It’s lunchtime. You have just made your order, and you are seated at the corner, mind racing and blank at the same time—your phone chimes. You wonder why they already want you back, and it is not even 5 minutes since you left the office. Oh, it is a Tinder notification, not your supervisor. It has been a while since you used the dating App, partly because you do not match as many girls as you thought. You might as well use the Cafe’s Wi-Fi to swipe around. “ Kuna kitu utakunywa nayo?” the waitress asks, placing a platter of fries before you and a shriveled sausage. “No, thank you….” you politely decline, a weird smirk on your face… no one risks digging into their fare money.
“I’m here for friendship only, don’t ask for nudes”… swipe left… “I’m a hardworking, polite, beautiful…” swipe left… nothing interesting yet, same old, lonely Kenyans looking for friends(or cash cows) on a Dating App. The fries are surprisingly good, a little chili on there, and your day is more than amazing. Lunch hour is definitely the highlight of your day. A photo catches your eye. You are still mindlessly swiping your misery away when you bump into this intriguing profile; It is a black and white photo. She has on a denim shirt, slightly drooping off her shoulders. Her cleavage is staring at you. There are a few Teddy bears on the bed she took the photo on and a packet of crisps by her feet. No bio, but her account is verified—swipe right. Your fries are cold now, or whatever is left of them. You rummage through them, slide your phone into your pocket and head out; you cannot wait to get home tonight.
You work at a law firm, not because you studied law, but because they needed a receptionist that can also double up as an errand boy. Your Psychology degree is somewhere at home, in your mother’s bedroom. If it were up to you, you’d be seated with a client in your grandiose (or not) office, psycho-analyzing them. It’s all you have wanted to do in a very long time. Nevertheless, it is what it is, and bills don’t pay themselves, your bills especially. You are as single as a priest, and although solitude is something you had taught yourself to embrace, it’s getting out of hand now. Two days after you were on Tinder, you get a match. It’s that teddy bear chic. You’re excited. She was gorgeous last you remember, but nothing’s written to stone yet. You slide into her DMs, hesitating. Pick-up lines are overrated, you think, but that’s just an excuse, and you know it.
Can I help you take that shirt off? It would look good on the floor… you choose whose floor it’s gonna be. You go all in, slightly cringing at the bluntness in your words but also anticipating her reply. Her reply will let you know if you hit a brick wall or if it’s the end of your dry spell. She’s not online, so again, you wait…
It’s dark outside. The view from your balcony at this hour of the night is usually breathtaking. You take back your words; night times on your balcony are the highlights of your day. You get a Tinder pop up, your girl replied. Her name is Brenda, by the way, or at least that’s what her profile says. It’s July. I’d rather keep the shirt and remove everything else… Boom! She’s a jackpot this one, you think, an adrenaline overload almost overwhelming you.
I’m Kevin btw, nice to meet you…
I just replied to your text Kevin, ‘nice to meet you’ is a little dramatic…
Ooh, so what isn’t dramatic?
I’m kidding, nice talking to you too… I like the dog you’re holding in your second photo. What breed is it?
Oh, thanks! It was a gift. Not sure of the breed though. But you could come find out…
Haha, smooth… I’m always not on here that frequently, sorry for the waiting. It must’ve sucked.
Naah, I didn’t even wink a bit, but you know what’s better than texting on Tinder?
Texting on Whatsapp… I wouldn’t mind if you gave me your number, Brenda
Ooh, about that, how about we do Instagram, then maybe if I’m convinced you’re not a serial killer, I’ll give you my number…
That would be perfect
Brenda excites you. A lot. Her second name is Wanjiku, but she likes Ciku, spelled with the ‘C.’ You’re now on Instagram more often than before, morning hours at work feel like hell because you’ve been texting all night, and liking her reels, and ogling at her photos. You like it though, every bit of it. She says she dated a KDF guy before she was single, and that his anger issues and violent tendencies forced her to leave. He slapped her once and shoved her a couple of times, scaring the hell out of her. She hates feeling powerless. Living with him felt like living in a slaughterhouse, if you were a cow. But he’s still in denial, he says he will come back for her once his tour in Somalia is over, but she moved places and went to live under a rock just to make sure he doesn’t get to her. That was 5 months ago, 5 months and 16 days, to be precise.
Today’s Thursday. After work, you’re meeting Ciku for a date. An actual date. It’s been centuries since you were out for fun, let alone a date. Everyone at the office thinks you look exceptionally good today; Lydia, the tea girl, even snuck you an extra Samosa for breakfast. The day is twice as long. You avoid having a heavy meal for lunch. First-date accidents are not your portion.
There’s a nice place you know in uptown, within your budget but great ambiance. They play Jazz on Thursdays, but she listens to Davido mostly, so no points for you there. You wait by the sidewalk. She should be 5 minutes away now. The live band is already playing, and there’s a buzz of excitement all around you as if they know you’re about to have a good time. Your phone rings, it’s her…
“Niko hapa nje tu nakungojea…ata nimekuona”
She’s in a mustard dress. She knows dresses make you weak, you told her that. Her makeup is subtle, she looks like the sun and smells of vanilla with a hint of wife material. The night was more than amazing. You both feared it being awkward. It’s hard to enjoy your meal if all you’re talking about is your hobbies. You even did a Karaoke and kissed her goodnight, it doesn’t get better than that.
Days go by, Ciku is now the highlight of your days, many days. Life is good. Your evenings especially are heaven-sent. She likes video calls, so that’s all you do when you get home and before leaving for work, teenagers. So this one evening, she’s showing you the muffins she baked, and you’re there, staring at her ‘muffins’ rather than the muffins, I don’t blame you. There’s a hard knock at her door, it’s irritatingly loud. She excuses herself. You can hear her walk to the door, her feet dragging. Labda ni caretaker, she tells you. Before you could answer her, before anything else could happen, she shrieks loudly. It’s as if she had seen a ghost.
“Joram achana na mimi! Nitapigia Poli…”
Two loud bangs. You almost jump out of your skin. Your ears are ringing. Her phone is on the floor, and someone’s whizzing, loudly, as if they’re trying to breathe with nose plugs on. Footsteps are fading away, you’re transfixed, scared to your bone, you don’t know what to think… You wake up. It’s a dream.