Grey Ticks

A coupe of eye-glasses ago, little Miss T turned my spectacles into double amputees. She came holding the severed arms on the one hand and the ‘eyes’ on the other, feeling very accomplished. Her orthopedics dreams are very valid; she did a pretty clean job amputating the spectacles. I had to shop for new ones.

I roamed the online streets, looking for something that will not cost me many zeros — and we all know eyeglasses frames cost a little more than a Suzuki Alto Engine in these streets. I scrolled up and down Facebook haphazardly, like you do when you’re at the supermarket with plenty of money to burn. When your pockets or bank account is bursting at the seams, you don’t check prices; you don’t check brands, you don’t check for offers and budget packs; you just pick and drop things in your trolley like you’re cleaning out the shelves. You look at Geisha and Rexona soaps the way you look at the beggars on your car window; today, you’re only buying Dettol. Later, you thrust the ATM card into the PDQ machine without missing a heartbeat.

But when your bank account is thinning faster than Mau forest, you walk in a pre-determined linear path. You know where the toothpaste is, and you’re going for Pepsodent two-in-one. You even buy the budget serviettes and take the Geisha buy-three-get-one-free – which is pretty awesome, by the way. You don’t go near the freezers, they depress you with all that frozen cholesterol. You hand the cashier the things one by one as you stare at the screen, leaving the ‘non-essentials’ like tissue paper to be counted last. Things like Royco and kinderjoy are eventually left in the trolley. You spend a record 16 minutes, and you’re out.

The pink frames called out to me, daring me to pick them up. I recently realized that I love the colour pink, although I have always believed I don’t have a favorite colour. I have more hot pink stuff than I care to admit. Hot pink draws me in like a fly to yesterday’s dung. They were also on sale, so I quickly made an inquiry and got a response. The shop was in Nairobi, but she could courier them to Mombasa.

Don’t you just love how shopping today has changed? I mean, we grew up dressing up for market days and moving from one screaming seller to another in the market, and bargaining until we grew breathless only to get 10 shillings sliced off our purchase. Well, we still bargain, but the market had become something we may have thought was straight out of a sci-fi movie. We soon connected, payments were made, delivery was done, and I started flooding your timelines with selfies in my new pink cat-eye spectacles.

A few weeks ago, after dropping the girls off at school, I pulled the pink glasses from my eyes to wash off the 8 AM sweat, and one arm was left dangling on my ear. My glasses broke, and I swear I heard my heart crack. I had grown to love those glasses in ways that must be forbidden to love inanimate objects. I was like a child with a blankie, and in the history of me wearing glasses since 2004, I haven’t found a frame I loved like this one. And now I had to go back to shopping.

I fished for the seller’s number on my phone and found it. On January 15thm 2021, I texted her,

“Hi, do you still sell frames?”

I waited. Grey ticks.

Grey ticks are for cowards, for people afraid of conversations, those who are unsure of their actions. I mean, it’s your phone, you can read and decide you’ll not reply, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Blue ticks are powerful; they tell people, “I’m in control of my life, and I can well make a choice not to reply to you, and you can’t do jack about it!” People who blue-tick you and feel nothing should be feared, those are the real OGs.

The only thing worse than being dumped via a text is being grey ticked. And I was once dumped via a text on new year’s eve at 11:59 PM. I think the guy was sweeping his house in readiness for the new year, and I was thrown out together with the banana peels and yesterday’s chewed sugarcane. The funny thing is, I had known the relationship was on the coroner’s table for a while, and I was waiting to meet him and do the honors. Well, he beat me to it, and now I have to live around feeling good and mature as the bigger person. He has since apologised for the lack of judgment; bloated my ego like a toad scaring away a predator.

I got tired of the grey ticks and went about shopping for new frames — again. I wasn’t angry; I actually assumed I got the number wrong; I mean, it had been almost two years. I soon got another frame and ordered it. Blue frames.

Eleven days later, at 10:09 PM, the grey ticks turned blue. I looked at the reply with a concoction of guilt, shock, grief, and a tinge of remorse.

“Sorry Shee went to be with the lord last month”

It was her mom. There was no punctuation in that sentence; grief doesn’t give you time to locate your commas and full stops. Words just flow out of you in no particular order, and with no regard to rules, grief has no rules. You just grief the best way you know. (Don’t ever tell a person how to grief, it’s a pure DIY project — unless they want to kill themselves.)

The grief I witnessed in 2020 has been immense, but none of that compares to the grief a mother feels. Losing a young daughter to a brain tumor and having to reply to WhatsApp messages from her customers a month later is a level of hard that doesn’t have adjectives.

We chatted for almost half-an-hour. She sent me photos and the obituary screenshot. She said she still finds it impossible to sleep, and she can’t understand why God took away her only daughter three short years after she lost her husband to a brain tumor. Does anyone understand why God does anything? He’s just God.

Grey ticks didn’t seem so evil after all after that chat.

Shee of Shee Art, you left a mark. Please make Jesus some bead-art for His sandals.

16 thoughts on “Grey Ticks

  1. Oh My God! 😭😭😭You mean Shee passed on?? I’m so devastated right now. I bought my current frames from her and she gifted me a bookmark. Rest well Shee😭

  2. Been loving your writing😊
    I certainly didn’t expect the turn of events the grey ticks would take. My take away is ,I should not be quick to judge (I normally try to live by this) . But this story applied that. People have reasons for doing things a certain way and that’s okay even if we do not know why.
    Keep writing the pieces they are 👍👍
    Thank you (silent follower here )

  3. Hey,
    Oh, how you have been missed! Happy New Year, even if it is already quite along in days.
    What a story. And exquisitely told. Yeah, I was about to be mad at those cowardly folk who are afraid of conversations. No, I lie, I have always been mad at them. Turns out after all, they are not necessarily cowards or anything loathsome.
    Thanks for letting us see that before we curse someone – anyone at all – in our hearts for failing to do or respond as we might expect, it may not necessarily be out of their cowardice, nonchalance or lack of care. They may in fact be in a place deserving more of our empathy and not judgment.
    Thanks again Mercy.

    • Hey Ken! You have been missed too, and happy new year (I think we can safely say that until Easter). Thank you for reading, and for the kind words. Here’s to consistency in the new year 😀

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