She may as well have been the lady Kenny Rogers was crying about in his 1980 hit song “Lucille.”
She was pretty to a fault: with a smile that lit up that already hot Kilifi evening.
I did not notice her immediately.
My mind had been on other things (mostly the inevitable end of the money in my pockets ). In any case she was seated in the VIP section of the bus, and that was not yet my station in life. I had not arrived like that yet. I had however booked the seat closest to the VIP section because that is how I do it. Fake it till it comes (no pun intended!). Plus the leg space on that VIP-adjacent seat is awesome – you could fit a small dining table in there and still be just fine.
Once on my seat and belted down, I had plugged my headphones, fired up my music to the loudest possible volume and let Christopher Martin carry me away. The bus was a classy one; seating less than 40 in its entire length. I was headed to Kisumu on business. In Mombasa, we stopped to pick up a few more passengers, most of whom were the owners of the VIP section seats. That is how she ended up next to me. And you cannot just ignore the presence of such a beauty next to you.
The very first thing I had noticed about her was the way she carried herself. And God was it charming! She sat there regally. Like the painting I once saw in the office of one of my clients when I still worked 9 to 5. Beautiful two meter square masterpiece that claimed the space behind the executive high back black leather swivel chair tucked into the large mahogany desk of that vast office. Suffice to say, she was hard to ignore. She knew how to claim her space. I turned my head to have a good swallow of her posture. She smiled. A soft but slight smile that revealed the neatest dental arrangement outside of toothpaste adverts. I felt my heart racing and palms moistening. My insides did a somersault. I knew my goose was cooked. It had been a while…
In the few seconds between that glance and what I did next, a lot happened. Naturally, my inner saboteur started talking me out of it. But I had been reading about living in the present in Mark Manson’s book. So I decided to go for it. I yanked the earphones from my ears and talked myself up. When I next turned in her direction, our eyes met. I froze. They were beautiful honey marbles floating in an almond-shaped white. Her long eyelashes swished when she blinked. Toying with my emotions in the process. The eyelids had this grey and metallic blue shadow that matched her dress. Funny how you recall such minute details about a stranger but never really have enough memory space to remember your grandmother’s phone number.
Her nose was cute as a button. But who would be looking at the nose when there were better things to occupy the mind. Her lips were not full and not thin, just the right amount of succulent. The purple lipstick made them extremely desirable. She smelled like fresh passion fruit squeezed in lemon juice with a sprinkle of lavender. It was intoxicating. Her skin was an off peach shade, pronounced more by the contrast of the dress – a nice metallic blue number. Her curves were not too exaggerated. I liked that about her. It was as though everything about her was reclusive, not wishing to draw any attention but at the same time keeping you hooked. I had stretched my palms awkwardly at her. Of course after wiping them on my jeans. She had shaken my hand feebly. Her palm was soft. Like rose petal soft.
“Naitwa Diana,” she offered.
Just like the princess, I remember thinking.
“Mi pia,” I had fumbled. She had not noticed it. Thought I was just being funny.
She chuckled and I knew the ice had been broken. I was in there (figuratively)
Her laugh was beautiful, it shook her bosom. And made my world colorful. Her voice was enchanting. It melted my butter. She thought I was cute – because am dark. Like coffee without cream. I found the description aptly amazing because I take my coffee black and bitter. I love it that way. I had just had my hair done and I knew I looked dapper but some affirmation from a pretty lady never killed anyone.
We had about ten hours to delve deeper into the conversation and really indulge. More than enough time, I told myself. I was wrong. She was going to visit her folks up in Nakuru. We talked the night away in the dark bus, occasionally holding hands when the driver made a dangerous move on the road. She loved reading and watching comedies. A lady after my own heart, I had thought. We liked the same songs. Even the rhumba that the bus driver decided to play on the speakers above our heads. She spoke good English, and proper Kiswahili. Am a sucker for ladies who can properly arrange their grammar. Her speech was impeccable. She used words and phrases that ordinary ladies wouldn’t use if you paid them to.
Some passengers must have been scoffing at us. We must have sounded pretentious and seemed ridiculous. But who cares? How often do you connect with such beautiful souls? On a bus nonetheless. She picked my brain about a few things I found intelligent. Like the social construct of happiness and its subjectivity. God was I hooked. Engaging her gave me a kind of ecstasy. It was like the high I feel when my lips kiss the first drops of whiskey on a cold Friday night. Or the feeling I get whenever I sip cold water on a hot day. It was refreshing. Like taking a bath with Dettol cool after a long day in the dry Homa Bay heat.