A few weeks ago at a local bank, I nearly bumped into my college sweetheart who I have not seen in over a dozen years.
I walked into the bank, and she was walking out, and we almost collided into one another. For a second, we both froze - and I had a flashback all the way back to 1999.
Let’s call her Laura! Laura was my kid sister’s best friend since primary school. That cute kid with buck teeth whom you never notice, at least until you finish fourth form. And now she has glasses and braces, and curves in all the right places.
Even then, it took her to clear high school, and me to be a freshman in college, before we awkwardly hooked up and became an item.
Laura loved reading, way back when, when teenagers actually read solid books instead of burying their noses in smartphones, telling each other a lot of nothing, and recording their unremarkable life moments in videos that they post on Instant Gram, and other dorky places.
And since I had ambitions to be a writer, we were a perfect match!
Also, she found my ‘eccentricity’ remarkable.
These were the years I used to roam the earth in a full afro, big spectacles, shiny suit, sharp shoes - and a briefcase full of books.
While other pretty girls laughed their heads off at my sight, Laura loved my look.
In hindsight, that alone ought to have alerted me to the fact that she was a little bit nuts.
Never mind, we were soon one of those couples joined at the hip - the type that they say ‘if you see one, the other one isn’t far behind.’ Kind of like Tweedledum and Tweedledee in ‘Through the Looking Glass …’
In those years, all a campus romance needed to thrive was a lot of adoration and a little poetry.
‘Money will come,’ Laura would say glibly, reading yet another of my fanciful stories in the years when I didn’t even know a publisher (like John Mwazemba) by name, let alone having the idea that I would someday publish a whole load of books.
When we went to clubs like Psys and Carnivore, Laura would personally smuggle sachets of liquor for me in her brasserie.
We would only buy sodas in those clubs, but soon both be giggling, high as two kites on a clear Saturday.
In short, Laura held my body and soul together for almost seven years - starting from when I was 20, and she was a mere 18 - and all the way to our mid-twenties.
When her dad went to Coast and found a Swahili wife who got pregnant, Laura’s mom left their home in Nairobi to go live with her older sister.
And in an act of audacity that is still astounding to me all these years later, Laura moved me into their house in Donholm (she was working by then), where we played parent to her kid brother Ken who was in high school, and severely shaken by his folks’ abandonment of the family home.
It was there that I first got a glimpse of the future - what family life could be like in years to come; and Laura and I almost automatically expected to get hitched once I was through with college.
What happened instead was that, after college, I got infatuated with one of Laura’s very hot friends, who in all fairness, was on a sudden mission to seduce, and I succumbed.
Laura found out and threw the fit of a lifetime!
Actually, she attempted to stab me with a kitchen knife, and only the quick tackling of her by her kid brother Ken, saved my life.
I fled for dear life that dark and rainy May night from that house in Donholm, fully expecting to go back the next day.
Then 13 years passed, and the next time I saw Laura was at the bank a few weeks ago!
After being ‘statue’ for a few seconds, I stepped forward and said: ‘Hi Laura.’
Laura looked at me with a blank expression, then walked past me, the way you would a counterfeit ‘wash wash’ note that an oga is trying to pass on to you.