Somewhere between the confines of the blue mesh and the white walls of Mathare was where Dave Kalalei Junior learnt to accept his fate. Going in, he had sworn to never let the crazy people doctors anywhere near his head. He was alright. He was of perfect health. In fact, his father was the one who should have walked through those gates.
His father, David Kalalei Sr is one tough cookie. He was raised in Baringo county, where I assume he literally had to cross rivers, fight crocodiles and brave storms just to get to school. He actually raised himself..I don’t know why I claim he was raised. His hands are calloused, of course, because he did construction work for years to win the heart of his angel.
David’s mother, Junior’s grandmother (keep up), was the kind that could not keep a man. Strange men were what he grew up calling father. At one point, he started calling his mother’s boyfriends “Uncle”, because he felt he was misusing the paternal term on people who did not deserve it. His mother loved him. She only did not know how to show it. He brought his report cards home when he scored As, which was always. She lit her fires with them. Don’t blame her. She could not read. She was not like those grandparents who could not read but still sent our parents school because they knew the value of education. No. Maria Kalalei could not understand her son’s success. She sent him to school to keep him away from home. Her boyfriends liked peace and quiet, and David was neither peaceful nor quiet.
Adolescence caught up with him early enough. His voice deepened by the time he was 11. He was taller than his uncles by the time he was 14 and had a chin full of hair by 16. The uncles feared him. But real men do not show fear. Not towards a 16-year old son to the woman you are bedding. So they acted tough. They whipped him for “being disrespectful” and sleeping past sunrise. They threw his homework to the pigs if he left a bull unattended. They tormented him all day when he was home so that he could leave, but he could never leave his mother. He loved her, even in her incapability of finding a man worth her heart.
Then David became stronger. He grew muscles from the hard labor uncle after uncle made him do. He became the best wrestler in his small village. Nobody messed with his mom anymore. For a while, she was single and life was good. It was the two of them against the world. He would have loved for things to remain as such, but his mother had a testosterone weakness.
One evening, he came into the compound from the sty and heard noises he had not heard in a while. He rushed into the house only to find his mother giving herself to his best friend who he has asked to wait for him in the house. David Kalalei lost it. He hit his friend with the club he kept behind the door.
His mother screamed.
David remembers this scream. It was the scream that confirmed his mother’s weakness. The scream that called to the neighbors to save her from him. It was a fear scream. A scream that pierced his soul and shattered him to bits.
His best friend lay motionless on the ground, a pool of his blood soaking the ground.
He tried to talk to his mother, but she was hearing none of it. He wanted them to run. To get out of the house that had memories of uncles who would beat her, uncles who would refuse him food that he had worked so hard to get and uncles who destroyed his faith in paternity. His mother kept screaming to the neighbors. She wanted their help from her monster son. The monster David who had slain her beloved Goliath.
The neighbors took him to the chief and Goliath to the clinic then the district hospital. Goliath survived. He was still breathing when they got to the district hospital and did not have any serious injuries. His gods were alive. He had only lost consciousness from the scare his friend had given him, not from the club blow. And the blood was just an open wound that was salvaged by 4 stitches.
David did not have as much luck as his ex-best friend. The chief gave him an ultimatum.
Apologize to Goliath and pledge to be his cattle boy forever or leave the only place he had ever called home.
He asked to see his mother.
When he got home, his mother could not look him in the eye. She asked him to leave. She said things he can never repeat to his sons. She locked herself in her room until he was long gone.
He left home with nowhere to go. He only walked. One foot in front of the other. He walked until it was too dark to see his own hand and he walked some more. By daybreak, David Kalalei was dehydrated and had blisters all over his feet. Do you know how much you have to walk to have blisters all over your feet? David does. The blisters could not allow his feet to touch the ground. Maybe that was God’s way of telling him he was in Canaan.
The sun may have shone on him for hours and a snake might have slithered past him.
Dave Kalalei Jr tells me his oshago has lots of snakes. They don’t go to his father’s place. He has only taken them to the place their mother found him. He tells them he felt the softest of hands touch him.
“The touch of an angel. My mother is father’s angel,” Dave says with a smile. It is a genuine smile. A smile you get when you have seen an angel.
Sylvia says she found David sprawled on the ground. He was well built and had nothing on him other than his clothes. That is how she describes the first impression she had of her husband. Not handsome. Not tall. Not dark. Just, well built, with nothing other than the clothes on his back. She says she sat with him for hours, looking at his face. David always disputes this. He says he woke up as soon as she was near him. Men and their egos. Sylvia took him home. She did not know what she would tell her father if she came with a well built man who had collapsed in the sun with nothing but his clothes, so they made a deal. Two strangers with no background story struck a deal with the Earth as their only witness. She would walk home ahead of him and after a few minutes, he would follow. He could not miss her father’s homestead. It was the one with the permanent houses.
David’s soon to be father in law was a construction foreman. He had been hospitable to the young man and after a few grilling sessions, he offered the young man a job. That is how David’s hands became calloused. He worked for his Sylvia. He woke up for her, had meals for her and went to sleep for her.
It may have been the love he had for her but soon enough he was better than the builders Sylvia’s father had. He promoted him to assistant foreman after one and a half years.
When he finally had the courage to tell his boss that he wanted his daughter’s hand, the older man told him that he already knew. Perhaps while the two lovers shared stolen looks of longing, the father was watching. He was, after all, the foreman. His job was to watch his workers. He only asked him to be as good to the daughter as the father had been to him. And David keeps his promise.
He adores his angel. He tells everyone that she saved his life.
“Hi, my name is David Kalalei and this is my angel wife, Sylvia Kalalei.”
“Good afternoon, this is my wife and angel, Sylvia. She saved my life.”
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I am David. This is angel here is Sylvia, my wife. She saved my life.”
They got married 5 years to the day Sylvia found him on the ground and lifted him higher than he ever thought he could go. The ceremony, held in her father’s compound, was only attended by the bride’s side. To lessen the absurdity of the strange sight it was, they did not have the traditional 2 tents. Guests had the hot hard ground where everyone sat and witnessed love in all its glory. David joked that the ground represented his family. That their guests sat on it because he was the man and had to lift the bride and her family high. Sylvia knows he was not joking. She knows him well enough to read between his lines.
David Kalalei lost his mother 2 years after he had Dave Kalalei Jr. The news broke him. He thought he was done with her, but that is a story for another time.
Every evening when they are at their maternal grandparents’ home, David calls Dave and his brothers to watch the sunset. He loves the sunset. He watches it facing the direction he came from. The direction that his home for a time still stands. Everything fades away into darkness and he is taken back. He tells his sons to do better. Be better. His sons find this to be true. They want to be better than him, because despite having an angel to call his own, David has demons of his own.
Don’t you just hate exams?
It’s like the teachers don’t believe in themselves, right? There thinking testing us is the only way to validate themselves.
Constantly not believing in us and that we really went to class and concentrated the whole time. Minus the few times we looked into our phones or just didn’t go to the class, because there are some of those classes that we just have to purposely miss.
Every semester they give us exams to test us, rather than teaching us those exact things that they test for. Like 10 questions are the scale to know whether or not we learned anything. Why not teach us those 10 things and leave us alone?
The worst ones are those who give tests on things they never taught… I mean..come on! If you thought I didn’t need to know about what you set, why the hell didn’t you teach it then? Sometimes I think they don’t know the answers themselves and are only depending on our superior millennial brains to tell them in the form of exams, so they don’t sound desperate in asking for help.
After my exam burden was conquered last week, I tried writing for you guys here. I really did. And yes, I did get the texts asking for last week’s link…there wasn’t any. I was suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. The only viable and proven cure was obviously my mama’s cooking and loving and caring and all the mom-ing that moms do to make everything better. That one person’s presence alone can be as comforting as this phenomenal being is simply baffling.
I love moms.
Biko said that one time you could wake up to find a mountain in the next compound and you would call out to your neighbor saying
“Felix, what the…why is there a mountain in your compound?”
And Felix would calmly say…as if it was a natural thing to find the rock, “Oh, that? That was moved by my mother.” (PS. I paraphrased this…it is not word for word…please don’t report me to the quotation police. Striped suits do not do justice for my potato sack build)
Have you heard the tale of the three cousin thieves?
A trio of black sheep really. Three men sharing the blood running through their veins who thought it wise to dedicate their time and effort to debauchery and robbery. That has a nice ring to it. Debauchery and Robbery.
These cousins made a pact. Was the pact sealed with blood? Because anytime I hear the word pact I think it to be sacred. That the participants need to commit to said pact with something dear. It is not clear whether the trefoil sealed the pact with the blood running through their veins. But they should have. They must have been scared of blades. Or the sight of blood. That always gives me goosebumps. This was their first of many mistakes. Not sealing that pact.
They say all word and no blood make for spoiled plans. I don’t know who they are but I agree with them. The trio agrees with them. Fate agrees with them. Also, ‘they’ are not real and this is a fake saying.
They also say there is honor among thieves. This one is true…I heard it in a movie or something.
These modern day musketeers had no honor. They had been involved in a number of small fender-benders with relatives at funerals and weddings. They would snipe little trinkets from relatives at family gatherings and with time, like all addictive traits, this form of larceny was not enough to quench their thirst.They thought of bigger games. Larger results. They wanted something sizeable that would take them out of the game for a little while. The plan was never to get out completely. Just one big break and they would get back to their normal small thefts routine.
Adrenaline enchantingly pumping through their same colored veins, they found Miss X. It might have been Mrs. X. The story was quite vague and I’m only grasping at straws here.
It is also not clear how they knew of Miss X.
I like Miss. It makes her sound ageless. Is she 26 or 58? We may never know.
I also don’t need to overuse the fullstop when I use Miss. Punctuation is such a drag.
You may come to realize that this story has a lot of holes in it, and if you haven’t yet, I would beg you to go on with that thinking. But I have admitted to you that I do not have all the facts right, and will give you the story as I got it.
Miss X withdrew 800,000 Kenyan shillings from a bank. Kenya shillings? Kenyan? This is not an exam so just listen.
The three somehow learned of Miss Xs withdrawal and the route she was taking. Perhaps it was the bank’s requirement to map out the path you take when you withdraw a certain amount. Or she dropped bread crumbs like Hansel and Gretel. Or she too is a relative to the MDM and during a family wedding the youngest sat next to her and as they had that ‘How is school’ conversation, Auntie X accidentally-on-purpose let it slip that she was to receive a hefty amount of almost a mil and she would go through the route she never takes to wade off thieves.
“You should study my nephew, the 800k in my account did not come from dancing that Bazokozo and singing about lollipops all the time like you guys are doing,” she may have advised sitting next to him under a tent dressed in her new kitenge. Aunties always wear vitenges to family events.
“Ah Auntie X…” he may have coaxed. “Don’t be like that. Have you seen me dancing Bazokizo? I am not like my cousins you know,” and just like that, he may have begun devising ways he could get the 800k in the account that obviously did not come from her dancing Bazokizo since Auntie X could not move her two left feet if her life depended on it.
Maybe she trusted the wrong man. Maybe in a previous life she was a waitress and she used to spit in people’s food or maybe, without knowing, Auntie X spilled the beans to her thieving nephew who then planned on relieving her of her small handbag business profit.
And when Auntie X was talking with the grown-ups in the other tent, her nephew might have gone to the cousins and told of the 800k and the route it would take and a plan was hatched.
Long story short, Miss X was robbed and thoroughly beat because she tried to scream after she was warned not to. The boys were also arrested. Miss X says she does not know who they are. The real drama was at court when each of the boys had a different tale to tell.As is custom in all cases, they were asked to defend themselves.
Cousin One was in Laikipia. He does not even know what the case is about. He was hurled into a cell without an explanation and found himself in court this morning not knowing of what he was charged with. This is a lie. Before you get to a point in a case where you have to defend yourself, you will have been issued a charge sheet which explains your error to society.
Cousin Two was in Kapenguria at the specified time. He was summoned to this court without any notice and is only beginning to understand the proceedings. They are saying he stole 800,000 shillings? He has never held that much money in his hands. He is only accustomed to money that is often referred to as bob…not Kenyan shillings! This feels like they are blaming him for La Casa De Papel (good movie btw). But, like Cousin One, he too is lying. How do we know this? From Cousin Three, also known in this story as…drumrolls please… Nephew to Auntie X! I know, I know. You saw this twist a mile away…but what you did not see coming could be Cousin Three’s defense.
Blood is supposed to be thicker than water. These gentlemen failed to realize the truth to this age old saying when they forgot to seal the deal with the blood of their blood. Because when C3 stood in court, he sang like a canary. Not that I have heard a canary sing. I could not even point out a canary to you if it flew past me and hit you in the head. I couldn’t say to you, “Oh, hey look! That’s a canary that just flew by and hit you in the head.” But oh did he dish in that courtroom.
Cousin Three tells the judge he was with them. He will not lie like his cousins. He was raised to tell the truth. They were together at the said location, and they did infact steal 800,000 Kenyan shillings from Miss X. He says they did plan the theft, or robbery if you prefer. I am told you theft is for lighter amounts like that 5 bob you took from mom’s purse when you were 9.
What they had not planned on was the violence. They did not think that Miss X would scream and that they would be forced to give her a couple of blows to shut her up. But who would not scream when they were being robbed of 800k from their purse? Or whatever sack she was carrying that could fit the whole amount to be carried with ease. Cousin Three confessed to knowing the route the money would take. He refers to Miss X as “the money”, since she became the whole package when she stepped out of the bank.
He was the one who had overheard her planning to go get her cheddar and mapped out her path. He had given the route to his older cousins and they had agreed to split the money three ways. Whoever taught these three math must be arrested this instant. They did not think to use a calculator to know that someone would have to go home with less. But that was not the problem. Instead of giving C3 his equal share, C1 and C2 opted to cut corners with the money and underpay C3 for his hard labor. This is why C3 was singing, he says.
“I am only 19, mheshimiwa,” he calls the judge that, because he knows big people are either mheshimiwa or kiongozi. Our generation must be cursed. “These two are my brothers yes, but walinicheza sana (they played me). They took the money and game me an amount we had not agreed to. Yes, we were together…and I cannot stand here while they lie to mheshimiwa,” he says solemnly.
So, like in La Casa, let us choose the people we want to make heists with carefully, be like El Profesor.
Growing up without the guts to punch people who piss you off in the face is cowardly, yes, but also kind of interesting.
I know because I lived it.
Barely being able to tell people who did you wrong that they had. What I did instead is probably the most cowardly thing you have ever heard of. I would write. Write down what they did to make my chest burn. I would sit down and describe, in gruesome detail, what they made me feel. Pages filled with words describing how I felt when I was facing adolescence filled my notebooks.
I could describe almost anything, but only when I was angry, or sad. I always wrote when I was burning inside. That flame inside my chest filled the paper with so much ink that I might have become addicted to it. Almost like an adrenaline rush. As a result, I think I forgot that people could also be talked to in murky situations. It might have slipped my mind that human interaction was key. So every time I ventured out of my comfort zone, and more often than not, someone did me wrong, I would still put that flame into words.
Two of the notebooks survived. I named them. Always did. I liked naming the important things.
‘You are my notebook and you will be called Shirley’.
It was always random names. Giving myself a sense of Adam in Eden. I had control over them. Power. And power was everything. I could talk back to these things.
Slam Shirley across the locker. Drag Andrew on the floor.
I guess I was suffering from a superiority complex against myself. I don’t know when it stopped, or if it ever did, but it helped me get through a number of situations that might have ended badly. The writing, not the naming. I still don’t know what that was about.
Her name is Jessicah. With an –H-.
You might want to read the first part of Jacked Up Stranger…https://notyetadults.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/jacked-up-stranger-the-meet/
\Simply putting a stop sign on a highway will not change the fact that there is no speed limit on the same highway\
This is the first thing she sent me. She said it was the lesson her family came to really understand, after years of being disinterested of the things their daughter was being involved in.
Her mother was seated outside the doctor’s office and could not believe what her family had descended into. Her husband had practically disowned them and Jessicah was clinging to dear life in the next room.
Jessicah had asked to go on a school trip. Her dearest mother did not think much of it. It was just another school trip. She never even noticed that there was no permission slip to accompany the request. She had waved her daughter off to her destruction.
Afterwards she would tell Jessicah that she ran the events of the day through her mind a million times, trying to find a loophole where she could have helped her. She must have found so many. If she had once looked up at her daughter instead of simply asking her to leave for the trip as soon as possible. If once, she had gone into her daughter’s room, then maybe she would have found the pregnancy tests earlier. She blamed herself. What had happened to Jessicah was her fault. Jessicah does not believe her.
Her parents had done their civic duty and had escorted their daughter to university barely 7 weeks before. Jessicah had been made to write down a month long budget so that they could send her money to sustain her in school. They did not want frequent phone calls from her asking for money.
She felt alone in school. Not that she was not used to it after lifelong practise. She was in a place she had never been before with a group of her peers that she did not know very well. In her loneliness, she had met Jack, a second year student in the same university. He took her on a tour around the school, showed her where her classes would be held and where she could get meals. Jack was kind to her. No one had ever been kind to her without expecting something in return. He paid attention to her at a time when no one else was.
He gave her gifts. Little trinkets that meant nothing to other people but had sentimental value to them.
The Tingting chewing gum she was chewing when they first met. A leaf for every time they met since she never liked flowers. He knew the little things that made her and she found herself thinking of him during classes.
She called her mother to tell her about Jack. To tell her how nice he was being to her and that she liked him. Her mother put her on hold and forgot about the phone call altogether. But Jack was there. He comforted her. He held her through the night as she burned inside. She told him her secrets that night. Everything. Her family, who her father is, what her life growing up was like. She bore her soul to the devil.
Out of the blue, Jack had asked for sex the next day. This was a big step for them. They had only gone as far as lying on his shoulder as she cried. She told him she would have to think about it but he got angry. He had never raised his voice at her. She had never seen him angry at all, but to be fair, she had only known him 2 weeks. He told her of all the things he had done for her. Said that she was just being selfish. He could not be with someone who was denying him of the one thing he had ever asked for.
He stopped texting. He did not answer her calls. He did not show up when it was time to go eat. Jessicah had no sight of him for two consecutive days. She was distraught.
She asked her roommate about sex. Nobody had ever told her anything and Google was certainly not helpful. Would painkillers help with the pain? How long would it last? Was there things she was she required to do in preparation and if any, what? She had so many questions that a search engine was not enough for her.
Her roommate went to the hostel bathrooms and came back with some red wrappers. Sure Condoms. She had seen these condoms in the hostel bathrooms but had never bothered with them. They did not look safe to her. Unsure condoms to say the least.
The roommate told her that they were safe. If Jack wore one, nothing bad would happen. She made it sound like hidden inside the red wrappers was a team of superheroes who would bust out just in time to save her from whatever uncertainty lay ahead. She took the 6 condoms and sent a text to Jack. She was ready. They would have sex if they used the Sure condoms provided by the university.
Five weeks into university and Jessicah missed her period. She was frantic. Her roommate said she was probably only stressed and her period was late as a result. But Jessicah was not convinced. Jack had disappeared for home for two weeks. His parents were those oshago kind. Lived deep in the rural areas. There was no reception [read network]. She could not get a hold of the most important person in her life.
She bought a home pregnancy test kit from a chemist on her way home. Frightened to death, she watched as the plus sign confirmed her suspicions. The first person she called was him. Jack. But his number was disconnected [read mteja] as it had been for two weeks. She could not talk to her mother.
\are you kidding me? I’d be disowned!\
She called the roommate instead. Besides, she was the one who had talked her into having sex in the first place. This was a cross that they had to bear together. The roommate was no help at all. It was not her problem. Not her boyfriend. Not her body that someone could be growing inside. Then she had hung up and Jessicah was back where she started. Right back to before she joined university and she couldn’t talk to anyone because there was no one to talk to. She says this was the worst experience of her life.
She repented. She says she saw the hand of God stretched out for her. That He called out to her. She is not sure whether she got saved because of the fright or if she really saw the light. She might have lost consciousness too. The only thing she is sure of is having survived it.
Isn’t social media a crazy place? A mess of the wealthy and the wealthy wanna-bes, the high schoolers and the campus-ers, the odis and the classy all mixed together in one gigantic cauldron.
Everyone has forgotten those terrible blurry selfies with the ridiculous poses and just as bad captions. I recall a time when we identified our accounts on Facebook (because Facebook was all we had) by our profile pictures.
“Nilikutumia friend request na hukuaccept,” a classmate would say 2 weeks into a new term.
“Who? Me? No you didn’t. What account did you send it to?”
“Si wewe ndiyo Mish Lianna? Profile picture ya Willow Smith.”
And it would be Chris Brown the next term. Bow Wow after that. Usher. PSquare, et cetera.
These were the times we would go to cyber cafes to change said profile pictures. When the creativity of user names reflected loosely popularity.
Xs replaced Ss and we scrubbed vowels from our vocabulary altogether. Some words suffered as much as being replaced by numbers but it was a good life.
I texted Chris Brown with so much hope. Sent messages so many times I’m sure he had to block Mish Lianna from Kentucky. Did I mention she was from Kentucky? I didn’t even know where the hell Kentucky stood on a map. She had a home there but never posted pictures of the house.
She posted pictures of cars she owned. A Lamborghini Gallardo she had and let her model friends on the bonnet. The Bugatti Veyron on the highway. Mish Lianna always took the pictures. Photographing was what she really loved.She also posted pictures of herself, and whenever she did, she made them blurry. The Gor Mahia jersey in the robust hills of Seme. That time she had her feet in the Awach River or was in some matatu just because she felt like it.
There was never a bad day. Her researched captions were always positive messages. Quotes from people who inspired her at the time. She was always in a good mood. Always happy because what was there not to love about Mish Lianna? The 748 friends obviously agreed. The Bugattis got about 650 reactions and the Seme selfies about half of that.
Self-employed, had gone to Havard and was both a doctor and engineer at Unspecified. Life was good.
Charlene has skin that could advertise for Vaseline instead of that ka-leaf.
Her mane of hair could be used to wrap onto shoes instead of Kiwi. (Been looking at Kenyan ads on YouTube, bear with me). But real talk? Her clothes fit so well that I felt a little uncomfortable.
She always has this air about her that makes it enjoyable to bask in her glory.
You know how prisoners have to obey all orders from the officers? When I met with Charlene, I felt like a prisoner myself. Like I had met my warden and her word was my every command. It was strange, seeing someone with that much power in their presence.
Her smile is outrageously beautiful. Eyebrows well-trimmed-not-drawn. Lashes lush. Even her foundation matched her neck. I presume she must have her own foundation maker.
With a powerful name like that, she obviously doesn’t ever worry about pronouncing it to others.
“What’s your name,” they always ask.
“Mirriam,” I always reply.
“Mirriam,” putting emphasis on the i’s. Thats where they always get it wrong.
“Oh, Mirriam. You don’t look like a Mirriam.”
Oh yeah? Well what do I look like Nancy? Nancy will then say ridiculous names that my mom who went barefoot across hills, through crocodile infested waters and into tarantula habited forests to get to Nyagoto Primary School has never heard of. Instead I half-smile and say thanks for thinking I could get a name as absurd as that Jane or Bridgit or whatever. No offence to all Janes and Bridgits and Whatevers…
Charlene sits across from me at KFC. It feels like being illuminated by first light. Her perfume quickly creeps into every crevice of the vastly populated room and she unapologetically becomes our Airwick.
She sits there looking straight at me.
“You’re weird,” she says with a chuckle.
“Let’s play a game.”
A game? Here? Char must be delusional.
And she must be koo-koo too.
Who plays games in restaurants? Preposterous!
We play the game.
It was simple. Just write down on the serviette (Char says Napkin). So, just write on the napkin, whatever you want.
“Anything at all. Assume you lived in a world of no limits and boundaries were a thing of the past.”
I just stare at her. She is mad. But she goes on.
“Imagine the world was a perfect place and anything you wish for could come true. Unicorns are real. Mermaids dance on ocean beds. Fairy tales exist and Prince Charmings have hearts that love true and deep.”
Ah, I see the problem. Hidden in her game and bizzare wish to have a perfect world.
Who broke your heart? I ask.
She smiles briefly.
“Why do you assume that my heart is broken?”
She smiles again. A full one this time. The kind of smile I am used to seeing her wear.
Char is strange. She has 2,467 contacts saved on her phone and yet she swears she talks only to 7, including me, her dad and brother. What is the other two thousand, four hundred and sixty for? She can’t say. She only says that I cannot understand with my contact list of 64 and that I am not cut out for the life she lives.
She and I are different in more ways than we are similar, but we are better friends this way. She understands the need to keep to myself, just as I respect hers to flaunt her new designer clothes on social media, or to party every weekend to keep her circle lit.
She has some strange friends as well. I have not met many of them. Usually I ask her to come alone when we are supposed to meet. Once, she came with a group of about 10 people, all our age, yes, but in some very strange social circle all together.
Three weeks later she was in some financial conundrum and called me when these same friends all deserted her. Long story short, she deferred a semester, they all cut contact with her, and last week her Instagram post was a picture of more than half that group with her in the middle, captioned ‘Friends for Life’.
Char has beautiful eyes. She is never the duff. She resembles these video vixens we see, if all that perfection was put together and had a baby. It doesnt help that she has an amazing heart. She gives clothes to children homes and goes on walks for cancer, sickle cell and other diseases I never hear of until she tells me about them. She is in a group that is working with children with autism.
“My hearts not broken Silly,” she says, waking me from my reverie.
She knows I was lost in my thoughts because she stares at me for a moment longer before lowering her gaze.
“What were you thinking about?”
“Nothing really,” I reply.
“Really Mir? I thought we were better friends than that.”
She hands me her serviette together with a pen. Sorry. Napkin. It is folded into a triangle.
“Dont look. Give me yours first.”
I take the napkin and think.
In a perfect world, what would I really want? Definitely not flying powers; terrified of heights or falling and crashing into my death. Not X-ray vision. Not heat breath or morphing into a dragon-human. A draman. Definitely not lightning speed.
“We dont have all day,” Char rushes forcing me to write down the first thing that comes to mind.
She looks at it and laughs first. I knew that was not clever.
“Why this? Why a mirror?”
“I dont know” I whine You rushed me.
“No,” she gives me a determined look. I should have just given her the flying thing and gotten done with this. “Tell me. Why, of all choices, would you want to be a mirror?”
“Well,” I stutter now. “People would get to look into me to see themselves? I think.” She is not satisfied. And when Char is not convinced about something, you have your work cut out for you.
In all honesty, I wanted to be a mirror in our little made up world because maybe then, Char would see her reflection. She would know her level of perfection surpasses all other measures. She would realize that she does not need 2,467 people to make her wanted, or worthy. She would understand that having 7 dependable friends is better that 2,460 who wouldnt give a rats ass about her. I wanted to be a mirror for my one friend who needs to know her worth, and when she was done realizing how amazing she is, then she would also be a mirror for someone else.
She asked me to look at her napkin, since I had refused to tell her why my choice was a mirror.
Char had scribbled the 5 letters into the napkin so well it was rough in the underside.
She too does not care to explain. She said I have to interpret it however I wished.
If Char wants to be a shadow, I think she is scared. I think she wants to hide half of her life behind whatever will help. Cellphone. Instagram. Fake life. Fake friends. Prada and Louis Vuitton. I think she uses the life with the group of about 10 to validate herself. To prove that she too can live like the other kids if she wishes to.
But secretly, I think my Char is longing for escape. She craves to trade the life she has online for the peace and quiet of the night. She however is not ready to deliver herself from it completely.
That is why she wrote Shadow on the napkin.
She wants to cling to it for the occasional relief. For when she is beat from living within herself. Exhausted from getting to understand her being. She wants to escape from the camera life, but with a catch. Escape that allows a backslide every now and then.
Life was not “always good” for Mish Lianna. She cried. She lost. She got angry and lost her temper. But 748 wanted happy and positive and sensational.748 wanted downloaded Lamborghinis and quotes that Mish could not believe in when she was broken. She let 748 control what she herself was supposed to control.
This is what social media has done to most of us, only in a greater scale. Because despite the great benefits it has brought us, while Mish Lianna was fiction and my friends knew it, the Mish Liannas of today are living the lie. They are buying the clothes and going for trips with money they have not been raised with. Holding on to friendships that are as detrimental as the delusions of grandeur that they try to sell to us. Letting their worth be measured by numbers. 1 friend request. 3,700 follow requests. 10,000 followers. 53 following. 7 real friends. 1 being.