Rain in Nairobi creates mayhem. It is 5:00 pm and I can hear big drops of water landing on the car park roof. My boss walks in with a prequalification form due the following day at 10:00am. I hate filling these forms it is like watching cows come home for milking every evening. Njeri walks in with a tea tray and pours some in my cup. My mind wanders to Eli and I don’t notice as she leaves. I pick my tea and walk to the window. The fruit vendor is folding up to escape from the rain. Everyone is moving faster than usual except for the cars. Nairobi cars love the rain. They stay put enjoying the organic shower. Maybe it cools them from the constant tropical sun.
My phone lights up and it’s Eli. He is calling about our date. I suddenly hate the government for turning my boss into such an aggressive tenderpreneur. Every day is filled with tenders to bid for because he knows someone somewhere, who knows someone somewhere, who owes him a favour. Today is a different day though. I don’t like Eli and this is a perfect way to skip the date.
My phone lights up again and my stomach sinks because I don’t know what to tell Eli. I pick up and he asks about my day. I don’t like small talk so I get to the main point. He starts telling me about his day and I drift off. I remember how we met. It was a cool Friday evening and my friends were going out as usual. I was not. I was the house body, I still am. On this day my friends would not let that happen. My life revolved around my office and my house. I was tired from work. My boss’s wife had just joined us and she was wearing the title “bitch” with absolute perfection. I freshened up after work and wore the tiniest dress I could find and off I went. I have two left feet but on this day I wanted to dance and dance I did. Towards midnight I was tired and too sober to hang out with my friends so I walked to the car pack for fresh air.
I sat in the car park and thought about how free and content I felt at 35. Even without a family or a man to tell society we belonged together. I looked through the window and there he was in all his glory. He had perfectly fitting jeans, a white shirt, black loafers and a cancer stick casually balanced on his lips. For some reason the cancer stick seemed to complete his outfit. It glowed in the dark as if he was blowing into a glow worm. I met his gaze briefly before I turned away. I had left the lights on, how opportune, I thought. He walked towards me as I put the lights off. With each step he made, my loins seemed to speak to me. Then I remembered I had been burned too many times to let this happen. I rolled down the window as we exchanged greetings. I was so exhausted from all the gallivanting on the dance floor. I didn’t fancy standing on my six inches anymore and I didn’t want to look like a new born calf so I invited him to the passenger seat. He jumped in and then bam the whole car smelt like a tobacco tunnel in the Middle East.
Eli said he was a “car sales man.” I heard “con man” and everything else he said after that floated into a thin smoke above his head, where I imagined he stores the names of all Nairobi’s naïve women. After 20 minutes I told him I was about to leave as I texted my friend to come save me. We exchanged numbers and dear Eli called all day, every day, six times like a doctor’s prescription.
As sheets of water fell from the sky onto the streets and bringing Nairobi to a standstill, I yelled at Eli on the other end. “Never call me!” It was loud enough to bring my boss into my office. He asked to know who I was fighting with.