Your head is throbbing. Hard and fast.
You haven’t the faintest of ideas why you are in such a situation. The last time you felt this, you were with Paul.
But you don’t want such a feeling.
What happened? Did I black out?
The first thought is where your phone is. And your satchel, which was a gift from your grandma. Hailed as the greatest sewer in your village, having the satchel was like having a part of her soul with you everywhere.
Guilt starts racking your head. And it doesn’t do good for the migraine that is building up. It is as if your head wants to explode.
All at once, everyone is rushing towards you. Feet are storming beside you, people with kind faces and worried eyes are all looking down on you.
“Hey! Hey! Are you alright?”
“Don’t do anything. Call the ambulance first.”
“Does this bag belong to – ”
Too many words are being spewed out around you. But you are very sure you are okay. Wasn’t there something you were so excited for today? Or was it a hazy dream?
“I…I…am okay,” you stutter, barely catching a breath since everyone wants to look at the bug under the microscope which is you.
Someone holds your right hand and hoists you while another props your left hand on their shoulder. Support. That’s what you need at this time. You damn well know you might end up collapsing again.
“My satchel. Phone…” Your words trail off as your lips tremble and become heavy.
Who was calling me? Why did I even faint? Why won’t my head stop throbbing?
“Here’s everything. Are you sure you’ll be fine on your own?” A kind-hearted lady asks you, handing you the satchel and the unscathed phone. “I could give you a ride.”
Between elbowing the throng of people along Tom Mboya Street and getting a ride in a Range Rover, there seems not to be a choice. You have to take the ride from the kind stranger and hope you can recollect all memories of what went amiss when you alighted.
The lady leads you to her car where she ushers you in and locks the door behind you. A faint Paco Rabbane perfume greets you as the lady begins to maneuver into a less busy street.
You tell yourself that she is the kind of woman who has amassed wealth and still has a warm heart. They are a rare breed. Those whom you know have either or none.
“So, what’s your name?”
You don’t like when people get personal, but this is the lady that saved you from the sidewalks where you had fainted. Chances are that you just have to break the ice with this woman.
“K?” She throws you a strange side-long look.
It happens. People think you are being a classic millennial, and that throwing single-lettered response is the mark of being “hip” and “cool”. Or you just don’t want to be bothered.
But you decide to stick with your nickname and tell the lady, “Yeah. It’s complicated.”
Like the rest of my life.
“And what happened back there?”
You realize the lady is echoing your inner questions. There can’t lack a solid explanation. Maybe you just lost breath and fainted. Maybe it was Paul. Maybe it was the giddiness.
You shrug. “I have no idea. Probably a migraine.”
The lady introduces herself as Sheila and says that she works in a radio station. Deep down your fantastic brain, you convince yourself that you have heard that angelic voice somewhere. You might have met a celebrity!
You relax in the car and watch as Sheila drives you right through the University of Nairobi gate. Yes! Does this make me cool already?
The car cruises to a stop and Sheila looks back at you with the most cordial brown eyes in the earth. She makes you think about your mother.
They have the same brown eyes, high cheekbones, and precise silky hair. You shake your head and realize Sheila is talking.
“I have to leave, K. But I hope you’ll be alright,” she says soothingly.
You nod. You are still assessing this angelic soul in a body and wondering why she extended such a hand of kindness to you. She could have just looked on at your gaunt body on the pavement and driven off.
“Thanks, Sheila. For saving me,” you say.
“No problem. And all the best,” she says and then drives off.
Did that just happen?
As you wonder about Sheila, you realize that no one really gives a crap that you are standing where you are. Or you are hauling your bags and your garment is soiled along your left leg.
It’s as if you don’t exist, and it not, then they are very good actors.
On cue, your phone rings. This time you don’t miss a beat as you see it’s your mother that is calling.
“Hallo! Can you hear me?”
It’s almost depressing that your mother is screaming at the phone due to the network hitches back at your home. If anyone was too close to you, they might think you were getting reprimanded.
“I can, mama. And I am okay. I just arrived,” you say. At this point, you know you are just stretching the truth and not lying.
Your mother responds with a “Bless you” and then breaks into a wordy prayer for you. A tear or two starts streaming down your cheeks. You do miss her already!
“Thanks, mama. And I love you so much. I will work hard. For you, me and Tumo.”
“We love you too,” you hear your little sister scream in the background and it almost ax-splits your heart.
You hung up and man up. You can’t cry here, now.
Another kind soul takes you to the admission queue where you are given a tag. Now that you are the three hundred and the ninetieth person on the queue, there is a reason for you to sit and wait.
And maybe check your phone.
Not many notifications. A Facebook friend request from a Cameroonian preacher. An Instagram comment under your recent picture where you took a picture with your mother and little sister two weeks ago.
It was a blurry one, and the comment drives that point quite harshly.
You immediately give up on Instagram and stick to Facebook. It’s barely harsh.
Then you peep at your call log and see that the call you missed at the commotion was Paul’s.
What does he want with me?
Your mind tells you that he has changed. He was sober, after all. And he didn’t sound aggressive or angry.
But you can’t put his mistakes and “bad calls” behind him. He still deals in drugs. You can’t trust him. Not this time again.
Then you realize another phone call had come through. An unknown contact. You don’t call. The last time you topped up airtime, it was immediately flushed down the vortex by your local “generous” service providers. You still don’t understand how they do that.
After a half-hour of your patience being tested to the brink, you move some couple of paces along the admission queue. The panel at the admissions desk seems to be doing pretty well, given the fact that there is quite a crowd at your campus.
Then your phone buzzes.
The unknown contact. Is it Paul? Must be the freak!
You pick up and curtly ask, “What now?”
“Oh. Aren’t you pleased to hear from your father?”