So I was curious, we all get curious about this stuff. So where do you go when you want a quick fix mercury-laced skin ‘purifier’? Say it with me all you insecure men and women….Yes you said it! In Nairobi, you have River road; bleach town, with women exposing themselves to heavy amounts of mercury to appear orangish, pink and grey. I need to understand how mercury does that to gorgeous ‘midnight skin’. I had to borrow that line from Lupita Nyong’o.

Well, so there I was happily curious but unaware of the amount of badgering I would receive from all these orangish, pink women. It started off with this colossal ‘princess’; let me call her Ursula. I said hello and walked into the store and a plastic kenpoly stool appeared and I was invited in to have a look at the products, “Kama niko comfortable (pronounced KAM-FO-TA-BO)” So I politely sat and for some reason, this ebony skin wasn’t the only thing on their agenda.

“You see my daughter if you want a man you need to lose some weight.”

“Uuuh! OK?” I chose to not get offended, why should I? Since I was 6 my weight was always an issue, why should it be an issue 23 years later when I am seated on a lightweight plastic tool that is completely covered by my rotund rear? So I smiled and gave an inviting nod.

“You see my daughter,” She points at a fellow beached whale across the hall in another shoe box sized stall.

“She has lost a lot of weight and you see her husband appreciates her now. You, I can see, with this… you will now find a husband.”

The lady points at a line of boxes with weird brand names. I lifted one box and realised it was empty, I picked another also empty and Ursula quickly and ‘helpfully’ suggested a brand lifting one of the empty boxes. “This one will work for you.”

So off she went, I said nothing, I was fine with my beach whaled self. What I found ironic was Ursula was at least 10 kilos heavier than I was, shorter and still felt the need to provide unsolicited advice on my weight. Eish!  I played along and sat there. While Ursula was away another lady from an adjacent shoebox sized stall offered me a cream, my eyes popped out of their sockets at the label, I quickly said “no thanks”. Then she quickly pulled out the orange skin cream. It was in an old aluminium Nivea tin, “try?” She gently nudged me.

I smiled and shook my head.

“Just try!”

This woman was about to apply mercury on my face. As she steadily drew her mercury creamy goo laden finger close to my face. My right arm was steadily raising itself to cause maximum pain and turn that orange grayish countenance black and purple. A commotion ensued and the sales lady toppled over with her concoction and the next thing I knew I was in darkness. All I could hear was heavy panting and screams of “Kanjo! Kanjo!” The city council inspectors were around on a ‘crackdown’ of illegal and counterfeit products. Yeah right. Not like they don’t know these women operate here.

15 minutes later, the blinds were lifted and the light flooded the room, Ursula emerged with her fat burning agents and said, “3,500 shillings only?”

I laughed, stood up and walked away shaking my head. Why did I go there? Well like I said at the beginning; quench my curiosity. My fat-abulous midnight skinned self still proudly cruises the citywide and proud.