It is Irma’s fourth day in the oldest, coastal town of Kenya. She stands lazy in the crowded Pirate’s beach. Neither envious of the unending fun everyone is having, nor astounded by it. She has visited all places recommended by her travel agent and done everything she planned for, over her stay here. Everything she googled and titled, ‘things to do while in Mombasa,’ in her tiny notebook.
She has been to the crocodile sanctuary and seen them feed on foam, in the almost smelly, rotten waters.
She had her chance with a beach buggy and drove in beginner circles, then made meanders, in advancement. Came back to the starting lane and did the whole thing over again. This time, on marked tarmac, on a race track.
She has been cheered by the exuberant, roller costing kids, who by the way, she loved their energy and thrilling reactions of her trudge into the amusement park, calling her Mzungu.
Honestly, she was happy, earlier today. She knows it’s true happiness because her latest identity, the grim and taciturn look, has transformed into a broad smile which has stayed around her chubby face for hours. And when she’ remembered it, she’s laughed hysterically, at everything, everywhere, only cut to size by her desire to do more, go-karting, which she hopes to get better at, with continuous practice.
Though her happiness was short lived, she still feels the need to smile and hide her sorrows behind her shiny lip-gloss.
She says, everyone does it, (hiding sorrows behind fake smiles), only, one half of the people is good at it and the remaining half sucks; like her husband who cheats, gets forgiven, cheats again; found for the 6th time, gives up, asks for the damn divorce and lives happily ever after with his sexiest, newest mama? Breaking off a marriage of 38 years. Forgetting that it is because of his routine sucks of her breasts that they sag and are unattractive, and admittedly, failed by the feeding of 5 other kids after him.
On sunny days like today, she has felt relieved of her silent distress, trauma and depression and wished she was more Kenyan. To laugh like we do – sometimes at funny, sometimes at silly stuff. Really funny, really silly stuff that she (a stranger) feels she may never understand.
Not when her understanding of Swahili stays a little under the trial radar. When she still finds it hard to tell if *Kenya Hakuna Matata means ‘Kenya is a peaceful country’ or if to say Jambo is a form of ‘greeting’* or if it is the other way round; the difference, the same. (the statement within the asterisks is correct though)
But, hey, why do you blame her for learning slow? I think you are overreacting by putting her on the stance so soon, for what? Not saying Habari (How are you) or Karibu (Thank you) without a twang like all native speakers do? Are you fucking kidding me?
OK, let’s imagine Irma, the person.
Average in height. Close to 60 years old; white in complexion. Blonde. Blow-dried hair, slightly fat, a hanging pot belly. On black mothers union pants, flowery siphon blouse, bear feet. Walking, alone. She enjoys walking bear foot on the beach. She says the sand is warm and would recommend that you try it.
Wrinkled cheeks, sun-burnt skin and walking, still walking – alone. She stops at the shores of the ocean and bends (the scene is not close to sexy at all) to feel the sea with her hands. As though to measure the temperature by midday or to gauge the radius within which a shark would swim, if they existed in Indian Ocean. She is riding on suicidal thoughts.
If she wanted to really commit suicide tough, I believe she’d do it in Europe? (Because white is close to God and there is more there than here). And be found dead, by her son or the neighbors.
By the way, why not commit suicide in the Swizz canal if you are really serious about this damn thing? (that would be romantic you know)
Why bring the bad omen to Africa?
Why not just drink poison, lay in bed and writhe with convulsions till she can’t heave anymore, and die? Dying is what she wants anyway… Why not take a sharp knife. Use it to count her ribs, from the bottom, to the third bone, and stab herself, deep, between the ribs, letting the blade pass to the spine then pull it out.
I think it is because Europe wouldn’t let her die in her house that she settles for our land.
She (Mother Europe) would cut the noose that hangs her, loose, just when she is struggling with the last gulp of breath; dangling, swinging, with swelling lungs and she (Europe) would resuscitate her and bring her back to life, in her unwillingness and put her on 24 hour watch. I believe.
That’s not to say that Africa will do little, letting her take her life in it’s soil. To be clear: –
In her last moments, Mombasa (Africa) has shown her real happiness in more ways than one. Besides the visit to the Marine National Park, she has enjoyed every bit of Swahili culture and scenes: – in dribs and drabs
It is in Mombasa that she has eaten Chicken Biryani and Pilau and tried other unique cuisine clustered around European, Arab and African meals… made in Africa.
Besides every other wonder, it is here that she has learnt some basic history of the Kenyan coast, from a building as old as antiquity, a UNESCO heritage site – fort Jesus, built in years as early as 1589 hundreds by the Portuguese.
To spice her visit, she lives in a luxury accommodation – a five star hotel, FYI, Mombasa has some of the best hotels in the world. Overlooking the ocean, with private beaches
And more important, she has had enough time to visit the,
- Heller Park – home to some of the largest tortoise in our country; with marks as famous as its signs “DO NOT SIT ON THE TORTOISES” (It’s easy to confuse them for stones – hehe..) They are not, plus, they say nothing about standing on top of the turtles. I’d definitely try that.
- The game sanctuary
- Butterfly sanctuary
- Nguuni Nature Sanctuary
Even with all nature found in these parks; sinning birds, the smell of rot of – mangrove trees and the dead decaying animals. Our warm weather, the cozy restaurants and the politeness of our people – she didn’t move. Her negativity remained profound
I don’t mean to say that nature isn’t artistic to her as social mussing are.
And don’t be fooled. Visit Kenya and enjoy your stay in our beautiful country. Try to ignore her, she is just a fucked up woman dancing to the lure of death. To the demonic winds carrying over with, the swoosh sound of oceanic waves, past her un-attentive ears.
The spirit of death lurks in her back and on her heels.
She wants to walk into the ocean and never look back, and sink by every stride she makes, till she is swept by the heavy tides and what’s left of her is a tomb in South California with a huge stone, graven, with her identity and Memory – Loving. Gone so soon. Her face embedded in it. Which is it?
In Loving Memory of Irma Barbara?
Suffice to say that no diver, fisherman or swimmer would stand at bay and watch her walk into the open jaws of the sea and be devoured, to our loss (tourism industry) – a travel advisory issue by most European Nations in waiting. Because they (those people, you know them) can’t stand a life lost in Africa (Kenya), no one’s mistake, just a suicidal choice if so to say. White lives matter.
And Irma knows, hers (life) would be a great deal to everyone, if to imagine her ex-husband’s ambassadorial influence to the state.
For that reason, she won’t be any obvious, not so predictable.
She must call her agent to arrange for a tamarind dhow which she should use, far into the Ocean and fall off. Drown and never be found. That way, no one will know what happened to her, except for the navigator and the sun over the beach playing witness to her weary life wearing out.
She believes her daughters and son will cry over her death, for hours, which she approves because somewhere else, people die, and people cry over their dead, a day or two. Never Eternity. Infinity would be so much to ask.
She however suspects her husband cursing her name in death. And perhaps peeing on her grave – every other month, when he brings her fresh flowers. Is that not the only way to treat the haunting spirits of baby mamas and to use these clawing words to lock their door to the afterlife, “Rot in hell bitch.”
Erick (the agent) has traced her to the beach. It’s his job to show up when she calls and to disappear at her swat of the palm.
“The dhow is ready Mrs. Barbara.” He says and walks with her to where it is docked.
She is stingy with words. Erick knows that for the days that he has known her. They walk in silence, under his guidance.
“Mrs. Barbara, this is Mathew, your cruise guide.
Mathew, Mrs. Barbara our client.” He introduces them and watches as they start off into the cruise, until they fade, far, into oblivion. A youth and the other generation’s representative.
With every mile covered, Irma feels tension building in her body, her plan becomes more real. Mathew can a flair of fear in her eyes (a disturbed soul) but he decides to live and let live.
She knows that it’s time to put an end to this life of misery.
The mistrust, the lies, the infidelity (of her husband by younger women), the thought that she is no longer attractive and is better dead in the seas than alive (hurt), with sorrows, and to sometimes think about her matrimonial bed and imagine a lady, younger than her last child, lunging on her husband’s chest. Her mouth full with his his privates.
She cant stand such evil thoughts, she gathers courage and lets her body thump into the water with a thud and splash, more into the boat, from the back fall.
She sinks leaving behind a trace of foam and rippling water on her path. Mathew follows with a dive.
Better he dies saving someone in the sea than to live howling their name in prison, in eternity, for a ‘Murder’ he didn’t commit.
When he comes out, he is holding Irma by the waste. Both panting and breathing heavily, holding on the dhow with both hands, the lower part of their bodies still immersed under water. He lifts Irma back into the boat and follows to an old scorn, “Son of a beach.” Her word thank you for saving me words.
Mathew who understands Basic English plays dumb to the woman whose name is a suffix of a catastrophic hurricane, Irma – recorded to be stronger than Wilma of the west.
He cruises back, acclaiming her words, rephrasing then in a pun “Yes, the sun is so beautiful over the beach. And so are you under it. Pretty to die on silent seas.” He says innocently. If he should continue talking, he will tell her how much he loves white people… Hehehe…
All black beach boys want white women by the way. No matter the age. White is always good.
Irma smiles. Maybe at his innocence, his seductive words or just at his stupidity and in-eloquence.
For some reason, she starts to believe that there is magic in Africa – which may be far from the animals, and the musings but the people.
She blushes to Mathew’s though of her as pretty.
If he continues to talk, she may grab hundred other reasons to shift here, permanently. May be for the love of the oceanic views of the houses, or to always visit that spot in the middle of the ocean; where she got her rebirth. (You know how death lures people!). Until she finds that courage, she will always refer to her Mombasa as the SUN OVER BEACH and make fun of Mathew’s misinterpretation of her words if not to thank him for saving her life.