I’m at a hotel somewhere along Thika Road. Let’s go swimming, they said, and although I don’t know how to, I tagged along. Now me not knowing how to swim is no lie, I have no idea. Not a clue. Throwing me in water is like pulling a trigger to my head, Kurt Cobain style. I would sink faster than a rock. Then I’d drown painfully as I water fills my lungs. There after, I’d be referred to as ‘the late’ and things like ‘he had so much talent and promise’ would be said at my memorial service. Only that swimming would not be among them. But I’d live forever through this blog. Ama?
It’s hot and the Nairobi sun wants to torch us.
I’m seated under those umbrella thingamajigs watching these guys swim, having fun with water polo and all. I’m feeling all green, lamenting why I wasted more of my childhood tearing up chicken and getting fat rather than learning something as primal as swimming. I’m sure as hell not willing to learn now because of reasons I mentioned in Drowning. So I’m seated there, beer at hand, phone on the other, watching girls dive in pretty and come out looking worse than the Ghost of Gabratula. All their make-up dissolved in water together with their esteem. At some point, I could’ve sworn seeing the water turn color. From blue to those colors you hear with interior designers, like magneta.
As I lament under my breath, a child approaches me. She’s tiny, no older than six years. She’s cute like those babies they use in Pampers ads. Those babies you wish never grow past that cute age. She’s from the baby pool. She’s light with Cushitic hair and no teeth at the front but her smile would brighten anyone’s dull day. Her eyes are uncannily brown and enchanting.
“Have you seen my mommy?” (Mommy is said in a Sansa Stark accent)
“I haven’t. I don’t know her. What’s your name?”
“Well Brandy, I haven’t seen mommy.”
“You look like daddy. Do you know him?”
“No, I don’t. Did he come with you today?”
“Yes. What’s that you’re drinking?”
At this point, she intrigues me. I was brought up in a generation where talking, nay, looking at a stranger would get you flogged and consequently, we (I) became a shy generation. But here is a child -who’ll hit puberty when our dear Lord is getting his Pegasus ready for the second coming – talking to me like I pay her tuition fees. I’m captivated.
I don’t know what to tell her. She’s inquisitive. I say cocktail and she’ll ask what that is. I say soda she’ll smirk and know I’m lying. Plus I’m not the type of guy that lies to girls.
“A drink for grownups.” I say and look away in shame.
“Daddy drinks it too.”
“Is that your mom?” I say (obviously avoiding the subject) cueing to some light woman who seems frantic and restless at the children’s pool. She runs to her. Small feet hitting against small puddles of spilled water. She’s laughing and shouting something incoherently. She’s happy to see her mother. It would make a great into montage for a film intro, I think. Mother was a bit angry at first but a smile spread once she saw Brandy. They are happy. It’s sunny. It’s cinematic.
Maybe for a minute the mother thought she had lost her baby. And in that moment, she was the most terrified she’d ever been in her life. Her chest tightened and a bad taste filled her mouth. The taste of pain and anguish and despair. In that moment, she questioned her worth as a mother and wondered why God would give her a child and take her away so soon after.
Maybe tears had already filled her eyes and she’d begun going crazy; tugging at waiters’ shirts frantically. Have you seen my daughter? “No, ma’am.” They’d say, deadpan, and continue with their shifts without a care in the world because that’s what humanity has been reduced to; a bunch of conceited, egocentric bots copulating and filling the earth as God requires.
In a dark moment where she had allowed her mind to wander into filthy cesspits, she had looked in the pool waiting to see her child’s lifeless body float serenely. But she didn’t see that. Instead, she saw a bunch of kids playing, throwing water and balls at each other merrily and a glimmer of hope was shed in her heart, but not before reality apace dawned on her and she was panicky again. That’s when I saw her and gave her her child back.
Later that evening with daddy at the wheel and mommy shotgun, Brandy would be all excited and wild from the day out and would start,
“I talked to a man drinking what you drink when you come home in the evening.”
“What did we say about talking to strangers, Brandy?” He’d bellow.
“He wasn’t a stranger. He looked like you.”
“He’s still a stranger. Please don’t do it again.”
“Okay.” She’d say meekly.
“And I hope you didn’t touch his drink.”
“Come on, dad. I’m not a child. How old do you think I am? Six?”