She had been there every day, same position, never moving, never getting bored of the same scenery. Same sitting posture, same type of dressing, red t-shirt and casual jeans. On a cold day she had a heavy red sweater. Her face had appeared stern to Tabu. And he had thought about her every day, gone to the same counter every single day perhaps to try and solve her as a conundrum he had never fathomed. But something attracted Tabu to her like unlike poles of a magnet like the bulb does to the moth. And he had hang around but never spoke to her, calculating and scheming, analysing and identifying but often Tabu wondered if she ever did notice him.
Tabu was a campus student in the growing town of Machakos. He lived in his own cubicle as many of his age mates, he spoke ate and drank his studies. He loved the smell of his books, they made him feel home because he never had one. When he was not studying he was playing for the school volley ball team because that was what his aunt had suggested. She had told him that he could read all the books in the world but without getting that connection with people he was bound to fail. Tabu had seen the truth in her aunt’s words. He had thought about them at night lying still in his thatched bed staring at grass roof. He had lay awake for long, too long.
His parents had passed away while he was still very young. His aunt had taken him in and brought him up as her own even when the pangs of poverty glared at their door and made them sleep hungry. Tabu loved his aunt as much as she loved him. The bond that existed among them was resilient past finances or food.
But that had been nineteen years ago. Tabu had done well in his final year at high school. He had been granted a scholarship by a local bank. Now he could pay for that cubicle at campus. He could buy a loaf of bread daily. But the bread had a string attached, he wanted to see her. He wanted to talk and touch her but seeing her was enough, for now. He longed to see her when she did her work as the cashier at Gilanis Supermarket. But beneath the surface he could see a demon buried beneath. He longed to know this demon and own it like a bad behaviour. He wanted to dress it daily so that it would give him the chance to know her. He did not know any other better way than demons.
Tabu observed her that evening. Her chocolate brown complexion was hot coffee on a cold day to him. Her hands were a good massage after a hard day in the office with a demanding boss. The way she licked her lips made the angels go rogue from heaven, come down and do a dougie with him on earth. And he knew he had to speak to her one day. Tabu had to open his mouth and make his lips move and address anything at her. Say something like she had good eyelashes or her ear-piercings were done by a thoughtful devotee, he just had to have something out of his mouth. He had to drink from the rivers of her voice. He was thirsty. His dryness was a headache pounding his head at unbalanced intervals. This yearning was bizarre.
Tabu picked his loaf and walked to the counter like always. A drop of sweat trickled subsequently from his brow but he did not stop walking. His legs felt like they would give in any moment but he was intoxicated with prospect. Then it happened! He saw her release an acknowledging smile at him. First he was not sure if it was a smile then his brain went on rampage with guesses. Perhaps she wanted him to speak to her, she had got tired of seeing the same face at the counter every day and she desired that this loaf guy spoke to him. Or maybe she smiled at all her clients. Tabu, No!
Tabu had finally done it, asked her when she left work and she had answered that she left work after ten minutes. Tabu had promised to wait outside, months of buying unnecessary bread had been enough foreplay. Tonight had to be the night but unknown to Tabu the clouds gathered together. The once ambitious woollen-like clouds had retreated and moved closer to form a dark nimbus cloud that now hang low, very low. The moon that had once glimmered with liberty now writhed behind the low cloud begging for attention. Tabu waited.
The lady had come to him with a smile he had never seen before. And she had offered him a hug, a payment for the months of staring without touching and he had felt her breast press against his warmly. The two twins that had made something shoot from his pants. They walked with no specific direction, they spoke without saying anything, their eyes met occasionally, she explained why she hated her job and he withheld information about his background. He tried to be as perfect as she was for her. But he still held his loaf in his hands.
Two deserving souls had found one another. Not even the darkness could hide the shimmer coming from them. The spoke of many things. Tabu talked of school, she spoke of work. She adored poetry, he had told her a memorized poem. It was paradise that had finally met heaven and the music played on in their souls.
She had suggested they go to her place for coffee and Tabu well aware of his cubicle’s condition had hurriedly agreed. And they had got to the two bed-room apartment. She had quickly rushed to the bathroom to freshen up and Tabu sat admiring her choice of art until his eyes were held hostage by a portrait. It was her, a man and a child. Tabu’s heart stopped.
He could not apprehend.
He threw caution to the wind and asked her above the rushing water from the bathroom who was that in the portrait. Casually she had replied that it was her family that lived upcountry in their small farm. The child was their daughter and they had been married for three years.
Tabu lost his mind.
He did not see his legs move to the kitchen, walk to the knife tray and grab a potato knife. There was no time to see his legs thud the bathroom door and hold her naked wet body with his right arm. Where was his eyes when his hands grabbed her neck and pressed and pressed? Pressed hard. Until something snapped. And now he stared at her lifeless naked body on the bathroom floor, the captivating behind and bust had lost their glamour, her lifeless face was pale, the water continued to flow. The water was red now, blood oozed from her mouth like a water sprinkler. Tabu looked at his hands and noticed he had not used his knife. The knife had to be used, otherwise why go through the trouble of getting it? He even did not see himself bury the potato knife right across his throat. Tabu, No!