Some of the words used to describe this year’s remake of the Chinese legendary warrior movie were “boring, over-hyped, overrated, awkward, unconvincing and cringe-worthy”. Now, the dictionary version of cringe is to bend one’s head and body in fear or apprehension or in a servile manner. To cringe, in the way they mean, is to dislike something so much that your body curls itself away from said thing. That someone took their time to use this word, would mean they physically hated Niki Caro’s remake so badly that their bodies, independent from their brains, decided to get away from it, which is much if to say unbelievable. Yes, it was not as good as the ’98 version, but most live action remakes [in this case the lack of Mushu] rarely measure up.
Mulan is a 16-year-old girl who tries to hide in a world of men while her chi reigns supreme above all the male species she encounters. She lives by three pillars; loyal, brave and true. Maria said she was brave to open her heart, loyal to all who she gave it to and true to herself. I could not help but liken her to the legendary warrior.
When Maria joined high school, she was 13 years old and younger than most of the students in her class. She was in fact, one of the youngest people in the school. Her physique did not help either, since puberty was just hitting her which meant she was still small on most parts. But she was smart, and even though boys rarely liked smart girls, she did not seem to mind [gerrit?].
She knew from a young age that she was not normal. Granted, no one ever feels normal to my knowledge, but she actually knew she wasn’t. She didn’t like the same things as her friends. First off, she calls them childhood acquaintances, since she feels like she never made any real connections with the so-called friends from younger ages.
“Going to high school meant I had a clean slate. I was not going to hide,” she tells me. She however found herself at a disadvantage. A small smart girl. Boys had nothing to say to her as young since she was still as flat chested as they come and did not like the same things as them anyway. She loved books, a little quiet and a whole lot of nature. Girls in her class liked boys, which meant they too liked loud and dirt and balls (watching for the girls and playing for the other gender) and holding hands. She rarely made any friends, which meant her time was spent alone.
“I started using the library at around week 3 when I realized everything was not as I had hoped. I was doomed to a life of solitude and I was just making my peace with that when Jack appeared to me,” she tells me.
Meeting Jack came as a surprise to both of them. Jack was everything she wanted. Read books, loved the quiet and enjoyed looking at trees and rolling in the grass. Jack was perfect. Jack had a gap in the teeth and always kept the shirt tucked. Neat was her second language. They got along quite well and were soon spending lots of time together.
Basically, this story is going as you expect stories to go. But I am not seated here in the cold with no coffee in my hand to write an ordinary story. Jack had a secret. They shared this secret, Jack and Maria. “It was like we both knew this thing weighed between both of us even before we first spoke. Even before I laid eyes on Jack, I knew it, and Jack knew. It connected us, that we kept this one thing to ourselves, and because we never spoke of it, it was almost sacred.” I like secrets. They give me an edge over the rest of the population. I have one rule on them; don’t tell, because they lose this power immediately you share them. You no longer have the one thing that only you knew. A secret shared is not worth two in the bush. It is worth nothing. Today’s little nugget of wisdom? Keep your secrets, kids. Unless you are telling me of course (wink).
Touch was her favorite sense. When Jack would lean over her shoulder in the library, reading a favorite passage. Passages she can recite by heart to date. When Jack’s little finger would graze hers unintentionally as they were both engrossed in a classic Austen. When Jack read to her, it was like touching her very soul. “We didn’t know it was happening, while being aware of everything in each single moment.” They were doomed to be in love with each other’s souls.
The moment that broke the pot happened on a Thursday afternoon. Thursdays were class library days for form ones. What Jack was doing in the library that day can be found in a rat’s arse. They did not share a table. “It was becoming too obvious that we were into each other, so we decided some distance in public would help put some suspicions to death,” she tells me. [It sounds eerily similar to some high society Jane Austen plot if you ask me]
Maria stood to find a book. Jack stood too, probably out of reflex, and followed. “I pulled the book I needed from the shelf and there she was, looking at me. ‘Stay there. Be quiet’ she told me. I didn’t move. She came to the row I was on, turned me by my shoulders and placed her lips on mine. If there was a time to say I genuinely froze, it was then. Until I kissed her back.”
She cannot tell how long the stood there, lip-locked with a forgotten encyclopedia between them in her hands. “I only remember the gasps. I can still hear them today,” she says.
In their temporary escape from reality, a classmate had come in search of the same book that was miserably failing to act as a barrier and had quickly called for other spectators.
“The next thing I remember was being pushed into the bookcase and Jack fleeing from me. I also remember feeling cold. Not from the weather, but from dread. It was the end of something that had barely began.”
If this was a perfect story, we would say Maria got the conversation she needed. The conversation that cleared things up. That had Jack tell her why she did what she did, or at least had her apologize for letting the whole school believe that she pushed herself up on Jack and forced the kiss. It would have had Jack explain why she lied to their parents when they were called to the school to explain the “demonic behavior” as the discipline mistress had it so well put. Maybe, all the nineteen times that Maria tried to get Jack alone to talk about it would have given her an answer instead of jeers and insults and accusations of stalking, writing “secret love letters” (that she still does not understand where they came from) and branding of filthy, filthy names. Names that she asked me not to repeat because she can barely stomach the thought of them, leave alone seeing them associated with her one more time.
“I have always liked girls. I grew up crushing on Melissa Joan Hart on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and the Spice Girls. So I kinda knew I was of the community, I just never expected my first chance at opening the blood pumper would be so chaotic and full of all it had. I wish it was different, but it also made me braver. It forced me to learn that nothing can come at me and defeat me. So, in a way, Jack gave me bravery without knowing it. I also knew that hiding helped nothing, I mean, you can stay in if you aren’t ready, but immediately you feel ready, all you need to do is be true to yourself and everything else will fall into place.”
She says she knows it is difficult. That knowing what you want and actually going for it are two separate things that can seem worlds apart, but they aren’t. She describes truth and loyalty as neighbors who don’t know each other until one steps out and decides to meet the other. “Once they meet, all you need is the bravery to face anything and all things that come at you.”
Mulan is her favorite movie. The animation, not the Niki Caro version. “Mulan is in a world that she needs to come out on top of. If she fails, everything goes to shits. If one of the boys finds out she is a she, I mean, look at what happened to me. So she holds her secret until she is at the precipice, just waiting to tip over, to turn herself in. She waits until they know how loyal she is to the cause, how brave she has been through the bathroom trips and sleeping in a dorm-like situation with filthy, crude men, to show them her true self. And she does it like a freaking boss. I think we can all learn something from her,” she says.
I think we can learn something from both of them.
[I’m keeping my promises now. Cool, huh?]
We all have at least one anecdote from this specific Pizza Inn. You know the one, right? You have waited outside of it for some late Cathy who told you they would be there by 2pm but it is now 3:42 and the small of your back has started singing, or you have bought ice-cream at the Creamy Inn then realized you would have gotten 2 for a cheaper price. You have broken hearts walking along it and love has been declared in between its tables. It’s crazy how many stories I have been told that detoured in there, and amazing that such a small expanse can hold hostage so many memories. So many chances either left in line or with one of the watch people looking into bags. God knows what secrets those guards have seen to date. That would be a story, huh!
Their first date was in this hustle and bustle just after high school. None of them had joined campus yet. They were both fresh into life and looking for someone to love. Someone to die for. Their union, blessed by a mutual friend who thought they would be good together, was filled with sparks from the very beginning.
He tells me this story on the day before her birthday. Maybe he was reminiscing on the times they had together. Maybe he was thanking the universe for getting him out of it. He said it in passing, like it didn’t really matter that he still remembered her birthday. Like it was out of reflex. Something his brain had trained itself to remember. He suggested that it would be something if the story was posted then. But hey, I’m not here to grant wishes. Write to Santa for that.
Anyhow, he had gone out to a party with this girl whose name is not important since she will not be mentioned again as this story develops. While there, the Cupid impersonator told him the unnamed girl wasn’t good enough for him, and that she would shoot him in the right direction. “She hooked me up with two chics [girls, not chicken]. One who was in the States and the other who was in Nakuru,” he tells me. “Being a logical dude, I thought Nakuru was closer, so I opted for the one who was nearer…and yeah, that’s when it started, on August 7th”.
Their vibe was insane! They liked the same things, and disagreed on a few. Life had hit her fast which meant she was doing what any young adult would: Getting away. She was in Nakuru when he first made contact, and they had not yet met by August 14th when he asked her to be his girlfriend. “It was crazy! I had never seen this chic in person. I had only seen like one or two photos of her. We were vibing on like level 1,000. There were late night texts, I would wake up at 3am thinking of her and then I find her online and we would talk…so yeah, 2015, August 14th, we started dating officially.” It went on for a while, till she came back from Babylon.
They met in September at Pizza Inn-Moi Avenue (commonly Pizza Inn Archives). Originally from Karatina, she was new to the city so she was escorted by her friends. “Afterwards, we went to her brother’s place where we chilled and had a good time. I was an 18 year-old in the city, living the fast life.” Her brother lived in Ngara where he would go, spend time with his girlfriend then leave at around 9pm. You know the feeling when you are in town and you have just realized your phone has been pickpocketed? Not the initial shock when your brain is still trying to grasp at the flimsy strands of the loss…no. The one you get when you have already realized it, the shock has passed and now, right before you accept the situation and walk in to the first sim card replacement shop you see. That feeling of abandonment. Of defeat. Right before acceptance when all that goes on in your head is “What the fuck am I to do now?” That is the feeling he gets when he recalls he was walking around Ngara at 9pm with all the atrocities that this Nairobi has to offer. [I didn’t get it either]
Things happened. Things that he told me. Things that I will tell some of to you. But first, let’s talk names. There won’t be any. But if I was to pick and because my mind is still in a slump, the best I could have done is Jack, because Bauer is my childhood version of Shwarzenegger [consider this your weekly useless fact]. I hope you keep up.
She joined college, in Murang’a. Yes, people. This was not the Babylonian exile as you can tell. She came back after much less than the expected 70 years and they could now meet on their own terms albeit with a couple of hiccups. “We didn’t have a place to stay so we would depend on people’s houses, ask friends if they could steal a few moments of privacy behind their walls.” If walls could speak…
They were together one weekend in early November.
“As she was about to leave, she called this guy and she’s like, ‘can you pick me up at the stage?’ and I’m like…why are you asking someone to pick you at the stage? And she’s like, ‘you know it’s late, I’ll get there late and I need to be safe’ or something like that. So, I was like ‘okay, cool’. I thought it made sense since she was thinking of her safety.” But shit hit the fan.
She started ghosting him. No, parents. She did not die. Calm your areolas. It’s amazing how one thing can mean something totally different to different generations.
“You can tell when someone is not the same,” he says. In his honor, we will change the storytelling tactic just a little bit.
Okay. Picture a frat house, about 11 guys [he may have exaggerated, who knows?] This is where she hangs out when away from him.
He decides to put on Sherlock’s hat between Nov 25th and 27th in the ruse of surprising her. “The surprise was an investigation kind of thing.” He admitted. His friend who was dating someone else then [which is why he trusted him] stayed in this frat house too. “I had just turned 19. I trusted people still.”
He hides in the bathroom at the frat house, waiting for her. She arrives and starts hugging all 11 dudes, but they know there is more than just slippery walls, tainted floors and several pieces of unfinished soap in that bathroom so they do not hug her back. She asks why no arms are wrapping around her a couple of times until she sees his shoes and asks where he is. “She came to the bathroom, hugged me and we went outside to talk.”
Outside the frat house, she deletes some texts on her phone while he watches, probably from the corner of his eye. They go back in and “have some serious sex” after which she says she was going to her friend Washington’s place, about one or two floors above the frathouse. She leaves her phone.
“She had deleted texts from this other guy; George, but forgot about Washington’s chats [rookie mistake], so I took screenshots and sent them to my phone then went to sleep.”
She comes back at midnight, asking why he went through her phone. “I didn’t think that that was the issue at the time. She was cheating one me.” He cried. It was bad, I mean, it was still Friday, and he was one of those kids [I was one too] who received pocket money weekly, at the beginning of each one. Which meant he had no money to go back to Nairobi with, he could not ask her for money because they were just broken up and pride stood tall, and the frat dudes would definitely be no help. It was a long 24 hours, but he made it through. “It felt like a lifetime. I went back, did my exams, failed miserably and went into my whoring phase.”
She reached out in January and because affairs of the heart are a mystery to us all, they got together in the new semester. His parents gave him the rent for the whole semester which he, being the boy in love that he was, used it all up on her. The word he used was “squandered”.
Sometime afterwards, there was some bam-chicka-bow-wow and the diddy was done. She asked the question and he said yes. He suggested the emergency pill Postinor-2 (P-2) but she basically shrugged it off, in so many words. 2 weeks later, she hits him with a positive pregnancy test. He ditched classes completely and they stayed at his uncle’s place in Lang’ata while they figured shit out. He reached out to a nurse aunt who he thought was cool to get them meds from the hospital she worked at. She was definitely not cool.
Nurse aunt snitched to his mom who in return called him fuming at the nostrils. After she calmed down, she sent him 5 thousand bob which they used at a clinic near Thika Road Mall in May.
“We were okay for a while, until I started liking this other chic from school. When she found out, she lost it and we broke up. The chic I started liking is currently dating my uncle [story for another time] and I don’t know where I am going with this story. I am now dating an amazing girl and things are not bad. I mean they are bad right now but, isn’t that every relationship?” [I don’t know, you tell me]
As an afterthought, he says, “Oh, and don’t use original names. People will read this blog even in 50 years and I don’t want to be brought down.”
I mean, first of all, thank you for hoping people will still want to hear from me in that era, and secondly, this ain’t my first rodeo.
[Guess who’s back (back-back) back again (gain-gain). You should have sung that.
PSA: I am not receiving any more stories since I want to first finish the ones you guys paraded in my inbox with. I’m also thinking of adding Sunday as an additional posting day just till I’m done dishing the currently available stories. Wait for the link.
PS. I missed y’all. Kisses]
Please don’t send any more stories yet. Please. I appreciate you all so much.
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.