16 Feb 2016

A footballer and a tea leaf

Last night I had a dream.

In it was a man I do not think about outside a green tuff, leather, and very sweaty 22 men. He is tall, dark, and well, never thought of him as handsome. Do not get me wrong. He is not bad on eyes, and he does have a kind of  “will grow on you eventually” look.  He’s the kind of man that you meet and think, he looks like good people, until he gives you a certain look, a smile - the kind that starts at the corners of his full lips, doesn’t quite completely break and stops as fast as it began. Then you think about those lips. And think again.

So last night I found myself walking in between endless bushes of a luscious tea plantation. With this man on my side. The dream opened like a movie. Of course, how else! Establishment shot, two people, a couple, walking next to each other, surrounded by an endless sea of green.  A stretch of the truth here in this dream- the spaces between the bushes allows for a single file. Oh well, it’s a dream. It was not a lovers stroll, more like two friends who have known each other a while, the kind that communicates without saying a word and silence is not lack of words but their abundance that commands it.

Those do exist, by the way.

Move closer, medium shot. She’s all of 5 feet. He’s towering at 6’2. His head cocks ever so slightly to catch what she is saying. She looks towards him, but does not look at him. I am now hovering over myself. And Yaya Toure. Even in my dream I do a double take. Come on! I did not even realize I knew how he looks like that well. We are talking. About a football match. And he is telling me how he’s frustrated and misunderstood. I ask Cakegate? I could not resist the urge. He shakes his head and smirks. It wasn’t about cake; it was about little things that mean something. From friends.

He plucks a tealeaf, places it on my palm. We stop and both look at the leaf. I do not ask, he knows the question, but does not answer it. Yet. He bends and blows it from my palm. As if hesitant, the leaf slides of my palm, hovers between us for the shortest second, then ebbs away. You cannot hold on to things forever Merc. Letting go doesn’t make you weak; it means you have the strength to build again.

I scoff.

I look around. No cameras.  I am having a therapy session with a footballer on a very windy day in the middle of a tea plantation in Limuru. My brain has new definition of mindfuck. I am always game. I decide to engage.

That leaf is not building. It’s gone to rot. He smiles. The kind I talked about above. So I think about those lips. And think again. It’s gone to be useful in its rot. Because even at your broken, you are still you. Okay, so maybe he is making sense. Not good grammar, but sense all right. I do not have to be green to be useful. Or beautiful. Even in my rot, I am still me.

Back to him, I ask. Are you at your rot?  He laughs. A genuine laughter. He knows I am not going to let him pry into me. I am going to jab back. And hard. It’s getting blusterier, and our voices seem to carry away from us. He pulls his jacket closer to his body. His arms do not go unnoticed as the thin fabric stretches across them. I am not a leaf when I play. Because talent is the whole plant, not part of. The trick is to know when it’s dry, and when you need to water it more. Otherwise it dies completely. And then, there are leaves. Part of the whole.

Too corny; but then again, never thought of life in terms of plants and their components. Your life is your talent, your essence. What you stand for. That is you, the plant. Other aspects of your life may change, read rotten leaves but that does not kill the plant. Only you do.

The first drop of rain hits my forehead. The second my eyelash, forcing me blink. I haven’t been. We are now face-to-face. Well, not really. It's more of face-to-chest. It’s raining. He whispers. Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a regular Sherlock. I whisper back. A man handed his own. He nods, biting his lower lip and chuckles. I join. He grabs my hand and we ran. He is jogging. I am running.

We are not in a tropical climate anymore. The rain has turned into slate. The ground is covered by a blinding white carpet that crunches on our feet as we run. It’s snowing. I stop suddenly, an action that pulls him back. I look up to the sky as a few chilly flakes fall on my face.  I want to feel this. I say, almost out of breath. That is what you get for thinking you can run (trot in my case) with an athlete. He pushes strands of my braids from my face and wipes the snow off with a finger. Are you putting out a fire? It’s my turn to laugh. I haven’t heard myself laugh from my soul in a long time. He is watching me, intently. As if trying to read my answer from my thoughts before I can say it. My eyes betray me a lot. He knows he is not going to get a direct answer. We are in sync again. We actually do not need words. But we use them anyway.

I could be piling on the cold. He was expecting this and has a quick rejoinder. Your heart does not know cold. Very matter-of-factly said. I open my mouth to counter him. He does not let me. He grabs me by the shoulders and shakes me ever so gently. As if trying to dislodge that thought I had poised for rebuttal and push it over the abyss of my brain. Kill it. Correction. He starts. Your heart knows cold. It has felt it. It just doesn't know how to process it. Cannot even emit it. You're all fire.

My heartbeat quickens. He has pried into my heart. It is uncomfortable. He's right. I only know fire. It's always passionately sweltering, intensely blistering, incredibly consuming, and absolutely sizzling hot inside me. I am fiery ball of fire inside despite the any cool exterior fa├žade I might project. He’s seen me. And I want to hide. He knows this. He feels me shrink. He lets me. Slowly, he pulls me to him and holds me against him. I feel his fire. It’s explosive. His heartbeat is loud and foreign. Heartbeats are not a sharp sound. They are a hum when the heart is at peace, and a gentle comforting thud, like love falling gently on the hearts' surface when restless.

His is neither.

It’s piercing, and scary. I want to look up at him. I want to see this face with the strange heartbeat. He’s looking down at me, with a knowing smile. I am beginning to think, in all the ways I shouldn't. But the sound of his heartbeat is getting louder. He moves his hands from around me to my face. Cups it the way you would an egg.

If you're into that sort of thing.

And I smile, trying hard to ignore his now screeching heartbeat. Because I know what is coming. My eyes in my dream begin to close, the telltale sign of expectancy, as my eyes out of dream begin to open. My alarm is going insane. I fell asleep with my phone next to my pillow.

My mind needed to get my attention. And it used the one thing I have been paying attention to. 

I really need to stop watching that much football. And need to start writing more. 

Message home. Brain. 

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