Green. Such a gentle colour. Peaceful. Calm. Beautiful. Usually conjures up imagery of rainforests and lush gardens. It’s the banner we environmentalists and wildlife lovers fly so proudly. Then there is that oh mighty dollar and more recently those legalized weeds folks in Cali love. Sadly it is also the colour associated with envy and jealousy, you know that green-eyed monster? Usually seen in the people standing beside me in church when I start singing. Keep calm folks, Heaven’s choir has no qualification except presence.
I was admiring the spectrum of colour found in a rainbow one lovely afternoon at that Java at the Junction when I hear my name being called out in a rather pleasant voice, somewhere between Toni Braxton and Kelly Rowland. I turn to see a pretty, young lady approach me waving her arms quite animatedly. I quickly go through my database of tall brunettes and end up short. Memory, always need more. I try my best to match the lovely damsel’s joy as she invites herself to join my company. After pleasantries, I figure it would be rude to continue talking to a stranger but remember blunt honesty hasn’t served me well in the past so I nod my head and smile like I had just met my long-lost sister. She catches my drift rather quickly and says, “you have no idea who I am do you?” I half smile and half choke as if English had suddenly escaped me.
After confessing my sins and awkwardly giving all my best excuses, the lady introduces herself as Sophie*, an old neighbor of mine from Nyali, Mombasa. It all comes back to me; Portuguese, sister to Andrew*, a rabble-rouser and frequent partner in football. She says I haven’t changed a bit and I try my best not to lie. It’s her birthday she says, big ‘ol 22, would I mind joining her friends for a movie? Who ever said no to a freebie? So I join her crew of equally long-legged, summer-clad friends for the film. Two hours, one large cake and several glasses of things I can’t pronounce later one girl offers me a ‘special’ cupcake. The glint in her eye tells me to decline without hesitation. They laugh and make fun of me in Portuguese, I respond in Spanish and suddenly no one is laughing. I think to myself that maybe my language skills have rusted but instead realize a senior gentleman is standing behind me with a rather disapproving look. If I found my daughter and her friends with some random chap who was gobbling up all the cake, I’d be none too pleased either. I take one last slice of cake, a rather large one, say my goodbyes and return to Java. They don’t pay me to say that btw, they are just that good.
As I wonder what led to the invention of the delicacy that is cake, the gentleman, who turns out to be Sophie’s dad joins me. What is it with the Portuguese and manners? Anyway, he orders a strong coffee for both of us and loosens his tie. He looks at me and sighs deeply. “What plans do you have for my daughter” he asks menacingly. Right then I want to say the only plans I know of are the ones the Lord has, good plans for her future but I see the timing might be wrong for saved jokes. I assure him that besides his daughter possessing the looks of a supermodel and the class of an aristocrat, my peasant self had only just met her. He weighs me up and seems to agree with my evaluation of my nil chances and sips his coffee. I didn’t know whether to feel insulted or relieved.
Mr. Gonzalez*, as I later learn is his name then produces a handkerchief from his bespoke suit’s pocket and wipes a small tear from his eye. I freeze mid-cake and wonder what I am about to go through. A grown man crying rarely, if ever, ends well. In between stolen glances at his daughter’s party he tells me a tale I found very difficult to swallow. And I am known to swallow ugali, boiled egg and a banana with ease.
Sophie’s dad had been married for 37 years. Happily at first, then reluctantly and finally nonchalantly. But the gig was up. He had been in several affairs over the years and he’d finally been caught. The wife would hear none of it, she was moving back to Lisbon. The proverbial poop had hit the fan and boy did it stink. Before me was a broken man. Tasked to him was the duty of telling his children why their mother was leaving, why family dinners would be no more, why Christmas would be cold in the Malindi heat, why Sophie’s wedding seating arrangement would be a battle, why lawyers would be circling like hungry sharks, why…just why? He didn’t even need a response from me; neither did he wait for one. Here was a man who had accepted his fate and would let the chips fall where they would. There was a hollowness in his eyes that betrayed the gaping wound in his soul. Crushed, realization had sunk in him. The dance with the devil was over and there was no shoe left behind when the clock struck midnight in this story.
“You look like a good, young man” he said. I thought of asking him to repeat that into my phone recording for future conversations with Sophie and her friends but again, wrong crowd. “Don’t be an old fool like me”, of all his regret and guilt what really pained him was a rather simple truth. “You know, to be honest, it’s never worth it.” It’s never worth it. Sophie came over and pecked him on the cheek. “Papa, Dom is just a friend, don’t kill him okay?” He nodded and she left as I chalked up yet another member of the sisterhood. The convent grows I thought to myself, oh well. He snaps me back into the gravity of the present with a question, “have you ever been in love?” I swallow hard and stare at the rainbow silently. Mercifully, he continues, “when you lose true love my boy, what are you left with?” “It’s not hate; you’re left with nothing, just nothing. No one and nothing.”
As quickly as he came, he suddenly rises up and leaves. I want to raise the small matter of the bill but figure the chap has more pressing matters to deal with. Besides, I ate more cake than the birthday girl, evens out. The rainbow begins to dissipate as the sun begins its advance against the beautiful, grey, cold weather I love. It has been a long, hard week. Drained as I was, I look at Sophie and can’t help but feel the pain that would surely be coming her way. I am no Sensei (in the Kung Fu Panda series I take more after Po than Shifu) but a word to the wise, it’s not worth it. It really isn’t. In the bigger picture, no fleeting moment of stolen passion and illicit lust can replace genuine love. You’d rather stay alone than hurt together. The grass is always greener on the side being watered.
My cousin recently acquired a green card and is moving to the US. Mostly for medical reasons but also to work and live the American dream. Where if you work hard and pay your dues, there are equal opportunities for everyone to make it. At least that’s what it used to be. Now Trump’s nightmare is the stuff of legend; everyday news delivered in tweet. The home of the brave and free has lost its lustre. America feels neither brave nor free. If the pseudo war in Syria or N.Korea explodes, we are all in for a right, fine mess. Asked if I would consider relocating to the US, I flat-out said no. Not in 2018 onwards. And the pick of the cherry is that Donald does not believe in global warming. Going green? His green is an imploding economy surrounded by a wall of fear.
My ex asked me to her house. Sounds like the beginning of a bad idea right? Well after pursuing her Masters in London she was building her online start-up and needed my help creating an ad. Money has no emotions is my motto, so I head over to the sprawling family estate and build a product we are both excited about. I wish her the best in her endeavours and start to leave. Her mother, bless her soul, says it would be rude to go without lunch so would I please join them? Mothers and I get along. Indian food always makes me happy, chapatti makes me happy beyond level Pharrell so I head out a very jolly chap. I am accosted by Ashok*, the eldest son of the house, he has a couple of green sweets and hands me one. “Tell me vuot you tink eh?” I swallow one little fella and savour what I think is mint, chamomile and vanilla? Close, he says. The magic ingredient is actually miraa. “If I can have this approved by the government, I will have the first khat sweet!” Ashok looks like he just discovered the cure for slow WIFI, I look like Pep Guardiola after Pogbacked. Ashok reminds me of a bad episode of Rick & Morty, I dodged a bullet there certainly. I head home thankful for the presence of honest friends in my life. If I mail you with ideas on how to turn those strands of fibre on maize cobs into a successful hair line business, blame it on the khat.
1. Delightful Sound: Maître Gims – Brisé. One of my favourite French songs, Monsieur M delivers a passionate accusation to a cheating boyfriend from his scorned girlfriend. You need not be a fluent French speaker to understand this creatively shot video. The Congolese roots are not lost on you either, with beautiful riffs and a haunting harmony throughout the song; this is a track that will stick in your mind.
2. Must Watch: The Last Kiss. What happens when a young couple is rocked by the misdeeds of one? Boy meets girl, boy loves girl. They live happily ever after. Kapish right? Well boy meets another girl and paradise is distorted. This is a tale of just what happens when your sins come back to convict you. Follow the stories of Michael, Jenna and their friends as they face the realities of aging and decision-making. Zach Braff plays the lead in this to perfection.
3. Worthy Read: Ernest Wamboye’s The Human Temple is a book I am itching to get my hands on, the reviews sing high praise. And based off a book of his I HAVE read, it is bound to be great. But if you haven’t, do get yourself a copy of his book, Lust and the City; a guide on sexual purity. In the day we live in, sex is a big deal. In this book, he draws from a rich well of Biblical wealth to address the question of sexuality in a world saturated with opinions on the matter. Masturbation, pornography, the Spiritual significance of sex and more are addressed with honest revelations from his own life that shed light on a subject most of us shroud in a cloud of darkness.
* not real names.