She said, ‘let me out the car’. He did…
- June 27, 2018
THE other day, I was crawling in traffic on Waiyaki Way, Chiromo area, deep in thought. I was thinking about nothing in particular so I turned my attention to Kempisky across the road.
I inspected the pink silhouette in bored fascination. It looked pretty, pinker, a delicate girl bathing in the six o’clock sunlight. I tried to picture the pink combined with red instead of the white. I couldn’t. I’m not a painter.
On the passenger side sat a woman, a pretty woman …a very, very pretty woman. Her chin was resting on the palm of her left hand. The elbow sought support from the door armrest. She seemed lost in the vegetation crawling past on the other side of the road. She is not a botanist.
But she is the first born in her family. And first born girls have serious trust issues. Zero confidence in anyone else’ abilities, is what they have. They are unapologetic micro-managers, hopeless control freaks with the self-confidence of a champion village bull.
The pretty one riding with me was sulking. We had a mini-fight a few moments before because I had refused to be ‘first-borned’ –by her. I had drawn her attention to the glaring fact that I am not her small brother, or sibling for that matter.
I am her husband. And that I would not allow myself to have two elder sisters –my father’s firstborn daughter and her, the mother of my kids.
So she caught feelings. Said I am selfish, self-centred and does not care about anyone else but myself. I politely pointed out that all those are adjectives that mean the exact same thing. She glared at me and charged that I never listen.
I’m a good student of history. So I know once the conversation gets to the “you never listen”, there is no salvaging anything out of it. It is a point from which anything I say or don’t say, anything I do or don’t do, whether right or wrong –will be wrong.
But my dad taught me that when a wise man argues with a woman, he shuts up. My dad was a genius. I have employed his advice numerous times in the past. It has never worked. But that’s because nothing really will.
So I shut my trap –also from a lack of a better plan –and a genuine deficiency of anything clever to say.
It had predictably become a plummet from the skies without a parachute. A free-fall towards the unpredictable ground of marital conflict. There is nothing much you can do about the drop once it starts.
But you can control the fall, and how you steer it will determine if you land on a kinder surface such as a sandy beach that will leave you with bruises and grit in every hole on your body. Or you could end up on a rocky cliff that tapers off into a crocodile-infested river.
My fall had begun.
“Typical you. Never takes anything I say serious…” she said drawing the words in the air above the handbrake with her index finger.
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The nail was painted green…but it could also have been sky-blue or blue. It was really hard to tell because it looked exactly like the Safaricom House we had just gone past.
But then, it looked exactly like the Barclays building a few metres after. Very confusing.
“Your nail is beautiful…I feel like biting it,” I said, seizing upon a sudden idea to break the dreadful gloom.
I snapped at the coloured limb with my teeth, growling like a dog. But the seat-belt sabotaged my nefarious mission, rudely slumping me back on the seat.
“You really take me for granted, don’t you?” not even a hint of a smile. Gosh! This was new.
So I retreated to my original plan, silently cursing her absent sense of humour.
She is actually a very easy personality. That was a major attraction when I was hunting her with Cupid’s arrow years back. It is the one thing that makes the two of us near-best friends.
I am also a naturally happy bloke. I can’t stand grumpiness. It is infectious and no one likes grumpy me –not even me. I prefer it when people like me.
“Si unanibebanga ufala sana?” she went on.
I didn’t answer. I was too busy picking a seemingly unnecessary fight with the driver of a huge bus whose destination must have been some part of Western Kenya. The bus, laden with furniture of all kind, had threatened to merge my jalopy with the Kangemi tarmac.
The scrap was a welcome distraction from the nuclear warheads detonating inside my car. But the bus was cowardly. It disengaged from the scuffle too soon.
“I am here all concerned about our kid and you are there seemingly with no care in the world. Am I the only one worried that our baby could have died?”
The air in the metal encasing had become magnificently uncomfortable. The unhappiness was so saturated you could serve it like porridge in a calabash.
I was desperate to get out of the sad-mobile. I wished the bus driver had taken me with him to Shamakhoho or wherever he was heading. Anywhere, just far from the despondency surrounding me.
Even He had no clue…
I suddenly noticed the radio was still turned all the way down. I stretched my hand to turn it up –and then stop. That was a really daft trap I was about to spring, I realised just in time. ‘Fighting fire with fire’ wasn’t the best mantra in this situation.
“Then there is this habit you have of ignoring me. Everything I say is bull crap to you, isn’t it? And to make matters…”
Didn’t hear anything else she said from that point. I had left the car. In fact, I was well out of the planet, gallivanting in outer space where I bumped into the Big Man Himself.
I asked Him how He could package so much annoyance, so beautifully and still make it so irresistibly sweet.
He scratched His wizened head in puzzlement and confessed that it is a feat that baffles Him as well. I suggested perhaps He should have used a different limb for His confounding creation.
He agreed a rib was not the smartest choice. He then gave me a kick in my ribs.
“What the hell was that for?” I demanded from Him, yelping from the pain.
“… heard anything I have said? And why is there drool on your lips?”
Drat! It was my wife and she had woken me from the reverie with a rude dig in my ribs with a school ruler.
“What the fudge is a friggin Haco ruler doing in your handbag?” I wanted to ask.
Instead, I lied that I heard everything she said. I then explained, for the umpteenth time, that because I refuse to panic when the house girl calls in the middle of the day saying our one-year-old baby is having difficulties breathing doesn’t mean I don’t care.
“We both can’t scream in times of trouble. One of us has to keep a cool head. And that one is me. I am the man here,” I said.
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Her anger was actually a spill-over from the previous day. She had called me in a near-fit after the house girl told her the baby was convulsing. It is something that parents really dread.
She wanted me to drop everything and meet with her at home that instant. It is all I wanted to do as well. But life is never that straight forward.
So I talked to a neighbour to watch over the other kid and instructed the house girl to get to a nearby hospital as we make our way there. I then did as much as was reasonably possible of my day’s assignment (which, by the way CAN’T be put off until tomorrow) and relegated the rest to some kindred colleagues before I raced home.
But my wife refused to acknowledge that was the most responsible thing to do.
“I don’t know if you expected me to jump off the second floor balcony of my office to get to the ground faster? But all in all, I got there in the end, the baby is fine, why make it such an issue?” I asked.
“You just don’t care…” was how she dismissed my speech.
I sat there wondering why I opened my yapper in the first place. The paralysing pain a man feels when he invests all his words trying to comfort a girl, who refuses to be comforted, coursed through me like snake venom. I was seething in silent rage. The me that only Satan has learned to like took over.
Some boda boda fellow near Mountain View estate didn’t seem to know this as he drove against traffic, towards me. I was in no mood to negotiate with bad manners. So I stuck to the lane as the daredevil frantically flashed his lights at me.
He either dives into the nearby ditch or get run over, I decided wiping droplets of the drizzle that was beginning to fall from the wind screen.
Even the “what are you doing?” screams from my now terrified wife couldn’t budge this angry me. A few metres to impact, I noticed something that sent a chill to the last atom of my murderous heart –tiny fingers clenching the fluffy jacket of the rider. Then a pair of young heads peeked from behind. One was braided, the other shaved clean.
Angry me was about to murder an insolent boda boda rider (probably deserved it) and two innocent babies the bugger was ferrying on the wrong side of a blood-thirsty highway. Likeable me realised what a life-altering disaster that would be and wrested control back.
In a moment of pure driving brilliance (allow me to pat my back on this one) that involved tire squeals, major smoke and chassis-bending swerves, I brushed inches past the bike before squeezing my protesting ride between a Star Bus and a City Shuttle locomotive. It was evasive driving per excellence. Patrick Njiru would have clapped in approval.
But my wife didn’t. She isn’t a rally driver. She was still screaming for me to stop.
“Now you want to kill me? Just stop, let me out…”
And in instant, nasty me was back in charge. I was terribly upset, feeling deeply unappreciated. And it was with shivering fingers that I flipped the lever for the left blinker near Kabete Police Station. For a fleeting moment, I was tempted to drive to the cop-station yelling that I had been kidnapped –by my passenger.
Instead, the shudder in my leg caused a premature release of the clutch. The car stalled.
And it was with a trembling hand that I reached across the passenger seat, opened the door and asked the passenger to step out. It was with shock, confusion, fear and anger that she gathered her stuff and hopped off into the drizzle that was falling with more confidence. It was with a deep sense of trepidation that I drove off, nearly knocking her down with the half closed door.
It was exactly 13 minutes later when I got to our gate, and drove past. The unlikeable me had since fled by the time I packed near the Southern by-pass and switched on my lap-top to start writing this.
Instead of scribbling down content, however, my thoughts wandered randomly, interrogating the soundness of my earlier decisions. But mostly, I started wondering if I was still married. It is now three days later and God willing, I will answer that…and some more, soon!