Dreams of the unconscious soul kept my brain in play as the rest of me went to pause. Yesterday I had a dream about a cigarette butt. I like butts. In my dream, the cigarette butt slowly wafts through the air, flames still glittering on one end. Smoke graciously follows the butt in its race to hit the cold pavement. The smoke makes a spiral shape, thin at the waist, resembling a dancer. A white ghost dancer. (Black ghosts don’t exist; if they did, slaves would have done a number on my white brothers). The cigarette butt cuts across the chilly midnight air, warm cigarette meets cold air and the lit end flickers as it tries to hold its ground against the cold humid air.
It is so quiet that I can feel my dinner digest as I watch this butt. When finally the white end hits the ground, the butt bounces back up, like Natalie Portman’s butt when she does her ballet moves in the black swan. The butt hits the ground once more and then rolls like a lazy spoilt brat. My heeled foot covers it, first in shadow, before my full weight rests on it. It dies off. Silly cancer-causing sexy butt.
By now, you might have realized cigarettes seduce me. I know of their wrath and I won’t donate my body to maladies willingly. My friend Isabelle is too. Last Thursday, Isabelle and I sat on seats next to a window at a restaurant on MontParnasse road waiting to watch Django Unchained.
I had to.
This time it was airing in French and I couldn’t wait to see just how raw a deal the Frenchies get when it comes to American movies. We had two hours waiting time and Porto Consuelo sat quietly in our stupendously large glasses. In the streets, the LGTB movement took that afternoon to ‘occupy’, as they call demonstrations nowadays. They want rights to marry and adopt children in France.
I was more concerned about Isabelle. She sits on the side facing the window and light dances off her face in soft rhythm. Her hair covers her right eye and lip-balm slightly glows from her lips. She is smiling looking at me as she waits for me to respond to something she just said. I wasn’t listening. Her teeth are really white. Like her eyes. She is beautiful I realize, even when stressed. Black nail-polished tips of her left hand hold the stem of her glass. She lifts it, stops to sniff as is her ritual. Like a lioness would sniff her kill before partaking. She then sips, no, gulps her drink, once, twice, thrice then signals the waiter to refill it. Her legs covered in stockings are crossed under her black knee length dress. Her thighs are visible from where I sit and I imagine that’s the reason the waiter keeps smiling at her.
Isabelle is oblivious of the movement going on outside, or the waiter. Only one thing perturbs her. She tells me she met him, her boyfriend for the last 16 months or so in her office back in Kenya. He looked at her like the Kenya’s ‘middle-class’ looks at performers on a stage. (Youtube Zonke’s live performance in Kenya). Guys there looked like they were sitting on needles witnessing a cow give birth, live. No zeal. Men sat in their dark suits and ladies quietly perusing their phones checking imaginary messages. Political rallies clearly have more pomp and colour. Even as the lovely Zonke walked in, in her 5 inch heels, they didn’t do more than throw a glance her way. It seemed like they wanted extra attention as they sat unmoved obviously silently screaming ‘please me, please me’. So like Zonke, Isabelle went about her business in the office until he could no longer keep off. She was the new accountant. Yannis was the I&L East Africa. I don’t know what that is and I don’t want to interrupt.
Yannis, told her two months ago that he had something to tell her now that he knew without doubt that she loved him. That always turns out to be out of wedlock children, baby mamas, wives, a life in crime (John Kiriamiti; remember him?) or worse, all of them. It turned out that Yannis had been previously married to a hot Ethiopian babe and they had two children. They were now divorced and she lived in their house at the coast.
Isabelle’s second name is composure. She went on as if nothing was wrong and this threw Yannis off. Men complain about nagging but watch how they panic when you fail to reprimand them for bad behaviour. Yannis panicked so much that he asked his ex to call her to reassure her that they were already done. The only thing this achieved was to whet her desire to meet the ex. But she played cool. She had been planning a trip to Malindi for her annual holiday and thus a month after the confession, Yannis gave her flight tickets to Malindi, in attempt to bribe her to forgive him. As soon as she landed in Malindi, she called Yannis’ ex Cynthia. Cynthia was all too happy to host her and thus nose, chin and smile high, Isabelle went to inspect her competition. Keep your enemies closer they say. That and the fact that women are born detectives. CSI has nothing on a woman who needs to know details about a man, and his other woman. So Cynthia confirmed everything Yannis had confessed.
The waiter brought another bottle of wine, refilled our glasses and I dared not breathe too loud lest I interrupted her. I sat there too eager to absorb her words like sand does water. Cynthia lived in a huge mansion in Malindi and the kids attended an international school whose name I seem to forget. She hasn’t worked a day in her life and Yannis was the sole provider. More so, she said she had multiple sclerosis and she needed special check-ups that cost an arm, a leg and a liver. Two weeks after Malindi, the receptionist called to inform her of guests at her office. Cynthia had brought the kids to visit their ‘aunty Isabelle, girlfriend wa daddy’. I bit my lower lip in an attempt to veil my urge to burst out laughing at this.
Yannis showed up minutes later and after hugs and kisses they went out for lunch as one large happy family. During lunch, Cynthia announced that she wanted to start a clothing line and that she was in town to purchase sewing machines.
Yannis; So you want me to fund this project
Cynthia; Of course, I need to be independent
Isabelle; So you have designs? Can you sew? Do you have a work plan?
Cynthia; No. The rest will flow after I purchase the sewing machines.
Charlene; Auntie Isabelle, we would like to go racecourse this Sunday.
Isabelle; (pause, glances at Yannis), Okay Charlene, we will talk about this tonight. You are staying at daddy’s right?
Cynthia; Of course, I will drop them at his house after lunch.
Yannis; Good. So you can prepare dinner for all of us as we leave the office late.
Cythia; Haha, silly. I cannot, I just had my manicure done.
I am battling to control my laughter at this point. Not to paint a bleak picture for Isabelle and her newly acquired family, but I’d say she will be making most of the dinners. Isabelle starts laughing to herself. I giggle with her. She tells me we have to rush to the office after the movie as she has to finish her report. I joke that it’s important as she has to provide for her large family. More giggles. I comment on how she seems to be handling this as easy as sneeze. She seems fine at how much her relationship has changed in two short months. But she tells me, she breaks down sometimes.
I cannot help but feel that this Yannis played her. He made sure she fell for him, was helpless to her own heart and the depths of his passions then dropped the bombshell. But I cannot hate the player, it’s the game. Isabelle clearly loves her Yannis and she never once asked me what she should do. She knows she is under his spell and I dare not enter their sheets with my logical arguments, painting my picture, burdened with snobbery about relationships. Giving caveats about what kind of men she should like. Life in black and white no longer works especially in matters of the heart and and the bed. There are so many grey areas and we work with what we have most of the time. That and the fact that men lie all the time, it is damned near a language. Their lies are like; I am at the bar. With Larry. Give me an hour. And then they lie by omission. Women lie too. But naturally, women love honesty so they will give it until it is betrayed. But vengeance being cold, their lies are bigger and profound, such as, ‘this is your kid’.
Isabelle comes back to Kenya and to her newly acquired happy dysfunctional family in a week’s time. Happy Valentines to her and to the rest of us all in our dysfunctional little lives. May it be uber awesome. I hope haggard shafts of light, cherubs and music come out when you open your cards and other gifts. I hope for that one day you just focus on loving your partner’s butt. Smart, big, slow, small, tight, it is after all, a great butt. Regardless of the games you play that got you where you are today. And whatever lies you are telling today, here are my famous last words; you’ll soon get caught or need to come clean.