I remember very well how it all began. From the stairs of that old apartment that we used to live in, to how it turned to “complicated” and eventually to calling it quits.
It all started one night, late 2015. It was around eleven and I had just closed up my sister’s shop for the night. For some reasons I can’t remember, I was running up the narrow stairs and when I came to the second floor, there she was.
In front of me was this beautiful brown girl of about eighteen, maybe more or less. I couldn’t tell but what I could tell, she was tired. Balancing on her small head was this heavy package that she supported with her left hand while the other hand was holding on to an open twenty litre white bucket with contents I could not tell.
She stopped, stepped aside and placed the bucket down to let this dark-skinned, tall boy in a hurry pass. I did pass after saying hi which she replied to, but one step on the flight of stairs, I stopped. Something was bugging me.
I turned around and looked down at her. She needed help and as much as I hate playing the good Samaritan, I had to do something. It might have been Jesus, you never know. I can still remember Shadrack, the youth leader in the local church I used to attend back home, telling us to always remember to help those in need.
He will be like, “Kuwa msamaria mwema! Tenda wema, nenda zako na Mungu atakubariki. Sema Amina!”
As excited brothers and sisters shouted back Amen, my mind will be half way across the world imagining so many useless things. In one such episodes, I fall asleep and farted. It was so loud that almost half the congregation heard. The laughter from those who could not control themselves brought me back to reality. I was so embarrassed and the next chance I got, I sneaked out of the church and headed home.
“Let me help you with that.” I said pointing at the bucket.
She looked surprised. Maybe she didn’t expect the turn of events but nevertheless, she handed me the bucket. On her lips she had this cheeky smile that took away my focus for a couple of minutes.
With my school bag, which I rarely left behind, safely on my back, I led the way as she trudged behind me. I could hear her heavy breathing. I think she was like my sister, girls who hate stairs. I felt pity for her which was surprising, putting in consideration I didn’t know her. She was just a stranger I had run into.
As we came to the third floor I asked her if it was her floor. She said not yet so we kept moving. On the next floor I placed down the bucket and again asked, “Is this the floor? ”
She looked around like one searching for a mark, and that is when I realized she was still new to the place. “No, I don’t think so.” She answered and so I picked up the bucket and headed for the fifth floor, where I was staying.
We came to the fifth floor and was preparing to hand her back the bucket so she could continue to wherever floor her house was when I heard, “I think it’s here, thanks.” I couldn’t help smiling. Honestly I did not see that coming. She could just have said she was headed for the fifth floor but I guess she didn’t know or maybe wasn’t sure.
“Ok. Then this makes us neighbors.” I stated as she just stared at me. Distantly I could see that smile that she had given me earlier coming back.
“Yea, it sure does. So which side is your house?”
I told her it was among the front houses. The middle one. “Will you show me yours or what?” I asked sarcastically. She started giggling as I added, “And please no more surprises. I hope you won’t be leading me to our doorstep!”
I don’t know how funny that sounded but it did make her laugh, in the process displaying a beautiful dental formula. Sparkling white teeth. I liked that. When it comes to me, a girl with a nice smile any day.
As we came to her door she was still laughing. I can’t really tell why because I have never considered myself funny. That part we surrendered to the likes of Churchill, Eric Omondi, Chipkeezy, Mamito and the group. Come to think of it maybe it was the way I sounded.
“Here we are.” She said as we came to this door that had previously been occupied by a certain not so friendly lady. I was not aware she had vacated, not that I cared but she was our neighbor and I wished she was still around. Something about neighbors, no matter how much you hate them, when they leave you find yourself missing them.
“I see. Now if you will forgive me I have to go.” I said handing back the bucket.
I was about to leave when I heard, “At least tell me your name!” That’s when I remembered we had not even introduced ourselves. What a mess. Where was my courtesy! Mama will be mad for sure.
“Madekesi. Madekesi that’s my name. What’s yours? I finally got my breath.
“I’m Kiki.” She said extending her hand which I gladly accepted. “Well, nice to meet you Kiki. Hope to see you around.” I said letting go of her hand. “Quite a name you got there boy. With my Kamba accent I can barely pronounce it!” Kiki exclaimed.
I was prepared for that because she was not the first person to complain about my name. I have been listening to them since I was born. “What can I say! That’s what my mama gave me.” I said almost in a whisper, like I was scared the sleeping neighbors will hear.
“It’s okay. Not judging.” She cried out and in the process raising up her hands like one surrendering. So she knew how to back off. Kinda sweet.
“Good night, and thanks for the help.” She called after me as I left.
“Good night Kiki.”I called back.
That was the beginning of something beautiful. Something I wanted to last for ever. Next time God willing, I will tell you how I eventually asked her to be my girl and about that verse I wrote her. How it was all good until she went on a road trip with her friends.
For now I have to go. I have something to take care of before I call it nights. Today I should watch some News to see if there is any new twist to Joho, the Mombasa governor’s certificate saga. It’s still trending on twitter up to now alongside Paul Kobia, the man who on the other day is said to have attacked a magistrate in a Courtroom. Crazy Kenya! The media are referring to him as a “businessman” but Robert Alai was not okay with that. But that’s Alai for you.