Opulent Affliction, Christine Mwai

The world is the worst thing that happened to me, my mind declares, though it’s distracted by the intense attack of fruit flavors in my mouth. The waitress had not lied about the cocktails, though I am inclined to distrust her smile, a rehearsed and labored one; I know it for I have worn it all my life. Next, I wait for the main dish, I have to sit patiently for an hour and wait as the most expensive food on the menu is prepared. The richest meal of my 45 years and I feel not an ounce of my constant companions: trepidation and impending lack.

A man nods and smiles my way. I get a little wet; his breezy demeanor declares culture and affluence. By being here, am I one of them? The possibility is bittersweet. I am dressed rich, it exudes a message to the world, and people have been unbelievably kind; everywhere I have been, there has been an attendant rushing to serve me. The dull ache crops up; it reminds me that it’s still not me they are seeing. I am not sure when I became convinced that being seen made me worthy, I am not even sure why it matters, but the worst part and I know it, is that I believe in the convictions that my mind conjures.

The waitress places some bread rolls and soup on the table, with a hasty ‘enjoy’ she retreats. It is smart of her; to serve excesses that one can’t savor and then linger to watch is a state of idiocy, she is smarter than I have been all along. The reason why one would have bread before the main meal is beyond me, then again I am experiencing life on the rich lane, and excesses must be the norm. I can tell it is bread I have never had and the bland looking, watery soup is disarmingly deceptive; it is a soothing luxury.

A small dirty boy runs into the restaurant from the back, straight to my table, grabs the bread rolls and runs out before he can be caught by the irate waiters and guards. The diners, mostly lighter shades, stare briefly in revulsion and go on, but the waiters seem aggravated on a deeply personal level and for some reason, I find this hilarious. A manager comes over, apologies galore; dessert will be complementary.  I am a master here, a great feeling indeed, I have never yielded this much power. The small boy reappears crouching at my window, he shows me the rolls, mockingly smiles and disappears once more; it is a foolish brazen smile, but one of achievement; I envy him for I have never had one of those.

The scene summarizes my life; I have never been alive. This realization explains it all, it is a grand moment. My meal arrives, it looks slimy and meaty, not as extraordinary as I‘d thought it would be, but then again I have always had that problem; reality constantly fails to live up to my expectations. The spices and curry are pungent, so overpowering that I am torn between gratification and premature satiety. My buds are on overdrive though; a last meal is what it took for their abilities to be heightened, or maybe they knew the cost of food all along and I failed to realize in good time.

I am finally done; I use the fancy toothpicks to erase the evidence of the meal and place the last of my wealth, complete with a stupendous tip, in the leather bound beauty. I reflect back on the three days since I became a spendthrift, days of pure bliss I imagined; all my longings fulfilled and yet here I am and the emptiness overwhelms me. It is my mind after all; always impressionable to external influence. It’s always been that way; I have these blown up euphoric expectations, but the results, a great spiteful joke.

I look around, everything is the same, people go on about their business, Nairobi is as busy as ever; nothing is different, except me. I am appalled that all I feel is full and quenched, no different than when I eat at the local Kibanda for fifty times less; what have I missed? I wonder. The fatigue sets in, my senses disabled, evidence of the frail creatures we are;  I am dying, I hope to go with a graceful pose and trust that the establishment can adequately recover from the damage of the headline: “Woman commits suicide in The Grand Aiora “.


This is one of the stories that came out of the  Writivism 2014, a  project of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence, with the assistance of several partner organisations, which identifies, trains and engages readers and writers in public discourse through literature. Like the Facebook page for more updates


Written by christine mwai (0)

23 years old Christine Wangari Mwai's stories touch on contemporary Africa and her goal is to inspire a society free of prejudice and discrimination of all persons by creative humanistic storytelling, to ultimately promote a world where everyone is entitled to basic human rights and dignity

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