Yes, no matter how many times I try to hide it- that stuff just comes through my veins and it surrounds me like it owns me and for a moment I stop to think 'this is wrong' and then I let it be. I breathe in and out, and feel as though every step I take is a confirmation of my jealousy.
I met a school mate today. She waved at me from the other side of the road and rushed to hug me. She was so happy to see me, and I couldn't help but wonder why.
We barely shared such space in high school and though I hate to admit it- I liked to dance in high school.
I loved writing too, but dancing- that was another level for me.
She immediately asked me "do you still dance?" I took a step back and looked at her, she'd gained roughly five or six kilos, to give her form such vibrancy I just couldn't stop staring.
"So, do you still dance?"
"Yes, but it's not like an every day thing. I'm a Research Assistant now, and I walk a lot."
"That's good, and you write! I love your books! Aki, kwanza the guys! I need some of the men in your stories,you can keep the women, but I need some men- you know like that one about the days? I was hoping that the girl would take him back, you know, jamaas mess up, but you can forgive once in a while- aki that chic, what was her name again..? Wait, Zora! Wait, hebu tell me was that you? I know that for real, Lelia was you! I just read it and knew ilikuwa wewe...but wait, can we get something to eat, ama you're busy?"
I stopped to breathe. I think it's only in Kenya where you get a stream of compliments, questions and assessments and an invitation to lunch in under one minute!
It was half past noon. I had eaten half an apple and wouldn't mind being complimented- and so we walked into the nearest restaurant.
She's been married for three years. She has a one year old daughter named Marie-Precious, and loves being a mother. She lived in Nairobi but had to move to Kisumu when her husband got a promotion, and she's also working as a teller at one of the banks within town. When she'd finished all I could say was "wow!"
"And you? What about you? Any kids? Husband?"
"None so far. I'm committed to someone, but kids? No, not yet."
"Well, all in good time, now tell me about your writing? Has anyone told you that you are great? I mean just great, and am not saying this because I know you- but sometimes I read your stuff and it just makes sense. Do you know what I mean?"
I smiled and thanked her- and the rest of our conversation consisted of high school memories and tales. She asked if I was still seeing any of my high school crushes and we laughed about it. We used to write names of idols on our shirts, and when we untucked all people could do was call you by your idol's name. I was Samantha Mumba while she was J-Lo. She told me how her brother goes to the rival boy school that we loathed- and she wishes he'd have gone to the boy school we loved. ( I tell you beef is real!)
I saw her to the junction where she took a matatu home. We'd exchanged numbers and twitter handles with the promise to call, but I felt drained.
She saw something that I was not seeing. I have been struggling to write this book "Detached" which follows the every day question "why am I here?"
I have been struggling so much with the words and story that my sleep pattern has changed and so has my walk.
It's not a block because the words are there- it's just that the words are not alive to me. Piece after piece of draft feels like it's empty- like it's detached from life itself, and I have been hating myself for this. So, I set it aside and started reading. I've read three books this week- and am onto the fourth one. I'm doing everything to forget about it, but suddenly meeting her just brought it back to life.
I realized what my problem was.
I did not appreciate myself for the journey that I was embarking on.
I did not value the story itself or what it would achieve and as such it became as empty as what I put into it.
And even though I've often said that it's good to value yourself- today as I watched that matatu speed off with her hand waving at me, I realized that I was jealous of her.
I was jealous because in her joy she saw the good in me- the good that I took for granted.
So, here's to Eunice for bringing me back to life!--
Do not let anyone define you.