I sat alone on the park bench. The midday sun, which would have been a nightmare, was tempered by a modest dose of cloud cover, making it a perfect day for a picnic. I watched as Nairobi succumbed to hunger’s demand., the streets immediately teeming with starved suits with a time limit.  Deftly, I reached for the Uchumi ham sandwich I had bought earlier, and settled in for the afternoon’s activities.

Perky Stella walked, nay, skipped down the path, her arm hooked firmly around her beau of the week. The poor sucker looked scared to death, constantly looking over his shoulder to make sure that no one he knew was around to see the sight. And it was a sight! Stella was a compact beauty, who, from my observations, hooked her prey by feigning to be honey’s sweetness and the sun’s warmth. But the girl was far from sweet! Sure, she meant well, but if life was all intention, Eden would be a realtor’s dream.

She gave a small wave as she walked past me. I smiled as much as one could without exposing chewed matter. We’d never actually had a conversation, but there’s a bond between people who see each other everyday for more than four months, albeit from a far. I had a feeling we’d probably be pretty good friends; where she’d come cry over what he did and I’d give an exasperated sigh and tell her she should stop giving a show and just let him get to know her for who she was.

As the stink of ‘perk’ slowly diffused away,  Funky Karl, made his way up the path. Ah, Funky Karl. Just the thought of him makes me smile. So the sight of him in pink kitenge loafers, jean cut-offs and  shirt so tight, he was halfway through tearing it with his muscles, made my day. You see, Karl at first sight looks like these uber cool guys who know that they are hot. (Ladies, don’t we just hate those?!) So here’s the really cool bit; that’s exactly who he is!

For the first two months, he would come over and wax lyrical, spouting the nonsense that normal girls would melt, boil, dry on the cement floor, over. Finally, we came to the mutual conclusion that I lost a screw during assembly and we were better off as Park buddies.

He stops by the smokie cart and then walked over with about ten smokies. Just a snack before lunch of course. He sits beside me and launches into a monologue about , well, everything. Don’t think him rude. That’s just his way. And I didn’t really mind much. I’m not much up to talking..hadn’t been for the last three years.

I could remember the very last words I said. Well, they weren’t exactly words. Sounds, I guess. Shouts. Screams. I didn’t like to remember. Silence had become my constant companion. Life wasn’t that much different. No one used to listen before. Now, i just didn’t even bother.

‘Are you okay?’

Funky Karl has a worried look on his face. Its a new look for him. I attempt a smile but all i succeed in is stretching my face. It’s such a poor attempt, we both crack up.

Am I Okay?

Had I ever been ?



The Illusion of Happiness


She walks into the room and time stops. All form of conversation is suspended. All thought, forgotten, except her, the elusive creature. She is a vision in her silk champagne gown. It flows gently against her caramel skin. The room sighs longingly.

Elegant. Graceful. Hearts clench in their chests as her lips curve into a captivating smile.
Ties are fastened, breath is checked, dummy conversations are carried out with adjacent mirrors. Here, everyone has a chance to meet with her. Court her, perchance.

Toasts are made and everyone gets a chance to spin her around the room. They make all attempts to charm her and she smiles and giggles into the arms of another.
No one hears her say a word, but in earnest, they don’t even notice. A chance to hold such a diamond, even for a split second, is more than they had ever dreamed.

I sit in a corner and watch them as they fall over each other, trying to impress her.
‘Come home with me,’ one says.
‘Forget him! I will make you the happiest woman alive ‘ another one said.
It was amusing in the beginning but now, it was just sad.
They saw the glamor and promise of grandeur, but they were blind. Literally blind. They were slaves to their own imaginations.

They made cat calls at her, the waitress, which she obligingly responded to. I admit, her dress was quite lovely, but far too tight for a lady her age. Her face was pulled back so much that she had a constant look of surprise! Her skin was so stretched out, you could see the veins running through it. She was indeed a vision; a vision of what a zombie would look like.

But not to them.

I envied them. I really did. They had hope, albeit born out of ignorance, but hope all the same. They saw rainbows, I saw rain. They saw butterflies, I saw flying caterpillars.

I walked out before I crushed their dream. Let them have tonight. Let them hold onto it. They wouldn’t believe me anyway. No one wants the truth when they can have happiness.

Hello August.   

As You Really Are


People can’t help but stare when he walks down the street. It would be an understatement to say that he is easy on the eyes. But his magnetism goes beyond just a pretty face.

Within 5 minutes of meeting any woman, he charms his way into her heart.
Is it his smile? His bicuspids are white perfection.
His eyes? Chocolate heaven.
His silver tongue? He does have a way with words.
I can’t say its one thing in particular. It’s just… Him.

Ladies adore him and its not just the young’ns. I’ve seen him make women twice his age giggle like school girls. They love him. Everyone loves him. Not just women, men too. Not love, love but… you know what I mean.
He’s a man’s man… shoulder-bumping, back slapping, I-don’t-wash-my-banana (the fruit, just so we’re clear ) kinda guy ….. The real deal.

He was perfect. Or more accurately,seemed perfect. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw this near-perfect specimen of a man making a bee-line to this light-years-away-from-perfect girl. Me, in case that wasn’t obvious enough.

What did he want? Was I seating in his booth? I was sure I wasn’t because his was right across from mine. Not that I noticed that he always sat in the same booth everyday. Or that he never ordered the same thing twice from the menu. Nope. That would be stalking.  Which I do not do. Much.

Be casual. Cool and calm. Breathe. In. Out. Onions! My breath smells like onions!! Darn you, krackles! Of all the days… this is a disaster!

‘Hi,’ he flashed one of his beguiling smiles.
I could see the fumes as they left my mouth.
His smile seemed strained. I knew it. I had something in my teeth, didn’t I?
I pursed my lips and attempted to give an expectant look.
He shifted his weight nervously.  What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I do anything right?

I reached for my menu, needing something,  anything to keep my hands from tapping on the white-clothed table nervously. He should just walk away; save us both the embarrassment.
But when I looked up, he was still standing there.
I watched as the nervousness disappeared behind an invisible curtain. Mr. Charming had come out to play.
‘Uhm, this will sound weird but I’ve seen you here a couple of times. I just thought id come over and say hi. Hi.’
I’d seen him in action but to be on the other side of those words was everything I’d imagined it to be. Kind of. It was perfect. Too perfect.
I smiled. ‘Hi’.
I went back to looking through the menu, captivated by the beef sirloin. I caught a glimpse of his confused face.

But he still didn’t walk away. Then I noticed it. He was alone. He was never alone. There was always someone. The guys from work, an array of gorgeous women … never alone.

‘Would you like to join me for lunch?’
I was as shocked as he was as the words left my mouth.
He smiled with something akin to relief then slid across the table from me.

‘On one condition,’ I was on a roll here,’drop the act.’
He furrowed his brow.
‘The act? I’m not sure what you mean.’
He was good.
‘ The Mr. Charming gig. Drop it. Don’t flirt with me.’
He began to protest.
‘And don’t even think of denying it. I’ve noticed you too.’ I looked at him meaningfully.
‘So lets just share a table. Cool?’

A part of me kicked myself for this sudden sensitivity. I could have gone with the flow, flirting outrageously with him and maybe given him my number. But who was I kidding? He’d never call. Maybe he had noticed me but not in the ‘hey, she’s cute kind of way’ but more like ‘what kind of person eats lunch alone everyday? Wierdo’. He didn’t need a love interest, he just needed not to eat lunch alone. 

He looked surprised. But he picked up the other menu on the table.
‘Have you tried the beef sirloin?’ He asked,’ Its pretty good’.                          

Frankenstein Heart

She’d gone into battle unarmed, unshielded. She was unprotected against his assault upon her. She banked his scent in her mind, a permanent reminder of what happiness smelled of. She spent hours staring into the depths of his eyes, memorising the crook of his smile, hanging onto every word that he said.

He became familiar. The feel of him, his very presence… she was so attuned to it, like the lyrics of a familiar song; she know every single word. He was … home.

She held nothing back. At the back of her mind, she wondered what would happen if somehow they didn’t work out.. but she brushed the thought aside as quickly as it came. There was no way that was going to happen. Only, there was.

She got the wind knocked out of her when he told her. He just, didn’t love her anymore, he said. Just. Like she would say, ‘is that the only reason? Well, thank God! I thought it was something else. Now that that’s cleared up, have a nice life’?
She’d built her life around him. When she thought of the future , she saw them. Together. Suddenly her future was blank.

The tears fell incessantly.  After she’d picked up the pieces of heart from the floor, it took weeks, months even, to fit them back together. She got her heart back, only that she had to sew up the gaps. It was never going to be the same.

The blood in her veins had run cold and the beat of her heart had changed . She’d moved on. She was whole. Different, but whole. She built an impermeable wall around her heart. On the outside, there wasn’t much difference. She was happy. Not the happiness that was based on someone else, but on herself.
Eventually, she met a nice guy. Sweet and every girl’s dream. Sardonically, she knew that the old ‘her’ would have fallen at ‘hello’ . But this new ‘her’ couldn’t .Frankenstein hearts don’t feel,after all .               


‘Just for a day?’
‘Then after that?’
‘After that I’ll climb a bus back to Nairobi and you’ll go back to you’re life. No hopes, no promises. It’ll be a perfect memory ‘

She regarded him with a furrowed brow. He smiled through the silence and it took all her might not to crack a smile or to break out into her happy dance.
Of course she was saying yes, but there was no need for him to know how much she wanted to say it! Truth is, the no-strings attached condition was the last thing she wanted. But their world’s were so far apart…

So she was going to take what she could get. A day. A magical day when she could dream and pretend that it was never going to end. A day when she wouldn’t glance at her phone anxiously because the person she wanted to talk to would be there with her.   

He was going to hurt her. She knew that with absolute certainity, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her. If she had her day, her perfect complete day, then the dark clouds could come on round. He was right; it would be the perfect memory.

‘Im in … but on one condition.’
He let out a loud whoop and did a small jig. When the other people on the street started to stare, she almost felt embarrassed .. almost.   


His smile was so infectious she didn’t even try to fight her own.
She grabbed the keys to his car out of his hand before he realized what she was doing.

‘Im driving ‘.

She rushed to the drivers side of his car and slipped in as he went on a tirade of what a terrible driver she was and something about his precious baby.
She knew he was talking about the car, but still her heart jumped a little.

He looked are her hopelessly and made his way to the passengers side of the car.

‘Im not that bad of a driver,’ she said .
He put his arm over her chair and leaned in slightly.
‘I’ve seen you drive… yes, you are. Just make sure no one gets hurt, okay?’

Maybe it was his proximity, or his eyes, or that languid smile or the fact that she was a hot-blooded female, but in that moment she knew she was a goner.
‘Too late ‘ she muttered under her breath.   

(Harakiri is a form of honorable suicide committed by a samurai )

Tomorrow’s Kiss


She closes her eyes and she sees it.
The stage is set, the spotlight is trained on her, the sole figure on stage.
She feels her stomach clench. ‘Nerves,’ she tells herself. ‘Its just nerves’.
She takes a deep breath to settle her frazzled nerves and as she lets out the air in a slow steady stream, she feels the magic of the moment that she has been waiting her whole life for.

Her heart that was beating wildly a minute ago settles into a place that feels foreign and yet familiar. A place it had always wanted to be but had never quite been. Until now.
She feels the rapt attention of the audience, waiting. For her. They were waiting for her.

She starts to panic but keeps herself in check. She goes through the routine in her head one last time and then, she stops thinking all together.

She clears her head of all thoughts and hears only the music. She hears it, and she feels it. She lets her body move to it in the now familiar steps.
She moves, not with her head, but with her heart. Her heart  paints the story, but  her body, she uses as a canvas . She bears her soul and holds nothing back, giving the music all she has.

It isn’t about the steps she takes nor how she contorts her body! No! It was the story she was telling. That’s all that matters.

The routine comes to an end and she’s out of breath. Her breath leaves her body in white misty puffs and a bead of sweat makes its way down her brow.  There’s a moment where everything is silent. The audience, sits mum, not moving, not even a murmur.
She should be worried, but she’s not. She gave all she had and that’s all that mattered.
And then, the applause.

She opens her eyes to find that she’s still in the ballet studio. No, no audience. No stage. No spotlight. No applause. But she was still there.
‘Its only a matter of time,’ she thought to herself as she moved to the barre to practice some more. 

Where The Heart Belongs


They went there on their first date. Their first date… well, that’s debatable. She had made it clear that a ‘date’ was the last thing it was and he had agreed with her,with a telling smile and a twinkle in his eye.
A cup of coffee between colleagues was all it was supposed to be. But it turned into 4 cups of joe, a slice of chocolate fudge and the best slice of black cherry cake either of them had ever eaten . Who they were to each other was somehow no longer set in stone.

It was the perfect day and a walk seemed like a plan. Conversation flowed seamlessly, a delicate, silky fabric . Words mingled with laughter. He pulled her out of the way of a rogue cyclist and after they both gave the retreating figure a piece of their mind, they proceeded, her nerves a little frazzled. Him? Not so much. The ordeal was easily forgotten with the feel of her hand encased in his. She squeezed his hand lightly.  She didn’t mind. She didn’t mind at all.

Neither of them could remember, upon reflection , what they particularly talked about. It seemed like that there was nothing they didn’t talk about, nothing except the very moment. But every word that wasn’t uttered was expressed in the curve of her smile and the light hold of his hand on hers.    

The sun shone a little brighter, the flowers, even more fragrant. Were the trees whispering in the wind? They swayed softly, gracefully, moving to a melody that they had been playing for centuries. A song that only now, was audible to the couple .
A song, not of the past, nor that of the future.
As they sat on a bench and a stray flower fell on her hair, he reached out to pick it out and their eyes met. Her cheeks flushed a shade deeper as their eyes met and held. It was unmistakable to both of them. It was the song that had been echoed through time. It was the song of the moment. The melody to just… ‘Be’. To relish the moment and somehow capture it all; what they were feeling, the caress of the soft wind, the sweet kiss of the sun, the perfection of the moment altogether. It felt like everything was right where it was supposed to be. It felt like home.