Simon Says

The couple next to me is fighting. They are trying to speak in hushed tones but every so often a harsh word comes out too loud. It sounds serious. She wants to get married. Or she wants him to communicate better. That type of serious. I’m trying hard to eavesdrop but my ears, like my eyes are failing me. The realities of my aging are catching up with me. To be fair to my aging cochleas, there is a slight hum of human conversation everywhere. It’s Java, at lunch time. Everyone is trying to say something. I wish they would all be silent for a minute so I could hear what this fight is about.

Her: You never take me seriously.

Him: What do you mean? I am here, aren’t I?

Her: That is not what I mean….

Across the room there is a woman speaking animatedly. Her hands flinging around dangerously. I keep worrying that she’ll hit a fork and it will fly and accidentally impale her dates eyes. Then he will have an eye problem… or no eyes. She’s speaking in vernacular, my mother tongue and I feel an annoying tinge of embarrassment flash across my face. This is a public place woman, settle down. Other people want to understand what you’re saying. Just because they aren’t here with you doesn’t mean they do not want to be included in your conversation. 

I think people who gesture using a lot of hand gestures are the same ones who have 7 emojis in one sentence. I’m probably being a bit judgemental with this one. I struggle with expressions through my body language. I could be happy, puppy happy… but my face will look like someone killed a puppy. I once did a svideo (selfie-video) (Yes, that is not a real word)  of myself wearing my widest smile as I spoke and when I played it back it was like my smile had faded in between my face and the lens. Perhaps it was too far, and my smile got halfway and was like, F it, I am not going. I digress.

It’s graduation day. Java tables are littered with youngins in their graduation caps and gowns. It’s 27 degrees outside. I don’t know how they are not smoldering into a crisp. Their faces are beaming with pride and their family members seem to be pumping them full of food and life advice, things like “Kazi ni kazi” “Experience is the most important thing”, “Enrolling for your masters is the best thing”, “There are no jobs please think about entrepreneurship”, “Your brothers and sisters are depending on you to get them through school like we’ve done for you”. Today is a big day on so many levels. It’s the first day of the rest of their lives. Lives filled with laughter, sadness and the disillusionment of higher education. 

But despite all the hullabaloo in my surroundings, something else is eating at me. Biko said I could write. That’s right. Me. I don’t know what that even means. Coming from Biko. I told him as much. But everyone knows you don’t argue with Biko. You say yes and then go to Java, and think about it. Which is why I’m here. That and the fact that my phone was dying and I needed to charge it. Do you remember the game, Simon Says? There are so many versions of the game including a number of really disturbing horror movies. Biko is like Simon. When Biko says write, you pick up a gaddamn paper and you start writing. That is the thing though, I only brought my phone, so I am typing this on a phone and thinking, what did I get myself into? This does feel a little like a horror movie. My hands are a bit sweaty, could be the sun or could be that this has me terrified out of my mind.

When this goes up, I have this fantasy in my head, that it could go really badly or really well and this is probably what a random people conversation would look like:

Random person: Have you read this story? 

Random person 2: I don’t recognize the author

Random person: It’s Lee. She’s new. Apparently, Biko said she can write

Random Person 2: OK if Biko said she can then you know…….. (could be completed either in the negative or positive) 

My mind is to afraid to be presumptuous.

I ordered the wings. The 5 pieces with French fries and salsa. They served my meal in a microplate. I guess to make it seem like a handsome serving. It irked me, but the waitress was pretty so that soothed my soul a little bit. I didn’t enjoy the meal. I wasn’t hungry in the first place and also the wings were dry. I can feel my tummy start to rumble a bit, feels like the makings of food poisoning. With Java, this is often a gamble, whether or not you’ll drive yourself into the ground after a meal, or lay prostrate in the loo of your house questioning why the gods let you eat that food again. But that’s the least of my worries right now. I just needed to charge my phone. Plus. They have wifi and pretty waitresses and couples who fight. Potentially fatal food poisoning is a small price to pay. A woman just walked in, tall and gangly. She reminds me of Popeye’s wife. I bet her name is Olive. Perhaps I should write about Olive and why she is so tall and gangly… oh never mind, dead end story, she just left, she only wanted to use the restroom. 

Biko, like Simon, says write. Therefore here I am writing. I asked why, he said, just do it. I told him I wanted to attend his masterclass first and he thought I lacked self motivation. It is possible that decades of his writing those melancholic, heart wrenchingTall Ghost type stories has let him a little bit off, like maybe If I succumb to this art I am picking up now, he could write a story about me and my tragic passing and name it, “Death by Pen”. My biggest question is how does a great writer know another writer? Is the way they hold their pen? Or is it the amount of sweat on their brow when they wait to see what other writers and readers like.

I get knots in my stomach even thinking that I can put my thoughts on paper and then have someone read them. I haven’t touched my fries, they are fattening and I have no appetite. Writing bares one’s soul. Or other people’s souls when you tell their stories. I like telling stories but given that my face and body in general refuses to communicate my feelings, perhaps writing can be a perfect outlet. I don’t know. Sounds a bit far fetched. But Simon Says, Write. So here I am.  Lee, and this is my blog.