Injera

The minute hand on the clock seemed to hover over the roman numeral twelve forever. His right eye twitched as he tried to will the hand to move, for time to pass by. He desperately wished for the next minute, for the next thirty to fly by. Or he wished he could give his breath for the last fifteen to never have happened.

His left cheek burned from the slap that had knocked him onto the floor. He called it a slap because he was too masculine to admit that she had shared her best right hook with the side of his face. He could feel the cold tile against his right cheek, and could feel the grout between the tiles. He wondered who laid the tile, if she had used Njoroge like he had advised or if she had, as she tended to, gone her own way and used her own person. He wondered if she had called Maryanne. The lady with the purple dungarees, tattered and torn, covered in paint but she swore that this Maryanne was the best Man-Friday in Nairobi. His right eyelid had not batted since the hit, and he stared at the clock. Why did she have a clock in the bathroom? Did she time her bowel movements? He had never noticed. But then again, he had known her for only a year, started dating her a mere four months back. He had never observed her toilet manners. He remembered liking that about her. She never did anything unladylike in front of him. His mother’s words came floating into view, “A real lady never farts or pees in front of her husband”.

He remembered his mother clearly now. Why did he remember her now as he lay, sprawled out on the cold bathroom floor, staring up and sideways at a clock that did not move? He recalled taking her to meet his mother, on that heavenly hot Thursday a few months back. His mother had looked her up and down, thrown her gaze back at him, muttered some gibberish quietly into her own bosom, and disappeared into the kitchen. She had been appalled. She had dressed the part: midi-length skirt, some blouse that looked like flowers had sneezed all over it (likely the only one she owned), flat shoes (he had stared hard at her when she walked out in teetering black strappy heels) and a big kiondo (she said parents liked to see that she was in touch with her own culture, despite her inability to speak the language). He had told her Mayi would love her. Until she didn’t.

Maybe that’s where it all started to fall apart, he wondered. Again, his right eye twitched, pleading with the minute hand to move and for the next thirty minutes to expire. Or had it been really only one minute ago when his life had collided with fate and her fist?

He remembered the cab ride home. His Uber app had refused to load, perhaps a signal to him that he should not plan on this ride. This ride in life with her. She had pulled out her phone and called her cab guy. Davy. A short guy who leered at her from behind some glasses that teetered on the bridge of his nose. He spoke with only her and barely glanced at him.

“Na umepotea, msupa…umekuwa wapi?” he asked, staring at her in his rearview mirror. We struggled to get comfortable in his lumpy back seat.

I answered him, instead.

“Bado 504 hufanya kazi kumbe…hii dinga ni ya mwaka gani, boss?”

His eyes turned to the road. She stared at me for a few seconds then looked out of the window.

“Sijapotea, Davy…you know how life goes sometimes…”, she answered quietly.

Davy threw his eyes back into the rearview mirror. This time, he aimed those beady suckers right at me, and I watched them fill with something akin to haughtiness.

The sound of the minute hand moving to the next black pin almost shattered his eardrum and he winced, causing his right eye to slam shut. His eyelid hurt. He never thought that was even possible. But then again, he never knew he would hurt someone he had once considered marrying.

 

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