So last month it’s been raining; cats and dogs, dogs and rats. I can’t complain on the rain but I can express my displeasure on its timing, can’t I? First thing first, it has to f**king stop.
It’s now too much and the moon is already up. Or haven’t you noticed it yet? I’ll educate you just a little. The belief goes that it doesn’t and shouldn’t rain when the moon is ‘out’; that the appearance of the moon is an indication of a time for the seasons to change. My grandma taught me. So I can use those grounds to ask for the rains stop, Mr. Weather man? Moreover, I’m tired of the way things have been.
There’s a time I’d visited an uncle in Nyando, Kano plains, and it rained thoroughly. Naively, I had chosen to take shelter till it stopped.
And omera diel nõyie. I had to wallow in the deepest of mud all the way home. Since then I’d crafted a no-taking-shelter-policy – never to wait for the rains to stop on me. So I’d braved today’s storm but was still inconvenienced.
11:35pm: The key jerks for the hundrieth time but the lock does not give way. I insert it again and twist, tak. I bite my lower lip, insert another time now slowly; feel it move with some weight, it’s opening… tak. WTF! It’s a metallic door and am determined to be careful with the noise of my keys against it but my fingers are slippery so they jingle noisily with every attempt to keep them still. Why you jingling so randomly! Are you protesting? Nkt!
I breathe in then heave out, wipe sweat off my forehead and lean on it again. Tak. Desperately I twist it severally perhaps to increase its odds. Tak. Tak. Tak. Tak. Lots of taks. The lock bores me but the sound gets me, like the rhythm of a rickety drum set. So I aggressively turn the key and get the loudest taks, louder and noisier. The keys jangle on metal and the fusion is absolutely crazy. Guess I was mad.
“Eish! Stop that!” Startled I turn, I know the voice.
“Are you crazy!” I feel she’s headed my way. It’s still raining. Am soaking. I’d planned to repeat this shirt but now I won’t.
I’ve loved the rains ever since I learned my steps and occasionally they get me very nostalgic. Playing in the afternoon rain had been one of my favorite hobbies and the smell of wet dust still tantalizes me. Also, were it not for my job and hustles plus this damn lock, I could still steal into the sheets and wait for the tapping and the chilliness that comes with it to lull me into sleep. But not anymore. Not with the Nairobi rains. Especially not tonight.
Alice, it was her scent that first came then she followed. She always smelt of musky strawberries; almost bubbly like champagne, subtly soft yet engulfing at the same time. Damn, couldn’t miss that anywhere, even in hell.
“My lock is jammed and am being rained on, how crazy is that?” My left hand is still on the knob, and my right fumbles with the keys in the lock, I barely notice am shouting.
“I know but is the noise necessary?” Adjusts her shawl, “Really, in the dead of the night?”
“Eh… Am trying to….”
“Look at you poor thing,” She reaches to give one of those chick to chick greetings. “You’re all cold and wet.” Her chicks are soft. Her right misses a step, lands into a pot-hole and the dirty water splashes on my pants.
“That’s for being so tall,” she giggles.
“So the shorter one says.” The giggle broadens revealing her whitest. I smile at them. Her socks are soaked, I promise her a warm pair. She says it’ll be sweet.
She’s sour-sweet this one. One minute she scolds the next she pampers. Half the other she teases. But I like her so. Can’t tell why, probably because in some ways she reminds me of her. Yes her of the soft laughters. She’s in a pink silk night dress and a woolly shawl drapes round her neck, overflowing down over her burst eventually loosening at the shoulders. But it doesn’t conceal everything. Her melanin shines in the shadows. The light from her window strikes at an angle allowing me to effortlessly make out her curves. She notices me gazing and flickers her flashlight on my face. Stupid.
11:55pm: I’m finding it hard to concentrate on the lock and keys with Alice beside me. My mind wanders off to her silk, the thighs I barely made out to the shades of crimson by her groins… Her scent engulfs me and I think I am going to lose my senses. My hands fumble with the lock making it seem like am playing. Are you alright? Yes, I stammer out. This lock just gets to my nerves. Lie. It’s you playing in my mind.
“By the way you know I’ve never seen the insides of your house,”
“Now it’s this lock that’s standing in your way.” In a matter of fact without even looking up at her.
“Wonder how it looks like,” she drifts closer making the small umbrella cover us both. Being taller I’m forced to lean under close enough to touch her hair. The thought itself is intoxicating. The umbrella helps but some drops doesn’t miss me.
My mind races. My skin is on fire. I wanted her madly. We’d crossed paths the last time I’d brought it up. She said I was slippery. I said she was being too tough on herself. A gruesome mistake. We barely trust ourselves anyways but I shouldn’t have been that straight out frank. Not with her. She liked the mind games; teasing, being chased, and teasing the more. Fun to her, exhausting to me.
Am sweating again. As I make to wipe she stops me and uses a corner of her shawl to wipe the sweat off my nose and forehead. Thank you. She grins. Up close, the mixture of strawberries and champagne almost drives me over and I wrestle to hold my demons in the leash.
“You’re such a surprise,” I start out at her.
“The flashlight, the umbrella and now the shawl.”
“I came ready,” I can taste the laughter in her voice: apples, soft and fresh.
“You thought nicely.” I appreciate her.
From a corner I see her smile and I feel like I should say more to keep her talking. But I wait. She’s a smooth talker, and I like that much about her. But something seems to have changed in her and I don’t know what. I’d rather go subtly to find out.
12:03am: Actually this is the outer door, I tell her. She nods. There’s an inner wooden one which I normally lock. But this morning, leaving in such a hurry, I found myself placing the lock on this rear one. I explain. Then you’ve got yourself all to blame. She jerks in then brings out her of-course-am-telling-a-fact laugh. I get her.
I really want the keys to behave! The longer I keep at the trial and error the more doubtful I get whether I am using the right keys. So does Alice. But they are the same I’ve been using all along. She asks if I had spares and it’s a no. They are still in one bunch as I had bought them. Intuitively, her inquisition gives me ideas.
In between I think of dismantling the lock. But it’s the outer door, which actually was a reinforcement. Were it the inner one, it would have been very convenient. Again, who would you hire to break your door in the middle of the night? Wouldn’t it be utter suicide! Like pulling a trigger on skull and expecting to live! So we labor trying the keys one at a time so we to know which would make the lucky jerk. Upon her suggestion, we separate the ‘tried’ from the ‘untried’. Still to no avail. Silly tests of impatience. And a whole lot of misguided happenings.
12:17am: We choose to try again. By this time I’m completely soaked to my skin. My hands are more than shaky and I can hear Alice’ teeth rattle. When she moves closer for warmth, I hate myself for not thinking.
“Hey A, say what,” She raises her brows, I continue, “What if I spend the night at your place as it is…” Again goes silent for a moment.
“Well Ko, that would do…”
“No buts,” factually, “You’re utmost welcomed.” Now wryly.
12:24am: She’s just finished talking then we hear the lock jerk. The stupidest of all. Seconds pass, and we stand mesemerised; staring at each other, my hands on the lock and hers on the umbrella. I’m not sure of what she reads on my face. All I know is that I am crushed on the inside.
12:26am: “The offer stands as long as your door stays locked.” Leaning over, she whispers gently clasping my hand.
“I can lock it,” I say.