Trauma

Hello, everyone.

I’ve been working on chapter eight of La Bel, but so far I haven’t written a draft I’m proud of (okay, I haven’t written anything but it’s developing in my head). While we wait for that exciting bit of story, here’s another one.

My cat, Chris Brown, just discovered there are other cats in the world. It’s our fault, Eve’s and mine, we sheltered her too much and now she thinks that she’s the only cat in existence. Or at least that’s what she thought because one day, early in the morning – 4 am to be precise – Chris woke us up in the manner she always does. Scratching at the bedroom door incessantly. Her claws make the wood scream in pain, “Make it stop! Make it stop!” If you are a normal human being who enjoys the luxury of sleep, this is really really annoying. 

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But you know what, I’m a good fur-parent. So I get up, leave the comfort of my warm bed and open the door for this feline hoping that once she sees the door is open and she can move about freely, she’ll keep it down. And maybe, just maybe, I can go back to sleep. 

By the way, at this time Eve is still sound asleep. I tell you, we could be abducted by aliens but this woman will not be roused. Nkt.

shakes fist

Anyway, Chris Brown has access to the room and I go back under the safety of my duvet thinking that that’s the end of her drama. Friends, this is how people who don’t have cats think, and sometimes I can only hope. No, Chris jumps on the bed and starts biting the fleshy part of my arm above the elbow.

“What now?” I whisper in the darkness and pray that the Lord will open this cat’s mouth as He did for Baalam that one time with the donkey. But guess what, He doesn’t and I have to resort to cat telepathy because Chris Brown, unlike the person she’s named after, doesn’t like to use her voice. Not a single Meow. She’s a girl of action though and she continues her crusade with her teeth.

I get out of bed and carry a small blanket with me to the living room, Chris happily on my trail. I plop myself onto the large sofa and quickly cover myself before the morning chill dampens my will to live. Chris makes a few gymnastic hops onto the window and starts scratching on the handles. “So unataka kutoka?” I ask.

No meows for me. She just looks at me blankly like duh.

“Fine,” I say. “Go and don’t come back till sunrise.” I open the window for her and spend a lot of time (or at least that’s what it seemed like) thinking about why we don’t have pet doors in this country. But then I remember that other people keep animals that won’t be shy to venture into my house should I have one of those doors. Also, snakes.

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Chris scampers her little tail out into the security-lit darkness and I retreat to my safe haven that is the couch. It’s a cozy 4 am Monday morning and just as I get settled, the cat rushes back into the room via the window and is scared as can be. She even peed a little. I sigh because sleep is life but as I said, I’m a good fur-parent. I go to the window to check on what’s gotten Chris so worked up and I see a huge cat. Same ginger fur as Chris but easily almost twice her size. This one is looking up at me and I can see that it has gone through life. It’s built as if it goes to the gym. If it were a person he’d be a Sylvester Stallone. This is a street cat. A hood cat. This cat can take you through tough alleyways to hunt for rodents. This cat can sell you drugs. This cat has been hiding from the law.

It’s probably Chris’ dad. But Chris had no desire to be reunited with family. She was a loner and could take care of herself – provided we kept feeding her and emptying her litter. In her short life, she’d never seen another of her kind before. It was really humbling for her. Also terrifying because she went and hid in another room in the house till the sun came up. 

Poor Chris.

Anyway, speaking of terror, one morning on my way to work I saw a penis. 

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This penis did not belong to me. It came up out of nowhere and unfortunately when it did, I had nowhere to run to. Nowhere to hide. It snuck up on me like the trouser snake it is.

See, I was on one of my work assignments in the big city. I thought that because this time I was staying with my sister at South B, there wouldn’t be any incidents (like that time in 87) but boy oh boy, how wrong was I.

I had been to my sister’s place once before and I got there by Uber. As such, I didn’t know how a person could go into and out of the area without said service (or similar alternatives like Bolt although Bolt has been really disappointing this past few months. Is it just me? Has Bolt done anyone else dirty?) 

I arrived on Sunday. It was late, the sky was heavy with the promise of rain and the dust of the Expressway construction making a man glad that at least Covid got us wearing masks because that dust is unbearable. I had to be at work on Monday somewhere along Uhuru Highway and I thought that I’d take a cab to and fro while I was here. My sister was appalled at this.

“A cab?” She said. “But kuna matatu hapa tu kwa corner.”

“Really?” I asked. “I didn’t know that.”

“How did you get here last time?”

“A cab.”

“How did you leave?”

“A cab.”

“Why didn’t you ask?”

I shrugged. Why didn’t I ask? I don’t know. I probably had money in my pocket and like the foreigner I think I am, I simply enjoyed using Uber and the like. I like the leg room and the fact that I can open the window whenever I like. 

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Also, apologies for those who found The Ferryman a touch bit scary. Not all cab drivers are in the occult.

The next morning, at 6:50 am, my sister and I were at the bus stop. It was a ridiculously early time to be ready and at a bus stop and I can not understand that part of living and working in Nairobi. To be fair, when I used to commute from my parents’ house to the city, I used to leave at 5:10 am so this was pretty late by Nairobi standards but still. It was too early. 

Ironically, I wake up at 5 am every day but there’s a difference between waking up early because you can and waking up early because you have to.

So, Eve (my sister’s name is Eve by the way – yes, yes, my wife and my sister have the same name. It’s so wonderful explaining this), showed me the bus to take and I had a pretty good trip to work. There was no traffic that day – how serendipitous- so I logic-ed in my head that since 6:50 am is an absurd time, I can allow myself twenty extra minutes because why not?

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On Tuesday morning, at roughly 7:06 am, I was on my way to the bus stop. I was feeling good. I just bought a new set of earbuds and I was listening to what Eve, my wife, would call “White People Music” (which is simply house music) when the penis snuck up on me. So, on the way to the stop, there is a small bridge. Nairobi river (or what passes for Nairobi river) runs under it and it was on this bridge where I was humming to Shaed and Zayn’s Trampoline when I turned my eyes to look ahead. A man was standing there just a few meters away and just to my left. If I held my hand out I could have grazed his shoulder as I walked by. He was standing weird. So still and stiff in the morning (I realize I said stiff and I am howling as I write this). And he was looking right at me. It was odd. What was he doing? I hoped it wasn’t another 87 incident waiting to happen. My eyes scanned him – looking for his hands because I needed to know where his hands were. 

Then I saw where his hands were. 

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I never dreamed that I would be describing another person’s member on this blog but here we are. This is the day that the Lord has made.

His hands held himself as he pissed into the river. Steaming yellow liquid emerged from his dark tip. He was circumcised and he had a mushroom head. He was half-hard and his shaft was dark. Dark like dark wood – which it was. Dark wood. Time seemed to stand still as I took all this information in. My mind was shocked and my feet were on autopilot (Thank God because I kept moving) but the movement was still in his direction. I don’t know how long my gaze was on him but it felt like an eternity. I don’t even remember when Zayn and Shaed stopped having those dreams of theirs.

Trauma.

Why is Nairobi like this?

I should ask my sister to move.

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