“So polka dots are attractive now?” Tsuma asks. He has both hands on the steering wheel, even though the car is stuck in Nairobi traffic.

“I’m telling you they really have something going for them,” Makau says. “I couldn’t take my eyes off them.” He leans his arm on the windowsill of the front passenger door.

“You couldn’t take your eyes off the polka dots…”

“Stop making me sound crazy,” Makau says.

“I only repeated what you said.”

“The way you said it was condescending.”

“Did it hurt your feelings?”


“You’ll get over it.” Tsuma drums his hands on the steering wheel. “What was it about the polka dots? Because surely a bunch of dots can’t have made you fall in love with her.”

“Who said I fell in love? And what do you have against polka dots?”

“Nothing. But they’re not that amazing. In fact there’s nothing special about them at all.”

“In this context they were, and from now on will be seen as such.”


“You have to hear the entire story to get it.”

“Then please start at the beginning.”

“You’ll drive and pay attention to my very important story?”

“We’re sitting in traffic that hasn’t moved for the last fifteen minutes,” Tsuma says.

“What if it starts moving?”

“I’ll multitask.”

“Just know I won’t repeat myself.”


“So we weren’t even supposed to be hanging out on this fine day in question. I was just going over to pick up a camera her brother had borrowed for some shoot. It was a Sunday so I went over after church, like a good Christian. She came out in a black polka dot dress, looking like a dream. I hadn’t seen her in a while just because life had got so busy. I wasn’t doing anything that afternoon, so I thought why not go and have lunch and hang out? I knew she could never say no to food, so off we went to Subway.”

“You went to Subway? How romantic.”

“It was the Subway at Timau Plaza on Timau Road. It’s a really nice spot. I go there sometimes when I want some quiet time to myself.”

“I should check it out.”

“No you shouldn’t. That’s my spot. Find your own.”

“Eat a-”

“Anyway we went there and that black polka dot dress kept distracting me.” Makau pauses. “Have you ever realised that you hardly ever see people wearing polka dots?”

“I didn’t know that people wore polka dots.”

“You know what I mean,” Makau says. He turns in his seat to face Tsuma. “Think about it. When was the last time you saw someone in something with polka dots?” Tsuma doesn’t answer. “There you go. So back to Subway. We get there and because I struggle to make my mind up when I’m given options she orders for the both of us. Or maybe it was the polka dots confusing me. Anyway, we get the footlongs because we’re both gluttons. The Subway has this nice alfresco area so we went to sit there because I’m gassy and need fresh air around me.” Tsuma laughs. “So we start eating and talk as we eat, just shooting the breeze. Then I started to notice how well the dress went with the complexion of her skin.”

“Now the polka dots are accentuating her complexion?” 

“Yes, but that’s not what I mean. You know how some people can wear clothes of a particular colour and it just does’t look good on them but it does on someone else? I mean I’m sure she’d look good in anything but she really looked good in that black and white ensemble.”

“If you say so.”

“I do say so. So I notice how good the polka dots look on her. Then there comes a point when you’re eating and you realise you’ve been eating a lot and need to take a break. So we took a break.”

“Like a workout,” Tsuma says. “You two really are gluttons.”

“There’s no need to rub it in.”

“You’re so sensitive today,” Tsuma says. “So you took a break…”

“And the conversation kept flowing. Like, we didn’t have awkward silences.”

“Maybe that’s because you hadn’t seen each other in a while.” Tsuma reaches for a bottle in the dashboard cupholder and takes a sip out of it.

“Actually I think it’s because I’m just a very interesting person and a wonderful conversationalist,” Makau says. Tsuma chokes on his drink and starts coughing. “Don’t pretend that you’re shocked,” Makau continues, “you know it’s true. But I wasn’t surprised that we didn’t struggle to find something to talk about. That happens all the time when we’re hanging out. What surprised me more was that even after all those years of being friends it’s still like that.” Traffic inches forward and Makau pauses. “You know I’ve realised it’s harder to find people you can have proper, meaningful conversations with the older you get.”

“You’re talking like you’re in your 40’s,” Tsuma says. Traffic begins to move slowly and he inches the car forward.

“You don’t think that’s the case?”

“No I’ve noticed that too. Even the people in my circle have got fewer.”

“It sucks eh? Sometimes I sit back and wonder what happened. But back to Subway. So we’re talking, still taking a much needed break from these luscious chicken subs. Then she says she needs to grab something from the car, so she gets up and walks to the car. The Subway is on the ground floor of Timau Plaza, but the ground floor is a floor above ground-level, so you have to walk up a ramp or up some stairs to get to it. You can see the parking lot from the Subway and where we were seated we were facing the parking lot anyway, so I could watch her as she walked to the car.”

“I think you mean you could check her out as she walked to the car.”

“Please. I’m not that crude. More like appreciate her looks. I mean you should see the legs on her. And she took her time walking to the car, as if the parking lot was her personal catwalk.”

“Not at all checking her out, eh?”

“Not at all. I mean I always thought she was pretty, but it’s like she suddenly became one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. I kept wondering why I hadn’t seen it before.”

“And by this time you’re still telling yourself you’re not interested in her?” Tsuma says and looks at Makau.

“Eyes on the road please,” Makau says.

“I thought you wanted me to concentrate on your story?”

“Where are your priorities?” Makau asks as traffic stops moving and Tsuma halts the car.

“Stop avoiding the question,” Tsuma says.

Makau smiles. “By the time we were on the way to Subway I’d already accepted that I was smitten. I even noticed how she didn’t adjust the seat when she got in the car.”

“And that’s remarkable because?”

“Because almost every other person I’ve driven adjusts the seat the minute they get into the car. You know that says a lot about a person.”

“Does it now? What did it say about her?”

“That she’s adaptable.”

“Oh wow. You managed to deduce that from her sitting in the seat?”

“Evidence of my genius, isn’t it? And then she aways seemed to have something to say about my driving, especially my parking.”

“Did you cuss her out like you do me when I have something even remotely negative to say about your driving?”

“My driving is immaculate so there can never be anything remotely negative to say about it.”

“And yet she had something to say about it.”

“Yeah that would usually annoy me. But when she said something now it didn’t bother me. In fact it became banter.”

“Such favouritism.”

“Stop being jealous. So she comes back from the car, again taking her time on the runway. She sits down and runs her hand through her hair, which for the first time in ages she’s wearing short and natural. It’s such a good look. I didn’t know I liked the natural look that much.”

“Add it to the list?”

“Right?” Makau says. “Some of these things were so trivial to me before, so normal. But now I notice them like they’re completely new. Sometimes I get transfixed watching her do the most mundane things.” He shakes his head. “You develop feelings for someone and suddenly polka dots are alluring. It’s crazy.”

Traffic begins to move in front of them and Tsuma smiles. “Crazy is right.”