THANKS FOR THE FEEDBACK GUYS. BELOW PIECE (IN CRAP FORM CURRENTLY) IS UNDER GOING AN EDIT AND THE REVAMPED VERSION WILL BE UP SOON.
Wind and grass and the salt and vinegar smell of open crisp packets. Scattered trees and shrubs and windhowls storming in through the open car windows. Mirage lakes forming ahead on the hot and grey tarmac. Car movements making Anjlee’s toes swing ever so slightly and they rub against my jeans and I feel the jeans tickle my leg hairs and this is satisfying. Blue sky, almost no clouds, fire-sun screaming over everything. The car smashing through the windhowls.
It’s an empty stretch. We are past Voi and Mtito Andei, shaking off Mombasa disco. This is not the holiday season so the traffic is thin. For the moment, ours is the only car on the road. Brown shrubby hills and Tsavo anthills left and right, swaying green grass and shimmering yellow grass left and right. It’s just us.
He is driving and she is sleeping in the front passenger seat. At the back it’s me and Anjlee.
Out of nothing:
“I think about wild cows, birds and bees,” I say.
Anjlee’s hair is long, black, shiny, healthy and thick. It dances wavy baby around her head. I want to eat her hair.
“What are you talking about?” she asks.
“About bones, skulls, horns.”
I want to move my face in wind-blown hair (and let hair scratch my face softly and let hair come to my lips like very thin and very slippery black spaghetti). I want to throw my face into her like the way my dog Timmy does, snout first into the mud around where his favourite bones are hidden.
Anjlee throws her black hair away, trying to control wind and speed.
“And birds and bees?” she asks.
“I mean these are dead cows. I have their story,” I say.
“I think they are dead zebras,” she says.
Watch her turn. I say watch her throw the black hair away and show that Gujurati brown face. Call it brown, chocolate, shade of the cacao growing in deep Cote D’Ivoire jungle; call it the colour of the roasted nuts in her grandmother’s Porbandar bhel; brown sucrose; the colour of the inner bark of the one leafed acacia. This is a face I can eat and it will taste like Madagascan vanilla.
“Twisting and funnelling horns, bones of face,” I say.
The car speeds past wildlife skeletons, white bone stuff. The grass looks blurred close up. Our eyes can remain only half open in the force of the half-blinding wind.
“You see, not cows” she says
In the back seat, our talk makes us align diagonally towards each other like an incomplete V.
“Why is this road empty? It’s only our car here and I know why,” I say.
“What’s with the birds and bees thing?” She says.
“That was just for effect. I didn’t know what to tell you. You know, to start off things.”
“Start off things?”
Yes, it started when he swept you off your feet and I became jealous. This was at the car park at Nyali Cineplex. He bent suddenly but smoothly and put one arm on your back and hooked the other around your back knee and swept you off your feet. Then you put your arms around his neck. I still see your mid-air horizontal pose in his arms. It was clear this was the first time it had happened to you and you were pleasantly surprised, weren’t you? And he was not even your boyfriend. And neither was I but I had no idea you could be swept off your feet.
“Have you ever seen a large crowd of cows, something epic, like those wildebeest migration things, in front of you and approaching?” I ask.
“That’s how things start off?” she asks.
“By the way I love you,” I say.
“Ok, you’re weird,” she says.
I watched you on the night beach yesterday. New Year’s night. The four of us were sitting on the sands and your phone rang. You walked away and to the edge of shore-lapping Indian Ocean. The tide was low, the fireworks joined the stars in the sky, there was a twinkling ship on the horizon and your boyfriend was wishing you Happy New Year. Even though he was not there on the sands.
Earlier on, before we headed for the party and the movie, we were on the bed in your hotel room, all dressed up. You in some flower skirt and I have to tell you your legs are beautiful, just beautiful, and I was in simple trouser and shirt and you were doing a book of puzzles and I joined in. We were sitting on the bed, our heads looking down at the puzzle book. After a minute you looked at me and told me my aftershave smelled good. She caught the whole thing on video-camera. I was so caught up in that moment I didn’t know she was sitting on the chair opposite us, video-tapping.
“All right, I am saying this road is empty because the cows took away all the cars.”
In the wind she tries to figure out where I am going with this.
“Wild cows came in a stampede, like wildebeest. They came from front and took the cars away. They like bent down so they could hook their horns into the fronts of the cars and the whole force of them, the power of how they were running, cows in front supported by cows behind, and they took all the cars off the road.” I say
Whilst you wonder, Anjlee, let me tell you I hated it when you came back to us after finishing up with your boyfriend call and sat down on the sand behind where he was lying flat on it. He just took his hands, his fingers, and wrapped them around your calf muscles. Tightly.
“The impact killed the first cows and that’s what you see around on the road their skulls. Impact so powerful they lost their skins very fast and what was quickly left was only their bones,” I say
“And where did they take the cars?” she asks.
“Remember the ship we saw on the sea last night? It was like far away but we could see the lights on it. It was like a big ship,” I say.
“Yes,” she says.
“Well, for some people the new year’s party was not supposed to end and the cows forced them back to Mombasa and into the sea and toward the ship,” I say.
“You must be crazy!” she says.
“And you know their horns? Those twisting things we can see here going past us so fast? They used those to swim. Like snorkelling. The top of their horns had holes so they were swimming underwater and they were breathing, like letting in the air from their horns,” I say.
“How did the cars inside the people breathe?” she says.
“That I don’t know. I only know about the cars and, because the lights on the ship were fully on, the people reached there and had a party,” I say.
Now only the wind remains. The story is over. Anjlee looks at me. Sunshine is reflecting off the corners of her eyes. For a few minutes we say nothing and return back to what we were before, her foiling through a crisp packet and myself looking out the window and at the grass and distant hills. The open window lets in the windhowls.
A bus overtakes us.
I feel a head slump to my right shoulder and I look. It’s Anjlee’s head. She wants to go to sleep with her head on my shoulder. She takes it back up and asks:
“Is it ok?”
I say ok. The head comes back to the shoulder. I remain frozen in the pose I am in for the next hour and a half, I don’t want to disturb her and I don’t want wake her up with a sudden shoulder jerk. Her hair blows onto my face all the time.