I’m trash at ‘human-beinging’… I’m saying this because the number of people I communicate with, let alone meet, has significantly reduced to an embarrassing digit. Even worse, I’m comfortable this way. I hate pets. The only way I can live with an animal is when it is on YouTube and I am on the screen watching how cute it is. I am not a social misfit, but I am terrible at human beinging. I am convinced that I should have been a chaise lounge or an office stapler. Like most misfits with a modicum of sense and a willingness to continue their streak of consecutive years lived in solitude, I regard friendships with a feeling that exists at the intersection of skepticism, annoyance and trepidation. You help a friend today and tomorrow they’re screwing your uncle, or worse. Because of this, I’m very intentional in limiting my interactions with people because chances are, I will get bored and do something silly like pick my nose while I talk to them, or sink my face onto my phone screen for hours. Or just tell them to sod off. I’m too comfortable in my own space and is why I am convinced romance has been a dodgy treasure to claim so far. I’m a bad friend, bad lover, but people still tolerate me…
My friend Tallbert is one of the few who tolerate me. I’ve never come to terms with his name, because it always sounds like a trick. His parents, amidst the frenzy and sweaty anxiety that comes with childbirth in a maternity, named their second born son, in agreement, Tallbert. They nodded their heads in satisfaction and moved on to the next child. Tallbert is 29 and has figured out life, and I think I am slowly getting there. Growing up is a choice… Choice but challenge. Partly because it’s what we don’t ask for but what we have to go through. We know it’s coming but we’re never really ready for it. Somewhere after 26 years, it settles on you that you won’t drive that dream car by 30. You won’t live in a cottage in the woods with birds chirping their way into your ear every morning. He won’t be that tall, dark, muscular, handsome, smart, rich and faithful man. If anything, if he has all these traits, he will be a pathological liar who will spend his time posting photos of himself on social media, photos where you will never feature. He will spend his days arguing with strangers about politics online. You could have dreamt of the whiteman all your life but you only saw him on TV and now, you’re 26 and you have not a single white acquaintance or mutual friend (Me by the way I have no white friends, at all. I have only spoken to 4 white people in my entire life, and it was in awe. I grew up in Sosiot, we saw a white man once in 4 years other than on TV. And they came in white robes to the Sunday service at the catholic church. And after church, they sat with the pastor and went for another four years. So white people are a big deal to me). You will have accepted that the woman of your dreams doesn’t need to be what you dreamt of, and can be anyone you choose to love each other with right. You will have understood that sometimes silence is all you want, and you can as well live alone in your silence. It will settle on you that sometimes, those friends and lovers you made in campus don’t necessarily need to be in your life. You don’t need to wake up in the middle of the night and plan a meetup with someone you barely speak to… You will have accepted that sometimes you will wait for him or her to text first and someone else will text them first as you wait. It is the age of reality. It is the sin of adulthood. More often than not, accepting the situation and living with the age is what will carry you through. You’ll think about it too hard, trying to figure out life when eventually, none of us makes it out alive.
Tallbert is married. His wife is beautiful. She walks with their child and all you want to do is text your ex-girlfriend and tell her you need to get married ASAP. But of course, we are in a lost generation where women are more interested in marking territories in your house. I don’t know, how do you women figure that leaving clothlets around a guy’s house is marking a territory (A clothlet is a self-created noun which otherwise refers to drawers, socks, scarfs and such like things which you all conveniently forget in a man’s house). Sister if that man wants to cheat, he can say anything. Another lady will find your drawers in there and he will say he wears that as a good luck charm to job interviews. And convincingly so, and in order to pass the lie, a man will wear it and go out with you. And when you come back, you will find your drawers where you left them. Quit it. Leave clothlets when you are engaged on when you are married. Marking territories and the nipples on a man’s chest are strong contenders on the ‘What’s more important between us, the least important” competition.
So Tallbert invited me to his place on a Sunday, said his wife was out of town. I like his house because it always has food. If you find food in my house, then I’m trying to woo someone. I can’t cook. In fact, the best thing I can do as an adult is fundraising and crowdsourcing. It turns out I have years and years of experience at begging. Pleading for attention and imploring people to give money both require the same underlying lack of pride.As unlikable as I seem writing for this blog, I’m countless times worse in person. On here, my truly horrible human nature is sanitized by aggressive editing and spell check, but I have no such filter when dealing with people face to face without the cosmetic of a thesaurus. So, food, no. Tallbert has a wife who makes Kunde like the economy depends on it, and I wouldn’t miss that.
I walk into his door and I see the one important piece of information Tallbert chose to forget; The wife did not go with the baby. And he has no house help. I’m younger than most of my friends, and they shamelessly abandoned me years ago in pursuit of a career, a wife, and a house, all of which seemed like good ideas to them. Despite these irreversible mistakes, I still lived close enough to my friends so that I could occasionally head back to pursue ill-advised shenanigans with them.Babysitting has never been on that list. I was faced with a terrible dilemma.My plan for the day was to eat kunde and watch cat videos on his WiFi.
“Man I just need three hours of solid sleep” he said to me.
You could see it in his eyes that leaving his with a baby boy was a logistical nightmare. I understand he wanted to do something for his wife to pay for the weekends he stays out partying, but here he looked terrible. The house looked like it was cleaned in a panic to make it appear as though he lives like a human being, when the reality is that he has been living like those people who live under the bridge on Globe Roundabout. Were it not for my judging eyes, Tallbert and the baby would’ve been crushed to death beneath piles of their own filth and diapers days ago. Asa borderline-alcoholic and practicing Catholic (I guess those are synonyms), he hates day-cares.
You would’ve thought that was a request he was making. No. He left me there with a baby,went straight into his bedroom and switched off his phone. I’ve never thought I would become a stay at home mum but here I was. Looking into a baby’s eyes and I had no idea what to tell it. Friends, this baby swung from tears of anguish to manic laughter in seconds for no discernible reason. And then he looked at me straight in my eyes like he was expecting something. This was in the first seven minutes. Do not get me wrong, this child looks so cute and beautiful in her parents arms but here, in my face, I realized I was not ready. Someone as arrogant as me shouldn’t have an inferiority complex, but it’s hard to avoid when baby looks right into your eyes and you have nothing to say. I bet that baby does not respect me one bet because he looked at me with those “Anybody can do this job” eyes. I did not even try “Abujubuju” which comes with the Kenyan babysitting Syllabus. You could see the trauma in the baby’s eyes because never in its life has it cried and someone just looks on until it goes quiet. This child felt what it means to look at an empty soul. For me, it was an hour of getting over the surprise of being just as bad at babysitting as I am at every other aspect of adulthood (Just the reason why I quit the idea of hitting the gym. I have no one to impress with my level of cardiovascular conditioning and we all die anyway. No one exercised their way to immortality). I thought about so many things I would have done… I looked around the room and all I could see were a pair of scissors… To an adult it is a scissor. To a baby it is a toy that can cut an artery. The only available thing was a remote. I turned on the TV, switched to sport and it wailed… I turned onto some cartoon channel and alas…
I think Tallbert noticed the eerie silence in the house. It would’ve meant I’ve drowned his baby in the bathtub, or that I had left the child alone and ran away and the child was in the bathroom sipping shampoo, or that I was crying in silence. He rushed to the living room to check, and just found us, two humans, on the same seat watching a cartoonized version of Mr Bean. It’s the only thing that made this baby quiet. Somehow, I connected with this baby’s silence. I strongly feel we were communicating at an ephemeral, cosmic and extraterrestrial vast level that needed no talk. He walked in and saw us and smiled.
“Man you need to get a wife,” he said.
“You need to change your baby’s diapers. I’m quiet because I can’t breathe. How can this tiny child do that much damage man…” I said.
Here I was, doing grownup stuff. I’m ripe for marriage.