooms of barbershops, as you well know now from the massage story. It is not scary in the sense that you walk inside and smell death. No. It is scary because it feels strange. It makes your spine freeze.
I found my friend lying on a bed, a sheet as white as winter covering her elements. Of course I tried to hide my fright with dry jokes, but if she really saw me, then she must have seen how unsettled I was. I handed her a copy of the Water Anthology by Short Story Day Africa and exchanged pleasantries as can be managed between a scared man and a woman whom he last saw before Thika Road was the elegant superhighway it is now.
I was there, but not really there. My mind was somewhere else. I was imagining things. Trying to reconcile what was going on in that room, and calculating possibilities. As we spoke, the lady who was, uhm, smoothening her, was scooping some brown substance (wax, as I later came to find out) from a tin and melting it on a hot pan placed on this thingamajig that looked like a kalongolongo electric cooker. So in my head I am over there trying to wonder where this hot wax is going to be placed.
Women are strong creatures. They really are, gentlemen. That molten wax danced on that pan, and when the esthetician scooped it to, as per my guess, measure whether or not it was, I don’t know, molten enough? It flowed thickly, sticky and viscous like hot lava. I badly wanted to point at it and ask Rose, “Eh, ati THAT is going on your vagina?”
It got me thinking, after making my delivery, why a woman would suffer the brunt of waxing. In my head, waxing is when you pour that molten wax on a patch of your skin, place a strip of paper (what is that thing called?) and then after a minute or so, you yank it off. Never done it before, but I have watched videos, and surely if that is not medieval torture, then I do not know what is. How do you do that to your vagina? Are vaginas not supposed to be soft and tender? How do you justify that kind of pain to your vagina, eh? I have never had a vag before, but from the way chicks talk about them, I always thought of vag as a woman’s little friend. A pet, even, and that how they came to be called pussies, no?
Also, kumbe this is why mamas take so long at the salon, eh?
At this point, it would be prudent to clarify that I do not speak for all men. I speak for myself. There are men who like their women the way black Americans like their White House – with no sign of Bush. I am not one of those men. There is something about the good old fashioned bush that still drives me to a point of feral madness. That ultimate moment of surrender when your woman is lying on the bed, back arched upwards, offering her hips to you like a sacrifice, and you take off her knickers only to be confronted by the scent of womanhood, sweet as petrichor, soaked into a delicious thicket of hair. The thicket, for me, is not a distraction, as many men would see it. It does not block the view of something I love so much. Instead, it hides and it hints.
I called up my fellas and asked them about this. A few said bald chicks drive them crazy. They said hair makes cunnilingus even more complicated because there is a whole thing of hair sticking in your mouth, making you look like a cursed Nebuchadnezzar. I get it. I get how that can be a problem. Only not for me. Because is that not what sex is supposed to be like? Primal, animalistic, raw, messy and amazing? My debauchery would not be tickled by baldness. There has to be a difference between a five-year-old and a grown woman. Or a penguin and a full grown human being.
Apparently, these days having hair on your crotch has become déclassé among the female folk, as if having pubic hair is not a natural part of being an adult. It is a part of you just as much as bills and taxes are. The only problem with going bush is, of course, hygiene. Tales from unfortunate men have been told about women who do not take care of themselves, such that when they (the dudes) knelt to worship at their altar (the women), they did not find much of an altar, really, but rather a cesspit of food particles, crawling life forms, abandoned warships, Ezekiel Mutua’s incompetence and all other kinds of stuff – basically, an entire alternate ecosystem thriving down below.
Oh, and fellas. Take this from me as a fellow man. Nobody is saying “Do not tell your woman what you like.” It is all about how you package it. And the timing. Do not mention your reservations about her parts just before sex, man. I honestly do not see how telling your jaber ati you do not like how her womanhood looks is supposed to amplify the mood for chudex. It does neither of you any favours. For sure, that sex won’t be happening. You will be left with balls as blue as sapphire. But she, she will be left with something even worse – an insecurity. A complex.
Inasmuch as I dread the day my woman might one day decide to cut down the jungle below and make an airstrip of her lower avenue, there is really nothing I could do about it. Truth is, the status of a woman’s bits is not supposed to be a political question. It is not something you put up for a referendum. It is her choice. Not an expectation. She can wax it, leave it to grow wild like Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons, trim it into a nice little rose flower, dye it white like a wedding dress, shave it into a Mohawk, twist it into dreadlocks, bedazzle it with swarovski crystals, or wear it with a ring piercing. It does not matter. It is hers. No need to get our knickers in a twist over this.
Ladies, my (unsolicited) advice? If you were to rely on the society to determine whether or not to engage in practice of adult gardening, then you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Some will say a bush is for neanderthals. The rest will say a bush makes you a true woman – whatever that means. I say do what you want with your bits. But whichever side you are on, just make sure you are doing it the way my friend Rose does it. With a good book in hand.