By Lilian Wairimu, Kikuyu, Kenya

There she was, staring out of the matatu window. Her mind racing and trying to process so much.
Why is there so much traffic jam? That woman looks happy; I need to get home, maybe not so soon.
She was glad that there is traffic.

The need to be free and at peace brings out Sophia’s anxiety. Did she make a mistake? When did everything change for her? When did she become this sad and easily frightened woman? Her thoughts are on everything and nothing, her poignant thoughts are about what she has achieved. She will be turning 45 years soon. All these thoughts take her back to about 15 years ago.

Opening a drink, “hii imetoka kwa nani?” [Where has this one come from] She asks Wanja the waitress at the local bar she frequents. “Yule mjama pale.” [That guy over there] Is the response thrown to her as Wanja walks away from her. “Mwambie asante” [Tell him thanks] Sophia shouts back to Wanja. Her shouts draws the buyer’s attention, so with a slight smile and nod her appreciation is acknowledged. As the night progresses, Sophia’s friends stream in and the place gets louder and louder, and that means so does the music. Sophia at this stage is floating around like a butterfly, every man wanting to catch her attention, but she expertly maneuvers away, but not before getting a few drinks which she pushes to her friends.

Not before long thereafter, Sophia with her friends proceed to another livelier location, and that party slowly slows to an end as everyone else starts heading for the door.

On a random night at house party, a gentle tap on her shoulder makes Sophia look up to see “Yule
mjama” looking down at her.
Asking with concern, “are you ok? You seem to have drifted off.” Sophia looking at the man with a look of who are you and what is your concern, responds rather rudely “and what is it to you?” The gentleman takes a step back, and with a big smile, ‘’you don’t remember me from the local?” Sophia takes a minute and the face now comes into focus. “Oh right you are that guy who keeps buying me and my friends drinks. How do you know the hosts of this party?”

And that is how it all starts or does it end?

“Dere, shukisha huyu mthi” the conductor’s words asking the driver to drop a passenger, snaps Sophia from her trip to memory lane. And just to stop her from continuing on the same lane, her phone rings disrupting Sophia from her thoughts. “Hello?” She hurriedly states as she answers. “Gas imeisha, na tulikuwa tunapika.” [cooking gas is finished. A response comes with exasperation in her voice
Sophia asks” Na huyu yuko, hawe zinunua. [Why couldn’t that guy buy the gas] She hangs up and Anyway sawa. Wacha I organise.”
She proceeds to call the neighborhood dial a delivery guy with the promise to pay him as soon as possible.

With a sigh and slight frown she can see the traffic moving, and she gets lost in the
mundane visual stimulation of moving traffic towards her home.

Opening the door to her home, she’s received with a squeal of joy. And with just that reception,
makes Sophia press pause to her thoughts and she proceeds to pick up the bundle of joy that is at her feet.

At least something good came out from “Yule Mjama”.

With her heart racing, and palms sweating, Sophia wakes up with a start. Feeling disoriented and not sure where she is she quickly looks around. The night is quiet, apart from the random barks from the neighbors’ dogs, and the slight thumping from a random bar in the horizon. Then she realizes she is alone in her bed. This realization makes her memories coming rushing back like torrents from Hell’s Gate.

She gets off her bed and heads to the kitchen, switches on the lights, pours herself a glass of water,
then absentmindedly leaves it on the kitchen counter. She proceeds into her living room, switches on the TV and immediately, it goes to CNN, with the remote at hand, she starts switching channels.
The loud outburst in the dead of night feels like a gunshot next to her ear. With a muted yelp she gets up and frantically looks around. “Who, what is that?” but all that comes out of her mouth is silence. Then she hears her next-door neighbors laughing… and a man’s voice is heard in softly through the walls “aw shucks, I think we have woken our neighbors”, and they burst out laughing.
Sophia sets herself back on the seat and “mshcews” to herself.
While still moving from one channel to the next, her minds wonders off again to some memories of past. She finds herself reminiscing about her decisions in life and the most detrimental according to her. That guy should never have been a part of her life. She gave up so much, and now that she decided to move forward she may have left a lot behind. “But at least I have many more happier ones coming up. Right?” Only time will tell she consoles herself as she moves towards the kitchen again and opens a cabinet bringing out a half finished bottle of wine and proceeds to sit down with her remote and no glass.

“Mum, wake up!!” a distance voice drifts into Sophia’s despondent dreams. Why are you sleeping on the chair?” Again the distant voice asks, but this time sounding clearer to Sohia.
Jumping up, Sophia realizes that she had drifted to sleep on the chair. “Aw Shucks, now what do I say?” she asks herself. “Sorry my dear, I couldn’t sleep so I came here so as not to disturb any of you.” She answers as she proceeds to get up and head to her room. “Really mum this is becoming too much. Since we moved out, you are spending too much time on this chair at night. You need to stop.” Her daughter throws out her response as she watches her mum closing her bedroom door behind her.

Sophia plops herself on the bed, with a heavy thud. This really needs to stop. It must stop. “Sorry my dear won’t happen again” She shouts out towards the door. Her only response is a loud bang as her college daughter dramatically slams the door as she leaves for college.

Sophia proceeds to shower and here she finds herself thinking of her daddy. This is exactly that drove her to her biggest mistake. Her time waster, her person that should never been hers. If she felt she could relate with her mother then, maybe she would never have been in this situation. With a feeling of déjà vu almost engulfing her and strangling her. She promises herself not make the same mistakes that lead to her wastefulness. For the sake of her daughter. At least that is something she promises herself.

Having left the shower and looking all fabulous ready for the day, she catches a glimpse of the empty bottle, and she catches herself as she made a mental note to bring a refill home tonight.

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