Where Are They?

Do you ever find yourself reminiscing? Memories from years back. Ten or more? Surprisingly, they flood in and bug you until you have to act to shake them off.

This past week or so, three people came back into my life. They came in through the mind. I have tried with little success to push them out and go about my activities. The next day, they are knocking once more.

I have considered doing a Facebook search then decided against it. I would have to sift through millions of names, that I would do but the problem is I only know one name for each of them. Any helpful tips?

Will this give me peace? Writing about them that is. I am tempted to go to the very first place we met and interacted. What if they moved? I’m only certain of the residence of two as we lived in the same plot.

I don’t recall where precisely Joy lived. I went there once. It was after school. We were classmates. We had discovered that we lived on the same street, Nyakinyua road. She usually took the bus and I walked.

She was beautiful. Dark and beautiful. One dimple sat on each of her cheeks. She had an attractive set of teeth, all lined up. Her tongue was super pink. Do not ask me about her lips, they were as pretty. Can you imagine her smile?

Their house was a distance past ours. She invited me over when her parents hadn’t returned from work.

We talked a bit and I mentioned something about their television set, zile za mgongo. Not that we had a flat-screen. Infact, we had none. This fact dragged Joy to our house, she couldn’t believe me.

Hamwezi kosa TV!”

I opened the door to let her into a green set of sofas with a velvet feel. A table placed in the middle and at a corner was a wall unit. Black and well partitioned. At the bottom and the top, it was stuffed with my mother’s stuffed animals collection, chiefly teddy bears.

The second space had those tiny empty Amarula bottles. That is ideally where the TV set should have been. If we had one.

Huwa mnakunywa hizi?” She asked as she held one up, her cute eyes wide in amazement.

“They belong to my mum,” I answered.

She returned it, swallowed as if she knew something I didn’t. Was there something wrong with Amarula? Si it’s a drink that looks like yoghurt. She told me it was liquor. She couldn’t accept my mother was a drunk.

I wanted to tell her that she smoked too which she must have figured out from the ashtray on the table. I escorted her halfway and went back home. We never visited each other after.

I transferred from the school the following year and moved from the area 3 months later. It was the last I heard of or saw Joy. The very gorgeous girl.

Susan and Carol (Caro, is the ‘l’ silent?). These two were my first best friends when I came back to Kenya. We played together and they would laugh at my then Tanzanian accent from time to time.

Apart from letting me do most of the talking for amusement, they also made me repeat particular phrases that they couldn’t understand. For example I was using konzi for ngoto. They teased me a lot.

Gradually through them, I learnt the Kenyan slang and could belong. We all went to different schools and met in the evenings, weekends and holidays to play.

Susan was a beauty to behold. She had lovely hair, big eyes and a forest (a good one) of eyebrows. She was Rwandese. Did/do you have a brother, Susan? If yes, I’m looking for a Rwandese man to put a ring on it (whatever ‘it’ is).

Have you met Rwandese people? They are so beautifully attractivel! If I am going to have babies then I am not taking any chances.

Susan was the last born. I felt we were closer than with Caro (I have decided to use this version). Her mother and elder sister were really tall. Her father on the other hand, had no height to be spoken of.

He was the shortest. I could tell that Susan would peak as her mother and sister had. Why can’t I place a finger on whether or not you had a brother?

The three of us were out playing. Susan was hysterical. Her family was sending her off to a boarding school in one of the rural parts of Kenya. We were all in class four at the time.

She didn’t want to go. She had hoped being the little princess of the family they would hear her cries. They were past that. The biggest trouble she was facing was their wanting to chop down her mane.

Not her hair! She wouldn’t let them. She was crying and wanted us to help her save her long strands. We threw in suggestions that seemed to work until she was called in. It was over and we all knew it. No rat race would aid her.

A few days after the shave, she was sent away. The last time I saw this beauty. God knows I detested boarding from then. I had my head shaved to get an education in Tanzania already, not Kenya too.

A few years ago, I went to the plot, which my had mother vacated, I spotted her father’s car. I knocked and luckily found him. He told me she had left not long before my arrival. I thanked him and went my way.

Caro. She was the lightest of all of us. I’m not speaking of the weight factor, rather her complexion. She had the most intense brown eyes ever and I was afraid of looking into them lest they pierced through me.

She kept her hair short,rather it was kept for her. She was quiet and seemed to hide parts of herself. Their living in a house at the corner might have contributed.

There was another girl, the eldest of all of us and quite tall(puberty?), Wambui (Wambo). She wasn’t our friend per se but living in the same plot brought us together. We met at the water point and within.

We and other kids loved joining her kuwasha jiko (lighting the charcoal stove) late in the evenings when the sun went down. They had a stack of newspapers for that purpose. She would light some and we would watch the orange flakes in awe.

Wambo also came up with the idea for the four of us to start a chama. We were to contribute 50 shillings every Friday which we would save up.

After a few weeks, we divided the money equally and went to the Kawangware Market to get ourselves whatever we liked. I got myself a pink tracksuit which my mother was very dotting of when worn.

With these recurrent thoughts, I will have to try locating them: Joy, Caro and Susan. It has been 10 long years. If we happen to meet, will we recognise each other, boobs and all? Will we click?

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