Reality Someone Somewhere

LINAH

We had just reported back to school for second term after the April holidays. I was in form three at the time and you bet the academic ladder was becoming more of two poles with nowhere to step on. Many things come in the way of an ordinary student to make the ascension up the ladder wobbly. They could range from anything to everything. But for a girl in high school, trust me one of those things would be a boy. When that guy in particular shows up in our lives, it becomes a ride on a roller coaster especially if it’s the first time to fall in love.
7.46pm of opening day. We were in class for preps though I wish the school would give us that day to just handle our hangovers in any way we want. I had a biology textbook lying open on top of my locker. I was looking at it but I was not reading it. No I was not fantasizing though I kept on smiling occasionally without realising. I was having flashbacks of the times I spent with Hago over the holiday. His name is Haggai but I called him My Hago. I was among the few who sat quietly and looked like we were doing something constructive. A book was suddenly slammed on the empty locker next to mine. I thought I was busted. She went round my seat and sat next to me. It was Meryl, my school mum. 
“Darling I have sneaked from form four block to hear your sweet first time love story. You better not disappoint.” She said and positioned herself in a manner to suggest that she wouldn’t leave with anything less than a Cinderella and prince charming story.
“Well, where do I start now?” I giggled. 
“How does it feel kwanza?” She was so anxious.
“It feels great. Wait. I don’t know, is this how people feel when they are in love?”
“Well, yaah.” Laughs. “If it’s really love then it should be unexplainable.”
“Okay well then honestly I don’t know how to explain it. I miss him already.”
“Aaw. That’s so adorable. Look at you, all in love.” We giggled.
“Stop it Meryl, you making me feel shy.” 
“Darling there is nothing wrong about it. So tell me about him.”
“His name is Haggai. He is in first year, Moi University.”
“No damn way! You can’t be serious. First year?”
While slacking I asked, “Yea, is it a bad thing?”
“No baby girl it’s not. Actually that’s so sweet. Finding a guy older than you is just…” She places both hands on her chest and sighs while smiling. “I even lack the words aki. I’m just so happy for you.”
I was too overwhelmed to reply to that.
“Where did you meet?”
“Uhm, I have known him since the end of last year but we started being good friends when the holiday began. We are in the same neighbourhood though not so close. He is kinda cute, fun and funny. We spent a lot of time together and he even helped me with my homework sometimes.”
“Eeish!” Meryl exclaimed loudly until the whole class turned to look at us. She wasn’t even apologetic. She was like, “What are you all looking at! Continue with your hangovers!”
“You’re sure he loves you? Not that I doubt him.” Shrugging her shoulders.
“Yea, I think he does yea. I trust him.”
“Okay baby girl, I just hope he doesn’t break your heart. Though out of all I have heard you say, he doesn’t seem like the type.”
“How many time have you been heartbroken?” I asked.
She laughs, “Way too many times. I have broken others too, kwani? Do I have to be the one to always be broken?” 
“But you sound like you’re used to it.”
“Ah baby girl don’t worry. I don’t want you to go through the things I have gone through.”
****
I looked at the French fries on her plate. They were about only six sticks lesser than they were when were served about forty minutes ago. When I realised that, I began to stealthily reduce the pace on mine. It was one hell of a task though. I am not used to going easy on food you know. Blame where I come from, don’t blame me. I tried my best not to judge her for being the type that takes food for granted. It didn’t matter whether she was telling a story that would show me she is the kind of woman we ought to have celebrated in last week’s women’s day. 
Perhaps she would realise after drying her mouth with stories of herself that the fries had become cold. Then she’d say, “I can’t eat cold food.” Or I hoped she was not like some bad mannered girls I have met in Nairobi who would say when it’s too late, “I’m not even hungry anymore. I will just have my juice then we can go.” In my mind I had already developed a reaction plan in case the slaying demon decides to manipulate her. I silently swore, “Weh msichana fanya tu makosa useme hautakula. Hapo ndio utajua hujui! Aki sitalipia chakula haijakuliwa mimi! Na nikisema nifungiwe nibebe kama take away, asiniitishe tena. Eti, “Leta tu nitakulia home.” Shindwe!” 
I am seated opposite her in a fast food place called Kuku Joint at Mega Mall in Kakamega town. Her name is Linah, a first year in a university she doesn’t want me to disclose. We met last Thursday over lunch to celebrate our few weeks of friendship. I warned her that our meeting would extend to an online platform and she thought I was pulling her leg. She said she wouldn’t believe it until she sees it. So Linah, I hope you can see I have no interest in pulling peoples legs, especially girls’ legs. [Clearing my throat.] 
Our conversations led us to her story that left me more amused than amazed. After it all, I grappled with whether I should be happy for her or hold her tight by the neck and shake her back to her senses. But her senses had already spoken. So what other sense would I be shaking? I later said that if I would ever be a woman in another life, I wanted to be a woman like her. And I am not trying to be funny mjango.
“So it was the first relationship you have ever been to?” I asked. She was in a black dress with no sleeves, a bandana almost similar to the colour of her chocolate complexion tied around her treated hair and a golden necklace hanging by her neck with the pendant dangling just below her medium sized knockers. How medium is medium to you by the way?
“Yes.” She said.
“And how long was the relationship? Or it’s still on until now?”
“Hell no!” I must say I have no regrets of having ever dated him. In fact I have nothing against him. He has never done anything wrong significant enough to make me want to leave him. He has really tried to make me feel special and show me that he does love me. I remember the success card he sent me just before I sat for my K.C.S.E. He had someone design a big success card for me and draw my portrait inside it. It was the best success card compared to all the other cards others got at the time. When I got to form four, almost everyone in my class and a handful more from other classes knew that I was dating a guy in second year. Those who knew were amazed at how we pushed for that long.
“See our generation is not known to have legit and lasting things, especially relationships.” She says and pauses. I quickly realise that I am supposed to nod to that and so I did. I noted how accurately she had applied her lipstick. 
“I guess that is why it was such a big deal for them.”  
“Maybe you were just lucky.” I said and took a sip of the cocktail. If she’d retaliate to that, I’d choke myself there and then.
“Well, yea. Maybe.” 
Oh so she is not the type to throw words back at people, I thought.
“Do you know my dad was against the relationship?”
I sat up, “What! Why?”
“No reason in particular. I am daddy’s girl you know. He was being like every dad would be. He learnt of the relationship and once in a while questioned me about it.”
“Did you ever answer him?” 
“Sometimes yea. To show him that I knew what I was into and I was okay and happy. It reached a time I stopped responding and he stopped asking as a result. But I could still smell the concern whenever I asked for permission to go anywhere.”
That made me think of how it will be for my daughter in dog years to come. And the way people say I am a strict guy, a no nonsense entertainer and a no shit taker. Am I really like that? Well if I am, then Lord, I don’t want to be too hard on my daughter. So change my heart and ease me up. Give me a sense of humour and absolute tenderness like a bird or a sheep or whichever animal you ever gave that virtue. But don’t let me be ignorant at the same time Lord. I want to be the coolest dad she would ever dream of and protective. Oh sorry Lord, I should have started by asking you to bless the woman of my life and I with a daughter. Who knows, maybe it is not in your plans just like the way you did for my mum and dad whom you gave not one, not two but three handsome boys. Please forgive those who say that the last born, who is me, ought to have been the girl child in that family. In fact punish them by giving them all boys too! How can they say that yet I am the one with the bushy beards along with my eldest brother? My other brother is the one with nothing close to even a moustache but they still say I‘m the one who was supposed to be the girl. Anyway Lord, in that case, select the right mjango to swim fastest to the egg so that I get a daughter. 
Here is where her story took a turn, “So I said we are no longer dating huh?”
“Ahaa.”
“I broke up with him three weeks ago.” She went silent and leaned back. 
“I don’t understand. He was a great guy, you said. A loyal guy for that matter. A rare species in this current world of men turned into those ever laughing hunchbacked wild animals! Yea okay, don’t tell me you broke up with him because the drooling for money disease that catches up with girls when they get to campus caught up with you also because he was not well of.”
“Nah, though he was a hustler but a bright one, for the record that was nowhere in my list of reasons. In fact I don’t think I had a list. I just didn’t feel him anymore. For quite a long time, I noted the decreasing pulse rate of my love for him. So it was nothing personal, I just told him the truth when I felt it was about time I got straight with him.” She had this metal in her voice that I loved. I call it precision. There was no any lingering sense of regret in her tone. I can’t disagree that she knew what she was saying.
Still in disbelief, “So it ended. Just like that!”
“Well, yea.” She said. “He didn’t want to let go though. He pleaded that I should stay. I pitied him though because I could tell he really loved me and he was deeply hurt. But did I have a choice? So listen. You’re also in for a heartbreak in just a moment.”
I laughed at the sarcasm in that. Me? Heartbroken? By who? You? Have we started dating already and I don’t know yet? Oh wait. Or are you going to leave without eating the plate full of French fries that I was paying for? That would definitely heartbreak me.
“Last week I decided to check on him through his roommate from his school. I don’t like him but I had to reach out to him to hear how Hago was fairing. He said he was quite fine and he had recently won 600K from Sportpesa.”
 I wanted to fall off my chair with my head first or have someone shoot me in my mouth. Nobody said anything for ten minutes. Thank heavens that gave her time to reduce the fries on her plate to an un-regrettable amount.
“And you are sure it was not a scheme to win you back?”
“No. He actually won the money. It’s not a scam. Though he still wanted me back.”
I got excited, “Tell me you said yes.”
“Noo! Kwani who am I? Now a gold-digger? I don’t love him anymore and that doesn’t change whether he owns the whole county or not.”
“You mean… Aki ya nani! You mean it didn’t pinch you even a bit?”
“I must confess it did for a while. But I think the true beauty of a woman blooms when she makes decisions independent of luring factors. Decisions aligned with what she feels in her heart.”
I didn’t dare say a word. That was just too much for me to take in. I sat thinking, who is this woman again? Well today, I can proudly say she is the perfect example of how the 21st century woman ought to be.
“Besides, had I gone back to him after he won that amount,” She sipped the remaining amount of her cocktail, “Wouldn’t I seem not just like a gold-digger, but a slut?”
I sighed, “Linah. You’re a real woman. And in that case, happy women’s day.”
“Ouw thank you. And thank you for the lunch treat as well.”
In my mind I replied, “No. Thank you for finishing it aye!”

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