Years ago, when I had just started working as a teacher at the Coast, my boyfriend of 7 years was on a trip overseas.
I was heading home from work and took the same shortcut I always did when our driver dropped me. It was through a residential court, but everyone going that route used it.
There was a group of 3, maybe 4 young men sitting on the low fence chatting away whom I ignored as I passed them. I had no intention of making eye contact with any of them so that they could start to “chokoza” me!
A second later, I heard a thud and quick footsteps as one of them hurried over to catch up with me.
“Hi.” He said.
I stopped and returned his greeting with a skeptical look on my face my body language making it clear that I was ready to walk away the moment he uttered something stupid.
“My friend over there” he said pointing has bet me cash that there is no way I’m getting your number.
“Oh” I said. My face stony.
“So, could you give me your number so I could prove him wrong?”
I do not know if it was the look on his face or the sheer audacity of his request that made me break out in laughter. My heart softened just a little.
“So now that you’ll win the bet will you call and share your winnings?”
“0722 222 222”
He quickly saved it in his phone with an incredulous look on his face.
“Ok bye” I said casually and walked away.
I had hardly gotten inside my house, 5 minutes later when my phone rang. It was him. His friends were so in shock. And jealous. He should totally take me out and buy me coffee with my half of the winnings. So what was my name? He told me his, Jamal.
I could not believe I was talking to a total stranger. And *kwanza I had given him my number off the roadside! This is where trouble comes from, I thought. But I could not help smiling.
That weekend he took me to this adorable ice cream place close to the sea. They served your ice cream with two large wafers, and syrup. I wouldn’t take the sprinklings. That would just ruin it.
We drove to the rocky cliff at the seaside. It was popular and it was the weekend. People everywhere eating *kachiri and drinking *madafu. But we found the perfect spot to park his minivan. And time passed.
The next week he picked me up from where our driver dropped me and we went to his sports club. We ordered food from the restaurant and took it up to the roof. The first time we kissed was on that roof, with the last rays of the sun going home. Neither of us wanted to go home.
I felt guilty about the boyfriend. But I didn’t want the magic to end. So I held off until I knew he was due to return in a couple of days.
When I told him his disappointed face made me wanna reach out and hug him. I did. He was sad but didn’t wanna stop seeing me.
“We can still be friends, right? Regardless of the boyfriend? Meet me for ice cream please. No strings”
but we didn’t stop kissing, because when our eyes connected, the magic was still there.
So when my boyfriend caught wind of his existence, despite my insistence that we were just friends and I had a right to have friends beside him, he gave me an ultimatum. Him or Jamal.
I agonized over my decision and finally decided that I could not let go of this relationship that I had invested in for 7 years.
It was brutal but I had to tell Jamal that I couldn’t see him again. When he called, I would no longer pick up. I broke his heart.
But my heart was broken too. I cried myself to sleep. I was resentful of my boyfriend for making me give up this guy who lit up my day, every day. He was so fine! And he liked me so much! And I gave it up, to be with, well, him!
4 years later when my boyfriend and I parted ways, I sought Jamal out. He was overseas. He told me how hard it had been for him when I shut him out. How his friends would tell him to stop calling and stop watching my house. But he couldn’t. how he felt like such a stalker (which he was, LOL!)
I told him how heart wrenching it was for me too. And how I wished I had chosen him. How I regretted never giving him a chance.
I wished we could go back together but too much pain had passed between us. We couldn’t. it was too late.”
She looked up at the man who was sitting next to her on the steps outside her house. He had been mostly silent, and barely moved as she told him the story.
After what happened between us, hating you was my obvious choice. Sometimes the thought of you or mention of your name makes me want to pick up something heavy. And throw it.
Sometimes I wish I could hurt you the way you hurt me. And sometimes I wish I had never met you.
But I understand.
So, even though I felt like a dozen daggers were plunged deep into my heart. Though I felt foolish to have trusted you, despite what everyone thought. Though I doubt that the time will come that I shall trust a man again. Though I feel angry, and betrayed.
I forgive you.
Not by my own strength.
It’s by the grace of the Lord, sufficient for me
*Chokoza – Jest, make catcalls, tease
*Kwanza – First of all
*Kachiri – Cassava crisps, popular at the Kenyan coast
*Madafu – A drink from the unmatured fruit of the palm tree