To New Beginnings

“Si uliniambia unakuja leo? Nimenunua mpaka kaunga ka chapo…”

Our mothers’ negotiation skills are unbeaten. This was the third week she was trying to get me to go spend a night at the home and every week, my excuses grew weaker and weaker. I also missed her. Adulting has a way of making you forget that there are people in your life that are irreplaceable.

“Unatoka chama saa ngapi?” I gave in, home is home either way.

“By saa kumi ntakuwa home… si kama unakuja uletee watoto biscuit,unajua huwa wanafurahi sana ukitembea huku”

“Sawa, acha tutaonana jioni…”

I slipped my phone back into my jeans and headed out to my therapist’s reception lounge. I checked my phone again, 11:58. I was on time today. I hadn’t seen my therapist in a while on purpose. She made me nervous, that was reason enough to play hide and seek with her.

A phone rang and the receptionist picked, mumbled a few words then put it back. “You can now go in Tony,” she said, motioning me towards her office. I hesitated at the door like I was waiting for her to change her mind, before slowly walking in. The wooden floor groaned under my weight as I sat but even that didn’t make her shift her gaze to me. She looked younger today, even more gorgeous I’d say. Wait, that wasn’t my usual therapist. She stopped rummaging through her drawers and looked up with a smile.

“You must be Tony, I’m Wakesho… Dr Wakesho” she started, going through a file she had fished from one of the drawers.

I was still confused as to why no one bothered to tell me I was changing ship. Part of going to therapy is airing your dirty linen and all the skeletons you’ve hidden for years. Seeing a new therapist made me feel like I had just gone through a breakup and here I was on another date looking for a rebound. Only that the rebound wants to know why brown is my favourite colour.

Seeing me hesitate, she explained why it was her I was meeting and not my former therapist. Turns out COVID really is a bitch. She lost the battle 2 weeks ago. The announcement of death pricks a little life out of you, like a small offering given to those that have departed.

We didn’t do much that afternoon, it was more of exchanging notes of sanity if you ask me. I personally was feeling way better than the first time I walked into that office. She was lucky that was a part of me she didn’t have to deal with. Her curiosity, however, led me down this rabbit hole I had ignored for days on end.

“I presume you’ve had recurring nightmares for almost a year now?” she asked, putting back the file she had just gone through.

“10 months to be exact…” I muttered.

“How do you know they’re nightmares and not dreams you don’t like?”

“Uhm, have you had a nightmare before?”

“Yes… but this is about you Tony”

“Well, a bad dream is when your car breaks down on your way to work, but the nightmare begins when you get to work to find your dead mum is your boss.”

“That’s a nightmare you’ve had?” she asked, the shock evident on her face.

“I’ve had worse. At least in that one, I get to see my real mum’s face. It might be twisted but I’ll take it any day…”

“What other horrifying but intriguing dreams have you had?” She doesn’t want to go there, I thought.

“Are you sure?” I asked, a bit concerned for her.

“That’s why I get paid Tony…” She retorted, determined to get to the depths of my darkness.

“Well, there was this one time I saw myself as a kid, but my sister was all grown, she was in her teen years I think…”

“Do you have a sister in real life?”

“Yea, she died in a fire when I was a kid. She was months old…”

“How did you know it was your sister if she never grew up?”

That was a question I hadn’t thought about. She made sense though. How did I know it was Rosa?

“So in this dream of mine, she’s the sweetest human being…and I know it is her because she made me toys out of her old clothes like I did when she was little … but it breaks my heart seeing what she could’ve been because maybe if I was that sweet to her, I would’ve been there to save her from the fire, or died trying…”

She looked at me stunned for a second, not sure what she was dealing with here. I felt sorry immediately for bombarding her like that. But she must be used to this already, it’s in her job description either way.

“I like your scarf, it looks exotic and kind,” I said, hoping that would elevate the tension that was already building.

“Ooh, thank you. It was an anniversary gift from my husband.”

“He got it from…? The Maldives?”

“Gikomba,” she laughed.

“Well, I hope it reminds you of everything you have others don’t,” I said, partly making reference to myself.

“I feel like I’m the one on therapy here,” she remarked.

“Don’t we all need help?” I asked, and she immediately looked away.

Her brown eyes seemed to defy her though, and they lingered over me with an enthusiasm that lacked when we first began talking. At that moment, it felt weird having a therapist I considered attractive. That meant my lonely ass wouldn’t miss a session just to have her look at me like that again. An hour had almost gone by, indicating my time here was coming to a halt, unfortunately.

“I think we’re well-acquainted now Tony, I’ll see you again next week…”

“Thank you for your time doctor, I can’t wait…”

“And please, take care of yourself…” She said just as I closed the door behind me.

  I should have snuck out of her office window to avoid all the prying eyes at the reception. Could they have heard what we were talking about? Naah, that should be illegal,right?

My negotiations with Ken were still hanging on the line, so I figured my physical presence would tip the odds in my favour. I hopped onto the next matatu to town, hoping my unexpected visit would be a pleasant surprise. The deal was to go for 2 therapy sessions and then talk about a freelancing contract of some sort. My piggy bank was slowly running out and if there was a chance for me to make money again, you best believe I wasn’t going to squander it.

 The offices looked different, even the guards were new. A post-curfew makeover maybe. There was a new guy in my old office with a “You Can Do It” poster hanging on his wall. He sure did live by that mantra considering he was seating where I used to. Before I could walk in, Ken emerged from I don’t know where and dragged me to his office.

“You guy you look good bana, kwani ulioa?” he said, with a weird smirk on his face.

“Haha, zi… ni kukula fiti bro, nilikuambia uachane na ma KFC huskii” I answered, knowing too well that was a nasty jab. He should be able to take a joke though, considering his office bin was full of fast food leftovers.

“Nimetoka Westi leo kwa ule daktari. How come you never told me aliishia?”

He seemed to hang for a while, as if unable to process what I just told him.

“You’re not serious. That therapist of yours is gone? What was her name again?”

“Alikuwa anaitwa Dr.Nyaboke I think. Me I thought you knew ameishia?”

“Imagine no one knew, this COVID thing kumbe is real…” Yes, Ken, it’s real, it wasn’t the government’s ploy to fleece us.

After a few minutes of small talk, we got to what had brought me in the first place. I needed a paycheck and they needed someone to get the real stories. The Wanjiku kind of stories. Changing my residence was a blessing disguised as a downgrade, for it was amongst the common people that the world actually revolved. Ken looked half convinced, half confused. He knew I was right, and if he needed this company to grow exponentially, dancing to the drums I was beating him wasn’t an option. I gave him the tape recording I had of my last interview (the Mama Otis story), asked him to listen to it, then pay me a few coins before we could sign any contract, because my pockets didn’t care if contracts were to be signed, a man’s pockets shouldn’t be as empty as mine were. Let’s just say I left his office richer than I was walking in.

The journey to mathe’s place was peaceful. My mind wasn’t racing, I didn’t have a deadline to beat, it was as if I was asleep with my eyes open. The uncertainties of my survival and career were slowly fading away, and I could feel the load slowly thaw from my shoulders. Mathe also needed help taking care of the many kids she housed at her home, and although her maternal care hadn’t depleted one bit since I lived there, today’s harsh economy threatened to drown her in poverty.

A text woke me from my stupor. Ulienda therapy leo? It was from Karen. We kind of had a thing going on since that night we texted till midnight. I don’t mind though, I had been a disturbed loner for a while, so her feminine presence excited me in ways that didn’t make sense. She also seemed to like me too, weirdly, or maybe I was reading between the wrong lines. Eeh, ndio narudi home ata…nilikuambia naenda kwa mathe leo? I replied. The matatu was close to empty despite being allowed to carry full capacity. After a few minutes, I alighted into the searing sun and found my way home.

 The home looked like it was built at the foot of a small hill, since all other residences were on raised ground. The terrain here was irregular from years of erosion, and as much as rain here was rare, our small home got flooded at least twice a year. A rusty sign stood beside the gate, with the words ‘Ebenezer children’s home’ now illegible. It was a few minutes past 4 now, and the rattling of cups in the kitchen was more than distinct. Kids here had a tea party every 4:30. I walked into mathe rationing dry foods and her face lit up when she saw me. “Kijana yangu amefika!” she shrieked as she threw her arms around me. I was home, I felt at home. There was no other place on earth a human being would be happier to see me. It was as if she was trying to squeeze out all the suffering she knew I had endured. A little girl ran in when she heard mathe’s voice. In no time, there were around 15 kids in the kitchen, all of them wondering who this stranger was that made their mum scream. The older ones had seen me before, so they explained to the others who I was. I had with me a carton of biscuits and candy, the only way to a kid’s heart.

Then almost immediately, my phone rang, it was Karen. I excused myself and walked out, as the kids lined up for their afternoon snack.

“Ati umesema unaenda kwa mathe leo?” Karen asked, the excitement in her voice betraying her.

“Eeh, ata nishafika… umenipigia nikiekewa chai ata”

“Haha, pole…aki na venye that place was nice the last time I was there. You know niko hapa Mirema tu…” I knew she was that close, but not everyone wants to hang out in a children’s home.

“Ooh, na ni hapa juu tu… unaeza kuja if you want to…”

“We can’t be meeting for the first time na uniambie nikuje if I want to, kwani you don’t want to see me too?”

“Okay, come, I also want to see you…will you sleep over?”

“Your mum will be okay nikilala uko?”

“Sidhani akona shida. Si wewe ulikuja huku pekeako mara ya kwanza ata”

“Haha, I know. Labda she doesn’t like it tukiwa wawili…”

“She’ll be okay. So nimwambie supper tupike ya watu wengi?”

“Eeh, wekeni maji mob ya ugali, ntakupigia nikishuka stage unikujie…”

2 responses to “To New Beginnings”

  1. The writer has a way of expressing himself that makes me feel invested in everything . He relates to our everyday struggles and childhood traumas that are deeply rooted in our core. Can’t wait for the next piece

    Liked by 2 people

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