Shanterina.

She is the epitome of African beauty; short hair, dark complexion, white dazzling teeth. She walks with grace. She has a smile permanently plastered on her face. She is beautiful.

Shanterina is a goddess.

She comes to me whenever I need her. I don’t even have to call her, text her, snap my fingers or anything. She just appears. Just senses my need for her, and she is there! Nice, huh?

She does her job well too. With loyalty, commitment and diligence – she possesses the perfect CV, I’m sure. She is smart and funny to boot. Her creativity is unmatched. You can’t help but fall in love with her when you meet her for the first time.

She always has the right words. She knows exactly what I want to say, when I want to say it. She fuels my thoughts.

Shanterina ladies and gentlemen, is the name I choose to call my muse. (And also the fascinating name of a girl in Hailey’s class who I have never met.  But that is a story for another day…)

Day in day out, Shanty seats by my side. I tap on my keyboard as she tells me what to write. She coins the words for me to make me look good. She does this out of selflessness. She is painfully modest. Never takes any credit. Always letting me shine in the limelight while she lurks in the shadows. She has been a great companion.

Until now.

She is quiet today. Awfully quiet. I have tried talking to her, beseeched her to give me something to pen down for you my loyal readers, but she won’t budge.

I am lost on what to do to her. I keep calling her name.“Shanterina?”

Silence

“SHANTERINA?”

Pin-drop silence

“For Chrissake, SHANTERINA, can’t you hear me calling you?”

More silence

She stares at me. Her eyes are blank. She won’t give me nothing. No emotions. No smile. No sneer. No nothing. Absolutely nothing!

Nothing I say seems to work. I even tried to bribe her at some point when desperation had hit a whole new low. “What do you want? Tell me. Anything and I will give it to you. What, you want to bleach….sorry…lighten your skin like Vera perhaps? Are you fed up of your black African skin?” I asked

Silence.

“Is that what you want? Tell me … 50 million is a lot of money, but, but … I can organize a small harambee … have all my friends and readers donate something…you know….”

Silence.

“Can we go to work now please? Please remind me of that funny incident that happened that day in whatsthenameofthatplaceagain? Remember? Go on, tell me about that as I type…”

I stretch out my fingers as I hover my left hand over letters A S D F, and my right hand over J K L ; as we were taught in typing school.

My fingers are ready. I sit upright. My posture is ready.

I am all set. Yet my muse won’t budge

She does not utter a word.

“What do you want from me?” I ask in exasperation

“WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”

Silence.

“TALK TO ME DAMMIT! SAY SOMETHING!”

She looks away as if ashamed of my outburst.

I am going crazy. She is driving me mad!

“Please…” I add softly

“Don’t leave me now?”

She looks at me.  

“Please. I need you” I continue pressing for a reaction. ANY reaction.

“I need you!”

I am begging now. Groveling, really. I am one sentence away from falling on my knees. I even use Pink’s lyrics from the song “Please don’t leave me”, to plead my case; “I always say how I don’t need you, but it’s always gonna come right back to this. Pleeeeease don’t leave me!”

Shanterina has an ice-cold heart people! She is unmoved.

I am beyond desperate now. I go up to her and hold her arm. I pull her face towards mine to force her to look at me. Maybe if she sees my pleading eyes, her heart will soften.

Our eyes meet. She returns my stare. She doesn’t blink. There is no emotion there. Her heart doesn’t soften. She feels nothing

“Please give me something” I whisper still looking her deep in the eyes.

Shanty pulls away to free her arm from my grasp.

She turns her back towards me and starts to walk away. She takes one steady step at a time. She is leaving.

The distance between us grows bigger. She is leaving!

“SHANTERINA!” I call after her.

She stops in her tracks but doesn’t look back.

“SHANTERINA!” I bark even louder. So loud that I do not recognize my own voice.

This is enough to make her turn. She looks straight at me.

I take my time. I walk slowly, leisurely, towards her. One steady step at a time.

I stop short of walking into her frame. Our faces are almost touching. Some of our body parts touch. I am aware that I just invaded her personal space. I know that I should step back a little, give us some room. But I don’t move an inch. I have my face in hers. I can smell her breath. Mint. Her eyes don’t blink. Neither do mine.

My eyes burrow into hers.

I bring up my right hand to cup her chin and force her face to the side so that my mouth is directly above her right ear.

“Shanterina…?” I whisper in her ear.

She says nothing. Of course!

“YOU ARE FIRED!” I hiss into her ear again. The words come out of me with so much force that it makes me shudder.

Without saying a word, she frees herself from my grip. She steps back. Reclaiming her personal space. 

She then turns to walk away like before. I look at her as she walks away.

Then I see it.

There’s a leap in her step. She skips and turns around to look at me.

She smiles! A bright smile. Perfect teeth. She winks at me then turns away to glide into the horizon.

I find myself smiling.

“See you soon” I whisper at her disappearing frame.

See you soon!


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