With Ndey Kumba Demba
You’ve had your suspicions for weeks. It wasn’t his cologne, it wasn’t his phone. You know this because you have been on his messages, call log, Facebook, gallery and even Gmail. They all came out squeaky clean. It wasn’t late night calls or texts at odd hours. It wasn’t him needing distance each time his phone rang, it wasn’t him arriving later than usual, it wasn’t late night business dinners, it wasn’t guilt written all over his face, it wasn’t the weight of his heart suddenly feeling heavy.
But you knew. You just knew. His hug didn’t offer the same comfort they used to, the comfort that made all wrongs right. His eyes look at you, look into yours, but they don’t speak the same language. It sure sounds like Greek. When he kisses you, it tastes like water.
You are consumed by the urgency to pinpoint the exact moment he looked away, or YOU looked away. You replay events in your mind, piece by piece. Try as you may, you can’t find the exact moment. Did it happen in the blink of an eye, a twitch perhaps, between an inhale you never got the chance to exhale?
You wonder when it all began. How it all began? You are drawn to the ‘enough’ quiz. Involuntarily, you take it.
“When did I stop being enough?”
“Didn’t I love him enough?”
“Didn’t I give him enough?”
“Haven’t I been supportive enough?”
“Am I simply not enough?”
The ‘enough’ route is a very long and excruciating one. You drop a tear, another one, one more, it’s a sob. You were not planning on crying; in fact you said you won’t. Damn these tears.
“Who is she?” You scream silently.
“What is her name?” Her name is the most important thing in the world right now. The name, that name. You’re furious. Funny how small things take prominence in the grand scheme of events in trying times.
The ‘enough’ quiz is followed by the ‘she’ quiz.
“Who is she?”
“Is she smarter than me?”
“Is she prettier than me?”
“What does she have that I don’t have?”
“What does she give him that I don’t give?”
Omar Janha woke up that morning energised. Well, he always wakes up energised. He was a morning person. He woke up every day feeling like the king of the world. He has a beautiful, educated, smart, successful wife, and a one year seven month old daughter, baby Bin. He named her Binta, after his wife’s grandmother.
He resented when people use the phrase “complete me” to describe a prized one. No, that is just wrong, more like “they complement you.” That was before he met Aja. One look at her, he knew this was his woman; this was the mother of his children, their children. Getting to know Aja only solidified all he knew was true. She truly completed him. Just being around her made him feel his dreams were not big enough; his aim was not high enough.
“I’m gonna be late today.”
He knows how much his boss hates coming in on a Saturday but they had a project deadline. Well, he had a deadline. Somehow his boss’s work ends up on his desk. It could be exhausting, but he rarely complains. He sees it as a learning experience, something to propel him to heights. It was close, he could feel it.
The highlight of his day was coming home to Aja and baby Bin. They offer a serenity he can’t explain. All he knows is that when he is with them, nothing can go wrong.
Baby Bin is a very peppy child. She’s a bundle of chubbiness and cuteness overload. Omar swears her mom feeds her sugar. She was always moving around the house, throwing stuff, breaking stuff, moving stuff. She was her own boss. She pretends not to hear when her mom yells her three favourite words: “Bayil,” “Emal,” “Togal.”
In her tiny little head, she yells back, “why?”
“Why on earth would I wanna do that?” As she proceeds to breaking the new flower vast. She’s been meaning to do that ever since she saw it. She loves the sound of things when they are breaking.
“I’m even thinking about moving the center table,” Aja said as she laid her head on Omar’s shoulders on the couch. He wrapped his hands around her.
“I don’t think baby Bin can move or break this table,” Omar said sizing the table.
“No, but she climbs on it. I’m afraid she’ll…
She ran to find baby Bin in the mix of scattered glasses, steady, still. For a one year something month old child, she was trouble beyond her age. She carried her to the living room, handed her to her father and went to clear the glass.
“I think she inherited stubbornness from you,” she said coming from behind.
“Oh no, we both know where she got that from, I was a very agreeable child.”
“What are you implying?” She scolded.
“You’re the stubbornest person I know,” he said.
“Is that even a word,” she said laughing.
In her father’s arms, baby Bin slept like the baby she was, Aja lying down next to them. It was moments like this, this right here…
Tarru Salon is always packed with clients especially on a Saturday. Kombeh called earlier to book an appointment with Ajie Sukay her personal hairdresser. Well, it was sort of giving her a heads up. The salon operated on a ‘first come first served’ basis. Ajie Sukay did Kombeh’s hair whatever time she came in. Her generous tips over the years have earned her that preferential treatment. She would complete the hair she was working on, and do Ajie’s immediately without a care for who was next in line. She doesn’t even feel a tad guilty about it.
“What’s the occasion,” Ajie Sukay asked. It was a casual question.
“I don’t have an occasion wolie. Just feel like changing my look.”
Ajie Sukay has come to appreciate this about Kombeh. Unlike most of her clients who get their hair and nails done only occasion to occasion, Kombeh can do her hair midweek. She also liked that Kombeh was daring when it came to looks, she was always switching it up. That allows her to go wild and make a go at different hairstyles and even invent hers.
Kombeh was beautiful too, perhaps that helped. She has never done a hairstyle on Kombeh that didn’t look beautiful or suitable for her face.
She had times when clients would tell her what they wanted and she’ll go “hmmm, huh?”
She knew it wouldn’t suit their faces. She’ll tactfully suggest another style. If they were adamant, she’d get along with it. After all, she’s after her pay. She has been saving to open her own salon very soon, one year was her timeline. And she knew clients like Kombeh will happily follow her.
“It’s very nice. I love it.” Kombeh thanked Ajie Sukay.
She paid her, gave her usual generous tip and took the short route home.
Kombeh took great pleasure in taking care of herself. From the tailors, hair and nails, shoes, to makeup. People often asked her who she does it for. The assumption of course, it had to be for a man.
“My damn self,” she’ll reply each time with much irritation.
She didn’t even have a boyfriend, didn’t care for them. She loves her space, her peace and quiet and her ME time, which is all the time. There was no space for men. In fact, if she had her way, they wouldn’t look at her, they wouldn’t talk to her, they wouldn’t share the same air. She’ll have a sign that says:
DO NOT LOOK
DO NOT TALK
YES YOU, MOVE ALONG
To be continued….