Toxic

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(I am bleeding. I can barely see out of one eye. My whole body is on fire.) Concept Photography Courtesy of Muruka Matuku and Lynn Angela

(Based on an incredible true story. Out of respect for the privacy of the characters, names of people and places have been changed. Similarities with names of actual people and places is purely coincidental. A few details have been amended for dramatic effect.)

Chapter One: Sweet Annie

Name of song: Sweet Annie

Name of Band: Zac Brown Band

Album: Uncaged

Sweetheart I’ve been living in a fantasy. But one day lightening will strike, and my bark will lose its bite, but don’t give up on me. What will be will be, Sweet Annie…

August 31, 2017. Along Nairobi-Nyeri Highway. 21:36h

I have decided to call this chapter “Sweet Annie” because in my head, it is the genesis. The beginning that morphs into the story of who and sometimes what I am. Maybe my story commences at birth like everyone else’s, or maybe it commences on the day I lay half naked on my father’s favorite couch as his best friend raped me.

Every now and then I get inside my car and drive at night towards nowhere. Last time I did this, I ended up crossing the border into Uganda through Busia. As I drive, I listen to music; music that has somehow touched me in ways I can’t comprehend and which means a whole lot more than just lyrics and beats to me.

So every chapter in this story will be named after a song – for no other reason than that it is my story and I’ll tell it however I choose to tell it.

Amalemba – Kakamega. August 30, 1997. Saturday 08:52h

My mom has gone to church because tomorrow is a big day for her. We are staunch members of the Salvation Army Church here in Kakamega and my mom will be promoted to Captain. It is a big honor for her. I am too young to care much about it.

I am playing outside on the porch of our house when one of my neighbors knocks on the wooden fence. There is one piece of timber loose and the neighbor has a habit of pushing it aside so that he can talk to me from his side of the fence.

His name is Corporal Jake Malekhi. I will never forget him because he is the man who raped me.

He knocks on the fence, pulls aside the lose piece of timber, peeps through and whispers loudly;

Corporal: Charlotte! Charlotte! Are you there Charlotte?

I am here. Playing. Alone. Minding my business. I face the fence knowing exactly what he wants.

Corporal: I see you! Come closer.

I get closer. He stands up and pulls down his pants. Something meaty drops from his pants. He holds it in his hands and shows it to me through the fence.

Corporal: Hold it Charlotte. It is warm as always.

I hold it. It is warm as always. I am seven years old. I don’t know I shouldn’t hold it but it feels wrong to. I told my mom that I don’t like our neighbor. When she asked why, I couldn’t explain. I just started crying. This whole thing felt so wrong. But how could I explain it to her?

So she beat me and told me that I shouldn’t dislike people.

So I hold it. And he releases a grunt like he is in pain. I let go and he says that I shouldn’t let go. Could I instead put it on my lips like I do with the sweets that come with sticks? I shake my head negatively and let go off his “warm pipe”. It has grown harder now. It scares me as it pops through the fence on to my face like the muzzle of his pistol.

09:13h

The Corporal has gone back to his house, walked out his main door, down the street, opened our gate and let himself inside the house. He summons me and I find him on the couch; my father’s favorite couch. He is shirtless and his large stomach pops out in front of him like a drum.

My father has a stomach like his. Huge. Round. Uncomfortable to look at. The two men are friends. They are both servicemen in Kenya Army. They drink together. Smoke together. Clean their boots and their guns together. As far as I can tell, the two men could be brothers.

I have seen my father’s stomach a million times because he likes walking around the house shirtless especially in the morning as he prepares to go to work. I have seen him shirtless on this couch a million times as he watches his favorite action movies.

My father and I have watched hundreds of movies on this couch. He always makes space for me by tapping the cushion beside him and inviting me to sit with a smile. He calls me Princess Charlotte and it warms me up every time.

Now on his favorite spot sits the Corporal, shirtless. He taps the cushion beside him just like my father does. But I don’t like the smile on his face. It is scary. Malicious. Sinister. Something about it sends chills crawling down my spine.

Corporal: Come and sit beside me Charlotte.

Me: (Shakes my head negatively)

Corporal: Your mother told me you don’t like me too much. Asked what I did to you. Come and sit. I want us to be friends.

Me: (Reluctantly, I drag my feet to the couch)

Corporal: (Smiles widely. His teeth are like maize cobs on his shining dark face. He places his heavy hand around my shoulders. His voice booms and his chest vibrates as he speaks) Charlotte the harlot. How can we be friends?

Me: What’s a harlot?

Corporal: It is a woman who is friends with a man. And the word harlot rhymes with your name. Charlotte. Hence, Charlotte the harlot.

Me: What’s rhyme?

Corporal: It is when two words end up sounding the same. Like “End” rhymes with “Bend”, “Shake” rhymes with “Make” “Tony” rhymes with “Horny”…

Me: (Pull myself away from his heavy arm around my shoulder and look him square in the face burning with curiosity) What’s horny?

A bulge rises in his pants. A sudden up and then down movement.

Corporal: Boys have horns. (He sits upright on the couch and spreads his legs in front of him) When those horns rise up in need of play, those boys are said to be horny.

I am very scared. There is a pain in my chest and my mouth is suddenly very dry. I don’t know this yet, but I am at the very zenith of terror. My problem is, I don’t know why I am scared. Why I feel so threatened. I can’t see what propagates my fear. I am just seated there beside my father’s best friend, trying to tell myself that I shouldn’t be afraid.

I can hear his booming voice asking if I want to play with his horn.

His pants are around his ankles. He takes my hand and places it on the horn, asking me to slowly make up and down jerking movements with my hand. I can hear my mom telling me not to dislike people. I can hear the corporal telling me that he just wants to be friends.

He closes his eyes and faces our stained ceiling. He grunts. Like he is in pain. So I stop. The smile on his face is gone when he looks at me. And now I can see exactly what I was so afraid of earlier. The animalistic glare in his eyes. He seems so determined to cause me harm.

My mouth pops open to scream but his strong hand finds my throat and squeezes. The other hand rips my panties off and I am pinned on my daddy’s favorite couch. My body is making these involuntary up and down movements as painful pressure stabs every inch of me.

He is grunting and I am thinking of school. Of all the times my class teacher has caned me for reporting to school late. I am thinking that me reporting to school late most mornings is my father’s fault because he can’t bear the thought of waking me up so early in the morning.

Last week Tuesday he woke up at 05:00h and started listening to KBC Idhaa ya Taifa. Maroon Commandos song called “Amka” was playing.

Uvivu ni adui mkubwa, wa ujenzi kwa taifa, kwani ndicho kiini hasa, kisababishacho njaa…” (Laziness is development’s biggest enemy, because it is the main cause of hunger….)

My father was pacing all over the house. I could hear his footfalls all over the place as he took a shower whistling and singing along, but grossly off-key. I could hear the swish swoosh of his brush against his teeth. The bristles of his strong shoe brush against his Army boots.

Then he stood at the door to my bedroom and asked;

Dad: Don’t Princesses go to school these days?

Me: This particular princess is sick today dad.

Dad: No she is not. If she tells me the truth, I might grant her most important wish.

Me: I really don’t want to go school today.

Dad: (Enters the room and sits at the edge of my bed) Honesty will get you very far in this life Charlotte. Never lie to me again, OK?

Me: OK.

And he left for work. And when mom came home at 08:00h from her night shift at work, she found me still in dreamland and she couldn’t decide who to be more mad at. Me or my father.

As I lay on my father’s favorite couch, the couch on which we had made so many memories, I feel something changing in me. The birth of something ugly.

(I feel something changing in me. The birth of something ugly.) Courtesy: Muruka Matuku and Lynn Angela

My name is Charlotte, I am seven years old, and at this moment, I am lying under my rapist, feeling life draining out of me from between my legs. I don’t know when I pass out but when I come to, the Corporal is splashing water on my face.

He passes me some money. I don’t even know how much it is. And he tells me to keep quiet about our little friendship or this time, my mother will surely kill me.

When my mother comes home from church later, she finds me cooped up in my room with a storybook that I am pretending to read. The Corporal took my bloodied dress with him and cleaned the cushions as much as he could, then turned them over with the wet side facing down.

I tell her that I am not feeling well, so instead of going out to play, could I just stay in my room and read? She appreciates studies so it doesn’t take much to convince her.

21:45h

Dad is home from another shift at the barracks. He finds me in bed. I think he looks immaculate in his uniform.

Dad: (Smiling) I hear the Princess isn’t doing so well today.

Me: (Smiling back) She’ll be OK

Dad: (Sits on the bed) Where does it hurt?

He places the back of his hand on my forehead and frowns. My temperature is right where it should be. He touches my cheek and my neck.

Dad: Are you in pain?

There are little furrows between his eyes. His sharp look is tearing me apart. Looking for signs of truth on my face and I can’t bare it. So I look away fast. My heart grows heavy. He is my best friend. I don’t know how to lie to him. Not about this. And I can’t imagine him sitting on that couch shirtless again, watching his “Commando” movies with me beside him. Something is broken beyond repair.

He places his hand gently on my shoulder and I slap it away violently. I find his touch abhorring and he puts his hands up in surrender.

There is pain on my groin that comes and goes with shuttering thuds.

Dad: Charlotte (His voice is grave. Deep. Concerned. Worried. Scared even) What is going on? You can trust me.

I know. So when I pull away the blanket, it is not to show my dad my suffering. It is to share the darkest moment of my life with my best friend. My sheets have all these bloodspots on them. I have been bleeding all day.

Dad: You are seven. (He is now confused) You shouldn’t be having your periods for another four or five years.

Me: What are periods?

Dad: It’s a female thing. Your mom can explain better than I can. (Standing up) I’ll fetch her.

I grab his hand and pull him so violently that he crushes on the bed, more startled at my resolve than anything else. And the sound of my voice when I speak must be what scares him the most.

Me: DON’T! (It’s a desperate shriek) Don’t tell her.

Dad: Hey, hey (His warm palm cups my cheek) It’s OK. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Women go through this kind of thing all the time.

Me: You don’t understand. It is not what you think it is.

I tell him what it is. He listens silently. I beg him not to tell anyone. I make him swear not to. Even at seven, I don’t want to carry the embarrassment around. I feel very strongly that this is my secret to keep. He hugs me. He lets me cry on his shoulder. He is an Army medic and he treats me to the best of his capability with the medicine in the house. An hour later, he leaves.

And that is the last time I ever saw my dad.

Word on the grapevine is that he goes to his closet, fetches his illegally acquired Beretta, goes to the Corporal’s house and finds him in the kitchen assisting his dear beloved wife to prepare dinner. Their twin daughters are in the living room watching TV.

Dad: (Smiling at his best friend. His gun is tucked in his pants) Hey guys. Dinner smells good.

Corporal: Hey man. Doesn’t it always. (Whispers loudly enough for the both of them to hear) I was blessed with a female Midas. Every meal she touches turns to flavored gold. (He spanks his wife. She shrikes, laughs and hits him with a tablecloth playfully. They all enjoy a laugh)

Dad: Hey, can I talk to you for a second? I need to borrow something.

Corporal: Yeah sure. (Pecks his wife on the cheek) Be right back baby.

Wife: Love you…

Corporal: And I hate you. But I looooooove those curves (Makes an hourglass impression with his hands as he leaves the kitchen)

My dad takes him out to the lawn behind their house where the Corporal asks;

Corporal: What’s up bro?

Dad: (Places his hand on his best friend’s shoulder) You know how they say that actions speak louder than words?

Corporal: I’m not sure I follow.

Dad: (Fetches his automatic gun, points it at the Corporal’s tummy and looks him right in the eye) This is one of those situations where I can’t find the words to tell you how pissed I am right now about what you did to my daughter. So I’ll just have to show you.

Corporal: Bro…Wait…

But there is no waiting. Not when my father’s finger is yanking the trigger back. The bullet leaves the gun with a loud BANG, enters the Corporal’s tummy and exits through his back leaving a huge hole on his shirt on its way out.

His wife hears the shot and comes running out screaming at her daughters to lie flat on the floor. She finds her husband kneeling in front of my father whose smoking gun is still in his hand.

Corporal: I’m sorry bro…

My father doesn’t speak. He just squeezes the trigger again. This time hitting him on the chest. The force of the shot sends the Corporal crashing on his back facing the night sky. My father just stands there, watching him coldly. He points the gun at him again and fires again and again and again until the magazine goes empty.

The Corporal’s wife doesn’t even scream. She just stands there, frozen, watching with her eyes popping as the bullets tear her husband apart. She continues freezing even as my father walks past her saying, “I wish I could say I am sorry, but I am not”.

He drives to the barracks and confesses his crime to his Commanding Officer. They court martial him and when asked why he did it, why he executed his best friend in front of his wife, he said, “I don’t know. I just got home and realized I didn’t like him too much.”

So he was sentenced to death.

Monday. February 3, 2003. 11:02h

Kamukunji Secondary School. Nairobi

I am thirteen years old when my mother accompanies me to Kamukunji Secondary School, a mixed day school, to register as a form one student.

At the queue, I spot him. Amin. His eyes. Those wide circular windows with a brown that showers me with a homely feeling. That’s what gets me most about him. He has a great smile, sure, but I find myself getting lost in those eyes.

Later when I get home to Shauri Moyo where my mom and I live in a crappy single room, I tell my best friend, “I think I wet my pants.”

April 2003 – May 2005

One day

Me: Hi.

Amin: Hello

Me: Is it just me or do we all put so much pressure on ourselves?

Amin: (Looks over his shoulder. Then back at me) You talking to me?

Me: Yeah. (Slight blush) But if you don’t want me to…

Amin: (Making space on the grass beside him. We are on the 11:00h break) Sit down. (As I sit)_ What do you mean, pressure?

We are seated under a tree facing the football pitch at Kamukunji Secondary School. There is an ongoing soccer match; there are a bunch of students standing around, girls and boys…

Me: Look at those people over there (I direct him to a group of four. Two guys and two girls) They are all trying so hard to get the other person to like them. Becomes a burden after a while.

Amin: I don’t know. If you don’t make the effort, it becomes a bit of a bore, right?

Another Day

Amin: Hi stranger

Me: Hello

Amin: Have you seen my broom?

Me: You own a broom in school?

Amin: Yeah. And I want to use it to sweep you off your feet.

Me: (Rolls eyes) Please don’t use any cheesy lines on me.

Amin: Why? You too good for lines?

Me: Yes. As a matter of fact, I am.

And then another day

Me: Hi

Amin: Hello

Me: Did you find that broom you were looking for?

Amin: I kinda lost the energy of looking for it.

Me: Yeah well, good riddance. Only witches walk around looking for brooms.

Amin: (Smiles) You are a tough nut, aren’t you?

Me: You want to use a broom on me. Like I’m trash or something.

Amin: Well, forgive me for wanting to please you.

I look at him. Really look at him. Peer my eyes into his.

Me: I want to run my fingers through your long soft hair. I want to feel the texture, between my fingers. I wonder how that’ll make me feel. I want to run the back of my hand down your cheek. You have a square jaw and I love observing as you grind it thinking nobody’s watching you. I love your eyes. I love getting lost in them. I love your smile. It is genuine and I love the fluidity with which you dribble the ball. I love your company. You have a sense of depth that I can’t quite decipher. Yet. Given time, I will. I love how you peel the world back layer after layer and see it for the raw, uncaring and cold place it is. Amin, you’re a gem. And if I were you, I’d stay away from girls who fall for your stupid “Have you seen my broom” lines.

He can’t talk. He wants to smile but he is having a difficult time wiping that goofy look on his face. So I pat him on the shoulder and walk away.

Yet another day

Amin: Hello

Me: Hi

Amin: I’m sorry.

Me: Why?

Amin: I didn’t mean to belittle you with that line

Me: That was over two months ago. You’re still there?

Amin: I’m trying to apologize here

Me: Nope. You’re trying to start a conversation.

Amin: Why are you so hard on me?

Me: Am I?

Amin: Yes. I come to talk to you but you run to that Mburu dude. Is he your boyfriend or something?

Me: Take care. You’re beginning to sound jealous.

Amin: Look, I just want to hang out with you, alright?

Me: OK. I want to hang out with you too.

Amin: Can we walk home together this evening?

Me: Sure.

And then another day

He finds me reading Ernest Hemingway’s “Men Without Women” in the library.

Amin: What are you reading?

Me: Hello to you too

Amin: Do we have to say these hellos?

Me: Don’t we?

Amin: I don’t know. Everyday feels the same. Like we’re just caught up in one long unending day.

Me: And that creeps you out?

Amin: It makes me feel like greetings grow redundant after a while.

Me: They are a mark of courtesy Amin. It looks like I am still teaching you how to grow up.

Amin: What are you reading?

Me: Men without women

Amin: Sounds catchy (Leans close to read the page that I am reading and reads it out loud)

“Are you married?”

“No, but I hope to be.”

“The more of a fool you are,” he said. He seemed very angry. “A man must not marry.”

“Why, Signor Maggiore?”

“Don’t call me ‘Signor Maggiore’.”

“Why must not a man marry?”

“He cannot marry. He cannot marry,” he said angrily. “If he is to lose everything, he should not place himself in a position to lose that. He should not place himself in a position to lose. He should find things he cannot lose.”

Ernest Hemingway at his Typewriter. Courtesy: Wikipedia

Amin: (Smiles) The dialogue is good.

Me: I find it atrocious to call Ernest Hemmingway’s dialogue “good”.

Amin: Is it yours?

Me: Yeah. But please don’t borrow it.

Amin: Why not?

Me: Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to hear a no from me.

Amin: Can I borrow it once you’re done?

Me: No.

Amin: Why not? Are you one of those nuts who protect books like they’re babies?

Me: Yes. Now go away.

He leaves. And comes back five minutes later with a flower he has plucked from somewhere in the school. He kneels beside me on one knee, presents me the flower with an angelic smile and soothes;

Amin: Please Charlotte, I beg that you let me borrow your awesome book after you’re done reading. I promise I’ll give it back in one piece.

Other students in the library are watching with smiles and wide eyes. So I blush. He knows how to make me blush. Him and those large brown eyes and a smile that hypnotizes not only me but that invisible aura that people call a soul.

I promise to let him borrow the book as I take his flower. But we get kicked out of the library with a stern warning that if we come back before the end of two weeks, the principal will hear of our shenanigans.

Oh, and another day

Amin: Hello Charlotte

Me: Amin! Hi!

Amin: What’s going on with you? You seem all jovial

Me: I don’t know. I’m just happy to see you I guess.

Amin: You look beautiful.

Me: In my school uniform?

Amin: Yeah. I figure you’d look beautiful in anything.

Me: Thank you Amin.

Amin: I’m reading “Men without Women”. It is the best book I have ever read.

Me: You enjoy that, yeah? (I want to go. I have a club meeting in Form Four West) I have to go, yeah?

Amin: Wait. Hold on.

Me: What’s up?

Amin: Hey um, I have this….thing….

Me: You have this…thing?

Amin: Yeah.

Me: What thing?

Amin: Look, I don’t have a thing. (Loud nervous sigh) I like you Charlotte. A lot. Please be my girlfriend.

I want to be his girlfriend. I really do. But that only makes me think of myself under the Corporal on my father’s favorite couch.

Amin: Charlotte?

Me: (Turning away) I have to go, OK?

Amin spends the next six months avoiding me.

Me: Amin, can I talk to you for a second?

Amin: (Running towards the male toilets) I have diarrhea. Can we do this later?

Another day

He is in the company of Joanne from Form Two East

Me: Hey Amin, did you ever finish reading the book I gave you?

He rummages through his bag, finds it and hands it to Joanne from Form Two East to give it to me.

Two Weeks Later

Me: What’s your problem Amin?

Amin: Nothing.

Me: Is it because I wouldn’t be your girlfriend?

Amin: Nope.

Me: Then why are you avoiding me?

Amin: I’m not.

A month later, the whole school knows that Joanne from Form Two East and Amin are in a relationship. And I feel bad. I have this potato in my throat that I’m having a problem swallowing. And a rock in my chest that just won’t go away.

Now it is Amin and Joanne from Form Two East going home together every evening talking and laughing about God know what.

At the beginning of our Form Two’s Second term, I notice that they are not going home together anymore and I swoop in like a predator going in for a kill.

Me: Hi

Amin: Hi

Me: Do you think we’re all slaves just because we were born?

Amin: Slaves to what?

Me: Love? Life? The necessity to cover our nudity? The urge to escape boredom? Education?

Amin: Maybe education. And the need to prove yourself to somebody.

Me: Are you trying to prove yourself to somebody?

Amin: Yeah.

Me: What are you trying to prove to who?

Amin: I’m trying to prove to you that I’m a man Charlotte. Not a boy.

Me: What?

Amin: You think I like Joanne? She talks more than I can listen. But I wanted you to know that I can hold up a relationship. That I can treat a woman with respect. That I can look you in the eye, say that I love you and know that deep down in my heart, means everything I’ve got and more.

Me: So you dated her to prove to me that you’re a good guy.

Amin: And because the world sucks, you’ll have a huge problem with that.

Me: I don’t know Amin. How about we go home together this evening; talk about it.

Saturday. May 28, 2005. 17:37h

Shauri Moyo. Nairobi

Today is my fifteenth birthday. It is Saturday and we are Form Three students, Amin and I. I remember this day because it is the day I lose my virginity. Well, at least as far as consensual sex goes. Right now I am using the word “consensual” loosely because I am fifteen when I consent to sex with him and now I know that fifteen isn’t an age where a girl would be deemed to give consent. But you won’t hear me complaining.

When he calls me to the house where he and his mother live, I figure we’ll just watch movies and tell stories, talk about the teachers we like making fun of and the students who think they drop ice cubes when they go to the toilet and generally have a good platonic time.

On getting there, I find that his mother is out of town, the curtains have been drawn, there are a bunch of candles going, our favorite music is streaming from their tiny speakers and there is my favorite meal and a bottle of wine on the table.

We listen to music. We eat. We drink. We dance even though none of us is a half decent dancer. But we do manage to make fools of ourselves in a happy way. And when we wake up in the morning and do it again, we both laugh as our bodies glisten with sweat, and talk about how amazing that was.

Chapter Two: Colder Weather

Name of song: Colder Weather

Name of Band: Zac Brown Band

Album: You Get What You Give

When I close my eyes I see you, no matter where I am. I can smell your perfume through these whispering pines; I’m with your ghost again. It’s a shame about the weather, but I know soon we’ll be together, and I can’t wait till then.

August 31, 2017. Along Nairobi-Nyeri Highway. 21:46h

There is a “Meating Point” between Kenol and Makuyu along the Nairobi Nyeri Highway. It is always open, or at least I have never found it closed. A meating point by the way, is a place where they sell nyamachoma.

I find a spot in the parking lot between a BMW X5 and a school bus and turn off the engine. I want to step out and grab half a kilo of nyamachoma but my hand will simply not open the door. I have a habit of driving barefoot and right now I want to wear my shoes and get out of the car but my feet won’t obey me.

I want to lower the windows and feel the fresh gust of upcountry air hit my face but my fingers won’t stop tapping the wheel. I have a song in my head. A song about elasticity points. That point when you have taken all you can take and something in you just goes “Snap!”

Between June 2005 and July 2007

One Day

Amin: Morning baby

Me: Hi! I missed you (Kiss on lips)

Amin: I missed your body

Me: You did? Huh. I didn’t think you ever do seeing as how you underutilize it. (Mischievous glint in my eye)

Amin: I do?

Me: Yeah. Can’t you go past gear number five?

Amin: (Advancing on me) You sure you can handle gear six?

Me: Why don’t you man up and find out.

Another Day

We’re leaving school. There is a culvert nearby –

Me: I’m horny

Amin: We could run home before you cool off

Me: Why do that when we can just do it there… (Point at the culvert)

Amin: There? Are you nuts?

Fifteen Minutes Later

Yeah I’m nuts. Or I wouldn’t be on him inside that culvert. Or he wouldn’t be inside of me. His eyes on mine. Trying to look for hints of sanity, hints of vulnerability inside of mine.

A Week Later

Yeah I am nuts. Or we wouldn’t be doing it under this tree at 19:00h when Matatus are still speeding by on the highway. But I saw the tree and went like;

Me: No foreplay

Amin: What?

Me: This tree right here. No foreplay. No kissing. No nothing. Just hardcore toil.

And I zipped him down. And I took him in my hand. And stroked him. And he filled up, gorged with blood. Hard enough to rough me up. And I grabbed the tree and he took me from behind.

Yeah I am nuts or I wouldn’t be thrusting my back against him, wishing to take as much of him as possible. I want him hard. I want him fast. I want him to fill me up. I am moaning. Screaming. Feeling a tingling sensation on every bit of my skin.

And when he explodes inside of me, I turn and face him. And I say to him;

Me: In case you ever wonder if I love you, just remember this moment right here.

Another Day

We have completed High School. The KCSE results are out. Amin has scored a B (plain). I have scored a C (Plain). He isn’t happy about that. That I didn’t perform so well. But life has a sense of humor. A strange one, but a sense of humor nonetheless.

I get to pursue a Diploma in Law at Kenya School of Professional Studies with my C (Plain) because my mom, though she isn’t rich at all, can afford it. Amin on the other hand, even with his B (Plain), doesn’t get to pursue further education. His mother is simply too broke.

Kenya School of Professional Studies

Monday. August 20th, 2007. 11:57h

I am in class and the boring Law of Torts lecturer is yammering on and on about some dudes called Rylands and Fletcher. Yawn. Who cares? His monotone reminds me of a fart. Commencing as uneventfully as it ends.

A message comes through on my phone. It’s Amin, sexting me. Something about how he wants me to take him whole and carry him to sijui I don’t know where…

So I step out of class (This is a new luxury that I am over enjoying. The luxury of college where you can just step out of class whenever you feel like. Or not attend at all) and call him –

Amin: Hello

Me: Why don’t you repeat what you texted?

Amin: But I already texted.

Me: Just say it

Amin: I want you to grab me, swallow me whole, lift me to clouds so high that breaths come with difficulty, to depths so low that no toe remains uncurled and places so far that I can’t help but cry for more and more of you, before truly, you’re all I have ever had, all I have and all I ever will have.

Me: Amin?

Amin: Yeah?

Me: You still doing those cheesy lines?

Amin: Just come home so I can finger you, OK?

Me: Right on the money. (Light chuckle as I mimic him) …no toes remain uncurled…pris!

Amin: And just like that, my boner died.

Me: I am to your boner what Jesus was to Lazarus. So relax.

00:07h

In spite of the fact that I am seventeen, I do lie to my mom that I am going to spend the night studying with friends so I can spend the nights with Amin. Though he couldn’t pursue higher education, he always has been resourceful and is now a proud CD/DVD seller in town. He owns a movie shop.

We have just finished making love for the third time this night when he asks;

Amin: Do you find me dumb?

Me: What?

Amin: Well, you’re a law student now, you hang out with kids from Westlands and Karen and Runda and guys who have cars and are all studying law… and I am just your Shauri Moyo boyfriend who didn’t go to college…

And so it begins…

Another Day

Me: Why are you sulking?

Amin: I am not.

Me: Yes you are. And you barely touch me these days. What’s wrong?

Amin: Nothing

Me: You’re lying.

Amin: Look, I know you’re screwing other people, OK?

Me: What?

Amin: You think I’m dumb? You’re in college now. And I know there are other guys there who are doing you.

I don’t know why I even bother defending myself, but I do. I support my head on one elbow and look at him. His brow is still dump from the sweat from our last session. The sex is good. My breasts fall on one side as I face him.

Me: Baby, I promise you that there has never been anyone else but you.

Amin: Oh yeah?

Me: Yeah.

Amin: We slept together on your fifteenth birthday, right?

Me: What about it?

Amin: Even then you weren’t a virgin. So if you think you can lie on my bed with your breasts on my face and lie to me, think again.

I want to open my mouth and scream that I was abused, but I can’t. That low blow has taken the breath right off my body. All I can hear in my head is the Corporal’s voice in my head repeating, “Charlotte the Harlot.”

And just like that, Amin believes I am a huge cheat. My calls to him start going unanswered. My texts, initially replied to as fast as I could send them, start being replied after lengthy delays that somehow graduate to unreplied messages category.

Then the rumors start flying. Shauri Moyo is a small place especially if you have been in a relationship for a long time. Everybody knows you are dating. I am Amin’s woman. I have been Amin’s woman for as long as people can remember.

When I visit my grandmother in Githurai 44, she asks, “Where is that charming boy who couldn’t let go off your hand the last time I saw you?”

My mother is always like, “Where is Amin? I haven’t seen him in a bit.”

My neighbor asks sometimes, “I haven’t seen Amin lately.” And adds mischievously, “And neither have I heard your bed creaking nowadays.”

To which I reply, “I bought a new one.”

Amin moves in to his own place in Kariokor and the rumors crank up with a vengeance. There is a woman where I am supposed to be. But hey, I am a learned lady. Rumors don’t whet my appetite. Those rumors, that I am seeing rich college students and lecturers with cars are what got Amin to mistrust me in the first place. I would be a fool to depend on the very rumors to tell me what my man has been up to.

Tuesday. November 20, 2007

Kariokor. Nairobi. 20:43h

I have the key to Amin’s apartment. So I don’t have a hard time accessing it. I unlock the door and let myself in. It is a two-room apartment and there is light coming from his bedroom. I think he is there trying to catch some sleep or watching a movie or something.

So I open his door with a smile. I want to undress him and do him like I have missed him because I have. And there he lies on the bed in his boxers. There is a woman in her panties and nothing else. She has her head on his chest.

They look great together. Peacefully asleep in each other’s arms. I want to go to the kitchen, boil some water and pour it on their faces. But I don’t.

I want to go out, purchase some acid from wherever angry women buy acid from, come back whistling, splash it on them and walk away smiling, but I don’t.

I want to break into a police station, steal eight AK47s, come back, spray them with all the bullets from all those guns, but I don’t.

I want to land on a submarine with nuclear bombs on it, insert the codes and fire twenty four nuclear bombs on this beautiful sleeping couple, but I don’t.

I want to be like Elijah who invokes the power of God on nyamachoma while those Baal guys fail and I want to rain fire on these two. But I don’t.

I want to climb on the bed and take a dump on them, but I don’t.

I want to kill them. But I find the strength not to.

(I want to kill them. But I find the strength not to.) Courtesy: Muruka Matuku and Lynn Angela

I want to wake them up and have a very nice conversation with them. A peaceful conversation. One that will go something like;

Me: (Shaking Amin awake) Baby… wake up babe.

Amin: (Rubs his eyes. Sees me, sees the woman beside him) This isn’t what it looks like.

Me: (Shrugs) I know. A naked woman just fell on your chest from the skies like manna from heavens while you were sleeping. Happens all the time.

The Lady: (Wakes up) Who is this Amin?

Me: I’m the girlfriend. How’s heaven, manna?

The Lady: Huh?

Amin: I’m sure we can all sit down and figure this out.

And we’ll sit down with the United Nations and the elders and the wahenga too and Sheikhs and Nelson Mandela’s peaceful remains and Jesus Christ and the whale that swallowed Jonah, and we’ll figure out a way to make sense of how the good lord in the sky dropped a naked woman on my boyfriend’s naked chest while he was trying to catch a nap at night.

But I don’t.

Instead, I clear my throat. A simple “Ahem” then I turn around and walk out as Amin, startled out of his mind, chases me in his boxers.

Outside the house, he grabs my shoulder screaming at me;

Amin: Baby! Baby, it is not what it looks like.

So far, this script is playing like it has played in my head. I want to say something cool. Something like “I know. A naked woman just fell on your chest from the skies like manna from heavens while you were sleeping. Happens all the time.” But instead, I say;

Me: OK. Cool. Then hit me with it. What exactly is it?

And I wait patiently. Maybe the fool will have something good. A great explanation that will knock my knickers to damnation. And this is what he says;

Amin: It was really hot in that room. So we dressed down to our undergarments.

I have never been as angry with anything or anyone as I am with him right now. Not because I have caught him naked with another naked woman in bed at night, but because of his idiotic explanation. This is the kind of thing that gets people to scream, “Wacha kunibeba wana!”

One second, my hand is at my waist. Trying to do an “Uh-huh. I’m waiting for that explanation” thing. The next, my open palm is making hard contact with his cheek. I slap him so hard that he staggers. I didn’t mean to, I just couldn’t help it.

Chapter Three: The First Time

Name of song: The First Time

Name of Artiste: Kelsea Ballerini

Album: The First Time

…that’s why the past should be the past, far behind back of mind out of the way, let the memories burn and crash…..

August 31, 2017. Along Nairobi-Nyeri Highway. 21:56h

Finally, I step out of the car and head into the restaurant. There are kids – school children in their uniforms in the nearby supermarket, clamoring for soft drinks and biscuits. A man with a barrel tummy like my father’s or the Corporal’s, stands at a corner massaging a cigarette and speaking softly over the phone. I think he is talking to someone he cares about passionately.

I enter the restaurant and occupy a leather seat at a far corner. Top on my mind are my mistakes. When some people are abused, they lose all interest in sex. Any intimate tendencies scare them away. But not me. Indecent assault had the opposite effect on me. When I started having sex at fifteen, I couldn’t bring myself to stop.

Monday. 17th March, 2008. 09:51h

Kenya School Professional Studies. Parklands-Nairobi

The Post Election Violence is finally over and business has resumed. The lecturer who was taking us for the Law of Torts last semester is the very one taking us for the Law of Business Associations this semester and his voice is still a sleep inducing monotone.

His name is Justin Muriuki but everyone just calls him Muriuki like we’re all age-mates.

Muriuki: I would like to direct you to Section 177 of the Companies Act which stipulates one of the major differences between a public and a private company to be that whilst a public company must have at least two directors, a private company need only have one director. Another difference is brought out under Section 136 of the Companies Act which avers in matters pertaining to general meetings that a member of a public company may appoint more than one proxy but the proxy has no statutory right to speak. A member of a private company may only appoint one proxy but he may speak…

I want to hold back a loud yawn but I can’t. Then I turn to my desk mate and whisper to him;

Me: Is it just me or is this dude suicidally boring?

Desk mate: (Chuckles) Sucidally? Is that even a word?

Me: It does communicate, doesn’t it?

Desk mate: Yeah it does. Which is unfortunate because it is a defilement of the Queen’s language

Me: Well, the Queen’s language can go defile itself for all I care.

Desk mate: And the dude might be boring, but I have heard a lady or two declaring their intentions to bed his penis flaccid.

Me: (Loud chuckle) Who talks like that?

My desk mate does. He is one of these intellectual types with difficult English words, always wears a suit to school even though it is a Diploma in Law where nobody cares if you wear shorts and flip-flops to class, wears spectacles just to look intelligent even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with his eyes and always has a copy of the Constitution on him and a Bible – not because he is religious but because he is intrigued by the Old Testament cruelty where people like David had beautiful women’s husbands sent to the frontlines just so he could screw the women, where God dropped fire on entire cities and drowned people because He found them to be a little bit defiant – all the violence do it for my desk mate. And he is also that one student in every class that waits till when the lecture is over and the lecturer is about to leave class to ask a question.

Desk Mate: Don’t you want to bed his privates sore?

I look at Muriuki as he blabbers on and on about the differences between private and public companies and I notice the biceps, the wide chest, the beard, the lips….

Desk mate: You’re thinking about bedding him right now, aren’t you?

Me: (Another loud chuckle) No!

Desk Mate: Then why was your tongue caressing your lip?

Me: It wasn’t!

Desk mate: Yes it was. I wonder what it was really caressing in your mind though. Your lip, or the juices you could draw from his head…

Me: (Punch him lightly on the shoulder) Stop!

And Muriuki sees me grinning and chuckling and punching my desk mate and turns his attention to me.

Muriuki: You

Me: (I look over my shoulder)

Muriuki: Yes. You. Stop looking over your shoulder. I’m talking to you in purple.

Me: Me?

Muriuki: Yes you. Whenever I enter this class, open my mouth and words start coming out, you react in any one of the following ways; (a) You yawn incessantly; (b) You doze off; or (c) You keep disturbing your desk mate and chuckling. Do you have a problem with my way of teaching?

It is at this juncture that everyone notices my presence. There is a general swoosh sound in class as fabric rubs against furniture. Buttocks are twisting in their seats as everybody turns around to look at me. I am a backbencher. Go figure.

Me: Well sir, I find that your lectures are rich in content, but your mode of delivery is irredeemably mind-numbing.

His jaw drops. OK, most jaws drop in that class, but his more than most.

Muriuki: Excuse me?

Me: Your mode of delivery…

Muriuki: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I heard you the first time. I am a teacher, not a comedian. I don’t come here for your entertainment.

Me: Sir, you asked if I have a problem with your way of teaching and I just shared it with you.

Muriuki: (He just stands there for a long time, chewing his tongue and staring at me like I have just put a landmine under his foot.) Fair enough. (He leaves)

Desk mate: Holy Intercourse! I could actually get used to this side of you!

March to June 2008

Kisumu

Amin and I haven’t talked for some time now. Word on the grapevine is that he has been seeing more and more of Jezebel. Well, that isn’t her name because her parents aren’t crazy, but I don’t like her so her name is whatever I say her name is.

Jezebel is that woman I found him naked in bed with a few months ago. He has been trying to reach me but I have changed my number so he can’t reach me. And I have instructed my mom, my best friend and everybody who knows we’re a couple that they shouldn’t give him my new number.

I am also on attachment at a law firm in Kisumu so he can’t exactly find me even if he tried. Or so I think.

Turns out like everyone in this world, I have an idiot cousin who appears to have more affection for my now ex-boyfriend, than I do. Amin calls her. She answers. I am not there for their conversation but this is how I think it goes;

Amin: Hello

Idiot Cousin: Hi Amin. It’s been a minute. How’s everything?

Amin: Everything is everything, you know? How’re you?

Idiot Cousin: Cool.

Amin: Would you happen to know the whereabouts of your cousin?

Idiot Cousin: Which one?

Amin: Which one would I be calling about?

Idiot Cousin: Oh, that one? Well, she said to not share her number with you.

Amin: But she didn’t say not to share her whereabouts with me, did she?

Idiot Cousin: Well, I guess not.

Amin: Well?

Idiot Cousin: Well what?

Amin: Well, where is she?

Idiot Cousin: She is here in Kisumu, but she wouldn’t want you to know that. I know in my bones that she wouldn’t.

Amin: Hey, how long have you lived with your bones?

Idiot Cousin: I don’t know. Twenty-two years?

Amin: And in all that time, have you ever known them to be right?

Idiot Cousin: I guess you’re right.

Amin: What are they saying about you sharing her number with me?

Idiot Cousin: I love you Amin. You know I do. But…

Amin: You love her more.

Idiot Cousin: I’m so sorry.

Amin: It’s OK. Don’t beat yourself about it, but should you feel guilty about anything…

Idiot Cousin: Guilty?

Amin: Well, you know how she and I love each other, yes?

Idiot Cousin: Uh huh

Amin: Has she been happy without me?

Idiot Cousin: She gets by

Amin: Is that all you want of your favorite cousin in the world? To get by?

Idiot Cousin: You hurt her. I don’t know how, but you did.

Amin: And I just want to show her that just like a snake, I have shed my old skin. I am a new man now. A man she would fall and stay in love with. Do you seriously want to keep me and her apart? If you have ever been in love, you won’t.

Idiot Cousin: I can’t give you her number.

Amin: But can you give me a place to sleep as I try and get her to talk to me face to face?

And that’s how Amin comes to Kisumu. He spends almost a week at my cousin’s using her phone to try and convince me to see him and I keep dodging him. My cousin wants me to meet up with him because she is quickly getting tired of living with him but my argument is; she invited him to Kisumu, he is her guest, they can live together for all I care.

Initially I was staying at a cheap hostel and having my meals at her place, but now since he is there waiting for me to show up, I take to eating out of lakeside restaurants.

But he insists and since he and I have so much history together, I make the mistake that every girl makes. I decide to meet him.

Amin: Hi

Me: Hi.

Amin: You look good

Me: Yeah. Turns out there is life after you.

Amin: I have been looking for you

Me: I haven’t.

Amin: I know

Me: And I have been found. What do you want?

Amin: I wanted to say I’m sorry.

Me: Then say it.

Amin: I’m sorry.

Me: Cool. (Rising up) I have to be in court at 14:00h, so now that you have said it, I have to go.

Amin: Wait! Wait! Wait! That’s it?

Me: You called for this meeting. You said your piece. I’d safely assume so.

Amin: Come on sit down.

Me: (I sit)

Amin: (Loud sigh) I acted stupid. People started telling me that since I was left behind academically, that you’d find more educated men than me. So out of insecurity and utter foolishness, I made the biggest mistake of my life and I swear to you, I am so so sorry.

Me: I have never cheated on you. Thing is, I have always remained so faithful to you that the thought never even struck my mind. Then you go and do me like that?

Amin: I’m sorry, OK?

Me: Yeah. Right now, I need a sorry the way I need a boil up my rectum.

Amin: I came all this way because I know I messed up and I will do anything you need me to do…

Me: You will?

Amin: Anything!

Me: Go back to Nairobi. I’ll look for you when I get back.

Amin: When will you get back?

Me: In a month. Give or take a few weeks.

During this time, Muriuki and I have taken a keen interest in each other. Well, he started by taking a keen interest in me. Asking me questions in class to make sure my attention is where it needs to be. Maintaining eye contact with me longer than he should.

It is the age of the internet. He finds me on Facebook. Sends me a friend request. I accept it and just like that, our relationship gets a crack intimate. We start chatting. One morning I enter his class in a short yellow dress and sit right at the back where I belong.

As he teaches, he sends me a message that reads;

“I want to run my hands up your thighs. Right up to the warmth therein. I want to feel the moisture between your legs. I want to lift those shapely legs up and make you squeal with my tongue.”

My reply;

“Are you going to do it already or will you stand there in your immaculate suit and drool about it?”

Yes. We flirt. A lot. But that’s all we do. Flirt. But with a cheating boyfriend and this hunk losing his mind over me, or at least my body, what the hell is a girl supposed to do?

Tuesday. July 1st, 2008.

Kaiokor. Nairobi

I am back in Nairobi and Muriuki keeps inviting me for a party at Ngong’ Road. According to him, Ngong’ Road parties are the kind that used to get thrown in Sodom and Gomorrah before God got pissed off and burnt them all down.

So the moment I land, I should ring him up and he would send me a car to get me to his party. Everything inside of me is screaming at me to attend his party. But my damn heart! My damn heart is crying and begging and crawling on all fours saying, “Go to Amin’s place. You know you miss him.”

So I go to Amin’s. And who do I find outside the house washing his clothes? Jezebel.

Me: Hello

Jezebel: Hi

Me: Is Amin home? (I am so controlled. See thing is, I am utterly surprised to find her here. But then, my surprise quickly washes off and is replaced by a quick, “It’s Amin. What did you expect?”)

Jezebel: No. He is at work.

Me: You know when he’ll get back?

Jezebel: In three, maybe four hours?

Me: Cool. I’m just going to make myself comfortable in the house.

Inside the house I call him.

Amin: Hello

Me: Amin

Amin: Charlotte?

Me: You didn’t tell me you got married.

Amin: What? (Laughs) You know me. I am a one woman type of dude. And that woman is you.

Me: Aww. You’re sweet. Hey, how’s work? You getting the mulla?

Amin: Wish I could call it that. But I’m hanging in there.

Me: Oh. That’s weird. For a moment there I thought you were paying Jezebel to do your laundry.

Amin: Who?

Me: Jezebel. Your wife. Oh. Shoot. Forgot to tell you. I’m at your house. You said you’d changed Amin, so I figured I would surprise and maybe make up for lost time. Turns out you haven’t been losing any time.

Amin: Wait! Wait! I’ll be home in thirty minutes, OK? That is NOT what it looks like. Please wait for, OK baby?

I open my stupid mouth. And I say it. Like an idiot. I say;

Me: OK.

And I wait.

Jezebel is done with laundry. She takes a shower. I see her. She has a great body. I get why he does her. I would do her too and I’m a chic.

And I wait.

Jezebel is leaving. Did I say she looks SMASHING?

Jezebel: I’m leaving now. (She talks to me with so much humility that it is completely difficult for me to be angry with her.)

Me: I think I’ll hang around a bit longer. That cool?

Jezebel: Yeah. Yeah, that’s OK. (Turns to leave then says over her shoulder with the sweetest baby face I have ever seen on any lady) Hey, it’s good to see you Charlotte. You are a good person. I mean that.

And I wait.

Muriuki is calling. Asking where I am. I lie that I have just passed Narok but as soon as I hit the City Under the Sun, I’ll call him.

Then it hits me. Why am I here waiting for a dude who has so obviously moved on and is wasting my time when I could just rush to the one that won’t stop chasing me?

So I stop waiting.

I lock up and call Muriuki.

20:52h

Ngong’ Road

The party is as advertised. There are a group of people who have just graduated with their Masters Degrees in Law and if there is anything I have come to learn about lawyers is that when they throw a party, it is nothing short of insane.

If a group of lawyers party at any range that is even one shade below insanity, they are not doing the lawyerly thing.

I have never smoked Sheesha before. Tonight I do. Muriuki passed me by his house in South B where I dropped off my bag and my phone because I knew Amin would keep calling when he got home and found me gone.

I smoke, I drink and I make out with a chic. Here is how that last bit goes down. I am seated on a leather couch at a corner, right? And I’m surrounded by dudes who are talking about Constitutional Reforms and some boring lawyerly chatter.

I am tired of the bong on the glass table in front of me. There are so many bottles on that table, it is impossible to actually see the table itself. To look cool, I am smoking an electric cigarette. It lights up with a beautiful shade of blue that compliments the lighting in the club. My dress fits me just right and when I sit, it shows flesh that any mother would frown upon.

Then I see her watching me. She is seated two tables away with a cocktail glass in hand. She smiles at me. I smile back. She waves at me with her fingers. I wave back. She is the tall type with a long neck, ivory complexion, smashing smile and braided hair. Her short dress kind of glitters and her long slim fingers are jeweled.

I take a drag off my electric cigarette and cross my legs like a boss. She smiles some more and salutes at me with her cocktail glass. I pick my wine glass up and salute her back. A few minutes later, she stands up after making sure we have made eye contact, and heads off to the ladies.

In her heels, she is tall. But she doesn’t appear to have any extra flesh anywhere on her. She is just right. I don’t know why I do this, but I follow her to the washrooms.

And I find her waiting for me.

It is well lit in there. She looks even more beautiful than she did in the club. The moment she sees me, she sighs and heads to me with an aura of sexual menace that I find intriguing. She pushes me against the wall and plants a breathtaking kiss on my lips, then pulls me into one of the toilets.

Next thing I know, my panties are around my ankles, and she is on her knees with her tongue on my clit.

When it is all over, I don’t even know her name or the sound of her voice. We don’t even exchange hellos. Just fluids and no. I am not complaining.

When I get back to my group, I find them wild. Drunk. Dancing. People who were talking about the Constitution a few minutes ago are now busy making out with girls who I am sure have just arrived. Then the DJ drops a Konshens song and twerk session begins.

We leave the club at a few minutes past two in the night. All hopelessly drunk.

2nd July, 2008

02:28h

South B. Nairobi

It is just Muriuki and me in the house. And I do him with anger, want, lust and violence he wouldn’t expect from an eighteen year old. Whenever he tries to take control and come on top of me, I turn him back down and ride him with the wrath of a woman who has been seeking freedom in ways she didn’t think she was.

I ram him with all the anger I feel for Amin. I feel him with the lust of the girl I just made out with in the toilets. I ravage him with all the passion that has been stifled inside me for far too long, waiting for a man who didn’t want to be waited for.

When I do my lecturer, it is with a vengeance I didn’t know existed in anybody.

The Rest of 2008

Alright, here is the thing about Muriuki; he is a selfish lover. I am used to good sex. Sometimes, rough, sometimes tender, but always good. And Amin sure as hell does know exactly what I want, how I want it and how exactly to give it to me.

Amin goes down on me like a hero and I have never had a problem returning the favor. When Amin and I are doing it, it is never about him. He ensures that he gives it all to me, and I never have a problem giving it all to him.

Muriuki on the other hand makes sure it is all about him. One minute he is up like a menacing spear. The next, he is in. the next; he is curling his toes, twisting his brow, groaning like an animal saying, “I’m coming!”

Most times I’m left there like, “Already?” And when there is no wind in his windsock; that wind doesn’t blow for a few hours. Now I am the kind of girl who has to finish herself off with her finger in the toilet after having sex with her man.

Amin has been calling. And because Muriuki isn’t hitting it right, I pay Amin a visit.

I find him with Jezebel.

Me: Hello guys

Amin: Hi!

Me: So, I’m here and I only have a simple request

Amin: Shoot

Me: Her or me. Choose.

He turns to her and says;

Amin: I’m going to need you to leave.

Jezebel: You’re choosing her? (She didn’t see this coming)

Amin: I need you to leave.

Jezebel: Why? What has she ever done for you other than stress you up?

Amin: Please. Go.

Me: Get off the throne

Jezebel: Shut up!

Amin: Charlotte, shut up.

Me: What? I just asked her to go.

She gets up and comes right up my face.

Jezebel: Say another word. Come on. One more word!

Amin: Charlotte, you will get beaten if you don’t shut up.

I guess she is no longer Miss Nice Girl. But I say something like, “What are you going to do?” and I don’t even see her foot leave the floor heading to my face. Apparently, the girl can really fight. But Amin sees the kick and blocks it or my nose would have been broken.

Then he grabs her and drags her screaming and kicking out of the house. And I want to be a good girl and not kick a girl when she’s down but my mouth won’t let me. And Amin deflects another kick to my face. I always knew my big mouth would land me in trouble.

2009

I hate to admit to myself, but I am in love with Amin. We have become this couple that keeps seeing other people but always get back together. He sees other women and then comes running to me. I see other men (and women) and go running back to him.

It has also something to do with why I have Muriuki on one side and Amin on the other. When I was a little good girl, I thought cheating was for losers. If that’s the case, then ladies and gentlemen, I am as big a loser as they come.

Facebook.

This thing sometimes does me more harm than good. I chat with both Amin and Muriuki on Facebook (Messenger) and here is a glimpse of one of my conversations with Amin;

Amin: Hey sexy. I can’t believe you went to class pantyless

Me: Well, you tore my panties last night. What did you expect?

Amin: You not to go to class

Me: You want me to miss class, you’ll have to romp me harder than you ever do.

Amin: Should I feel challenged?

Me: If you don’t, maybe I should seek a change in men.

Amin: You do that. And when it is clear to you that nobody will ever give it to you like I do, I’ll be waiting.

Me: Having a high opinion of yourself, are you?

Amin: Darling, what’s a man without a little confidence? And a large penis in tow?

Here is a glimpse of my conversation with Muriuki;

Me: You know what I like most about you?

Muriuki: My beard?

Me: Well, there is that, but there is also that thing you do…

Muriuki: What thing?

Me: Ain’t nothing like seeing a large man with a great beard and even greater biceps going down on a woman and lashing her with his golden tongue.

Muriuki: Wait. What you like most about me is me going down on you?

Me: Is that a problem?

Muriuki: I don’t know. I just feel a little demeaned right now.

Me: Oh come on. Would you stop being a lawyer for a second?

Muriuki: What you like most about me doesn’t inspire my confidence.

Here is the message I send to Amin in reply to that thing he said about confidence and a large penis.

Me: Confidence is an illusion baby boy. If it’s in your (large) head, then it is the very aura that defines you.

I figure I don’t have to create a whole new message on confidence and send it to Muriuki. So here’s what I do. I forward that message I sent to Amin to Muriuki… and just like that, my life as I know it, ends.

Saturday. August 29th, 2009. 21:48h

Nairobi Central Business District

I just hit twenty. Well, I hit twenty months ago, but what do you want a girl to say? I am twenty years and three months old? OK fine. I am twenty years and three months old.

Muriuki has invited me to join him for dinner at a classy restaurant along Muindi Mbingu Street and I have won my favorite blue dress for the occasion. I find him waiting for me at the restaurant and he is such a gentleman that he stands up when he sees me.

He even circles the table and pulls out a chair for me.

Muriuki: (As I sit down) How was your day?

Me: It was your typical law student day.

Muriuki: Meaning there was alcohol, weed and twerking?

Me: You forgot an orgy.

Muriuki: (Laughs. But I detect a little hollowness in his laughter)

Me: Are you OK?

Muriuki: Yeah. Yeah. I’m doing great. (Once he has sat down) There is an opening at the Kenya School of Law. I think I’m going to apply.

Me: For a lecturer’s position at KSL?

Muriuki: Yes Charlotte. What other job would I be applying for there?

Me: Yeah. Of course. Sorry. I feel so blonde right now.

Muriuki: How’s Catholic University life?

Yes. I have just started my second year at Catholic University of Eastern Africa’s School of Law.

Me: I feel like that question has already been asked and answered. Dude, are you sure you’re OK?

A waiter comes over asking for our orders. He orders something I have since forgotten and I follow his example and order something I have since forgotten.

Muriuki: (That sad smile again) You look amazing Charlotte.

Me: Thank you. (I have started approaching this conversation with caution because it feels like there is a monster lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce on me right when I let my guard down)

Muriuki: So (Sighs) Who’s Amin?

Me: (Mouth dries up. Heart beats erratically. The whole shebang that one goes through when somebody enters the room and finds them with their pants down) Who?

I’m thinking; “Calm down Charlotte. Think. Relax. Everything’s going to be OK. Just think of sleeping with other women. Wait! What? No that’s a very bad thing to be thinking about right now. Think about nothing. Think about nothing. OK. Cool. That’s a terribly great idea. Think about nothing it is.”

Muriuki: Charlotte? (Snaps his fingers in my face) Charlotte?

Me: (Startled) Yes. Yes. What were you saying?

Muriuki: I wasn’t saying. I was asking.

Me: OK. What were you asking?

Muriuki: Is it just me or are you loading a little too slow today?

Me: Just ask the question again please. (I’m trying to buy some time and compose myself. It is a cross-examination trick I have learnt in school)

Muriuki: Who’s Amin?

Me: I don’t know any Amins. Why?

Muriuki: Let’s assume, just for a minute, that we are both intelligent people. Can we do that?

Me: We can try. Is everything OK?

Muriuki: It’ll be. If we talk about Amin a little.

Me: OK. Oh wait. I seem to remember a dude called Amin. (He relaxes. He thinks the games are over) He was terrible. May or may not have been a cannibal. But he definitely was a President. Of Uganda I think. Iddi Amin Dada. Always thought that was a weird name for a dude. (I can see his face crashing but I press on.) Is that what you want to talk about? Iddi Amin?

Muriuki: It seems I made the wrong request earlier. Maybe we shouldn’t assume we’re intelligent. How about we act a little dumb then? It appears one of us is doing a great job at that already.

Me: I’m guessing that’s me?

Muriuki: You have a friend on Facebook called Amin. Yes or no?

Phew! Muriuki has just taken out the book on Cross Examinations on me. Ask direct questions. I am in trouble.

Me: Nope.

Muriuki: Charlotte!

Me: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Muriuki: OK. If we were to visit your Facebook profile right now, would we notice that you’re friends with one Amin?

Me: (Lean back in my seat. Scratch my chin in thought.) Oh! Yes! Yes! Of course! Damn dude! You have a keen sense of observation, don’t you?

Muriuki: You’re just oozing smartness today, aren’t you?

Me: If I knew what this whole conversation was about darling, then maybe I could help you out a little more.

Muriuki: Well, you visit your Facebook messages when you get home and wonder why I am a little nuts tonight.

And with that, he stands up, reaches into his pockets, pulls out some bills, lays them on the table to pay for dinner we haven’t had, grabs my hand and pulls me up.

Me: Ouch! Ouch! You’re hurting me.

Muriuki: Get up! You’re going home!

Me: What did I do?

Muriuki: Shut up!

He drags me out of the restaurant, down the stairs and all the way from Muindi Mbingu Street to Odeon. We must make a hilariously pitiable sight right now. He is huge and bearded and ten years older than I am, and way pissed than a wounded buffalo. And I am tiny, younger, screeching because my arm hurts and I keep saying “Ouch” and he keeps hissing “shut up”.

We get to my bus stage at Odeon and he hands a hundred shillings note to the bus conductor instructing him to make sure I get home. Then he literally shoves me inside the matatu and walks away breathing like something with a murderous case of asthma.

So I get home, right? I know that he knows about Amin through Facebook but I’m thinking that Amin must have let him in on what’s going on. But considering Amin doesn’t know about him, I am dying of curiosity.

On visiting my Facebook messages, here is what I realize; that when you forward a message from one person to another, you automatically form a group conversation where you and the two people to whom you forwarded the message, are participants.

So what I did was create a group conversation with me, Amin and Muriuki. And everybody could see every message that had been sent to the other guy. Amin could see the conversation between Muriuki and I and Muriuki could see the conversation between Amin and I. right down to me going to class pantyless because Amin had torn them off me the previous night.

Then when he asks if I know who Amin is; I go like, “Iddi Amin Dada?” Hahaha. No wonder the dude got so mad.

Anyway, this right here is the death of Muriuki and I.

Chapter 4: Day That I Die

Name of Song: Day That I Die

Artiste: Zac Brown Band

Album: Uncaged

On the day that I die, I want to say that I, was a man who really lived and never compromised. When I’ve lived all my days, until the very end, I hope they find me in my home with my guitar in my hands.

August 31, 2017. Along Nairobi-Nyeri Highway. 22:06h

I have suddenly decided I don’t feel like nyamachoma anymore. That I don’t want to be inside this restaurant anyway. So when the waitress comes to ask what I will have, I tell her to shove it and I high tail it out of there.

I apologize to her in my head and head out to my car, jump in, start it and drive out at 0-80km/h in less than ten seconds.

See thing is, I don’t know if I have lived my life to the fullest. I don’t know if what I have done with my life can be called living. Yeah sure I have acted wild. Too wild for a woman my age. I have learned things the hard way. I have exposed myself to dangers I shouldn’t have exposed myself to and I did all in the name of love.

Many people are afraid of what people think of them. This has a crippling effect on them and they live their lives so cautious that they never really get to live. I have been the exact opposite of that. I have lived an utterly careless life devoid of the strings that come with caring about other people’s opinions.

And most times as I grow older, I have had to ask myself, is being wild and doing whatever you want same thing as living life to the fullest? I have been a student of the world. A student of life. I have had to examine the deeper meaning of “you only live once” and I haven’t had a teacher to take my hand and point me in the right direction. I am still trying to figure out whether that has been a good thing or a bad thing for me. But we’ll file that in the “time will tell” docket.

Monday. January 4th, 2010. 20:14h

Kariokor. Nairobi

Rumors have been flying, but then rumors have always been flying. In the words of Gregory Isaacs, “Rumors dem spreadin’, claim that a sensee mi plantin’, but I man a de don inna di jugglin’ a pure rumors a gwaan.”

I don’t even know why the hell I put those lyrics up there. Sometimes I just do things without paying much thought to them or the consequences thereof. But hey, who doesn’t love a girl who can sing along to Gregory Isaac’s “Rumors” in Patois no less?

Here is another reggae track for you. This one is Junior Kelly’s “Love So Nice”… “and there is rumors going around, say that when I’m outta town, there’s a man where I’m supposed to be…”

The rumors are that there is a woman where I’m supposed to be. And she is different from the others. This one has crept into his heart and that’s what worries me. See, I have shared his body with many other women. And he has shared mine with many other (wo)men. But we have always reserved our hearts for each other.

This other woman, her name is Aisha. Word on the grapevine is that Aisha was Prophet Mohammed’s favorite wife of the eleven he married. That’s why I’m calling this lady Aisha. Because she, as far as I can tell, is Amin’s favorite. She is the woman who’s where I’m supposed to be.

Here is how she and I meet.

I have just come from school where I have been bored to death by this lecturer who wouldn’t stop badgering me about my wrongful comparison of the Constitution with the Children’s Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Then Marjorie calls me. Marjorie is one of the women who had to leave Amin’s bed crying because I had walked in and found them doing it. By now, I am so used to finding Amin with other women that I have become an expert in handling it.

Me: Oh hello. (Referring to their coitus) Damn you guys look like you’re having fun. Mind if I join in?

Chic: Holy f***! (Trying to cover her naked body with the sheets) What the hell!

Amin: Relax. That’s just Charlotte.

Me: (To her) Aww. Relax. You have a great body. But then so does everybody he does. Tell you what; why don’t you drop me your number on your way out and we’ll see if you and I can have a private session later? (I drop a wink)

When you know that you have his heart, all those other girls become so minute. So little that you could squeeze them lifeless with your thumb and blow them away right before climbing on him and doing him silly. At least, this, at this juncture, is my interpretation of power.

When I kicked Marjorie out of Amin’s bed and asked for her number, she gave it to me. Right there in front of Amin. I want to say something as cool as “if I had a heart, I’d give it to her” but I have a heart and Amin owns it, so the aforementioned cool thing to say would be a little redundant.

Now she calls saying that Amin is in bed with Aisha and that the way things are going, the so called power I think I have, will soon belong with another woman. I can’t have that. So I hurry on to Amin’s and unlock the door.

Even after walking in on him so many times, Amin never changes the locks. He always wants me to find him with someone else. And this time, I find him with Aisha who is nothing short of drop dead gorgeous.

The moment I see her lying on the bed with those firm breasts facing up, hips sprawling majestically and legs so shapely I can’t help but drool, I begin to see the beginning of the end. I don’t have something smart to say this time.

So I wing it as follows;

Me: Hi Amin. Sorry I came. Mom kicked me out again and I don’t have anywhere to sleep.

Amin: Hi Charlotte

Me: Who is this?

Amin: Aisha, Charlotte. Charlotte, Aisha.

She is a model. Of course. And she oozes class. She slides off the bed and into a dress that must have cost an arm and a leg plus a couple of lungs. She smiles at me. She shakes my hand. She has a firm handshake.

She says;

Aisha: it’s so nice to meet you Charlotte. You’re Amin’s cousin you say?

Me: Um, yes. yes.

Aisha: Mom’s or Pop’s side?

Me: Huh?

Aisha: From his mother’s or father’s side?

Me: Um, mother’s. Definitely mother’s. Because he doesn’t like the cousin’s from his father’s side. (I don’t know why I’m bubbling so much. She intimidates me. That has never happened before)

Aisha: Huh. Well, so nice to meet you Charlotte.

This time, she hugs me, collects her handbag and heels and asks Amin;

Aisha: Babe, do you mind escorting me to the bus station please?

Damn it she is so hot, so classy, so well mannered, I can’t stop wondering how a rag like him got a lady like her.

They leave and I sit on the couch waiting nervously for him to get back. I can’t remember the last time I sat on this couch dressed. I have been on this couch so many times; sitting on it clothed feels a little atrocious. But I sit. And wait. I feel like a condemned person, waiting for the executioner to ask, “Any last words?”

What feels like hours later, the door opens and in THEY walk in. Both of them. And at once, I know what happened. He told her the truth. I am not his cousin. Just a girl he has been screwing for years.

Aisha: I understand you’re not his cousin.

Me: Yeah. Look, you look like a nice lady. I am not willing to lose Amin.

Aisha: That’s all well and good darling but you ain’t spending the night here.

Amin: Charlotte, I’m going to need you to leave.

This time, it is me being kicked out. This is something I have seen happening to tens of other women. He turns to them, calls them by name and says, “I’m going to need you to leave.” Those have always been the words he uses to choose me over them. And now they are being uttered against me.

Me: Amin, this is me.

Amin: And that’s why I’m going to need you to leave.

Me: No.

Amin: Yes.

Me: No. Hell no. If you think I’m going to take this lying down after all these years, you’ve got another thing coming Amin.

So I take my clothes off and get in bed. And Aisha does the same. And Amin does the same. And no we don’t have a mén·age à trois you pervert.

And at dawn, I leave the house before both of them, knowing that it is over for me, but nowhere near accepting it.

Saturday. January 9th, 2010. 12:17h

Catholic University of Eastern Africa – School of Law. Karen – Nairobi

The reason why I am in school on Saturday is because we have a group discussion which everyone in the group is taking more seriously than I am. All acting like it is the end of the world.

Lately, I can’t take a leak without hissing in pain. And I piss as frequently as a pregnant woman. Last night I hit the shower and there was this weird discharge from my vagina and don’t even get me started on the anal and vaginal itch.

At first I was like, “Uh. This will all end on its own.”

But then I get to school, hit the ladies and I scream in pain as I piss and just like that, I know; (a) This group discussion thing isn’t happening for me today; and (b) This thing, whatever it is, isn’t going away. Or at least, I won’t wait for it to go away on its own.

I could have visited the school dispensary but it is Saturday and I hate school so I figure I should just go home and have things figured out there.

14:26h

Shauri Moyo

My calls to Amin go unanswered. I figure he thinks I’m calling to beg him to get back together with me so he’s ghosting me. But I need some money for the hospital and he is the only person in the world I can be comfortable with regarding this sort of thing.

Him being unavailable, I go to his mother’s and explain things to her as openly as possible.

Me: OK Mama Amin, here’s the thing. My vagina is on fire, I am constantly wet and no, I am not horny, oh Lord it itches so bad and sss….can I hit the bathroom?

Mama Amin: yeah sure

Me: (From the bathroom) Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! …Ssssss! CAN YOU TAKE ME TO THE HOSPITAL? Your son is kind of ghosting me these days.

She takes me to the hospital. And here is what the good doctor, after a few tests, says.

The Good Doctor: It is just gonorrhea. You’ll be fine.

What I hear;

The Good Doctor: You have gonorrhea you whore! You are going to die! You hear! Die! Die! Die! You witching blasted freaking whore! You will DIE!

And when I break down in Mama Amin’s arms, it is with the pain of so many years, of so much self loathing hidden inside of me, and so much fear. Utter terror of being alone. I mean, it is only the dirtiest of whores who contract something as abominable as gonorrhea, right?

Later I text Amin.

“I have Gonorrhea. It’s yours.”

And he calls.

Me: Hello

Amin: You are a demon, you know that?

Me: What?

Amin: You call my mom and you tell her I gave you gonorrhea?

Me: Wait. What?

Amin: How come I don’t have it? Huh? Just because I dumped you doesn’t mean you can go around saying things about me. I don’t know where you got it from, but I hope it kills you!

His mother pays the hospital bill and for my medicine too. God bless her.

Here is why a daughter would never approach her mother with the news like;

Daughter: Mama! Mama! Guess what! I have gonorrhea.

It is because she will grab you by the throat, hurl you inside a large bag, beat you with the largest stick she can find, throw you off the fourth floor, drag your broken, barely conscious body to the nearby river (the dirty Nairobi River in my case) and drown you in the muck.

I don’t deliver the news to her. Instead, she finds the medicine in my room and screams;

Mom: Charlotte!

Me: Yeah!

Mom: Whose meds are these?

Me: Mine!

Mom: (With the most accusatory tone in the world) What the hell did you do?

Me: What?

Mom: You think I don’t know what these meds treat?

Thirty days later. Amin calls.

Amin: Charlotte?

Me: Yeah?

Amin: I think I have it.

Me: Have what?

Amin: What you had. Oh my God. What am I going to do?

I really want to scream “I hope it kills you” but I’m either in love, or mature (not likely) or stupid. You choose.

Chapter 5: Highway 20 Ride

Name of Song: Highway 20 Ride

Artiste: Zac Brown Band

Album: The Foundation

So when you drive, and the years go flying by, I hope you smile if I ever cross your mind. it was a pleasure of my life, and I cherished every time. And my whole world, it begins and ends with you, on that highway 20 ride.

Thursday. August 31st, 2017. 22:52h

Along Nairobi – Nyeri Highway

I guess this is the chapter that finally motivated me to narrate my story. There comes a time in every human being’s life when the phrase “Crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome” rings closer to home than before. If that happens and you still keep doing things the same, then darling, you’re truly lost.

His name is Sam. Short for Samson. He is what got me to try and turn things around for myself and for him. Samson. My son. I named him that because I wouldn’t mind him being the strongest of them all. Not physically (though I wouldn’t mind that too), but mentally, emotionally and where personality goes.

I would hate for a Delilah to come and bring him down on his knees because then he would in a way be repeating my mistakes, but were that to happen, I hope the day dawns when he can finally reclaim his strength and bring the house down on those f***ers. And make it out with his life and strength. I would have called him Solomon because I prefer wisdom to strength, but that dude had one thousand too many women for his own good.

The song Highway 20 Ride was written by a man who had a son with a woman he was now divorced from. And one day as he drove his son down the highway to his mom (as he had always done), he wondered what the kid would think of him when he grew up. And so he wrote the song as a letter to the kid.

Saturday. May 28, 2011. 21:03h

Kariokor. Nairobi

It is my twenty first birthday and hard as I try, I can’t get Amin off my mind. So I go to his house to see if we can get things back on track. I’m thinking that maybe if I fight hard enough for this thing I am calling love, if I put just a little more effort, maybe, just maybe, he’ll realize just how much in love we are and he’ll come around.

Maybe if I pour a little more sugar, just a little more, everything will be OK.

I knock on his door. He answers.

Me: Can I come in?

Amin: Are you going to be a drama queen?

Me: No. I promise.

Amin: (Opens the door)

And I pour my heart. I tell him I miss him. I love him. I just want us to be together and this time things will be better. He listens. Then he says;

Amin: I need you to leave.

Me: Please Amin

Amin: Come on Charlotte, don’t do this.

Me: Why are you doing this? It’s always been me and you against the world Amin. What changed?

Amin: WE changed Charlotte! WE did. Aren’t you tired of the monsters we have turned each other into? This… (points at me and him) this thing we’ve got, it ain’t normal! It’s crazy! It’s toxic and I swear to God I’m done!

Me: but it’s going to be different this time.

Amin: No it’s not!

Me: I love you!

Amin: I don’t!

Me: What?

Amin: Please, just go, OK?

Me: No.

Amin: I said, GO!

He pushes me back and I don’t know why I do it, but I slap him harder than I did when I first found him in bed with someone else and he said they were naked because it had gotten a little hot in the room. And this time, he lets me have it.

He lands such a powerful slap across my face that what I remember between the ringing sound in my ear and my nose sniffing in the dust, is me crawling under the bed screaming;

Me: I am not leaving!

Amin: Oh yes you are!

He grabs my foot and tries to pull me from under the bed, but I grab the bed’s foot such that it goes wherever I go. Pissed and screaming out with frustration, he lifts the bed up exposing me, yanks out his belt and gives me the works.

Amin: GO! (Whack! Whack!)

Me: No! No! I’m not going.

Amin: (Whack!) I said, leave me alone! (Whack! Whack!)

Me: You’re going to have to kill me first!

He hurls the belt across the room and delivers such a massive football kick to my ribs that it collects me off the ground and sends me rolling on the floor.

Amin: (Points at the door) I SAID GO!!!

I can’t breathe. I now believe that if we keep going down this road, I will truly die. I have never been hit like that by anybody or anything.

I lift my hands up in surrender. I am on my knees.

(I lift my hands up in surrender. I am on my knees.) Courtesy: Muruka Matuku and Lynn Angela

Me: No more. No more.

I am bleeding. I can barely see out of one eye. My whole body is on fire. You know how people used to say that the more your man beats you the more he loves you? I hope they don’t say it anymore because that means you just might be loved to death. Literally.

He escorts me all the way to the bus stop. It is around midnight. He makes sure that I board a matatu because he doesn’t want to be blamed for anything that might happen to me. I don’t know why that still sounds ironic to my ears.

When I get home I lie to my mother like I have done a million times before. I tell her that our matatu was jacked and the robbers beat us up. So much so that they even ripped my jeans up. And hit me in the face so hard that I can’t see out of one eye. And the pain in my ribs sticks around for a couple of weeks.

Sunday. June 5th, 2011. 13:29h

Kariokor.

I wish I could say that I learned my lesson. But I didn’t, so I can’t. I am back at Amin’s with the idea being to apologize for my behavior last time.

He is home alone. He has changed the locks so I can’t let myself in. Instead of opening the door, he chooses to talk to me through the window.

Me: Please open the door Amin

Amin: Why won’t you be dumped Charlotte?

Me: I just want to talk

Amin: Well, I don’t.

And to push his point home, he calls her. His girlfriend Aisha and their phone conversation goes a little like this;

Amin: Hi babe

Aisha: Hi! It’s Sunday. What’re you doing up so early?

Amin: (Chuckles) OK (a) It’s half past one; and (b) Guess who came calling?

Aisha: You’re kidding me.

Amin: Not about this.

Aisha: What does she want?

Amin: To talk.

Aisha: About what? (Laughs) Some people won’t be dumped, will they?

Amin: (Laughs) Tell me about it

Aisha: So she’s in the house?

Amin: What? No! Geez are you kidding me? I’m talking to her through the window.

Aisha: And she’s there watching you?

Amin: Uh huh.

Aisha: Oh my God, you’re so mean.

She laughs. He laughs. They laugh. And I am standing there like an idiot and somehow, this hurts more than the beating. It cuts way deeper than that kick in the ribs. In case you ever wonder what trued rejection feels like, this right here is it.

And as I walk away this time, I am pretty sure that I am done.

The rest of 2011

And I try to bury myself in men and women. And sex comes easily as hot lunch. Nightclub pickups are now my thing.

I have a best friend. We hit the clubs as much as we can and try to see who can pick the hottest girls in the club.

One night we are clubbing in Westlands when we spot these girls checking us out and we invite them over for drinks. And they turn us down, instead motioning us to join them in the ladies. Later on our way home drunk, my best friend is bursting with pride saying;

Best Friend: We made the hell out in those toilets!

Me: Yeah?

Best Friend: Yeah. She let me feel her up and everything.

Me: Well, mine went down on me.

Best Friend: you’re kidding

Me: Not about this

Best Friend: You lucky bitch!

And then I meet Josiah. So named because he is a good guy in the midst of the many I have met the last few months. Just like Josiah was a good king in the midst of the many a-hole kings that Israel had to suffer through.

Not that I have been a good girl, but heart break has a way of turning the best into the worst and the worst into the worst of the worst.

The first time Josiah and I have sex, he screams so much that I almost feel like I have given the poor dude a heart attack. It is the scariest consenting coitus of my entire freaking life.

He owns a bike and sometimes I suspect I like riding his bike more than I like riding him.

But we have a good, safe thing going. No drama, no yelling, no sleeping with other people and definitely no disrespect. Just him, his bike and me.

Then, like a ghost, he calls. Amin. And it is like no time has passed between us.

2012

Me: Hello

Amin: Hi Charlotte

Me: Is your mother OK?

Amin: yeah. Why?

Me: Why are you calling?

Amin: I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to say hello.

Me: OK

Amin: And that um, you deserved better than I gave you.

Me: It’s OK Amin. You did what you had to do (I mean that)

Amin: It’s just…

Me: Amin?

Amin: Yeah?

Me: Do you remember that day we were in high school and you found me in the library reading a book that I wouldn’t give you? So you went out and brought back a flower and you knelt down as you presented it to me?

Amin: I think I used to be more charming then.

Me: My grandmother still asks me where you went.

Amin: What? We only met once.

Me: You’re still charming. It just so happens that that charm had to be transferred from me to other people for the betterment of the both of us.

Amin: I never meant to hurt you, you know.

Me: It’s OK. There are no hard feelings here.

Amin: You working on being an Advocate of these dark corridors of justice of ours?

Me: Still working on being the light to illuminate it a little.

Amin: Still a valid dream. I admire you for it.

Me: Hey um, it’s getting late and I have an exam tomorrow.

Amin: Yeah. Of course. You ready for it?

Me: You know I am.

Amin: Swing by town later? Maybe I could get you a rose and a cup of coffee?

A rose and a cup of coffee turns out to be the best sex we’ve ever had.

Two Months Later

I don’t know why I find this surprising, but yeah. You guessed it. I’m pregnant. Yay! I’m going to be a mommy! Please detect the sarcasm in that voice. There is nothing “yay” about this.

The call to Amin goes something like;

Me: Hi babe, how’s it going?

Amin: You missed me?

Me: Yeah. You know I did. (It feels like we’re in that honeymoon part of the relationship where nothing can go wrong). You know what else I missed?

Amin: Me inside you?

Me: That. And my period too.

Amin: It is not the first time you’ve missed a period. It’ll come around.

Me: Amin?

Amin: Yeah?

Me: It won’t. Not for a long time.

Amin: OK. (Caution enters stage) What’re you saying?

Me: I’m pregnant Amin. That’s what I’m saying.

Amin: Is it mine?

I hang up. He calls back.

Amin: I’m sorry. OK. I’m sorry. That was a stupid question.

Me: You think I’ve been dogging other people?

Amin: Dogging?

Me: Look, if you don’t want this, then just say it and I won’t come knocking on your door.

Amin: You’re going to keep it?

Me: No! Hell no!

Amin: I could find a good doctor.

Me: No, don’t worry about that. I already have someone in mind. Can I ask a favor though?

Amin: Sure. Anything.

Me: Can you take me to the doctor? I don’t think I can do this alone.

Amin: Yeah. Of course. You don’t even have to ask.

Tuesday. September 11, 2012. 14:06h

Upper hill. Nairobi

I have made it to the hospital alone. The doctor is ready for me. I wait for Amin. He isn’t here. I call him. He doesn’t answer. I text. He doesn’t text back.

I wait.

And remember.

The kick in the ribs. The other women. The waiting I have been waiting for Amin for years. The begging. The beseeching. The beating. The laughing.

I remember that Aisha broke up with him because he kept acting like he wasn’t over me even though he kept screaming it from rooftops how the drama with Charlotte was finally over.

And I wait.

And I hurt.

Another Amin dagger in my ribs. And when I realize I can’t wait any longer, I get up and leave. I will raise his baby with or without him. In a way, my son’s life is saved by his father’s indifference.

Wednesday. October 29, 2014. 18:11h

Kenya School of Law. Karen. Nairobi

I am heading out of school when my mom calls.

Me: Hi mom

Mom: Hi. It’s your father.

Me: (Trying to remember to breathe) Is he OK?

Mom: No Charlotte he is not. He is dead.

Talk about a man carrying his daughter’s secret to the grave. I have taken to sleeping in Ongata Rongai because it is closer to school and I have the bar exam coming up. I can’t say I am ready but then nobody is ever ready for this thing.

That night, I go to my mother’s in Kamukunji.

21:45h

Kamukunji. Nairobi

The visitors have just left after doing the dishes and singing my ears sore. Samson is in bed and it is just me and mom in the living room. The TV is on but nobody is watching it. It could be said that it is watching us.

Mom: I will never understand why he killed that man. It was so unlike your father, you know. And I have spent the last seventeen years trying to forget him, trying to turn him into a villain who would just enter his best friend’s house and shoot him eight times point blank for no reason at all. (Turns to me) Did he ever tell you why he did it?

Me: Mom, please

Mom: No. no. I loved that man Charlotte. He meant everything to me. And I don’t even know why he did the darkest thing he ever did in his life.

Me: Does it matter now?

Mom: Seventeen years. I visited him in prison for seventeen years and he never once said why. I kept asking and he kept saying, “I just realized I didn’t like the guy anymore, OK?” Then he’d smile and ask, “How’s little Charlotte doing? She’s going to be my little lawyer you know. I always knew that girl would amount to something.” (Turns to me) You’re still his best friend.

Me: Stop, OK. Just, stop!

I storm out. I storm back in. I go to Samson’s room and try to catch some sleep. But to do that, I’d have to drown out my mama’s crying from the next room. Mourning for a man whose cause of incarceration she knows not.

Thursday. October 30, 2014. 02:26h

I enter my mom’s room like an automaton. She is laying there, her body heaving under the bedding. Trying to cry herself to sleep.

I sit on the bed knowing that one way or the other, things are about to change.

Me: Do you remember The Corporal?

Mom: (Sniffling) You didn’t like him much.

Me: He might have liked me a little too much

Mom: Charlotte

Me: He raped me mom. That day when dad shot him, it was because he raped me.

I feel her stiffen. She slowly sits up and her face hardens so much it is hard to believe she was crying a minute ago.

Me: I wasn’t lying when I told you what he used to do back then. And I am not lying to you now. You know I am telling the truth.

Mom: And you let your father rot in jail?

Me: I didn’t want the stigma mama. I didn’t want to be the girl who…

Mom: I don’t care what you wanted! He was innocent! Your father! How could you have been so selfish?

Me: Mom…

Mom: Get out!

Me: Mom please…

Mom: (Hissing) Get out of my house right now or things that aren’t OK will start happening.

I don’t know why I am choking. I want to say I’m sorry but the voice won’t leave my throat. I croak;

Me: Mama…

Mom: (Between clenched teeth) Go

I swing by Samson’s room and peck him on the forehead. Then in the dead of the night I leave the house. And I walk all the way to Amin’s house. And I knock on his door. Tears drenching my face. Heart racing. Every part of me trembling.

He opens. And I grab him by his t-shirt and shove him against the wall;

Amin: Charlotte, what…

Me: Shut up.

I kiss him on the lips. There is salt. My tears rubbing off on him. There is a woman in his bed.

Me: You, get out!

Woman: What the….

Me: (Hissing) Get out. Now.

Amin: Charlotte you…

Me: If she doesn’t get out, I will kill her. (To the woman; looking her dead in the eye) Do you believe me?

She grabs her clothes and runs out of the house. I guess she puts them on outside. And Amin is dying to ask what’s up but I push him down and nail him good. It is intense; angry; the kind of loving I know no other man in this world can manage. It is insane.

I ride him. Slap him. Insult him. Scratch him. Bite him. And the best part is; he returns the favor with varying degrees of vengeance. Holding me tight and ramming me so hard, I’m sure I will be swollen by the time the sun comes up.

And we roll off the bed and onto the floor. And my hands clasp his throat and his teeth clench. I am on him like stench on rot. Back and forth, back and forth I go. He pushes me off him and pins me down. His thighs spreading me wide and his hardness filling me up like terrible memories.

I am against the wall wishing this will never end. We’re on the couch and it won’t stop moving. So I push him off me, hurl him against the wall and plant a cursed kiss on his lips. I bite. He hisses and bites back.

Me: Is that all you have for me?

Memories of hurt are taken out on this romp. When I punch him and he punches me back, I feel no pain. Nothing can penetrate this darkness. This is the darkest moment of my life since the rape. When he grabs me by the hair against the kitchen counter, I want him to do his worst. And he does exactly that.

And when the sun comes up, we find that we have bruises and scratches and welts and he asks;

Amin: It has been years since we last saw each other. And suddenly in the dead of the night you make this return?

Me: I delivered. He is a boy. His name is Samson. You can be his father or not. I don’t think I care anymore.

Amin: I tried reaching out to you. I called and texted and searched…

Me: I am sure I will always want to do you good, hard and rough, I am sure I will always want you inside of me, but dude, you and I will never be. You can rest assured of that.

He wants to talk, or take a crap, or breathe, or cry…I can’t really tell from that lost expression on his face, but it is the last thing I see before I open the door and bang it shut behind me.

Yanking myself off the yokes of Amin may just be the most productive thing I have ever done with my life. And to be able to drive my son to parts of this country that my mother wouldn’t have even thought to take me.

Saturday. December 24th, 2016

Eldoret – Iten Road. 14:49h

I have been admitted as an Advocate of these dark corridors of justice. Amin, who is now a police officer in Samburu, came all the way to Nairobi for the occasion. I hadn’t seen so much pride in his eyes in a long time.

He spent the night in my house and we didn’t even touch each other. That ladies and gentlemen, is true progress.

I am an assistant programme officer in the access to justice programme of an NGO in Nairobi. Yeah. I’m doing great. Dad would have been proud of me.

My mom is. But she’ll never forgive me. Maybe I’ll never forgive myself either. I keep wondering why I didn’t come out at any time before he died. But I was too worried about what that would do to me to really worry about what it was doing to my father.

And in my mom’s words, “He was always a better friend to you than a father.”

And as I drive Samson to Iten today, I look at him and I know for sure that I would take his secret to the grave. It wouldn’t be my secret to tell. It would be his. Maybe I’m more like my father than my mother. Or maybe she is just a woman mourning the loss of her man. He was her friend too.

Samson: Mom?

Me: What’s up?

Samson: You really need to stop saying that.

Me: What? What’s up? I’m just trying to be cool. Is that OK?

Samson: Not when it makes you sound like you’re ninety it’s not.

Me: Alright. What’s on your mind? Is that better?

Samson: (Chuckles) You’re learning. (More seriously) Why isn’t dad coming?

Me: Because he is working.

Samson: I miss him sometimes. (Amin’s charm does that to everybody. I miss him too and I kinda sorta hate him)

Me: I miss him too. We’ll call him when we get to the hotel, yeah?

Thursday. August 31st, 2017. 22:52h

Along Nairobi – Nyeri Highway

Dear Samson,

It’s mommy. Thing is, I’m scared that one day you’ll grow up and realize that I’m not as perfect as I seem right now. That you’ll think that me and daddy could’ve worked things out, but we couldn’t. Believe me, we’re better parents to you apart than together.

I hope that you’ll remember our long drives and the conversations when you grow up. And I hope that the day will never dawn when we no longer have the drives or the conversations. You’ll always be the best thing in my life, the strongest man I know, and the greatest gift from God, to a woman who didn’t really deserve it.

I will see you soon, OK baby. I love you.

Mommy.

 (Special thanks to the exceptionally talented Muruka Matuku and Lynn Angela for the unquestionably stupendous photography. And special thanks to you. Yes. You who sought me out and shared your moving story with me. I hope I did it the justice it deserves. I hope your story and your strength in sharing it, inspires others in similar circumstances to leave abusive relationships.)

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25 COMMENTS

  1. I want to say something, but I don’t know what words could possibly communicate what I want to say. So I’ll just say something shallow like “Deep. This is deep, man.”

    My compliments to Muruka Matuku and Lynn Angela. I will look them up.

  2. Sobs. WTF! Can’t explain how this story has made me feel. I hoped for a ‘lived happily ever after’ as I read, even though I knew it couldn’t happen. This is a strong woman for having the guts to live life the best way she didn’t know how, because her past took control of her for a great while.
    WTF!
    Hats off.

  3. Your stories harm me. Idk why i don’t stop reading but they cloud me with so much thoughts. Let’s say you open up my mind in a bad way, but in a good way.

  4. Charles,

    Just like I have said in my earlier emails- you are not just a great story teller but a compelling and intoxicating narrator.

    It’s a story well crafted; the hopes, the pains, the desperation and the ever vanishing dreams.

  5. It’s mommy. Thing is, I’m scared that one day you’ll grow up and realize that I’m not as perfect as I seem right now. That you’ll think that me and daddy could’ve worked things out, but we couldn’t. Believe me, we’re better parents to you apart than together……….so true of me
    Deep!

  6. If asked i would have sworn am reading a novel. I wanted to stop but i kept on reading and it has got me to the suspense like damn….Charles you very creative i love how your mind captivates me in every read i get by in your blog…Kudos man..

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