Call me Eliana, a medium height, intelligent and, of course, pretty woman. My flawless dark skin has always been a center of attraction wherever I go. Moreover, my smile is radiant, often painting a ray of sunshine all over my face. My character is, however, unpredictable, mostly dependent on the weather, my schedule, or my current life circumstances. Many from my school would say I am a no-nonsense lady. I do not disagree, I mean work is work, and I don’t take anything that concerns my future lightly. My close friends would probably describe me as funny and easy-going. My family would go with hardworking and determined, and lastly, my neighbors might be tempted to use the word lazy and unbothered. Again, the impression you get from me will depend on the Eliana you meet.

My confidence makes me outstanding. Everyone at school knows the girl who ‘catwalks’ to class, speaks up on what she stands for, and is ‘perhaps feared by most men,’ Some like her and have nicknamed her ‘the Queen’’ others think she is too much. Nonetheless, she carries both titles with pride, and this has made her difficult to resist. Interactions with her are valued. Many people look up to her, and now she has the sense of ‘entitlement’ of getting whatever she wants. She can be polite sometimes, but mostly, her straightforwardness makes her appear commanding.

However, behind all this ‘strength’ is a normal human being, who cries when hurt or disappointed, shout when angry, and gets depressed over small things. Being a Kenyan in Rwanda because of school, COVID-19 has introduced myself to me. Okay, I am an ambivert, have a long contact list with only three friends, and love spending my time alone, but I could be loud when with friends. Four months indoors for me was marked with self-discovery and discipline. Because of the language barrier and trust issues, I am rarely friends with random locals though we talk. Somehow after lockdown eases, I realize I might need a ‘close friend’ to talk to, perhaps about my unpaid internships, or the uncomfort that comes with wearing masks or maybe social media and how draining it can get.

Sunday 5th July 2020, my birthday month, you know. Well, I have just summarized my thorough cleaning, and now it’s time to buy some supper. I stay on my phone when I find a group of people having conversations in a language I do not understand. A girl, probably my age enters the shop, goes straight to the shopkeeper, and speaks English. From her accent, I can already tell she is from my country. You might relate if you were ever in a foreign country and met someone from your country.

Me: Are you Kenyan?

Her: Silence followed by a smirk

Me: (Thinking to myself, maybe she hasn’t heard me) Are you Kenyan?

Her: A smirk followed by silence

She is not deaf, I am sure, and I have never been ignored my entire life, at least not in an obvious way. Someone told me to trust my instincts, and sure they have never failed me. Besides, I am both books and life smart. Moments after she walks away, I turn to the shopkeeper, and he confirms my claims,’ she is a serious Kenyan.’ he says. I am kind of disappointed that she did not answer me, yet we share the same Nationality. For a moment, I forget the ordeal and focus on my purchase. Coincidentally, I see her in the next shop and somehow wait for her to come out so that I can introduce myself, something that I am not used to. People usually introduce themselves to me, remember? As she comes out, I give it a second try.

Me: I asked if you were Kenyan and you ignored me

Her: Silence (walking towards the opposite direction)

Me: Hello, are you Kenyan?

Her: Silence ( continues walking)

Me: Well, I was just asking because I am Kenyan too

 Her: (Walking towards me while smiling) Oh, sorry you could have said that as your first statement, can I have your number?

At this moment, I try to re-examine my communication skills. I have learned how to communicate, but then how can you do it effectively when not given a chance? Anyway, we talk a little about school, work and being in a foreign country. My last statement to her is,’be nice’ while walking away. I understand where she is coming from, only four months old in the country, compared to me, who has been here for more than a year and still struggling with trust issues. 

While preparing my supper, I think about the pain I felt while being ignored, then I think of the numerous people I have ignored in my life, perhaps having nothing but pure intentions. Not a good feeling, trust me. Now I decide it is time to descend my throne and get to learn and understand people more. What about her? I wonder how many good people she has turned off with her ignorant nature, which is perhaps understandable, at least for now. But we can be better human beings, can’t we?

There’s a message notification on my phone, and she has invited me over to her house. Moreover, there is an apology for the ‘wrong first impression.’’ Wow, I have mixed feelings, and I am still figuring out whether ‘it is worth it.’’My ego has been crashed because, usually,’ I do not beg anyone’ I am independent and always survives. I was okay without any close friends during the quarantine anyway, and now I have to sleep and think things over. The energy I put, the effort and time to get to know someone who had ignored me at first, is it really worth it?

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Written by Hellen Awuor (0)

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