Usually when someone asks me to meet at Java, I get jittery. I am tempted to ask them, “Do you know my ex?” Then I get anxious over what their response would be. I am afraid they might say; that tall, dark, lean guy with black silky hair from the crown of his head to the occipital. That guy who wears suits from Monday to Sunday and takes more time to brush his teeth than he takes in the shower? Yes I know him. He’s an old acquittance. I met you guys once at the Java next to Embassy House, remember? I’m the guy whom he asked to join your booth after I found no other unoccupied table and he and I both ordered for Homefries and coffee while you ordered dawa and two sausages. Remember? Then I’d go like, well… I think I do. Then I bet he will ask, what happened? Typical of me, I will say, “It’s a long story.” And so, to avoid this awkward moment, I don’t ask that at all. I just ask, which Java do you wanna meet? Danged sure if he suggests anything Next to Embassy House, I will tell him I am new here and the only place I am familiar with in Town is Bata Hilton. Then he will ask to meet me there so we can proceed together. We will pass through Aga Khan Walk. We spot the Java at Re-Insurance and opt to shorten the trip. Hurray!
He called me on Wednesday afternoon. He has this throaty voice.
My name is Maurice, do you know Salome?
Muriithi, Salome Muriithi. She’s bronze coloured with a venom piercing and always taking her selfies with her tongue out. Could be in display of the same.
Haha! She should hear of this.
Anything the matter?
Not quite. She told me you love stories… pregnancy stories.
Damn right. Are you pregnant?
*We both laugh*
Yes, with a story though, not a baby.
Okay, Where do you want to meet?
At Java on Friday.
Which Java? I asked holding my heart with both arms.
Which one would you rather?
Let’s do Aga Khan Walk at 5.30pm.
I got there some minutes after five thirty. I have not done a man’s story before and of course my nerves were thrumming relentlessly. He had picked the table closest to the door and sat facing out so when I got my phone to find him, he rose up and waved.
Wanjiku, I have seen your photos on IG, you look the same.
No! I’m not disputing. Anyway, if that’s a complement then thank you sir.
It’s nice to meet you. He said shaking my hand.
My pleasure. I said taking the empty seat, opposite to him. I remembered Frank Herbert’s Dune where Thufir Hawat tells Paul to never sit with his back to the door. Ever since I broke my clavicle, I am scared of people sneaking up on me unawares. find the story here if you missed it. Also my friend John keeps saying this, you’ve got a leg up at your observation of an environment by sitting at a position where you can see everyone.
Let’s move to that table over there. I showed him to the furthest corner. Stories are not told in the face of distraction.
Alright. You’re the boss.
I ordered for Honey BBQ Chicken Wings with spiced Fries and a cup of Dawa. He ordered Chicken Breast Salad with plain Fries and a double of Black Coffee. I watched how fine he cut into the staff on his place, careful not to fill his mouth while I jumped into my wings with my bare hands. You cannot eat wings with a fork and waste all that honey sauce. No! Dig sister, dig!
So, what brings us here?
Where do I start now, mmh! I think I already told you my name. But did I mention I’m 32 with 5 kids. All with different women?
Father Abraham, huh! That’s a basket ball team you got there man!
Are you married to either?
Married? No. I was though. The last one, no the second last, we’re in a co-parenting kind of set up. the others won’t let me in their kids lives. Well, I understand them. I hurt them. Two of them, happened when I was still young and wild. I wasn’t ready for any of that. I was twenty! I was simply exploring, having a taste of every meal from the buffet with no commitments or attachment whatsoever. I was in second year when the first one got pregnant. She was in first year in the same school. Let’s call her Mercy. She was very beautiful by the way.
What is beautiful to you?
Long natural hair, cinnamon brown complexion, short and a little plump. It’s a type by the way. Almost every woman I been involved with has these features and if not, at least not very far from that.
I have never forgotten how hard that news hit me. I left campus for two weeks in a row. I moved to my friend’s bedsitter in Zimmerman and never left the house for even a day. I had nothing manze. My hustle involved selling bhajia with my friend in campus which helped me pay part of my rent. My parents are potato farmers in Narok and things were not as good at home, financially. I have two sibling who were also in school. I couldn’t imagine breaking the news of a kid to my mzee. I couldn’t see reason.
Mercy and I had been in a situationship for around six months. I read that term in another blog some time back and I have waited this long to use it. haha! So this evening I find her waiting for me outside my room in the hostels. She was nervous and all. I asked her whether she had missed her period. haha! Well of course it was in jest and I didn’t expect her to say yes. The girl broke into tears. I got confused. Like, I don’t know what to do when a woman cries in my presence. I don’t know if I’m supposed to ask questions, hug her, cry as well or walk out and give room for her to eat her heart out. I walked out and came back after supper. She was still crying. I decided to ask her again. She said her p’s were late. My heart throbbed violently. Out of the dumbness of the moment, I asked her if it was the first time and she said yes. It was 8pm and I was sweating profusely. I walked out of the room then back in scrolling down my phone looking for something I didn’t know what. Composure could not be found. So I asked her what any 20 years old would ask. “So what are you going to do?” that was when everything took a turn. She rose up shouting and whining. She asked me whether she impregnated herself for me to imagine she was to do something about it alone. Thinking of it now it’s pretty hilarious. Women with sarcasm, wacha tu. We had an ugly exchange of words and we called each other some nasty names. In conclusion I told her I didn’t want her or anyone else to give birth for me because I wasn’t ready to board that bus and should she opt to give birth, she was on her own. I left, blocked her and all her friends and switched off my phone for two week.
So what happened after the two weeks?
To her? She quit school and went back home.
How did that make you feel?
At first, I felt relief. I was happy she left my life. I felt the weight in my chest wear off. I managed to convince myself the pregnancy wasn’t mine because it wasn’t intentional and she should have been more responsible. I forgot about it. For sometime though. It didn’t take long before I got another girl pregnant, still from campus. This one was dramatic. She moved in with me by force and swore she wasn’t leaving. I ran away again. I would attend classes and her friends would tell her they saw me but I never went back to my room. I used to move from one friend’s house to another until one time my mum called me. She was angry. I will never forget those words because she caught me off guard. Maurice ni kusoma unasoma ama ni wasichana wa wenyewe unazalisha? My mum has always been bold and straight forward. I was embarrassed mann! Lemmi tell you Wanjiku, nothing beats a man than having his mum come at him for whatever cause. That’s always a battle that as a man, you cannot run neither can you face it head on. That’s the only woman who has some sort of power over you. For me that was a blow I didn’t see coming so I did very little to avoid it. To date I cannot tell you how that girl got my mother’s number.
The two girls gave birth the same year and by the then, I had stopped caring. Or rather I was doing a good job at pretending not to care. I am not so sure there’s any man who rests easy a whole 365 days aware of his blood out there. There are those days you hunger to know how your son/daughter looks like. whether they have your nose and toes or shape of the head. There are always those moments. It’s only easy for us to put everything in the back burner because we’re not constantly with these kids. You know bonds are created right? Plus again as men we have a lot on our plates. We are always engaged with things that eventually override the smell of babies. Especially babies we are not seeing.
Later on I fell in love with this woman. My ex wife. She’s beautiful and I bet you now know how beautiful. We have a daughter. 2 years old. Ah! She’s my world. The day she was born, I cried. I was angry with myself for having denied myself the opportunity to be with my other kids. Had I known how it feels to hold a vulnerable human being in your arms, I would have behaved better. I would have been present. The two boys must be about 10 years now.
Was that the reason your wife left?
The other kids? Partly. I didn’t tell her about it before we got married. Well, to me it didn’t matter and I didn’t imagine it to be important to tell her. But then you know your past always comes back and with bad intentions right? So she found out anyway. She was mad. I remember that night she told me that any man who leaves his kids unprotected and rejected is not a good man. A man who cannot love his own cannot claim to love anyone else. It wounded me to admit that she was right. Well of course she forgave me. But only until I got in the way of our happy ending by impregnating this lady from our office. Okay, it was not intentional also. We had gone on a Company trip to Mombasa and it was all fun and games until a pair of twins was conceived. By then my wife was 8 months pregnant. So of course, there was no way I was going to tell her. I was happy when she gave birth. A kind of happiness I have not experienced before or after. I quit my job and changed my number because I was a coward. I didn’t want the other lady to ruin my marriage with her pregnancy that I never asked for and which she refused to handle like we had prior agreed. Well, bad news travel fast. My wife heard of it and again she said, any man that runs from his blood is not a good man. She was clear she didn’t want to be with a half baked man. She left. A part of me would want a relationship with all my kids but then another part of me dreads. I don’t know!
Well, I’m not here to judge neither am I a psychic to try and fix your life. So let’s call it a story.
Cheers to life!