She hails from the breed of girls who have never known boys and their sweet nothings until after form four. It’s both a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing because like motivational speakers in high school would say, it was delayed gratification. Boys were a source or form of leisure and gratification that was not necessary in primary and secondary years of school. In fact, they are said to be more of a distraction in the lives of girls desiring high achievements.
And look who’s talking, a man who wrote his first letter to St. Georges Girls High School in form one. Candy, a beautiful old friend was on the receiving end. In form three if not later after high school, in the middle of our casual talks she testified about how that letter made rounds in her school – sweeping off girls from their desks as if it was written to them. I have just realised that that shows I was a charm with the pen from light years ago. And now, I am living the dream. Well, not with Candy in the happily ever after just to disclaim.
And so that was the good thing.
The bad thing was that delayed gratification can be a delayed stage of growth. Allow me illustrate mjango.
We were having lunch just as usual in the office one day this past week. Nobody is really my peer around there so I often graze outside the small talks. Small talks that also include politics. What’s an office without political talk anyway? Not that this is a way to usher in a 2022 political aspirant on this podium cunningly. I’d never make you all cheat on me like that – by getting you into the same bed with a politician? God forbid.
They spoke about how it seems some political characters are targets of invisible guns because they are too loud about what seems to be the truth or the political standing they take or the political threat they pose. Stay with me. I’m heading somewhere.
So in other words, they said those are the types that get ‘silenced.’ The conversation grabbed a nearby lane saying that these are the things that spring internal wars. Wars that have us fighting against each other as a country.
One of the big guys in the office walked in and hopped on to the conversation like a professional tout saying, “Wacheni niwaambie kitu moja. It is said even in life, if you don’t do some things at a certain stage, you’re very likely to do them at a later stage which will definitely be the wrong stage.” Drying his hands he continued, “Kenya skipped a stage, it seems. Some of our neighboring countries and countries in the south fought internally and shed a lot of their own blood during their early years of independence. That’s because they were fighting for power among themselves. Now these same countries, if you dare try to as little as insinuate internal war again, watakuambia hio maneno wacha bwana. Ile vitu tumeona hatutaki tena. They are past that stage and now they are one. Whereas sisi hapa Kenya? It seems we haven’t properly learned not to fight against each other. We skipped a stage and now it seems to want to haunt us.”
The stage she probably walked over did come to catch up with her in her first year of university towards the end of 2013. When Candy and I had just phased out the writing of letters. She had her first boyfriend within her first year. It wasn’t a crime. Probably the only crime she was guilty of was being new to love.
She joined the CU and was as active as a church mouse that just got born again. It earned her a position as a Bible study leader. She slowly became friends with older guys who were in CU as well. Call them birds of the same feather. Her first and only love by then, was also in CU, but in a different university in Nairobi. If being active members was a thing they shared in common, he was an instrumentalist. So this one’s a born again church mouse that was in the choir.
She’d hang out with him in his uni whenever she was in Nairobi. Attending services and practices together because she is also a musical bird.
In the spirit of slight digressions which seems to be a little too powerful today, much later I asked her about the realities behind abstinence.
“In my recent interview with Alpha Woman, the first blog in the Young Mum’s Series, she said, as a message to girls, that you may think that when you’re told to abstain from sex before marriage – it doesn’t make sense. That there’s nothing so glorifying about sex that you hear out here. When the consequences come, they come real hard and raising a kid is not a joke. If you have a kid already, that’s the greatest blessing you could ever have but if you don’t yet, don’t wait to experience it. Hear it from us who have experienced it.”
I said that was very inspiring and right for her to say.
“But then I want to probe the reality behind the part she, like many of us out here say everyday that, “When you’re told to abstain, it doesn’t make sense.” Sure,” I said, “It makes a whole lot of sense. The only surest way to stay out of trouble is to abstain. But just why don’t we ask ourselves why it doesn’t seem to make sense to our young hearts and minds? Don’t you see that abstinence is preached all over but it seems to be as water sermons to drunkards? Why don’t we probe the reasons why it doesn’t seem to make sense? Probe the reality behind failed abstinence because damn right everybody knows all about it. Probe the reasons why we fail to abstain. Is it possible that we have been preaching abstinence in the wrong way? That we aren’t applying realism along with it? And part of that realism is that people talk about abstinence like sexual desire is just like an itch that can be scratched away.”
She was dumbstruck for a while.
Then she said, “My mum once told me it is unrealistic to have a boyfriend without sex in the relationship. Not to say it is not possible, but it is unrealistic to remain chaste while having a boyfriend in these present times. By then, I thought she was so wrong because that boyfriend and I had managed to shut sex out throughout our entire relationship, or at least I thought.” She laughed.
“But whenever we hung out in his school, when the time to sleep came, off I went to sleep at the girls’ hostel. When you keep your relationship strictly away from indoor hang outs, it is possible to abstain. Until it’s not. Because I disagreed then and agreed later after life showed me things” We both laugh.
“Today, when you happen to love someone, you trust them to the levels of conviction that you can share much more than your time with them. Much more like your body. When love is in the picture, it’s hard to make sense of abstinence. And I think those are things you’re right to probe in this casual talk about abstinence.”
“Aha! You see? So let’s objectively approach it this way. The reasons why our young generation is failing to abstain. Based on our experiences. Number one?”
She quickly said love and we laughed in agreement.
“Yes in the name of love. And two, in the name of fun.”
“In the name of exploration.”
“But a good number of times, exploration is as a result of broken love.” She said.
Damn, that’s so accurate, I thought. You just want wild and out.
On the Easter of 2015, her second year of university saw her experience her first ever heartbreak. It must have felt how a pig feels when a spear is driven across its gut and out through its, yes! It is one thing to be heartbroken because your love has found new love elsewhere. But it’s another thing to be heartbroken because your love has been, and not ‘has just,’ but has been cheating on you definitely without your knowledge.
It was probably supposed to go a bit smoother on her because he was the one who confessed to it.
“I was in shock! I couldn’t believe it. We used to talk a lot. Every night for hours and nothing he ever said or did made me suspect him.”
“Kwani how did he cheat?”
“He was paying for sex.”
My face turned into a moon emoji.
“He told me that sometimes practice would be at night from 10pm, but not all of those times were music practice.”
“They were practicing for something else eh.”
“And slowly by slowly, we began to drift. Or let me say I began to drift. I thought it was a no sex relationship only to know that he was getting it elsewhere.”
It was impossible to love him the same way. To hell with love is blind. Okay, if it is then it doesn’t mean it cannot smell shit. Because the more you stick around, probably soon enough it will be served on a plate. Let’s not say she didn’t try to overlook the devious extent of this betrayal. Like any lover, she must have contemplated and tried to bargain with his good side. The bargaining meetings would probably even extend to her sleep, only to wake up and have her roommate say that she was mumbling all night.
Her roommate knew her plight more than anyone else at the time. Witnessing first hand how she lost the zeal of life. Dragging through like limbless zombie to class, church and back. Church must have also not been of so much help. A miracle healing from a broken heart would do. But some miracles are hidden behind time. And time was one of the things she just didn’t have the heart to wait for. That good book says that love covers a multitude of sins. But if you ask her, even she knows some sins are more than scarlet. Too red to be covered. It stains the cover.
The breaking point she had so long kept high reached. Probably sneaking in through the space beneath the door and crawling into bed with her. The following day, it was clear that a heartbreak is enough to decree, “To hell with everything! Let’s try this thing.”
Kennar (not his real name) was the friend among the clique of boy friends she had made from CU. He had graduated and was working already. Seems he was qualified for more than engineering.
“Are you sure about this?” He asked her.
“Yes I am.”
“We don’t need to do this you know?”
“I know. But I want to.”
As a man, he had done justice to confirm and reconfirm consent. It was more than just a rare opportunity, it was a request from a good friend. One he admired. Sembuse admiring her in her nakedness. Woah mjango! Woah!
“Shit! You’re a virgin!” I remember him saying.” She tells me. “At the end of it, I thought to myself, “Is that what everyone sings of so highly? Is that what that nigga cheated on me for?”
The spree continued. The heavens must have appointed her roommate to help break the spree. It was no different from sending a church mouse to a witch hunt. (What’s with me and church mice today though.)
April 26th 2016, was the night to remember. It was the night the heavens granted her what she had been asking and even begging for unconsciously. The good Lord, who continues His work of creation in a woman’s womb – deposited not one but two little human beings in her.
Exams began on 5th May. This past Monday, her periods finally arrived after delaying for a whole week. They do happen but she said her monthly visitors are the most timely visitors any girl could ever have. So I remember forming a simile in my head, ‘As Timely As Her Periods.’ So when she missed her periods just around when her exams began, she without doubt knew she was officially sitting for life’s exam as well.
“The child is in the manufacturing stage.” That’s what I texted Kennar. Then he called to confirm what he had just read. I don’t know why when he came to see me, I got so mad at him all of a sudden.”
Like fork you nigga? I asked myself.
“He took me to the clinic, paid for pregnacare. It’s more expensive but being in the field of nutrition I know these things and what’s best. Speaking of nutrition, I hate this course. If it wasn’t for it I wouldn’t get pregnant.” She laughs. “The day that triggered my hanging out with Kennar more was when we were sent to the field on a class assignment. It involves assessing patients. So you get a patient and they’d be your assignment till the end. Coincidentally that same day, I went to the hospital and guess who I met there. He had taken his dad to hospital and he insisted that he takes me to say hello. Well on the brighter side I easily got myself a patient. The other side is I visited their home more often, got to know the family and all. Now look what it got me.” Giggles again.
“I didn’t tell anyone for quite a long time. I went home for a long holiday. Home is in Kitengela by the way. Kwa Wamasai. I would quarrel with people over petty things till they wonder whether I’m okay. There’s this day mum went to town. I texted her saying, ‘Mum please come with strawberry ice cream. I’m pregnant.’ She didn’t reply. She brought the ice cream and my small sister and I ate a lot. I had never really experienced the form of sickness that comes with pregnancy. But let me tell you after that day I became terribly sick. Like it was just waiting for me to say I was pregnant. My dad used to ask what’s wrong and my mum would just say, “Ni ulcers.”
Someday weeks later mum asked, “Ati what were you telling me the other day?”
I stayed with my aunt while I was in attachment. I never used to really talk to my dad. I knew he’d be mad. So my aunt, dad’s sister was tasked to find out what was wrong with me. I told her I was pregnant and that I don’t want to hear so many words about it especially from my dad. A meeting was convened and my aunt spoke on my behalf. Everything was okay. I still remember my dad asked, ni mkabila gani? After I answered he was like, Mluhya!”
The best gift you can ever offer anyone is support. Just being there. Towards her delivery, the expected delivery of a boy and girl by the way, her entire family, relocated to Kakamega save for her dad who visited occasionally. It was December holiday.
“Schools had opened in September. I was too heavy to travel to Nairobi. So they arrived, and the following day, on 26th, I delivered.”
“Isn’t that so nice,” I said.
I lost one baby.”
She sighs out heavily.
Breathes in heavily.
And out again heavily.
I could hear her trying to hold back tears. I stay quiet, documenting her pain that she later says she has never talked about. I read the anguish behind a reopened wound from the sound of her wetting nose through the phone call.
“I think that’s enough for today.”
“Yes sure.” I say. “Thank you we’ll talk.”
She’s pursuing her masters now but not as much as she’s pursuing the title of best mum on earth to a three year old lovely girl. Turning four this December. I hear her every time in the background when we talk. An adorable little soul with a heart-melting little voice. One time, I called and she picked up. A cute “Hello” followed. “Sasaaa?” “Pooa.” “Unafanya nini?” Mumbles some baby talk and I get to hear at the end, “na Jayden.” “Oh ukona Jayden?” Whoever in baby world Jayden is. “Eeh!” “Sawaa.” Running out of things to say because I am as good with babies as I am with a jembe. You dig it? Yeah I can even dig my foot.
I ask her mum who Jayden is suspecting it must be the boyfriend. He’s their infant cousin who was visiting. Shame on me. But in my defense she had once mentioned a Jayden, son of her friend who she said was too good looking for life. He wants him for her daughter. He’s four. Hehe.
There’s this time I heard them debating over who is the Queen and Princess.
“Hapana me ndio Queen na you’re my Princess.”
“Mum na prince?”
The mum laughs and I smile.
“Hapana wewe sio Prince. Wewe ni Princess. There’s no Prince. I’ll bring him to you one day.”
I say an inaudible Amen.
Whenever she leaves the room, I hear, “I love you mama.” “I love you too honey.” And I just die a little.