“What’s your biggest regret?” Nabil asks me.
I don’t know what to say. My biggest regret? I have no idea. Everything I’ve done so far has worked out pretty well for me. “Well, in University I had the option of pursuing a degree in medicine or going into media. I chose the media. I regret that,” I say.
I’m lying, of course. But I find that people treat you differently when they think you have a brain. Nabil looks suitably impressed and makes a cryptic comment.
“I think there will be bigger regrets than that,” he says.
“Why do you say that?” I ask sharply.
He takes a drag of his shisha to avoid answering. He is saved from responding by the return of his brother and I forget about his comment. I am very, very drunk by now.
“Your phone is charging,” he tells me.
I nod. Another round of drinks come. It occurs to me that they are on soft stuff and I’m the only one getting toasted but I keep going. Alcohol is interesting, especially when dealing with sober people. I keep repeating the same story to them and they nod and smile and say politely that I have shared this tonight.
“You told us already,” Nabil says.
“Yes, but did I tell you this part?” and I launch into the whole story over again. My voice is higher and I laugh a lot, launching into the same story for the fifth time.
“It’s time to go,” Nabil says with an indulgent smile. He pays the bill. We head towards the parking lot.
“Wait. My phone,” I say.
“I have it right here,” Nabil’s brother says holding it up. “Let me hang on to it, you may lose it,” he says.
I stumble into the car. I don’t remember him going to pick it up after he left it charging. I must be really drunk. Nabil gets behind the driver’s seat, his brother gets into the back and I ride up front. I put on my seat belt.
“Where do you live?” Nabil asks.
“Why? Aren’t we going to your place?” I ask.
“It’s a little far from here,” he responds.
“Don’t you want me to join you?” I ask.
I know he is married but Mr N told me he has a den for taking women. I assumed that was the plan all along.
“Where do you live?” he asks again.
“South B,” I say.
“Alone?” he asks.
“Yes,” I respond.
He nods, catching his brother’s eye in the rear view mirror.
“We shall go to my place,” he says. “Like I said, it’s a little far. Feel free to doze off.”
He is not kidding, we are still on the road 40 minutes later and the effects of the alcohol kick in and I pass out.
When I wake up, I’m not in the car. I’m in a bare room on a small mattress with no covers. The floor is dirty and there is a musty smell in the room. It’s cold. And dark. Shivering, I stand up to look for a light. I run my fingers along the wall and come across a switch. Light fills the room as I turn it on. Where am I?
I head to the door. It’s locked. What’s going on? I try and remember where I was last night. I can’t think clearly. I’m so thirsty. There’s nothing to drink in the room. There is a small window but it’s very high up and I can’t reach it. I start to panic. What’s going on? My bag is on the floor and I grab it, trying to find my phone. It’s not in there. Neither is my wallet. Just some lipstick and a book I have been reading.
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