“Hi! I’m Wambui. You must be my date”
Aah, Wambui. There was something rather off about that name. It reminded me of the women in those dinghy bars in downtown, or that shady ka-local bar in the ghetto. Those bars where people are chromed in worse than sardines in a can. Those bars that reek of stale human sweat, vomit, alcohol and cheap cigarettes. There’s hardly any air to breath, but somehow, people here don’t seem bothered. There’s always uncomfortably loud blaring from the speakers and inebriated folks trying to make, nay, shout conversations at each other, adding to the whole din. In such places, you will find a Wambui.
You won’t miss her. She’d probably be seated amidst a crowd of men sipping on some Guinness or Kingfsher. Her ghastly weave; those ones that seem like a dishevelled bird’s nest that’s been partially blown by the wind, will lead you right to her. If that doesn’t, then her peculiarly drawn, pencil-thin eyebrows will. Her face will probably be awash with Talcum powder; red or hot-pink Signature lipstick awkwardly smeared on her luscious lips. She would be wearing fishnet stockings with a short dress that’s a tad too tight for her body size. One can see her struggling to breath beneath the rolls and folds of flesh pouring from the sides of her dress. Wambui has this boisterous laughter; the kind of laughter that would land you a heavy slap if you dared attempt it in your mother’s house.
But this Wambui was different. Her whole being oozed the aroma of wild roses. Her whole aura screamed of gentleness. I bet she could walk on lilies and not smash any petal. That name didn’t suit her at all.
I didn’t realize all this time I was just seated there, staring at her. How rude!
“Oh, Hi Wambui! Finally, we get to meet! Please have a seat!”
She goes into an apologetic rumble; the usual “sorry for being late; you know Nairobi and its hellish traffic…”. I wasn’t listening. My eyes were fixated on her; trying to take in as much of this beautiful creature as I could; lest I never see her again. I wanted to remember her face, her hair, the shade of her eyes; the petite curve of her nose.
“I hope I didn’t keep you waiting so long”
“I didn’t mind it at all. Was busy updating my apps. And their Dawa is sick! You must try”
My voice seemed strange to my own ears. I was so nervous. My voice always goes up a notch higher when I am nervous.
“Since you speak so highly of it, definitely I must. It’s so chilly today”
“IKR?? Cuddling weather, they say. To some it’s just a cups-upon-cups-of- endless-tea weather”
She lets out a shy laugh. Her eyes lighten up. Her voice is warm. This is going well.
We are seated on a window booth in the upstairs lounge at Artlantis coffee house. From the booth, you can see the streets in all its hustle and bustle. Across the road, the ever busy flower vendors at City Market are engrossed in their trade. The café is full. It’s a Friday, people are in no hurry to get home.
“So how was work today?”
“I didn’t go, actually. Day off. Been running up and about the whole day. Yourself?”
“Painstakingly slow but I ain’t complaining. I’m just glad there’s no pressure at the moment”
Conversation flows smoothly. It’s almost as if we’ve known each since childhood. We hardly realize the night crawling in until the waiter comes ask us to clear up; it was closing time. Time really does fly when you’re in delightful company. We pack and leave the place. There’s a slight drizzle outside. She holds my hand. Her fingers are warm.
“I’ve had such a great time” She whispers. My head is abuzz with excitement. This was my first official date since I “came out”. Well, I hadn’t told anyone yet. But, yes, you get the drift. A month ago, I had slid into her Dms. I don’t even remember how it all spiralled. But here we were, connecting and all.
“It sucks that we have to part ways so soon. It felt like a minute”
“It doesn’t have to end now you know…”
“It’s cold and rainy. Do you really want to be out at this hour, in this weather?”
“Who said anything about going out?”
“If you’re thinking what I’m thinking you’re thinking, I have the latest GOT episodes. Want to come watch them with me?”
“You are thinking exactly what I am thinking” I can see a wry smile curving the corner of her lips. I turn towards her and smile back.
Aaah..this woman…my Wambui.
Hands still interlocked, we half-walk, half-run to the bus stop.