(Trigger Warning: This blogpost contains information pertaining to rape/sexual assault)
How do you think you’ll die? If someone gave you 10 seconds to guess, how long would it take before you said road accident, because you are an esteemed wild driver. Or alcohol poisoning because life’s problems dissolve in brown fiery liquid; And Jesus is always at the bottom of the bottle. Or is it suicide, Mwangi? You can try to hide those thoughts but they’ll never leave you my dear.
I wasn’t thinking of death and the forces of darkness when I met her. Quite the contrary actually, I was thinking about living! I was a 24 year old boy filled with confidence and anxiety. I had just finished my Diploma in Building Economics in TUK. I was beyond ecstatic and hopeful. Sherehe? We siphoned the Kenyan Juice into our systems until our senses resembled our pockets. So I used my remnants to take me to Kangeta near Maua to enjoy the fruits of my parents’ labor for a while. And plan my future with my bouncy, curry powder skinned Nkirote. My mother made mukimu ya njahi and danced with me. My father sent his second wife to bring us bananas. Sherehe 😎
Mugambi, my desk mate from high school, had brought sodas for the welcome back ‘party’. We talked, laughed and made irrelevant jokes about irrelevant incidences. I told him about life in the city. He gave me all the udaku concerning the village. From Mutune the butcher who slept with Muthoni wa M-pesa shop. To the proud teachers with their three pairs of shoes. And the saga of my father’s reckless chipoing. Same old shit, just a different day.
All was sunny until I asked about my gazelle, Nkirote. The mood became nimbus. Mugambi became jittery. He dramatically put one hand on my shoulder, pierced my eye with his and with such loathe-some spite he said in Kimeru, “Njoka!”He shared how Nkirote had gotten so restless that her waters needed fetching. She had been seen with two other boys before finally settling on Njagi, the widower.
Njagi was such a respectable man before his wife died during childbirth. We oohed and aahed at them. It’s probable that we killed her with our envy. Njagi was the heart of miraa business. His shambas never dried up or flooded. He had the newest and the fastest Toyota Hilux pickups for transporting miraa up to Somalia. If it wasn’t a young girl rubbing his belly, it was a politician kissing his ass. Njagi was now my father’s compadre de alcohol. They sang the same songs in their stupor. Rotated the same skirts. And after breaking each other’s noses on a random Saturday, they cuddled up in the same ditch.
It’s as if he died with his wife, and resurrected as my father’s concubine.
I digress. The 411 about Nkirote absolutely shattered me. Oh but did it fuel me! I used all my rage and disappointment to find a kajob. Before long I was making tucoins. And my life was slowly picking up. After all, what is rejection if not divine redirection? Plus jinsi wanaume ni wengi, ndivyo wanawake wamejaza ardhi. (Ama namna gani my strong women?)
I met Nkatha at Mugambi’s kiosk. She was 18 years old at the time. She wasn’t strikingly beautiful, especially with her short hair and short neck. She had tiny fat fingers and her mind always seemed occupied. This made her quiet and reserved. She was never seen with the hoodlums of the village. This, I liked.
Sometimes all a man needs is a crater to dip his matchstick. I wooed Nkatha and before long matchsticks were igniting, craters were erupting and we were melting in each other’s arms. She was slowly falling in love with me. I cared for her like a famous tiktoker cared about his fan; I could make it without her, but I couldn’t do it without her.
Nevertheless, I cared.
Of course I remember 13th January, 2017. It was around 9:00 am on a Friday but the bed was already exhausted. Nkatha’s breath warmed my chest while my hands roamed around, enjoying her softness. We were both deep in thought as “Turn your lights down low” by Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill played in the background. She slowly sat up, held my hand and spoke in Kimeru, “Tosh, I need to speak to you,”
I have that scene in mind when she slowly told me about her family’s problems. I remember admiring her intricate belly button as she told me how it was proving financially impossible to join college. A tear fell on her left breast as she announced that since she was a first born, she had to look for a job to support her five siblings. Her soft lips quivered as she reported that Njagi had invited her to his place to interview her for a job she’d be perfect for. I remember being so drawn in by this lass in distress mode, that I told her, “Do what you have to do baby,” before diving into her crater again. So good was it that I instantly passed out.
Sigh. What is wrong with me 😪.
I woke up at 5:00 pm to an empty bed. She had cleaned the house and had left a note saying that she had left some tea kwa thermos and had gone for the interview. I think the reality of the interview hit me after the first sip of the black tea she had set aside. And I realised I had sent my Nkatha to the kichinjiro. I frantically called her to tell her to come back. She wasn’t picking up. I called Mugambi to ask if she had been to the shop. She had been to the shop, yes, in the yellow dress she had come with. That calmed me down because she would have changed if she was going for the interview, right? I lit one, smoked and allowed it to take me to Nirvana.
Saturday, 14th January 2017
I remember someone pounding my door at 7:00 am. I remember my heart chambers constricting. I remember that deathly walk towards the door. I am a very forgetful person but seeing Nkatha sprawled on my doorstep with her tattered suitcase by her side will forever etch my memory. She was crying, nay, screaming to the high angels and the lit devils. She was swaying back and forth while wiping her incontrollable tears and an explosion of a runny nose with the same yellow dress.
Hell had broken loose. The worst had come.
I stood transfixed for a moment, absorbing the scene before I helped her up and into the comfort of my four walls. I handed her a glass of water and with all the possible strength I could muster, I heard my weak voice ask her to tell me what happened.
A fat red cockroach appeared from beneath the sink. I saw it start its journey towards the sink. I wondered what cockroaches eat.
In between sobs, “He had told me the interview would start at 3:00 pm. I dozed off with you and woke up startled at 2:30 pm. I had planned to go back to the house and freshen up but I didn’t have the luxury of time. So i passed by Mugambi’s to get PK…”
“Get to it!” I snarled. I was getting angry.
The fat cockroach had reached my sink by now. I saw it feel the bar of soap with its antennae. I tried to squash it but fat as it was, it still had its speed.
I could hear Nkatha say how she was warmly welcomed at Njagi’s house. She was even given a slice of fruit cake and some passion juice (how nice? 🙂). Njagi then sat across her in his spacious living room. He asked her to feel like she was at home. And that he didn’t bite. He then asked her how old she was. If she loved her family. Did she have a boyfriend? If her father allowed her to have one. All this while he was sipping his Tusker with an evil smile on his face, licking his lips at the stupid zebra that just walked into his den. I don’t know this of course, but which other scenario makes sense to you!? Huh??
I watched the fat cockroach run for dear life towards the ceiling. I could imagine its tiny heart beating as it tried to escape this dangerous human being. As it fled, a grey gecko appeared from beneath the upper cabinet. I watched as it crunched my fat friend away.
Njagi stood up and sat next to Nkatha. He touched her thigh and while she was struggling to answer his unnecessary questions, he threw himself at her attempting to kiss her. Nkatha tried to push him away but she was feeling light headed – so much for passion juice. Her hands became too heavy to lift and her eyelids too heavy to open. The last thing she remembers is Njagi unzipping his trousers, opening up her blouse and sneaking his fingers under her yellow dress.
Little did she know that the balding gecko had spiked her passion juice readying himself to commit a crime.
At 10:00 pm, Nkatha was rudely awakened by Njagi’s ‘sponyee’, Nkirote. She was told that she had overstayed her welcome and was shooed away like a stray cat. She replayed the incidents of the day as she slowly walked towards her parents’ house. Normally, she would have ran, but she felt a tearing pain from her womb whenever she tried to gain speed.
She was welcomed home by a shouting mother angered by her lateness.
Nkatha wept on somberly, incessantly, inconsolably.
She narrated the story to her mother. Her mother narrated the story to her father. Her father slapped her. Told her she was accusing a respectable man of unmentionable things. Told her he was ashamed of her. Bellowed that she had the same hood rat behaviours like her mother. And concluded by kicking them out at 2:00 o’clock in the a.m.
Muthoni wa Mpesa housed them for the night. Her mother advised her to go to my place in the morning while she attempted to talk to her hot blooded husband.
Nkatha wept some more and eventually she slept.
A memory so fresh it’s so hard to believe four years have passed.
Years of endless hospital tests. Years of being guilt tripped into marrying her. Years of separating the pro-Tosh and pro-Nkatha freedom fighters. Years of physical and mental trauma. Years of blaming myself for letting her go to that son of a bitch’s house. Years of wooing women to prove that I was still a man. Years of abhorrently hating Nkatha for stealing my 20s, that I could not even touch her.
Nkatha’s reputation had been ruined. Njagi went round saying how she offered him sex to get the job. And sent threats our way if we even dared to bring it up ever again. Fighting him was like going with pool sticks to a gunfight.
Then one day after a mindless day of drinking, I got home to find my Nkatha seated in the living room, waiting up for me. Emotion engulfed me as I watched her serve me the heated and reheated rice and beans. In that moment, I hated her so much that I loved her. And I seduced her.
Weeks later when she told me she was pregnant, the realization that I had a wife bearing my child slapped me like a forgotten debt. The penny dropped that hating her and creating all these walls was neither making the situation better nor changing it. I then vowed to at least try to be a responsible man.
We named her Nkanya, like the clean slate we were starting from.
On Valentine’s day, this year, we took two year old Nkanya to my mother’s. I had prepared my mothers’ favorite meals. I then massaged her and hoped I’d relieve her off her stress. I listened as she complained about Mwangi wa makaa. I laughed as she shared udaku from her salon.
Later on, Nkatha and I enjoyed a mindblowing wet session, coddling in each other’s warmth as we mindlessly got lost in the aftermath of a lava erupting volcanic tango episode. Her breath heating up my chest. My hands roaming around, enjoying her softness.
She suddenly sat up, her eyes saucers and shrieked, “Tosh, I need to show you something.”
It was an obituary on the online Sunday Nation.
Mathew Njagi, son of Simon Njagi and Miriam S Njagi, uncle to…yadda yadda yadda…
stabbed to death by 17 year old Sheila Kaari while he attempted to rape her.
The same way he dipped his matchstick in unsuspecting craters so was a bayonet drilled through his cholesterol riddled pot belly.
Again I ask, what’s your sweet poison?
*Kendi got her groove back and once again she’s scribbled a scrumptious nugget of a story that I’m sure sat well with your reading palate. Don’t be a wuss, head over to her blog @wakathetas.wordpress.com and indulge more. Follow her on Instagram as well @ wa_katheta. Otherwise, hasta la vista babies!*