Sometimes our guts tell us things but we just don’t listen. Not because we don’t want to but because we don’t have the nudge to. We will be waiting to sit on a thorn that will send an electric surge through every goddamn nerve ending causing a high voltage resuscitation on our numb brains. That electric shock for Val was a bite, not a dog bite, or a bed bug bite, but a bite from another woman. It doesn’t matter who you are, after such a bite you will have to wake up from the sleep of naivety.
(Read the previous episode here.)
She rolled in bed one last time to close up the sleeping and somewhat cuddle session she had the previous night. Her cognition began to resume back to the awakened world that would present her with the reality of the bed she is lying in one more time, but this time, more painfully and with eerie. That very bed, if given a mouth and a microphone, would rap the names of people who have been on that bed. It would end by narrating how sheets were grabbed and how shit was helplessly and countlessly uttered in the process the previous night. But the bed, remains to be the best secret keeper. Well, unless it breaks. That’s when people will ask, “Ilivunjika ukifanya?” It harbours so many pillow talks; some dark revelations, some with a concoction of tears, some lies and some pure BS like the marriage Val was promised.
Mjango it’s interesting how a man has not one, but two baby mamas and he can still find his way through to a third candidate. I love how crafty we are with our tongues. We can sell a whole island to a woman and she’d buy it. I hate that the real definition of all that is sly. I hate that our currency is lies and we have real estates built using them. I hate that women become the victims of our lies, lies that I just don’t understand how but we just don’t seem to stop. But maybe I do. I do know that we want to win on every side. Home and away.
I hate it more that women feel like they have so much they have to prove. Sometimes it makes them stoop and become so vulnerable just to show someone somewhere, a societal system back at home that they are not a let down to the family or community. She felt so obliged to lie in that bed of thorns with Pal. She constantly shut her pain sensors to the pricks on every inch of the bed. She had been battered numerous times, with body marks to show for it. So the prize to pay for showing mum and relatives that she has not failed as a woman for not being able to date and successfully keep a man was a set of torture from an ego puffed man. A con artist who has found his way to her heart and further down to her skirts just like he did to two other women. One of which was two hours away from unceremoniously showing up.
As the routine was, the first place after waking up is the bathroom to wash away the bad memories of things he had done to her that she believed would not reoccur in future. By 11am, everything that was turned upside down the previous night – that is collateral when two people tangle – was turned back up and everything was neat. Val sat on the bed and eased into the day with movies. Her man made himself useful in his place.
It’s funny how just before a storm there’s a thick cloud of calmness. In the morning you think, this day’s going so great. What you don’t know is that a dung storm is brewing. Val’s dung storm was in a stuffed matatu somewhere in the groins of Mumias, frustrated and gassed up with anger. She was a self-heating pressure cooker in a matatu. No, she would not come and slowly steam off before her baby daddy and the woman she is convinced is stealing his attention away from her and the baby she’s sick and tired of raising. The baby, a little.boy, is already the number one collateral damage caused by the wrangles of two soul tied adults. The baby was already burning because technically, he was being carried by a pressure cooker.
These were minutes away from disaster. The disaster alighted and boarded a motorbike. The bodaboda rider must have felt the heat too. He must have told himself someone was going to get burnt today and as much as bodaboda guys love a good drama, that was not a safe one to attend. He would be glad to sit on the back pews of this while at the stage. Let the rumours from the explosion that was about to go down find him there.
An able bodied woman with a child who was basically handled like a sack of maize alighted at the boma. It was like a day at the beach for the people in the boma. She wasn’t a guest there anyway. Nobody could smell her high radiation levels, save the child she was carrying. Not even Pal, when she stood right outside his door. She pierced her hand through the lock opening and swung the door lock open. In Pal’s thoughts, it’s okay to come by but who the hell has the audacity to just open his house just like that? Oh you must have some balls nigga, he must have said as he craned his neck to see who was the unwelcomed visitor.
It was like being face to face with the devil. Or karma, who is worse than the devil. Immediately, danger began to precipitate for him. Val remains unperturbed since, well though she is a woman who has intruded her man’s house, her guts have not sensed that it’s a situation she needs to get involved in. Well, she was just about to be dragged into it with a wedgie.
Still trying to fathom what was happening, Pal watched what this face he knew wanted to do. The face was very familiar because she was his baby mama number two. He looked at her with the face that says, you’re not supposed to be here. And she looked back with a face that arrogantly roared, but I’m here anyway! She threw the baby wherever he’d land, grabbed the keys and padlock she found near the door, locked from inside and threw the keys out the window. That should have been enough to sound the alarm for Val. It did. But no action was needed yet. We will later thank God she didn’t swallow the keys.
A push and pull of words began between baby mama and Pal. The push and pull about how he has neglected her and has the confidence to court another woman, who apparently is in the room looking undisturbed, culminates into an exchange of words that would cause a government to be torn apart. This one was the government of the baby mama and baby daddy agreement, not relationship. No BBI could solve this one.
The child began to cry as if he had seen a demon. His cry was the signal that things were about to explode, and they did. Words were enough said and it was now time for action. He must have witnessed his mother launch a fist strike on his father and that broke his heart, even though he didn’t understand what was going on. I’m not sure what action she wanted but just action that would relieve her overflowing anger on a man who lied his way into impregnating her. And he had the confidence to court another woman who was proudly and unflustered – sitting on the same bed they made love on.
Pal tried to speak sense into her, in effort not to respond with violence. He was avoiding fighting fire with fire but it seemed like water was not helping.
“Can we at least talk about this like adults?” He’d ask and he’d get another blow for an answer.
Val, now fully informed about what the wrangles were all about, was clinging to dismay and fear. All she could do was watch helplessly as she tried to move about the house to avoid being in their way as they fought. English, Kiswahili and Kiluhya didn’t work for Pal. The man would have to defend himself some other way and in the process, heavy house equipment fell. The fragile and non-fragile met on the ground. Some fell on the baby. He cried even the more. Everything that was in reach was used to hurl at Pal.
Val had never beheld that level of madness in one woman. Throughout the vicious tug of war, Pal would cry out to whoever was outside to throw the keys back into the house.From what it seemed, her intention was to kill everyone in there. When he finally got a chance to go by the window to call out for help, she found an opportunity to turn her anger onto Val. Now woman to woman. That one is as bad as a cat fight. Those ones draw blood quickly. Val is not violent. Neither is she as able bodied as this woman.
She was quickly overpowered and she began to swallow her wrath, punch by punch, pinch by pinch. Val’s best chance of survival was to defend herself before the doors of salvation opened. By then, the members of the homestead, from Pal’s folks, to his relatives and shamba boys and girls were aware of the violent outbreak in their son’s house.
The fight for God knows what was seconds away from turning cannibalistic.
When you refuse to get out of a toxic relationship, and God loves you too much to watch you drown in the sand dunes of Egypt, an Egypt you chose for yourself, He will send a woman from the hell of life to beat you out of it. You will think He is punishing you but He is saving you from your own pit. So because beating you is not enough to jerk your senses, He will let her bite you.
Val managed to lock the baby mama’s hands from beating her any further. She wasn’t aware that there was one weapon, more lethal than all the others baby mamas do carry – that she hadn’t contained. Her mouth. While she was restrained across Val’s shoulders, she bit her back like the predator she had sworn to be that day. That was not a bite like one you do when tasting whether ‘nyama imeiva.” That was no bite like one you take when eating a thick, dry chapati. That’s not even how you bite a guava or an apple. That was how you bite the neck of a deer if you’re a lioness and you haven’t had a meal in three days. She bit a huge chunk on Val’s back, digging into her DNA.
The scream that reflexively rocketed from Val broke the eardrums of Pal’s ancestors, causing them to officially be angry at him.
Val tells me she cried, she cried like a baby. There were now two babies in that house, only that one, had a choice to leave the toxic relationship that was anchored in that house. The smaller baby was in a toxic relationship that planted him into existence. He didn’t have a choice.
People flooded into the house as if to save their fellow human beings from a terrorist attack. They unhinged the baby mama from Val, cuffed her with their hands and carried her out as she threw tantrums like a possessed pig. Val fell to the ground in pain. She let her tears be the last libation to Pal’s ancestors, bidding them to let her go now. She was done with their son.
Today, she has an ugly human bite mark on her upper back, just beneath her shoulder. The rest of that day saw her devise ways to leave, which she finally did the following day. She had to pretend like everything was okay between her and Pal until she left. “You don’t tell a toxic person you’re breaking up with them face to face. They will kill you.”
She told him on text that she was done with him. He didn’t believe it. His egocentric manhood could not dare believe it. Two weeks after she ignored his calls and texts to the point of blocking, it was when it hit him that she was actually gone. One woman in his entire life had gathered the audacity to leave him. He went to her home, welcomed himself and began to cry in their living room.
“Everyone just ignored him because they knew who he was and what he had done to me. I had to tell them the whole story. Eventually he just left, definitely looking like a loser.
I’ve healed so far and I’m fine now. Will I be able to love again? Of course. Why not? But I must tell you that I now know the true meaning of, once bitten, twice shy.”