For the Jugular

First person fiction unsettles me but here goes…

 

My God’s enough for me; this world has nothing I need

The tears rolled down my cheeks and seemed to imitate my descent to the kitchen floor. It felt uncomfortable; unfamiliar. The fridge wall on which I was leaning was ice cold but I didn’t care. It distracted me. The floor was hard, like an egg. It made my back side numb within a few moments of gracing it. I wished I had broken down on the toilet floor instead. The toilet floor was inviting. On the toilet floor I felt like a couple of other depressed introverts all over the world would be with me in the struggle; that our tears would follow a sort of similar pathway from the moment they are let free through the floor to the drain or the mop to… Even though I was alone in the house, the kitchen floor felt too privacy deprived.

The events of the past few days continue to play in my head. I do not know why it hurts so badly- Asha’s betrayal. Perhaps it is because everything had pointed towards her not being trustworthy but I ignored it. I ignored the fact that I cannot look her in the eye; there is just something about them. I ignored the fact that when I see her I am immobilized by some unexplainable fear and have to say something out loud; to hide. I ignored the fact that I laugh along with most people when they are laughing at me, but her jokes about me always seemed to cut too deep. You know, the jokes that force you to suck in as much air as your lung can hold and let it out- tunefully or otherwise- as long as it sounds like a laugh. Perhaps it is because I heard her talk about other people, and I was not sure she would not talk about me if anyone used just the right amount of energy to tip the scale over.

Talk. There is a point in your life when gossip about you should only put you down for that night and half of the next day. There are things I have heard about me that I have gotten over and had jokes trending about within the hour of my hearing them. I have not always been so croc skinned. I used to be fragile until I realized. Talk does not really matter- especially not when I am at peace with myself. Asha should not unsettle me for as long as my loved ones and my dreams remain untouched.

Still, it annoys me. It annoys me because there are two ways you lose a game. First case scenario: you play earnestly and it still does not work out. Or: you lose concentration and make one careless move that gives your opponent an edge over you throughout the game. Personally, I dread the second case. That is what it felt like with Asha. I let her in subconsciously even though all reason was against it. Look at me now. I have a problem with someone knowing what my screensaver is yet many sincere, heartfelt thanks to Asha the whole world knows what I own, how I acquired it, which side of my head I like better, to which side my mother’s head is oriented when she sleeps, how to get to where everyone in the least bit associated to me stays… Looking on the bright side, at least I know that in a few lucky cases, they do not know whether to pull or push the door when they get there.

I know you know that these are not the exact secrets Asha has let out of the bag. If they were I would be hospitalized for making a fuss by now. Asha went for the jugular, and she not only fed the nosy neighbors sugar, she served it with spoonfuls of honey.  Asha has hurt me… because she consciously set out to hurt me.

I do not grieve because I have lost a friend. There is no love lost between the two of us really. I grieve because I have been made a fool of, AGAIN.

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Like the sin of a trusted lover…

”Ya their lives were stole
Now we’ll never know”

As the aeroplane flew above the house, Norah and Sabina exchanged a look. Norah shifted in her seat and Sabina reached for her glass of juice. Norah knew she was not just reaching for that glass, rather, it was a useful distraction to help them escape the reality that the plane had in that moment brought, and not left with.
The linen on Norah’s veranda table, at which the two friends were seated, was blown off a little. Norah’s nose twitched as the wind rushed past. Inside the living room could be heard the children’s frustrated exclamations as the TV signal was lost in the middle of their favourite cartoon show. Like all aeroplanes, this one made a point to have its presence felt, and that it did without fail.
Norah and Sabina looked at each other as if unsure whether to say what they were thinking out loud.
”Remember…” It was Norah who broke the silence that reigned between them and took the bull by its horns.
”I do,” Sabina said and added in a matter-of-fact way: ”How can I not?”
Silence fell upon the two again. Each of them seemed to drift off to their own world, arrested by their own thoughts. They knew, though, that only one memory had got hold of them, possessed them both.
There was another plane that, more than any other in their lives, had made its presence felt.  4th of February 16 years ago,  their friends, a newly engaged couple, had perished in a routine local flight that turned sour. The tragedy came at a time when no-one wanted to be a pilot more than Norah and Sabina did. They craved it, had an elaborate game plan on how to get to it. They knew everything untrained personnel could know about aircraft, and they never ran short of posters and what-nots to hang in their lockers, or on bedroom walls, or keep at their nightstands. They had met many an obstacle on their way to this dream , yet keeping their eyes on the reward  that awaited them at the end of the tunnel, they had always found ways around each hurdle.
That made their loss worse.  Frank and Janet were their best friends. They could hardly relate an event from their late campus years that did not involve them. Yet this cold, heartless metal thing had insisted on relieving them of their treasured ones.
Norah had let go immediately. She wanted nothing to do with aeroplanes.  It would be too hard.  Sabina trudged on a while longer, but when the road became a little rough, she could not sustain her dream. She believed in fighting for one’s dreams, but no matter how much she tried,  she could not get herself to remain motivated.
For both of them, that had been a betrayal too heartbreaking to handle. Like the sin of a trusted lover, this was, apart from terribly shocking,  unforgivable.

Because he was a good man…

”But there’s a danger in loving
somebody too much
And it’s sad when you know it’s
your heart you can’t trust”

Kari drew the curtain back just enough to see Arnold’s car leave the compound. It was a boring kind of Toyota,and everything about it spoke of ‘everyday’. It was white in color,had one wheel that was differently rimmed, perhaps smaller than the rest. The back windows were tinted while the front ones remained clear. Yet if you looked at the owner’s face you’d tell… you’d tell that this vehicle was being discreet about its being commonplace, unexciting, boring.  You’d tell… because there continued to emanate a distinct pride from Arnold’s face- almost childish- each time he drove his Toyota. This was a loyal car, because like a wizard’s servant, it refused to call its master’s baby ugly.

Kari mused as Arnold drove on the other side of the cayapple. He was going to the city for the weekend. She smiled as she continued to type away on her laptop.  There was a deadline she had to beat, but she had started early enough and was just now touching up on everything. She looked forward to the weekend. It was a chance to get a break from Arnold,and that made her heart skip with excitement,just a bit.

Kari did not mind Arnold- not at all. In fact, she liked him. He had a sorry sense of humor-the kind that is so bad it’s amusing. He was great with the kids and was mostly willing to help out around the house when called for. Kari… liked him.

That was the problem though.  Like is not exactly the feeling one sources for from their spouse, you know. He was just… right, as in,  not wrong.  He did not make her swoon,  or have a silly smile escape her in the middle of the day, or be anxious about his return at the end of the day. She had had relationships in her adult infancy that had had more chemistry than her marriage.
Kari had convinced herself that she couldn’t have had it any other way.  She told herself that at least she didn’t get ulcers like the other women who worried all day about their husbands. She did not attach much emotion to her relationship with Arnold, and through the years she had taught herself to be unapologetic about that.  She just… liked it that way?

Kari looked up and the sight of the shade she had pulled back stuck behind the red-soil coloured sofa retreived her from her reverie. As she righted it, she felt like she and the Toyota identified. For both of them, Arnold’s happiness, his pride, depended a great deal on their discretion, their caressing his ego, because he was a good man.

I will be my own stuntman

‘’I’m gonna try something new, and walk through this state,

Like I got nothing to prove, yeah…”

I have been studying French for a while now. I’m pretty good at it, even though I would need to brush up on a few things before a meet, you know, just to make sure. I enjoy languages; I think they are colorful, and delicious, and they balm the ears, and they tease the soul into dancing to their music.

I said I am good at French. However, it’s taken a lot of lessons, not just book lessons but life lessons, to get here, and I’d like to let you in on one of these.

There are things many of us are good at, but have never tried out for long enough, or at all, because the world is watching. When I took French, the oral test was everyone’s monster. Everything about the oral test was uncomfortable. You go into a room, and whatever size the room is, you feel like you and the examiner are being squeezed together, you know, like you are best friends or something, and that’s even before the walls start closing in! In this room you are charged with the responsibility of entertaining someone who is a little shy of three times your age, for fifteen minutes, as she writes and writes, and writes you don’t know what. (I could bet sometimes they were drawing my terrified face for amusement, I’m just saying, I wouldn’t put it past them) The test is done seated. I don’t know if it’s just me, or it’s much harder to pretend to be calm when seated. Oh, and did I mention? That matters because confidence, and not just what you say, earns you marks. Lovely, is it not?

Do you know how, in an action movie, the star has a stuntman who is just about the same size as himself/ herself, has the same color hair and what not, and who does all the jumping-from-one building-to-another gymnastics? Sometimes I wish I had one of these doubles. Why? I want to have a me that will break free and embrace the mysteries of life on one hand, and at the same time a me that is the real usual me who will run my everyday life and who people will recognize as me. I speak French with my friends, often. It should not be a big deal to be asked to speak it for fifteen minutes because I would comfortably speak it for a day. However, because a third party is watching, someone my brain considers the world, the words are jumbled up here, there, everywhere.

Sometimes… Sometimes I imagined the words coming out of my mouth, and hitting against each other like the Brownian motion experiment particles, and I felt sorry for them, because they deserved better. Language, one that serves you oh so faithfully, deserves better, and words are like language atoms. It took me a couple of blotched attempts at public speaking contests for me to set myself on the right track. (Blotched is a mild word, because sometimes when I was done, people told me I looked like I was about to cry in there; that is how scared I was… of nothing)

The problem was just that: the world was watching. I can prove it because I sailed through these oral tests more easily, you could even say excellently, if the examiner was new, and I did way better if there was no audience, or if I did not know the people in the audience present. Then, I was not scared, because that world did not recognize me, I did not feel like I was exposing myself.

This brings me back to this: there are things many of us are good at, but have never tried out for long enough, or at all, because the world is watching. I say I’d like a double because if I had one, I would rock those public speaking contests. If I had one, I’d join the dance group back at school. If I had one, I’d go down to Kenya National Theater and audition to act. If I had one, I’d sing… (Ok, I may be getting A BIT carried away.)

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Being in a new environment this year has helped me open up. I have done a lot of the things I had dared I would. It’s important to me, and to many other people I guess. It is important that I don’t get put in a box, a ‘she-wouldn’t-do-that’ box. I am glad that this year I have expanded my what-I-would-do box. I can’t wait for the next year to break these walls people have built further, because I am equally responsible for their having built them. Better yet, I can’t wait for a new environment so I can have the courage to do even more.

I have been waiting for a double too long. Since none is forthcoming, I will be my own double. Join me, will you?