There’s no exercise better than the heart reaching down and lifting people up.

~John Holmes

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It’s about that time of the year!

What’s up fam?

I won’t dare ask how the untrodden year is coming along because I will be obscenely reminded that we are both new here. Yes, it’s already day 31 of 365 but we’re still annoyingly pedantic and petty. And I don’t want a part of it! Regardless, I do hope you are chill and already slaying those 2019 goals. I hope you have already signed up for that gym membership. You have started writing that book. Opened that savings account. You have ended that relationship that has been draining you. You have negotiated a raise. Visited a new restaurant. Read a new book. Learning a new language and a whole loads of to do in your bucket list. Call me old fashioned but am a firm believer of resets, makeovers, fresh starts, clean slates, do-overs etcetera, so yeah I have a couple of my own. You should try some of these old stuff sometime. And while at it pray for your girl. Been tripping and all the ginger, honey and lemon am taking, all the water am drinking, the early to bed early to rise bullshit, the workouts, the greasing yada yada is doing very little to help me kick 2018’s hangovers’ ass.

Honestly, I’m yet to come to terms with the fact that we’re one month deep into 2019. That was fast. One of the very few January’s to actually have less than a hundred days! Why the rush though? I want my year to be a woman. I want her to be a perfectionist and take her sweet time before leaving. I want her to check herself three to five times in the mirror just to make sure her makeup is spot on, her hair well kempt and her jewelry matches her outfit. I want her to make sure the house is tidy and all the windows and doors are shut before she leaves. And when the time to leave comes, I don’t want to say goodbye with tears in my eyes because she left some stones unturned. I want her to leave through the front door head held high because that’s what winners do. I want her to be prosperous just as everyone prayed and wished. Don’t get it twisted. Am pretty much excited just like anyone to have met her. All am trying to say is I was too busy winning to even find time to sink it in let alone realize Justin Bieber married someone and her name is not Selena! Sips tea I can barely keep up!

So here’s to making more posts, to reading more books, to more family vacations, to not losing someone, to not getting sick, to vast traveling, to more AFLEWO’s and Travis Greene-like concerts, to best friends for birthday surprises, to making it to the papers, to graduating and to every other little thing that happened but slipped when I was making this list. Having some bitter taste in your mouth? I’ve had a couple of ugly, like really ugly years, so apologies if my mini accolade bothers you. And if so, how are we friends again?

Flash forward to 2019. For last year’s words belongs to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.

So, hello new beginning?

My phone buzzes and a message pops on my screen. It’s Eunniah. On a regular day I would be smiling because she always brings good news, a godsend. But today I don’t know what to expect. Am already late and she is obviously thinking I might not make it. Are you still coming for the launch? My heart sinks at the thought of letting her down. So I agree and tell her I’ll be running late. Deep down am mad. I am mad because I’ve never been to a book launch before and now am going to miss the grand opening of my first. I wanted to be there when it started. So you can imagine the anxiety. And the devil was just getting started. I was to wear some white maxi dress I got for my graduation but hey…God created me a woman and the only way to Mount Sinai was through the Red Sea. So there I was, with several Egyptians to drown and still no idea what to wear. I came out of the shower and took the first dress I spotted. It was black. The one I wore to my brother’s funeral. It holds memories so dear to me but all the same I love it. Besides, there was no time to second guess. I completed and rushed out no lipstick no accessories no perfume not even the luxury of checking myself in the mirror, nothing. I prolly didn’t even apply lotion. I went the way I came, only difference is I had clothes on.

It’s mid January. Many are presumably broke for obvious reasons which explains why it’s just a few people heading out. Hence when the car departures with half empty seats I don’t get alarmed. We might even be sold midway to another vehicle, who knows. If you’ve used public transport as much as myself then you know better than to expect anything short of surprising.

A few minutes after we drove into the main highway, the driver stops and asks the conductor to let some woman in for a free ride. She (the conductor) does as requested. This damsel was visibly in distress. The headlights from vehicles behind us exposed her untidy clothes and dusted feet which had different coloured and sized sandals. She had a baby strapped on her back with very many tattered pieces of clothing. She looked like someone who had just walked out of a dungeon. For a moment I imagined she was mental, but her calmness proved otherwise. We all thought she was heading somewhere close, furthest Changamwe. We thought wrong. We passed every single stage that seemed walk-able for a woman with a child and she didn’t ask to alight in either of them. The conductor got curious and asked;

Woman kwani where are you going?

Makadara

What’s not happening?

My child is sick. She/he (can’t recall if it was a boy or a girl) needs medical attention.

As if to confirm his (let’s just assume it’s a boy) mothers statements, the boy gave out a sharp, high pitched and painful cry. My ear was not expecting that. And as an act of defiance it stopped working partially for a few seconds and I had to immediately rub to restore factory settings. It was one of the weirdest cries I have ever heard. I had to ask sister google if it was normal.

By the time we were entering the island, it was just the five of us. The conductor and driver were questioning her and she answered without hesitating. Almost like she had spent all her life preparing for this moment or perhaps they were frequently asked questions and she had gotten used to answering them. There was no moment of silence. When they were not asking or answering she busied herself by humming to her baby. I, on the other hand, was at my wits end. Too dazed to respond but constantly analyzing the situation. I was wondering how a woman with no fare at all was going to cater for hospital needs. The driver read my mind and asked how she was going to take care if the bill and she calmly said ‘I will find a way’

Her response brings silence and no one talks for while. The silence is then broken by more shrilled cries from the baby who doesn’t stop until they get dropped off. The driver and conductor ask in unison the whereabouts of the baby’s father and she says he was burnt alive in Kisii leaving her behind four children and no possession. She says it so casually you’d think it’s ordinary news. She then adds that she’s a Kamba and can never go back (to Kisii I suppose) then walks away. Well, I don’t know if their difference in tribe has anything to do with anything but I feel saddened. I wish she stayed longer so I could know why. Or the ages of her other kids and what impact that bizarre experience had on them. Or even where she stays. I thirsted for more. Too bad the only person who could quench it was gone and I didn’t even master her face!

At this point am the only passenger left. Normally I’d freak out and sit next to an open window where I can jump out in case of anything but today I felt safe following the kindness the driver had shown that woman. As the two continued gossiping, I could tell that the driver was sympathetic. Probably he has helped so many in a thousand different ways. The conductor, less so. She was busy complaining how dirty and smelly the woman was and wondering how she couldn’t afford to buy a detergent worth ten shillings. She even went ahead to ask me if I heard a strange smell coming from her. I want to punch her in the face as response but thank God my manners were in check. In a world filled with frauds, I don’t know how they finally adjourned by concluding she’s not.

I alight and walk to another stagecoach to catch a matatu to City mall. I didn’t want to feel guilty for being late. So I counter checked that feeling by thinking about that woman and her sick child and it didn’t work. It was bad enough I was in no position to help and this just made it worse. At the drop off, I head towards two motorists. I ask one of them for a ride but he politely declines claiming it was his partners turn. Another act of selflessness. I felt that. My night was already made and the launch which was to be the main meal just became dessert!

When we arrived at Kigotho’s I searched through my purse for fifty shillings and guess what else came my way, a pair of earrings. Never felt so happy for something so small. I might have been under dressed but at least I had a pair or earrings!

Hugs,

Sharoe.

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