Nairobae(an excerpt from Equipoise)

Andy wavers  between the Citi hoppa and KBS bus; which one he should board? It is 10pm on a cold Thursday night and Kencom is relatively empty. Behind him, a homeless man laying out cardboard, settling in for the night. Andy considers giving him his jacket but changes his mind, thinking, everybody got problems. I don’t have a job and he’s homeless. The universe, man. Right next to the homeless man, there’s a preacher shuffling the pages of his Bible. Every so often, someone passes by and he holds out his Bible expecting an offering. Andy, like most people, avoids looking at him. The homeless man, however, occasionally looks the preacher in the eye and the preacher mostly looks away or scoffs.

In the KBS bus, the conductor sits on the seat adjacent to the door, dangling a laminated sheet of paper outside the window—a list of the bus’ various stops. The Citi Hoppa conductor is standing by the entrance of his bus, looking bored and tired. He also holds a laminated sheet of paper. His eyes meet Andy’s and he signals towards the bus. Andy doesn’t know why, but he looks away and in that moment, decides to board KBS instead.

From inside the KBS , July watches Andy. He is wearing grey sweatpants and a blue hoodie. He is playing with the hoodie’s cap, pulling it over his head and removing it; it doesn’t properly fit because of his huge afro. He stops playing with his hoodie to scratch his beard. The afro, coupled with the overgrown beard hugging a small narrow face, on top of an even skinnier frame, just serves to make him look overwhelmed and dejected. This somewhat excites July.  He seems like he is desperate enough for company, any sort of company; she won’t have to try too hard to get him to go home with her. She’s long discovered that this kind of guy is the sweet spot. You don’t want to have to do too much to get a man to go home with you because then the word whore gets spit around. But you also don’t want it to be too easy because then it isn’t fun and it can be nerve wracking because surely, only men with hidden agendas jump at the chance to get a woman alone. She wants a man she can fix—just for the night. She smiles and sits back when it’s clear that Andy will board the bus she is in.

*

This story is published in Equipoise, the 2020 anthology of the Nairobi Writing Academy. It is available on Amazon(Kindle and paperback) and Prestige Bookshop in Nairobi. They offer country wide delivery in Kenya.

I also write a feature column for News By The Catalyst on all things politics, culture and entertainment, especially for African women. You can catch up here.

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