A Nairobi bar horror story
She is heading for her table but her eyes are fixed on the table of Appetites, aware that they are rich and on a hunt. She thinks herself their equal in worldliness, confident that her beauty, which she has used to toy with many men, will see her through an encounter with any of them.
Appetite watches her amused glance and snickers inwardly knowing that like everyone uprooted and thrown into the thousand universes that are Nairobi she belongs to many and yet to none – she longs for anchor and is seeking it without recognizing her desperate need. She has one of those new fangled Rasta hairstyles made of artificial hair.
This strange combination at first puzzled Appetite who had only ever seen locks in pictures of Bob Marley and Dedan Kimathi. He has since come to realize that they have nothing to do with political struggle. They are a flag for a painful process of self-remanufacturing, a response to any one of a thousand traumas faced by the child of a middle or upper-middle class family that has tumbled to genteel poverty.
Such girls always tell teary tales of the mistakes Daddy and Mummy made as the to-be-Rasta attended some fancy private school and then went abroad to find Me, he feels a surge of hatred. They make for the easiest prey. He knows how to lay a trap that allows them to feel the greatest degree of freedom even as the noose tightens – it is how they prefer to be ambushed. His first move must confirm her opinion of him and then there will be nowhere to go but up, all the while borne by her pleasant surprise.
‘You are a ngao and you need to imbibe liquids’
‘Yes, I need absorption because I am fleeing from the center – centrifugal as they say’
‘I do not know you, but I think that you are more centripetal – that you are seeking the center’
‘I guess so but what do you intend to achieve by these means of disturbance, surely not twinning?’
Ah, she has moved too fast, resisting even before he attacks. Vulnerability. Appetite is listening beneath her words, seeking food for the dark thing. And it is stirring, detecting that as confident as she sounds and looks there is a wistful undertone that betrays a need of something soon to be determined.
‘In the beginning was nursery and the sound of gasps and grunts when your Mummy left the house, then came primary school when you heard the impact of hand-cheek collisions. You need to know you were the critical element in the causation, it was your fault,’ he breathes as he opens his legs slightly wider so that she is standing between them.
‘What is your name and why are you here seeking to still your misery?’ Her question betrays her ignorance; does she not know she is conversing with desire?
‘I am Appetites son of Starvation.’
‘And I am Needs daughter of Fallen Success.’
‘You seek a port and slavery’
‘Perhaps I do, though I dare say that I believe it to be open sea and freedom’ she retorts with spirit. He feels a surge in his loins as the dark thing arrives in its full magnificence, it has not been this excited in months!
He loudly orders a round of drinks. And then slowly, as a hunter will part the reeds before delivering buckshot, he brushes a sweaty hand against her hip awaiting her reaction. She eyes him, eyes full of questions and suddenly turns to walk away leaving appetites staring at her receding back, the excitement in him battling with hatred.
His companions are in full stride talking of plots and deals, and fat man versus fat man politics. They feed on so little he thinks; money to them is the thing. They want prestige and to be feared. How petty when there are souls to be taken and broken, do they not know how much energy there is in a human body that is expended at the moment of death? Appetite has learnt over millennia that there are many deaths and that he can draw succor from all of them. He ambles towards her, using his belly to push his way through the crowd.
‘I've been looking for you, Needs, do you know why?’
‘Yes, you seek flesh and what lies underneath it. You want to love me, and you resent me for that.’
‘I know exactly what you mean, you are perhaps wise.’
Appetites likes the way it is going.
MMK is a London-based writer and journalist. He blogs as African Bullets and Honey.
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