WHAT’S ON THE OTHER SIDE?

He could hear them converse in low tones. At first, he thought they were at least three but as he approached them, he could hear more distinct voices arguing and asserting what they were talking about. He wanted to turn back and run but his weak legs carried him forward. He tiptoed in a bid not to make any noise that would warrant their attention. He moved in the darkness approaching the railway crossing. This was his final bridge as he crossed over to safety. 

At this very crossing he had heard cries of grown men as they wrestle at first to protect their belongings then a few minutes trying to fight for their lives. He could hear the voices as they drowned over blood and pain. They were growing stronger by the minute. Each step he took, came with a different plea of mercy.

“Help me,” one begged.

“Help me please,” another one requested as he choked over in his own blood. 

“Why are you doing this?” this seemed genuine.

“Why me?” this one shook him to the present. 

He tried squinting his eyes to adjust to the darkness but he couldn’t see beyond his nose. The darkness was thick and as black as his skin. He soldiered on.

As his feet touched the railway metal, he felt a cold hand touching him, as something colder came in contact with his back. He knew exactly what it was and as such kept his cool. His voice disappeared along with his courage. In their place was fear and tears that threatened to drop any minute. 

In front of him stood three guys in their mid-twenties dressed in pair of jean trousers and t-shirts that had imprints of Vybz Kartel before and after he bleached. They shone a torch on his face. His eyes twitched trying to adjust to new light. He met them, the ruthless five.

One of them was busy emptying his pockets as they remained silent. No one spoke for a minute before Karim got his voice back. 

“I don’t have much, please don’t harm me.”

He was doing the opposite of what the victims did. He had learnt from them that caring more of your belongings will leave you lifeless and so he wanted to live. 

The short one busy in his pockets, took out everything even from his jacket. Karim remained still not to attract the piercing as he felt the coldness parting his skin on the back. He wanted to live; his mind went on an overdrive. 

“I can take you to my home if you want more. I am from a funeral.”

Silence.

They went for his jacket, then his t-shirt and his shoes after which his trouser came off. He did not complain. He wanted to live.

“Do you know Mercy, the famous street dancer.”

“Yes, I do, what about her?”

“Well, she sends her regards.”

With that Karim was dropped to the ground. Blows and kicks landed from every side. He could feel his ribs crack as his breathing became troubled. His heartbeats increased. His brain was fighting to find the best way out of this. All he did was lay on his stomach and covered his head with his hands. The kicks concentrated on his ribcage. 

A few meters after the railway crossing on the sixth floor of the house number 23F overlooking the crossing was his mother in the sitting room. She had been calling him for the past one hour warning him of coming home late but he was already late. She grew patient and let him handle it as a big man. She concentrated on TV as she tried keeping her eyes occupied.

When the cries landed on her ears, she felt a sharp pain cutting across her stomach. The voice was so familiar, so familiar that had her heart racing. She knew at once something bad was imminent. 

She called.

It went through but remained unanswered.

She was pacing around the house, visiting each room in trying to calm down but her mind didn’t allow her. She called again. This time it was off. And so, she knew something was off. She went directly to her neighbor’s. 

“Hodi, hodi, hodi, hodi.” The normal three times didn’t suffice. She resorted to knocking which turned into a soft banging before the door flung open. Before her stood a heavy-set man in his vest and shorts. His eyes were drowsy from being woken up.

“Ni nini wewe kwa milango za watu usiku hivi?”

“My son. Mtoto wangu.”

“What’s wrong with him? Isn’t he supposed to be at that funeral thing with Mercy?”

“No, he left early to come home. I thought Mercy is home too.”

“No.”

“I have heard cries by the crossing and I think that’s him. He wants my help.”

“Really, I didn’t hear anything. What makes you be so sure its him?”

“A mother knows.”

“Well then let’s go but first carry anything to defend yourself with. She went back to her house and came with machete. Her neighbor shook his head as they hurried off down the stairs.

Stuck like a pig, Karim bled. His broken ribs had injured his lungs and so breathes were shorter. His voice was indistinct, he made unintelligent noises with a few short words.

“Why would M…m… want me de…”

He hadn’t realized he was alone and so he went on asking. A few seconds later the heart palpitations increased as his blood loss was extreme. His brain was fighting for the little blood he had as his heart tried to pump it.

In the fogginess of the moment, he saw him with his mother. This was his first time seeing them after seeing him on pictures. He was handsome with an athlete body. He had a weird moustache that was well kept. Karim smiled as he tried calling him out.

“Father, fa…ther”

He closed his eyes. It was over.

His mother and the neighbor crossed the bridge to find him growing cold with pools of blood all over the place. Karim had travelled by train.

His mother gave him one final look closely before collapsing. It was done.

SOME LINKS ARE LONGER

I remember seeing you for the first time. You were dressed in the normal school girl uniform. Happy, just over the top.

You had an air around that pushed people away though some just wanted to be closer to you. I observed from a distance. You were too beautiful for a primary school kid. We didn’t talk, let alone shake hands. I just looked at you and respected you or feared you, I still don’t know.

You went to the podium, fellow school kids stood around you. You were ready to shine, show them what you are made of. Your mother kept smiling at you, cheering you on. I wondered where you got the courage to talk in front of a crowd. Slowly you began, a poem was in order. Our retiring teacher was ready to be sent off. 

You put on an amazing show and by the time it was over everybody was applauding, this was your day too.That was five year before we met. We didn’t meet after that, all I heard was that your mother was a teacher and you were a class ahead of me. This had me thinking but time went by. Slowly by slowly you were growing out of my mind. Funny thing is I always visited your village for football games and school games but I never saw you. It was the first and last until five years later.

We were now in form four, our last year. High school was over, as exhilarating as it was, I was afraid. I had no idea what was going to happen. Growing up in the village had its perks but life was streamlined into one straight line, you go to school, study, some drop out at class eight others in high school and those who get to form four the closer it gets the harder it becomes and finally when done, you marry and start a family of your own as you await death.

It was during our first term break that I met my schoolmate at home. I knew him from how popular he was at school. It felt good seeing him and just like that we struck a liking in each other. He had a Chemistry exam paper in his hands.

“Hii ni paper gani?” I asked while stretching my hand to take it.

He gave it out effortlessly. He had answered some questions and left the rest. I went through the paper and excitedly began answering, it was both challenging and easy. A moment passed and I gave him the paper right before he asked if I could help him with the paper.

“Ni ya nani kwanza? Mbona nikusaidie na hata sijui mwenyewe?”

“Ni dem fulani, mtoi wa madam.”

“Madam yupi?”

“Aaa, twende nikuonyeshe basi.”

“Okay.”

Just like that we left the football pitch to go and meet the girl.

We took 5 minutes and then there was your gate. Ready for visitors but still unwilling to welcome them. Fear gripped me in the moment, I was afraid to walk. He kept urging me forward and as such I had to hide my fear. We came by the entrance. You were by the study room. Seated with a novel in your hand. The TV was on, the stereo system booming whatever the TV gave. The songs were loud to our taste and we enjoyed them. 

“Sasa, naitwa Ian.” 

I tried recalling where I had seen you before but my mind failed me. I went along with everything. You didn’t introduce yourself. I left for the living room, sat at a comfortable corner to watch the TV. He remained by you as you talked in low tones. It was my first time at your home. I absorbed everything slowly as I listened to music. It was beautiful.

You called me or sent for me. He came in and I followed him. We sat at the study table as you waited for me to talk. Trying to be funny I asked, “Wewe ndio mtoto wa madam?”

You didn’t respond.

Mulindi introduced us to each other and said that I could help you answer the Chemistry question. It was my time to shine and shine. 

It took us a while as we combed through the paper, answering theory questions before sinking into calculations. You seemed to be understanding but kept saying, “Hata mimi sielewi but endelea tujaze hii paper.”

Time flew and your parents came home and it dawned on me that you were the poetry girl. The one I had forgotten about. You were now a lady, a beautiful one more so.

Your father came in first and found us absorbed in the paper. He was impressed by how discursive it was. He greeted us and left for the bedroom. He came a moment later and suggested that we should form a study group. It was a great idea owing to the timing that the national exams were a few months away. We agreed as we walked out with Mulindi. I thanked him and asked for your name.  As I left for home, I wanted to be back there with you, I wanted to just sit with you and not talk. I wanted to be close by your side. The next time we were to meet was after our KCSE examination.

Once we got to school for the second term, life just went to the norm. Surprisingly we did the same paper we had discussed as our midterm exam. The ‘Pavement paper’ was difficult but for the Chemistry paper it was easy. We met with Mulindi in the evening. I wanted to see if he had a glimpse of the different papers since we were doing the whole Pavement series. Life went on as usual. I met with Mulindi, spent time together as the term sluggishly went on.

A time came when we had to host Kaimosi Girls for a bench-marking, it was an inning during the second term. We hosted them and as expected we were friendly. Being boys, we just had to cajole some of them. I talked to one, her name was Melissa. 

“Mambo, by the way I have friends in your school.”

“Poa, wako form?”

“Ni mmoja tu, ako form three.” 

“Oh, huyo siwezi mjua, I’m Melissa by the way. “

“Ian. Where do you come from? I mean mtaa ni gani?”

“Kakamega, huko ndio home.”

Back then most high schoolers had their supposed homes in Kakamega and as it turned out she was one of them. Luckily her home was a village away from mine and so we talked of things we missed, of things we could do while at home.

Our second lesson had us separated. I was doing Physics and her, CRE. We went to different classrooms.

During the last lesson we reunited and I gave her my mom’s number. She promised to call or at least write a letter. Being in the lawn tennis team, I had to go for a bunch of games at their school but I never saw her. Then, I received a letter from her a month later. She was doing okay, happy if I am to say. I met Mulindi and shared the letter. Seeing it was from Melissa, he went silent for a second.

“Bro, acha nikushow kitu.”

He took out five letters from the same girl and I went through them. As heartbreaking as it was, we had to decide. I remembered you, I wondered why he couldn’t have you and leave us alone. I wondered why you were so close to each other than he was to the other girl. If only he could stay in his village or the village next to him, we could be squabbling. He remained adamant. As the school took a break for half term, I remained with several others for the 2nd term games. We had several games at Chavakali High. Judging by the talk of town, this was going to be an easy loss and we would be back to our studies. Chavakali high was rumoured to have the best players.

When the day arrived, we traveled from Nyang’ori High to Chavakali, where we met the teams at the gate. The Chavakali team was already warming up. Being the first day, we spent it warming up and planning for the games. The next day in the morning, we came early for the start. The hype yesterday had us drained of any hope to ever proceed from the county level. We watched as Chavakali defeated Emusire Boys 3 sets to 0. Our turn came, we had to come up with a plan for our doubles team. I had to receive it after which my partner finished. We managed to thrash them 3 sets to one. I went home the next day ready for the regional level. 

I met Mulindi by the road as I was headed home. It was around five thirty in the evening. He wanted me to take him to Melissa’s home. It felt bitter but I told him off softly. I asked if we could go another day. I gave him an ambiguous direction by pointing to the general direction of Melissa’s home. We didn’t meet until December Holidays after exams. We were done with high school.

In December, we came by your house twice. You were happy to see us or so you seemed. We talked for a while each time before I excused myself to go home.

By the time December was over, the relationship between us was growing slowly but not steadily. January came and I started teaching at a local high school in Melissa’s village. We talked as often as we could then eventually grew apart. She went on her way. By the time the KCSE results came we were strangers. You were fully into the picture. I was happy for you in every way. You had passed.

Came April, a month I started doing computer packages, your dad suggested that we go with you. Mulindi was long gone by then. So a journey to where we are today began. The period we spent together, always seemed short, was the best. As raw as I was, you always sparked emotions in me. After the packages, I came to your house. Sometimes we were all alone. Helped you do the homestead chores to an extent I saw fit. A month went by and we had to apply for our Colleges. You had your way and I had mine. You applied first and kept the details to yourself. As fate would have it, we were to go separate ways. A week went by and you traveled to the big city- Nairobi. At home I had to keep myself busy and happy at the same time. We used to chat but it was never the same. I came to know that I cannot make stories during a chat so most of them ended prematurely. A gem had been washed back into the ocean.

One time I recall asking you out, throwing myself at you to which you replied that I was a joker, I was too much of a joke to you.

August came, I traveled to Nairobi. I had to stay with my uncle. He has just lost his wife. Life seemed a bit in order. I thought we could meet then, maybe in the city I would have the courage to confess. Time went by and you went back home to prepare for university. We could not meet until 1 year later during the long holiday.

In university life changed, you changed. I could feel it in your texts and whenever I called you. I wanted to be with you but then distance and the university came between. Girls in college had an appetite for higher life, they grew up really fast. I was left thirsty, holding onto memories that turned painful as each day passed. I still had the crazy idea that we would be together one day. I called you every weekend, joked around and checked where you were. It was great always hearing your voice, as I lay on the bed, it would be a soothing voice. Other weekends you will not pick, I concluded you were busy and indeed you were busy. Other days you will call to talk about how life was, how cruel it had become, we were slowly adulting and just like a caterpillar is afraid of the cocoon we were afraid of the process. It seemed painful, it was painful.

I remember, the time you called, I sensed a break in your voice as if a tear was building up. You had gone to visit some guy and somehow he ended up mistreating you. I didn’t ask where you were, there was not much I could do after all.

You talked for some time before saying goodnight. I did not get a chance to say my piece. We went silent on each other for almost a month.

I later called, I teased you of how you had changed, of how you would narrate your escapades to me, he who was after you. I teased you of how beautiful you always were, I teased about how it would have been, really visualizing life in my head and to that you laughed but to me it felt possible, it felt real. It felt like I was all I got.

 I have always been a loner, talked to few people so friendships to me were not easy but from your stories I could see that you were doing well in every angle. Life in Egerton was great, it was good for you. I dreamt of visiting but money was tight. I thought of coming after you but straining to has never been my forte.

We went through college, a time came I dropped by yours for a graduation but you had long gone home. I took pictures just to show you I was around. Years went by and we were done, graduations happened. I promised I would come to yours but only if you could spare time for mine. You asked me what my mother would think. I paused for a while before answering and with that you never came. You had a homecoming I heard. It was great I heard. You really enjoyed yourself, I heard.

I came home later and we met, for a brief moment but it was great, you were not big, still beautiful.

We hugged for the first time ever and you bade me goodbye. As you walked I could visualize all the futures we could have had, the one bound to happen, the ones impossible to happen – these were only possible to me. I could see you by my side, my strength, my addiction, I could see myself obsessed by you. I could see you in every foreseeable future but I knew it was all a bubble bound to burst. You were a pearl only to be seen, I could not touch you, No. Touching you would ruin the magic, would render you useless. You walked away, you walked out of my heart and you kept walking. All I could do was watch. I watched you go.

ALICIA

I laid on the bed like a gecko busking in the sun, I had taken an early lunch after a marathon of 24-hour fasting. I could have gone for 48 hours but my unwilling body gave in. I was growing weak by the minute as breathing seemed forced. I had to eat and so lunch came around 11 in the morning. I took a shower afterwards and took my phone to bed for a heart to heart with my girlfriend as I waited for her arrival.

On the sink were dirty dishes from lunch and a day ago, beside the door to the washroom was a pile of dirty clothes but I was too lazy to work on them. The bed had clothes all over with the duvet on the side, opposite the sheet exposing the worn-out mattress. It was a Saturday that had me lazing around the house.

I shifted my body in a bid to feel comfortable as the bed creaked to accept my weight. I was sweating after taking a hot shower in the middle of the day. I turned again, this time facing the ground with my phone in my hands.

I was busy on Twitter as I waited for her response. The lone text read, “Upo” without a question mark but it felt wrong as I meant to ask, “Uko?” It had been sitting there for an hour awaiting her response which was taking ages to arrive. I dived into the trends of the day as I try not to lose my head over her delayed response.

Twitter became boring as the feeds became flooded with everyone selling something, from shoes to clothes and apps that may or may not help you. Everyone was trying to advertise something and with that I switched to Instagram.

On the bed with only a short I went through the feeds before clicking on the search button and scroll downwards through the reels and pictures-beautiful people. As I went through the pictures, well dressed people, I felt poor. An overwhelming feeling of brokenness set in, but I went on scrolling. The various challenges came on of people showing off and each reel affected me differently. I was spinning on my bed.

Realizing that all those emotions were elicited by the posts I crossed over to Facebook, here the environment was calm. I resonated with every post, every piece of gossip, I handed out likes like a god giving out blessings.

It was now an hour and 30 minutes since I texted her. I decided to call.

The call went through, as I listened to the call trilling, I breathed in, finding words that would seem calm and at the same time demanding. I was angry at her, at her late replies and I didn’t want to show that, so I breathed in and let out a long gush of air.

She didn’t pick.

I called again and again but the calls went unanswered. My anger was growing trying to rationalizing why she was not picking.

“Maybe she was busy.”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Maybe she is in a Matatu.”

“Probably.”

“She always has her phone on her hands especially in vehicles.”

“Yes? So no on the Matatu.”

“What could she be doing?”

I called once more just to make sure she was avoiding me. I went ahead and called her through another number. She picked up the phone.

“Hello.”

“Where are you?”

“Who’s this?”

“Really? It is Dude.”

“Oh, let me call you in a few.”

Before I could say anything, the phone went dead. I threw the phone on the bed and took my laptop. My anger was slowly consuming me, I felt useless for a moment trying to comprehend what she was doing. I was restless even with the laptop on my laps. I could not concentrate.

I stood up and decided to clean up the house. I piled every dirty clothes and beddings together by the washroom door. I spread the duvet on the bed and went for the sink. I cleaned the utensils as my breathing came down to the normal rate. I mopped the house and went to do laundry. I was done by 2 in the evening. I checked my phone. No calls. No texts.

I texted her.

“Hey, kwani uko?”

It went without a reply.

At 3 in the evening I called her, her phone was off. I resorted to sleeping.

An hour into sleeping, I heard my phone ringing. I assumed the first call but the caller became persistent.

It was a new number.

“Hello, what do you want?”

“Hello.”

A soft-spoken voice could be heard from the other end.

“Dude, it’s me Alicia.”

“Really? Finally, you have called. Whose number is this? Where are you?”

“It doesn’t matter how long, but I called. I am with friends but I will come by, the day is not yet over. Can you lend me like a 1000 bob?”

“Okay.”

The call was ended with that. I sent her a thousand shillings and waited for five minutes before calling to confirm she had received the same. She promised to call me later.

I went back to sleeping.

Another call came in at 11 in the night. She had called with another number.

“Dude could you help me with five hundred shillings please?”

I clicked as I sighed.

“Why are you clicking? Kindly help me, I will refund you. I am stuck here and the friends I had have left.”

“Where are you?”

“I am at a club in Westy.”

“Which club?”

“What’s up with the questions? Don’t you trust me?”

“I want to know where you are. Is that too much to ask?”

“Help me with the money, and if you can’t just say so and stop wasting my time with useless questions.”

“I am sorry, I care about you, you know.”

“If you care about me then send the money.”

“Okay honey.”

The call ended as I sent her the money and went to the washroom. I came back and whipped out a meal of eggs and tea. I ate as I thought of Alicia. As beautiful as she was, she behaved so differently when dealing with me, so worse than when she is with her so called friends. The friends who could not help her when is stuck.

“And was she drunk?”

Her voice was breaking.

“Where was she getting the phones to call me? Could she just call me using her phone?”

I went back to bed, angrier than I was before. I placed my phone beside my head just in case and drifted off in sleep.

An hour later she called.

As usual with a new number.

“Dude, where are you?”

“I am at home.”

“Oh, and how did the name Dude come into being?”

“Alicia why are you calling me this late into the night?”

“Don’t ask me silly questions. Can I not call my love any time I want?”

“Go home Alicia, you’re drunk.”

“Did you buy me any liquor tonight? Who are you to tell me when to go home?”

“I may have funded a half of your fun tonight so tone down your attitude.”

“Your measly 1500 shillings did not buy anything substantial plus I will refund you when I get the money.”

“What do you want then?”

 “I have forgotten.”

I ended the call and went back to sleep.

An hour later, she called again, with a different number. She was crying.

I was moved as I wished I was there to comfort her.

“What’s wrong Alicia?”

She continued crying.

“Hey Alicia, talk to me.”

“Dude I have been mugged.”

“Where are you? Are you okay?”

“I am…fine. I don’t know where I am but let me try to ask around.”

“Just be careful.”

“I will.”

She ended the call.

I called her back immediately.

“Stay on the phone I want to know what’s going on.”

“I can’t, I have to give the phone back.”

“The ask the guy where you are before giving him the phone.”

“I am still in Westy, just a few meters from the Delta Stage.”

“Okay, let me get you an Uber.”

“No, Dude just come for me.”

“I can’t, let me get you a ride I will pay.”

“Okay, but I just wanted you here with me. I am cold you know.”

“Okay, I am coming.”

I ended the call and dressed as fast as I could. My heart was racing as I smiled in a bid to curb the excitement building in my heart. I ordered a ride and waited outside the gate. A minute went by and I was on the road to meet the love of my life.

“Why are you going to Westlands this late?”

“I am going to pick up somebody.”

“Sending them a ride might have been cheap and easier.”

“I know, it is girl and I think she might be in trouble. She was mugged.”

“Shit, is she okay? Should I step on it?”

“I don’t know. That will be helpful.”

We flew on Manyanja road into Outering road then poured into Thika Road then branched into Forest road and into Ojijo Road. We went by Ring Road roundabout straight towards Delta stage. As we approached, no one was at the stage. The driver packed the car as I convinced him to keep the journey going. I tried the same number we spoke through last. It was off.

My heart grew weary, I started sweating. I threw glances all over the place before seeing her coming from my left. She was dressed skimpily in a short black dress that was low on her right hip exposing it and had a lace on the left. The back was exposed as well as the cleavage. She seemed comfortable. I saw her.

I rushed to hug her as the stench of liquor slapped me heavily. I hugged her nonetheless and offered her a sweater. She wore it and we got into the car. The ride back was quiet until Alicia awoke from her sleep. She was nauseated. As she looked outside the window noticing that we were on Outering road, she made a disgusted look before vomiting.

The driver looked at me via the rear-view mirror and shook his head. I could feel his gaze on me as I tried not to look at him. I was ashamed but I had to act strong. I didn’t want an argument and so I asked to pay for it.

A few minutes later we were at home. I opened the gate and handed her the keys to the house as I sorted the driver. He declined payment for the vomit.

“Bro, the best you can do for yourself is to let go of this girl. She is not doing you any good.”

“I know, I just wish I had the courage to walk out.”

“Nobody will give you the courage, find it within you.”

“Thank you.”

I paid him a total of 2500 shillings. My rent was now half spent. I knew the money I had lend her was never coming back and so I had to find a solution to my rent problem.

As I walked back to the house, my heart was heavy, my mind was thinking of what the driver had said. Leaving her was for my own good. I repeated it twice, “Leaving Alicia was for my good.”

I had to articulate it in a bid to make it real.

I found her on the stairs doubly bed over choking on her vomit. Her breaching was slow. I sucked some of the vomit from the nose and took her into the house. I took her to the washroom, prepared hot water, washed her and dried her before dressing her in my sweatpants and a t-shirt. I placed her on the bed while she pretended to be dead asleep all this time.

I covered her and watched her sleep before joining her while facing the other side. I woke up from my sleep to find her looking at me. Lights were on, it was four in the morning.

“What are you doing?”

“I am just staring at you.”

“How long have you been doing that.”

“Not long enough, you know I love you.”

I smiled in pain as my heart became excited and my mind raced against the excitement. I knew I had to let her go if I wanted to leave peacefully.

“I know.”

WHEN MORNING WILL COME

She waited on the bed covered with white sheets and red pillows by the sides. He was in the washroom for the third time that night. They had not done anything but he frequented the bathroom as if looking for something. She had tried her best to satisfy him, to make him rise to the occasion but today as he had explained earlier, he had a lot on his mind. She waited patiently after being awoken from her peaceful sleep. She kept looking at her phone.

She wore a cream nightie that had a fine finishing of laces just at the knee, her succulent brown thighs remained exposed for his satisfaction but tonight they just didn’t do it for him. She sat at the edge of the bed facing the door to the washroom, slightly exposing her inner thighs. She wanted to give him or rather serve him as he always wanted.

He came back from the bathroom as he tried to tie his shorts and adjust his vest over the protruding belly. He smiled at her as his eyes darted from her meek beautiful face to her alluring thighs. He couldn’t get enough of those hips but tonight he was not having any.

“Come here.”

She beckoned him with her fingers in a way to direct him to her. She rolled back to the bed ready to embrace him. He moved as clumsily as he could. His heartbeat increased ready to pump blood to his designated destination but something hindered it. He walked towards her nonetheless. Maria coiled herself on the bed in a seductive way in a bid to show him what he was missing. Peter Kweru moved onto the bed. In his eyes, the doubt and fear were all over. He did not understand why this was happening to him. He recalled sending her the risky texts and her riskier responses and how they planned to have this, a whole night to themselves.

“Let me help you with that,” Maria said so as she went for the shorts. She wanted him naked and ready to pounce. For some reason, he was so reluctant tonight.

“No, I will do it myself.”

Peter took the chance to get her warm hands off his body and peeled away. He went back to the washroom.

He opened the door and locked it behind him. He dropped his shorts and looked at his shriveled member. He felt sorry, for the first time. He was a forty years old man with what seemed like erectile dysfunction. He took it into his hands and started stroking it, the motion increased in pace as he saw it respond. His excitement showed on his face a brimming smile drew showing his yellow, tobacco-stained teeth. He was doing it. He kept going.

A minute went by and he was ready to open the door. Maria looked at her phone. No notification yet.

“Honey.”

“Yes?”

“Get ready I am coming.”

“For real, I have been ready since we got here.”

“Okay, I think you will get what you came for. I am actually rising to the occasion.”

As he opened the door, his member in his hands, and walk out half-naked, he felt the overwhelming softness. He felt it going soft in his hands. He didn’t bother to look down there. Maria watched the whole episode with disgust. She was somehow ready for him but as time went by, she became grateful as she didn’t have to do the heavy work and most likely he was going to pay her handsomely tonight. Just as compensation.

Peter Kweru turned as his face dropped and went back to the bathroom.

“Why do you think this happening?”

“As I had said earlier, it might be a hindrance in my mind. I have beaver experienced this before. You know me.”

“I do, that’s why I was really looking forward to this but well, we don’t always get what we deserve or want.”

Maria went back under the cover of the duvet and faced the other side. He came back and joined her on the bed. He resorted to sleeping.

Under the covers, he placed his crotch directly on her bum as the smooth skin touched him emitting a heat that was slow to affect him. He concentrated on his sleep. Maria felt the growth touching her as she smiled sheepishly. He was really doing. The power of the butt.

Peter did not take notice of the rise as he had assumed that it was one of those phantom erections he was to get as he had failed miserably in eliciting one.

She turned around and faced him. Her lips went directly for his as her hand went towards his crotch. She was ready as he was ready finally. She could feel him smile. They kicked the duvet off and as Maria got rid of the nightdress, peter signaled her to keep in on. He stood up and took her in his arms. Just as he was about to get into her, he felt the drop. He was soft AGAIN.

They slept facing the ceiling, Maria wrapped the duvet around her body leaving her head out. Peter wrapped his whole body in the duvet. Too afraid to face her.

It was now two in the morning. Maria stood up and took her phone to the bathroom.

In the washroom, she turned on the shower and the tap then sat on the toilet bowl. She lit up her phone and scrolled through her contact. She called a guy who was still awake on the other end.

“Is it done yet?” The guy asked.

“No. Are you done yet?”

“No.”

“I am waiting on you, I thought you were a pro at these things.”

“I am but this guy has a lot of money and I have to induce several wire transfers to remain untraceable.”

“How far are you?”

“Close enough. I may be done in the next thirty minutes. Are you still rolling with the other idea?”

“We haven’t done anything yet. For some reason, he has some problems with his erections. I am actually thinking of sparing him.”

“Good for you.”

“I will ping you once I am done. That might be you cue.”

“Okay.” She hung up the phone and went into the shower.

Peter Kware was listening at the door, thinking maybe she was self-pleasuring. Maybe hearing her would have helped with his case. He had the phone call but didn’t get anything else. He stepped from the door once water stopped running.

Maria came back. She strutted around naked and went for the towel. She wiped her body, nice and slow making sure he was looking at her. Peter went through his phone. He stole a few glances onto her magnificent body. He decided to concentrate on his phone and something sent him to his bank accounts. He saw the money and refreshed it to confirm only to see a balance of Ksh. 0.00. He kept refreshing but his goose was cooked.

He didn’t bother to talk to Maria. In a way, he sensed that she had everything to do with this. Noticing his overwhelming silence, she talked as she dressed into her favorite grey sweatpants and a black t-shirt

“Can I order some room service? I am hungry.”

“Suit yourself.”

She called the hotel number and in a few minutes, a meal came. She went to receive the meal sending off the room attendant as she took the meal. Her phone pinged as she was taking the meal. Peter looked at the phone and saw the message. “It’s done.”

He refreshed his bank accounts and saw the same reading as from fifteen minutes ago. He stood up to confront her. Maria was busy preparing the meal. She knew he would love a taste and, in such she saw, an opportunity to spike that side of the meal.

“You have a message.”

“Pass me my phone.”

“Who texts you this late?”

“It might be one of the service providers.”

She lied.

“The message says, ‘It’s done’”

“Who gave you permission to read my messages?’ She asked with a hint of anger.

“It is showing on your already lit-up screen.”

“Why do you read other people’s messages, you impotent sissy.”

That did it for him as he struck her on the face.

“Don’t ever insult me again,” he warned.

Maria reeled backward almost knocking the meal down. In anger, Peter took the meal and ate by himself.

Maria sat on the floor crying and exaggerating just to watch him finish the meal.

SWEET SWEET PAIN

You sat at the dressing table looking at your naked reflection, admiring the beautiful contours on your body. Beside you sat a computer on the table that had an MS Word window open. You were typing away one of your blogs for the day. This was the golden fiftieth blog post. As you looked at the reflection your eyes wandered to the computer as you spotted mistakes in the write-up.

You wondered if any of the posts ever got to anyone and if so did they help anyone? The blog posts varied from your personal life experiences to the views you had on life. They handled issues you faced daily, problems you avoided until they were no longer bothering you.

In your hand was a scalpel that you had carried from the hospital the previous day. This was your day off and it didn’t feel like it. You had a lot on your mind.

Slowly as if on the operating table, you slide the scalpel on your back, through scars from previous times you did this. You cut the skin open to a length of fifteen centimeters and let the blood flow. The pain made you feel alive. It was like a dose of cocaine through the nose. It awoke a sense you never knew existed. It touched you intimately in places you preferred to remain private. For a minute there you were flying high in the clouds, the trickling of blood felt like engine oil through the engine, it smoothened your navigation. You were high in the sky. Sailing away from the troubled earth.

Minutes went by and the blood clotted on your back, it was about time for another incision. You went for it. This time around, deeply and ruthlessly. It startled you, it shook you but you went for another one this time round trying to form a capital letter ‘A’. It formed perfectly on your brown skin as blood oozed to meet on your ass. The warmth of blood on your ass excited you like the touch of another human being.

You sat there quietly as if in a reverie, your head felt like it was swaying and you enjoyed the rhythm it moved to, you enjoyed the motion made. As minutes went by the blood clotted once more. You got ready for another cut, but this time your arms were too lazy for the cut, and with that, you fainted.

You woke up doubly bend over on the floor between the fluffy chair and the dressing table. Your head was light in the sense that you reeled backward as you tried to stand up. It took you a minute before getting the bearing of the surrounding. The computer was still on with a hissing sound like that of an asthmatic patient.

Your reflection on the mirror was full of despair and hate. You hated yourself for doing this to your body. You hated yourself for thinking about it, for having the energy to execute it so perfectly. You hated yourself because it was the closest you have ever been to pleasure. The pleasure that had prints of pain all over it. You enjoyed it.

You stood up as you prepared to go to the washroom. You looked forward to a hot shower, to reopening wounds that were trying to heal. You looked forward to allowing hot water to land on the back, burning up the wounds and filling up the scars. You looked forward to the water washing off all the blood as it drained on your skin into the pipes and into the sewage. What a way to wash your sins literally. Leave alone the biblical washing away of sins.

You switched on the heater and waited for a minute as the water warmed up. You took a towel into your right hand, wore a pair of blue fluffy slip-on, and waited at the door for the water to preheat. This was your salvation.

Into the shower, you went, hanged your towel on the protruding prong from the wall, and opened the shower. You watched as the water came from the nozzles, splitting into small particles as they descended to hit your yearning body. You wanted the touch of the hot water. This was what brought you back to reality after the episodes. The first particle touched your forehead as the rest went for the shoulder.

As the water touched the wounds, you turned. The pain was heightened just as you anticipated. It felt absolutely great. You tuned the tap to increase the intensity of water. You wanted more hot water slapping and tapping the wounds open. You wanted to feel it all. You bend over under the shower as you let the shower heat you all in the right places. Places you wanted more of the same. The water drained via your shoulders as the smell of blood hit your nostrils. The smell was the same as the one of blood on a blade.

You finished washing the other parts and stood under the shower. You rinsed off and dried yourself. You went back in front of the mirror. This time inspecting the damage you had caused. The back looked like the underbelly of a snake, smooth if one looked closer but full of scars at each touch. You looked at the scars and sighed as the craving for more crept in.

You hated who or what you were.

DANCING TO A NEW TUNE

Elegance was what the building screamed. Piercing the sky at the 67th floor the building hosted various companies but its main host was the government that had half of the floors in order to serve citizens better. The whole building was painted white with stripes of gold, it had a rotating door at the entrance that poured into an opening that had four receptionist desks arranged in a line on the left with the last one close to the lifts. The opening was expansive enough with an allowance of fifteen feet into the air before the first floor came into play. Directly opposite the entrance was a notice board made of concrete and polished finely to leave a chalk white finishing. On the notice board, was the word, “WELCOME” in gold. Below the board was a message that was slowly losing a few words thus being incorrigible.

At the entrance of the building was an extension that prevented rain from hitting the patio directly. The extension was seven feet above the ground. Below the extension were two uniformed guards that stood sentinel over the building and inspected everybody from staff to visitors. They allowed people through a metal detector that carried their luggage on a short conveyor belt to the other side as the people walked through.

The cleaning staff were the only people allowed into the building so early before duties resumed and so their bags were roughly checked by the night shift guards before they left for their day off. They were as drowsy as they could be from spending the whole night sleepless.

Each visitor was then allowed to write down their name at the reception as they confirm where they were headed into the maze above. The guards at the entrance were as friendly as they could be and as ruthless as their job demanded.

Security in the country had been beefed up since the last terrorist attack. The army concentrated on keeping peace within the country’s borders against the wish of many international bodies. This was termed as a cowardly move but the president insisted on the safety of his people first before taking the war to the enemies. Any bomb scare within the country or rather the city was met with a severe and quick response from the expected parties.

 Amollo Mike walked into the building at six-thirty in the morning as per his usual check-in time. He dropped his bag near the guard and stood there as they shared pleasantries.

“Hii bag yako leo ni mzito, umebeba mawe?”

“Haha, zi. I am planning to go somewhere in the evening for the weekend.”

“Oh, unatoroka nyumbani. Vijana ya Nairobi mna mambo.”

“I really need to cool off for a day or two.”

“Sawa. Salimiana huko penye unaenda.”

Mike smiled as he took his bag from the guard and left for the entrance. Inside the building, he took the staff book and signed before disappearing into the back. He was one of the staff that handled cleaning and preparing breakfast for the government staff. He also doubled as a seller of simple lunch to the workers who enjoyed his delicious meals ranging from Ugali, beans, fried meat, rice, and chapati. He had made a killing from it as a side hustle. The government workers preferred his cheap delicious meals to the expensive meals in the heart of the city.

He removed his home clothes and changed into his work clothes. The green khaki pants and a t-shirt. He made his routine around the building, he began from the southeast corner near the kitchen then went to the southwest corner and the northwest corner before ending his journey at the northeast corner. Today the routine was different as he had his bag. He moved from the corners cleaning and pausing for at most ten minutes before proceeding to the next corner. He was done with dusting the ground floor. He went to the next three floors and did the same. This was his share of the government offices.

It was now thirty minutes past eight and other cleaning stuff had arrived and were almost done with their chores. The workers started streaming in, once the rotating door began rotating it was for the whole day until when the business day ended and the building was closed down for the day. Observing from inside the building one would see the ever purging door that kept coughing people each minute without rest. Some came in some left. And others stood on the opening in the building without anything in particular until a guard came to notify them that it was inadvisable to idle there.

Mike was now in the kitchen preparing breakfast as he looked forward towards lunch and serving the ever thankful workers. Most of them didn’t leave their desks until three in the afternoon for a fifteen-minute break. As he cooked he hummed a song that had stayed with him from the moment he received the phone call yesterday. His mind got solace from the song rather than worrying about any events of the day.

Yesterday, he was contacted by his five years fiancé, hearing her voice reminded him of the first day they met, of the promises they held together, of the beauty life showed them. It had been a year since he last saw her and the calls had become fewer and fewer over the past six months but he understood her predicament. He also knew that the closer they got to an assignment the fewer the calls. She had duties to fulfill and rules to adhere to. Still, her voice had a touch of awe that drove him crazy.

His heart melted as he saw the incoming call that was cutting short his stream of music from the air pods. On reaching for the phone, he saw her name plastered all over the screen as the phone glowed in a bid to beckon him to receive the call. The light from the phone felt like embers of love ready to consume him once he received the call.

He lingered for a moment trying to find the best way to break the ice. He received.

“Hello.”

Her voice echoed in his head leaving a reverberating effect that made him feel jolly.

“Hello, long time Aisha. How are you?”

“Great, I hope you know why I am calling.”

“Oh yes but just to satisfy my heart let me say you are around.”

“I will come once you are done with this assignment. I want to know if you are ready love.”

The way she said the word love with a thrilling emphasis had Mike trembling as she waited for more words from her.

“Always have been love. I miss you.”

“Me too. Are you sure you will carry this to completion.”

“When have I ever failed you? Have you checked my success rate? It says it all.”

 “I know about your success dear, believe me when I say I have more faith in you than you do.”

“Do you now?”

“Yes, I will see after a week. Just know no matter what everything has to go down as planned. Don’t hesitate, don’t flinch. I will be waiting on the other side to welcome you like the hero you are.”

“I will not.”

“I love you Mike.”

This was the second time she was professing her love to him but he felt the doubt in her voice, the forced nature of the words but he was too desperate in want and so he believed her. He believed that she loved him.

“I love you too Aisha.”

“Remember to take care too, Amollo Mike Maalim.”

“You too.”`

That was his Muslim name after converting four years and five months ago. He converted around that time when he and Aisha started getting serious and Aisha asked him to honor one thing that would allow him into her family. He obliged without a second thought and from then the bond between them grew strong each day. They had never really talked about the love thing in depth. They each recognized the emotion from each other’s eyes and were contented with what they saw. Pure bliss.

Life had then moved him from Nairobi to the northern parts of Kenya for months as they figured the best way to live their lives and then back in Nairobi as they traveled to the coastal side of Kenya. Through the luxury that Aisha afforded him, she would disappear for hours only to reappear later in the day. He was always left happy with toys to occupy his free time, cars, video games, pocket change for entertainment, and indulgence. A simple poor man’s tastes.

The hotels they used for their stay were luxurious thus limiting him from moving around. He spent most of his time in their room awaiting Aisha’s return.

Her returns were colored with gifts from the local markets and more goodies. Knowing that Mike was not exposed to the various cultures of the areas they visited, Aisha saw him as an empty book that demanded her words and so she wrote. She wrote tirelessly, introducing him to new experiences every day, she wrote seductively, showing him romance in a new way from what he was used to (the Nairobi genital fluid exchange). He got to know things that he only read in books. In her, he saw his future and she played him to her tune. As she strung the strings, he produced her desired tunes and they danced along together.

He was not in any hurry to make a move on her, he was contented with the mystery of knowing she is his and she will always be there no matter. He looked forward to when they would make it official, to the night they will spend together as man and wife. A night with no repercussions whatsoever.

Although, he didn’t bother her. Some nights were as long and hard as he could get. At least thrice a week he would wake up in the middle of the night, all sweaty and ready to attack but he restrained himself. He would hold his boner in his hands and look as her raised behind lustfully. The dim lights that held romance closely allowed him to visualize himself mounting her as she screamed sweet words into his ears, words that encouraged him to go on and on and on, words that may have had two meanings but he only understood a part that massaged his fragile ego. As he sank into his vision of seeing them intertwined like a boa constrictor and its prey, he saw their bodies rise and fall in beads of orgasms that kept him all hard the whole time. He had made attempts to wake her up but as they had agreed he brushed off the idea. If he was to be disciplined, he had to conquer his animalistic urges to tore her clothes off and take her right there and then. She had said the control was part of a training that she was preparing him for. He obliged.

They moved from coastal Kenya after a year and traveled back to the north. All this time, he was never bothered with the financial status of Aisha. After all, he was fed, sheltered, and clothed and all this was done in style and beauty that ensured the best in life. The trips were well planned with each via a plane for long distances and the short ones with their newly acquired cars. He was living the best life he could ever ask for and not paying for it. Sinister.

In Northern Kenya, they crossed to Somalia and went deep into the foreign country. In the time they were together, Aisha had taught him the country’s various languages that had an overlap of each other in some words. He could manage to understand and nod in agreement as he affirmed statements directed to him.

IN MY FEELINGS

I sat in the little cringed up, dim-lit room as I waited for the priest. Sunrays were entering through cracked spaces leaving a lingering shimmering effect that drew silhouettes of ghosts on the wall. I fidgeted a little to fit comfortably on the chair as I peeked through the meshed small opening between me and the next empty room.

I took a deep breath in and started having second thoughts. This was my first time to come into this room and it felt like waiting for the disciplinarian in the staffroom. The priest took his time.

“What are you doing here?” My inner voice kicked off a conversation.

“I came to confess my sins.”

“Do you think this is going to help you feel good?”

“No, but I have to get this off my chest. I have to tell someone and talking to the priest is the best way out after all they will not share with anybody. A safe bet I may say.”

“You do know if you are to change or in any way sort out your feelings you have to talk to the one who elicits them.”

“I can’t do that to her, don’t you see how happy she is?

“I can see that but she is living a lie, Caleb. You owe it to her, to tell her how you feel. No matter how painful it will be. Just tell her.”

“I can’t do that to her. She has been through a lot.”

“Are you happy?”

“I…”

Before I could contribute, the priest stepped into the other room. He was ready to receive me.

“What brings you here my son?”

“I am here to confess I think.”

“Well, whenever you are ready.”

“How do we do this father? Do I share my problems then we pray or we reflect upon them?”

“Are you saved my son?”

“I was but I have backslid.”

“Well, I am here to listen to you and help you find your way to the Lord for absolution.”

“Okay then that might really help me. Should I start?”

“Yes please.”

“Okay, I don’t know what is happening but I am falling out of love with her.”

“Who are we talking about?”

“Ooh, my wife. We have been married for the past nine months, three of which I took care of her while she was ailing.”

“Okay.”

“I met her a year ago during one of those walks from town back when the governor was trying to get Matatus out of the CBD. She was dressed in a short, black flared dress with a pair of black flat shoes that absorbed her short gait even further. I had bumped into her thus prompting a sorry as she turned ready to curse. I smiled wickedly and covered the smile with an apology. The little chat did find its way into dinner dates and planned lunches that we had as I went by my daily duties. She was great.”

“Then what happened that you falling out of love with her now?”

“After four months of meeting her, Angela was admitted, she had these serious cramps that drained her to the point of fainting. I visited her the second week as she was recovering. In the one week we have been apart, Angela had lost weight such that the sheets and the blanket around her did not hide the protruding bones. She was frail. As she breathed in, I could see her ribcage rise and fall. I held back my tears as they welled up in my eyes. I could feel their hot stings in my eyes. I closed my eyes for a minute in a bid to control them. Angela looked at me and smiled. She was staying strong for both of us. I sat down in silence as I looked into the future. She was the girl I loved and the future seemed bleak. A moment later the doctor came in with her results, she was developing stage three cervical cancer that was slowly becoming metastatic.”

“You must have been devastated.”

“I remained seated not to faint as I try to stay strong. Angela looked at me, tears rolling down her now bony cheeks, her breathes were shorter as she resorted to sobbing. I sat there knowing not what to do or say. I had never seen anyone suffering from cancer so close plus I didn’t know what the next steps will be. The doctor went on explaining how they were intending to help her, treat her in a bid to control the spread and cure her. Angela and I were lost in our own worlds.

I could see Angela in a wedding dress smiling as she walked down the aisle as I waited for her at the altar. She was energetic. Her movements were full of power as she savored the moment. My heart stood for a second to take in the whole magnificent view before the doctor brought us back asking for a consultation with her next of kin.

Her parents had gone for a break and her sister had not yet arrived. I stood as I went to talk to her. She was insisting I fill in for her after all she asked, ‘You do love me, right?’. How was I going to refuse that? I agreed that I loved her but her family was the one to handle this one. We waited for her kin as we sat in silence.”

“Alright.”

“She begun her treatment after a month which was to allow ample time for financial plans, I chipped in what I could. I helped the best way I could. Her family seeing my commitment asked what I wanted with their daughter. I obviously wanted a life with her. As the treatment went on, Angela seemed to grow worse. Her body was not so responsive. This led to more financial strains and I had to chip in more. I remember one evening the father stating that if the end goal is to marry her daughter then with the help, I was offering I should consider myself pardoned from paying the bride price.

I talked to Angela every day before I went home and each day she had resolved to let go of life. She had despaired to the point that she just wanted to go and abandon the suffering she was undergoing, the pain and the emotional hurt. Her frail body had undergone major changes; from losing hair, to increased weakness and her exposed bone structure. I remember one day I caught her looking at herself in the mirror naked as tears rolled down. She was going through a lot.

We talked of things she will miss as the conversation took us there. We talked of dreams she will leave unachieved. Then I asked if there was one thing, I could do for her. She wanted to be married via a church wedding. I thought about it for a while and decided to have her achieve this one thing. After all, I had already paid the bride price.

A month went by and we got hitched in the most beautiful wedding as Angela puts it. She was the happiest I had seen her in a while. We went for our honeymoon at the hotel next to her hospital. The first seven days we spent together as a married couple were heavenly. On the last day, Angela collapsed prompting another admission. This time round she started responding to the treatment.

Two months later, Angela was healed as we held thanksgiving at her church. It was wonderful to see her walk and eat with anxiousness. I watched her eat at the event with satisfaction but at the same time my stomach sunk in as I came to realize over time, I was growing to hate her.”

“Why did it come so sudden?”

“I don’t know father. I have tried to make sense of what I am feeling for the past three months.”

“Do you know what you bare feeling?”

“Yes, I hate her. I loather her. Am I a bad person for loving her in the short time she was sure she will be dying the next time? I guess I loved her so much knowing that tomorrow she may not be alive. I don’t know what gave me comfort. The fact that she was going to die or the fact that I am only to love her for a short while.”

“Wow. I cannot judge you. Why do you hate her?”

“She just annoys me and the fact that we are married and I will have to spend my life with her probably the next 40 or so years. I can’t take it anymore.”

“Why haven’t you told her how you feel?”

“She is so happy. She says that she has never been so fulfilled. I don’t want to see that fade. Why do my feelings have to come in her way of happiness? I mean, if I am to be forever unhappy and she remains the happiest she could, then my coffin is sealed.”

“Why are you here son?”

“I came to let this off my chest and now that I have, I guess goodbyes are in order. How do we do this? Do I just stand and leave or do I do a hug gesture and then leave?”

“We are not yet done. You have said your part and now it is my turn.”

“Okay. I am waiting Father.”

SHE CAME, SHE SAW…

She sat quietly in the middle of the congregation, her notebook in hand with a pen ready to write as the Reverend taught. Today she was feeling a little worried and so far, into the middle of the sermon she had not written anything leave alone the book of the day. She had left him sleeping and went to church as her norm. She was not going to miss the church no matter what was to happen. Her sleepless night did not make her tired during the day but it had her worried.

 At home, her husband had come home drunk late into the night. He was becoming worse with the absence of children. He came at 3:00 AM. She had sat through the night unable to sleep the moment it got to past twelve in the night.

As he entered the house, Mary stood by the door wondering why he had to do this to her. She was greeted by the stench of alcohol as he pulled himself together to get right into the house. She felt disgusted as she cringed her nose in a bid to wade off the smell. He went straight into the toilet, took a piss and sat down on the toilet bowel. He was tired.

Mary closed the door and sat in the living room. She wanted to serve him food but until he asked for it she was not going to trouble herself and attract insults. A moment passed before she decided to check on him. He was asleep with his phone in hand. He snored and swallowed saliva before clearing his nose loudly and swallowed. His eyes remained shut.

She took the phone and placed it under her arm. She was to move him into the bedroom for a night’s rest. Mary took a position beside him and placed his arm around her neck. She tried lifting his heavy set body in vain. He was drunk and his muscles relaxed as his brain had given up on any movement. He was not ready to move. He opened one eye and drew a smile than came off as a smirk. Mary was growing impatient by the minute.

“Baba Angie, amka, amka twende bedroom.”

“Kwani tuko wapi?”

“Kwa choo, amka twende…nisakusaidia kutembea.”

“Sawa, simu yangu iko wapi?”

“Nimeiweka vizuri, karibu uiangushe. “

“Asanti, you do know I love you. You’re the only precious thing in this miserable life. I hope me, coming in late does not inconvenience you in any way. That will make me mad.”
“No, baba Angie, it is all well. Just stand up and let us go.”

“Okay.”

He went for the door handle and made a pass as if standing only to come down tumbling. He hit the toilet bowel as it clanked to accept his weight. It made a shift. Mary knew they were to repair that. He sat upright now halt awake from his sleep.

“I am really sorry. Are you hurt?”

“No, just try standing and let us go.”

“Okay.”

He stood up as Mary supported him. They walked out of the toilet safely as Joni placed his whole weight on her. She breathed heavily under pressure. She was used to carrying him around but with time she was growing tired.

“You’re my savior, darling. Are we to the bedroom yet? I am getting tired.”

Mary clicked and shook her head, “No, just a little longer and we will be in bed in no minute.”

“Thank you so much. You are always there for me.”

“Okay, keep it moving. You’re so heavy.”

“Yes? You cook great food. That’s why.”

They got into the bedroom and Mary set him on the bed side to get his shoes off. He sat quietly and lifted his feet. Hiccups started kicking in, each time it happened he would bounce like a ball and then settle in. Mary pushed him on the other side of the bed and covered him with the duvet. She closed her eyes and said a prayer silently.

As she prayed, her eyes became watered with tears, she wanted God to heed to her prayer. She wanted Him to touch and change her husband. She went on for a while and said Amen. Joni was fast asleep and so they slide into slumber.

At 4:30 AM, Mary was woken up by a groan from Joni, as she turned to face him, he retched and vomited on her face. The hot mixture of food and undigested material hit her before she could escape. Joni took a deep breath in and let out another vomit this time on Mary’s night dress.

“What is wrong with you?”

“Nothing, I think I am going to be sick,” He coughed.

“Really, can you act like a grown-up for once, just once? Be an adult. You just had to vomit after spending some time in the toilet. Now I have to change everything. Hebu, wake up let’s go to the toilet. We both need to clean up.”

“Kindly bring me a wet face towel and a glass of water. I am tired, I cannot stand up.”

“Oh, you’re coming with me. Besides I have to change the whole bedding or I may leave you to sleep in your own vomit. You seem comfortable in it.”

“Please, darling. Okay, let’s go to the washroom then.”

“I am not supporting you.”

“Come on.”

He stood up and supported himself by the walls as he moved towards the washroom. Mary stood by the bed disgusted. “How could a grown man act so foolishly? Can’t he just wake up and go do his business in the toilet.” She took off the bedding and changed the duvet. She carried the beddings to the washroom.

They took a shower and she soaked the beddings before coming back to bed. It was now five in the morning. Mary could not sleep lest she risk missing the sermon. She changed into her church clothes and left before even preparing tea. She got to church earlier than expected to find only the Reverend. He was singing and praying as he moved about the compound. His wife had died several years ago and since then he had invested his time in church and dedicated his life into serving.

She greeted him and entered the church for the intercessory session. She was to pray for her family, her church, her country and the world as a whole but first her husband. The night before was the worst she endured and she knew so well that if she was to keep quiet it was to get much worse each time. She took to her knees and presented her problems the best way she knew how.

The Reverend, moved about in the pulpit, “As you’re saved be ready to get your dirty linen being aired in the open for everybody to see. Everyone will be against you but don’t hate them for they don’t know what they are doing. In fact, help them to the Father, help them to the Lord, and help them to a life in Christ the Messiah.”

Mary was drawn back as she heard the word dirty line. She remembered what awaited her at home and the day after his drinking. He was always grumpy and ready to quarrel. Knowing that she had not prepared anything for him freaked her out as this would give him more bullets in his gun.

The sermon ended, they prayed together and the Reverend left for the office where he rested for an hour before readying himself to receive lambs of his church for guidance and counselling. Mary came in last. She wanted ample time with him.

“Hello Mary, how are you? Are the children okay? How is your husband?”

“I may say fine but I am not okay. The children are in school, the husband is the one troubling me.”

She gave a recount of the first time, Joni came home drunk. It was during the long holidays when both Angie and Martin were at home. He came home silently and went to bed without talking to anyone. Angie and Martin were both in their first years in college as twins they went through school together.

“I am not resenting his behavior but ever since marrying this man after his wife’s death he has not been treating me as his wife. It is as if I have something that he finds undesirable.”

“I am sorry to hear that. Can we get together with your husband and talk through this?”

“I will ask and get back.  And then last night he came home…”

Marry broke into a soft sob as she narrated her last night’s ordeal. It was a first of many that were yet to come. She had to be strong but she lacked the strength.

“It will be okay, just listen closely to your husband, he might be speaking and you’re not listening. Sometimes men find it hard to express themselves in words. Peace be with you.”

“Thank you Reverend.”

She stepped out with a new plan. Outside she met with Mama Kanisa. She was happy to see Mary.

“Hey Mary, how was your week?”

“Great, how are the kids doing?”

“They are back in school for the final term but every evening I find them healthy as ever. They give me strength to go through these hard days.”

“Nice, how is work?”

“All is well, did you manage to get the number to that tailor. I want to get a new Ankara suit?”

“I did, I was to send it over but since you are here let me just read it to you.”

She gave her the number and left hurriedly. A lot was waiting for her at home.

Joni woke up, warmed last night’s supper. Took two bites, stepped into the shower and left. He went to rejoin his friends at the Mua Sports Club. It was a relaxing Sunday.

Mary got into the house, took the dirty dishes into the sink and went into the bedroom to change. She took her phone and got a message from Joni that was sent an hour ago.

“I will drop by in the evening. I am with friends at Mua.”

She took off the church clothes and went into the shower to check on last night’s mess. She washed the beddings with the duvet and aired them outside. She swept the house, sprayed the air freshener and made the bed for tonight. She sat down in the living room, took her Bible for a review of today’s book and turned on the TV.

She made notes from the book of the day and then took a nap on the chair in the sitting room.

Joni came back at four in the evening. He greeted her as he woke her up. He went into the toilet and into the bedroom. He took a few minutes there and came back.

“Songa niake hapo,” He asked his wife as politely as he could. Mary moved to another seat. Joni took the remote and changed to the weekend’s football game. He turned the stereo system on and blasted the house with Rhumba music. Mary sat through the noise before she stood up for the bedroom.

“Hey, love, do you have anything you want to share,” Joni shouted before she disappeared.

“Yes, what happened last night?”

“I am sorry about that. What can I do to get past this?”

“Oh, you’re not getting a free pass this time.”

“Okay. So what is the price?”

“We have to have a meeting with our Reverend.”

“No, name something else. I can’t do that.”

“That’s the only thing I want right now.”

“Okay, when are we to meet him? I hope you told him to come by the house.”

“If we are to do this, then on Tuesday evening. Okay.”

“Sawa.”

On Tuesday, the Reverend arrived at exactly two in the afternoon. He was ready for a lengthy talk with the family. They had prayers and exchanged Bible study ideas and opinions as they waited for Joni. He did not come.

The reverend left at six in the evening. He apologized for inconveniencing them and said he would prepare better next time. He said he would pray about it. Mary remained in the house disappointed in her husband. She was deprived of touch, of love of happiness just because her husband did not care anymore.

Joni came home that day disgruntled. He apologized and complained of how hard the day was, his customers were giving him quite a headache. He had to sort them out before coming. Mary listened to him blubber with contempt. She wondered why he could not just be straightforward with her.

Days went by and schools were closed, Angie and Martin came for a short holiday before they resumed for their last year in college. They knew the drift between their father and their step-mother. They tried their best not to be caught in between or be the cause of any of their frequent quarrels. They maintained their safe distance.

As time went by, the children went back to school. Mary was now frequent in visiting the Reverend. She wanted his advice and encouragement to get through each day with Joni. And as such, she grew to like him. She would just pop by the church to help or just be close to the Reverend. His presence made her heart settle. In his presence, the worries flew away, the anxiety toned down and the anger subsided.

As her presence became more frequent, the Reverend avoided her at first as she had had an experience with such church members but the more she shown an interest in him the more it became difficult to avoid her.

The first time they were together was when Joni had agreed to the meeting again and did not show up. The Reverend spent better part of the evening with her. She was dressed freely and as they went on talking, Mary edged herself closer to him. She wanted a man’s touch, she craved for it.

It took a while before the Reverend gave in, and Mary was rewarded for the wait. She gave it her all and she was welcomed without pressure or fear of rejection.

The second time was still at their house, this time they went to the marital bedroom. As they were deeply enjoying each other, Joni came by, went through the kitchen, took his notebook by the living room and left to go at his parked car in the compound. The Reverend was shocked to the core as Mary laughed her heart off. The thrill of being caught pushed her off the edge of pleasure. They went to the shower and the Reverend left.

As the Reverend left the house, he saw Joni seated at the car. Joni saw him. He made for the door as the Reverend hurried off. Joni opened the door and chose to go after him. He was to talk to him.

UNBALANCED

 “So babe when am I allowed to cheat?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“You know what I am asking, when am I allowed to cheat?” he said the words slowly as if trying to let them sink in. He wanted her to get the point before making any other decision.

“Where is this coming from? Why are we discussing this? Where did you get the audacity to ask me such?”

“It is something that has been on my mind, something that I have thought about for a while.”

“Have you cheated before?”

“No.”

“What makes you think you will get away with it?”

“Nothing and everything. You’ll be amazed at how screwed up the universe is at maintaining the balance.”

“Are we still talking about the same thing?”

“Yes and so far you haven’t given me an answer. Am I going to get the answer soon or is it something I will have to wait for a few days?”

“David, why do you think I would dignify such a question with an answer?”

“Because it is bound to happen sooner than you think.”

“Are you planning to cheat on me?”

“No, but…”

“No buts, it is settled then.”

“I was trying to be upfront by suggesting it. You do decide everything I do, why wouldn’t you decide this too, after all a controlled environment is better than the wild.”

“Listen here David, if you want to cheat, knock yourself out. Don’t come here pushing ideas into my mind. What do you think is going to happen after you inconsequential fling?”

“Nothing, but still it depends.”

“Are you planning to cheat on me? Or you have already done that and now you trying to cleanse your sins by creating a loophole.”

“No and no. I wanted your thoughts on this because eventually it may or may not happen.”

“Okay, so let’s talk about it. Why do you think you are bound to cheat on me?”

“Firstly, thank you for the past five years in marriage it has not been easy but you have been the best version of you daily. Secondly, through your unwavering support we are moving steadily to the financial freedom we have always desired. In a few years we may be able to live comfortably without strains that is if we keep the current momentum and increase it a little bit.”

“Get to the point David, I have issues I need to settle before I sleep and the child is yet to take her milk for the night.”

“Okay, but I am painting a picture here and that needs patience. Can we do this some other time then?”

“No, since you started it, let get it over with. It seems like an important topic to you and the way you’re talking; you must have thought about it for a long time.”

“I just said that but not in the context you’re putting it.”

“What context?”

“Let’s not get ahead of everything. Should I go on?”

“Yes please.”

“Knowing very well that I handle our financials, this gives me access to money or will give me access to money, unused funds or unplanned for funds or rather money in the account. I am bound to change the car that I am driving right now, to something sleeker. I am bound to make sure I look rich or at least I am trying.”

“Are we going to get to the part where you cheat on me?”

“You’re not seeing it yet. Indeed, you’re tired. Let us do this tomorrow please.”
“No, we’re talking about this today.”

“Okay, what I am saying is, the richer you get the more likely you’re to cheat. The traps are laid in front of you. Of integrity, the war within is fought, to do or not to do? Your integrity is tested daily, eventually you will give in.”

“Are we still talking about you because this person in your story seems hypothetical?”

“I can’t use myself as example in this story, this is not a dream where I will triumph. In this story tragedy hits and it hits really hard.”

The child screamed from the next room as Aida rose up to go to her. She got there to find her already wet, she had to change her diapers. 

David was left in the bedroom trying to figure out a way to put his point across and not sound offensive and insensitive. The more he thought about it the more he was convinced how foolish he was to start such a conversation with his wife. It was a topic he had brought up during their weekend drink outs with the boys and they all contributed lively. It was something he had thought about for quite a while. Talking to his friends was one way to get more views but theirs were one-sided and somewhat myopic. He wanted fresh eyes and ears and a new perspective, may be a victim perspective. 

He wished he had brought the topic in a different way but here he was and they were already in the middle of it. He had to get his points in order to make sure his wife does not twist up the whole thing into a mistake, though it already felt like a mistake. He was muttering to himself as his lips moved forming words while shaking. He stood from the bed and stretched before going back to bed and covering himself with the duvet. 

Aida came back, she was smiling. The child was now back to sleeping, she had received her share of milk for the night. 

“So where were we?”

“We were arguing about a hypothetical character in my story.”

“Okay, carry on.”

“Every rich person cheats, the forgiveness comes in with the level of richness. The richest get away with it, those closer to the richest get a few warnings and the ones in the middle it might get physical but the rest it all gets to everything dirty.”

“So where do you lie?”

“I am at the middle headed to the upper side.”

“One thing is I will not fight you if you ever cheat on me. I will leave, get my child and go.”

“I know and that is why I am asking you, when will I be allowed to cheat?”

Aida was slowly growing irritated; she couldn’t understand how low David was going to get. She had always expected his standards to be low but this was a new level of lowliness. “Why would he ask me such a thing?” She thought.

David went on to explain why he thought he would cheat on her. He talked about her letting go of her body, getting old with time and everything superficial. Aida was lost in her world wondering how foolish David was going to get. Then she heard him stating how he would cheat.

“It is inevitable; the lesser value we give sex the lesser it will affect us. Have you heard of those who exchange wives for a day or two? A group of men and women decide to get together and swap wives and husbands. It is thought to reduce incidences of cheating. We are human and routine bores us and with time we tend to want change.”

“I have heard of such but to me it is unwelcomed. I cannot allow my body to be passed around like a blunt. How sure are you will cheat on me once the money starts flowing in?”

“Ladies throw yourself literally at you when you’re moneyed. They want to tap into your fountain and since sex sells, the only commodity they have is simply that. Besides, the good thing about college girls is that they are forever twenty-one years old. No matter the time, there will always be a fresh supply of twenty-one years old damsels.”

“David you mean to tell me; you want to cheat on me. “

“I am informing you since every decision in this house runs through you, why not this one?”

“What do you want, David?”

“Right now, I want to sleep. About cheating, that’s to come later.”

“Okay, you do you, but if I get wind of anything, and I mean anything. I am gone.”

“I don’t know why we are pushing so much for the break up. Sex should not be that negative. We put so much power into sex such that men and women die because of it. We toil and work hard for it. Any little success pushes us towards being ratchet. I remember reading a tweet about a guy saying that any other day of the month, he is a humble man but come payday, his fornication spirits arise. Anyway, if it was to come, if it was to happen, if the worst comes to the worst and I am cornered I will still call you for advice.”

“Seems like you’re ready to live up to your name, David. One thing is I cannot bring myself to accepting that you cheated on me. At least if I was to hear that as rumors but from you, no, no, should not happen. I mean what could be possibly so wrong with me that you cheat on me and we smile at each other, that kind of stuff drains you of the little will to live, of the little sanity to focus on reality, of the little self-esteem you have, of the little dignity you carry around. It should be punishable. Here you’re pushing for such a conversation casually.”

“It is happening everywhere, even right now someone is being cheated on. The only difference is I am willing to be honest with you, I am willing to accept my weakness and embrace it. I don’t want to fight it.”

“Let me sleep, and if what you’re saying was to happen then you have a long way to go. Get the money first. Maybe this is why your plans take long to mature, God sees all your blessings washed up the drain. He is taking His time trying to prepare you but here you’re stuck on some stupid logic. Blessings come with responsibilities and if you feel ready then test your preparedness. Goodnight baba Varsha.”

“No, it can’t…”

“It is a bit late, you need to sleep.”

BACK AT IT AGAIN

Hello,

I don’t think we were ever meant to be, not by any shot. The circumstances we find ourselves in don’t allow that, they don’t nourish that, they don’t encourage it and will never allow it to flourish. I can’t say I am sorry nor do I regret being close to you but some relations are just that-no next level.

The first time we met, it was wonderful. All I could see was your presence. I hugged you and felt the energy in you craving to be tapped. I saw myself in the future you by my side. Probably in our forties with two or one kid. Life would be different; I would be a different person since you always had a way to change things even if it meant shuffling them. I would not recognize myself but you would be happy for having to finish your project. In your eyes I would be a masterpiece, your masterpiece. I for one would be growing desperate by day, tired by the second, eventually all would tumble down. Your dreams of a loving husband and a normal family, a perfect life would crush from the buildup of unshared hatred.

Hatred of the things you made me do, of the things I had to absorb just not to see you angry. Suddenly it will feel like I am human and I too have my flaws which you overlooked in the spark of the moment. I don’t blame you, I will not blame you. You were a beautiful fleeting moment in my life like a snug in a cruise, you hit and stay for a while before deciding to go on with your life.

I know you want to hold onto this, but it was dead before I even distanced myself. The earlier you recognize this the better. I don’t want to be your obsession nor your idol that’s too much expectation to put on a person. I cannot live up to that. It is just impossible.

I know it won’t be easy but for the same reasons I stayed, I will be leaving. Your politeness makes it hard for me to be me. I can’t laugh in a certain way, I cannot dress casually and comfortably, I cannot touch some places on your body, I cannot hold your hand in public, what of a kiss? Will you allow me to drop one on you in public?

I didn’t try my best, I saw no reason since no matter the effort, your resistance was great. What you didn’t fancy was not going to happen. We would rather sit in silence for days that you admitting to letting loose.

I am a random person, I don’t follow structures and that comes as a mess, a hot mess and for you it would have stained and stayed for all the time we would be together. My randomness was going to hurt you, hurt your ego, hurt your meekness and I am not ready to see you shed tears just because I was being myself.

After our first encounter, we stayed apart for six months which saw us growing differently but you still hung on the idea that I would one day fall for you, fall for your love, love you wholeheartedly. However, I didn’t, I haven’t. All that time, you crossed my mind severally but all I could see were the times we were together that led us to stay away from each other.

We met again for the second time. You were still single, good for you but I had jumped right into the pool and I was soaking wet, by the time we met. We talked for a while and you let loose the floodgates. Your emotions were all over. You wanted to know why we couldn’t be together, why I could not go out with you, you wanted to know why I always chose to stays indoors with you. You wanted me to be more outgoing, to let go of my habitual binge-watching of movies and TV shows and go out. You wanted to know why I was so stubborn when we held conversations about the world, religion, politics and above all parenthood.

You did not subscribe to the fact that I did not care about anything. You didn’t ask why and I never said. You hated my attitude towards life. You wanted me to stand up for something. It was not going to happen. Still for the second time, your timing was off.

Before we made out the first time. I told you I was seeing someone but you didn’t care. You wanted me just for yourself-how selfish. We shagged severally and the idea of having two ladies at the same time ate me inside out. You asked once about her after informing you of our timely breakup. I could see your face beaming up with a smile but you said, “I am sorry. It is going to be okay.”

Of course it was okay, we made love, you had new energy or so your brought game. I could not recall any other time that you gave your all. I was sold that night, but not totally sold.

The second time I also told you I am seeing somebody and you went silent for a month. You resurfaced and argued that we should be together, that that was the second time we were hitting it off. We talked for the whole night and before we could sleep early in the morning you asked confidently as if not weird enough, “What do you think about us?”

It caught me off guard, I stood up and went to the shower and went to my house. I was not ready to talk about us because there was no future. You always ruined the present with your future proposals or your past pains. You couldn’t just stay here where it shines brightly, you had to dim the light.

I am old enough to marry, I am at that particular age where thoughts of marriage creep into the mind by default but I always push them down or away. I don’t want to think about spending my entire life with someone. As beautiful as everyone makes it feel, it scares the shit out of me plus the responsibility of worrying about the wellbeing of somebody else.

I will always fail at being married. My poor attitude towards it being tolerance, being brutally honest and wanting to be free of no obligations, doing what I want when I want however I want it. Your presence will ruin or hold hostage everything I ever dream of.

I don’t know if you have noticed but I am insensitive at the most inopportune times. I tend not to stay in touch with human feelings which will probably make me a bad father and a husband too. Being able to empathize is something that I have been unable to grasp. It just slips between my fingers.

I hope this finds you happy as it may devastate you. We cannot work out not in a billion years. We are different people and I cannot tolerate your unending need to change me. You’re always looking for ways to improve me as you say it.

The look on your face when I try to harbor hair disgusts me. It reeks of disappointment which is an emotion I can’t deal with. For now, we go our separate ways. Be smooth it will work out, you will get what you’re looking for, something I cannot provide, something I have been unable to give you.

Enjoy your life while you can, whether short or long. My presence in your life was just a distraction and if it went on long enough it would turn to be a disruption to your perfect life. As you had asked, I have thought about us and all I can see is a dark cloud of sadness, pity and turmoil. Pain would be our daily portion and that’s not a way to live life. Enjoy what’s left of your promised life.