What do you discuss with a decidedly blank 21-year-old Nairobian girl on a mildly cold Tuesday morning in July? I asked myself as I mindlessly read Dambudzo Marechera’s House of Hunger. She was running late by over 30 minutes and she had done the very Kenyan thing of calling and telling me “running a few minutes late…” She failed to show up for the breakfast on Monday morning because she was nursing a vein-bursting hangover.
I was seated on the balcony of City Star restaurant on Kimathi Street, next to the Nation Media Group twin-towers. Down on the street, the book vendor was arranging the books on his makeshift stand. A handful of guys were thoughtlessly walking to their offices, stall ladies rushing to open their clothes’ shops and kill another day waiting for customers and hard bargainers like this writer. Still those passing were probably the many idlers who fill Moi Avenue the whole day, mindlessly walking up and down.
The waiter come and I asked him about their famed breakfast and he seemed lost.
“I’m told you have this liver for breakfast thing that is quite popular,” I said.
“Oh yeah, and what else?” he asked, uninterested. I thought it is pre-set, but nonetheless told him with chapatti and tea.
He disappeared. It was now 45 minutes and the girl had not arrived. I could not concentrate on Marechera’s explosive book. Speaking of Marechera, as Africa and the world we need more bohemian and mad writers and artists like our Zimbabwean nonconformist writer and the Haiti-American Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Women who have heard the misfortune of giving me the audience, know too well that I like veering off and start talking about wheat farming in Kazakhstan.
And then she walked in. White, sleeveless, cropped top. Never mind the weather. Her breasts were well accentuated and swung to the rhythm of her heels. Her tight pants were in some indefinable shade of green. Black shoes. If she walked in the afternoon, she would have drawn stares from both men and women, with men giving me a node or a wink as a mark of approval. Really disgusting, perverts never care whether she is your cousin or sister…
Yet our girl here, Hilda she is called was neither my relation nor an acquittance. I met her the previous weekend, very intoxicated. And then she did no fewer than five rounds of shisha and at least ten shots of anything that was being sold. Never seen a girl so totally wasted. You would have taken her to the moon (the literal moon) and brought back and she will never have known. But she had a wild energy about, the wildest in her group that can swarm your table at slightest invitation in the young hours of the Saturday night.
You met her in club Fahrenheit, just across the road, over the weekend. She was seated around the stage, where pole dancers paraded their wares. She was tipping them like she is a drug queen, with lots of loose change. Tall, beautiful, graceful, despite being too intoxicated, my colleague Teddy Fischer, was like, “she should model for us”.
Indeed, we had been looking for women with ethnic beauty to model for us. You know, the beautiful, dark-skinned, tall women. That was the last thing on my mind, but Teddy is a workaholic. The type that calls you at 3 a.m. to tell you about some brain fart, half the time, nonsensical. You know those friends who believe they have a monopoly of good ideas. But on Hilda, it was a good score. And so, they joined our table, small talk, here and there, exchanged contacts, with me pulling the dickish move of giving her a business card in a club at night. She picked it disinterestedly and threw it in one of the oversized million bags. More rounds. More shisha. And we agreed, I would call her for a meeting. She had never considered modeling, despite one or two friends telling her as much.
The waiter brought the tea. And stood to take her order. I told her about the breakfast, but she said she is watching her weight, she can’t feast. So, black coffee and toast. The waiter disappeared for nearly an hour. When he came back, with her coffee and samosa, my tea was already too cold. Even worse, the tea was in that small glass that can be an insult to an Omogusii like me.
By the time the liver, and chapatti arrived, it was too late. The chapatti was a bit on the dryer side of baking. The liver while well-fried but lacked character. It was served with some tinge of contempt. That makes it for bad service. First you don’t serve me tea, and bring the escort after forever.
“You will eat all that?” Hilda asked, a bit naively, but also shocked that there are people who eat like me. She checked Dambudzo’s book, and returned it to the table without a word. You know the type. There and there, I wanted to tell her who Dambudzo Marechera was.
Women who have heard the misfortune of giving me the audience, know too well that I like veering off and start talking about wheat farming in Kazakhstan. Currently, I’m reading a lot about the Inuit and other tribal groupings in South East Asia. For no reason, I like broaching the topics and most girls hate that shit.
“So, do you think you can be a model for us?” I asked her, interrupting her from her train of thought.
“What is it about?” she asked.
“You posing for a photoshoot. Provocatively. May be pose naked in some.”
“I can’t pose naked. Kwani who do you think I am?” that “kwani” tells it all that my proposition was crap.
“Not necessarily, but as far as you can strip, we are looking for this risqué photos, to celebrate black beauty…” I tried, being serious.
“No. I can’t do that. I think you got the wrong person…”
It was going down pretty fast.
“Maybe you should meet Teddy in our office and he can explain to you better.”
“No, I am not interested.”
I couldn’t tell he sudden change of mood. Was it something sticking out of my nose? Was it halitosis? No, I had brushed and even used mouth wash. What could it be? She left her coffee mid-way and excused herself and told me she had to rush, but we will talk on phone…