“I think she left me because of money.”
“Money that you had or didn’t?
“Which woman leaves a man because he’s drowning in money?”
I laugh at myself for asking that in the first place.
“If it was entirely because of the money, that’s okay. But at least I know it has to be part of the reasons. Contending for the top ranks.”
“She never said why she left you?”
“No. But in retrospect, she’s the one who emotionally and maybe even spiritually walked out on us first. No reasons placed on the table. You just notice that something’s changed. A vibe that used to be isn’t anymore. Communication was our greatest strength. We believed that the strength would help us through any storm. You know, they say communication is everything in a relationship. Well, I’m now made to believe that maybe it’s not. Maybe even money is not everything in a relationship; it is the only thing in a relationship.”
I write that down. The only thing in a relationship. I could visualize depth in that. Like what may look like an aquarium at first sight but is actually as deep as the sea, or the gut of the devil.
“Communication began to fail on her end. The once, ever elated girl whenever she called or texted was long gone. Nearly two months trying to salvage what was a relationship but was slowly but surely turning into a relation shipwreck saw me ending it. I made the end she had initiated official. I deserved peace. I deserved some ounce of dignity in my name as a man. I had lowered my ego too much in hopes she’d lower hers but I was losing my dignity in the process. F*** that man!”
“Okay okay. So she ended it but you made it official after your efforts were futile. Call it an erectile dysfunction that refused to bow, or ‘stand’ to Viagra eh?”
“Let’s backtrack for a while. Seems like we started at the peak. Double down to the beginning.”
“Okay. I’ll start with my background and hers then you’ll be able to get the context. “
I come from a middle class home. We’re not rich but I can say we’ve had almost everything necessary for life. Yes we struggled at some stages. My parents have come from far when you look back. But the stage we’re in doesn’t offer luxury. So being a last born, one who was blessed to be very self-aware, by the time I was clearing form four, I was aware that I needed to seek ways to be independent.
I needed to unleash my dependence from my parents. Unburden them a bit because it is a thoughtful thing to do especially as a young man. Though with big ideas and ambition at the time, I sort of imagined it’d be like jumping through rocks across a river – Trivial but doable in no time. Life showed that it was indeed trivial but doable and doable at the time it wants. Not when you want. So anyway, about independence… as a man, at that age, I had begun to orient myself to the fact that the time has to come for me to rely on myself for rather simple but very necessary needs like fare to go to places, clothes and shoes and I’d later even add food on campus in that list.
But at least I had the right mindset and everyone who interacted or interacts with me gets to realize it by a whiff. I’m self- driven and have a lot of potential. The only thing between me and the definition of success if at all your definition of success is money – is just time.
“What’s your definition of success?”
“Having the ability and resources to do what you want when you want and where you want. Having every resource you need to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. A successful executed opportunity equals money.
When I started dating this chic, looking back, I am made to think that the only problem was the wrong timing. We got together at the wrong time, because seemingly, I didn’t have so much to show for my big ideas and ambition. It was all still in theory.”
“I am assuming her background was the opposite of that?”
“Definitely. Not filthy rich but as far as I know and could tell, the money was there. You see, Mjango, for a few notes to just be lying around the house in the name of petty cash, it has to be spillovers from where they came from. I mean, average families don’t really have petty cash yoh! So anyway, they had a good house. Mansion – ish, having moved into it from some rental mansion in Langata. Now, allow me to note at this point, that I have had this feeling in my gut since then that she had been pretending and duping me over a number of things. I’m not sure how many. But every time the conversation in my head is about her, I take it all with a grain of salt.
Generally however, she walked and talked like money wasn’t really so much of a big deal. At least up to that point I know was true. She didn’t have issues like mine. I’ll get to that.
When I was in uni which isn’t in Nairobi, we were in a long distance relationship. Now my almost minimal monetary issues made it seem like the relationship was still long distance even when I was on holiday in Nairobi. She hadn’t joined uni yet by the way.
Transport was the number one challenge. We wanted to meet up as frequently. We were madly in love if you ask me. I was in love even more because I saw a lot of me in her. Like the female version of me only not like a twin sister, just perfect for a lover. So she understood or made it seem like she understood my almost minimal monetary issues. Fare was always a subject whenever we needed to meet.
I bet many men would relate to this. I could only try so much to postpone or give excuses for not being able to meet up. They had an end considering how strong our communication was. So I’d just admit that fare was the challenge. And guess what?”
“She’d come through?”
“She’d come through real good. Like willingly bro. What was I to do man? I was just in my first year. I couldn’t beat myself for not having money. At the time it didn’t look or feel like it’d be a silent ticking time bomb. Because she came through not once, not twice, not… Eh you guy!”
I’m laughing at the level of reality in that. It can’t be any less amusing.
“However, you know it’s not as if I was proud to have my transport paid by my girlfriend all the time. I’m not that kind of man. I’m naturally a proud man and being dependent on my girlfriend manzeh doesn’t add anything to that pride.”
“I remember this day manzeh, you know they had moved to Thika. They even changed churches but it’s one of these big churches with branches in almost every armpit of Kenya, so not really changed. But ah, you get. They were having this kids’ function that runs for an entire week. She invited me to attend one of the days. The money I had wasn’t enough. It was enough to get me to tao. I come from one of the diasporas too.”
I nod because I feel him.
“Plan was that she’d sort the rest the way. And bro to show you the intensity of my situation, it was only 50 bob Mjango!”
“Wait, you only needed 50 bob to get there from tao?”
“I kid you not! I stood at that Kenya Mpya terminus waiting for 50 bob to check in to my mpesa. I had 10 bob. Hio ni ya kutoa. Well it wasn’t supposed to be an itch in the balls in public until she wasn’t picking up my call. I bet I was on okoa jahazi at the time. Or maybe her phone was off or something. My friend, there was no going back or forward. I had nothing! Wah! that’s one of the times that taught me never to be desperately dependent on anyone.
It was actually very early in the morning. An hour gone, still standing at the same spot, waiting for a miracle or to be arrested for idling if that’s a thing. I was so damn frustrated! Bus after bus gets full and leaves, the touts can see that I look like my destination is Thika but they can tell I was waiting for something. They should have known I was waiting for 50 shillings. I start thinking of any friends who could help without judging. I mean, though I am not from a well off background, even recently a friend of mine, some dude told me that he had and always perceives me as one who comes from a very well off family. And not only me, but my entire family. We carry a rich aura. I would have said vitu kwa ground ni different, but I won’t. I will say,
“Vitu kwa moyo ya Mungu, najua ni different.”
It’s only a matter of time. I have seen and still see signs that things are rising.
Anyway, also you know my peers at the time and even now are not the early rising kind. So who was I going to call at 6.45am to borrow 50 bob? None but one, my cousin. She is like a sister to me. I must have spotted her online at the time and decided to text her. She came through and the moral of that story is that I wasn’t arrested for idling like a potential pick pocket.”
Wah! Let’s take a breather mjango. Grab a glass of water or something. I take a lot of water. I hope you do too. It’s good for your skin. It helped me with acne from when I was 13. I wasn’t admirable especially to the girls. The same girls saw me for the first time again since then – late last year. They couldn’t believe it. From the look on their faces, they wanted not to believe they recognize me. One asked me to share a drink with her later in the day. How lovely of her. But sorry sweetheart, if it had not been for a bottle of water, not Konyagi, on my side throughout my class eight and high school past uni till now, where would I be? Just where would I be? Well, anywhere but most probably not by your side very welcome to share a drink with you. So water yourself guys. Water.Okay commercial break is over. “
“You can imagine just after the Kenya Mpya I boarded leaves the terminus who calls?”
Laughs and clicks, “Babe I’m so sorry, ushapanda gari?” I didn’t even have the strength to confront her ass because I was worn out and two, my guy, she was to pay my fare and she was my fare back as well.
Apart from fare were meals during dates.”
“Mjango nothing reduces a man to ground zero like not having money in the presence of not just your woman but any woman. You’d rather not even show up. Times came when we needed to grab a meal or chill at a food joint. I’m not saying I didn’t always have money. I didn’t have money for everything. I’d have money for my fare and nothing to spare for her treat. And sometimes she’d help in both fronts. Or should I say most times?”
“Did she ever make you feel bad about being less privileged?”
“That’s the thing. She never did. That’s the thing that made me strongly believe in her. That she was true. It made me more determined to catapult myself from this eerie problem called luck. She knew I was determined. She supported me through it. She made me believe that she believes that it would not always be like this. We’re young and shouldn’t expect so much from each other financially. It’s not as if we had a family or were close to having one.
Ah, I’ve remembered. One more case. There’s this time when I was in school. I was staying in the school hostels. That week I hadn’t received upkeep money. Things at home seemed like they had been bumping my folks’ heads on a rock. I was supposed to keep it to myself. My girl wouldn’t and shouldn’t have to know about not having had anything to eat since morning. And that it would probably be like that until the next morning. But you guy I tell you that girl was smart. She had had her way into my heart. She could tell things about me before I mentioned them. Or wasn’t I just a good pretender? Probably like I think she was about some things.
She got really concerned even when I told her she didn’t need to, that I’d sought help from some friends. Wapi! She did her magic back at home, I don’t know how. Sijui she’s got a bank account but is managed by her mum. Wewe she sent me 1500 bro. Never had I received that amount at a go in the name of upkeep. The more reason I thought she was for keeps.”
Another commercial break, Yes? No?
“So when did your skin begin to rub against the saw?”
“When I got a job.”
“But isn’t that a good thing?”
“It was, for me. Though I don’t know why it seemed not entirely good for her. Anyway man, we were barely 20. Relationships are just crazy and immature at that time. The gig was almost paying peanuts. A Little more than peanuts but for a guy in first year, it was a good start, a good experience. I made my first $40 in one month. Problem was that the job was very demanding. It was an online job.
I had tried to get gigs by the way. She knew about them. From academic writing and how it just couldn’t get beneath my skin to freelancing which took a whole lot of bidding until I finally landed one. It took a lot of my time but I don’t think it was enough to make her throw tantrums about why I wasn’t making time for her. I decided to consciously make time but still didn’t seem to be enough. Anyway we got through but it left me wondering. Like, I finally have a way to make money. I took it as an avenue to quit having to depend on her whenever we needed to do our things or even my own upkeep. It was all in view to finally be independent and she’d be a beneficiary of that.
Anyway the gig ended. For the first time, I paid for my own bus fare back to Nairobi from uni. It was an achievement for me. The first few meet ups I took zero shillings from her. I expect that that should have been a good signal for her. It was, seemingly, but not entirely.
I got another gig that was now paying up to 6K a week. That was something man, though I got fired after the second week because it didn’t seem like my thing. I struggled through it.
Then time came when she got some sort of a job. I will not go into details but she was brushing shoulders with big names in the film industry. If at all that was true. The tables had turned. She’s a burp away from joining Uni and she also has a prestigious gig. I was happy for her. It was her time to shine. I didn’t know that her shine would eventually burn my eyes.
This is where I define communication. Communication is not talking all day from morning to evening. Communication is faithfully filling in each other about your lives when you actively make time for each other. At the end of the day, no one feels or ends up still holding a burden from yesterday or events of yesterday or deprived of the other’s whereabouts.
She stopped communicating. She was doing well when the gig was starting. Then, later, she just didn’t. It was a hustle to get a hold of her. Until I realized that she was actively avoiding my attention.
She joined Uni. At some point, it seemed like we were good. In retrospect again, I’ve realised I even didn’t know what exactly she was working on. So, things became even worse when campus hit the airwaves of her life – less communication. Felt like a silent drawback.
What makes me think that money and even status has something to do with the end of us is how she spoke. The things she allowed me to know that she had been up to. Mere highlights about her road trips, flights to Malindi with friends and all what sounded like an expensive brag to me.”
“So while you were busy trying to reach her, she was busy leading a lush life?”
“Pretty much so my friend. Maybe she was going through a growth phase. She didn’t really explain herself. I wonder why even after I begged to know why she was stabbing our relationship in the lungs. She seemed unbothered and evasive of that subject. I was left without closure and reason to believe that I was not in her league anymore. Or maybe I had never been anyway.
Subsequent calls after our break up still had traces of braggadocio. About how she has her own apartment now, maybe a few cheques away from her first car and her investments in bla bla bla without mentioning her continuous rubbing of not just shoulders but hands with big names. She hit a nerve when she dared to tell me that one of them is my role model. Like hell she knows my icon. Ati she was in a meeting and he was present. Ati she said hello after the meeting and she mentioned my name and he sent her to pass his regards to me, his big fan. Shit man! Shit!”
“Eh there there bro. There there.”
“Thanks man. It’s cool. Anyway, I’ll not talk about my achievements not only in light of that but to supersede that. I believe they’ll speak for themselves. But I’m glad she happened. My eyes got opened to women in relation to money.
Let’s say she did all that willingly and out of love. Let’s say she never really expected me to pay back. Let’s say her language of love is giving and giving gifts. The fact I have lived to learn is that just being in the presence of a woman has to cost you. I’m not saying that the value of women is money. No! Not at all. But from the origin of humanity, men were meant to spend on women. Provision is in our DNA, not theirs. They can provide yes, but only unconditionally in special circumstances. Otherwise, a woman may not know this as an individual, but she naturally gets tired of always providing if and when the man is still present. She may really love you mjango without money in the picture, but in my opinion, she’d love you even better if you became the alpha in provision. May I not be taken out of context.
Fact is money is a form of authority. However masculine he may be, a man without money feels powerless. Even when the woman is doing her best to assure him that it’s okay. That it’s only for a season and she will handle it. It’s one of the special circumstances. A foolish man would relax after hearing that. She’s not saying you sit your ass down and raise your legs on the coffee table. She’s saying spare yourself the depression for now. As you re – strategize in the meantime she’ll take care of things.
Sadly, it seems not all women have a heart and understanding like that. Those who have monetized relationships and generally the wind in our generation are making it quite inevitable that money does have its critical place in a relationship. It’s the order of the day whether we like or not. Mwanamke ataendelea kuwa gharama! As men, we can only accept that. But we can do more than accepting and distill our decisions and mentalities to be honest with ourselves. We can establish when we are trying too hard for the sake of a woman or women. (Who knows, you might be the one man – four women type of guy.) It is injustice to us.
Admit to yourself your own capacity and quit putting yourself in situations that prompt you to stretch your account beyond your limit. Filter out women who are all about the money and be honest to those who accept and understand your capacity. Use that to know when to spend on them and when you don’t really have to. Surely in your own capacity you can show her that you’re mindful by paying for a meal or buying her a small gift. At least it will give her more reason to believe that she doesn’t believe in you and your ambitions for nothing. It helps you form a habit, as a man, to make sacrifices and most importantly, learning to provide.
Otherwise, don’t depress yourself over a woman in relation to money. You can as well take some time off from ladies to get things moving. Build your empire first. Soon enough, it will be ready for you to welcome an empress. But the empress is the one who valued you first before the money. Make money with her if you may. If she values you first before the money, it doesn’t mean the money is not important. Pesa muhimu my friend!”