Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The one with the attempt at short fiction.

*Heart's a mess: A secret sorrows interlude*

Every Thursday evenings, they flocked to Dusk to hear her sing.

Well, technically, they came to listen to the Swahili blues band perform its jazzy acoustic tunes. But it was Nahla-the band's lead vocalist-who held the crowd in rapt attention with her smoky, soulful voice.

Abbas came to see with her and chase a feeling. He just couldn't stay away.

So he came. Every thursdays like clockwork.

"You keep that up and you'll break your neck," Abbas said, giving his boisterous friend a bemused look.

Mike was incessantly gesturing with his head at something or someone on Abbas's right. Abbas had been deliberately ignoring Mike's head tilts just to see how long he could keep it up without cricking his neck.

"Check out your three o'clock!"

Abbas shrugged and took another swig of his beer.

"Man, just have a quick look will you?"

Abbas slowly scanned the bar, taking in the now familiar setting. Dusk was a roof top lounge bar with a staggering view of Nairobi's skyline. Its banquet seating, tasteful but simple decor and dim lights gave it a warm, laid back feel. It was a sanctuary of sorts; a place where people went to in order to get lost in good music and maybe, just maybe, have their spirits soothed. It didn't hurt either that the beer was fairly priced.

His eyes flickered over to Miss Three o'clock; a beautiful lady dressed up in a dark power suit. He noted the short skirt. She met his gaze coyly and looked away exchanging a look with her girlfriend, who in turn cast a furtive glance his way before hurriedly turning back to her friend.

Abbas went back to nursing his beer.

"Well?" Mike prompted.

"Well what?"

"What do you think of her?"

Abbas was a picture of pure nonchalance. "Nice legs."

Mike swore colourfully.

Abbas laughed. He enjoyed getting a rise out of Mike. It was so unbelievably easy.

"What's your problem?"

"I have no problem."

"Nice legs?" Mike echoed incredulously. "The best you could come up with was nice legs? She's a ten!"

"In your opinion."


"She's a ten, in your opinion." Abbas explained, as he signalled for the waiter.

"Why are you deliberately trying to be an ass?" Mike scowled.

That was when Abbas saw her.

Nahla was making her way towards her band mates, acknowledging a couple of hellos from several patrons. She carried her diminutive body with such an easy grace, he always found himself pausing to stare.

Mike followed his gaze. "And there sashays in my answer."

Abbas shot him a look. "Remind me again why you're here."

Mike flashed him a crooked grin. "Because I never say no to free beer. So, are you guys like back together again?"

Abbas kept his face carefully veiled. "Something like that," he murmured.

Mike regarded him thoughtfully, letting a silence stretch out between them that was only interrupted by the band's rhythmic drum beats.

Nahla took her cue from the drummer and sung the tale of Love's whispered promises; the lyrics underscored by hypnotic Arabic rhythms.

"People will always disappoint you Abbas," Nahla had once whispered to him.

She held the unwavering belief that in the end, people would break her heart. He'd vowed to himself that he'd prove her wrong, convince her to stop running scared and try to fix that secret part within her that felt broken. And by God he had tried. When things had been good between them, they had been magical. For when her fingers were not hovering over the panic switch, Nahla was compassionate, playful, clever and a solid friend.

Flash forward to one and a half years later, Abbas finally stopped; too darn tired to move. Tired of trying, tired of hoping and waiting for the day she would finally have faith in him and their relationship.

Soul weary, he'd broken it off with her. He still loved her but it was the sensible thing to do. So he walked away.

Except a month after the break up, he came to Dusk one Thursday evening to check up on her, make sure she was going to be okay. He ended up taking her home and staying the night.

"One for old time's sake," He had reassured himself.


And so he came. Every thursdays like clockwork.

And during that moment they were together, the underbelly of their relationship seemed to fade; shifting from dark shadows to wisps of grey mist. It felt oh-so good...almost as good as when they had been an item. Almost but not quite. For when dawn came round, reality would set in, sending him crushing back down to earth. He was settling for weekly no-strings-attached romps when he wanted more. It was fun but not enough. Yet that was all she was comfortable giving...taking less would eventually break his spirit...and yet he was having trouble walking away; go all cold turkey on this one...

Abbas had always been guided by logic. And his moderate sensibilities told him he was hooked to a feeling and needed to get it together. Fast.

"First chance I get, I'm out." He promised himself grimly, taking in her radiating presence.

Her heart rending yet hopeful chorus swirled around the awestruck crowd, gently cloaking them in the surreal.

"I'll be so gone," he thought, as her gaze took in her audience and finally-almost instinctively- her gleaming eyes rested on him. Nahla's face softened.

His calm faltered.

With the silent vow reverberating in his mind, Abbas reined in the feeling of disquiet within, tucked it away in a hidden place, slipped his trademark stoic face firmly back in place and raised his glass to her, casually smiling like it didn't hurt.

copyright © 2011 by Jacqueline Nyambura Kariuki


  1. Brilliant stuff!

    Wanting what one can't have is a fundamental human quality I think we all share.

    Post more stuff!

  2. *sigh* You had me at acoustic tunes Missy. And my heart of stone melted. Boy (or in your case girl) can you write!

  3. wow! for an attempt , its really good .more pliz??

  4. "I'll be so gone," he thought, as her gaze took in her audience and finally-almost instinctively- her gleaming eyes rested on him. Nahla's face softened.

    His calm faltered.

    I could picture that there moment as time froze. for an attempt, this is pretty good. and a inspired

  5. Came to demand for more please ok i beg for more. Great post.

  6. @ Sam Buggz: As always, spoken like three wise men dear & thanks for the push...

    @ CarolK: Heart of stone melted on my account? I'm floored girl :-)

    @ Wyndago: Thanks.

    @ Inked biker: Thanks. I'll see if I can put together another one...

    @ Manwidabass: Hey stranger. Good to have you here again & thanks :-)

    @ Gish: Thanks & Karibu. I'll work on conjuring up another one. It was fun but not easy.

    @ Murasta: Aaah yes. Love...leaves us all tangled up & spectacularly confounded. Nice to have here girl :-)

  7. beautiful is an understatement, i hope this is possible the beginning of a new book.

  8. great attempt, now if this only that I wonder what you can achieve!
    more please

  9. if i knew how to make clapping symbols with a keyboard like the way nkt works i would, this was amazing.

  10. Your blog is a disturbingly well kept secret. Either that or I've been living in a hole, but that's beside the point. There should a billboard on a highway somewhere with your name on it...

    You're brilliant, is all I'm saying.