Fairy tales aren’t real. I know this, you know this, but that’s because life showed us prince charming is non-existent. Life showed us that glass slippers break and no matter what naturally occurring products we use, our scalps cannot produce as much as Rapunzel’s golden locks. We have accepted this for the truth in the lines. We have understood that we will not live in towers as prisoners or castles as princes. That the best a boy can do to protect the realm is join KDF and fight in Somalia.
Once upon a time, there was a boy. He was seen. He was heard. Everyone in his and most in neighbouring schools had heard of the wonder that was him. A high school celeb. He was in every funkie, every function. If there was a party and he did not make at least an appearance then you were sure that that was not a party worth its weight. He was IT [Not the movie]. He defined things. Defined status. If you were a guy you wanted to be his friend and if you were a girl you wanted more and he knew this. But the thing with all these high school celebrities is they feed on naivety. They survive because their peers don’t know any better. They choose to love these celebs because they haven’t realized love for themselves. Because he was seen from far and wide, we will name him Giraffe. And you’re right. Like all high school celebrities, his fame across the lands cleared when he finished school.
There is no tale that can be fairy without a fair maiden and ours is Elle. She of fair-ish skin and big brown eyes did know of Giraffe’s existence but he had no clue of hers. She went about her business unimpressed, since status did not rock her boat. She was of noble descent and had her wits about her. She knew what she deserved and being in the spotlight was never IT for her [see what I did there?]
After they all finished school, each went their separate way to conquer dragons and discover Chapo-smokies among other wonders of the realm. Then one night, a friend of Elle invited her to a birthday hang out. A harmless gathering among friends and since a royal birthday invite is not something to toss under the ball gown, she decided to honor it.
Elle arrived at the venue on time, dressed in the finest silks [okay, this is too much]. She got there on time and found other people who her friend had invited, among them Giraffe, standing tall and proud as if his previous status followed him out of school.
“There was no zing [cue Transylvania]. We just met and it was normal. Just friends hanging out on their friend’s birthday.” They did speak, she says, but it was all harmless talk. There was nothing to suggest they might have liked each other. Nothing special to tell their grandkids about. After the party, they became casual acquaintances. The kind that would send laughing emoticons at memes shared and nothing else. But the universe was waiting 3 years to set things in motion.
In this time, there were enough emojis to create 3 more movies. They became friends. Don’t ask me how because I don’t remember how I became friends with my 2 closest ones so what do I know in this topic? “There was no fishy business,” she emphasizes. “We were friends and that was it.”
Back to the marvellous works of the universe, Elle went to Eldoret during her long holidays from university. It was some NGO and as usual, when you have That-Word active youngings, there is high probabilities in coupling up, which totally happened. People were coupling left right and centre. Coupling with foreigners and locals, with blacks and whites. “There was this mzungu guy who seemed interested in me, so when he made his intentions kinda clear, I remembered I had this friend back home,” she says. See, by this time, Giraffe had claimed that he did not like being in the friend zone [cue Sauti Sol’s Friendzone]. She started thinking about it. “I didn’t want it to be a case of ‘what if’ with him, so I texted and asked what his deal was. What he wanted with me. With us.” They decided to give it a shot, Elle and the Giraffe, not the mzungu guy.
Everything was cool. They had fun, they could hold a conversation, make each other laugh. All the makings of a good relationship. They dated for 11 months. A good run if you ask me.
Elle is a strong soul. She knows what she wants, who she wants and has a precise plan on how to get these things. She doesn’t fuss, doesn’t nag, doesn’t call you when you don’t reply to her texts in 20 minutes. She was not clingy, but his friends seemed to have a problem with this. With her. “They would say ati I called the shots in the relationship. That I didn’t need him.” [as if needing a man is the prerequisite for being in a relationship] They claimed she was too independent. Too much of her own woman and that he needed to be with someone who would let him be “the man”. They poisoned poor sweet Giraffe till he became a vile insecure little goblin on the inside.
The semester was coming to a close. Elle had exams and Giraffe was somewhere not relevant to this story. Communication died. Not a natural death, this one. It was abrupt and sudden. The kind that let’s you know something is off and Elle, being the caring girlfriend that she was, called after 2 days.
Elle: Hey boo, wasgud?
Giraffe: um..Hello Elle
Elle: Was up witchu?
Giraffe: Oh, you know, the usual
Elle: Cool cool. So..exams are coming up and I was thinking that maybe we could…
Giraffe: I got a girl pregnant
Giraffe: She says it’s mine
Elle: Okay G, I’ll talk to you after exams. Stay fresh. I’ll give you feedback when I’m done
She didn’t know what to do, or say, or be. She only knew there were exams to do and they needed to be done with a clear head. They texted as usual in this time. Good morning. What are you having for lunch? Goodnight. Repeat. They broke up.
“It was a scheme that girl had,” she tells me. “I think she liked him and when he told her he had a girlfriend, she said she was pregnant after they slept together.”
“Would you have stayed if there was no pregnancy?” I ask her.
“I have asked myself this question, and people think I am crazy in saying this, especially because I am a feminist and all for #GirlPower, but yeah. I probably would have gotten back together with him. Right now, with all I know and all I have seen, I wouldn’t. But at that time, I probably would have.”
The girl was not pregnant. Elle found out a while after she and her Giraffe had long been broken up. He texted her after some time had passed to apologise for everything concerning his friends and the girl and his handling of the situation then blocked her.
“Why would he block you?”
“I didn’t know at the time, but he had started seeing my high school daughter. I have no problem with that relationship except for one thing.” I ask what that is. “I used to sometimes text him in the form of letters. It was cute, and soon enough it became our thing. Then, after he blocked me, I was scrolling down Instagram then I saw the same shit on my high school daughter’s account, claiming how sweet he was. That was MY THING!”
“Do you regret dating him?”
“No,” she says. “I chose my path. I just wish we could be able to know what would happen to the paths we leave for others.”
“Like the mzungu guy?” I ask.
“Well, yeah. But also, there have been contenders[yes, she said contenders] that I left behind and I am just so curious. Could they have turned out better than the ones I chose or worse? I’ll never know,” she pauses. “But I honestly don’t know what happened with me. I mean, have you ever looked at someone and asked yourself ‘is this the person watu walikuwa wanakufia’?”
“Hah! All the time sister.”
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I would beg that you don’t think me vain for talking about birthdays, especially with mine having just passed. But there is a certain maturity that comes with age, age here being the first day after your birthday before everything resets. Do you normals also feel extra old on the first day of your next year than you do all through it? It’s weird, right? And moreso when that is the time in that year of your life that you are at your youngest. This is what I figured out. You can call me your personal stupid genius. But think about it. We feel most vulnerable about our age on the day after we turn because this is when the excitement has died down and you are faced with the true reality of the new number. Or the hangover is what makes you feel like a grandpa, I’m no expert.
She met him on her birthday. She didn’t want to go out that night, preferring the softness of her mattress and the coolness of the other side of her pillow. But her friends “hijacked” her. They came in like thieves in the night, and in the fashion of hyper sex-crazed monkeys carried her off into the night. She didn’t mind it, she says. It was her birthday after all and if her friends wanted to use it as their excuse to get wasted and have meaningless sex, who was she to judge? In Grammy Ariana fashion, she supported them, blew them kisses across the dance floor even. At least someone was having fun on her behalf.
“I was alright, really. They would come grab me for a dance or two then let me go back to my drink. It was fun. But then at about 1:27am (I checked the time) as I was going back to my seat, there was a guy at my table.”
He was cute. She tells me. Tall. Dark. Handsome. A woman’s weakness. But that is not what caught her eye. He was gorgeous, of course. Had the chiseled jaw of movie stars and muscles that threatened to burst through the sleeves of his Tshirt. He was well groomed. The beard well trimmed and his pants fit well. [Boys, a trouser that fits you well does not hang under your ass by a Jamaican coloured belt, okay?] “I was pulled to him. And not just because I had wanted to sit by my drink after another round on the dance floor. I was literally pulled to him. He had this mystery to him that I just wanted to figure out. I couldn’t help myself and I knew, even before I spoke with him, that I had to be in his bed. In his life.” [Whew, someone get me a fan]
“Hi,” said she, sitting.
“Hello,” said he. “I’m sorry to intrude. This was the only available table at this hour that does not house loud drunks.”
Pssht. Intrude shimtrude. “No problem. I was getting kinda lonely watching my friends dance.”
“I was watching you dance,” he said, turning so his leg brushed against hers. She felt shivers.
“Oh?” words failed her.
“Cece,” she hoped that was her name.
One thing led to another [this is a universal statement so don’t pretend you don’t understand it] and before long, she was wearing his Tshirts. It was a good run. He was a good guy. A real gentleman and in the next few weeks that they got to know each other, she was convinced this was her Adam. But even the Garden of Eden had snakes.
They were watching a football game one Saturday evening. “I had become one of those girls,” she tells me. “I was watching football for a man. To keep a man. I didn’t understand shit. All it is is men in shorts, with one or two weird haircuts running after a ball. It’s insane. But he liked it, and he had said he couldn’t date a girl who didn’t watch football. So I told him I fangirled over Arsenal, because that is the first team that came to my head. It impressed him.” He was a Man City man himself and the game was between City and “some small team”. He knew they were going to win. He was so confident that she too shared in his enthusiasm. By first half, the teams were neck on neck, sharing the points at 1-1. “They were to come back and show the small team who was boss.” Who the real cat was. The cat turned out to be wild.
His team lost. And in the confusion and the hurt and disappointment, she tried to calm him. He was throwing insults in football normalcy.
She: Babe, it’s just a game [In today’s lesson on Things to NOT Say to a Sports Fan…]
He: (howls insults at the TV, the decoder, the couch)
He: (insults the remote)
She: Come on big daddy, don’t be such a baby.
He: What did you say to me?!
She laughed because it didn’t seem real. He was kidding. She couldn’t have used that tone on her.
He: Bitch! WHAT did you f*king say to me?
She: Babe, I…
Her face was hot before she realized what was going on. As her head wrapped around what had happened, he was on her, hitting and punching, she scratching and clawing. A gazillion seconds in, his dog barked at them and he caught himself, rolled off, and lay beside her. She couldn’t speak. She had the words, swimming in her head in an incomprehensible mess. She had questions and answers she did not want to believe. They just could not leave her lips.
She: (focuses on taking air back into her lungs)
He: I’m sorry
Then there were tears. Like the River Jordan had broken its banks in his living room. He sobbed and begged and sniffled until she said she understood he was angry. She knew those words were a lie immediately they formed in her throat but she said them once, then twice, and every time after that when he would “accidentally” hit her.
“You just took it? Why did you stay?” I ask. This is where I would like to say I was dumbfounded. A word I have not used out of writing essays in school but which fits here perfectly.
Cece says she didn’t know any better. He was her first on most things. Girls get confused with their firsts. “And besides, he didn’t do it a lot. I remember the next time we sat to watch the game. I was so tense that he noticed. He apologised like a million times. Even got to his knees and said it was a moment of weakness. That it would never happen again. And he was always the perfect gentleman plus I was still very attracted to him. So we made up.”
Everything became rosy after that. The petals of love flourished. The stem of stability stood its ground. Heck, even their cologne blended perfectly together. But each rose has its thorn. His stabs came back four months later.
“I had gone out with my friends. By this time, we had been dating for 7 months. We were perfect. I never told my friends about that night. I was embarrassed, and I knew he would never do it again.” But he did.
Cece was coming back home when she realised she had misplaced her key. It was 11:30 PM. She called him about seventy six [I exaggerate] times but he did not answer. So she sat by his door and scrolled through Instagram until he showed up. He stumbled in at 1:34 AM, drunk chakari-ly. As he fumbled with the keys, she, who was sober by then, took them off his hands to open the door herself.
She woke up in bed, bruised. She could not understand what was going on. Her whole body hurt. It pained her to breathe!
“Then he walked in with a tray. On it was some milk in a glass and pancakes he had made. I didn’t even know he could make pancakes before that. Then he apologised.”
“What did he say?”
“That it was a moment of weakness. That he did not mean to hit me as hard as he did. He was drunk after all. He said he wasn’t even expecting me to be at his door waiting and that I had startled him when I took the keys from him.” She understood, but this time, her neck was on the side [Hehe].
By this time she had secured an internship with an NGO somewhere along Ngong Road. She had to work on Monday. When her colleagues asked about the bruises on her face and arms, she said she fell down some stairs, and even though they seemed to halfwittingly believe her, she heard whispers [people you work with are rarely your friends, kids]. She told her friends the same thing, but they didn’t believe her, meaning she was forced to tell the truth. That Chiseled Faced Jack was giving her own face blows. That his well fitting pants hid the kicks he threw her way. That as they held hands in public, those same hands restricted air flow in her throat in the evenings. Her friends took her to a police station to take a P3 and rebuked her for wanting to go back to him. They told her he wasn’t right. That he needed psychological help. Called him a monster. “But I still loved him,” she texts. So she went back.
He hit her again.
On the 14th day of November 2019, she woke up in Nairobi Women’s Hospital at Nairobi West. She did not know how she got there. She recalls being in Kasarani with him the previous night. They were having fun, just another couple that loved each other’s company. That is all she remembers of that night. When she regained her consciousness to the regurgitating smell of the hospital, her friends were around her. Her three girlfriends who made her leave the house for her birthday. Whose moves she had supported at the club and who threw her sim card away so he could not reach her…or so they said. “I know they knew I was the one who was going to reach out. They were protecting me from myself.”
“Have you talked to him since then?” I ask.
“No,” she writes. “But I am going to.”
“I need to know if he loves me. If he ever loved me. I need him to tell me in what twisted world he thinks love is putting someone in the hospital.”
“Would you go talk to him alone? Aren’t you scared about another slapsgiving?” I asked. And yes, I used a HIMYM slang.
“Whatever happens, happens. I just need to know. For closure.”
[PS. If you have a Young Love story, hit me up on Instagram and Twitter (@mir_awu), on MIRAWU’s Facebook page or send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sometimes I am told a story and I know exactly how to write it. Those are good days. Those are days that your boss doesn’t ask for too much and there is a gorgeous sunset at the end of a productive day. Days when you pass by a butchery and get yourself a ka-quarter just because. During these times, life is easy. You figure out your purpose. Other times, I am told a story worth writing about, but I still feel it lacks that je ne sais quoi. Something is missing. A tragedy, a wedding, sometimes even a wheelbarrow. These times I hate. These times happened with this story quite a lot. But I will do as I do and let the gods decide.
We will start this story in a matatu. A rundown beaten but still roadworthy matatu. We are seated on the solo seat [you know the one I mean] and the driver is a man just tasting his thirties. He is clean, a testament to his doting wife fussing over the creases on his work shirts.
“See this crease here,” she might say to him. “This crease determines whether people get into your matatu or not,” and he might protest saying, “But sweetheart,” [because he must sweeten the common sense to make it common] “the people getting into my matatu are determined by the tickets they purchase, not my shirt” and she will give him a look that lets him know who is boss. Anyway, I’m trying to say he is a family man, our driver.
Somewhere between his venacava and aorta, he has three individuals. A boy, a girl and a toddler, male. They have their bare necessities. Basic needs are taken care of and they have parents who make sure there are no creases on shirts and all vaccines are up to date. This is his family. He thinks of them on the drive to Nairobi and back to Nyeri. Sometimes, if he starts early enough, he might think about them 4 times. He dies on one drive to Nyeri.
The accident is not dubbed a taboo. They talk about it. The toddler grows up just hearing of the word ‘Father’ without really knowing what the word represents. He is told, though, of how meticulous the shirts he wore were. He is told of hands that carried him and of the rise and fall of his voice.
Now that this story does not have a wheelbarrow, I will give it one. I met Evans in the course of one week. We had snippets of conversation until he suggested I write something on him. Usually, I say I cannot. That my brain is not a faucet of activity that can just be turned on and off at will. Usually, I say no. I say that I cannot write about something I cannot form two sentences on the spot about. But I saw the love in his eyes as he peered through. You see it in him, and you know, even before you see the photo itself, that it is a masterpiece.
There is a crinkle on his forehead as he focuses the lens on a subject. A tiny frown that lets the world know Da Vinci is reborn. He holds the camera delicately, as a man would hold something he loves. As I imagine he would hold his woman. He holds it as if he is afraid it would leave him for a man with a yacht, and that would break him to his core. Once, in the week I was around him, someone else grabbed his camera from the table and tried to twist the lens and he almost twisted in his seat.
His brother had one of those cameras that our parents tell us about. You’ve heard those stories. How photos would take a month before you saw them and even then, there was no guarantee that these photos would be what you posed for. Sometimes you didn’t even get your photos after this wait. His brother was one of these cameramen. The tailors and carpenters of that time.
He would watch, forever forbidden to touch any of the equipment because he was just a child, but the seeds were planted. It was the kind of love that grows without sprouting. The roots dug deep but provided no branches to see. No stem to look at. But you can be sure that the roots spread deep.
The first time he worked with one, the first time his hands held his love, it was magic. He produced works that were never before possible. His love loved him back. They were made for each other. Granted, he had to kiss a few frogs. He dabbled in acting, among other things, but they did nothing for him. They did not rouse his inner beast. They never made him growl in the night. But the camera did.
“I was working with a friend of mine at some organization,” he stands before a few of us while he says this. “And there was a sentence on the wall. I can never forget it. It said ‘Your first 10,000 photos are nothing’. I live by that statement.” He says he is nowhere near his ten thousandth photograph. He will do more, seek more, take more. He plans to take photos until they have to create storage space for them. He envisions his photos before he takes them. He knows what it would look like before he peers into the camera. And every time, every single time, he comes out at the other end with magical results, appreciates it and tosses it aside because he is on a journey to 10,000, and he is not even halfway yet.
I ask if he remembers his first job.
“I can just say nilianza nikilipwa 250 per job,” he replies. “But God came through for me. I now have my own camera and my shots were always masterpieces.” He recalls taking better photos than those of his mentor at one point.
I ask about his childhood.
“I grew up in Meru. Raised by a single mom. My dad died in an accident when I was one-year-old. I’m the last born of three. One bro, one siz.” He texts. “I don’t know much about him so I don’t know what I can say.”
“Was he driving?”
“Yes. PSV za Meru to Nairobi.”
The first photo he took was during a graduation party in 2016. It was not is camera, and the gig was of a friend [I hope my friends are seeing what other friends are doing for their friends].
I had wanted to talk about some of the photos he sent me as samples. With that idea, I was to talk about each photo. What I see, what it feels like, what I think he ate right before or right after that image. I didn’t have much to work on with this story. And, I lost my notes of the first interview we had, then realized the recording I had taken had not recorded shit. So I sat in front of my laptop and started typing whatever came to me…and I think I did a good job regardless. Some of his photos are featured down below [Lol, so youtubey]
Also, tomorrow is my birthday so Yay!
[PS: If you have a Young Love story, hit me up. I am (@mir_awu) on IG and Twirra and there’s a facebook page (mirawuofficial). You can also act grown up and send me an email on email@example.com]
“I have loved a few guys. Some amazing, some that make me ask myself how…it doesn’t make sense after the breakup. Some I still think I could get back together with…no, actually, we are kinda still together. We’ve never really said it’s over so we somehow find our way back to each other. His name is Dickson. It’s really funny cause he can be a real d**k”.
For anonymity, she chose Nomi. I remember her eyes. She was blessed with these big brown eyes that get you lost in them until reality jerks you awake and reminds you to study because she was your academic rival. We are friends. At least I would like to think so. Outside of class, we would do almost everything together. what we never did, and this I categorically remember, was study together. I cannot explain why, so please don’t ask.
It is important to note that Dickson is not her first love. “It wasn’t anything close to love at first sight,” she texts. It may have had something to do with the fact that they met in a dark room, so she didn’t know it when cupid shot his first arrow, but the bow was empty that Wednesday evening. “I know it was a Wednesday because I only went out on Wednesdays for karaoke,” she adds.
We lost touch in between high school. The universe has a funny way of bringing you back together with people you think about constantly. I don’t recall what exactly I was doing in town that afternoon, but I remember seeing her and floating right back to us washing our plates together and seeing the blue color of her metal box in the dormitory. We were lost souls reunited, if only for about a week. That was the week she told me her favorite color was grey, and I knew we would always be friends.
The morning after karaoke, she went back to school in the company of some friends but the gatekeepers refused to open for them. It must be a unit in Watchmen School to ruin people’s lives…especially if you are stationed at a place where you have to deal with students. How to Be a Dick to Students 101. Left with nowhere else to go, they decided to head to the Doctor’s Plaza (noun: an apartment in the hospital where the doctors who are on call rest while they wait for cases) … [Yup, they told you to read and you ignored them, huh? Look at you now]
“We were lucky enough to find beds, but there were three of us and only two beds, so my two friends slept on one and I on the other.” Okay kids, say it with me. He came in a little later and was forced to share a bed with our Nomi… and he gave her his number. Classic dick moves. “I swear I told myself I’d never get in touch but I did a few days later [Cupid’s bow was empty after all] … it was a boring day don’t judge me too harshly.”
They started “meeting”. That is the word she uses. Not going on dates. They were meeting. You know where a relationship stands when what you do is equivalent to a briefing about few mandazis in the canteen. After a few of those “meetings”, they became a thing. “It was so good cause he can be super romantic and he’s also a good cook – I know every female wants one of those or so I believe” I did not tell her this, but I disagree. Now I am not every female, but I want consistency and honesty and being true to his word. I want truthful and real and a whole lot of nasty. Cooking I will deal with, no problem… but then again, I am not every female.
And just as quick as it began, things became different. “Everything was going well until I found out he was seeing another girl [the main mama]”. I ask how she found out. “I came across some notebook in his house. It belonged to the girl he currently stays with; Maggie.”
She says that at first, she thought Maggie was from a different school. “When I went back to school, I asked my roommates about a certain Dr. Dickson and one of them asked if he was the one rumored to be dating ‘Maggie’”. This is the part in the movie with slow music, right? When the rain starts pouring and there is a locked door somewhere. Where the lead owns three umbrellas but for some strange reason left them all on this rainy day. Where they walk, and cry and our hearts break for them as if we loved the guy or girl as well. This is the part where a fluffy dog runs away in slow motion. Where the color fades from cheeks and the screen. Black and white.
“Btw I messed up kidogo.”
“It’s okay,” I say. “Messed up wapi?”
“Everyone messes up. What happened?”
They lost touch after she found out about Maggie. I believe in fate. In everything happening because it was meant to happen and letting the universe craft its own path. 10 months later, they bumped into each other in a club, went back to his place and did mahanjams [Yes, I made up a word to mean sex. Deal with it]. She got preggers.
“Did you tell him about it?” I ask, because these days girls just raise kids on their own without “needing anybody’s help”. She told him.
“I laugh every time I remember what he said. He texted ‘tutafanya nini na bado hatujalipwa?’”. Men. The scummiest of the scum. This was during one of those prolonged doctor strikes. Dick [I was itching to call him this], was among the doctors who had missed their salaries for some months. But she asked what if she wanted to keep it and he, a grown ass man, gone to medical school and done all that pertains to being an intellectual, told her that she was too young to be a mother. I mean, are all doctors this ignorant of all the teen mothers of the world? Were they not mothers because they were too young? Does this understanding come with being a doctor? And if so, where do we sign up all the scum that make mothers out of young girls? Nomi kept the pregnancy. “He saw her jana for the first time in 2 years.”
I ask if they talked after that. They did. He got paid. Bought a car. Lived life. Drove his new car, probably with Maggie in it, and claimed a considerable number of times that maybe the child wasn’t his. Dickson. A fitting name. “He claimed that I only said the baby was his because he had a job… because he had the money. Then at some point during the pregnancy he called and said he’d take care of the child. That he would never let his baby suffer.” Then there was mention of a DNA test to “confirm” and a promise to send a monthly stipend until she delivered. Picture what would happen if Moses’s staff did not part the sea after travelling the desert, okay? That Moses would be Nomi’s Dickson.
Maggie got pregnant after hearing of Nomi being so. It can be disputed that this was pure coincidence. And I am a believer, trust me. But this…this seemed suspect.
Fun fact: Did you know people from Tharaka Nithi are called Tharakas? That’s where he is from, this Dr Dickson. A Tharaka sounds like a guy who was thrown out of home at the age of seventeen because he measured cocks with the man of the house. A Tharaka sounds like the name we could use to describe these men who sit by the road and harass women just for existing. Those makangas who touch you for no reason when you are getting on a jav? Those could be Tharakas, with a small ‘t’.
“Do you regret meeting him?”
“Sometimes,” she says. “He can be difficult. But when he wants to, he can be the best man on earth.”
“Isn’t that just him pretending to be a good guy?”
“I swear I think the same sometimes but I know deep down he’s inside he’s a good person. [Girl, date his insides then] “But I’m trying to wean myself off of him so I don’t end up wishing him a ton of bad things every time he does something, I don’t deem to be right. In another life, I’d be his girl.”
I ask for examples of things he does that she things are wrong.
“Making so many promises and keeping close to none” [A tharaka is someone who makes promises and keeps close to none]
I ask how long he stayed when he came to see their daughter the day before we spoke. “I went to his house [typical tharaka] I wanted him to stay with my baby so I can find something to do to save up some cash cause I still have internship. But he promised he will take care of that”
“You trust this Maggy to take care of your kid?”
“It was the only option I had left.”
“Do you love him?”
“I do. So much.”
Do you have a Young Love story? Anything you love to do, to be, to have, to wear, to look at. Find me on Facebook (Mirawu), send me a DM on IG and Twitter (@mir_awu) or just text me on Whatsapp (+254 729288583). I will text back. We will send voice notes and memes and I will listen, without judgement.
Here’s a story. Boy meets girl in campus. Boy promises girl the world. Boy impregnates girl. Boy takes girl to his parents. Boy’s parents are ecstatic! He had been a problem child. To have found a wife for him would have been an issue…but here was Boy, with a girl. A university one nonetheless! Cause for celebration! Boy’s parents go to visit their in-laws.
Now girl’s parents have their doubts. They try asking if this is what Girl wants for herself. If she is sure. She says yes because what other option is there? Raise a bastard child in her parents’ home? That was never the plan. The plan involves escape. Freedom. She prays Boy would give her that, and leaves with him.
Boy drinks. Obviously. He has a wife and child on the way. He is a legend in his early twenties. His village friends call him “Mheshimiwa”. He might run for office. But for now, Boy enjoys being in the moment. Nothing phases him. Not his pregnant girl nor his failing grades. Not even the birth of his daughter. He will love her, without a doubt. But Girl will be in a different prison to that of raising their daughter in her parent’s home. The world Boy promised becomes the eyes of her 4-year-old daughter. She gets pregnant again.
This is a classic story, deserving of a place right up there with “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “The Notebook”. Everyone has heard this story. Most have lived it, either in the eyes of their parents, siblings or in first-hand experience. But there is usually more than what meets the eye. Boy has struggles. Girl has dreams. Sometimes they overcome and achieve whatever they wished for themselves. Other times they drown in a pit that life and circumstance dug for them.
It might be cliché that I want to write about love. You may be sitting there thinking “Well it’s about time this blog took a normal turn” just so you have the excuse to dismiss me, but I won’t have it. I want to write about love, because I love Love. It’s a curse in this day and age to have a heart that believes in people. That thinks there is someone out there who will at least come close to the famed soulmate. But after writing on alcohol all through last year, I realized one thing. People die. And yes, it might be sadistic to think this, but go with me for a minute.
Life happens once. There is no do-over, no matter how many movies have lied to you and how much people will tell you about coming back reincarnated as an animal [But, universe…a panda please, thanks]. So, yeah. We only get one chance at life. And with the way we are structured, we are born to love. However tough you want to look to the world, however much you proclaim that love is for pussies. The heart is a fragile thing. It sees what it sees and takes what it wants. So let’s write about it.
This year, I want broken hearts. I want stories of people who loved and lost through death and through society. People who believed and had their wishes washed with the waves of disappointment. I want dread of that four-letter word. I want hate, because…well, it is a thin line. I want loathing so real you see someone you once loved and want to run to Paris and bury your face in croissants and forget your sorrows in the Seine River.
I also want tough guys. Those buff ninjas who say they have never loved. I want to talk about their tender moments. To talk to men who have no fear of this word. To men who have grown from a world of nameless sexcapades to giving their hearts to one. But I also want men who loved and got broken, and then decided to get into the societal agreement of what a man is.
I want love. Stories of people who saw each other across a room and heard the rise and fall of Ed Sheeran proclaiming the gospel to their hearts. I want movie love. To know where and when you bumped into them and how and if you knew at once they were the proverbial “ONE”. I want to hear about letters and text messages and late night phone calls.
I’m not going to lie to you. When I started writing on the first blog, I wanted to write about love. I have always written about love. Maybe it felt familiar. Maybe I wanted to write about what I knew truly existed. But then I felt I didn’t know enough. And I would have made two posts and left it at that. But doing AA last year has really put a lot into perspective. Going for what I wanted to do and actually doing it, has given me so much belief in myself. That’s why I’m doing this. You are right. It’s about time.
Tell me of how much you love your cat or your pillow, or how that one book changed your perception on fairy tales. I want pure love and the toxic kind. To hear of nights filled with shouting matches followed by tight cuddles. I want to at least hear of a love that made you forget to breathe. A love that shook you to your core. A love that you will tell your grandkids about.
I want photos of letters they wrote you and memories that bring pain in your chest. Bruised hearts, stitched back together hearts, unloved hearts. I want it all.
But I am not going to give you love stories from fairy tales. There will neither be Belle nor Cinder. I will tell of pure, raw experiences. Might throw some of mine in the mix…but…all I ask, is that you trust me with your heart the same way you trusted me with your liver in 2019. We will call this “Young Love”.
The rules are the same. You get to pick your name. Please pick something cool. Something you would have wanted to be, or do, or are trying to become. Pick something random. A cloud, a shoe, a city. I will give you the power to become whatever you have wished to be. And I will tell your story in the best possible way. I will love your love and your pain.
Do you have a Young Love story? Find me on Facebook (Mirawu), send me a DM on IG and Twitter(@mir_awu) or just text me On Whatsapp (+254 729288583). I will text back. We will send voice notes and memes and I will listen, without judgment.
Starting this Alcoholics Anonymous thing, I didn’t even have money to buy a domain. I just closed my eyes and said that whatever happens would happen, and I can attest that LOTS (not the wife) have happened. I am supposed to write a goodbye 2019 piece today. All the writers are doing it, and I should emulate them. But I have sat on my laptop about 6 times already and I don’t know what to say, or rather what not to say, about the year. So I settled on randoes. I often write just for the sake of it, and I chose, for your benefit, the most random things I could fit into one post. Hope you like it.
- Reasons Why Cadbury Eclairs Are My Favorite Candy(17-02-2019)
On most days, I like to consider myself a healthy eater. I eat my vegetables and avoid constant intake of meat. I even try to have the recommended eight glasses of water. But despite my greatest efforts, I have a weakness that I must say, I am not quite ashamed of. To err is human right? Well on some of these days, in between my fourth and fifth glass of water, my sweet tooth lures me into sinning with one thing; Cadbury eclairs. Most days I can help it, but some days, the desire becomes unbearable.
I am not one of those girls that would die for a bar of chocolate, but these Cadbury temptations come in a devilishly delicious chocolatey taste that leaves me craving the mere unwrapping of them. The wrapping is easy to undo, as you just have to twist the ends to get to the creamy goodness. They are a combination of milk, chocolate and toffee that gives off a devastatingly pleasant smell that has my taste buds watering every time.
Cadbury eclairs come in a creamy smooth center of milk chocolate wrapped with a lusciously chewy, unique caramel toffee (Cadbury 2019). Having the chocolate on the inside makes me feel like I am on a treasure hunt as I try to chew through the outer part made of toffee to get the chocolatey treasure. It melts easy, and the toffee is not as hard as in other candies. Some people have a problem with the toffee being chewy but I don’t. I feel the chewing is part of the Cadbury éclair experience and I love all of it.
It does not help that they are easily found in all outlets that sell sweets. It is for this reason that I always need some extra cash on me at all times since it feels like a crime to get to the shop, look at Cadbury eclairs right in their purple wrapper and not buy them. I always find myself getting a few during any time I am sent to the shop. This single piece buying however tends to leave me craving for them even more, meaning I have to buy them in packets of fifty or a hundred. Be warned, however, these eclairs are incredibly scrummy, so once the packet is open they won’t last for long.
I never go anywhere without a few pieces of Cadbury eclairs in my purse because you never know who needs some chocolatey goodness. They make me happy just by being there, but they also make people happy when you reach in your bag and bring out a piece of éclair for them. I like candy that brings happiness in the world. I had to eat two while writing about it because just thinking of them makes me want them. I have never met anyone who does not like them. So, what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a packet of Cadbury eclairs right now!
- The written myth (17-12-2019)
There is a myth, that writing is therapeutic. That morphing thought into letters that make paragraphs is good for the soul. This same myth is used for people who journal. People who have found it calm to put down their feelings of the day, the week, the month, on a notebook with a pretty cover. I don’t believe it. I love writing. I love that I did this MIRAWU thing this year. But I have also realized some kind of deviation to this writing. The truth is: What is therapeutic is the telling part. Having to give your account of things. How someone made you feel, or a situation, or a dog. That, is therapeutic, no doubt. But the part where I have to turn it into something readable when my own brain refuses to comprehend itself? Well…
- Green (5-08-2019)
Everything is green.
Who even likes the color green. Is there someone who goes outside right now and is like “Damn, that’s my favorite color in all its glorious shades out here”.
Really. Who likes the color green? Who when they were 6 years old writing only in pencil at school had a scenario like this…
“Nancy, what is your favorite color?” And Nancy said Pink
“What about you Peter?” Peter said Blue, and when someone else said Black you thought “Hmm, John must be a very dirty boy, he likes black because it doesn’t show dirt. Then you were asked and you said green.
And what do you do in January when all is dry and those who enjoy brown are the happiest? Do your hearts break when a leaf falls because the world becomes a shade less? Are you saddest when the climate is dry?
It is so green right now that even house plants tormented by household secrets are vibrant.
I don’t understand people who keep house plants. Why would a human put a plant in a tin just to place it under the roof when we were inexplicably explained to how plants require the sun and water to flourish? It’s like having foreigners take you from home, fly you to space and tell you to survive without oxygen just because they have more power than you. Having house plants seems like a huge disappointment to mother nature.
- The Heart (24-06-2018)
I fell in love this past week.
With a stranger.
I don’t even know his name.
We also lost Avicii, I wrote a new story at work and I got a new sweatshirt.
I met him at the stage where I get matatus for home. Well, I didn’t really meet him like officially, he just sat next to me while I was going through my poetry book. I tried to look uninterested and mysterious so that I could at least have an edge in his thoughts even though he found me eating a fabulous smo-cha because we don’t even get tea at work.
Maybe I should start with a little background.
I have been on attachment for the last one month. What we basically do is report to the supervisor in the morning then go out to source for news and interesting stories then come back to the office and write about what you found then send the article to your supervisor. It doesn’t matter what time you get done, but after you send it via email, you have to see your supervisor to make any corrections and give background information to the article then she or he posts it and you are free to go.
There are these mamas who work around the office as information officers. I have seen guys there too but it is these mamas that make tea in the cubicle next to the one that we attachés sit at. It is also not regular tea. They make that kind of tea that smells like it comprises of one-part water, two-parts milk. Then we sit there while the air is filled with the tantalizing aroma of amazing tasting tea, I imagine, and listen as they slurp it from white-ish stained coffee cups as our stomachs grumble for chips mwitu.
I don’t like those women.
Back to my superficial love story.
So this particular Tuesday, I was done for the day, and they had just finished their tea, but I only remained with enough coins for fare home and probably a smokie or boiled egg if I wanted to save the 5 shillings for later. I walked to the stage listening to Thomas Rhett and he was still dying a happy man in my ears, as I looked lovingly at the egg (I decided to keep the 5 shillings) when I spotted him. He was everything I have been telling myself I am not going to get involved with.
Fuckboy haircut. Check
Rugged-slimmed jeans. Check (they were black though, and only torn at the knees just a little bit)
Walks in a group of similarly dressed guys. Check (They brought him to the stage)
Ray bans. Check. And really weird looking ones for that matter.
I go into the mat after I finished my egg and I was satisfied I could survive the agonizing walk from where I would alight to my parents’ house because these guys couldn’t build their house next to the highway because of supposed “noise”. Humbugs!
This was when he sat next to me and paradise floated to earth for a while, and being me, I freaked out and put my earphones back on, perused through my book a little bit more then felt more self-conscious since I don’t like showing it to people and he was secretly looking at it. I think.
He asked me what my name was. He actually asked if my name was “Marion” and in my head I went “Who in Hell’s fire is Marion?!” But I quietly asked him to repeat himself even though I had heard him clearly. He cleared his throat and in the most amazing man-child’s voice, he repeated. I told him I was not Marion. Then I contemplated taking his phone and putting in my number because nowadays I hear girls can also make moves, you know… “Shoot my shot”..but then I started imagining what we could have in common.
I saw us together doing relationship shit and I resisted.
He asked me where I live, and I told him, then he said I couldn’t be his Marion.
Who in Hell’s fire is Marion!??
I was in love that night, and kept asking myself if I could find him the next day and if he could get my number and text me them eventually call me and he’d ask me to be his girl and I would say no because I have vowed to not date a guy like him, then he would fight for me and it would be cute and I would get back to my puppy Zumbik and forget all about this new found love.
Long story short, on Wednesday, I was at that stage at exactly 4:07, the exact time as Tuesday, or a few minutes earlier, but who was counting? And I didn’t see him.
But I did see him today as I shopped with mom in town for weekend goodies. Guess I am not in love anymore. “The heart is a treacherous thing”- Liam Neeson as narrator of The Huntsman, Winter’s War
Thank you for sharing your stories with me, and for being here to read what I made of the stories told to me. Thank you for making MIRAWU possible. We resume on 9th January with possibly another series. For now, it’s a wrap with Alcoholics Anonymous.
Her mom died when she was 16. A form 2 student at St Mary’s Lwak Girls’ High School in Rarieda District of Nyanza. She remembers the face of the form one student who came to call her from class on that day. She remembers looking at the girl’s face and immediately feeling a cloud form around her chest. She knew before she was told. Before the Kiswahili teacher said her name out loud and asked her to the Deputy Principal’s office. She knew in her gut that something was terribly awry.
It was an accident that did her mother in. An exhausted matatu driver in the Kisumu heat. Her mother, in the seat right behind him, her bag clutched to her chest. No one in the vehicle made it to tell the story. The media relied on witnesses. People who were minding their business but who concluded that the driver “must have been drunk” because he swerved on the road like a madman. People who said “he must have not slept a wink last night” so he was dozing off behind the wheel. These people had no business making such conclusions to an accident that they were not affected by, but they were human, and human beings have the urgent need to explain that which has no explanation. “The truth is,” she tells me, “At least the way I recall it is, there was no head-on collision. In fact, there was no other vehicle that may have startled the driver on the road. There was no bend, no bump. It was a straight tarmac. But the driver still went off the road and caused an accident that killed 14 people, including my mother.”
She remained with her stepfather, her bio dad having passed away when she was 3 years old. Her memories revolve around stories she was told and three photographs, one of him, the second with her as a toddler and the third with her mother in it. She held on to these three photographs as if her life depended on it. She scanned them, framed them, had them reproduced just so she could immortalize the memory of her parents.
Now, living with her stepfather was not as bad as anyone would expect. She got along well with her stepbrothers so it was almost smooth sailing. But when you’re an orphan in a house of kids with their biological parent, you notice some things. You will realize that you never get the last piece of meat. That sometimes, the father picks his children from school early so they can go eat chicken without you. You notice small things but these are the ones that dig a hole into you, taking a piece of the soil each time.
“He made you feel left out?” I ask.
“On the contrary. I think he was establishing boundaries. Making it known whose father he was and whose he wasn’t. And I kinda respect it.”
“What do you mean “respect it”?”
“He didn’t try to be my father. I had a dad. He lived in the three photos under my mattress. This strange man who sired sons with my mother before her death was not my father, and he never pretended to be. But then he started drinking”
It must have been the stress of raising three teenagers on his own, or it was that time in a man’s life that he decides alcohol is the answer. A midlife crisis of sorts, except his Lamborghini, was the walking John and his friends. Nevertheless [Ha! I used it after school] he did drown, far and deep. Rain was forced to become a part-time mom to her step-siblings, but it wasn’t as hard as it may be thought. The boys were practically grown by this time. All she had to do was make the big decisions. Things like what to eat for supper and who to send for milk from the shop. Sometimes it got hard, really hard. The boys did not listen, she had a migraine, there was no food in the house, the stepdad had slept in yet another trench that night so he didn’t come home till the sun was well on its way overhead.
Then, one evening, right after they had shared the scraps of a collection of previous meals, her stepfather came home at 8.13 pm. She remembers because she always waited for the 9 o’clock news, and they had not aired yet. She remembers because when he walked in, even his own offspring was surprised. “Ah daddy, leo umekuja mapema aje?” they asked in delight.
“Did you not share the same enthusiasm as your brothers?” I ask.
“Step-brothers,” she corrects me. “And no. I think it was mainly because a part of me always sat down for the news to wait for his dilapidated body to show up on the screen, murdered by unknowns.”
“I didn’t know it before then,” she continues. “Before that night when he came home early. But on that night, as his sons were hugging him at the door, I immediately knew why I felt an overwhelming sense of disappointment.”
He came home that evening with a “guest” as he so amicably put it. “Huyu ni aunty yenu. Msalimieni.” He was in high spirits, and there was no percentage involved this time. “It was weird. One day, he was the big bad wolf. Huffing. Puffing. Breathing fire, and then…just like that, he changed.” It was like one minute he was chalk and the next cheese. Nobody understood it, but they accepted it.
For the first time, in a long time, he was present. The man he had grown into over the years shed his skin and there he was, brand new, her step-father, doing the best he could. “The first thing he did was secure a job,” she recalls helping him with his applications. They wrote and rewrote his cover letter to fit his ‘brand’. They went out as a family to pick out the suit he would wear during the interview.
“Just like that?”
“Yup,” she answers. “With a snap of the finger, we were having meals like a family again. He was asking about our progress in school. He became interested in our lives, and not just the boys. He talked with me as well. I mean like…actually ask my opinion on things.”
“How did that make you feel?” I poke. “Considering you had thought of him turning up dead.”
“I won’t say I wasn’t skeptical. In fact, I cannot say I was entirely happy about it. But there he was; a changed man. And you cannot hate a man for being his best and doing all he can to fix his errors. So now I love him, not because he changed, but because he became the father I never knew I needed.”
“Who was the woman that came in with him?
“Nobody knows.” She only brought him home that night. Her step-father insists it was her mother. That she had had wings, but he had also been a drunkard at the time. People generally tend to deviate from anything said under the influence. Heck, there are crimes you can get out of simply because you were under the influence. The words of a drunk man are not to be believed –Mirawu 2019.
But she says he still insists it was her mother that saved him. She says she remembers a woman bringing him in, but she cannot trace her face. She could not tell you if the woman had teeth or a scar running from ear to the corner of her mouth. She only saw a woman, and her step-dad saw her mother.
I was left not knowing what to make of this story. I didn’t know what to say or do so I just allowed the conversation to die a natural death.
“I love my dad,” she texted after a few days. “I don’t want the story to sound like I don’t. He is amazing. I know this because it comes so naturally to him. Being a dad. He is great at it. And he has shown me countless times that he is changed. I don’t care that he never apologized. Apologies are just words. “I’m sorry” and you think they changed. He showed me. Showed us. And I appreciate him for it. I love him for it.”
I texted back “Okay” because that is all I could afford.
I’ve been doing this thing, called it “No Write November”. It is a lie. A lie I told myself to console this evil thing going on in my head that I cannot figure out. I know. It sounds either cliché or weird, depending on who you are, but I have been thinking of giving you guys a post, and we are here, right. That’s for being with me during No Write November.
When I was in high school, we were handed the fairy tale of “The Outside World”. We were told of a time in the near futures of our very young lives when we would do what we wanted, be where we wanted and eat whatever we wished, and no one could tell us shit because we were in that magical land. I wanted so bad for it to be true. They told the same things at home. /Enda usome…then when you finish school you can watch all the Kim Possibles you want/ But when we finished, Kim Possible was not on anymore…so, fellow Outside Worlders, weren’t we played?
Now, as I sit here to write to you, for you, I realize I was never personally fascinated by this notion of a better time in the future. Granted, I liked the idea of a time when I would be free to read my Nora Roberts without hiding inside my locker, but I was not fully sold on this fantasy of being at liberty to do whatever you want. I realize this makes me sound like a drag, but I wasn’t. I never said it out loud. To be honest, I’m not even sure I knew this is how I felt during that time till a few days ago, when it came closer to my graduation day.
It dawned on me on three instances; when the dean to my Faculty stood to call our names and my classmates stood to shout their last hurrah, when I took my cap to throw it in the air after the names were called, and as I shed tears during my graduation lunch, overwhelmed with gratitude.
I start this story like this today because I felt I needed to acknowledge that. To acknowledge that I have closed a chapter, while in the midst of a million other chapters. It rained the morning of graduation day. My mom dropped me at the gate and went on to Ongata Rongai to get something that I actually do not remember. Let’s say snacks. As I dug into the mud in my heels, someone approached me from behind.
“Hi, you’re Mirriam, right?”
My first thought was to run. I did not want to deplete my social battery before the day even began. But I was caught. It was drizzling, my gown acting as a raincoat cum trench coat and my feet making tiny holes in the mud that a Jack could later throw in some beans and get to meet his giant. Fee Fi Fo Fum.
I didn’t run. “Yes?”
“Oh, thank God. My name is Rain*” [I picked the name this time. Can you tell?] Then she stood there, me waiting for her to state her claim, she waiting for me to acknowledge her. [God I hope she is not coming to me ‘as a woman’] I pray.
“Can we speak under the tent?” I ask, fearing I will drench my seatmates. She is okay with that, the tent part, not the drenching.
As we waddle like penguins to the tent, she too in high heels, I try to think of all the things she might have wanted with me. Maybe this is the campus version of “kufunga na mtu”, where in primary you would settle all scores with people you had beef with on the last day of school. [Lion of Judah, I’m a good girl. You know it, I know it, these warthogs that you created know it. Don’t let me get a beating from someone unknown to me and most importantly, on an issue whose details I know nothing of. Thank you for this day Amen]
“You’re the Mirriam that writes?” she says as soon as we find shelter. I say yes.
“Awesome. I have wanted to get in touch with you for so long now. I want you to write my story”
For me, these conversations always happen online. A random email notification pops up, or a Whatsapp message from someone who was referred to me and, as of very recently, on my Instagram DMs. I didn’t know how to react. “That’s cool”
“It’s not a pretty story”
“Does someone die in it?” I ask.
“Doesn’t everyone die?”
Not the answer to my question but I brushed it off.
“Is there alcohol?”
“It’s all alcohol,” she says. I notice she is unable to maintain eye contact which brings me to either of two conclusions. One: That this story is something she is ashamed of. Something out of her control. And Two: That it is all a lie.
We were silent for another 16 seconds. I know because I counted.
“Sssooo…how do you do this?” she asked, and I broke from my counting.
“You can text me? I said, trying to make it sound like a suggestion when it was actually the one option I was giving. She took my number. “Congratulations by the way,” I added as I said the last digit.
“on what?” she asked. She was wearing a gown similar to mine.
“Graduating, I guess. Aren’t you psyched?”
“Psyched for what? An overpriced, oversize, used piece of black cloth that I have to return here in 7 days? Naah. I’m good.” She shrugs. “I just want it over with.”
I stayed there for another 16 seconds, watching as she walked away. I am still waiting for her text.
[I wanted to tell you about Rain first because of the relevance of timing. Also, I am hoping that she sees this and texts me. Sneaky, right?]
I know what you’re going to say. I do. That I owe you an apology. That I went MIA like a scorned lover and did not look back. That I left you, and now you have someone new. And I know you want to turn your back on me, say “to hell with her and her shenanigans”, but you just can’t, right? That’s why you are still here, waiting, with your heart in your hand for me to pocket once again. I know what you want to say. But I have heard it all, because I have been telling myself the same damn things on repeat. I’m so crappy. So irresponsible. I left you with nothing. With no one. I walked away even though I had promised I would always be here. But I’m here now. Let’s focus on that. And I did not write for anyone else, I promise. Now, allow me to break your heart once more.
“I only drink wine too. I read about the girl you wrote about on Table 9 and I thought…why not also share my story? Though mine varies greatly from hers,” was on my DM on Instagram on Sunday at 10.36am.
“Are there other similarities in that story to yours?” I asked.
“Possibly the fact that both our mothers were present on our first experiences with alcohol.”
Her mom was a heavy drinker. She liked her liquor strong, unlike the men she was always tangled with. At age 8, her mother would stumble home in the wee hours with a man who would barely stay 2 weeks. She met these ‘uncles’ all her life. Random men who came home with a woman to the shock of becoming a father. “Some of them went straight back out the door. They would find me on the couch sleeping, look at my mom and say ‘Oh I’m sorry honey. I thought we were just going to have some fun. I’m not ready for this kind of thing’ and then run back to the club to look for a more available woman.”
She preferred these men. Those who had the balls to leave immediately they found a situation that did not favor their wants. The ones she hated were the fakers. The ‘Of course I can fuck a woman with a 10-year-old on week one but leave by week three when the kid asks how to solve a fraction because the commitment to being her temporary father just became real’ kind of men.
It’s no secret that she was over heels with the first man that looked at her twice. In fact, it is almost expected. “I was a virgin till campus. I know, a prude” I refuse to accept that. I tell her there is no wrong in waiting. Heck, you can wait till marriage and still be the freakiest person alive. I tell her that labelling yourself as a prude for waiting till you were ready hurts nobody. No one looks at you and shrieks in fear because you are a twenty something that has not pulled off your panties in front of a man. Or woman. I told her that I, too, lost my V card in campus, and that made us sisters. We moved the conversation to WhatsApp because what’s more intimate than that in this age?
“I was going to get lunch. I still hadn’t decided what I would have. My roommate was with me” [because in campus your roommate is both your confidant and the person you walk to get food and literally anything else with as you struggle to grasp on the freedom with both your hands] Then he walked past.
She felt goosebumps in the way he turned to look at her a second time, doing the classic full body turn and walking backwards towards his destination while he grinned at her. “I swear I felt my bodily functions stop. All of them, for three seconds.” They had a full on conversation a few weeks in, after weeks of grins and shy smiles and backward walking and an almost trip session that might have been embarrassing, but which he later said “would have been worth it.” Oh the many ways a man can dupe a girl.
The first time they got time to themselves, he could barely speak. “He was so quiet that I had to ask the questions. To steer the whole conversation.” I ask how this went.
She: So…umm. What do you study?
She: Ooh, that’s cool. [Silence] I’m taking Public Relations.
She: Do you like it? Is it what you always wanted to do?
He: It’s a’ight
She: You stay in the hostels? (He nods) How many guys?
She: Where do you live?
She: Oh, that’s cool. I’m from Naks
I tell her to stop because I am getting a headache from this reenactment of the worst movie scene ever created. “But the next time we met he was actually a lot different”
“Oh? Do tell” I say, already rubbing my palms together like a villain in a children’s movie.
It was later that evening. She was in her hostel room watching an episode of The Flash. She remembers because the next morning they cuddled in her bed and finished the series. “I however had to re-watch it later because all the blood in my brain seemed to have drained with him so close to me.” He texted her to go “visit” him in his room. She got out of bed, threw on a hoodie, took off the sweatpants she was wearing and pulled up a pair of black tights.
As she stood before door number 16, she started second guessing herself. It was 7.23 pm, still early by campus standards. But her gut told her to run. She didn’t listen. After all, what did her gut know about boys that she didn’t, right? She texted him to open the door.
She remembers the alcohol. There were bottles everywhere. Strewn on the table, some on the beds and even in the sink! He apologized for the mess, but said they were boys, like boys don’t know what cleanliness entails. Like when the lesson on cleaning up after yourself and keeping your environs neat was being taught, all the boys in the classroom were asked to form a line and walk outside in an orderly fashion because God forbid boys ever found out about air freshener and wiping a surface. The alcohol did not phase her. She had lived picking up bottles in their house so much it had become a norm. The smell, too, was nothing to lose her mind over. Her nose had become accustomed to it long before she got her period.
“Come sit next to me, its cleaner here,” he said. Oh, so he knew it wasn’t as “a’ight” as it should be?
“Do you take this?” he asked. She almost scoffed. If he only knew. She took the tumbler from him and drained it. The boys cheered.
“Ey bro,” said one of his roommates. “Huyu umetoa wapi?” asking where he had found her. The premise to this question was that most girls would either refuse the drink or nurse the shot and sip at it all night. She quickly became a unicorn and she loved it. They doted on her for the next few hours, throwing compliments at her feet like gold at the Pharaoh. How her sense of humor was amazing. How pretty she was. How much she surprised them. “They kept saying I was perfect. No one ever called me perfect before. I was smitten.” But the thing is when boys give you compliments, usually, you don’t know what to do with yourself. Where to put your hands, how to sit perfectly, what to say or do…and so to compensate, she drank. She drowned shots way past her limit. Past the buzzing in her head that told her it was enough. Past logic.
She recalls the boys leaving, one by one. /Gotta go see a friend about a class thing/ Off to the shop for airtime/ Fresh air/ And just like that, they were alone. She doesn’t remember much, which means she doesn’t remember saying yes. But she woke up the next morning with her head pounding and her abdomen ‘feeling a little funny’. “I thought it was cramps, so I got up, took a shower, put on a sanitary towel and went back to him still in my bed. He had watched more episodes than me so I couldn’t concentrate on the movie. But sometimes I think I did not concentrate on it because of a comment he made, together with the weird pain I felt ‘down there.’”
“What did he say?”
“Immediately I settled back in bed, he said ‘you were amazing last night’. And I’ve watched enough romantic scenes in movies to know what that means. At first, I thought it was the way I had interacted with his friends, the jokes i cracked…that we had had fun last night. But the statement wasn’t ‘last night was fun’, because that would have given me a little relief.”
“Did you ask him about it? Whether anything happened?”
She says she didn’t. She doesn’t have the ‘guts’ to ask. She doesn’t want to know. Knowing will make it real so she would rather live in the doubt than confirm her fears. Confirm that she was intoxicated and violated.
“Are you alright?” I ask.
She sends the thinking emoji. You know that funny one that is seriously pretentiously thinking about ending racism in the world, right? “I think so. I am honestly not so sure. It’s still too soon to tell. I’m trying to focus on school. But what makes it hard is that every time I bump into him or any of his roommates in school, they ask when I’m going to visit next. And I want to shout ‘LEAVE ME ALONE. I KNOW WHAT YOU DID TO ME’ but I have no proof. No one can back me up. No one knew where I was. So I remain alone, in my mind, turning that night over and over.”
“Have you talked to anyone about this?”
“I’m talking to you,” she says and send me the smiling emoji.
I tell her I am grateful that she trusts me with this…and that I will do my best to keep her identity anonymous. But I also ask her a favor, that she seeks help. Professional help. I do some research and ask her to get in touch with Wangu Kanja Foundation. It’s the best I could do. But after a while as I sat thinking, I realized that she may not be alone. That there are numerous girls out here fresh into campus and overwhelmed with a freedom like no other. Girls who don’t know any better than walking alone to a boy’s room or house or car. Girls who don’t tell other people where they are off to. Who are hurt for not knowing any better, and it breaks my heart.
“So that’s why I only drink wine. I have some resilience to it. I don’t get as drunk or as fast compared to whisky or vodka. Plus, wine is a little expensive for me and people my age. It allows me to avoid getting drunk. The other plus side, and by far my favorite, is when you tell a campus boy that you only drink wine, they think you are stuck up…and they leave you alone.
[I will still apologize. I was graduating last week and was so busy in the weeks leading to that. But MIRAWU is officially back, with a backlog of stories and conversations not yet converted to stories, so buckle up buttercup. Let me take you on an emotional rollercoaster]