It’s about half past nine, the streets are deserted, and the wind blows slowly.
Like a worker who can’t wait to go home when morning comes. It blows away the loose pieces of litter left behind by a careless population, pieces of paper, groundnut wrappers, shopping bags, promotional material, and a piece of plastic gets stuck on the man’s leg. He is standing at the bus stop peculiarly, like he is waiting for the next available bus, but like he is enjoying the wait. He shuffles his leg, and the paper blows away into the cold, draughty Nairobi night.
The man is ill-dressed for the cold, like he didn’t expect to be at a cold, lonely bus stop when he dressed up. Other than show off his skinny frame, his grey shirt does little to keep the goosebumps from forming on his skin, and his dark-blue khaki pants expose him to mosquitoes, and a slight case of the shivers. He looks at his phone agitatedly and puts it back in his pants hurriedly, like he doesn’t want anyone to know he has it, which is strange as he is all by himself. A few minutes later, a matatu pulls up to the desolate stage, with its multiple, colourful neon lights illuminating the area around it, the speakers playing loud, Nigerian music in that distinct pidgin English, he doesn’t even ask about the cost, the man clambers on board, and the only evidence he ever stood at the stage, is a small puddle on the earth beside the stage, a result of his weak bladder and scarce public toilets.
In a small, but tastefully furnished apartment, a young woman waits. She has her eyes trained on the television, but every few minutes, she glances at her phone and inaudibly gulps. The movie she is watching is funny, but her mind is far away, and she doesn’t laugh as loudly as her friend does. She is worried, she thinks it’s unlike him to come home this late, seeing as he left home in warm weather clothing. She asks the lady seated on the couch if she wants some water, and she doesn’t even wait for a reply, she gets up and heads to the kitchen. The tap water hitting the base of the cup, runs as furiously as her fingers do, as she dials a number on her phone.
The man’s phone is ringing, he looks at it, bites his bottom lip thoughtfully, and slides it back into his pants. He thinks to himself that the club is too loud, and she won’t hear him properly. He sips his cold beer and watches a young woman dance. She is sweaty, her wet chiffon blouse clinging to her lithe body, but she doesn’t look like she is done dancing. A young man in a colourful baseball cap dances behind her, her ample behind gyrating on his eager waist, he looks drunk and his cheesy grin is all that shows he likes what she is doing. He watches a while, shrugs, and turns to sip his beer, then their eyes lock. She is pretty, with big, glassy eyes that suggest she might be a bit drunk. He stares into her eyes, until a burly, balding man, presumably her boyfriend, drags her away from their little staring contest.
The woman puts her phone down, she has called six times with no response, and she knows he must be really angry to ignore anything past two calls. She closes the tap, and drains off the water that was almost filling the sink. The movie credits are rolling up, and her friend is dozing off on the couch, drool forming on her cheek. She switches off the TV, wipes her friend’s drool and covers her with a fluffy comforter. She kisses her cheek and even if she knows she won’t hear, thanks her for coming to keep her company on such short notice. Today’s fight had been particularly nasty, and when he stormed out in the clothes nearest to him, she thought it would be to his friends and back. Her phone vibrates, it’s a text. It’s a strange number, and she is sleepy, and she can always reply to it in the morning. She switches off her phone and sighs, she knows the smell of his aftershave on the sheets mean it will takes ages for her to find sleep.
The man staggers out of the club, he didn’t know three beers were more than enough to remember nothing, and now he regrets taking six. He thinks of getting a cab, and he walks groggily towards one, the cab drivers approach him like a pack of wolves would a lone deer. He goes with the one who says he will accept a hundred shillings less. He feels his pockets and realizes he is without his wallet and his phone, he almost goes back to the club to find them, but he danced with the girl with the chiffon top at some point in the night, and he remembers the young man in a colourful baseball hat squeezed past him. His face darkens with rage, he curses, asks for the the taxi drivers’ phone and sends a message, and lies that he will pay when they get to the gate.
It’s about three o’clock in the morning, the streets are deserted, and the wind blows furiously, angrily, like a worker who just got to work, and wants to get off early. A man stands at a stage, bruised and alone, his goosebumps reminding him that he should have brought a coat, his hat is gone and his grey shirt is bloodied. He stands at the bus stop peculiarly, like he is waiting for the morning, but like he is scared of the wait. An old matatu stops at the stage, the man feels his pockets in a drunken stupor, frowns and shakes his head solemnly, and the old matatu leaves a trail of smoke, dust and more uncollected litter flying up in the air. The man wrings his hands, thinks about the girl with the big eyes, shrugs and goes beside the stage structure and empties his bladder.
In a small and tastefully furnished apartment, a young woman heeds the incessant knocking and opens her door. If she is surprised, she doesn’t show it. She doesn’t talk to the man in a bloodied grey shirt, she prepares his clean clothes, as she hears him wincing as the hot water from the shower hits his swollen lip. She prepares an omelet hurriedly, and as she scratches at the burnt pan in the sink, she doesn’t see the man, his body still steaming from the shower, clench his fist and aim it at her.