I recently bumped into my ex-girlfriend. Whoever said exes are brought into your life to build you clearly never ran into one inside a fancy shopping mall.
Stacie and I dated for 3 years. She would then travel to the UK in 2017 for further education. Yes, I'm blaming higher learning for our break up.
We tried keeping in touch but absence makes the heart do some weird things, and we soon agreed that it was best to just move on.A woman at the airport checking the arrival departure boardFile
I haven't dated since then. Just a few near misses here and there, but nothing as deeply rooted.
Flashforward to November 27, 2020. I had just finished my full year at a logistics firm based in Nairobi.
This meant my salary came with something 'extra' perks as a way to mark my stellar year.
From the moment I peeped at my account balance on my Co-op app, my temperature went up by at least 3 degrees….I felt like I was in a good financial position to fund a section of the Nairobi Expressway.
The first thing I did was to order food online. The new-age mode of banking comes in handy when your account is loaded.
I simply paid for my bucket of spicy chicken, 2-litre Coke and mega-sized chips using my Co-op Visa Card.
I also proceeded to fund my forex trading account using the same cash.
With food and my ka-side hustle sorted…it was time to let the world know that ‘bonus imeingia’.
I called my parents just to ask 'if everything was ok back in Gatundu'...my mum knows me well...
Naona umelipwa...she said in a know-it-all tone...She could easily pass for a DCI officer...I thought to myself.
"I'm sending you something kidogo ya Christmas in advance," I told her, with my voice echoing all over our Gatundu 'mansion' as she had me on the loudspeaker.
I sent them ‘Mbuzi’ via the Co-op app plus a few sodas.A woman smiles while looking at her phoneFile
After ensuring everything was okay back home, I sat back on my squeaky sofa and started going through my phone.
'Best malls in Nairobi' I keyed on my Google search tab.
I hadn't been to one in ages, and my account balance was determined to see me bringing this streak to an end.
I quickly settled on Two Rivers along Limuru Road.
My one-bedroom apartment in Gachie made this the ideal pick as it was just a stone-throw away.
From the moment I drove into the security checkpoint, something felt off, but I just couldn't figure out what it was.
You know that feeling you get when you've forgotten something crucial, but for some reason, your brain just goes blank? That's what I was experiencing.
I was snapped back into reality by a friendly female officer who asked me to step out of the vehicle for a quick security check.
With the Rona around, security protocols had to be adjusted.
The security officers at Two Rivers maintained a no-touch policy...I opened all the doors of my black Suzuki Swift, as the lady used what looked like a gadget from star trek to confirm that I was there just to shop and hang out.
I was tempted to pet the beastly-looking German Shepherd that was following the security lady around but thought better of it.
One menacing look from the dog reminded me that this was not 'simba' (our kienyeji dog back in Gatundu).
I quickly got back in the car and drove into the mall.
Sanitizer dispensers were conveniently located at the elevators and I played my part in the war against Covid-19.
From the moment I stepped out of the elevator, I felt at home. My heightened temperature - due to my bank balance - had me itching to spend.
Carrefour was where I started and this was where I almost died from cardiac arrest later on....a fact I did not know as I walked briskly into the supermarket…I had a spring in my step that only pops in at the end of each month.Carrefour Supermarket entranceFile
I started out in the electronics section which is thoughtfully located just next to the entrance area…'big spenders enjoy convenience’... I almost laughed out loud at this voice in my head that was now calling me a big spender.
As I was browsing around the gamers section with the arrogance of someone who could afford everything on display, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
Hi silly…and there she was...Stacie.
I tried my best not to lose my cool or act surprised, but sometimes the body just develops a mind of its own…
It had been an eternity since I last saw her, but she looked just as pretty as the day we met…the only difference was a slight British accent.
Brown ankle boots, blue jeans and a light brown and white polka-dot dress. I always like her sense of style…I thought to myself…
Haiyaa...Stacie...what are the odds? I responded...still trying to keep it cool.
I know...right? She said.
We hugged and soon got lost in catching up.
As it turns out, she had taken the first available flight back in August (After President Uhuru eased some of the Covid-19 containment measures).
Her mum had fallen victim to the virus that had left my beloved country in ruins.
Wow...I’m really sorry, how is she? I asked.
She didn’t have to respond, the expressionless look that swept over her face said all that needed to be said.
We hugged again...(Come to think of it, that wasn't a good idea considering the social distance rule, but I hadn't been hugged in a while so...)
I did my best to try and distract her with tales of adventures since we last spoke. I eventually had her smiling when I took her through how I lost my smartphone to some shady pata potea scam…
We were soon strolling down the aisles and chatting like school kids…she didn’t ask if I was seeing someone, neither did I...this was a huge mistake, I soon learned.
I was throwing stuff on my trolley like I owned the place, PS4 games, designer cologne, those fancy looking water bottles...I even threw some dog food in there (I don't have a dog by the way but it just felt like a good idea).A shopping trolley at a supermarketFile
Feel free to throw in anything you need…I told her...this was clearly a day of schoolboy mistakes.
By the time we got to the till, my trolley looked like it belonged to a zealot who was getting ready to go on a 6-month retreat in the middle of nowhere.
Remember the confidence I had as I walked into the supermarket?... Well, it had deserted me…
With every beep from those fancy barcode scanners, my heartbeat went a notch higher…
2k, 4k, 8k (the 4k jump was after Stacie’s new pair of shoes finally had their turn at the bar code scanner…..we still had another pair to go)
12k, 12,800, 14k, 17k…by this time the price display screen started getting blurry...'how on earth did I get here?' was all that was running through my brain…then I felt a tap on my shoulder...
Hey, are you ok? She asked in the most concerned voice imaginable….
I looked back at the screen…final tally...21,860 (there goes next month's rent, utility bills and transport allowance).
Haidhuru...I tried to convince myself...she just lost her mum...I told myself as I reached for my wallet...
It wasn’t there…remember the feeling I mentioned one gets when you forget something crucial but simply can’t figure out what it was? Well...it was my wallet…
The world seemed to shrink around me...I was choking, I was suffocating...some invisible hand was pressing on my windpipe...
Wait...I still had my phone...I have the Co-op app...this could yet be salvaged…
I took out my phone as I felt the glare of the cashier looking at my confused self...coupled with the line of customers that had formed behind us…
When it rains it pours, my phone was dead…I could literally feel my heart descending to my ankles…feel free to judge me harshly…
It was at this point that I felt another tap on my shoulder…
You must be Chris...Hi, I’m Chris as well…said this guy who looked like John Cena and Rambo mashed into one…
This was it...In my head, I was about to be whisked off by Rambo into a dark lit room…
Before I even had a chance to process what was going on, he whipped out a Co-op Visa card and handed it to the dumbfounded attendant.A Visa card used to pay for goods at a supermarketFile
Easy bruv...I got this...he said...the UK accent was what helped me piece things together.
Then I saw Stacie standing in Chris’ intimidating shadow...
This is Chris...she said...my fiancé she added…
Pin drop silence….
"I’ll refund you guys once I’m back online," I said in the deepest voice I could muster…
As it turns out, Chris had been hovering around us all along.
No worries bruv...Rambo Cena responded, with Stacie smiling gleefully in his arms.
I just got home…my phone is back on…
I’m currently stuck at the ‘transfer funds’ button…what just happened?
What would you do?