I knew Patricia’s visit would not end well. Something within me warned me against saying yes to her request to come to my place. Or maybe it was the knowledge I had about the person she was. Whatever thing that was whispering to my ear to say no, I should have heeded and declined her coming because it was two hours of hell.
Our friendship had been distant since our college years. That type of friend you could visit once in a while and have a chit-chat about life, and sometimes people. Since my Saturdays are usually free and it had been a long since I met with her, I was open to the idea after lengthy deliberation.
My deliberations were on how nosy she could be. She could ask questions that left you frozen. Sometimes, it would be insensitive comments that pricked more than a needle on one’s skin. Other times, it would be bragging and maybe even some weird facial expressions.
Though I had a hint of what would happen, maybe I was not psychologically ready to handle all that transpired.
She said she would come in the afternoon; mornings belong to cleaning up activities and ensuring that one is set for the whole week ahead. The afternoon was therefore not a bad idea. I made some viazi karai and tamarind paste that we could eat while catching up.
Bobo lived down the street and we all were in the same class while in Campus. I figured that the more the merrier. More stories and a whole afternoon of catching up would pass the Saturday evening well even for her. As Patricia knocked on the door, Bobo was already there.
When she entered, we all stood and greeted her.
Before she sat she looked at us and started making jokes that were out of place.
“Bobo, I can see you have started glowing. Martin leaving you almost tore you into pieces. Glow girl!”
It was awkward. Bobo and I wondered where that came from. We looked at each other grimacing as she sat down. Bobo decided to neutralize the awkwardness.
“Patricia, being left and getting heartbroken is a part of life and one can always bounce back.”
“No girl, there is a part of life, and then there is what you went through. Girl, you are one strong woman.”
“Thanks Tisha. How are you though?”
“I am well, thank you. Just decided to come to see you people. It has been quite a while. How is everything over here?”
I left Bobo and Patricia having a chit-chat and went to fetch something to drink. As I took those few steps into the kitchen, I kept wondering how the whole afternoon would be, now that everything had started feeling weird.
As I was coming back, Tisha stopped what she was saying immediately after she saw me. With mouth agape, she started exclaiming.
“What? Liz no no no. This cannot be you.”
I did not expect such a reaction. I did not even know where this was going.
“What’s up Patricia? This is me”
“No Liz. I had not seen you very well. You mean there are no dermatologists around here?”
“There are some around here. Actually there are three around this place. Why?”
I decided to play dumb. She was poking her nose into my skin condition and I did not want to be upfront with her. As I placed the drinks on the table, Tisha continued talking. All the while, Bobo was following the development looking tensed because she knew how sensitive my skin issues were to me.
The last time Bobo tried to give me lectures on how to take care of my skin, she experienced wrath that I knew she would not want to ever experience, let alone witness.
But Tisha continued with her probe.
“Girl these acnes are doing you a disservice. Do you mean they have never stopped coming? Like after all those attempts and skin routines you do on a daily?”
She said this as I was sitting down. After a few seconds of settling down, I ignored her question and welcomed her for the drink.
“Skin conditions are complicated my dear friend, one day maybe they will just disappear. You are welcome to a drink, as you tell us how life has been on your side since it has been ages girl.”
Tisha did not even say thank you. She looked at the tray that had three glasses of our drinks and chose the route of violence yet again.
“Yaani, you have never graduated from taking carbonated drinks. Fine and better things like blending juice have never been your portion?” She said these as she picked up the glass of soda and took a sip.
I wondered how to answer this. Bobo laughed sarcastically. Tisha laughed too. I joined in. I did not know why we all laughed at the same time, yet we did so for our different reasons. Bobo was sarcastic. Tisha might have seen through this laughter but laughed anyway. I joined in because it was barely 30 minutes since Tisha arrived and so far, she had done a good job of pressing all the wrong buttons. So, we all laughed.
“Girl you need to be serious with how you handle visitors. Like what is this now? I told you when we were in campus and I will continue telling you, people need to feel special when they visit you.”
“Tisha, you need to slow down. You have arrived barely an hour ago at this place and you have gotten on our nerves already. We do not even know how you are and how life has been for you. Really now?”
“My bad, I am trying to make you people better. As you could get more in life, yet you people are just taking life as simply as you can.”
As we sipped on the soda slowly in silence, I could feel the tension in the room. Everyone was trying to make the whole moment less awkward in whichever way they could. Bobo was trying to sip the soda calmly; I on the other hand was looking for how to initiate a conversation that had fewer buttons that Tisha could press.
“So how has life been Tisha?”
It felt weird to ask that at that moment. It felt too late because already much had happened in the few minutes that Tish had been here. I thought of what time could have been perfect for that question there was no other moment that could have been appropriate. Tisha had been all over the place since she came.
“Life has been good, baby girl. As you can see I am glowing and bubbly.”
The girl can brag.
“Yeah girl, I can see from your face. Still in the finance department? The last time we talked you told me you wanted to move to another field.”
“I got a promotion, and I am still learning new things as I plan on how to pivot.”
“Oh, that’s nice.”
“How about you bobo, you have never gotten a job I guess?”
I do not know where the audacity to ask someone such a question came from. Maybe the question was not bad but the tone came off badly.
“Not yet Tisha. I decided to become an entrepreneur as I continue searching.”
Bobo decided to overlook that tone. This civilized act from Bobo did not neutralize whatever Tisha had in store for us.
“After all that your parents went through to take you to school, you decided to throw everything just like that?”
“Tisha!” I tried to call her out. Bobo was now starting to get irritated. I could see her trying as much as possible to be cool. If things continued taking this direction, she would lose it.
“What! I am just saying the truth. You know that I am not lying. Why would you allow your dreams to go just like that? Girl, why?”
“Tisha, I have been searching and searching. I have not given up on my dreams yet. But as I wait for my dreams to materialize, I need to eat, pay bills and have a life.”
This response hit me by surprise. I did not expect Bobo to be this gentle. I thought she would be nasty too and blow it up but this was something else.
Tisha kept quiet. Seems she was thinking about what Bobo had said. She sipped her soda slowly and responded.
“Girl, I think you have a point.”
A long silence ensued. Bobo seemed calm but deep down I knew she was already exhausted by the attack she felt would come from Tisha in a minute.
On the other hand, I knew one more hour remained before I started acting like I was leaving. I sat there thinking of the snacks I had prepared for that afternoon. If she had all that criticism on the drink I had offered in a bid to be hospitable, how about the snacks that I made? Mind you, the drink was manufactured; I knew she would find all the flaws in my potatoes that could be found. I was not ready for that type of energy. I decided that the drink we had had was enough.
It seemed like several hours were gone, but we were heading to the second hour.
“You still live in the same place, Tisha?”
“Nope, I relocated. I found a better apartment right next to my place of work. That proximity was motivation enough. You people have never decided to change the environment. By the way how much do you pay for rent?”
“Why do you ask?” I asked her.
“Just wanted to know. This place looks cheap. Do you guys have an access to clean water; is it even safe to be here?”
Bobo was tired. Whatever mask she had worn fell.
“Tisha, has anyone ever told you how irritating you are?”
“Really now bobo?”
“Yes Tisha, do you know how irritating you are?”
“How would I know yet I don’t listen to myself.”
Without pausing to deliberate on what Bobo had asked, Tisha continued speaking. “Seriously, people, how do you people live in such a place? You mean there are no better houses around this side of the country?”
“You are being insensitive now, Tisha,” I told her.
“How do you mean, I am just speaking as a friend. Everything is coming from the deepest part of my soul with love. It is a genuine concern from a friend.”
As I sat looking at her, I started to think that it was a wrong idea to host her. I wondered if truly, she did not know about her attitude, or if it was just pretence. Could it be that she was doing all the insensitive talking out of ignorance or it was something she was unaware of? I was so wrong to have thought that maybe time and age could change her to be a better person.
“So, I heard that you are still dealing with the heartbreak.”
“Nope Tisha, not today. I cannot continue having this conversation with you. The audacity is on another level.” Bobo said these words as she stood to leave, and I understood her. Because it was too much to listen to her. Good for her though. I had to remain behind and deal with more of her insensitive comments.
“Did you hear that your ex bought a car? I could not believe it. “
What is there not to believe? I wondered. The man works hard and smart so why not.
“Why wouldn’t you believe that he had the money and everyone knows, he is able?”
“Why would anyone buy a car on loan? I mean, why not wait until he is financially able to buy it without needing some outside intervention?” Tisha asked.
“Tisha, everyone does what they want with their lives. And no one ought to think ill or otherwise of their moves,” I said irritated.
“You are just being stupid too. Don’t you think I am right?”
“Your being right does not affect anything. It is not about you, but about him.”
Tisha could not stay out of something that was none of her business. “I have never heard about you getting into another relationship or speaking about having found a boyfriend. You never found someone else? Should I hook you up?”
“I am just taking a break from everything, to rewind and think about what I want from a relationship. We can say I am practising celibacy.” I said firmly and I was not interested in getting into details.
Things had started getting personal. I knew that telling her about her being insensitive would not help. It was time to cut the evening short.
“Had I told you that I would be going for a check-up at 3:30 in the afternoon?” I lied as I wanted her out of my house.
“No, you did not.”
“I must have forgotten. It is 2:30 I think it would be better if I start preparing for that check-up now. I will be getting to the shower.” I stood up to escort her out.
“No problem. I can just wait and then we will get out together as I go back to my place,” she said and sipped some more soda.
As I hopped into the shower, I knew I had saved myself some more minutes of an uncomfortable conversation. Bobo had saved herself from all the trouble. I walked out with Tisha and she entered her car and left. I closed the gate and waved her off as I pretended to walk towards the matatu stage. I had no plans to out on that day. I had to go to Bobo’s place we reflect on how that afternoon had been, because what had just happened?
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