He was following me. I knew why he was following me but that didn’t make me feel any better.
“Madam nipe chupa yako.”
“No, it’s not mine. I can’t.”
“Basi ninunulie chakula”
I said no and walked away. Then I stopped. Did I really just walk away from someone who needed to eat? Right after buying books worth 300 bob off the cuff?
I looked at him and said, follow me. So he did. Off to the pie shop. two steaming hot mushroom and chicken pies, two bottles of juice.
“Do you read?”
I threw the children’s poetry book I had just bought into the mix.
“Here you go.”
He smiled. It was such a beautiful smile. The sort of smile you expect to see in those docudramas about starving African children. You know the one. The one where they’re all looking up at the camera and sort of giggling. Their playfully shoving each other around so you can get a better view of them. the one that’s usually in slow mo and the sound echoes so it haunts you. Yes that one. That’s the smile he gave me. Except it was real. And he didn’t look like he wanted anything more from me.
For all I know, he could be as allergic to mushrooms as I am. Maybe he’s passed out in a corner needing steroids. He could have been a con and telling his friends how he got a loose free lunch today. I’d like to think that he’s curled up in a warmish corner reading poetry and living in hope. I hope that maybe I was some sort of Elijah’s raven in his life. Maybe God used me to come through. To show him poetic chicken flavored love.