PC: Bikozulu’s website

If 1957 roused from its slumber and saw this room, it would stand hands akimbo, gently shake its head and whistle, baffled. And then say something like, ‘it’s alright, but you couldv’e done better with the colors.’ Something you’d say when fraught with envy. The room has bright peculiar orange walls, I run my figure to feel the texture – it’s rugged-ish. Adjacent to the door an African mask is pendant on a string that holds from a hook; I loath them, the masks. I feel like they could say something eerie to me at night. A massive lampshade sits on a shelf, beside it, a small stack of books that I wonder who reads. The ceiling is dark grey, like the color of swelled up clouds. The wooden floor under our feet squeak a little as we walk further in. Behind him, a cryptic painting of a man walking down a dim road takes a huge chunk of the wall. Everything I set my eyes on is antique. I don’t want to be here. I acquiesced to her perpetual cajoles, just to get the nagging off me. I plonk on one chair, apathetically. My back sliding lower on the chair a tad, akin to a sulky kid told ‘there is food at home’. She perchs on the other seat, gingerly, legs crossed and cuts a smile, which I roll my eyes at.

My wife, or who I thought was my wife and I are at the therapist; what some of you would call a shrink. Methinks shrinks sound so bizarre. It sounds like a moniker of someone who moonlights as a weed peddler at night. A guy who no one ever sees his face, not even the most avid client. He slides the sticks underneath his door, only after you have slid in the cash. Shrink only takes fixed cash, precision is his mien. Mobile money transcations are not allowed either, lest his name unfurls and sleuths get tipped off. Shrink does not sell to a new voice, unless it is accompanied by a familiar voice – one he can pick from his voice data base. Shrink doesn’t smoke either, he used to but later eschewed. Shrink is like the wind, he whistles and goes. Faceless.

The therapist harrumphs and for the first time I take an intentional look at him. A prismic golden block with the name ‘Dr. Otieno’ inscribed sits on his desk. Just like his walls, his face is rugged and dotted with moles (Did you think of Morgan Freeman?). His plump build sits on a swivel office chair. A lint sticks out from his goatee, I fret. His jawline is ebbing from extra weight gained around his neck. His mane, impressive; thick, a little greasy, curly and peppered with white strands – something rare to spot. If I were in my wonted chutzpah I would have asked him if I could fluff his hair like you would a fuzzy dog; I’m dejected so I won’t. I doubt he would let me. These guys with good hair think the world revolves around them. For his age, he has a perfect hairline. My green-eyed-monster wants it for himself. Mine is relenting to the coax of the sun. The sun says ‘please let me have more turf to shine on the other guy had a hair transplant’ and it reclines, can’t even put a foot down, such a push over. Maybe I’ll go bald and get rid of the tragicomedy that is my hairline. Maybe we won’t even be here if I had his heard his hairline, who knows?

“Good afternoon, it’s great you’ve made it here,” he utters and clasps his hands together in one clap.

I prop to sit more upright on the chair, in sheer reverence for this man with a rugged face. I can tell for sure he is younger than he looks. I bet listening to folk lament, bemoan, throw tantrums, even worse cry has spurred the wrinkles on his skin. It takes a toll on you, doesn’t it? Could a job be any sadder? Who does he go to when his life goes tits up? What’s his incentive for waking up in the morning and coming to this office where melancholic ghosts of broken men, women and heaven forbid children linger? Does he relish seeing people seek respite in him or is he some psychotic mercantile stalker with a portfolio, because that would be ingenious. Imagine guys paying you Ksh.10,000 per hour to unveil their secrets, it’s a kill.

“Good afternoon Dr. Otieno,” my wife retorts. I nod insipidly in agreement.

Her smile persists after the niceties. Can’t this woman decipher the sullen ambience here in. You are the reason we are even here in the first place. I should be at the local imbibing cold cans of beer to smother my angst and yet here I am. You have white teeth we get it smiley; i say to myself.
“Without further ado, let’s dive right to the crux of the matter. This is a safe space. No one will judge you, be yourself and let it flow. Be vulnerable,” he utters.

This is why I have been adamant on coming to see a shrink. Vulnerability is a foreign concept to me. Like most people of my ilk, vulnerability for us incomprehensible, it is something we wrap up and toss in a corner. Wearing my heart on my sleeves would resign me to uncharted depths of weakness, right? How would I even walk to a bar again without a cloud of guilt hanging over my head? How would I even taunt my friend, Jandi, for carrying his wife’s purse in public? It might as well snow in the Sahara before I lay my conscience bare for this man with rugged skin to read.

“So, where did the rain start falling?” the therapist quizzes sliding a recorder to the fringe of the table.

I gaze at the wall, as if therein lay answers I could glean, all I see is orange and I imagine the African mask winking on my back. I turn to check, just in case.

“I cheated on him, two years ago and he still dwells on it,” my wife blurts out brazenly. My dirty linen out in full glare.

“Is that true Mr?” the shrink asks.

I shift my eyes to him listlessly. Still sourcing for answers. I hunch closer to him for a clearer look.

“Your chin, there’s something on your chin,” I tell him, shrugging. “OCD,” I add.

He exudes a faint guttural laugh and takes the lint off his goatee. My wife sighs at me for my trivialities.

“Back to the question, did she cheat on you?”

“Look, I didn’t cheat on me. I wasn’t the one getting shagged out of wedlock. She’s better placed to answer that question”

Her palm kisses her forehead, getting me to open up was a pipe dream and she knew it. The therapist dabs his face with a kerchief. He knows it’s going to be hellish deriving information out of me. I was planning on giving them a hard time; him and my wife. It even feels weird using the words ‘hard time’ and ‘my wife’ in a sentence. It’s her who flouted, why should I speak.

“There’s not much I can do for you if you aren’t willing to talk, I’ll have to reschedule” he says looking at me.

I think to myself; I need him not to do anything for me. I didn’t pay a dime for the session. Neither did I call him to book a slot. It’s her who took the initiative. She claimed my drinking had gone through the roof. Saying something like ‘you need to heal’. Heal from what?

My thoughts wander. Jandi crosses my mind. He’s a teetotaler, water and juice are his shtick. He’s the happiest man I know, could be the most gleeful man this land has ever seen. Even after chiding him for being effete and emasculating him through josh. He just chortles with us. Does the pursuit of happiness lie in a woman’s handbag, what’s his secret?

My wife ups in a sudden jerk, gives me a dart glance and walks out in a huff. Rule of thumb; always follow your woman whenever she walks out of a room hurriedly. I could chose to disregard her absence and shoot breeze with the man, but I don’t think we have anything in common with him. What do men who dab themselves with kerchiefs even like? Beyond my bile. Beyond my rigidness to seek perspective. Beyond my ineptitude to attempt talking things out with her and the thickset before me. Beyond her infidelity and inadequate loyalty. Sits some fondness I hold for her, albeit trudging, it sits there with care and hope. Maybe we should bring up divorce, neither of us deserves this life, it’s a win-win.

I walk out after her and shut the door, she’s pacing back and forth, possibly thinking of what to do with me. I pull a 100 shilling note out of my wallet and slide it underneath the shrink’s door. A minutes goes. Two minutes pass. He doesn’t slide me anything in return, not even my note back. Nothing. I walk away with her, behind me, ghosts of broken souls.

2 thoughts on “THE OFFICE

  1. “I feel like they could say something eerie to me at night” ur just unbelievable Mwema😂😂bet you see figures in the dark too ay?😂😂”sleuths” sounds like sth perry the platypus could say..he just looks it😂😂 “Did you think of Morgan Freeman?” you made us!😂”His plump build sits..”hmm funny,I picture a slim tall man with a face so smooth😂..”Maybe we won’t even be here if I had his heard his hairline” aaah😂😂😂 “How would I even taunt my friend, Jandi, for carrying his wife’s purse in public?” wait,WHAT?!?!!😂😂had a mini heart attack there …even my drooping eyes stopped midway😂😂”Wearing my heart on my sleeves would resign me to uncharted depths of weakness, right?” wrooong..ok maybe but for the most part its good😂” I turn to check, just in case.” and i thought I was paranoid😂😂”could be the most gleeful man this land has ever seen” i seee😂😂 woishe the man is stubborn😂


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