by Irungu Grace
I don’t recall the first time I came into existence, but I do recall the first words my designer said as he held me up to his face. “Perfecto! Nothing more, nothing less.” I remember the leathery scent that announced my arrival and the shop owner sniffing me and saying, “This is gonna rake me some cash.” He then carefully placed me on a mannequin. Oh my, the numerous stares I got. Never had I ever felt so admired.
It didn’t take long for someone to buy me. I remember when he entered the store. With one glance a feeling of fright ran down my fringes. His muscles were well defined and the tattoos on his arms were some work of art. The moment he fitted me, never had I ever felt so immortal. As my silhouette defined his bi and tri ceps he said, “I will wear this as I ride. It will be my biker jacket.”
I cannot tell you for how long my fringes caught the wind as we rode his bike. But I can tell you this; it felt like forever. We were a gang, a gang of leather jackets. I was untouchable worn by the leader, not to mention, a well-known fighter. We were a team. He even cared enough, not to get my sleeves stained with blood. It was just him and I, riding where the road took us.
This all changed when he met her. Never had I seen him care for anyone as he did her. It all fell apart the day he gave her me, as a token of love. It took me a while to adjust but within no time I grew to love her. With her I felt beautiful. She was a wild and free spirit and to be honest I smelt slightly better than before. We did have adventures. We travelled and I got to see the sun set upon beautiful backgrounds. Yet, as fate would have it, it was not meant to last. They broke up and for days I soaked in her tears. I only got to dry at the corner of a closet. She replaced me with a uniform. That I considered lucky, as she wore it every day. I on the other hand was lucky if I got the occasional weekend wear.
I remember the day she brought another man home, that is the day her spirited smile came back. Hope. But nothing changed. I was still stuck at the corner of the closet. The man’s visits became more frequent. It was all the same. Until the day she picked me up and placed me in a box. She was beautiful, wearing a white dress and a veil. “It’s time to forget,” she said as she sealed the box.
Forget, she did. For years I was in the box, surrounded by immense darkness. With nothing but memories and echoes of my past.
I thought I had met my end. Until one fateful day, light. I was picked up and dusted by a face that felt so familiar. Was it really her? No, it couldn’t be. She was younger. I remember her saying, “Cool! I could rock this.” And with that I was back in the world. She rocked me to school almost every day and I got admiration from her peers. Never had I ever felt so stylish. But I should have known. With her being a teenager, the frenzy was soon gone. I was shoved under her bed. A sentence to darkness, again. But this was short-lived. Weeks later she picked me up and tossed me in a box written ‘DONATE TO AFRICA’.
I was not alone in my travels. We were more than many and frankly I had never felt so suffocated. The journey was long and the waves were rough. I remember the relief I felt when we docked. New place new people. I ended up hanging on a small wooden shop with no roofing. This time I got occasional stares but not as much as before. I have to admit the scorching sun played a big factor in that. One by one I watched my fellow travel buddies being picked. Until in the end I was left all alone . Never had I ever felt so unwanted. I remember him saying ‘Peana hio hakuna mtu anaitaka” as he staffed me in a ‘ngunia’.
I ended up in the hands of a young boy. It was comedic(comical) how I was expected to fit him. He seemed poorly fed and the clothes he wore had me worried if that was to be my fate. Yet when he took me and wore me, his embrace was enough for me to know I was home. From the moment he put me on he wore me every day. Though he didn’t have much with him I had the best moments of my life. I was his and he was mine. I caught his tears from his unending hunger and I kept him warm on the coldest of nights. I was there through it all the good and the bad. When he got his first coin, from selling sweets, I was there. When he got his first job as an errand boy, I was there. I was there when he met his girl. She always said I was the reason she noticed him. I was there when he moved in with her and I was there when his daughter came home. Tito, was his name and even though through him I got numerous stains, it was fine. Because they were my proof. Proof of us. I was also there when she said, “Babe time to get rid of this jacket, it’s lived past its purpose.”
Unlike the rest he didn’t discard me without a proper bye. He wore me one last time. That day we spent the day walking through the streets we had once called our home. This time I caught his tears but they were not of pain or hunger, but of more.
As my fringes shrunk from the fire all I could do is feel grateful of all the hands passed none meant more as Tito’s. To him I was more than an accessory of might, love, style or money. I was a friend. With him I had served my purpose.