It was a loud voice. The kind of voice that can not make a whisper. An authoritative baritone that commanded attention and invoked judgement with its arrogance. I found myself judging the man behind that voice. I imagined he would be buff. Tall and of fairly good looks. The sort that always had an arrogant air about them.i confirmed my judgement when I lifted my head.  He looked about 34, had his hair shaven in the style we called marine back in school. The hair that showed remnants of a thick afro neatly shaven in the side and stacked at the front. Anita behind the counter explained to him over again that the medicine he needed wasn’t Amoxyl, but Cetrizine for the sinusitis attack his wife or mother or daughter needed. I couldn’t tell which it was because he kept referring to her in pronouns. He switched to Luganda in a tone that suggested Anita, now joined by Brian could understand him better. I judged him again. A man I barely knew. A man with a medium build who tucked his crisp white T shirt into his black Trousers and wore pointed shoes. I liked his spects though. The thin metallic line a cross his temple could have made them invisible if not for the thick red rims.

He and Brian went back and forth  between alternative medicines that could bring relief to his wife/mother/daughter and with a sigh of exasperation, he went out and returned with a female who hurriedly told Brian that she had had a terrible reaction to Cetrizine the night before. She wasn’t a woman of very many words, I could tell from the way she spoke to Brian. She was calm, courteous and straight to the point. She said all he had been trying to say the past fifteen minutes in under one minute and was clearer than he could hope to be that evening. I was curious about this odd pair. I deliberately raised my head again. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.

jolene

When Dolly Parton sang about Jolene, a woman who could have taken her man if she’d wanted to, a woman she desperately begged not to take her man,  I thought it was an exaggeration. This woman before my eyes could have been Jolene. With large white eyes and flawless skin the colour of creamy peanut butter, it’s no wonder the guy wanted her healed right away.

Her long hair, tinted Brown with black roots and hints of gold settled nicely around her shoulders and accentuated the fairness of her skin. I had to have a quick glance in the mirror behind the stacked medicine to remind myself that beauty could exist in different shades.

This woman was beautiful. Judging from her gentle youth and her relaxed aura, I had to rule out mother or aunt. And considering she and the man had as much resemblance as a night and day, daughter was ruled out to. Their body language ruled out sister and that pretty much summed it up.  I wondered exactly how these two had come to be together. Where she was calm and courteous, he was arrogant and brash with a hint of condescension. My attention snapped back to him as he told Anita, Brian and his lady friend  of how he once had an allergic  reaction to a certain type of medicine, that when he ingested it his red blood cells swelled up and itched his skin for as long as three days. My eyes must have fallen back so deep into my head that I had to re do the calculation I had just finished.

eye-roll

Miss Jolene said in a tone that sounded final and irritated “okay, do you have any tabs I can swallow for allergy apart from Cetrizine?” I couldn’t not look at her. Again. When Brian handed her the prescription, She smiled ever so lightly in appreciation and exposed a dimple in her left cheek so deep it looked like a toothpick could fit in it. The man, in a tone that sounded  relieved that Anita and Brian had finally understood all he was saying the entire time advised them to always carry out a background check into someone’s medical history before they could prescribe any medication, unlike the pharmacy that had given his friend the wrong medication and almost took her to the emergency room. The superiority with which he gave this unsolicited advice made me feel a little better about myself for being uncharacteristically judgemental. He shook Brian’s hand and made for the exit, taking his beautiful friend’s cue.

I watched them leave and for a moment I got stuck thinking about my pale and spotted chocolate skin that always looks like it could use a scrub. I thought about my hair, ever so unruly and wild. I could only hope to be as poised and graceful as she was. For the first time in a long time,  I found myself feeling less than. A feeling I quickly banished when I stole a glance from the mirror and saw a reflection of a work in progress.

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