HOME IS A CASTLE OF STORIES

THE SECOND FLOOR



Dear crush.
 I’ve wanted to write this. You will ask why I didn’t do it earlier? But then, I was afraid, I have always been afraid. My fear like the ocean between continents. I thought of love as this childish affair and sending a letter as more childish. I mean, I could be a man. Walk up to you and say, “know what Jennifer*? I like you. I want you to be my girl from now henceforth.” I don’t know how that would work. Would you say yes, or you’ll give me a resounding no! Offsetting an earthquake in its wake, all the way from here to Zambia. But I decided not to say anything, to remain a coward. Hiding behind words, peeking from paragraphs.

Some weeks ago, I crossed over to the second floor of life. I saw your message ping in my WhatsApp. I was drunk and high as a goddamn kite. I lost track of time. I removed my phone to take a photo of the Hennessey I was drinking, for social media, feeding the digital wasteland of vanity. After snapping away, I saw your text blinking, wishing me a happy birthday. I toyed with what to tell you. Should I cut off all the crap and just ask you to join me. But who could tell where you were? Maybe you were at your guy’s place. That good for nothing moron who should be caned. I decided not to reply. With the phone back in my pocket, I downed more drink and puffed away at the hookah.

But I never let you off my mind. At some point in the night, it hit me. Like a bolt from the heavens. Should I die with my feelings? Is it okay to leave the world without saying what I so want to? I deserve to be free too. Guess what I decided at that moment; I was going to write a freaking letter. Letters seem so childish, so high schoolish, so historical. Antiques from a past world. A buried world.  A world of nothingness. Fuck what people think about the letter. It's mine, for you. And in this missive, I live free for once. Without consequence, without judgement. I think a man should be afforded that luxury once in a lifetime. Because we are always in a rat race. Chasing life, chasing dreams. But we forget to stand up against our fears. And thus, in this letter, I make my last stand. People can say the fuck they want to. But I’ll sleep soundly tonight. Knowing that for once, I went head-on against my fears. And for once, I gave them a knockout blow. Mohammed Ali kind of shit. Have you read his book? The negro never counted the push-ups he did in a day. He said that we should do it, till it hurts, that’s when it matters.

People will say it is alcohol. It might be true because when you’re inebriated you do stuff you can’t when sober. Technically, you can, but it will be way awkward, it will border the edges of insanity.  Booze doesn’t give you courage or make you fearless. Far from it. Your mind just goes blank, you feel as if there is some light, a glorious presence in your head. The drink lies to you, it makes you feel free, unchained. You could walk up to the bouncer and fight him. Notwithstanding that he is two times your size and he can crush you. You feel like telling the bouncer.

“Huh! Mr bouncer, one plus one is what? One plus one is what? Don’t be silent Mr bouncer! Huh! Jogoo au Kuku, Ng’ombe au mbuzi, handshake au tanga tanga??”

When clubbing, there reaches a point in the night when all is done. The good and the bad and the worse. A few people have exchanged words, but it’s never that serious. How do you know of this time of the night? I can’t say, it’s just a feeling, but half the time the DJ is playing electronic music. Nobody keeps time in a club, it’s not a football match or an exam. Where a balding lecturer says, “Be done by 11:50 or else you will mark your own paper!” And these old folks mean it. By the way, big up to JKUAT lecturers, they are doing a tremendous job to ensure that comrades don’t cheat. Those lecs deserve a state commendation.

I digressed. In the club, you’re your own timekeeper. One little secret, time flies. You will gaze at the watch and it’s 1:50 am in the morning. You will whisper to your friend about leaving but the guy will order another round. So, you will down another round, because it’s disrespectful to turn down a drink. You never know the next time you will be back again. After a few shots, a little dancing around. You will look at your watch again and it will be 3:40 am. You will seat and wonder, is a nightclub a time machine. Why does time fly by so fast? Or this is witchcraft? I swear it was just 1 a.m.

At this point, everyone in the club is a lost cause. A man will be slumped in his seat dozing off. A total blackout. In a corner, some guy and chick will be kissing and declaring the undying love for each other. Yet they met on the dance floor some few hours ago, so corny. An impossibly light skinned lady, with tattoos on her bosom, and thighs and calves will be giving another exhausted fella a lap dance. Gyrating on the hapless fella’s crotch like it’s the end of the world. Somewhere on the dance floor “Follow the leader” will be playing. And revellers, old and young, unsullied and sullied, some with hair, others balding, will be holding each other’s waist as they dance in a circle. Oblivious of their differences, united by the drink.

Dear Crush. We are not yet official. And because fate is a fat bitch, we might never be. It’s a thought which scares me shitless, but then, its life. We men are but underlings, with no dominion over forces of nature.

My mind flies back to that wild night when I crossed over to the second floor. I am sorry I cheated. Maybe it was the drink, maybe it was the hazy smoke. Honestly, I think it’s witchcraft. Like, how can you explain this? It feels, surreal, crazy, wrong and completely unprecedented. Like a volcanic eruption in the middle of Uhuru highway.

Sunday 24th, 2:50 a.m.

I was in the washrooms. Sober is a word I will avoid. My head was a racket. I urinated in the bowl and stood there for some electric minutes. Thinking about life, how I found myself in this situation. I could be in bed sleeping or watching a movie or reading a book or texting you. But there I was, three counties away from where I stay. All in the name of celebrating my birthday. I thought about you, my education. I thought about my writing. My parents faces flashed across my head. “Huh! This is what we sent you to do in school. Silly mutt!” Walking out of that washroom, I gazed in the mirror and couldn’t recognize the face which stared back defiantly. Is this what I had turned into? After a minute-long eye battle with the stranger, I gave up. Sod it! And staggered back into the dance floor.

A dance floor is a funny place, you run into people from a bygone. A guy pointed at me. I thought he liked my T-shirt or my shoes. But then, he shouted over the exploding music. “You look familiar. Were you in Ober boy’s primary? Were you in Agoro Sare high school?”
I thought, well, well, look what we got here. I wasn’t in Agoro Sare, but I was in Ober.
  
Couldn't place a name to his face. then he said his name, it rang a bell. Damnit! I thought, ten years had gone under the drain. But on my birthday, I ran into a guy from primary school years. We hugged like long lost brothers. He whispered happy birthday and we promised to exchange contacts, we did not. So, if you're reading this, brother, yes, it is me. you had a red t-shirt and a black LOUIS VUITTON belt. Told me you're currently finishing up on economics huko UON. Do hit me up. 

I staggered back to our table. My friends were worn out like desert travellers. I turned to the next table and the most fucked up thing happened. There was a chick also celebrating her birthday. But she was way older, born in 1991. We hugged; she was almost kissing me but I tore away from her. The funny part, her girls broke into a peal of raucous laughter, saying how I was half a man. How I can’t withstand a kiss from a birthday mate. But then, the mate was a stranger. Complete stranger! I do a lot of bullshit things, but I don’t kiss strange girls. On my birthday or not.  

I peeked back at my table; my buddies were in another dimension. Then the devil whispered, “Why don’t you hit the dancefloor?” Where I was ultimately undone. My wheels came off.

She came from the shadows. Like an assassin, eyeing her quarry. Chick was pale white as if her skin has been drained of all blood. Her wig or hair was golden brown, in the colour of a lion’s mane. There was a tattoo peeking from her right breast and another on her thigh. Her dress ended near her crotch than her knees. I looked at her and thought, okay, maybe there’s something here. And then she was holding onto a chair for support, shaking her behind for yours truly. The monster underneath had found the true north pole. She crushed into my crotch again, this time she felt it, the giant stirring awake. She smiled, knowingly, a smile that only happens at 4 a.m. in that instant, I knew this was it. There was no turning back, the dice had long been cast.

Sunday 24th 9 a.m.

I came to in a strange bed. Memories of the previous night haunted me, turning up my insides. The sheets were crumpled in the shape of guilty and my hands oily with the memory of what happened. I wasn’t proud.  Used Durex was scattered on the floor like evidence to be presented before a murder tribunal. The first person in my head was you. I slipped away from that alien bed; she was fast asleep, purring like a cat. She looked like from the night before, only now, with closed eyes, she seemed more at peace. I dressed and sneaked out of the foreign apartment.

Consulting Google maps, I somewhere around Garden City.

I remember seeing you during exams. Smiling subtly then blushing away back to your paper. What did you write on those pages?

It’s funny, the semester is over and I can’t face you and say all I want to. Maybe I will get the courage in the future. But for now, you’re still a pipe dream.

By the time this post goes on air, I will be out of Nairobi. In a shuttle going at 110km/hr towards the southern highlands, Kisii. I have no idea what I am going to do over there for three fucking months. Maybe I will write more or I won’t. Maybe I will get into dairy farming, who knows? Or open a church?

Yours truly
Osoch Ogun.

Courtesy,MEMPHIS . Wonderful service they got. This is so fucking corny; I share a birthday with my best mate on campus. We met on the first day of registration, one day he removes his id, I remove mine and blup!





    

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