Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pearl. Again.

I was soaking in the nuances of a calm Nairobi Sunday evening when Pearl called. Her voice wavered with emotion, there were no greetings. The urgency of her sad tone struck a discordant chord against the big city’s psychotic buzz of indifference. That had to be fixed. She said she wanted to meet and talk. Such was the undercurrent in her voice that I agreed immediately. Ordinarily I would have hesitated and beat around the bush until she let me off in exasperation, but I owed her that talk anyway. So I instantly agreed to meet her the next day.

Next day
Following a road trip accompanied by reggae music, I was standing still in a busy Nakuru street, waiting for Pearl to show up. Impatience mounted as I beat away the insistent pestering of prospecting bodaboda operators. Stand around in Nakuru and the bodaboda fraternity will lay claim on your person. A mixed crowd of sundry souls walked to and fro past I whose arms were crossed in front of my chest with a bored expression on my absentminded face. At length, my back tired of heavy bags strapped to it. My patience died. My mood deteriorated. Where was she?

Presently, behold! she appears! Upon seeing her, my spirits soared, rocket-like, from ground zero to cumulonimbus nine and beyond. I smiled, against the tide of erstwhile prevailing inclination. The hug felt familiar. She apologized profusely for being late. No big deal, I claimed.

We sat down to talk over lunch at a nice restaurant with great ambience, fast service, nice wall art, and good food. (I would suck at restaurant reviews). It seemed to surprise Pearl that I had turned vegetarian. The last we’d met over lunch, we were finalizing our break-up, and I was ravenously devouring the fried corpse of a chicken. That had been a very long time ago, in my days of excess.

Now there she sat, across the table from me, ever the conversationalist. The ice broke under the weight of my humor; her streams of thought condensed seamlessly into chains of words. I permitted her the free rein to narrate from the abundance of her heart, only interrupting for the occasional clarifying question or comment. And I’m comfortable with that, seeing as talk is not among my big strengths; besides, my honest opinions are for blogging. (When my turn came to tell, I said “Same old me” and brief things to that effect.) But I can discuss abstract themes all day.

Hers was quite the rollercoaster narrative. There were highs and lows, there were laughs and there were almost tears. It nearly turned philosophical altogether, and then I'd have really talked. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to converse, as I had broken my homeward journey in half and was anxious to avoid spending the night in Nakuru. We parted at the ever-crowded bus park.

Ironically, for the hour we spent, I did not catch the faintest whiff of why she wanted to talk to me - why specifically me? I did not feature anywhere amidst all the legions of issues she had brought up. But we had a good time, a heart-to-heart, however one-sided it was, so :)

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