“…Timing ya shetani! ni maridadiiii…! That’s where the show begins with Mkurugenzi for me. I don’t know about you, but this guy Abel is my cup of chai latte served with fruit scones. There’s just this thing… about his tone that is just stupid with humor in it. I will always laugh at his dry jokes, always.” She said.
“Well, I love Abel too. I agree, he can be off his head, in a good way, yeah!”
Hello Com’s! So today Eunice and I finally got the guts to unveil this story. She was a bit skeptical about it because she felt she was exposing herself a little too much more than she could shoulder. She still needed the cat solid in the bag. It’s in my obligation then to ensure she stays incognito until told otherwise. And so Eunice is not her real. She met me on Instagram. Ladies and gents, this is the point you get up to brew yourself a cup of coffee. You will need it because I’m about to cause you some cold sweat. And if you are an emotional wreck like myself, you’ll need a roll or a double shot of whatever rocks your boat. Brace for impact brethren!
Eunice is turning 24 in a month. She said that so comfortably I wonder whether she’ll be wearing the same boldness six years to come. I haven’t had time to think why when we were young, we looked forward to growing up so bad but when we’re here, we want to halt it. Typical of humans. This girl is my definition of an out-and-out chocolate-box. Bro! She’s the girl who will be running in and out of your kitchen in a dera, drawing your attention to all this right fat around her hips and behind. Her face beat always perfect, her nails often manicured with inky-black polish, offset with a strip of gold foil. And her hair, ah! she on every occasion has this pineapple afro from the photos on the gram. Damn! she’s spellbinding. At least from what I see on her social media. I’ve not met her in person. She hardly posts her son and when she does, she’s sure to do those with his vertebral facing the camera. I’ll bet my last shilling on her being one of those moms who cower from posting their heirs on social media because the population there is ruthless. People behind the keyboard got some balls. You need to buy another heart to deal with. They can make some crazy arse remarks; like how much your kid’s bumpy nose and broad forehead resemble the dad’s. Such audacity these ones! And they gon’ say this with so much insensitivity towards the indifference you’ve had to deal with ever since the jagoff said “No, Thank you!” to the pip he plonked in your womb. If not, she’s in the lot who believe by posting, you make it easy for bloodsuckers to trace prey. Or she may be in this last category that suppose, that your child could be irked you put them on social media without their accord?” Wai.., whaa..? come again Shantel! I wanna get that right. Okay! can we role play this eh, you’re Nish right now, you’re thirteen and you’re mad at me because…? Oh! I posted you on social media, ten years ago, without what?… ah young las! You joke a lot. Can you just take a seat or go pee Boo-boo! find something to do, anything! Because… I am not sorry. Know why? Because… here’s why… until you’re eighteen, I… am at the wheel whether or not you like. So shut your little baby face and suck it up princess.
So anyway, Eunice and I have been silently following each other although double tapping from time to time. This one time on my daughter’s birthday, after I posted that “aaww-they-shoo-cuute” photo of both of us, surprisingly, that shoot took us at most twenty minutes. Imagine! I know right! Well, my two year old is as snappy and unaccommodating as any other, but with balloons and toy cars, ah! you have her under your thumb. So just like that and we were done.
Eunice slid into my DM. She really did toot my motherhood horn with all those honeyed words. You know them yeah? Of course you do. those comments y’all make; “both of you look so adorable. How lovely a mom you look. Aaww… I loves your bond with Nish. (Nish is my daughter, Eunice nicknamed her)
“You make it look so easy. Me, Wanjiku, I honestly don’t know how I got here.” She said.
“Do you wanna talk about it?”
“So you can write about it? No, thank you.”
I honestly didn’t see that coming. It hadn’t struck me as a story I’d pen but when she mentioned, I thought it. So I sent her that face imoji with tears running from the side of the cheeks and she sent two back. After which I typed her a long text hoping it would foster some sort of fellow feeling.
“Well, I love to post photos of me and my offspring, because, why not? But don’t be fooled to think it’s greener on this side. We don’t go announcing our setbacks to the world. It’s not always as graceful. I have days when I don’t want to go home to be a mom but to just eat and sleep. I have days when I’m sick of the tantrums. I have days when I’m anxious about her future. Because yes, I don’t have it all together. Not every day is a beautiful day. Some are sunrise, others like the January sun, others are dull while others are total gloom. But after everything is taken into account, I’m that mom who’s shaping up every day.”
“aaawww, Thank you Wanjiku. Honestly thank you for those words of encouragement but I’m still not letting you in on my story. At least not for now.”
“Haha! Fair enough”
“What do you mean?”
“At-least-not-for-now, means you will talk about it. So whenever you’re ready Miss. I will be here.”
About two months later, she came back to my DM. Not with sweets this time but with a , “can I get your number?”
“Why? you want to use me as your guarantor on Asap Kash? Haha! if they call me I will tell them I don’t know you.”
Haha! I want to start sending your daughter’s dowry.”
“Which kuyu mum hates dowry?”
So Eunice calls me one Saturday evening towards the end of July.
“Hey Wanjiku…” Said a cracking voice from the other end. “Wrong timing?”
“I have just put my daughter to sleep, poured myself a glass of whisky with honey and a thin slice of lemon. I was just about to pull my shawl so I could YouTube and chill. I watch a lot of AGT and BGT because I love Simon. Ah that man!
“I watch those too, sometimes though.”
Also, I am smitten with Howie Mandel’s unrestrained laughter. His expressions too, Oh, my god! I would indulge and vest in him so much power by letting him leave as a demigod. This guy! ah! ah! By the way there’s not a time I see him and not think about my friend Charles. They’re a mirror image of each other; Same bald, same lips, same eyes, same charm, now the golden parachute is that petite goatee beard that Charles won’t even let me touch. Not for anything.
“Would you marry him?”
Who, Howie? If that was a option, off course.”
“I meant your friend but that there is an answer too.”
“Anyway, do you want to listen or should we talk more about your friend, Allan?”
I bet she rolled her eyes there.
“Okay, Eu… talk to mama. How was it you got here?”
“You gave me your number.”
“Haha!” I mean motherhood, bonkas!”
“Oh! hehe! It’s quite a story.”
“And that’s why you’re in my space tonight. I love stories.”
She started to sob. I could tell from how her tone changed. At this point, words were barely coming as intended, so I jumped in.
“How old is your son now?”
“He turned 3 same month your daughter turned 2.”
Hmm! meaning you got knocked up at 20?”
“Haha I knew you’d do that.”
“Hot adolescent blood huh!”
We both laugh.
“How was it though? Not the act, I mean the pregnancy, was it something you wanted?”
“Haha… Wanjiku! whoever wants to get pregnant at 20 really? I guess every girl at this point dreams of the convectional good-life. You know, the one where you graduate, get a good job, get married and live happily ever after!”
“I know right? look at us now…haha. So how was it?”
I remember Tish and I had gone for thrift at Gikomba that day. We used to sell mtush in campus. I suddenly experienced some type of lightheadedness. It’s a feeling I had never experienced before so it caught me off guard. It prolonged for sometime then I past out. When I came back, I met faces, vague faces, then Tish calls out,” Eunice, uko poa? twende hosi?” I get up, dust off and take from a keringet bottle that the vendor shares with me. My stomach is bloated and my tongue is sour. I ask Tish to take me home. I used to live with my aunt and her husband and their two kids in a double room house in Umoja. One room served as the living room during the day and our bedroom at night while the other was kitchen cum master bedroom.
So did you ever…. your aunt and uncle…. you know… at night…?
What? it’s my imagination you know!
Ehe… So you leave Gikomba…?
Tish gets me home. My aunt never liked her. She often insisted Tish was bad influence. That she was teaching me how to drink booze and walk naked. Haha! You know how parents are, yeah! They’ll never see blemish in their own. They will always look for who to blame for their kids misdeeds. This time aunty noticed the tension. It was obvious she wanted to ask only she didn’t how to. Tish shot at my aunt going on about how I gave her a scare at the market, how she felt I should see a doc…yada, yada, yada! Aunty gives me that glance. You know that look that asks you, are you pregnant? who is responsible? are you going to talk or should I make you? Young woman if you don’t start talking I will do something stupid that we both will not like. I was dumbfounded. My knees suddenly felt numb. That headrush comes back only this time I don’t pass out, I’m brought back by a hot slap in the face. Ni ya nani? She asks. Everything turns blurry. Tish looks at me with remorse. Looking back, I almost sure whatever was in Tish mind at that point. I wouldn’t be wrong to believe her mind was going something like, f**k my big mouth!”
I started to count my dates since my last flow. I couldn’t remember when. I had always had an irregular flow. Missing ones or twice before had never stressed me. This time I had lost count of how many times I had missed. My aunt gripped tight my afro and angrily jolted me like a defibrillator jolting a dead body saying she’s going to kill me if I didn’t start talking. I remember her asking us whether we didn’t know about condoms and contraceptives. What sort of dunderheads are you? Na mnaenda shule kufanya nini kama hamjui kuzuia mimba? Eunice hapa kwangu huwezi zalia. Utaenda ukafufue mama yako huko kaburini mzalie huko na yeye. My heart was bruised. I couldn’t come to terms with those words. I went down on my knees with tears running down my face in disbelief. She had mentioned my mum, her sister in such bad taste (her tone changes again and she starts to sob) I feel my eyebags swell heavy. I put the phone on speaker and sip a big one from my glass to control my emotions.
Eunice ukimaliza kulia uchukue takataka zako zote utoke hapa kwangu. Sitakulea na nikulelee. That was the moment my life took a turn and I’m still recovering from that to date.
“Lucas and I met at a club in town. It was on one of those full-life Friday nights when you’d meet girls queuing outside that famous strip club along Kimathi Street. They closed though. Damn! That was life man! It was our girl’s night out. We took our seats at a corner we loved so we could steer clear drunk and uncontrollable men at same time be in the way of potential sponsors for the night. We always ordered a bottle of famous grouse. Just after we order our mzinga, at around 9.30pm, this guy comes. He’s tipsy but very smooth. He’s that guy who makes girls laugh not because his jokes are funny, not even because he looks like Luwi Capello but because he smells like Jimi Wanjigi. He looks like those guys who have bought an apartment in Kileleshwa and watch how they say it kile‘ with an attitude. Those you find in the club talking about tenders and lands. For that, we let him joins us. We were four ladies now with a gent. He pulls a seat from the table behind him and places it between me and Tish. I notice the grin he wears. I smile back. Wanjiku, when whisky starts getting sweet , you know the party has began.
We drunk and made merry. Also we took turns to go watch the strippers because it’s never wise to leave a table unmanned at the club. So when it was my turn, Lucas joined me. I remember him placing a hand just few inches below my waist and my blood was singing. He asked to dance. You never say no to goosebumps. We danced. Danced too close to each other. We touched. Our lips touched. We kissed a little. Then I turned to walk back to the table and he followed. He pulled my hand signaling me to sit on his laps. It was a moment. long story short, we ended up in the gents with my dress high up and his pants way down.
Hot! I can only imagine.
We both laugh.
So now here you are, very pregnant and your aunt throws you out. How longs after the night? And where is Lucas?
I became aware of the time after Tish and I went for an ultrasound a week after my aunt showed me the door. I was eight weeks heavy. About Lucas, that’s not even his real name. Nothing became of us after that night. We never exchanged contacts and I do not even remember what he said his name was. It was just a Friday Night Out.
Hmm! So this Tish, took you in?
Something of the sort. Let’s say she took me to Mark’s (her boyfriend) two bedroom apartment in Nyayo Estate. Tish was also as young and living with her parents. In my condition, there was no way she could’ve taken me to her parents. She managed to convince her man to house me for couple of weeks before we could figure it all out. It didn’t last long though. He came at me one night. Tish had exams so she spent the night in campus with her friends. Mark hit the door to the room I was sleeping in so hard it flung open with a bang. Before I could come to senses he was all on me attempting to tear apart my attire. Wanjiku I begged him. I cried. He gripped my mouth so tight I couldn’t make a sound. Soon I was losing breathe. I was losing strength. Whenever he let loose my mouth, I would beg him in the name of Tish my face covered in tears. I asked him to let me leave his house instead if it was getting to that. If there are things that really move God to tears, that must have been one because, girl! The dungeon shook, the chains fell and the demons in Mark left him. I imagine there’s a herd of pigs that drowned that day. He began to cry. He apologized pleading with me not to tell his girlfriend insisting it was the alcohol and that it would never happen again. But I had to leave you know. I couldn’t stand him after that. I knew that was no longer my safe haven and I just didn’t know how to tell Tish about it. I didn’t sleep that night. I packed out the next morning without a word. I guess he called Tish to tell her that he threw me out because I tried to seduce him or something and she bought it. Tish without a question sent me one long text calling me a homeless pregnant whore and a husband snatcher and a gold-digger and that I deserved everything happening to me because I was an ungrateful fool. My heart sank. I did not reply. I deleted it and deleted her number.
I was now out in the street of Nyayo Estate with only a hundred bob I had taken from Mark’s kitchen. I didn’t know what exactly to do with it. If you have experienced hunger when pregnant then you know it’s not the usual. It’s total emptiness in the abdomen and it gets painful the longer the deficiency of food. It was either one of two; eat and walk to town, or catch a matatu hungry. I choose the former. After taking a roadside meal I was left with thirty shillings and transport to town was seventy. I had to negotiate. Good luck the kange was sympathetic. I actually didn’t have a destination, I was just following instincts. when I got to town, I figured my next haven would be my grandmother’s in Gatanga. Now my only problem now was how to get there. I scrolled down my contact list trying to find who I would call on but no one. Through my years in the streets, I knew of a place where they bought dead phones. I knew I’d make a killing with my Tecno Spark 2. So I walk there. They offered K.sh 1500 which I disputed insisting it was only four months old with no damages but they were bent on it. It’s not like I was spoilt for choice anyway. I was desperate and it was obvious. So I had to bite the bullet already. Sometimes life throws a saddle on you before you are ready to run.
I got to Gatanga. The atmosphere there is pure bliss but I was angry to be there. I broke down when I saw that old woman. What have I brought on to myself and now to her? The tea she grows hardly pays her enough. And now here I was. With the intention of interrupting her budget and not alone but with child. I didn’t know how to tell her. I just left it to time to expose. You know, your grandmother from your mother’s side is literally your mom. She can never turn you away. Regardless. “I know that Eunice.” I bet you do.
Wanjiku I wanted to get rid of the pregnancy. I would put on very tight jeans with a very tight belt hoping the embryo would die a natural death. One time I took a full mug of unfiltered black tea because I had heard from experts that tea leaves cause miscarriages. I would overwork myself and go for prolonged period without food and water. But the pregnancy kept growing Instead. In my last trimester, I would sleep flat on my back in bed with the hope that the baby would choke on umbilical cord and be born dead. That’s also another thing I had heard. But guess what? I gave birth safe to a healthly bouncing baby boy. And I wasn’t happy. I have heard a lot of women saying how their baby’s brought joy to their lives, oh! how they forgot all their anxieties when they first heard their babies cry, anga how they felt a warmth of real happiness… Me… I was bitter. I was angry. The air was cold against my skin and every time he cried, my head was bursting in frustration and I wanted him to shut up so I could sleep. Then when he slept, I would stare at his innocence and cry. I wanted so bad to feel some type of affection towards him. I wanted to love him. I really tried. But he very often shattered a dam I had built in my mind, freeing a river of thoughts that I was powerless to overcome. He reminded me of my reckless behavior, my mistakes, of how all my plans for my future came down in flames .He was going to be a scar arousing bad memories throughout my life. And hated that. Whenever he got fussy, I would try to carry him around singing him ba ba black sheep… only I got fed up too soon. I would then leave him in bed to cry till he slept. Then I would return and cry in remorse for having left him unattended. I knew I was doing a shoddy job with him but I couldn’t do better. I even avoided that eye contact when breastfeeding every so often because it caused me this hollow feeling in my chest. It made me feel guilty of toxic parenting. To date, I can barely spend much time with him because I do not want him to notice my cold heart.
So where is he?
I left him in Gatanga with my old woman. I call often to ensure they are doing well and not lucking of anything. I just can not be physically present and it’s the best of both worlds; I get to act like I love him and not show how I really feel. Whenever I visit and he comes to hug me, I whimper, yearning to love him with the same intensity he does me.
I sip from my glass holding back tears.
So, what happens when he starts to ask after his dad?
I don’t know.
How much did you say you’re sending as first installment? My daughter’s dowry you know.
Anyway Eunice, I’m really sorry about what you’ve been through and still going through. My voice starts to quiver so I hang up and pour myself another glass.