Short Stories

Paradise Lost (Part II)

(He then decided to brush away any thoughts from his mind lest he lose the way again. And especially, of the experience that impacted him today. On the experience that made him late. An experience he thought he would never find himself in. An experience with a lady…. )

He finally arrived at his house at 9.27 pm. Tired and still lost in thought. He sat on the edge of the bed and lay on his back. Soon enough he drifted to hypnagogia- that state of being half-awake, half-sleep. That state where the real is merged with the surreal. The conscious and subconscious mind all acting to create a reality that is half physical and half spiritual. And in such moments, men (and women) engage in lucid thoughts and dreams.

It is at this moment that his mind drifted to the experience of the day. For the mind does that which is impressed on it by the whole experience of a person and extrapolates in unprecedented fashion to create dreams. Dreams that sometimes are so real until some live in them. Kim at the moment, recalled his day in totality as if he was re-living it. He however wasn’t fully aware but his inner being was.

It is 7.30 am. He had woken up a little late but in the usual comrade-fashion was on the bus stop by 8am; having done all that is necessary. He remembered with a smile the campus moments when one could wake up 10 minutes to the start of the class and still make to the class 5 minutes before the lecture began. It was awesome times then. He wondered where some of his classmates were currently. Some were well employed and even others married while others still hustled. It was the way of life. Different and similar to some. Of importance is life though.

The day was bright and promising. Though the faces of many were sullen and sorrowful. The virus had created lots of disruption and just a few businesses were still in operation. In other counties and countries, lockdowns had been effected. But he hoped that the case would not happen to the whole country. This was especially in consideration of the families that depended on the daily income for survival. Unless the government created a feeding programme, otherwise many could suffer in starvation. It was a Catch 22 situation nonetheless. Starvation vs Infection. Which was the lesser evil? He could not come to a conclusion and so shifted to other thoughts.

The Super Metro Matatu aptly named ‘St. Gabriel’ stopped and he hopped in. The capacity was not full but he could not immediately confirm if the 60% rule was observed. He found a sport at the back and sat down ensuring that there was an empty seat between him and any other passenger. The music was playing loudly but not as those of the Rongai bound Matatus. The fare was higher than usual but it was expected. Luckily enough the matatu did not pick to the full capacity and off they set off to town making a brief stop at Westlands. 25 minutes later at 8.30 am he was already at the alighting stage close to The National Archives. The place he had visited at one time 5 years ago. The outside is always brimming with people but the inside left to the few lovers of art and history. This day however, the people were few. Even those purporting to give prizes at the back of a car and those doing exhibitions of natural herbs were absent. The two things he never really understood. The former, he was sure was some sort of trickery. He had one day gathered courage and spoke to three policemen enquiring on the nature of such a business. One of them laughed slightly and asked him if he had been conned. Then he said they have licences and categorised as gambling. He couldn’t comment nor ask farther lest they found him with some created crime.

He hurriedly made his way to the Re-Insurance Plaza where he interned. The day was a half day briefing and basically the interns were handed work to go and do at home. A majority of which were the sorting and entry of data for business analytics. By 1 pm they had exited the place and Kim at this point made the call to the second person in the story. The cause of his present state. In a déjà vu moment, he felt like he had being at this point and made the same call but he couldn’t remember exactly when. Some would use that to support reincarnation theories. But he being a Christian believed not in reincarnation. From a distance, within or without he could hear the sound of ‘Mpongo Love’. The place had a few traders selling some few items. It was a tough period. Even the Masai Market was not operational. The main customers being foreign tourists who at the present could not visit.

The call was picked after a few seconds and he spoke briefly with the other party. They agreed to meet at Odeon Bus Station. He made his way to the Cinema (Does it exist?) or rather stage. A few minutes later she arrived. She was clad in a sporty and light attire. Despite the simplicity she looked stunning and every moment she had been since that time that they met in campus. For whichever reason he had liked her more than any other and she too had reciprocated albeit after a period of time. They smiled at and greeted each other in a Namaste fashion. This was the in thing in town. Hugs and handshakes were totally prohibited and one risked the public wrath if they failed to follow the rules. Several points were available for washing (watching for others) hands and everyone was mandated to wash them.

They then proceed to the next stage where they were given an alcohol based sanitizer to apply on their hands before boarding the matatu. They had made the plan before and the situation could not hold them back. They were willing to risk everything just to make this day be. Maybe it was foolish as it is said to be but nonetheless it was worth it. If there is something called love, then this could be it. The destination was a place in the nearby Kiambu County. A getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. The fare was as expected higher than usual but not exorbitant. The government had called upon the operators to be considerate and understand the situation. To carry at reduced profits though the directive was not well received. The pandemic had affected directly or indirectly every sector of the economy. But in the midst of these, the two had decided to experience beautiful moments together. Who knows but this could be their last moments together. Life is very unpredictable and changes can and do happen naturally. And the day was not an exception. In the car they had to chat using their phones for communication. Though in the same car nonetheless but the distance did not allow for chit chat. The situation was not strange though for family members had been seen in the recent times on their phones chatting with each other via the phone yet present physically. A funny world indeed.

Soon enough, they arrived at the destination. The entrance was a bit far off and so they had to walk for a little while. The distance was long but short in their perception. The relativity of space and time probably. As they neared, they saw the board and on it were the inscriptions ‘Paradise Lost’. And that day they were either lost in paradise or a paradise was lost. The tales of what occurred within remain in the minds of the two. And the connection to the present state of Kim is his to tell. Maybe after he exits the hypnagogic state and sleeps or wakes.

It is now 9.29 pm. Yes all this happens in a matter of seconds for that is the nature of dreams and the mind.

PS: Don’t assume the precautions in the name of love. The story is imagined by one hidden deep in Kajiado County. Stay home. Keep safe. Stop Covid-19

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