Sasa?

Fit.

Uko na dredi poa.

Thanks.

Si nilidhani unaishi Ngei?

My dad lives in Ngei, I live here.

Weuwee, Miss Independent … we hu-do nini?

Niko niko tu.

Hata mimi niko niko tu. Lakini yenyewe uko na dredi poa. Miss Black Beauty.

Thanks.

So … unafanya nini kesho?

Niko niko tu.

Si basi we do a polite?

(Laughing) A polite what?

A polite drink.

(Smiling) I don’t drink.

A soda then? … Si you take my number.

No, but thank you.

Haya … sawa … goodnight.

So here’s my question. Is this a typical conversation between a guy and a girl? I ask because last night was my first one. I was walking home when the guy walks up to me and we have this exchange. It was 9.00 p.m. and I’ve never seen the guy before, though he seems to know me so I guess he’s from the neighbourhood. I’ve lived in the area most of my life, so he could be anyone from a long-forgotten childhood playmate to a watchie, a waiter, or a guy from the posho mill.

The upside (and sometimes downside) of living in the same neighbourhood all your life is the familiarity. Every village has a madman, and every area has a resident drunk, or a known petty thief, or a token gigolo. In my case, they’re all people I went to nursery school with. So it’s not unusual for a dude to come staggering up to me at 9.00 a.m. on a Tuesday and give me a hearty hug. I hug back because in my mind, this drunk is still the kid I knew, the five year old who shared my desk, or the ten year old that was my first crush.

My daughter knows all the estate boys I went to school with, and she knows to be polite but keep a safe distance. The trouble is these neighbourhood drunks have friends, and so does my building caretaker, hairdresser, the car-wash guy, the charcoal vendor, kiosk owners, or even the cyber-cafe owner that I chat with every day. So any one of those ‘friends’ may think it’s okay to make a move on me, since I’m so … nice.

I didn’t get a good look at my five-second-guy, because it was dark, and because I was too amused and confused to pay much attention. Also, I’ve always assumed that if a guy likes you, he asks for your number instead of offering his. At least that’s what it says in the movie. Of course once I was done being confused, I switched to paranoid. I mean, for all I know, he could be a thug planning a break-in, or a kidnapper who followed me home.

All this week, I’ve been going on about how no one ‘normal’ ever hits on me, and yet in the past three days, three strangers have asked for my number (or, in this case, offered me theirs). Clearly, someone up there is laughing loud and long. I’m not really sure what to make of it, or whether it has any impact on the ‘bigger picture’ but it does feel nice to be asked out, even in paranoia-inducing-circumstances. And after all, watchmen are people too.

Once I got inside my house, I called a male friend to ask if the exchange with Mr. Five Seconds was a typical thing. He laughed and said, ‘Frankly, if I wanted a pretty girl’s attention and I only had five seconds, I really don’t know what I would do or say.’ The conclusion was that if this guy is serious about asking me out, he’ll show up again, preferably in daylight. And maybe next time, I’ll be focused enough to check him out and see if he’s an actual prospect or just some guy from the local who was trying to win a bet.

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