If you have a heartbeat, there’s still time for your dreams.
~Sean Stephenson

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A day following my former article, some common lad sent me a direct message asking me out to lunch. I went through the invitation and was amused not because of anything particularly interesting about it, but because I recalled a meme about hungry bitches getting kidnapped for going out with strangers in the name of free food. We all love gratis food and I won’t defend myself. But on the contrary, I am a writer, and these stories ain’t gonna fetch themselves. I know what you think. That we are the worst of human kind because we kiss and tell. And you have probably controlled Z on that date you had planned out for us. Lemme explain, and if my excuse ain’t satisfactory, I will eat my tomatoes. Promise. So here’s the thing, he said the piece was well articulated and inscribed. He also said no person who writes such inspiring words should go unrewarded. That my tongue should feel as sweet as the words I wrote. I was hypnotized. Who wouldn’t be?

I went back to my site to observe the article’s punctuations, sentence structure, tense, grammar and even reread it incorporating tonal variation just to ascertain he didn’t have it muddled up with someone else’s. Customarily, the thought of touching souls just by words enthralls me, but this was a new one. You can squint all you want but only if you don’t understand cheap thrills. Before responding, I pricked my brain to see all the reasons I ever had the pleasure of getting free food. None matched this, but such is life. So I stalked him. You can’t be sure these days, there’s a very thin line between a catfish and someone who genuinely wants the best for you. There was not much to go by; the name was coded, not the Facebook Benja Yule Mnaughtiest kind of coding but it was pretty hard to tell. I smiled wryly as I went through his bio but all things considered at least there was an avi and not the image of Drake or Pierre or God knows who else these boys, oops ‘men,’ are fanatical of.

Still feel like canceling?

Didn’t think so!

Seems like the proper place to note the mental image you formed of my ‘domestic habits’ is not accurate.

Matatu crackdown was still hitting us hard so I had my sister drop me at the salon on her way to work. I hadn’t really planned on making my hair on a weekday but there was no better way to make time pass quickly. Halfway done, I texted a friend and informed her about my date. Don’t look at me like that, it’s an international code. You got to tell someone your whereabouts because whoever you share your location with is responsible for your life in case you go MIA. God forbid, but it’s rather you be safe than sorry. And when you have deranged friends like mine, as opposed to leaving things at okay have fun, it’s generally something like:

So, I have a d…d…da…

When? Where? With who? How old is he? Is he married? Does he have kids?  Should I be on standby just in case?

Whoa, should we have a predate to discuss the details?

We might as well have to unless you give me something!

I’m wearing a white blouse on a long gray pencil skirt, my sandals and sling bag are both chocolate and my hair is locked.

We both laugh at the irony of my reply then I share with her the relevant details.

I’ll give you a call fifteen minutes in. Apples for green light, bananas for uncertainty and strawberries for red flags. If anything isn’t adding up, don’t hesitate. Get up and get out. Okay?

Okay.

I call my date as soon as the girl talk is done to enquire if we’re still on. It’s eleven, a little too early but he says it’s okay to go now unless am held up. You and I both know am not, so I head to his work place which was just a few blocks away. As I walk I notice there are no butterflies which is unlike me. Normally, I’d be calculating your height, skin tone, dress code etc so that when we finally meet and get what is contrary to my anticipations, I have the pleasure to say…

Oh, you’re taller

Taller than?

My expectations!

So you can imagine the little delight I had when he turned out to be everything I had envisioned, well except for his age. I don’t know why but as it turns out am poor at predicting peoples age and I mean extremely poor. This was not the first time I was completely off and am damn sure it won’t be the last. Man had not even reached thirty but I was there thinking he was clocking forty! Alright, you can go ahead and laugh at me. Happy?

Of all the offices I had been, this was the most serene. No rude receptionist, no printer noises, not even the voices of employees baloneys could be heard. Just the cracked up noise from the fan trying to keep the office environmental friendly. We say our hellos and had a little chat about that article, cos what else would we be talking about? Such a humble soul for an engineering profession. Which is very rare among my people…the humility part I mean.

Since it was still too early for lunch, he cleared a colleagues desk and gave me a laptop to help enter data. Sitting there typing reminded me of my college days and how I used to shove such tasks to other group members. And his colleagues were not making it any easier for me by entering and pretending to be wanting something when in real sense they just wanted to see who I was! I couldn’t help but think how hard it is to be a secretary. I would be bored to death if my profession meant perching myself in front of a computer all day every day. Don’t catch feelings if you are or know someone who fits the description, am just speaking my truth. And I bet that’s how I ended up in the field of journalism because all I want to do is write, go places as I read interesting books between flights and still get money out of it.

Moments later, I got the highlight of the day when a friend who happened to be passing by dropped me a copy of  Chimamanda’s Half of a Yellow Sun. Men let’s not even talk about the excitement. Been having this book in soft for as long as I can remember but been suppressing the urge to read and then this sweet angel just decides to bring me this somebody play some King Monanda I want to Malwedhe. By the time I was back, our order, more of his because I wasn’t asked what I wanted, arrived. And that was a good thing, I hate looking at menus pretending to be on search of something when I had already decided what I would eat even before agreeing to the date.

As he poured soda to each glass I contemplated the last time I sat in an office to have lunch. It was way back in primary school when my mum used to bring us food and we’d eat in the staffroom with my dad. The good old days. How I miss them! I sauced and salted my fries and got on with it. No slaying, if anything wasn’t that the main agenda? He talked most of the times and I listened. Sometimes even before I could finish digesting a story he was already on to another one. But they were interesting stuff so I didn’t mind. Problem was he forgot he was eating and men being poor at double tasking, it made me look weird and I had to check in on my phone every once in a while not to do anything but to also forget about my meal so we could go at least at the same pace. It didn’t work, Coastarians are generally slow and there’s no cure for that. So I gave in, and ate like me. Plus, cold food is bad for the health, remember? Oh, and by the way, I’m one hell of a good date. I don’t leave food on my plate. Even if I wanted to, I think of babies in North Eastern my mum told me to eat for, because they didn’t have food and I had.

A straight up engineer with a writers blood. He has six unpublished books that he left pending years back to concentrate on his career. He says the last piece on my blog moved him to shreds and he envies that. He breathes in literature and breathes out literature. He even has audio books on his phone just so he doesn’t fall off of this trend. I hate audio books, they steal a lot from us I won’t even get started. But darn, I even hated more the fact that this young man had his passion slowly dying under his watch. He says he might embark on it maybe in his old days and if not he’ll give them to me to finish them up. My heart broke a little. Of course there’s a ting of pride that he even considers me on that list but it comes with fear. I don’t know how anyone can tell anyone’s story better than themselves. I don’t.

I ask if he can drop everything and focus on his passion but a lot is at stake. So many people are looking out to him and he has to school his fiancé who by the way sat for the recent KCSE and is pregnant. I know. I know. That’s a bomb. It also took me a minute to swallow. He said it so matter-of-factly that i didn’t know how to process. She isn’t a teenager. She’s a full ass grown up whom he sent back to school and has been taking care of her since. Yes, such men still exist! She also has a condition that I can’t even pronounce which is why she is pregnant in the first place. I blink to hold back my tears…I’ve been doing so since he started talking about her but I couldn’t anymore. So I excuse myself and rush to the ladies. I stand in front of the mirror and do what I usually do when my emotions fail me. Think. So I thought about my sister’s face imitating me crying on TV as I report bad news because am such an emotional prick and this makes me laugh hard. So much so that when the lady in the next washroom came out, found it difficult to talk to me. I mean who talks to a lady laughing uncontrollably by herself at the washroom mirror?

When I return, oblivious of why I left, he continues with the talk about her. He has her as his screensaver, twitter profile and header and I wonder where else. Maybe there’s a framed picture of her sitting somewhere in this office am yet to find! He wants to go abroad for his masters but he can’t stand leaving her behind. He says his biggest fear is losing her to another man and I laugh hysterically because there’s a change in tone as he confesses. He loves her a lot. That much I can tell. There’s a glow in his eyes every time he mentions her and I wonder if my boyfriend is this proud to have me. I wonder if he talks about me with such enthusiasm. If he is this scared to lose me. Does he ever stop and say, I can’t do it because my girl won’t like it? I would love to know.

As if shocked to find out how much he’d revealed, he stops and continues with queries about my writing. When and how I started, what I hope to achieve… blah blah blah. I forgot to ask if he read the other pieces. He might be moved, maybe not. I don’t know. But what I gleaned from him was the fact that life is too short to not explore the things we are passionate about. He said it so many times I lost count. He sounded fatherly but I lied when he asked because I didn’t want him to feel old if anything I had already added some years to his age and I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again.

My ride calls and my date asks for a few more minutes. But a few more minutes mean I’ll have to beseech God to work the magic of Moses to separate traffic for me to scoot across town and make it home just in time for super. So in as much as I’d love this little convocation to prolong, I have to leave before it becomes a conundrum.

Thank you for the 2018 loyalty. See you in 2019?

Bless,

Sharoe.

23 thoughts on “The Road Not Taken

  1. Giiiiiiiiirl. I was to wash dishes before I lied to myself that I will just star this and read later..:-)

    Anyway, I still remember this day. And you told me you’re ‘held up’. Kumbe ilikua date…lol.

    Thank you for spicing 2018. Couldn’t get enough of your reads.

    1. Haha….shh. It was supposed to be a secret lol. But thank you for 2018. It’s fun to be a fan of someone who is your fan. I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store for us!

  2. because consistency is the best part about you, and you know through it you’ll grow. Proud of the writer you’ve grown into. Keep winning.:)

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