On a star-studded cold Friday night, I am seated on a friend’s couch in his apartment along Thika Road. It’s a new maroon couch but it looks like it’s already seen better days. The TV is playing something on YouTube. Cardi B, I think. One of her million collabos. Songs you hear and immediately realize they were pushed by execs is pristine suits only for commercial purposes, not longevity.
There’s someone in the kitchen, rummaging through the fridge before the microwave purrs to life. A guy in glasses on the seat beside me hasn’t spoken a word since I arrived. He’s been on his phone, scrolling and scrolling. But he’s certainly not reading thegaps.co.ke. Maybe he’s pissed the writer hasn’t posted for over a month. I’d be pissed too.
My Lady sits beside me, showing me memes from time to time because she thinks memes are God’s gifts to humanity. Some are funny, I laugh. Some aren’t funny, I laugh at them too.
The girl warming food walks in and sits and starts eating.
There’s no reason a bunch of university students have congregated in a house. No plan. All that unites us here is fatigue from a long day (read: week) and a need to unwind and let loose.
We start talking. Break ice with some of the unfamiliar faces. No one is paying attention to the TV anymore. There’s someone rolling MJ after a consensus was made that we needed some.
We head to the balcony soon after to partake.
Food girl stands next to me as we partake. She tells me that she sells jewelry as a side hustle. Like most students, she feels like the system is going to fail her. That she’ll complete uni next year with nice honors. Her dad will be so proud that he’ll throw her a huge graduation party with tents and a catering service. She’ll be in her graduation gown the whole time. She’ll dance. She’ll give a speech. An uncle everyone calls ‘daktari’ because he has a doctorate will also give a speech. She’ll collect lots of money from relatives. She’ll get drunk later that evening with her friends. It will be a lovely shindig. But then, the next morning, she’ll realize for the first time ever that she’s an independent adult. That her parents owe her nothing anymore. So she’ll drop CVs all over CBD and wait for falsely promised calls.
She says she saves up before semesters begin, imports jewelry in bulk so that it’s cheaper and sells them when campus reopens for a new sem. I think to myself what a wonderful idea that is.
I ask her if she has any jewelry I can see. She says she always walks around with stock. We proceed to checkout.
I have always loved rings. Not in a dreamy, girly way where I imagine a prince charming proposing to his Cinderella with a huge diamond rock on his palm. I love the whole aesthetic of rings. They look magnificent on fingers, regardless of how pretty or ugly you might consider your fingers to be. You can’t ever go wrong with them.
That’s why when she took out the jewelry, I was automatically drawn to the rings. And my, didn’t she have gorgeous ones.
I am especially drawn to one that looks like an old relic, something Indiana Jones would absolutely love. It’s as thick as Daima Yogurt and has diamond shaped patterns. And…Wait for it… It fits perfectly on my pinky finger.
I wear it slowly as I admire it in awe. And when it reaches the foot of my finger (lol), I hold up my palm and admire it some more. It looks breathtaking and I never want to take it off.
I want to take it . But I’m hesitant. Hesitant because even though I try my best to live my life according to what’s best for me, the grip of society still has me by the neck.
What will people think? What will my neighbours at home think? What will my aunties and daktari uncles think? What will my parents think?
They’ll think I’m now spoilt like every other young adult out there. That all the hard work they did raising me to be a good human being has been undone by a pinky ring. They’ll say I have failed them. They’ll say I do drugs now, that only people that do drugs would wear such a thing. And don’t even get me started on people in church. These are the worst. They won’t say anything, they’ll just look at you like you’re the devil’s spawn. Smh.
My Lady says it looks amazing on me. The seller says so too but I’d be a fool to believe her. It’s part of her flattery ploy to make sales.
I decide to buy it, to poke the giant bear.
I haven’t removed it since then.
I see some of my friends’ looks when they see it. Some ask, some don’t. Those that ask want to know ‘why?’ I tell them the truth, because it looks beautiful on my hand. I tell them that pinky rings are a sign of fortune and wealth and although I might not have that now, a boy can dare to dream. Those that don’t ask have an inquisitive look on their face, the ‘why?’ look. I tell them the same thing.
Truth is that, no matter what you do, you will never please everyone. And society will always have something negative to say about it. You buy a cheap pinky ring and suddenly you’re in a cult that sacrifices orangutans. You help the needy and someone says it’s not genuine because you posted it on IG. You buy a car and someone will say you should have spent that money to help the needy. You see the blatant irony? Just do you, my people.