The other day, I decided to have a friend over for lunch so that he could bring me a copy of Agatha Christie’s ‘A Mysterious Affair at Styles’. It had been promised months ago but with the malice of 2016, circumstances conspired to ensure I wouldn’t get my book until so late in 2016 that it became 2017. When he was almost home, I asked him to buy us some soda to go with the meal I had prepared for us. Now all my friends and distant acquaintances know that the only soda I take is Coca Cola (all other sodas give me heartburn). When he alighted, he shot me a text that no 2lt bottles of Coke were available so he was coming with a Sprite.
Now come on, did he want me to die of psychosomatic acidity? I immediately demanded that he either return the soda, or get enough space in his stomach for a 2lt soda that I wouldn’t drink even with a gun to my head. And that he should also remember that he has to eat my food. My sweet friend, Captain, decided to go back and exchange the 150/- Sprite for two 1lt bottles of Coke at 100/- each. I got the feeling I got away with the demands because a) he loves me, b) I’m a girl, or c) he was really hungry and just wanted no arguments delaying his meal. I’m going with c) but I will keep telling myself it’s a). And frankly the only girls that get away with demanding are cute three year olds who have a propensity to disturb the peace at levels of Category 5 hurricanes.
Later, after Captain left, it got me to thinking about the many things I have done that I have managed to get away with because I have a smile that can turn meat into a well done
Salt Bae standard steak- or, more realistically, because these people love me. I remember once my dad called me and in a moment of uncharacteristic kindness, he asked me what yoghurt I would like. Usually he just buys an economy pack or whatever he is having himself. When he called, I was pleasantly surprise and decided to go ahead and give him my yoghurt preferences. They are Ooh! Lala Apricot or Cherry yoghurt. Those names are very hard to decipher over the phone. And especially when the person- me- talks like I am nibbling my teeth and I was in a noisy matatu[i] too. I yelled Ooh! into my phone so many times that the other passengers must have thought I was attempting to record the start of a lousy hip hop video. My father got fed up with all the Oohs on his phone and asked me to send him a text.
After a while, he texted back that he couldn’t find the yoghurt I wanted. I haughtily told him to ask an attendant and if he still couldn’t get it then he should just buy Fresha Vanilla yoghurt. Considering how ubiquitous that brand is, he asked me why I hadn’t asked for that in the first place. Cue a long winded self-important message about self-awareness and tastes. I have a feeling it was ignored. Later when dad got home, he was carrying 6 bottles of Ooh! Lala Apricot yoghurt. I was profoundly grateful, ever more so because he still buys me my favoured brands. You honestly want to tell me you don’t think it could be my smile? Or my laugh lines? I get them from him actually.
But I digress. The ones we hurt the most are the ones we love the most. The same can be said of demands. We always ask the most of people we love. It’s probably why I can get away with asking my mother to buy me pizza even at the ripe age of mid-twenties or get my boyfriend to buy me a pint of London Dairy Double Chocolate Chip ice cream in the middle of the night.
I do not only ask but I also get asked. I have a kitten that’s somehow managed to claw its way into my heart. I will sacrifice half my Weetabix just to get it to shut up and also to wait for it to doze happily when it’s stuffed its cavernous stomach. I will sacrifice my favourite spot because it’s dozing on it. My man will reject a batch of experimental meatballs and I will somehow make a fresh meal just to make sure I keep the peace. Or because I love him.
My sisters who are aged young, terrible and adorable, have cries that could make the moon quake. When they ask for something I give it. And there is a moment when I am grateful I have kept the peace while other times I am just happy to see their chubby little faces light up in malevolent joy.
This love is why husbands wake up in the middle of the night get their pregnant wives’ favourite chapatti + smokie[ii] combo from that guy who closes at midnight. It’s the kind of love that will make you drive at three in the morning to get your infant to go back to sleep again. It’s the love that will make you feed your pet monster Purina dry food pellets that cost more than your monthly airtime allowance. I don’t know what love this is. But I will be eternally thankful for it. Especially with Valentine’s Day right round the corner. Although I still have one question, how can I get Nairobi to love me like this?
[i] Minivan used for public transportation
[ii] Smoked or grilled pork sausages
Pedestrian’s note: THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE THAT LOVE AND PUT UP WITH ME.THIS ONE IS FOR YOU.