We talked about everything.
Her Mum (the cancer came back, she went to India for an operation, she is better now,) her rabbits and how they became dinner (she thought she might try keeping a pet but they pissed and shat everywhere), her cat ran away (cats are weird, that one was weirder), what she plans to do with her life (go back to school outside the country) and travel (hers and mine and how we both were in Dar Es Salaam recently), how the book she returned seemed interesting (but she could not bring herself to read it), how she does not get this whole feminism thing any more, how she stopped exercising after losing the weight she wanted (she intimates she has probably gained it back. I don’t mention I was doing a half-marathon that I didn’t run due to a logistical snafu).
My parents are fine. My sisters are doing well. One is sitting her national exams later in the year. I finally moved into my own house. I’ll go back to school in two years. I’m trying to read a book a week and also read more books by women authors and people of colour. I’m not sure about this being woke stuff. I want to travel inside and out of Kenya. I never started running or going to the gym like I had promised myself I would, although, as you recall, I used to walk a lot before I moved out of my cousin’s house.
I tell her this hour spent like old friends was nice and we should do this again. Yes.
We talked about nothing.
Embraced by a cool morning, we walked a winding road together and apart, afraid to touch the contours of the nuanced silence encapsulating us. Each lull in the conversation was a shift towards a sweet death, away from memories of pain.
The lack of words was louder than the pop mariachi music coming from the café’s speakers. Is this when we speak about how I hurt her and how she hurt me back in return? A razor slice to my face in retaliation to a scythe to her heart? Now do I attempt to explain why I’m apologizing and tell her what amends I plan to make? I don’t know how to take back the pain, so why am I doing this, why am I here?
Is this when I say out loud what I wrote in the emails and tell her how sorry I am for the lies and the cheating? Is time for the smiles and forced banter to fall away and leave us exposed as still hurting? Is this when the cordiality falls through our fingers?
Is this where we expose ourselves to each other as the silly petty humans we are beneath her white chiffon dress and black stockings and my white tee shirt and black jeans, where we get naked, shivering with the memories of our myriad of shared and perpetuated injustices?
No. We sit more quietly, turning inward into ourselves, and talk about how cold it is, with the unsaid being how icy we were and are to each other.