ALICIA

I laid on the bed like a gecko busking in the sun, I had taken an early lunch after a marathon of 24-hour fasting. I could have gone for 48 hours but my unwilling body gave in. I was growing weak by the minute as breathing seemed forced. I had to eat and so lunch came around 11 in the morning. I took a shower afterwards and took my phone to bed for a heart to heart with my girlfriend as I waited for her arrival.

On the sink were dirty dishes from lunch and a day ago, beside the door to the washroom was a pile of dirty clothes but I was too lazy to work on them. The bed had clothes all over with the duvet on the side, opposite the sheet exposing the worn-out mattress. It was a Saturday that had me lazing around the house.

I shifted my body in a bid to feel comfortable as the bed creaked to accept my weight. I was sweating after taking a hot shower in the middle of the day. I turned again, this time facing the ground with my phone in my hands.

I was busy on Twitter as I waited for her response. The lone text read, “Upo” without a question mark but it felt wrong as I meant to ask, “Uko?” It had been sitting there for an hour awaiting her response which was taking ages to arrive. I dived into the trends of the day as I try not to lose my head over her delayed response.

Twitter became boring as the feeds became flooded with everyone selling something, from shoes to clothes and apps that may or may not help you. Everyone was trying to advertise something and with that I switched to Instagram.

On the bed with only a short I went through the feeds before clicking on the search button and scroll downwards through the reels and pictures-beautiful people. As I went through the pictures, well dressed people, I felt poor. An overwhelming feeling of brokenness set in, but I went on scrolling. The various challenges came on of people showing off and each reel affected me differently. I was spinning on my bed.

Realizing that all those emotions were elicited by the posts I crossed over to Facebook, here the environment was calm. I resonated with every post, every piece of gossip, I handed out likes like a god giving out blessings.

It was now an hour and 30 minutes since I texted her. I decided to call.

The call went through, as I listened to the call trilling, I breathed in, finding words that would seem calm and at the same time demanding. I was angry at her, at her late replies and I didn’t want to show that, so I breathed in and let out a long gush of air.

She didn’t pick.

I called again and again but the calls went unanswered. My anger was growing trying to rationalizing why she was not picking.

“Maybe she was busy.”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Maybe she is in a Matatu.”

“Probably.”

“She always has her phone on her hands especially in vehicles.”

“Yes? So no on the Matatu.”

“What could she be doing?”

I called once more just to make sure she was avoiding me. I went ahead and called her through another number. She picked up the phone.

“Hello.”

“Where are you?”

“Who’s this?”

“Really? It is Dude.”

“Oh, let me call you in a few.”

Before I could say anything, the phone went dead. I threw the phone on the bed and took my laptop. My anger was slowly consuming me, I felt useless for a moment trying to comprehend what she was doing. I was restless even with the laptop on my laps. I could not concentrate.

I stood up and decided to clean up the house. I piled every dirty clothes and beddings together by the washroom door. I spread the duvet on the bed and went for the sink. I cleaned the utensils as my breathing came down to the normal rate. I mopped the house and went to do laundry. I was done by 2 in the evening. I checked my phone. No calls. No texts.

I texted her.

“Hey, kwani uko?”

It went without a reply.

At 3 in the evening I called her, her phone was off. I resorted to sleeping.

An hour into sleeping, I heard my phone ringing. I assumed the first call but the caller became persistent.

It was a new number.

“Hello, what do you want?”

“Hello.”

A soft-spoken voice could be heard from the other end.

“Dude, it’s me Alicia.”

“Really? Finally, you have called. Whose number is this? Where are you?”

“It doesn’t matter how long, but I called. I am with friends but I will come by, the day is not yet over. Can you lend me like a 1000 bob?”

“Okay.”

The call was ended with that. I sent her a thousand shillings and waited for five minutes before calling to confirm she had received the same. She promised to call me later.

I went back to sleeping.

Another call came in at 11 in the night. She had called with another number.

“Dude could you help me with five hundred shillings please?”

I clicked as I sighed.

“Why are you clicking? Kindly help me, I will refund you. I am stuck here and the friends I had have left.”

“Where are you?”

“I am at a club in Westy.”

“Which club?”

“What’s up with the questions? Don’t you trust me?”

“I want to know where you are. Is that too much to ask?”

“Help me with the money, and if you can’t just say so and stop wasting my time with useless questions.”

“I am sorry, I care about you, you know.”

“If you care about me then send the money.”

“Okay honey.”

The call ended as I sent her the money and went to the washroom. I came back and whipped out a meal of eggs and tea. I ate as I thought of Alicia. As beautiful as she was, she behaved so differently when dealing with me, so worse than when she is with her so called friends. The friends who could not help her when is stuck.

“And was she drunk?”

Her voice was breaking.

“Where was she getting the phones to call me? Could she just call me using her phone?”

I went back to bed, angrier than I was before. I placed my phone beside my head just in case and drifted off in sleep.

An hour later she called.

As usual with a new number.

“Dude, where are you?”

“I am at home.”

“Oh, and how did the name Dude come into being?”

“Alicia why are you calling me this late into the night?”

“Don’t ask me silly questions. Can I not call my love any time I want?”

“Go home Alicia, you’re drunk.”

“Did you buy me any liquor tonight? Who are you to tell me when to go home?”

“I may have funded a half of your fun tonight so tone down your attitude.”

“Your measly 1500 shillings did not buy anything substantial plus I will refund you when I get the money.”

“What do you want then?”

 “I have forgotten.”

I ended the call and went back to sleep.

An hour later, she called again, with a different number. She was crying.

I was moved as I wished I was there to comfort her.

“What’s wrong Alicia?”

She continued crying.

“Hey Alicia, talk to me.”

“Dude I have been mugged.”

“Where are you? Are you okay?”

“I am…fine. I don’t know where I am but let me try to ask around.”

“Just be careful.”

“I will.”

She ended the call.

I called her back immediately.

“Stay on the phone I want to know what’s going on.”

“I can’t, I have to give the phone back.”

“The ask the guy where you are before giving him the phone.”

“I am still in Westy, just a few meters from the Delta Stage.”

“Okay, let me get you an Uber.”

“No, Dude just come for me.”

“I can’t, let me get you a ride I will pay.”

“Okay, but I just wanted you here with me. I am cold you know.”

“Okay, I am coming.”

I ended the call and dressed as fast as I could. My heart was racing as I smiled in a bid to curb the excitement building in my heart. I ordered a ride and waited outside the gate. A minute went by and I was on the road to meet the love of my life.

“Why are you going to Westlands this late?”

“I am going to pick up somebody.”

“Sending them a ride might have been cheap and easier.”

“I know, it is girl and I think she might be in trouble. She was mugged.”

“Shit, is she okay? Should I step on it?”

“I don’t know. That will be helpful.”

We flew on Manyanja road into Outering road then poured into Thika Road then branched into Forest road and into Ojijo Road. We went by Ring Road roundabout straight towards Delta stage. As we approached, no one was at the stage. The driver packed the car as I convinced him to keep the journey going. I tried the same number we spoke through last. It was off.

My heart grew weary, I started sweating. I threw glances all over the place before seeing her coming from my left. She was dressed skimpily in a short black dress that was low on her right hip exposing it and had a lace on the left. The back was exposed as well as the cleavage. She seemed comfortable. I saw her.

I rushed to hug her as the stench of liquor slapped me heavily. I hugged her nonetheless and offered her a sweater. She wore it and we got into the car. The ride back was quiet until Alicia awoke from her sleep. She was nauseated. As she looked outside the window noticing that we were on Outering road, she made a disgusted look before vomiting.

The driver looked at me via the rear-view mirror and shook his head. I could feel his gaze on me as I tried not to look at him. I was ashamed but I had to act strong. I didn’t want an argument and so I asked to pay for it.

A few minutes later we were at home. I opened the gate and handed her the keys to the house as I sorted the driver. He declined payment for the vomit.

“Bro, the best you can do for yourself is to let go of this girl. She is not doing you any good.”

“I know, I just wish I had the courage to walk out.”

“Nobody will give you the courage, find it within you.”

“Thank you.”

I paid him a total of 2500 shillings. My rent was now half spent. I knew the money I had lend her was never coming back and so I had to find a solution to my rent problem.

As I walked back to the house, my heart was heavy, my mind was thinking of what the driver had said. Leaving her was for my own good. I repeated it twice, “Leaving Alicia was for my good.”

I had to articulate it in a bid to make it real.

I found her on the stairs doubly bed over choking on her vomit. Her breaching was slow. I sucked some of the vomit from the nose and took her into the house. I took her to the washroom, prepared hot water, washed her and dried her before dressing her in my sweatpants and a t-shirt. I placed her on the bed while she pretended to be dead asleep all this time.

I covered her and watched her sleep before joining her while facing the other side. I woke up from my sleep to find her looking at me. Lights were on, it was four in the morning.

“What are you doing?”

“I am just staring at you.”

“How long have you been doing that.”

“Not long enough, you know I love you.”

I smiled in pain as my heart became excited and my mind raced against the excitement. I knew I had to let her go if I wanted to leave peacefully.

“I know.”

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