SCRATCH THE SURFACE

I held the sun in my hand,
but it felt cold.
Not like the flaming ball of Orange in the sky
but like a globe of ice.

It is a little past noon and the meeting has just been called to order. Scott is the facilitator.  We do not know his surname. Nobody knows anyone’s surname here.  I even doubt his name is Scott. People are comfortable not knowing much about one another in this group. It is my third time here and everyone is looking expectantly at me. I had to attend this group therapy because my supervisor said I either attend it or I face the sack. I do not want to be jobless so here I am.

“Hello, I am Catherine and I am an angry person,” I unreservedly declare.

“Hi Catherine,’’ the six people in the humid room reply in a boring monotone.

They are; three almost-gentlemen whose names I can’t recall, two ladies and a ferret. The animal is owned by Scott. He says it helps him focus. I think he just loves animals but won’t admit it. He excitedly talks about anger. He is not angry. I am confusion itself.

He starts preaching about how antisocial we are. Not because of the anger but because we are too passionate. What a paradox. We have always been that way even before the discovery of the global village. Hello mother, I am not angry, I am very passionate. Ha ha.

Everyone nods in agreement but I couldn’t be bothered. I am pissed off. I miss my phone and a strong Wi-Fi connection. I want to tell my hundreds of followers how boring this meeting is. I am not ready to form friendships or any real life connections as Scottie is suggesting. I call him Scottie. Not to his face but on my mind he is Scottie the Ferretie.

I hate when I have to talk about my feelings. I am a bubbly person but below the surface that Scottie and his band of feel-Happy artists want to scratch is a cauldron of smoldering anger. And a deep desire for release.

There are many things I am angry about. Today, I am mad at Mary and her malicious self. Mary is a girl I should not have called. But I did. Follow me.

It had been a normal Friday evening. The traffic in Nairobi city coughed like and sputtered. The touts slapped the thighs of the loud Matatus and Facebook was still Instagram for old people. I am old-ish. As I scrolled through photos of extremely good-looking men on Facebook, my notifications badge blinked red with a message. I have always replied to them and so I decided why not.

It was a lady asking for my phone number because well, she had something very important to tell me. I encouraged her to share in my inbox but I think she thought I am part of those Russian spies or something. She wouldn’t. She was adamant too that all it took was her talking to me on the phone. She graciously gave me her number.

A few days later, after twiddling and doodling with the number, I decided to give it a buzz. A buzz. Mm, I admire people who speak like that.

“Yo Boris, give me a buzz later. Cheers.”

“Cheers, mate”, Johnson tells Boris.

So I buzzed. I was ready with a wise-ass line. I wanted to tell the owner of the meek “Hello” at the end of the line that it still wasn’t safe to talk. That we could go to the heart of Chalbi desert with my eyes blindfolded and after using three planes, one rickety Chevy and a camel to throw off anyone keen enough to follow me.

That or maybe, it is time we met in a Library on the same aisle and talk to each other while reading different books and never eyeing each other because spies might be listening in on our little chat. We may have to run for our lives soon.

I did not do it. After introductions and her vote of thanks for my auspicious call to her, she dropped the bombshell. Literally.

“How is Jim? Do you think I can trust him?” She eagerly waited.

Now, Jim and I had been married for a while before I realized the trouble I was enshrouded in and walked away. This was when I was waiting and praying to the gods of marriages to touch my husband and return him to me.

It was one of my most vulnerable points in life. Maybe not quite because no good deed goes unpunished but this was it. I was hurting and a new girl was asking me how to handle my soon to be ex-husband. Satan is not short of surprises and innuendos.

Mary laughed in my silence. She giggled. I realized the meek voice was meant to throw me off-balance because instead of a bird learning to fly, I heard the chirp of a vulture used to the hunt.

“Catherine, I want you to know I came to your wedding and I have your man. He has even visited me and I love him very much,” She cheerfully announced. After the dark angel on my left shoulder finished laughing at the white angel on my right shoulder, I replied in the most honorable ways.

“Jim is a great man and you can trust him. Also thanks for letting me know about your plans. If there is nothing else, I wish you a good day.” I hung up before that maniacal laugh from Mary the hunky dory got the better of me. I needed to hung up and block her on all platforms. It was nauseating.

I was angry. Angry that my dear husband had gone to such great extents to make sure that I was not only hurt but shattered.

I should have shared with the group. I should have told them how agonizing It felt to be replaced that fast. But I did not. I kept telling myself stories as the group members spilled their guts out. All I wanted to do was sign the attendance register then grab my phone and start interacting with hollow profile holders on social media.

My new found drug was sunshine laced posts and comments on social media. I liked how it used to numb the pain.

This meeting was outliving its usefulness. Scottie the Ferretie wanted us to recite the 12 steps heavily borrowed from Alcoholic Anonymous. I was not amused. Nothing in this room was a source of amusement apart from that brown ferret with piercing eyes.

I have been thinking lately about why women hurt other women. I have asked myself that question a million and one times. I have been wondering what Mary hoped to achieve or did achieve by hitting below the belt with me. Was it all worth it at the end? I would be disappointed for her sake if it wasn’t.

I have learnt to sell nothing short of happiness in spite of a cloud of dark. My journey, like that of many other men and women may have been scribbled with the right amount of agony but we triumphed. We faced our fears and did something anyway. Scared of the rising sun but opening the curtains nonetheless.

People, in a nutshell, will always do whatever they want to do and there is nothing we can do to stop them. I could hate people if I wanted to. Maybe label them in colorful words It is in your best interest to know that sometimes when it rains it pours. You may think you have seen it all and then boom! It gets worse. But It gets better too. It does. As soon as the storm passes, we will safely anchor the ship and have a party.

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