An Impossible Romance

Let’s assume her name is Dee Dee.

And one coffee date from now, you will miss her every time you hear a love song.

A one night stand from now, if you’re lucky, she may not even remember your name.

A few months from now, if you’re really lucky, you will be wishing you never met her, you will be wishing you were dead.

Because, trust me, one day you will find that special person who will make you so happy, when they leave you may never want to breathe again. So it’s fair to say we are constantly looking for something that will one day kill us.

Our greatest adventure is finding death in what we love.

This may not make sense now, because, just like you, I haven’t met Dee Dee yet. Not at least in what you may call, intimate circumstances.

Dee Dee is not even her name—at least not yet.

Maybe her parents named her Daisy, but she chose Dee Dee because it sounds cool.

Dee Dee is like any other girl you have met so deeply in your life and from the first kiss you picture them in your house, carrying your first child, lying in your bed, fat and depressed.

From where you’re seated, if she turns the side of her face to look outside the window, you imagine her black eyeballs so dark they look tattooed. Her face, you imagine it so well scrubbed you can see the pores breathing on her ebony skin. So far all you have is the back of her head.

The misty windows of the matatu you’re in has other eleven passengers. There are other girls in this matatu riding from Odion Cinema to Lavington, with the hem of their skirts a little over their knee-caps, and everybody is on their phone except you. Because she’s the one who has all your attention. She’s in the seat in front of you.

If you take her home, you’re sure your mother will like her.

You can tell a girl is beautiful from any angle you look. Dee Dee, if you can call her that now because she hasn’t turned round and you can’t see the rest of her face, she has six thick cornrows tied at the back of her head with a thin yellow wrist band. The tails of the twisted braids disappear down to her neck, like octopus tentacles, past a Chinese-lettered tattoo at the back of her left ear.

If you take her home, she will cook and not eat until you come home from work.

Maybe not.

Maybe she has a tall handsome boyfriend, the type with cornrows, the type that won Mr. Campus in a modeling contest in some cool college in this city, like USIU. And after your break-up, when her cute friends ask her if you two were really dating, with a glass of some white wine in her hand, she will reduce your relationship to a:

“Yea, we fucked a coupla times.”

Dee Dee looks like the kind of girl who thinks only about sex and tattoos. She doesn’t worry about climate change, and the fact that rivers in Meru are drying up, and in Cape Town, people are fighting over water. Dee Dee doesn’t care about your favorite political activist or the fact that three presidents in Africa have resigned this year alone. She cares only about her German shephered dog, her UK friends from two vacations ago, and maybe when the iPhone X is coming out.

She is not the type to tune into those radio stations where callers discuss the price of sugar. Dee Dee is not the type to click on any WhatsApp link that promises to make you ten thousand bucks a day. She is smart, because her father is rich. This you can tell from her perfume. Chanel Mademoiselle.

Dee Dee is a child of the millennium and all her WhatsApp friends don’t type in Swahili or Sheng. She is what you might call, the foster child of Afro-futurism.

In her bedroom, instead of teddy bears and posters of Sauti Sol, she has paintings and sculptures you can only picks from K-1 flea market or any other spot frequented by tourists in dark sunglasses.

If you saw her face, you would know her eyes are relaxed and kind. She is the type to host reality talent shows. Or the type to be in a baggy cotton sweater in her room writing code in Python.

Something about Dee Dee’s hair is pulling you. So you put your right palm on the head-rest of the seat in front of you. When the vehicle hits on a slow pump, Dee Dee’s head taps on your fingers. This is the closest you will ever get to touch a dream, to touch her.

Let’s say when you drop outside Lavington Mall, you will say hi, ask her if she has a minute to spare for coffee, someday, or…maybe this Saturday? Because she’s a child raised on digital TV, Wi-Fi, American feminist magazines and heavy metal rock songs, she will look you straight in your eyeballs and say, “Sure an espresso will do right now.”

Gesturing with her chin towards the mall because both her thumbs are working on her phone, she will say her dad brings her here sometime, when they’re not eating chu-toro, maguro and California rolls in a Tokyo Restaurant along Kolloh Road.

As you pull a chair at Artcaffe, you will say this place is expensive.

And she will say, “Nothing is expensive if money can buy it. Nothing is expensive; you’re just broke, dude.”

You will try to smile.

She will say, “Come on. I will pay.”

Over the coffee, she will tell you how her dad has an ashtray in the shower, in the car, almost everywhere in the house, and he’s dying of cancer but he can’t stop smoking.

Yes, you can sit with a stranger for five minutes and you will know their whole family’s history. Some people have no family secrets to hide. Some people are just comfortable with the imperfections of their family.

She will tell you how she and her mom don’t get along because she’s been in college for six years. She was to graduate two years ago.

“But this lecturer guy fucked my plans up.”

You won’t ask how. Because you know a girl her type has no problem dating three boys in her class and two senior lecturers at the same time. She will ask you:

“How about you? Which college do you go to?”

And you will tell her all you wanted was to be a grey haired scholar like Ali A. Mazrui, but drugs fucked your plans up.

Let’s say after the espresso, you will exchange numbers.

Let’s say you will call her after dinner but she won’t pick up. You will call again. She won’t pick up. No matter how many women you have slept with in a week, it’s the ones who don’t pick your calls or reply to your texts that you will always think about.

It’s the birds that flew away we chase. It’s the broken dreams we dream of, for a lifetime.

To make you feel better, let’s say after the espresso, if you take her home tonight, with a long manicured finger on her nose, she will say this place is too stuffy. Let’s go to a hotel room.

You then will call an Uber to some outlandish place like Osnet Boutique Resort. At the entrance you will pass by a female security guard in blue uniform reading a newspaper, and she will smile at Dee Dee and you will be ignored.

At the soft king size bed, you won’t care how many guys Dee Dee has slept with, she’s so pretty you will want to eat her out on the first date. You won’t mind spiting hairs from your mouth after you suck her entire crotch.

She will take offence. And she will defend herself saying, “Pubic hair shaving actually originated in ancient Egypt and Greece when prostitutes had to shave for hygienic reasons and their profession.”

Rubbing her crotch she will say, “In Islam shaving pubies is one of the Sunnahs of the fitrah, and pubies should not be left without shaving for more than forty days.”

Waving her bushy crotch towards your face she will say, “Now, why can’t a woman simply own her body?”

She’s the kind of girl who doesn’t take criticism or such passive aggressive behavior like pulling hair from your mouth lightly, implying that she’s less organized. So Dee Dee will prop one leg on the toilet bowl and shave her pubies anyway and her armpits and the faint mustache and the nape of her neck and dump the hairs in the sink, and the sink will block.

And because you think you love her, you will poke the hairs with a toothpick until every strand of pubic hair drowns in the whirling water from the two taps of, let’s say, the fourth floor of Osnet. Inspired, you might shave the hairs around your own nipples, and pull out a few nose hairs as well.

After a nice clean hairless fuck as you lay smoking, she may want to borrow your phone and swipe photos of you smiling alone. Because you have no one, most photos are just you goofing at the camera. And every photo has a this big creepy smile. She will tell you that people who smile in every photo know that they’re ugly.

“Even if you’re ugly, all is not lost.” Swiping another photo, she will say: “You can always be used to make someone’s ex jealous.”

The morning after the one night stand, a white towel up to her breasts, dubbing the corner of her mouth in the mirror, she will tell you she can’t keep up with her parents’ expectations. She wants to move out, start life, get some guy with money and start life, basically.

“You know what I mean? But I’m scared of losing the spoils of my parents. Like I know they won’t let me take the car. The car mom bought me for my birthday. And every day she has to remind how lucky I am. How she never had shit growing up. Ugh, it’s so exhausting.”

Seeing you say nothing because you are bending over making the hotel bed, putting pillows in place, Dee Dee will come over, spank you and say, “Gosh, all this is a man’s ass? Tell me, have you ever had a tongue in your—”

This reverie of an impossible romance with a strange girl in a matatu in this city of tall buildings and broken dreams is interrupted by the tout tapping the door of the matatu signaling the driver to pull over.

It is Dee Dee alighting.

And the tout is saying to Dee Dee, “Maze, Shish leo ni za wapi, kwani ulihama Ongwaro?”

And Shish smiles, there’s an upper missing tooth, and the rest of the teeth are yellowish and she replies with a rough ghetto accent, “Zii maze naeda job. Nakwaga mbochi kwa sonko frani hapa Ravi.”

When you finish reading one of those brilliant how-to-get-rich books and then you’re so inspired but then you realize you will never ever be a Jeff Bezos or a Chris Kirubi, that’s how disappointed I am.

Shish fist pumps with the tout and you notice she has a scar just over her left eye-lid.

And you watch her disappear into the bright night and she never turns to look back. The six thick cornrows under the street light, fading off like a dream.

And you’re left stranded at the crossroads of your imagination and reality. Caught between Dee Dee, a bourgeois cool chick from the Nairobi suburbs and Shish, the baby-sitter from Kawangware slums.

It’s that old saying about imagination being better than reality.

As the city lies before you, with tail lights of cars and streetlights simmering like a thousand embers, you wonder if every girl you meet is a figment of your imagination.