I am seated in the corner of one café sipping my double espresso because its taste reminds me of my present when suddenly a slender, short human slumps on the seat directly opposite me. She smiles gently and stretches her hands to hold my left one. I lift my left brow as she says, “Aiiiii, Jas, I am a sinner, take me to church.” I pause mid sip and stare at Wanjiru. After a moment of silence, I slowly place the cup of coffee on the table and tilt my head. “I’m listening.”
Wanjiru leans back into her seat and closes her eyes. “I can’t seem to trust the universe. I mean, you said that the universe believes in me, but I can’t find it in me to trust that.” I lean forward and cuddle the warm cup between my palms. “Ah, you lack faith in yourself, again.” I say knowingly. Wanjiru’s bow-shaped lips stretch into a small smile. She slowly opens her eyes and turns her head towards the window. I smile and proceed to tell her, “You have drafted poems and painted more art that you would like to share with the world, but you are anxious. You have gotten a contract somewhere, but you are worried that your work is terrible. That even if you put in so much effort, the world will hate your guts, the world will not see what you are trying to say. You fear that your work isn’t worth anyone’s time.”
None of us says a thing but the tears shining in Wanjiru’s eyes confirm my statement. Using a black handkerchief, she quickly dabs at the corners of her eyes. Five seconds later, she lifts her head and signals for the waitress. Wanjiru orders a double espresso. A few minutes later it arrives, and I watch as she ignores the sachets of sugar and shakily lift the cup to her mouth. I cringe as she sips the bitter coffee. I turn to look outside the window; give my elder sister enough time to collect herself.
“I got the character designer contract at that gaming company I was telling you about.” Wanjiru’s soft voice cuts through my thoughts. I turn to look at her. I have seen her works as a poet, as a painter and as a character designer and I like them. I’m also not the only one that thinks that she is good. I am yet to meet anyone in the local industry that has heard or seen her works and failed to like them.
“Let me guess, you have a meeting in… Let’s say thirty minutes? ” Wanjiru shakes her head and coughs as she says, “Not thirty, fifteen.” I lean back and look at her. A young man, probably in his early twenties passes by our table and nods at Wanjiru in greeting. Wanjiru nods back before saying to me, “He belongs to the company’s e-sports team.” I nod slowly but say nothing.
Everyone knows Wanjiru as this bold, unapologetic artist. I bet that no one would believe that she dances around anxiety and mental breakdowns every time she is about to release a new piece or meet a new team for a project.
“I believe in you.” I hear myself whisper. “I believe in you Mils and I think that your work is beautiful and meaningful. Your work speaks to people. ” Wanjiru places her now empty cup next to mine, that’s half-filled with what must now be cold coffee. She looks me dead in the eye and frowns. “Jas, are you lying just to make me feel better?” I feel my left brow lift and my lips curve into a smile as I say, “Mils, I rarely say such sweet, cringy things to you, but believe me when I say that any time they leave my mouth, they come from deep within my heart.”
Wanjiru and I find ourselves engaged in a staring contest for almost a minute before she leans forward and grabs both my hands. “Ah Jas, as long as the sun endures, I believe that somehow, I will be just fine.” She absent-mindedly pats arms. Suddenly, she stands. “See you for dinner on Sunday.” I grunt my yes and as I watch her quickly walk out the café, her black and maroon, shoulder length dreadlocks swaying, I can’t help but think, ‘As long as I still breathe, as long as the moon endures, Milly Wanjiru will always have someone to run to. Someone who genuinely believes in her.’