“Then there is Mr Cheetah. Him and lightning are admins in the same Whatsapp Group. Girls don’t see him coming. One moment he’s pouring your drink in the bar, the next you are in his t-shirt in his kitchen washing carrots.”
Bikozulu: The Lacoste of Samburu
(Read the previous episode here.)
She was doing her internship at Jubilee Insurance back then in 2017. Life was definitely not a bed of roses for her especially when it came to matters relationships. At the time she would walk into the office ten to fifteen minutes late of which is arguably early enough for ladies – when everyone is settled on their desks trying to boot their computers as some quickly sneak into Facebook. Her perfume would precede her entry, like an invisible escort to pave way for her. It would be followed by the sound of clacking heels on the tiled floor. The intervals of the steps wouldn’t be so short because the heels would be responsible for the balance of a body heavily weighted by the curvy protruding chunks of flesh by her sides that anatomy calls acetabulum but we call hips.
On one hand she’d have her hand bag and on the other, take a guess. Yea, a bottle of water with lemon slices in it. On top of her tree bark complexion would be a dress that arrests every hill and valley on her body all the way to slightly above the knees. A leather jacket would cap it all up.
Necks would break when she passed heading to her desk. Hard salivas would be swallowed because it’s not just saliva but saliva mixed with either envy or lust or both. Envy from the other ladies who feel less blessed comparatively, lust from the men of course and lust again, from the ladies who swing in that direction. Si you know this world we live in today.
She was good at minding her own business but whenever anyone wanted to mind hers, they’d not stop asking whether she had a man. She made them think she did, a tactic she used to scare away the dogs. But the truth was that she had had enough of love. It was a fierce jungle with so many booby traps.
She knew too well that it would be foolish to hook up with guys in the office. Oh yes they offered lunch from Intercontinental to Sarova. They offered rides home in their sleek Jubilee insured German machines. They put her in the list of attendees for business trips. But none of them and none of that made her heart skip a beat or made her cat meow.
“I had built my wall too high, “ Jenna said.
“A defense mechanism of sorts?” I asked.
“Yes. I had been dating since my first year of campus upto fourth year”
“Damn! So it’s like you went to two universities, the university for masomo and the university of love.”
“Yea,” She giggled. “You can put it like that. He was such a nice guy. He was in fourth year when I was in first year. Four years in a relationship, Mjango I was set for marriage. He was the man I wanted to marry and I was darn sure he wanted to marry me too. He said it, not once and not twice. For the whole of my entire adult life, I had never known loneliness and neither did loneliness know me.”
Surely a man who dates you for four years doesn’t seem like a joker. If you ask me, the man of today wants microwaved girls. Two months of I love you and I love you too is ready for the cuffs of marriage according to them. But here was a man who was at it for four years. Just where did the devil come in? You might be asking.
On Jenna’s graduation day, her man didn’t show up. At least had he shown up, it’d have been a graduation in both universities. She was ready for anything including his marriage proposal on that day. He went missing for a week before she knew what happened to him. If you have ever been in a relationship or an example of one, you do relate with how heart wrecking and mind torturing it can be when you don’t hear from your partner even in just six hours.
“He had introduced me to his mom once. He lived in Nyali with his mom and siblings, so I went there hoping I’d find him.”
“I guess you didn’t huh. That’s why we are having this conversation anyway, right?”
“Sadly correct. The gate man couldn’t let me in because he said Herman was not around. I had promised myself I wouldn’t leave until I am given something that can prove his absence. I caused a scene until his mom stepped out to see what was happening. When she saw me she quickly recognized me and gave a behest from the balcony that I be allowed in.
She deeply apologised for the harsh welcome at the gate. And her way of showing courtesy is food and niceties. I was guided to the dining table at their lawn that overlooks a large swimming pool where all the nice coastarian dishes were brought. Funny enough on the day you’re not hungry is when heavenly food is brought before you. The bleeding love in my heart had drained my appetite. I realised it was also her way of buying time.”
“Buying time? Why would she?”
“Because she had bad news. The bad news I had come for. She knew that I had come to trace for answers concerning Herman’s ghosting. She was not prepared to tell me. She confessed that she would never be prepared even in three lifetimes because even she was broken.
When she acquired the courage to talk about it, she dismissed everyone from table and I was left with her. She started by saying she has good news and bad news. You know I was prepared for the worst. I said start with the bad and she said, “No, I can only start with the good. The good news is, I know you’re expecting to hear that perhaps my son passed on. Why else could he just vanish if not that he is dead? So no, Herman is not dead.” That was a huge relief. But then again that gave way for a bigger mystery. So if he wasn’t dead, then where was he? And why?
She said Herman had gone to the U.K. for training and recruitment to their Intelligence agency. You know first of all he was born there. And the only way he was allowed to go with someone was if it was either his wife or child. According to the law, he had none. He had an option to reject or accept. I always knew that it was his dream to work in the big leagues of intelligence but I had no clue about him having to go to the U.K. leave alone for life.
He had had two months to decide. His mom said that according to him, two months was not enough to scheme ways he could tag his girlfriend along as his wife because he really would have wanted to go with me. During the application, he indicated he was not married.”
“But why didn’t he tell you anything at least? A goodbye is surely not enough but it’s justice.” I said.
“It is justice. But it seemed to him that it would be greater injustice to have invested in my life like that and worse, have me invest my life in his only for him to tell me that our dreams were no longer valid. That life was actually denying him of a chance to make me his wife. Secondly, his line of work is even riskier when he has a spouse and children. Two months was not enough to allow me to think about whether I was ready to risk my life with him. Mjango it’s just some complicated shit!”
“I got closure out of that but it didn’t stop me from being mad at him, mad at life and ultimately, heartbroken. But I have nothing against him. I have acquitted him of all offences because if I was in his shoes, I’d also not know what to do or what to say to my lover. It’s a situation that he just didn’t know how to handle. So time beat him and all he could do was just go and not look back.”
“So to say, he chose his dream over you.”
“Yes and no. Yes he chose his dream in terms of his career over me and no, because I know if he had a choice he’d choose me along with his career.”
And so that was life for Jenna. Days turned into months but still the taste of life had been washed away. The sense of purpose in life had been sucked dry out of her. She had travelled down that road too far to start tasking herself to any other journey. She knew no other way around men for she had known just one man. If it’s being a charm to another man, she had only mastered the art of charming one man. Just how was she going to start learning how to love again?
?It was great at the very start
Hands on each other
Couldn’t stand to be far apart
Closer the better?
One day she was at a conference with her colleagues. It ran from Wednesday to Friday and on Friday evening, there was some sort of dinner after party. This was the time where you’d see insurance officers, from bosses to interns – loosen their ties and dance together like no one is the boss of the other anymore. Well, at times the junior employees would teach their seniors a few moves whenever the music went modern. They became bosses for a minute or two.
And when the music went old school, you’d hear things like, “Aarh ndo hizo zetu sasa! Mr. Irungu, kuja tuwaonyeshe sasa how we did it back in the days.”
“I’m telling you Mr. Odero hawa vijana wa skuizi hakuna muziki wanaproduce. Ni kelele tu. Hii sasa ndo muziki inaingia mpaka kwa mifupa.” Then this part of a song would approach and they’d stop to time it that they may sing in unison, “Vunja mifupa kama bado meno iko…”
Later as others danced and sang along to, “Unapenda vitu vya Che! Che! Che! Che!” Jenna sat by the bar, a half filled glass with a small umbrella hanging by its mouth – in hand. Her earrings making reflective – shiny dances to the rhythm of the light from the chandelier almost directly above her.
The seats at the bar are the long ones. Her bum filled the seat almost to an overflow. The seat gave lead to the beauty of her abdomen since, one, she has curves and two, the long dress she had on had a slit running from the boarders of her thigh with the knee. Call it all the flaunted pathway to her Area 51!
Just when she was contemplating over having another drink or not, an uncocked champagne bottle was placed before her. It just looked so damn expensive. The owner of the arm that had placed it took a seat next to her and signalled the bartender, “Two glasses please.”
The bartender asked, “Two?”
“Yes. One for me and one for the lovely lady seated next to me.”
What a way to arrest her attention. She turned. He was already facing her as if he knew she’d turn and said, “Surely you won’t let me drink this one alone.”
Normally, she’d turn down the offer however generous and tempting. I mean, that’s champagne for Chris’ sake! But today, she didn’t have the energy to do so. One glance at his face had already located her G-spot. His masculine voice unclothed her mind like one going into a sauna. His bravado launched her hormones randomly like a child with nuclear weapon controls in his hands. Let’s not mention the suit and a fit in pull neck he was in. She was bereaved of words.
Champagne was poured into both glasses. He guided one glass into her hands. “Thank you,” She said.
“I’m Rich by the way. And you are?” He said.
She stopped half way into her sip, rolled her eyes halfway, found her wordings and said, “And I’m not rich?”
He laughed, “I see you have a sense of humour. I meant I’m Richard.”
“Ouw!” She giggled.
They didn’t realise they had drowned themselves into too much champagne until when the bartender had to interrupt their conversation that had caught fire by the tail to tell them that the bottle was empty. They had infectious laughter and rhyming things to say to each other. He was a junior director at his father’s company.
Nobody had come so close and so fast to challenge the foundations of the wall she had in her heart. Ever since Herman, she had never knocked heads with a man who enthused her until he came by. And for this reason, she had no guts to stop herself from flowing along.
They started at the backseat of his car. All as if the driver was not there. Or maybe he was used to having his boss bring female companies to the back seat of his car. No wonder he chooses to employ a driver as he will be driving girls crazy at the backseat. Maybe. Maybe if you undid the seats, you’d find a number of knickers buried within the cushions. Most of them would be thongs. Purple, pink, black and red. He would board his car on a Monday morning and as he goes through some papers, he’d notice, say a pink linen protruding from the files scattered on the seat. Of course he’d be curious because he does not do ties and if he did, he’d not have a pink tie! He pulls it and bam! The memories of Saturday night would come rushing like a swarm of bees migrating. And just like that, he’d choose burying it within the seat over throwing it out the window. Someone could be video recording his sleek vehicle and gets the jackpot of memes entitled: Playboy throwing a thong out the window of his car.
The backseat would graduate into the couch and the finals would be held on his king size bed in his master bedroom that looks like a presidential suite. She would wake up the following morning to pick up her dress on the hall way on her way to the kitchen to fix herself some breakfast. And of course, she is a schooled lady. She just doesn’t serve herself and cat walks away. He was impressed that she made breakfast. After breakfast, they took the glory of the morning to the pool. That’s a dream in the bucket list for some of you.
“We started to spend a lot of time together. I’d go to his place after work from Wednesday to Friday and over to the weekend. Weekends would see us going on road trips or even attending events together. I mean, it was exciting. I loved spending time with him and doing things with him. From crazy to serious things. I could tell he loved my company too.”
?Now we’re picking fights
And slamming doors
Magnifying all our flaws
And I wonder why
Wonder what for
Why we keep coming back for more?
However much they spent time together and all, they had never made their affair official. It never came up in their conversation. Both of them made silent efforts not to bring it up.
“With time, whenever I got busy and couldn’t go over to his place when he wanted me to, he’d get mad. Later I realised that whenever I didn’t show up when he expected me to, he’d get himself another woman and get down with her. I felt betrayed. In a way I don’t know why and in a way I know why I’d feel like that. But at the end of the day I wasn’t justified to feel jealous since we were not dating.
He acted as my opening to other men. I could comfortably allow myself to go out with guys unlike before. So I also started having my own plan B whenever he was not available or whenever I wanna pay back. Foolish game I know.
Later we would meet, argue and then make things up, make love and our thing would be back on the road again.
After some time we would fight again. Mostly it was because of other people in our lives. I knew I didn’t want to have anything serious with anybody, not even him. I just didn’t. Whenever we would argue he would also say something similar like, “Why are we arguing yet we are not even dating!” And that would put a huge dent to the whole thing.
There is one time we seriously fought because of money. He lent me some good money I really needed. Work started to pile up after I got a promotion and he started thinking I’m snubbing him and it’s a way of plotting to chomoka with his money.
But at the end of the day, we would get back together.”
?Is it just our bodies?
Are we both losing our minds?
Is the only reason you’re holding me tonight
‘Cause we’re scared to be lonely?
Do we need somebody
Just to feel like we’re alright?
Is the only reason you’re holding me tonight
‘Cause we’re scared to be lonely??
“So if you guys were not having anything official or defined, why were you together?”
“It has become a common thing in this age, I’ve realised. To be honest, I had not got over Herman. I was afraid of falling in love again. Afraid of starting something new with someone. But at the same time, I just didn’t want to be lonely. It’s cold being alone. So with the two circumstances in play, having someone who occupies the space in between your lover and just a good friend comes in handy. Mine was from a heartbreak. For him, it was just the lack of readiness to settle or the fear of settling.
And being the kind of guy who can quickly sweep a lady off her feet like a cheetah – like he did me works to his advantage in finding someone to keep just close enough for him not to be lonely.
One day we decided to come clean with each other. We opened ourselves to the fact that we were only having each other because we needed a safe place. We were scared to be lonely. But again, we confessed that we loved what we had. For whatever it was worth, the safe place was working. So we agreed to give our thing an expiry of two weeks. After two weeks we said our goodbyes.”
“Wow. What a story Jenna.”
“Did I say that was the end?” She chuckled while squinting at me.
“Oh haiya! There’s more?”
A year later, Jenna and Rich happened to meet again. Long story short, they are getting married in December.
So who knows anything about wedding committees? I kinda need some tips beforehand so that I may know what to expect. And oh! You’ll be invited only if you can dance real well to Mugithi.
(The song is Scared to be lonely – Martin Garrix & Dua Lipa)