The night I first saw her, she had a freshly-lit joint of weed burning in between her fingers. The air was bluish, mysterious, and the crickets shrilled urgently. She did not hold the blunt like conventional weed smokers do, you know, with the blunt sandwiched between their index and middle fingers. She held it the same way you would hold a pinch of salt. There was something about her that was different. She had a diffidence that seemed alien. There is a way she looked at the burning joint after taking a puff as if to pay reverence to it. Then she would part her lips in an unintentionally seductive way, take another puff, igniting the flame on the other end of the herb into a bright red hallow.

On this day, I was attending a friend’s birthday party on campus. It was one of those parties that you didn’t want to go to because staying in the house in boxers and watching a movie sounded like a better idea. The kind of parties you are invited to but say NO because you have ‘plans’ when in the real sense, you spend the entire time in bed, your body curled into a tight note stalking your ex’s new lover and sucking your teeth whenever you feel like they look hotter than they are supposed to.

 I was just settling into bed, ransacking my laptop looking for that old TV series I had been avoiding to watch for no particular reason when my cell phone chimed. It was him, the birthday boy. His voice on the other end of the line made it clear that the party would be shambles if I did not make my presence felt. That there were too many lasses up for grabs. Too many that all I had to do was show up in my shining armor, tip my cap and I would get laid. So I said fuck it, let’s party! And parties on campus are fun with a sidekick. They help you decide who is the best catch; who looks like they would drug you and rob you dry; and who is your ex’s friend because that is a no-go-zone-birds of a feather flock together after all. So I tagged my sidekick along and disappeared into the night.

And behold, there she was in her full glory, blowing smoke into the cold air as if she had everything figured out. As if all she needed in life was this holy smoke she was filling her lungs with. She intimidated me with her composure. I just couldn’t get my legs to walk up to her and announce my presence.

You see, in my entire dating life, I have never been the guy that shies away from shooting my shot when a fine babe catches my attention. And eight and a half times out of ten, I would get a “YES.” Well, the enthusiasm in the YES differed. Some just said YES, then others said YEEESS (insert whatever emojis you use on your special or not-so-special someone) and they were my favorite. Then there were those who said “I need to think about it,” which is a YES said in many words. But who cares when they were all in the affirmative? But I felt this one would hit a snag. She looked like she was in love with her weed, and there was no way I could make her as high as it did. So I held an impromptu consultative meeting with myself and decided that I would abort the mission. Some wars are better not fought. Beaten and brutalized by her demeanor, I scampered for safety.

But this son of a bitch called fate has a way of doing things-I danced with her later that night. Well, it wasn’t dancing really because my ancestors know I have two left feet. It was more of grinding into each other. Or kusuguana, if you may. With my back against the wall and her gluteus Maximus exerting the laws of friction in my mid-section, I fell in love. No, I liked her. Love was too strong a word. But I loved the smell of weed in her hair. l loved it when her hands reached back to touch my face as she went about her friction business because it is not every day you find a girl that can multitask.

She didn’t speak much. She looked like she had always been the withdrawn child, the sullen and usually acerbic teenager. She didn’t shout like every other girl when the DJ played a song that touched her in the right places. She just wanted more weed. And when I couldn’t find a joint for her she complained to a friend of hers, a yellow-yellow Tanzanian girl with a heavy Swahili accent. I didn’t like her from the word go, the Tanzanian girl. Not because I had some sort of beef with Diamond Platnumz and she was collateral damage. I just didn’t like how she had styled her hair as if she had dipped it in a barrel of molasses. How she had dangerously pierced her ears from the earlobe to the top and I wondered what else she might have pierced. And also because she kept interrupting our dance, whispering loudly to her friend in that Swahili accent –something about the party being whack because we didn’t have the courtesy to get them enough weed because that is what they came to do-smoke their lungs out.

And because this was a Luo-themed party, it didn’t go down without the DJ dropping an occasional Kanungo and the sons of the lake saying something like omera cham thum baba! Which loosely translates to kula ngoma. Then there would be the over-confident ones trying to win girls over with that weak “jaber” pick-up line.

But after all, was said and done, I walked away, head high and uninterested. I didn’t ask her for her number. That is what she would have expected. All I left with was her pet name tucked inside my denim jacket’s breast pocket. You see, I was a lion on a hunt. And lions on hunting missions do not go around parading their canines. They lay low in the grass and pounce when the prey least expects, sink their canines deep into the prey’s neck, and make the kill.

And that marks the end of our class on laws of attraction ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. In the next class, we will talk about the theory of contact searching.

Anyway, I would later ask a friend of hers-a guy- for her number that night. And boy, was he reluctant to give it up for reasons best known to him. But he gave it up. As I punched those ten numbers into my phonebook, it marked the beginning of a roller-coaster ride riddled with tears, more tears, some more tears, and love.

– Watch out for part two-

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