It surprises me and a lot of my friends that I have never been in a fist fight. That I have never balled up my fingers and hit someone or something.
Well, maybe not the last part. I have hit many things, among them walls, but that’s a story for another time.
Now, to be clear, I have been in many fist fights, countless in fact, as a spectator. A proud member of the crowd I am.
I have watched many rise from their seats threatening chaos only to be brought back down by both gravity and a resounding thwack, and though my strengths lie more on the vocal side, I have conjured up scenes of myself in the ring, in the middle of the mess, directing which way the chaos will go. Punching, jumping, ducking, scratching and even biting, if it comes to that, and they never disappoint.
I often start by gazing upon my opponent. I imagine him or her being a little taller than I am; big arms, big chest…you know, the good stuff. It feels much better to face a foe both stronger and scarier than you are. It makes victory sweeter than honey. Or maybe it’s because I secretly wish to have such artillery. Not having them, I only have my will and the crowd’s cheers to push me onwards. A classic David – Goliath showdown.
Today, however, I’ve decided to tone things down a little.
I see myself in a room full of mostly unfamiliar faces. A class, conference or meeting of some sort – a chess club meeting! Yes, and I’m seated at the back going through my moves and debating whether to play d4 or e4.
My opponent for the day seats in the middle row. I don’t even know why we are opponents. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t showered in ages and I am the only one brave enough to call him out. Or he stole my girl. Heartbreaks are great furnaces for vengeance. Or, simply, I don’t like how his nose is positioned and I’d like to reset it for him. How I abhor it, and every time I look at him I see Rosa transfixed on his nose. Either way, I am itching for a rumble and I intend to bring the whole house down and him with it.
He’s called Wanjala, but I’ll call him Wanjala the Wrestler. It just doesn’t sound right to call him by one name. I once had a friend called Wanjala. Maybe I’ll call him and see if we can tussle, even if it’s an arm wrestle.
Wanjala the Wrestler has an intimidating scar cruising the brow of his right cheek. From where I’m seated I can see his ever bloodshot eyes scanning the chessboard in front of him. Probably, in his high school, he lied about how he fought off an armed robber on Moi Avenue one day who managed to slit his face with a rusty blade, but Wanjala broke his arm and stabbed him in the heart.
Yes, Wanjala seems like the type of person who would make up such a story. Too unbelievable but supported by evidence. But that can’t shake me. I won’t allow it. In fact, I think he got it from a deal gone wrong. Maybe he tried to snatch more weed cookies from his supplier one day and he got served.
This practice session is a bore. I feel my body rise up and I walk over to him mentally calculating angles and manoeuvres I’ll use on him. I feel like I’m outside myself. I watch my hands reach down and grab him by the collar and in the process I pop his top most button. He growls and I push him back. He almost falls with his chair but he’s too agile for that. He makes it in time. Just how he made it in time to snatch Rosa away.
The anger is boiling deep within me. Blood rushes hysterically all over my body providing too much heat at once. My ears are ringing and I faintly hear someone scream. I release a cocktail of names and…nothing. He’s calm and collected, it’s almost as if he pities me. Or can he smell the fear mixed in my sweat and the dust rising from all the shuffling feet? People clear a circle in the middle of the room and the door is closed.
Time to rumble.
I focus on Wanjala the Wrestler and he does the same. My fists are up the way I’ve seen in countless movies and read in novels. The Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan type.
I move closer and taunt him. He barely moves. It seems he cannot be intimidated or can he?
I jab with my right fist and he dives. I try again with both fists and he still manages to evade. So far so good. He’s not attacking so I can still get out unharmed. But who cares about harm? This is for my devotion to Rosa. I throw two quick punches and he dives under, his fist connecting with my stomach. I want to punch him so badly but I cough instead. A slow wretched cough. I hate it.
I sink to the floor and clutch my stomach. Pain rivets across me. I think my intestines are choking up my organs or the other way round.
“C’mon punk,” he says in a jovial voice and quickly follows with, ”You don’t stand a chance.”
The small crowd around us is restless. I am restless.
My lungs struggle to take in huge morsels of the air that is perfumed with sweat, dust, fabric and the foul odour of defeat lingering somewhere.
I feed on the crowds cheers and jeers, at least the two people who are making considerable noise, and beat my chest like King Kong perhaps too hard I feel the pangs echo through my lungs, but I cannot show weakness. I roar instead, and then I stifle a cough.
I psych myself up and turn to face Wanjala. I wipe my mouth just the way they do it in the movies. I don’t spit though, I am an environmentalist. I bring my arms to my face and advance. I have a war to win.
He was enjoying his victory too early. He turns towards me and I land a punch in his face. I hear cracks. I shake the pain off and move closer. I punch again and this time he catches it mid air. The look in his face causes me to let out an ‘oh oh’. He smashes my nose and my eyes water almost immediately. It stings and I feel like sneezing. I stagger behind and when I look up he lands another punch on my forehead. I lose my footing and stumble onto the floor.
This is going badly for me.
I allow myself to sneeze and sniffle then I find my way up just in time to sidestep an incoming punch. This opens an opportunity for a counter attack. I swing back and land one on his jaw. Ouch. For both of us.
He manages to get back on his feet. He sure is relentless. He spits on the floor as he steadies himself. Sorry Mother Nature. I throw two punches to his side. He attempts to dodge, but am too quick. The last one presses his ribcage in. He swings back. I duck. He loses balance because of that. Big mistake. He retracts his arms to his facial space but I’m done playing games. I ball my fingers into a crooked fist and with every ounce of strength I have, I launch an upper cut to his chin. I can only imagine his anticipation.
Aeons pass…Worlds spin and whirl before him…Time is motionless…
No, it’s only a minute or so…
He groans and rolls over to his side. He coughs for a while. His nose seems to be in a normal position now. I move towards him and I’m held by strong arms. I try to move but I don’t budge.
I relax. No need to pound the poor guy anymore. At least I straitened my issue with his nose. I bet Rosa will be disappointed when she sees him.
I gaze outside and the light blinds me momentarily. It is then that I hear children playing outside and remember I am still in bed. I open my eyes and I see how entangled I am in my sheets. I should’ve gotten out the first time but as you all know, no sleep is better than round two sleep in the morning. It entices you back into the warmth of your sheets and speeds up the time.
I am glad it’s Saturday, and I probably should get out of this mess. Maybe later. I just lie in bed and smile. What a way to start the weekend.