I met Maria the second the time in a strip club as she was busy shoving her nice pair of big breasts on my face. It was a club in the dingy dark dreadful streets of Nairobi. She was my sister but I would never have recognized her from the bushy synthetic hair on her head to the little amount of blood in my alcohol circulatory system.
She was not my sister really, at least not biologically. She was just the nosy girl next door in my parents’ neighbourhood when I was growing up. She was always in our house looking for food and she never went away. This was not the first time I had seen her nice pair of breasts but that is another story I might decide or decide not to tell later.
The first time I had met Maria was a few days after I was born. A three-year-old girl looking down at my slimy small disfigured face straight from the maternity hospital. There is an old photo of that moment at home.
It is weird getting a lap dance from a stripper you know. Especially one that has been present all through your childhood. Yet at the same time, a VIP ticket in that strip club cost Ksh. 1000 which was a little too much to waste on not getting a lap dance. I am not a nice person, I wish I was the nobility kind but this is not your usual heroic kind of story, sadly.
So we both survived the excruciating lap dance. The male parts that were supposed to respond accordingly to the lap dance failed miserably and there was nothing that could be done about it.
She pretended not to know me. She even pretended that I could not see her by covering my whole face with breasts but I did see her, I knew her and I knew she knew I was not new because I knew it was her.
She was the ever-present sister I never had.
I could tell that she was having a difficult time committing her service to me, the client, on this particular night from the glimpses I stole when her breasts took a break from my face. Certainly, it was the alcohol that randomly decided to call out her real name to her face but it was not a very clever idea because the moment I said the name ‘Maria’, she immediately froze on her axis. Planted herself into my lap stunned with an expression that was anything else but pleased. She looked at me like a haze of delirium had appeared to her cognizant.
I think the reason strippers have stripper names is to hide from the face of reality. That their lives have been reduced to the insignificant job of sexual objectification to a rowdy, unpleasant and predator nothingness. You call a stripper by her real name and reality comes crushing to her mind like an avalanche of snow in an earthquake.
She snapped. She turned the other way round, an indicator that I had lost the rights to her breasts for pretending to know it all. I was not really into the whole thing, in fact, I consider myself more of an ass person than a boobs kinda person.
Her new position had her ass wobbling on my thighs half-heartedly. I knew it was half-hearted because this was not my first time chasing a weekend drooling over naked girls dancing on strip poles.
Since we already here, I will just go ahead and tell you the first and second time I saw her nice pair of breasts. The first time was through a keyhole in our home’s shower. Her mother had been fighting with her new boyfriend over at their home, so she camped at ours for one week, then two weeks, three… a month then two months. Then one day, her mother just came from the blues and collected her like a lost and found item. It was naughty, not what the mother did, No, that was disturbing, but the whole act of peeping into the bathroom as she took a shower. That time I was just curious.
The second time I saw her nice pair of breasts was the day I discovered sex. It was a revelation. So we were just lying in bed, my bed, not hers, I never at once saw her bed. Come to think of it, did she ever really have a bed? Now, we were just chilling and then with her sixteen years of experience, she decided to ask whether my thirteen years of inexperience had ever been with a woman before. It was a suspicious question because she knew very well that she was my only female friend. Actually, my only friend.
So I said no and she giggled. And then giggled some more. I got curious and determined to know what this sex thing was all about and instead of showing me a porn video like everyone else in such a situation, she decided to show me her puberty breasts. She even let me touch them a bit. I later had to go change my pants because something that had never happened before, happened. And it felt like happiness. Or so I thought.
Third time is last weekend in a strip club. The day I made the single most stupid decision of my life.
So, I was telling you guys that she is now wobbling slowly and uninterestedly on my thighs, right? So I call a lady waiter who is hanging by the counter. She is merely in her birth suit. The club atmosphere is filled with dancehall music. It would be impossible to listen to your own thoughts in here. I signal her by lifting my hand and she approached my table. Wait, she was not really utterly naked, I lied to be more dramatic. She is dressed. She is dressed in high heels and a bushy wig on her head. Meanwhile, Maria is on my lap facing the other side, probably looking for a new client so that she could ditch me.
The naked waiter who is not really naked, together with her tonnes of makeup and perfume arrive at my table like a committee. So I shout in her ears that I wanted to change my VIP ticket to VVIP by adding Ksh. 4000 to the Ksh. 1000 I had already paid. She asks me who I would have liked to take with me to the VVIP room for a private dance hinting in a sweet seductive voice that I should take her. I welcome her attempt but as I hand her the four crisp one thousand notes, I tell her, I would choose her next time, for now, I needed the disinterested and demotivated girl seated on my lap because as sure as death, what she was doing was not dancing.
She is disappointed but she takes the money all the same and walks to Maria, whispers something to her ears who again freezes and throws a nasty glare at me, then a suspicious curious expression before she stands on her feet, takes my hand and leads me the VVIP private section. I let her lead me. I let her take me to the red velvet sex rooms of sin.
If you have ever been to a strip club, or if you have read a vivid description of someone’s encounter at a strip club, there is one thing everyone chooses to leave out of the tale. I am not sure if it is a strange coincidence or just ignorance. Nobody talks about the smell of nakedness. Sure, there is the smell of alcohol and cigarettes but there is also that distinct smell of nakedness that fills the room. It is not a pleasant smell. It is a smell of desperation, misery and desolation.
I could go to such clubs a thousand times but I would never, not even once, fail to notice that smell.
We pass through a stripping pole where a stripper had climbed to the top of the pole, naked as at birth. Spinning and spinning. Then she had her thighs wide open with one cigarette in her mouth and the other in her lady parts. She would smoke through both organs and the crowd below seemed to be amused by her expertise. I was more interested in her face, I looked hard, perhaps trying to read an emotion or an expression on her face but none was forthcoming. It was just plain, emotionless and lifeless. I shook a little.
Eventually, we get to the red room. Immediately, I remove my jacket and throw it over Maria’s shoulders. I planned to do many things before the night was over but Maria was not one of them.
She accepts the offer and takes a seat beside me. We are silent for a while. The music is far away so it would be a decent place to have a conversation. I had so many questions, most of which I was sure she would never want to answer. She breaks the ice, surprisingly, observing that I did not look like a person that would be in such a place. I repeat the same idea about her and she notices the sarcasm and frowns.
She knew I had questions. She did not wait for the questions to be asked, she just went ahead explaining that she had a day internship job at one of these big firms in the city. The internship pays nothing for the first six months and this was a hustle to have food, transport and bills on time. Her voice breaks a little as she confesses that she was happy that it was me who walked in that night and not some rough guy she would have to tolerate all night. My heart melts like toffee.
It is incredible how much a resilience a human being is willing to go through to improve the quality of life.
Anyway, the Ksh. 5000 covered for only thirty minutes in the VVIP room and my time with Maria was over. She asked if I was willing to pay for thirty more minutes and when I stammered from shock on how fast she had changed the topic, she got up and left.
She went with my jacket. My jacket that had my wallet.
I asked whether anyone had seen her. Nobody knew a Maria in this club, not even the management. It dawned on me like a rainstorm, slowly at first then rapidly, Maria was not looking for pity, she was chasing after survival like we all are.
Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri.