The truth is that daktari is not going to find love in those emails. She was never going to find love in those emails. Actually, it’s going to be many, many years before she finds love. Sure, she will meet men she’ll have to stand on her tippy-toes to kiss, she will meet men who will make her laugh, men she will desire furiously, but she will not find love. Especially not with an email like firstname.lastname@example.org, and certainly not on the yahoo platform. That’s a death knell. Time and age turned their backs on yahoo. Yahoo is a technology mummy.
For the most part, her life will move along on a windy belt of humdrum. For years she will slave under the macabre silhouette of death in ICU, rescuing children from death but she will remain un-rescued from loveless-ness. She will finish her masters. She will cut her hair and go natural. Then dye it. She will take a stab at a PhD and struggle with it. She will tour France with her sister, drink wine and leave red lipstick stains on her glass while sharing endless wonderful moments and laughter under the Eiffel tower. She will continue watching her weight through many a Nairobi Restaurant Week and Burger Festivals. She will attend numerous Koroga festivals. Bourgeois will eat from her palms.
She will eventually abandon checking that yahoo account. Grass will grow on it; long elephant grass that whistles in the breeze. Seasons will pass. Moons will come and go. She will wake up one morning and she will be 33. Her relationship with money will be better than her relationship with men because she met Alex and Verah of Moran Capital Management and they changed her fortune. But she’ll still not be married. She will say it’s cool. That she’s blessed. That it’s God who provides husbands. That she has a mother she loves and a sister she adores. So she will say it’s cool. She doesn’t need a man. She’s happy. She will be dealing with an ex who calls her at midnight when high as a kite saying things like, “Daktari, I still love you, come on, what do I have to do before you believe me?” and she will tell him, “How about you call me when you’re sober,” but he would not call in the morning because sobriety is not a great chaser of brevity. So she will leave well enough alone.
If you catch her when she is at her most vulnerable, on a Saturday night, three cocktails down, and ask her what she misses about being with a man. She won’t say she misses the companionship, or the cuddles during cold nights, or someone to talk to. She will say that she likes when a man stares at her body while she gets out of her clothes to jump into the shower.
She will be living in one of those overpriced and pretentious apartments in Kilimani with a balcony that overlooks another balcony. She will be driving a red VW Passat with interiors that smell of the tail end of spring. She will have added three kilograms onto her frame. Every Friday she will drink three cocktails to lament each of those three kilograms. But she will look fantastic, filled out in the right areas. She will have become a woman.
She will often take holidays alone. Walking in Forodhani, Zanzibar, at night in a wonderful dress with an open back, eating a chicken shawarma alone on a park bench. Sitting at the edge of the infinity pool at Lake Manyara Serena Lodge, feet submerged in water, sunset stoking the brown of her face, a cocktail glass sweating an arm’s length away. Or struggling to uncork a bottle of wine held between her feet at the patio of Pinklakeman Lodge as a herd of Maasai cattle waddle past down to the shore of Lake Elementaita, trailed by a cloud of dust and a feeble-looking herd boy. Macharia, the proprietor, always the bushman, will be knocking 60 years old then and still driving his beloved buggy around – and breaking more bones.
Three months after her 35th birthday she will leave work early, drive to Junction Mall and sit at Frozen Yoghurt. She’ll be having cravings because she will be on the second day of her menses – excruciating lower back pains, an ugly pimple on her temple. She will be wearing black pants, golden-tipped flat shoes and a foul mood. She will order Fro-Yo Mashups and eat with her head bent on her phone, reading The Long Read in the Guardian. Across from her will be two fat brats making a royal ruckus. They will be kicking about a poor blue ball. At some point, the ball will hit her yoghurt clear off the table and splatter it across the floor. She will look up furious, her spoon held halfway between her lips and the now empty table. The brats’ guardian will grab the two by their chubby arms and march them to her and say menacingly, “Apologise to the lady right now!” The fatter one with the bushy eyebrows that can hide a rodent will start crying. The slightly taller one, will mumble with trembling lips, “We are sorry, we spoilt your dinner.” She will grin and say, “It’s fine, it wasn’t my dinner.” They will be dragged away without another word from the chap.
The next day, at 5.20pm she will be standing at the Shawarma place at Kasuku center, waiting for the attendant to wrap her shawarma. There will be a new guy, not that menopausal chap they have now. She will hear someone behind her say, “Day one dinner; yogurt…day two dinner; shawarma. Now that’s a balanced diet.” She will turn to find the guy from the previous day, the one with the fat brats who spilled her “dinner.” He will look taller than he did. She will smile and say, “It’s not my dinner!” then add half sarcastically, “And where are Yang and Yang today?
“Incarcerated,” he will say, his eyes laughing, “They were a danger to themselves and plants.”
A brittle laughter will explain her lips. “Father of the year you are. Congrats.”
“Oh they are not mine. Are you going to eat both those shawarmas?”
“In my last life I was a big-boned woman. Only fair I feed her memory.”
His name is Todosia. He’s Pokot. Nine months later they will be married on a Tuesday. On the steps of the church she will break down and weep on his coat sleeve. Her sister will bite her lips with emotion. Her mother will glance at the heavens and breathe a sigh of relief.
Life will settle into a comfortable routine for her. She will be the funny one, he will be the emotional and passionate one. A baby will come the next year. A little Pokot with beautiful white teeth like young maize and his mother’s gorgeous eyes. He will buy an expensive car she can’t understand. Her private practice will thrive. They will fight about money. The real estate bubble had blown up five years back, so they will put a down payment on a wonderful Townhouse off the Northern bypass. They will try for a second baby unsuccessfully. She will snoop into his phone occasionally. Their son will grow to look like her, then like him. She will continue buying shoes she doesn’t need. When her grandfather, ailing from cancer, passes on, he will take their son for a long walk to allow her time to have a good cry in the bedroom.
He will quit smoking for a year and lapse back. A day after his 40th birthday, as the rain pounds down (because the weather always sucks when you have to have a prostate exam) she will take him for one and then afterwards, with a mocking hand on his arm, ask, “Did that bad man touch you inappropriately?” One day, he will come home drunk at 7am on a Saturday morning to find the maid hanging clothes on the line and his son watching a cartoon about wild animals who fight with laser guns, and he will find daktari in their bedroom standing in front of the wardrobe and she will not talk to him then, or for the next two weeks and when she finally does she will say evenly using his full name for the first time in many years: “Todosia, I already have one child in this house, I don’t need another, so do whatever pleases you.” That night he will feel a restless guilt eat at his small intestines. On her 39th birthday he will buy her a blue spray-can written ‘anti-sarcasm breath freshener’. She will laugh about that for a week. She will stop waxing then when he complains she will say, “Well, my friend, Frida knows of a man who does great waxing, I’m thinking of trying him.” He will stop drying his hair with a towel and turn to look at her with such an intense look of loathsomeness. She will smile coquettishly and shriek, “What?! You have no problem with my gyno being a man!” She will add weight and then lose it, then add it again and it will refuse to go. Especially her arms.
He will accompany her to Entebbe, Uganda, to meet a father she never knew, a man she only refers to as George and they will sit and wait for him at the balcony of a cafe overlooking a massive Bell Beer billboard and he will pretend not to notice her hands shake slightly. George will not show up and she will act like she doesn’t care either way, she will smile bravely and say “It’s fine really, I didn’t know him growing up and I didn’t expect him to come meet me. He’s dead to me.” Back in the hotel he will press his ear against the bathroom door and hear her sob bitterly over the sound of running shower.
On her 40th birthday, they will wake up in the signature suite of the Atlantis, The Palm, in Dubai. Her breath will be long, lecherous fumes made from the overnight pickling of two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon. A small village of pygmies will be playing drums in her head. Lying on her tummy, face buried in a pillow, she will groan, “I’m soooo old…and fat.”
“Perfect, now no man will ever want you. I win.”
Her shoulders will shimmer with laughter with her middle finger raised at him. She will pad barefoot to the bathroom wearing nothing but a white vest. He will hear her pee loudly into the toilet bowl and he will smile hard and think to himself, ‘Aki Kiambu mamas can’t pee silently.’
“Looking back at your 40 years,” he will say over the flushing loo, “what is the craziest thing you ever did?”
She will walk out of the loo and stand at the massive glass window of the suite and peek 40 floors down at the breathtaking lagoon below. Her: “There was this one time we were all drinking at your brother’s house and he slipped his hand in my bra….” and he will start laughing. “Impossible! My brother is not a boob guy, we don’t have boob guys in the family.”
Back in bed she will say, “I feel like eating lots and lots of bacon and pancakes. Does that make me an irresponsible 39 year old?”
He will laugh and say, “No, just a hungover 40 year old.”
She will purse her lips and whimper, “Why can’t I just be 39 years old? I want to be 39 years old. I don’t want to be 40 and start behaving like my mom.”
“I think your mom is very cool and stylish and I love her car.”
Sarcastically, “One thing I did right is to marry a very deep man…”
“Not to forget devastatingly debonair with great Pokot genes. Happy birthday by the way, and I honestly think you look fabulous, babe. I can’t remember you looking better in your life.”
“Aww, thanks, baby.” Peck on his Pokot kisser. “But I think you are only saying that because you are completely crazy about me and my beautiful personality and you know you will wither and die of boredom without me.”
He will laugh loudly.
“So would you tell me if I was fat?”
“No. But I would tag you in all the food-related Instagram accounts that specialize in salads.”
Her laughing. “You are a coward.”
Then he will say, “No seriously, what is the craziest thing you did looking back 40-years?”
She will stare at the ceiling in thought and a quick fleeting image of the little “incident” during the doctor’s workshop in Lagos will flash through her mind and she will shudder slightly at how he would react if she confessed to that now: Well, naturally, the trip would end immediately. He would probably throw her makeup bag out the 40th floor window in blind Pokot rage, her eye pencil floating in the Dubai heat like a scene in the Matrix. He would scream at her for hours and pace around the room like a caged beast. Then they would have the most silent and uncomfortable four-hour flight back home on the next available one out.
For months he would look at her like she was chewing gum that had been stuck to the bottom of his favourite shoe. During this time he would go on a bender and shag a few girls to feel even, to excavate his manhood, but every time he would bring a different nipple to his mouth he would be starkly aware of the echoing emptiness in him. They would eventually start seeing her church elder who he would quickly dismiss as an “out-of-touch religious purist” and stop going after the second session. So they would end up seeing a counsellor called Cornelius every Tuesday and he would say very mean and angry things during those sessions.
So yeah, she will remain mum about Lagos like any smart woman would. Instead she will say, “There was this one time I asked Bikozulu to write about me and my dateless-ness. So he did a blog post and I went on six dates with these guys, I remember one was a Suba guy who was convinced he was Luo. It was sad. I was young and adventurous and I…why are you looking at me like that?”
He will suddenly be sitting up on his elbow saying, “THAT doctor chic was YOU?”
She will say, “Uhm, yes, you read that story?”
“Yes, and I wrote to you!”
“Can you remember the password? We can check now.”
“Come on, I can’t even remember our room number let alone a 13 year old password. But seriously I didn’t see your email, I would have remembered your name, it sounds like a pesticide.”
He would chuckle.
“No seriously, I wrote to you after he wrote about the dates.”
“You lie!! I stopped checking that email soon after… holy shit! Isn’t that freaky?”
“You always say it’s sexy…”
“Uhm, yeah, when you are drunk and naked…”
She will pull the vest overhead and hurl it across the room. “There, I’m now drunk and naked. Is it f***n’ sexy now?”
He will laugh from his belly.
Last week I thought to myself: What if daktari’s future husband is in those emails? The ones she won’t read. What if they are like silent ships that pass in the night? Isn’t that beautiful?
Ps. If you aren’t getting notifications please let me know asap. We were having problems last week but some genius millennial here in the office has fixed it.