You’ve used the teabag for the fourth time now. What was once produced a sweet, delicious taste of strawberry with the luscious colour of pink tea leaves has been diluted into a bland, colourless cup of hot, sugared water. Hot water with a faraway hint of fruit that you’ll have with mandazis that were fried in too much oil, and they leave you at the mercy of nausea. You clench your jaw, and check on the water that’s boiling in the sauce pan, the bubbles forming on the sides of the metallic bowl, and you switch off the gas because you refuse to imagine what would happen if those extra seconds you keep the flames licking the pan, led it to finish earlier than scheduled. Coldplay is playing on the laptop, and Chris Martin, the lead, is singing in that nasal, heavily-accented voice that has brought them so much success, about apples and shooting them off his head. You think about apples and the last time you had one. You change the song to DJ Khalid and his band of singing mercenaries.
Later, you cry in the shower. It was your last intention, but you’re naked and tears are lost in between the steady stream of hot water flowing down your face and down your body. You went there to use your friend’s wifi, and the thought of saving an extra five litres of water by showering at his place was too strong to resist. After you check your Instagram, bet on a few games and download video mixes, you strep into the shower. The warm water feels nice, and you let it roll down your skin as you lather yourself, you think about sending your girl a teasing picture, of you clutching your genitals, and all wet and soapy. You stop because she’ll know that’s not your place. That you don’t have a shower in your house. That you can’t afford a house with a shower. You feel the anger rising inside you. You’re angry at everyone. God. Uhuru Kenyatta. Your father. Your KCSE examiner. Why can’t you have something nice for once? She says you have a nice body, and a nice ‘v’ line around your crotch area, but a man should bring more than a toned body to a relationship..you think about how long you have left until she can say that she really tried to be with you until you couldn’t give her what she wanted the most. A white wedding. Her father would only meet you once if she even had the guts to introduce you to him. Your friend asks if you’re okay, laughingly asks if you’re crying, you compose yourself and laugh back, you say you were checking your balls for prostate cancer, you both laugh. You because you needed to stop crying, him because he thinks you’re dumb and don’t know how prostate examinations are conducted.
You’ll be in the market later, with exactly Kes 105 in your pocket. A debate will be raging in your head. Beans to eat with rice at home or githeri to fry and eat with avocado. Githeri leaves you with an extra fifty to buy sugar to feed the morning coffee addiction, beans with gas and two cups less of rice. As you fry the githeri, no tomatoes, just half an onion, a bunch of tired-looking coriander leaves and the least amount of cooking oil you can, you feel like crying again. Why you? Of all the people in your primary class, you’d probably be the only one to walk to an impromptu reunion, the only one without a child, but living like he has ten..but you decide you won’t cry anymore. There are people who have it worse, people who would be glad to be jobless but with your health, your teeth, your functioning heart, your sane faculties, your body that cleans itself without an expensive Phillips medical equipment humming and making beeping sounds.
You get a fresh tea bag. You play gospel. You let the flames on the gas cooker lick the top of the sauce pan. You get Supa Loaf, the sweet one in a purple wrapper. You get the peanut butter out. You set a whole avocado to yourself. You use the tea bag for the first, and hopefully, last time.