June 24, 2017

Peplum Diary: He’s Looking at my Knees

mirror room

The driver eases into his chair and pauses, looking down at her knees… she hopes. She looks at him from the corner of her eye, turning her head ever so slightly and arching her eyebrows so he notices the look on her face. This dress can cover no more of her body than it already is.

He turns the key and the engine roars to life beneath her. Then it dies down. The entire matatu shakes and shudders with the dying engine. The child seated on his mother’s lap next to her looks at her like it’s her fault for sitting so close to the engine in that tight red dress. She stares straight ahead, praying the child does not touch her.

The driver spits roughly out of the window, common place behavior in this scenario. Then he turns the key again and again until the entire matatu is rocking from side to side. She keeps staring straight ahead, half conscious that her body is moving independent of her will below her neck. If she could stop herself from jiggling about she would but the action necessary seems so offensive for the current setting given a child is right next to her.

Then she feels an intrusion upon her person and her neck jerks back and her eyes widen. She looks down and finds the child’s hand innocently ‘resting’ on her right breast. Taken aback she looks at the child and discovers him smiling, his four teeth exposed for the entire world to see. The child’s mother smiles in mock embarrassment as she pulls the child away.

“Don’t do that,” the mother chastises the boy who immediately begins to cry.

The engine finally gives in and coughs to life. The driver grabs the gear lever and puts it in first, his hand brushing down the length of her unprotected thigh.

She looks at him.

He looks at her…knees, twice. As though to make sure, then drives away. He grabs the gear lever and pulls it into second. Again his hand brushes the length of her thigh, this time running up. The hem of her dress moves up slightly.

She looks at him.

He looks at her…knees, then her face. She smiles uncomfortably. Images of women in town being stripped to their skin for being rude to matatu operators flood her mind instantly. The excuse is always that they are indecently dressed and with her knees peeking out so boldly they could not make a case for themselves. So she smiles, inwardly terrified, outwardly embracing her feminism. Courage isn’t made of much else.

He smiles back, a warm smile and stares at the road ahead. She sighs in relief but the moment is ruined by another intrusion from the child. Thankfully the journey will not be long.

Twenty minutes later she is at the church. She rushes in, not realizing the silence until the echo of her heels on the tiled floor dominates the holy building. She stops; she must have missed the praise and worship session. The ‘faithful’ close to her stare daggers at her, how dare she miss praise and worship?

She begins scanning the pews for a seat. Something near the back should do given how late she is.

‘Aha! Excellent, something near the back’

She walks, in what she feels is the most silent manner, towards the last pew but who is she to stop a good pair of heels from attracting attention. They are heels; it’s what they should do. However, the Lord is said to work in mysterious ways.

An usher decides she is stranded and walks up to her with a mile wide smile on his face. She smiles back, gesturing to the spot she’s found but he hears none of it. With a smile it would be rude to ignore he takes her lightly by the arm and guides her to another seat.

Tick, tack. Tick, tack. Tick, tack.
‘No, not there’

Tick, tack. Tick, tack. Tick, tack.
‘Not there either’

Tick, tack. Tick, tack. Tick, tack.
‘We’re almost at the front now’

Tick, tack. Tick, tack. Tick, tack.

‘Here?! It’s the second bench!’

The usher gestures with an open palm and smiles courteously. She nods and smiles back but deep down she is seething with rage. She imagines the looks, the gestures and the close whispers. The perverts have seen her rear, the ladies have already added her to the gossip list and those with no agenda are waiting for her to be seated. And therein lays another problem.

Those familiar with church seating will know immediately that there is hardly ever any space for two people to pass between pews let alone one person making their way down the pew while others are already seated. It’s like being in a cinema only you have more respect for yourself. She smiles at the ‘faithful’ already seated and begins the journey down the pew.

‘This dress isn’t helping,’ she thinks to herself as her rear rubs against what she hopes are people’s broad shoulders.

She eventually makes it to the space and sits.

“Oh thank God”

“Sorry?”

She looks to her right. It’s him, smiling that slight smile of his…at her!

“Did I just…?”

“Mmhmm”

“I’m so sorry”

“It’s ok”

A lady sitting in front of them turns and gives them a look that could only mean shut up. They comply with the stare and she turns back.

“Let’s pray,” says the pastor. Everyone bows their head. She turns her head slightly to look at him and catches him looking at her…knees. He smiles his slight smile and looks away.

If she could blush she would but she comes as close to it as she can.

“Our Father…

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