Written by Esther Kanyua
Finally, she moved to the city, seeking its bright lights. For the first few months, her brave move was uneventful. True, she was in the city but she was still stuck in her mundane suburban life, afraid to venture outside the confines of her tiny studio apartment.
Her shift to the city of lights was really a gasp for space. She was drowning in the stifling air of her rural prison and had little choice but to save herself. If a selection of parents was possible, she was convinced she would be one of those that would choose a different set. But this is not to say she did not appreciate hers, or love them, but so trapped was she, a creature of flight and ambition, ensnared in a rustic cell and deprived the slightest adventure or excitement. She cooked, she cleaned, she read, she slept and then woke, just to do it all over again.
The city was calling out to her, relentlessly and ever more persuasively. The call grew so loud that one day she decided to put down her thick reading glasses and answer to the call of the bright lights.
Walking down the streets she stayed on the straight and narrow, the well-lit sections, and as her mother had taught, she stayed clear of the darkened alleys. It was on one such a day that she saw the girl who hailed the cab, the girl with that exotic air, and an aura not different from that of the princesses she had read of in fairy-tales. The light on the streets fell beautifully on her tall, slender body, and the air around billowed and shimmered with a reverence denied more ordinary life. Her long mane of hair swished to the hum of the wind, and so enthralled was our country girl that she did not take offence when the city girl sneered as she passed her by, her enchanting fragrance lasting long after she had gone in the taxi. It was also the last thing she thought about as she went to sleep, dreaming that in this city, even she could gain that mysterious presence.
For a long time that thought stayed in her life as well as her dreams. Her life was no different from what it had been in her hometown, she held on to its basic rhythm and kept her hair held back in a tight bun, with not a strand out-of-place. Her mother would be proud. Her clothes rack had only the plainest dark shades and the long lengths, much of it so grim that even a nun would find it oppressive.
Then the city started to suck her in, slowly and insidiously at first and then more and more unashamed as she chased the mirage of her dreams, the fragrant beauty with the long hair.
Work paid well and soon she wanted more and more. She knew she had to dress to fit in and the endless shop windows lured her away from the solitude of her studio. Shopping was a lot of fun, but a strange new world for her and she had to grapple for a while with the concept of owning clothes for specific moods or occasions. She didn’t quite understand the notion of owning more than a decent pair of shoes that could be put on everywhere and at all times. Her feet were now adorned with heels so high and tips so pointed that they could also double up as weapons if the need arose.
Her hair had turned to shades of colors whose names even with her vastly improved vocabulary she did not know to pronounce. It now bobbed up and down to a beat of its own, following on her fierce steps in those murderous heels. Gone were the thick reading glasses and her eyes were liberated in an alluring hazelnut. Her thick work body began to take on a different shape, carved by a dietary strictness that smoothed it into the shape of a coke bottle. Dinners were now consumed as martinis, shaken not stirred, thank you. Her lifestyle took on an ever faster pace, and evolved into high-energy brunch and lunches with girlfriends she never had before, she even took a lover.
The city that had once felt cold and alien now held her in its warm embrace, her best friend. It gave her a sense of belonging like no other place had. She was never going back to the cave she had once called home. She was in love; and in her every vein burned a passion for living.
Another busy night had come to an end. As she walked down the street she noticed people move out of her way as if a red carpet had been laid out in front of her. Her sleek, slender body towered over them as she raised her arm to hail a cab. She looked up and noticed the shine of the street lights that had called her to this city, the lights that had won the victory over the sun.
As she stepped into the cab, she noticed a girl not too old-looking admiringly at her. Their eyes met and she found her confident airs pierced. Her eyes shifted down as she remembered that first day, under the street lights in the glare of her innocence when she had met the city princess. She had become the girl in her dreams.
An edited version of this story was published on Kenyaimagine.com