Reading The Blue Clerk, 164

“Verso 51.1”

During the rainy season, we’d slide down the hilly path, delighting in the wet and suck. Once, my father slid a coffee bean from its red berry and taught me to taste the sweetness of the fruit. There are small moments that sound significant when recounted, when 30 seconds of something forgettable imprint as something else. I have been harvesting small moments.

There was a dry riverbed running through the bare majestic buckle of mountains.

The year my father died, my mother sent me to England to spend Christmas with my sister. It was the first Christmas without him. Our combined grief would have made the walls weep. I do not remember missing him that Christmas. There was nothing to remind me that he was gone. Not even his face in my mirror.

the rage of mountains

In those days, passengers would clap when the plane landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. We had survived the journey. We were home. Did we all hate flying that much? Six years later, we had stopped clapping. There was little to celebrate. Or, we’d grown cynical. Too aware of the silences to which we were returning.

please fasten your seatbelt

On that flight home, the plane was empty, and I stretched across three seats, a luxury. Did I read something? I must have. That was the trip that passed through Gatwick. I spent many hours at that mostly deserted airport, unable to sleep in the deeply uncomfortable chairs, unable to buy anything with the emptiness in my bank account, and, anyway, the shops were closed. And when I arrived, they looked at me to find the person they imagined I had become, and I was not there.

the dry barren inclines

As you swoop into Nairobi, you are told to look over the national park. On a clear day, you can see zebras. They stand out. Other animals fade into the grassland. And you think you might have seen a lion. Once.

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