When you discover a secret, you have two options. I say discover because a secret is not made to be found out, except only by accident. I say when because most secrets are easy to discover, and your two options are pulled by a scale. The lowest end, the part with less weight, the easiest and most humane thing to do, would be to keep it as it were. To leave it be and walk the other way [much like your lecturers when they discover your answers while walking around an exam room]. The second option, and the one that will earn you pats on the back even as you feel like the shittiest person [because unless you are a rock, you will] is what you, as an arsehole will do.
There are two secrets that ruled Newton’s life. The first was kept from him until he was old enough to handle it, though he doubts anyone can ever be old enough to hold the gravity of such a secret. The second one, he kept because he did not know he was keeping it. He did not understand it even though it lived in him.
“I’m bipolar,” he starts. “I recently got an accurate diagnosis from a psychiatrist I have been seeing since February.”
Newton did not grow up with any information about her mother, other than the fact that she was dead. “She passed away when I was a baby. That is all I was ever told whenever I asked my uncle.”
He doesn’t remember half his childhood, and not like you who recalls nothing below the age of 8. “There are moments of time, sometimes very long periods of my life that I do not remember. I used to make fun of it in school. We would be in class waiting for the next lesson and when the teacher came in to start the lesson I would not understand shit because I was basically not around when previous classes were taught. I mean, I sat in for the lesson, but I had no memory of it. I was present but only by my body as an empty shell.”
He didn’t really understand what was happening. The only reasonable explanation for him was that he was a slow learner. “I always thought I was not book smart, but I remembered everything I studied half the time. I just always said I was average.
The first real episode that he remembers was a party. “A friend from school was home alone since her parents had travelled. So she was throwing a party and invited everyone who could come. My uncle was never going to let me go. He never let me do anything, so I didn’t even bother asking for permission.” He snuck out.
“I told my uncle I wasn’t feeling well. Probably a stomach thing because a stomach ache is easier to hide than a headache.” Newton’s Law states that: A stomachache can be feigned by holding onto your abdomen and doubling over, accompanied by just the right facial expression. “A lot of frowning makes you look like you are pooping, and a bit less than required makes parents think you are not really hurting.”
So he snuck out, and went to the party. Only, he didn’t go. “Listen, to help you understand it, you will need to believe this shit. Most people don’t. I went to that party. I swear it. I went there and I met my friends and we had an epic time. EPIC. I know that because I have memories of it happening. I still smell the alcohol from that night. I do.”
When he got to school on Monday, his friends were furious!
“Ah Newt wewe ni mtu bure sana”
“Why sasa? Why would you make us wait on you and you don’t show?”
“Newton man, I always thought you were a solid guy my guy”
“Newt btw mimi I can’t even. I just can’t”
“They were relentless. And I tried telling them that I did not understand what was going on, but before I got the chance to, the bell rang. I was so confused.” They all settled down to class, his mind far from stillness. He wrote a note to his desk mate.
/Jay, kwani what is going on? /
Desk Mate opened the note and shot him a frown. [Not the same as the stomachache one but frowny enough to let him know they were on murky waters] Desk Mate handed him back a note
/Dude, you chezad us bana /
/What did I do? /
/You didn’t show up man. (Frowny face emoji)/
/What do you mean I didn’t show up? I came/
Desk Mate shook his head in disappointment.
“Turns out I never went to the party,” he finally says. “It’s a weird thing, being bipolar. I have episodes where I am irritable and I don’t even know why. Sometimes I am manic, other times depressed, then there are long periods of time when nothing happens. Nothing. And I forget. It takes up to months! There was a time I went for 7 full months. Then I had the worst depressive time of my life. I almost killed myself.”
When he turned 18, his uncle sat him down because he was “old enough” and told him the first secret of his life. “My mother killed herself. They think it was postpartum depression that did her in, but my uncle said she was just like me. She could shift through moods like she was flipping through a flimsy book.”
His mother, bless her heart, did all she could. She had met a man, fallen head over heels, opened up to him about her mental condition and he had said he would love her through it all. He still left. Newton’s uncle does not know when exactly. After he was born, his uncle had dropped by to see his nephew and found his sister in the worst state ever. “He said she looked like she had not had any sleep for weeks. She was distressed. She told my uncle that my father walked out on her because she was “too sad all the time.” Then she asked his uncle to hold him for a minute while she took a shower. She walked into her bedroom and never walked out.
He started making sense of everything he had been going through when he did research on his mother’s condition. He studied everything on post-partum disorder and mental health and particularly bipolar disorder. “There are so many types of bipolar disorder, some don’t even have names one can pronounce as of yet. Each person reacts differently to it. The levels of hyperactivity(mania) and placidity(depression) are different in everyone. It’s all very complex.”
His psychotherapist is heaven sent. They began by unpacking all his unresolved feelings towards his mother. “I started seeing him a few months ago, and I talk to him any time I have an episode. He is amazing at helping me manage my episodes. I learnt that I would forget things I did because I was physically there but my mind was in an episode. That I could be perfectly calm on the outside but be fighting for my consciousness to be one with my body, and that by fighting it, I was sinking deeper into the episode. I am still learning. My therapist says I should learn to let go of everything, and that I should stop trying to act normal, because I’m not.”
Newton had two secrets in his life. The one he hid from the world in his mind, and the one his mother and uncle hid from him. Turns out, it was the same secret.
[May is Mental Health Awareness month and this week, we are learning about Bipolar Disorder. I found a really helpful article by Chiromo Lane Medical Center here. You can read through it to learn more about the disorder, it’s symptoms, and what you can do to help someone in each of the extremes. Stay safe kids]
It’s May! It’s Mental health awareness month and this morning, I just heard Biko say he does not believe in “writer’s block”. It is a foreign concept to him and he has written for, get this, 13 years! 13 is Taylor Swift’s lucky number. 13 is also considered to be an unlucky number. Maybe that’s why Taytay likes it… but if you were to count the things that superstitious people believe to bring bad omens, then black cats and jumping over one’s outstretched feet have nothing on Thirteen.
Did you know Judas Iscariot was the thirteenth dude to sit at Jesus’ table during the Last Supper? Yup, the guy who openly kisses another man in the Bible is also considered bad luck because he was late. Maybe he just didn’t want to eat in a room full of extros but hey, all the bad things that follow are directly linked to his arrival, though late. No one likes late things. Ask us girls. Anyway, luck is not a number because if so, then Maureen wouldn’t have gotten so mad at me when I beat her with an equivalent of 13 marks on our KCPE results. I’ll probably reach out sometime in 2023 and make a joke of it, after say… 13 lucky years.
She was in a hall the first time she thought back to the incident. A long hollow room that housed her and more than a hundred of her friends and classmates who she would remain in touch with just but a handful. She was 13 years old, coincidentally, trying so hard to recall the answer to the social studies question 57. The answer to the question was either Kabaka Mutesa 1 or Kabaka Mutesa 2. Such a close tie. She needed to think critically of her answer, so she sat back and opened the floodgates to her memories.
“I wish I never sat back in that seat. I wish I never tried to remember which Kabaka was exiled by Andrew Cohen because then I wouldn’t have remembered being between his thighs and not knowing any better.”
She must have been six or seven years old, which when you add up brings you back to Judas’ Digits. Her mother worked a lot. Her dad, not so much. Sure he spent his days out of the house but everyone knew where to find him. Her mother was the one bringing in the bread. She worked her ass off and to help her, she had some of her younger siblings stay with her, to help raise our girl, who by now deserves a name. She has however not responded to my text asking which name I should use, so as the Hogwarts Houses sorting hat, I deem her a Sophia.
Sophia grew up with her aunts as role models. They gave her breakfast and helped with her homework and taught her how to hold a pen. They were her big sisters. Her protectors. She felt safe around them. Turns out she shouldn’t have.
As Sophia sat on her locker, the last paper on her desk with only three questions to go (she always did the Religion part first). She remembered him. “I can’t tell you if he was one of my uncles or a cousin to my aunts, or maybe a childhood friend of theirs.”
“How sure are you that it wasn’t a stranger? Someone who was not as close to the family as you suggest?”
“Because he feels familiar. The environment we were all in feels surreal, since it is all in my memories, but it is definitely familiar. There is this feeling in my heart and in the pit of my stomach that tells me, assures me even, that they knew that man. They actually knew that man and it disgusts me”
Sundays were for Sophia and her mom. Strictly. She would wake up early as the sun glazed the horizon a golden hue and slipped into her mother’s bed. Her dad barely came home on weekends so the bed was almost always empty for her. She would snuggle into her mother’s arms and wait. Not a word was spoken. They would enjoy the silence that the morning offered together before embarking on a fun-filled day that began with breakfast, then church, then ice cream and then they would take the long way home for lunch. In those few minutes that she first got in bed with her mother, those sacred minutes, she relished in the joy of being with her.
“I loved Sundays. I still do. They were basically the only time I got to really see my mom. Probably the only time I ever felt safe if I think about it now,” she says. “There was this man, who I have never really seen in my adult life. He never really comes to any family gatherings. I know because I check. But I am scared that the moment I stop looking for him he will stand before me and I will not know what to do.”
When her parents were away, her mother winning bread and her father winning World’s Absent-But-Present dad, her aunts were free to roam. A cat and mouse scenario. They would lock her in her room when they had boys over and open only to give her food. She would be let out for bathroom breaks, of course. “I always knew when they came to let me out. The chattering would go down, the music silenced. She would be escorted, like a violent murderer in prison, and someone would wait by the bathroom door for her to finish and escort her back to the bedroom. A prisoner in her own home.
“I think that is why I loved being let out to stay when guests of the family came. I don’t really know. But it weighs on me. I honestly cannot tell you when I saw him first, or if there was a handshake that led to me sitting by him, and him having his feet outstretched on the couch, and to me sitting between those legs in a dress. But I can tell you I still feel his fingers between my thighs. I still feel his fingers going higher, and I still see my aunts both seated on the next seat, acting like they saw nothing.”
The man has no face, just the familiarity of someone you are comfortable being around. The familiarity of people you call family. These strangers that are closer to your parents or in this case, aunts, that you feel the need to call them “Uncle”, because your aunts have made it comfortable for them to be around. They have made the room familiar enough for him to run his fingers up your legs.
“Have you spoken to your aunts about it?”
“How would I start?” she asks back. “I have tried. I got to the point of having them sit down with me and I started asking it. But we were at my grandmother’s home, and I did not have the strength. Plus, I think they will just deny it. My family has developed this strange gift of making me sound, look and feel weird.”
I ask her how they do that.
“I don’t know if they know they are doing it, or if my aunts had enough practice bullying me when I was younger, but I will say something and they will negate it, or do something like try to help with the dishes and they will come in saying I’m not doing it right. Can you imagine that? I “washed a plate wrong”! I cannot really put it in words, but they whisper about me when I pass.”
“Like they know something that you don’t?” I ask.
“Yeah! Exactly. It messes me up so bad. I hate going to those family gatherings, but then I also feel it is my right to face that man when he shows up. If I can recognize his face…or his voice. I really hope I can recognize something about him. It might put my mind to rest”
As she sat in that hall, years ago, hollow in her chest as she realized what she was recalling, a tear rolled down her left cheek. “An invigilator passed by me, saw the tear and thought I was sad about finishing school. You know what my therapist says?”
I clearly don’t.
“She says that me remembering his fingers on me is real. That I should not think it was a dream. That my mind is probably waiting for me to get to the correct space to remember. She also says that I should be prepared to remember worse details. That the man might have hurt me. Invaded me. Stole my innocence at 6 or 7 years old.”
She told me the fear of the number thirteen is called Triskaidekaphobia. She has always had an irrational fear of this number, even before sitting on her desk in the hall staring at the Kabakas. She could never write the date when it was the thirteenth and always made a joke about being superstitious about Friday the 13th, saying she was scared of Jason. Maybe her Jason came with a certain familiarity.
[It’s May! It’s Mental Health awareness month. As usual, MIRAWU will do 4 stories on Mental Health. Reach out to me if you would like to tell your mental health story, journey or experience.]
When they met, she wrote him a letter.
You’re not ideal. I feel like I am not supposed to be with you. I’m telling myself that it is because of him. Because I still have unresolved feelings about this other guy and I never really told him how I felt. But we both know I am over him.
So what the fuck is my problem with you? I want this. I want you. You are fun and kinda cute and weird and really strange and you make me angry and happy and weirder. I love how I feel when I am around you. And your voice? Whoever made music a thing must have started out by hearing you speak. You give me butterflies…but I feel like I will get hurt again. I feel like I am headed for a shitload of heartache and I don’t think I am strong enough for another hit. I need a break. That is why I pull back.
You don’t help your case either. So it can’t be my fault I feel this way. You don’t talk to me. You don’t explain shit. You just sit there, springing conversations out of jokes, which means we can never talk about anything concerning us. Sometimes it feels like there is no us, and I am just forcing things. I know nothing about you, yet I have shared with you some of my most intimate secrets. I don’t even know your last name.
I couldn’t tell my mom about you because of this. And maybe this is a good thing. Maybe she shouldn’t know just yet, so that I don’t have to defend you to her when you leave. I am tempted. I talk to her about everything. Yeah, I know you said you’re not going anywhere, but if I was to have a nickel for each time I heard those words then I’d have a butt load of money. So sue me if I don’t believe you.
But I really like you. I like how amazing your days are and how you smell. I like when you tell me stories and how you pull me to you after sex. I love your mind. God! I love your mind. I love your stupid theories and your stupid lies. But it still feels off. It still feels as if I have so far to go to equal how much you like me, if at all what you say is true.
It feels like I still like him and that is why I can’t like you enough. It feels like I am too little for you. I don’t match up to you. It feels like once you find out that I am not smart enough or pretty enough or funny enough, you will walk away, and you will find someone better, because there almost always is. You will look for someone willing to go the miles you travel and I will be left to collect my pieces once more.
When she fell in love, she wrote him a letter.
This is not a word I throw around. I mean, sure, I fall in love with a puppy in an instant. I love dark chocolate and sunsets. But you happened over time. Those words only became harder to say to other people the longer I learned to love myself. The longer I built the walls. But you? You are a sledgehammer.
I cannot clearly say when you actually broke through. But you did. And I love you, Spencer. I will tell you tonight. Thank you for loving all my strange little pieces.
When he broke her heart, she wrote him one last time.
I didn’t think I would be doing this with you… but maybe I should stop lying to myself. I have been wearing my heart on my sleeve all my life. Also, no one loves while anticipating heartbreak.
I just wish you had done it sooner. Like during the texting incident. I wish you had stopped texting back and I would know that I screwed up. But there was no reasonable proof to dump me then, right? Because he was the one who texted and I immediately told him I had you. Still, I wish you broke me at that moment because my feelings had not advanced to actually missing your name popping up on my phone. You waited, and I loved you.
I hate it. I hate that I tell myself it’s the last time. You know me. I will just sit here watching the time stamp on your socials as though you would do the same. I imagine you, living life, your hand on another girl’s thigh, cooking for her, and it bugs me… because I didn’t even get the chance to redeem myself. You just decided that my sin was too big to forgive.
But let’s talk about that for a minute, shall we? What the fuck did I do wrong?
You have disrespected me, mocked me and insulted my heart for loving and being emotional. You have called me weak, made fun of me and dismissed my thinking, but I braved it all. Not because I thought any less of myself, but because talking to you was bigger than anything else. But I realize now, that I had no sin. So what bugs me is I cannot understand why you would think it best to ignore me all this time when I committed no crime. When I took care of your heart as if it were in my chest. I don’t understand how you would say the things you say to me and in the same breath utter the words “I love you”. Your lips have no right to say those words. You know no love. You only know selfishness. You think of yourself and nothing more. No one else but good ol’ Spencer, and it makes me sick that I fell so hard for such a narcissistic bastard.
Also, let’s talk about the Whatsapp thing. I hate it, Spens. I do. I hate that you have me waiting to see your name among the list of people who have viewed my status, because that is the only interaction I get from you now. I hate it that I see your name there, among my friends and family. I hate that you have me there, waiting for you to view my status. What are you waiting for? A break-up post? A long thread of words weaved in your honor? I would never share you like that. I would never disrespect you like that. Or would that be actually granting you the respect that you lacked the grace to give me? Who knows. Still, I hate that my heart races. That it skips when I see your name. I hate waiting for you to change your picture just so I can get to see your face. I hate that I give you that much power over me… power that I had reclaimed over time.
Then you ducking blocked me [she said Ducking]. Which nulls every feeling that I may have had for you. You clearly did not want to deal with me, so why should I deal with you? Why should I waste my time, watching my status views and your time stamp when you clearly want nothing to do with me? It sucks that you still affect me this much yet you are not in my life anymore. And yeah, it has only been 4 days, but I hate that I know I will forget loving you. I have to forget. This is my last letter, Spencer.
I choose me. My mental health and my peace of mind. I will not grovel at you, or beg for your attention… because I do not want love kernels. I want a giant bucket of buttered caramel pops and I plan to find it, just not with you. You made yourself very clear… you do not want me. And I don’t think I should be where I am not wanted. I will collect my pieces Spenser, and you will own them no more. I wish you well.
[PS, you cool cats and kittens, I am still accepting your Young Love stories. Priority will be given to stories that are not boy-girl relationship related. Stay safe. Wash your hands]
There are dates you never forget. Your mother’s birthday, your first period, the first time you kissed a girl and when you get a dog. It doesn’t happen like a phone number. You don’t have to sit with a calendar and recite the numbers twenty-six times so your brain remembers the intonation. You just do. You might be depositing school fees at a bank in 2032 and the teller asks you one of those security questions, as if you are depositing money into an account you do not know.
Teller: Okay sir, Your name?
You: Rambo Schwarzenegger
T: Account number
T: Okay sir, now for security purposes, to absolutely posilutely make sure it’s your account that you are sending this money to, could you please tell me when THE DATE is?
And you won’t know where to start.
The date for Tasha is 30th April 2019. She had errands to run in Rongai and wanted to make the best of it by hanging out with her wrong guy [It was right there, I had to do it]. To kill three birds with one flimsy throw, her guy had promised to get her these fancy sneakers that she had seen online and she thought she’d collect them as well. So, at 7 months pregnant, she took the 4-hour journey from Nyeri to Ongata Rongai. Now, it’s not all crazy. She was renting a place in Ronga. She had somewhere to go.
The place was a mess. Like if you left a new puppy in the house without enough food and without having taken him out to poop. “It seemed like someone had had access to my place. There were muddy footprints on the floor, but I checked and nothing was missing,” she tells me. She couldn’t summon the courage to relax when her privacy had been invaded like that. She called her guy and told him what she had found. “He said it would be a great idea to just finish up on my errands and he would be at my place by the time I was done.”
By noon, she was done, exhausted and hungry. He said he was still waiting for some guy to deliver her sneakers and that he had been waiting for long and couldn’t just break his promise to her like that. So, to kill time, he was meeting up with his supposed best friend. I say ‘supposed’ because of the way Tasha said it. You got the impression that despite being pregnant with this guy’s baby for 7 months by then, she did not know he had a best friend of the female persuasion. “I had no worries about that so I just chilled at the restaurant I was eating in and waited…finally the sneaks were delivered at around 4 pm. He said he would meet me in an hour or so… haha, kumbe he had other plans!”
When it got to 6:30, with no calls or texts, she decided to call him. He said there was inadequate transportation to Ronga and he would be a little late. She then decided to go to a friend’s place, since she did not think it was a good idea to go back to her invaded sanctuary. He was in Rongai at 8:30 pm. He tried to call her but her line wasn’t going through. Not to any fault on her part, but Safaricom connection was poor at her friend’s place. He called her Airtel line after about 20 minutes and that went through.
To the mother of his child, who had been waiting for him for about 5 hours, not counting that she got to Rongai earlier so they could spend time together, this man said, “Kwani uko wapi? And why isn’t your line going through? Wacha nirudi tu kwenye nimetoka juu you don’t have time for me”
They managed to figure out where he was [Never underestimate the power of a motivated woman] and she and her friend decided to meet him there.
“Aah, so sasa hata salamu hataki (laughing emoji. The sane one, not the one with a cracked neck) I tried explaining myself but he did not want to hear me out. He was sooo angry… so instead of arguing with him, I told him that the baby and I needed some food and I’ll just order.”
He looked up at her then raised his voice so everyone could hear. “Wewe waiter, huyu mama akiitisha kitu, usimpatie. She and this baby are not my responsibility. I’m not even sure if this child is mine anyways.” Then he asked for the channel to be changed to the game. “Mimi nakesha huku leo.” [Okay group of schools peeps, I am sorry but there will be no translations today. Ask someone who knows someone who lived a normal life]
She left the hotel in tears. The friend followed and took her to a different restaurant where she got fries and ate while thinking of her situation. That all this happened in less than 10 hours was overwhelming. He called after an hour had passed to ask where she was. When she got back, he accused her of flirting with some guy on the internet. “I saw that guy on your dm who said hi to you,” he accused. “And I’m pretty sure you guys have a thing going on. That’s why you deleted your chats and I know for sure I am not that child’s father.” This is becoming a classic amateur Campus Telenovela. See, a few weeks before this date, there had been a huge argument about him sending flirtatious texts to other girls, some with him asking them to invite him over so he could “tap that arse”. She confronted him about it, said she was not feeling appreciated anymore and he begged and apologized and she was back at it again. Told you. Classic.
It might be important to note that there were no deleted chats on her accounts. And he had access to all of them [Rookie move]. It became a whole thing at the restaurant. Him accusing, she asking which chats and which guy and which account. Him accusing and she struggling to get free from his grip on her arm. A middle-aged man intervened and when he let go, she ran, like Forrest Gump [Ha! Biko used this reference as well this week. If it’s meant to be, right?]
She saw him again at about 1 am, when he came to her friend’s place and did not speak to her. “I was so mad at him and I finally made up my mind to go home. He came back to tell me that he was sorry and didn’t mean the things he had said but I didn’t care at that point. I just took a boda and headed straight to my place. When she got home, he called again and she picked up. It was a reflex reaction. Like rubbing your eyes when you wake up in the morning or cursing when you stub your toe. He apologized. She told him he could come over.
Here, it got a little messy. There was a knife involved, threats to an unborn baby, raw pork and a house that was almost set on fire. He punched the walls and did a whole SPLIT performance just for her. She was terrified and immediately he went outside to answer his phone, she hid the knife under the mattress. He came back into the house and asked for it but she feigned ignorance. He tried cooking the pork and filled the house with smoke, then lay on her bed and fell asleep. Whoever said there was no sleep for the wicked should have heard him snore.
Unable to get any sleep herself, or for the fact that he was sprawled on her bed, she started to clean up the mess in the house. “I found a receipt of the same date. Kumbe he took that lady [read best friend] out on a date and spent 3k on her… on some Desperados and chicken while he had some Tuborg beers for himself [#NotAnAd]. He paid the bill at 6:30 pm. This guy had me looking like a fool akinishow ati there are inadequate javs to Ronga. I felt so stupid and wasted”
“What happened in the morning?” I ask.
“I set my alarm for 5 am. I was so done with his ass, but when I came out of the bathroom he was already up. He apologized, blaming it all on the alcohol. He told me that he would never drink again, but he was just playing with me.”
I ask what happened to the receipt.
“I didn’t tell him about it. I decided to keep it to myself,” she says then adds, “I forgave him of course but I kept on contemplating. I felt less for him each time. A few months later, close to my EDD he decided to spend a weekend over at a guest house karibu na kwetu. I had a few hours to go ndio mtoto akuje (according to doc’s prediction). He started acting up again, saying that I looked boring with my pregnancy and I wasn’t fit for him anymore. Waaah I cried hadi contractions zikaanza. I didn’t want to talk about it again after labor. So after the baby came, he decided to go MIA for a whole week… drinking and partying and posting pics on IG showing people how much fun he was having. But he didn’t remember that he had a family…so I didn’t look back again. I just cut off the ties.” Atta girl.
“Have you spoken to him after that?”
“Has he reached out? Hata to ask about the kid.”
“He calls my dad. Mimi siwezi taka kumskiza.”
“What do they talk about?”
“All I know is that he just calls when he has money to spare for diapers. He sends like 2k after two maybe three months.”
“How are you? After everything.”
“I’m much better now. Nothing hurts anymore.”
[PS. We are still accepting Young Love stories. Hit me up on any of my socials. And remember clean your phones too]
The fact that this story is from the day after Fool’s Day should have been the first clue. It gets a little interwoven at the beginning which means you will need to pay only 17 shillings’ worth of attention. Michael was off from work and “bored to death”. In the process [which we must all trust] that included watching all movies available to him and walking around the house in his boxers [I clearly don’t know what boys do], Albert called [insert ominous music].
Michael and Albert have been friends for the longest time. This is something you say when you encounter a partnership that has lasted through tsunamis and COVID19s and so many birthday showers that you cannot count. A friendship that lasts the years. How many years, you might ask? Maybe if we cut them down and count the rings but otherwise, they have known each other a decent while. So Albert called saying he was not working that day [see? Birds of a feather] but his day, unlike Michael’s, had started with a mindset of getting to work.
That morning, Albert received a call from his other friend who had almost the same history as with Michael, only in this friendship, they had schooled together from primary school to university, and, as if to just add icing on this friendship, they came from the same village as well. This friend, Judas, had been admitted at Mater Hospital in South B.
“I didn’t now Judas very well by that time other than the stories I had heard. He had a reputation with women. The kind where he ‘could never let a skirt pass by without pursuing it’ if you know what I mean,” Michael tells me.
Albert was concerned, and if your friend is worried about something or someone, they become your problem by osmosis. The concern is transferred through the phone call and immediately Michael agreed to meet with Albert. “Up to that moment,” he texts, “we didn’t know why exactly he was admitted.” They met in town, Michael of course having dressed first, and tagged along to the hospital that housed their Judas. This was the first time either of them was going to South B’s Mater Hospital and so they had to seek help from another person.
Judas’s sister, Erika, [17 shillings worth, remember?] was their compass on getting around the grounds. She and Albert had a “thing” back in the day until it ended unceremoniously. “I’ve never gone deep into getting the facts on why it “unceremoniously” ended but going by their body language, you could tell there was still a flame somewhere waiting to be ignited…” says Michael.
Erika took them to the ward where their soldier was. they found him lying on the bed, unconscious, but out of the pathway that shows “the light”. The doctor attending to him assured them of his getting well soon. Soon is a peculiar word. It gives you hope without really giving it. Soon is the kind of peanut butter that clumps together and tears holes into bread. It is room temperature water after a couple hours’ work in the afternoon sun. It is something that is good, and powerful and delicious, while at the same time being average and bland and discouraging. Even doctors don’t know how soon is soon.
Michael sets the scene. “The hospital presented a gloomy picture. I was moved to see the condition of the patients while at the same time noticing how the behavior of the doctors and nurses was worthy of great praise. Their prompt and quick and services accompanied with sympathetic attitudes were rays of hope for the dying and diseased.”
When I was younger [ergo about 3 years ago] I was lying beside an old flame of mine, [details to this encounter are blurred on the basis that my parents read this blog] and I learnt a new word. I don’t recall each new word I come across, but every time I use this one, I just do. At some point, in random conversation that is my niche, I assume he wasn’t feeling well, and he said he “felt like regurgitating”. I remember how frantically I searched for this word in my head as if some pirate had hidden it in a chest. I know I knew I did not now its meaning, but I still remember searching, desperate to not let him upstage me in this sudden battle of Find the Mystery Word. And I remember coming to the conclusion that the word did not compute and gathering the words in my mouth to ask what it meant. I hated asking it. I hated myself for not knowing this one word, and I had to swallow a tiny part of my Luo pride and ask.
Michael left the hospital. Well, he left the scene he had described to go outside for some air. At the time he still did not know what had happened to Judas and he thought it rude to ask people whose minds were clinging on to ‘SOON’. “So I sat outside waiting for Albert to let me in on what had happened and at the same time I really don’t like the smell of hospitals, they make me feel sick.”
If you have watched enough movies in your day, you have encountered a scene where a character sees something that is disgusting and they use the words “I think I’m gonna be sick” and somehow always finds an empty bin to barf into. Therefore, ‘be/feel sick’ is equal to barf which is equal to puke and is in fact equivalent to regurgitate.
After around an hour, Albert walked out of the hospital and went: “You guy imagine Judas tried to commit suicide because of a woman!”
There was shock. Judas had outdated his own reputation. “I couldn’t believe that this was the same person whose reputation in getting women preceded him and yet there we were, in a hospital because a girl had broken up with him. It was unbelievable.” Mwanaume hisia…
As Albert was spilling the details to what had transpired, Erika came and called them back in. They found Judas conscious, able to talk but not very audible. “He still looked weak,” Michael adds, “I heard one of his aunties whispering to her friend that the woman Judas had been staying with had to be using dark magic on him…that for the past three months he wasn’t even sending money back home as he always did, and that the lady should be kept far away from their son.” Yes, I know you are thinking of your aunty who would say this about you. It’s okay, almost all of us have at least one of those. They are cut from the same cloth, these aunties. “Judas is the only son in a family of five daughters. He was somehow pampered and according to the norms of his community, he was the one who was to take over the homestead.” This occurrence was a heavy blow to the family; to think that their son nearly died because of a woman was a huge blow.
Because it was getting late, and Michael and Albert had ensured their friend was safe and in good hands, they left so they could beat the rush hour. On the ride home Albert told Michael that on the previous day [which happened to be Fool’s Day], Judas had told him that he had found evidence that his girlfriend, Genevieve, had cheated on him with the head of ICT at his workplace. “I didn’t see why he would use this as an excuse to commit suicide while he himself was involved with a number of women. Why was it right for him to cheat and wrong for her not to? It was baffling,” says Michael.
Two weeks later, Judas was discharged. They went to get him and took him to Pangani. He looked energized and had so many jokes you could hardly imagine it was the same person who had tried to commit suicide. So Albert asked him why he had tried to do such a stupid thing. “His response was that he was so madly in love with the girl that he couldn’t think of being with anyone else. I laughed. I couldn’t help it.”
I ask why he laughed at that answer.
“His idea of love was messed up. And his character wasn’t helping sell the ‘love narrative’. But oh well…they still got back together. A year later they got a kid together, I’m assuming it’s his because he believes she looks like him”
“You don’t think the kid looks like him?”
“Does he still cheat?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he texts. “Even after 2 kids. They even fight. They seem to not be able to leave the relationship. Reasons to this I don’t know.”
Well, everyone loves differently. Or obsess. Or lust.
Then, I asked the question you need answered. “What about Erika and Albert?”
“That was left as it was. Both went their separate ways. Albert married someone else”
I thought this was disappointing. “But flames don’t just go out,” I texted back. “People go back even after 20 years.”
Michael agreed. Then added that people’s preferences also change with maturity and exposure, and I said that maturity is relative then realized that we were starting to sound like philosophers.
PS. If you have a Young Love story, hit me up on any of my socials. Twitter and Instagram (@mir_awu) and on my Facebook page: MIRAWU
I have been somewhat hesitant to write anything for the last couple of days. For some reason, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t do it. That I had waded into uncharted waters and I was at the end of my road. But I had thrown a mini tantrum and I had to roll with it. I tried again over the weekend and it was the same. I didn’t even know what the intro would be…and those usually come easy to me. It was tough. I had the whole story, it was just a matter of putting it in prose form. So I said I was going to stop. I cut the thinking about it, I put my notebook away and I watched movies and listened to music back to back. I stopped being so obsessed with writing about anything and everything, and I waited.
He said we should call him Eli. He had always liked that name. The first time he fell in love with it was at a restaurant with his family and there was a set of twins on the next table. The girl was Eliza [read ‘i-lai-za’] and her brother, Elijah [read ‘i-lai-ja’]. He loved how, when they were not in their mother’s vicinity, she would shout out “ELI” and the two of them would come running while holding hands. It was their own Marco-Polo version. So the name Eli stuck with him.
Eli liked a girl in campus. She was pretty and smart and really funny. “She always made me laugh,” he told me. But he was scared to tell her. It’s not that he did not have the words to say it. I mean, he said it to the mirror each morning. He knew it in his gut that he was in love with her. He felt it in his bones every time she laughed because he tailored his jokes just for her. He lived for her. Seeing her would fix any bad morning there was. He was smitten but she was unaware.
Her boyfriend was one of those campus celeb-politicians. The ones who owned anything that needed to be owned. He made decisions on what would be sold on which days. He was the mayor and she the perfect first lady. The doting girlfriend who stood by her man on every podium at every debate and defended him against anyone who dared utter a negative word against him in his absence. Eli loved how passionate she was about her relationship. “It showed she was ‘relationship material’. The kind of girl who would stand by her man through thick and thin,” he says.
Now, you already know this is not a happy story. Our protagonist is dealing with a chronic case of unrequited love. He was aware of this. “I knew I stood no chance. There was no way, even in my greatest fantasy would she ever want me. I was her friend. And yeah, we would meet around school, but I would always just smile at her, say hi and walk away.”
She belonged to another, he says, and he wasn’t one to run unions that the universe had blessed.
Fast forward to about a year later, the politician boyfriend was campaigning against some dirty opponent who had had him followed around. The opponent’s paparazzi came out with two photographs, one on the night of the first debate where Eli’s girl’s boyfriend canoodling behind a common school building with a girl that was not Eli’s girl, and the other of him supposedly “writing a mwakenya”.
“You can guess which photo I was excited about. I mean, sure, cheating on an exam is wrong and all that bull they tell in school, but cheating on the girl of my dreams? That was bullshit! She was a nice girl. She loved him. I couldn’t get it.”
A normal 20 year-old sex-deprived, hopelessly in love boy would have struck while the iron was still hot. He would have swooped in and saved her from all the heartache by offering a shoulder and then some. He did not. “I knew every guy in school wanted the same thing. Her. She was the dream. And in that time, when she was vulnerable, they would all flock to her desperately waiting for a chance.” He was not desperate.
He went on with the smiles and the hi’s until one afternoon, he was walking past her as usual when she stopped him. He forgot to breathe. For twenty two seconds she spoke more that two words to him. He was ecstatic! This was a thing of fairytales. Snow White dared utter words to the bell boy.
“All I remember of that conversation, which she said all of the words, was the last part. She said, “Yeah, so I’ll get it from you later tonight?” and immediately I was out of my reverie. Get what? I thought. A kidney? Gladly. But kidneys aren’t given overnight in a boy’s hostel. Get some? Naah, she wouldn’t. Or would she?”
He couldn’t think for the rest of that afternoon. He doesn’t even remember if they had a class. A shower was had: a rare occurrence considering he “doesn’t sweat”. He applied Vaseline to his cheeks. All cheeks. He wore his favourite shirt. The one that “brought out his best qualities” and he waited, giddy with excitement at what it was that she could possibly want from him.
She came that evening donning a pair of black sweatpants and a grey hoodie. Her braids were tied in a bun on top of her head. She looked docile, yet still managed to possess the same grace she had when walking through lecture halls.
“I hope you have good ones,” she said immediately he opened the door.
My strokes? He thought. “Of course,” he said instead.
“How do you want them?” he added, trying to put tomato sauce on his flirting skills.
“Here,” she said while sitting on his bed. “Where are your roommates?”
He couldn’t out rightly say he had sent them on exile, and he was the Pharaoh now. “They’re around,” he told her, hoping for the opposite.
“So…,” he started, because there was no better way to do this. He wanted to be a gentleman. Make sure she enjoyed this as much as he was sure he would. “Do we just get on with it or is there something you would like me to do first?”
Then she laughed.
It wasn’t a flirtatious laugh. Not a laugh that a girl makes when she likes a boy. Some girls can’t even speak right in front of a boy they like. There was no way she would laugh like that just before getting it on. But it didn’t register to him then. The troops were aligned. The soldier was in position and ready to fire. He had no blood left in his brain to use it to at least a functioning capacity.
She stood up and he knew that was it. It was happening! She started digging into her pocket. There it was. I mean, that’s a little bit of a weird dance but she was gorgeous. She course hop like a frog and he would still be into that. She sat back on his bed, a little closer than where she was the first time. “I knew she was speaking with her body movements. Telling me to get closer to her.”
“Do you have it?” she asked, her lips inches from his.
“Oh shit!” He had forgotten the soldier would need protective gear.
She laughed again.
“I’ll be just 5 minutes. Don’t move,” he said already getting up for the school bathrooms where the helmets were stored for everyone.
“Oh, no. Don’t worry about it.”
He stopped in his tracks. Was she saying what he was hearing her say? Or was it his imagination.
“We can use mine,” she added.
“Then I looked at her outstretched arm,” he tells me,
“And in her perfectly manicured hand was a big black Transcend flash disk. She had come to get a movie. I never felt like more of a fool like I did that day.”
See, one of her friends had mentioned that since she was single, to kill her boredom, she should ask the geek guy who says hi to her all the time of he had movies, “particularly those geeky superhero ones”. He never stood a chance with her. She only saw him as her movie plug all through. Her geeky movie plug.
“So she never knew you two had different pretexts to your conversation that night?”
“Even if she did, she did not let it show.”
“Did you ever tell her how much you liked her?” I ask.
“How? How was I supposed to ask that when I was hurt and embarrassed and had a bruised ego all at the same damn time? I couldn’t even speak to her. I just nodded through all her questions about The Flash and Arrow and let her go. Besides, she got back together with the celeb guy the next day. I stood no chance. She was never going to be my girl.”
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.”
PS. If you have a Young Love story, hit your girl up on Instagram and Twitter (@mir_awu) and on email at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via the Facebook page (mirawuofficial)
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 email@example.com]
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 firstname.lastname@example.org]
“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.