I would beg that you don’t think me vain for talking about birthdays, especially with mine having just passed. But there is a certain maturity that comes with age, age here being the first day after your birthday before everything resets. Do you normals also feel extra old on the first day of your next year than you do all through it? It’s weird, right? And moreso when that is the time in that year of your life that you are at your youngest. This is what I figured out. You can call me your personal stupid genius. But think about it. We feel most vulnerable about our age on the day after we turn because this is when the excitement has died down and you are faced with the true reality of the new number. Or the hangover is what makes you feel like a grandpa, I’m no expert.
She met him on her birthday. She didn’t want to go out that night, preferring the softness of her mattress and the coolness of the other side of her pillow. But her friends “hijacked” her. They came in like thieves in the night, and in the fashion of hyper sex-crazed monkeys carried her off into the night. She didn’t mind it, she says. It was her birthday after all and if her friends wanted to use it as their excuse to get wasted and have meaningless sex, who was she to judge? In Grammy Ariana fashion, she supported them, blew them kisses across the dance floor even. At least someone was having fun on her behalf.
“I was alright, really. They would come grab me for a dance or two then let me go back to my drink. It was fun. But then at about 1:27am (I checked the time) as I was going back to my seat, there was a guy at my table.”
He was cute. She tells me. Tall. Dark. Handsome. A woman’s weakness. But that is not what caught her eye. He was gorgeous, of course. Had the chiseled jaw of movie stars and muscles that threatened to burst through the sleeves of his Tshirt. He was well groomed. The beard well trimmed and his pants fit well. [Boys, a trouser that fits you well does not hang under your ass by a Jamaican coloured belt, okay?] “I was pulled to him. And not just because I had wanted to sit by my drink after another round on the dance floor. I was literally pulled to him. He had this mystery to him that I just wanted to figure out. I couldn’t help myself and I knew, even before I spoke with him, that I had to be in his bed. In his life.” [Whew, someone get me a fan]
“Hi,” said she, sitting.
“Hello,” said he. “I’m sorry to intrude. This was the only available table at this hour that does not house loud drunks.”
Pssht. Intrude shimtrude. “No problem. I was getting kinda lonely watching my friends dance.”
“I was watching you dance,” he said, turning so his leg brushed against hers. She felt shivers.
“Oh?” words failed her.
“Cece,” she hoped that was her name.
One thing led to another [this is a universal statement so don’t pretend you don’t understand it] and before long, she was wearing his Tshirts. It was a good run. He was a good guy. A real gentleman and in the next few weeks that they got to know each other, she was convinced this was her Adam. But even the Garden of Eden had snakes.
They were watching a football game one Saturday evening. “I had become one of those girls,” she tells me. “I was watching football for a man. To keep a man. I didn’t understand shit. All it is is men in shorts, with one or two weird haircuts running after a ball. It’s insane. But he liked it, and he had said he couldn’t date a girl who didn’t watch football. So I told him I fangirled over Arsenal, because that is the first team that came to my head. It impressed him.” He was a Man City man himself and the game was between City and “some small team”. He knew they were going to win. He was so confident that she too shared in his enthusiasm. By first half, the teams were neck on neck, sharing the points at 1-1. “They were to come back and show the small team who was boss.” Who the real cat was. The cat turned out to be wild.
His team lost. And in the confusion and the hurt and disappointment, she tried to calm him. He was throwing insults in football normalcy.
She: Babe, it’s just a game [In today’s lesson on Things to NOT Say to a Sports Fan…]
He: (howls insults at the TV, the decoder, the couch)
He: (insults the remote)
She: Come on big daddy, don’t be such a baby.
He: What did you say to me?!
She laughed because it didn’t seem real. He was kidding. She couldn’t have used that tone on her.
He: Bitch! WHAT did you f*king say to me?
She: Babe, I…
Her face was hot before she realized what was going on. As her head wrapped around what had happened, he was on her, hitting and punching, she scratching and clawing. A gazillion seconds in, his dog barked at them and he caught himself, rolled off, and lay beside her. She couldn’t speak. She had the words, swimming in her head in an incomprehensible mess. She had questions and answers she did not want to believe. They just could not leave her lips.
She: (focuses on taking air back into her lungs)
He: I’m sorry
Then there were tears. Like the River Jordan had broken its banks in his living room. He sobbed and begged and sniffled until she said she understood he was angry. She knew those words were a lie immediately they formed in her throat but she said them once, then twice, and every time after that when he would “accidentally” hit her.
“You just took it? Why did you stay?” I ask. This is where I would like to say I was dumbfounded. A word I have not used out of writing essays in school but which fits here perfectly.
Cece says she didn’t know any better. He was her first on most things. Girls get confused with their firsts. “And besides, he didn’t do it a lot. I remember the next time we sat to watch the game. I was so tense that he noticed. He apologised like a million times. Even got to his knees and said it was a moment of weakness. That it would never happen again. And he was always the perfect gentleman plus I was still very attracted to him. So we made up.”
Everything became rosy after that. The petals of love flourished. The stem of stability stood its ground. Heck, even their cologne blended perfectly together. But each rose has its thorn. His stabs came back four months later.
“I had gone out with my friends. By this time, we had been dating for 7 months. We were perfect. I never told my friends about that night. I was embarrassed, and I knew he would never do it again.” But he did.
Cece was coming back home when she realised she had misplaced her key. It was 11:30 PM. She called him about seventy six [I exaggerate] times but he did not answer. So she sat by his door and scrolled through Instagram until he showed up. He stumbled in at 1:34 AM, drunk chakari-ly. As he fumbled with the keys, she, who was sober by then, took them off his hands to open the door herself.
She woke up in bed, bruised. She could not understand what was going on. Her whole body hurt. It pained her to breathe!
“Then he walked in with a tray. On it was some milk in a glass and pancakes he had made. I didn’t even know he could make pancakes before that. Then he apologised.”
“What did he say?”
“That it was a moment of weakness. That he did not mean to hit me as hard as he did. He was drunk after all. He said he wasn’t even expecting me to be at his door waiting and that I had startled him when I took the keys from him.” She understood, but this time, her neck was on the side [Hehe].
By this time she had secured an internship with an NGO somewhere along Ngong Road. She had to work on Monday. When her colleagues asked about the bruises on her face and arms, she said she fell down some stairs, and even though they seemed to halfwittingly believe her, she heard whispers [people you work with are rarely your friends, kids]. She told her friends the same thing, but they didn’t believe her, meaning she was forced to tell the truth. That Chiseled Faced Jack was giving her own face blows. That his well fitting pants hid the kicks he threw her way. That as they held hands in public, those same hands restricted air flow in her throat in the evenings. Her friends took her to a police station to take a P3 and rebuked her for wanting to go back to him. They told her he wasn’t right. That he needed psychological help. Called him a monster. “But I still loved him,” she texts. So she went back.
He hit her again.
On the 14th day of November 2019, she woke up in Nairobi Women’s Hospital at Nairobi West. She did not know how she got there. She recalls being in Kasarani with him the previous night. They were having fun, just another couple that loved each other’s company. That is all she remembers of that night. When she regained her consciousness to the regurgitating smell of the hospital, her friends were around her. Her three girlfriends who made her leave the house for her birthday. Whose moves she had supported at the club and who threw her sim card away so he could not reach her…or so they said. “I know they knew I was the one who was going to reach out. They were protecting me from myself.”
“Have you talked to him since then?” I ask.
“No,” she writes. “But I am going to.”
“I need to know if he loves me. If he ever loved me. I need him to tell me in what twisted world he thinks love is putting someone in the hospital.”
“Would you go talk to him alone? Aren’t you scared about another slapsgiving?” I asked. And yes, I used a HIMYM slang.
“Whatever happens, happens. I just need to know. For closure.”
[PS. If you have a Young Love story, hit me up on Instagram and Twitter (@mir_awu), on MIRAWU’s Facebook page or send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org]