• The Conundrum of Love-By Edward Maroncha

    The other day one of my friends invited me to join her and a few other friends to speak in a Girls’ High School somewhere in Kiambu County. The talk was to happen this past Sunday. The only challenge with that was that it was to begin at 7am. You see, there was an event I was coordinating that was to happen on Saturday. One of my friends is getting married, and some friends and I decided to come together and wish him well in the other side of the marital divide. I wasn’t sure when it would end, so I was a bit hesitant to commit to the Sunday event.

    But as it turned out, most guys wanted to have their early Sunday morning to themselves and so we agreed that 2pm to 6pm would be perfect. That allowed me to contact my Sunday friends and assure them that I would be in the CBD at 6am on Sunday morning so that we could head to rural Kiambu. So on Saturday I arrived at the venue quite early, seeing as I was coordinating. We were meeting at the home of one of us, the only guy in the group who was not a bachelor. I joined him and his wife in cooking before the bachelors arrived. Sorry, what I meant is that I took over the operations of the kitchen. Because of my excellent kitchen skills, I took the more daunting task of grating carrots. That’s a task you don’t entrust with novices. But I did it with so much zeal that that I ended up grating one of my fingers and blood oozing out. Every pro in any field will tell you that the hallmark of greatness is encountering occupational hazards. Like grazing a carrot grater over your finger. But my skills clearly impressed because I was recalled the following morning to help in preparing breakfast. Again, I took over the very sensitive role of making fried eggs. My prowess in that area is more than significant. I did hear some misguided bachelor complain that the eggs were too salty but you can trust me he was just extending his sour dreams from the previous night to the breakfast table.

    Mentioning breakfast of course means the 2pm to 6pm plan did not work out. The first bachelor to arrive came at 4pm. The main bachelor, the guy tying the knot (who by the way had no idea what was going on) was brought at 7pm. So I quickly made arrangements with one of the bachelors who had a car to drop me in town at 9pm because it would be easier to get to the CBD early in the morning from my house, than from Matasia where the event was. He also had an early morning flight to catch so he also wanted to leave that night. After all, what do men talk about? We would only eat the roast meat and chapos, pat our brother at the back and wish him well in the land yonder, no?

    Wrong. We ended up talking late into the night. The married dude told us his adventures in marriage for the close to two decades he had been married. The rest of us reflected on our romantic misadventures, teased each other and laughed about it. It is easy to talk about misadventure when it is no longer hurting. I did reflect on my three dating experiences. The second one was lengthy and lasted the entire four years I was in college.  That’s a story unto itself so for now let it be. But as I reflected that night, I realized the first and the third had an eerie similarity. True, the first one was probably just teenage infatuation, seeing as we were both barely 18, and the third happened years later, but they had a strange similarity. For one, both relationships were short. The two of them combined lasted less than a year. Thinking about it, the two girls even resemble physically. Height, complexion, body weight. Trust me it wasn’t intentional. But the one thing that stood out for me while thinking about it was the energy I had to exert to prove I was worth. For both of them, I spent long periods while my suitability was being considered (is that how they came up with the word ‘suitor’?), yet like I said, both relationships ended shortly after I got the green light.

    But that cuts both ways. On the one hand, I really reflected on whether I was in both relationships to prove a point. The problem with that is that you will have to constantly prove your worth in the relationship, and when you fall short (which sooner or later will happen because you are human and not a programmed robot) you are dropped like a hot potato. The point I am making here is that I am not completely blameless for the failure of these two relationships.

    As the initiator of the relationship, I was chasing my idea of the ideal. I was building a picture-perfect power couple. But since I am not ideal myself, I failed. In fact, I was far from anything perfect. My first girlfriend was beautiful and classy. Being a church girl, she dressed invariably in business skirt suits. Ok, she had a couple of kitenges for weddings. And that time she was eighteen mark you. Not forty five. At that time, in my late teens, I used to wear those baggy clothes. I am sure you have seen those baggy trousers that could easily pass for skirts. The ones that have three folds on either side of the zip. When you wear them, your dressing is not complete until you hang your keys on the belt hooks, using those plastic key holders that were either yellow, green or blue. You couldn’t see the belt by the way, because the shirt was usually hanging loosely over the body like a priestly robe during mass. But I had the confidence of a young stallion. And I could write emotionally moving texts. And poems. So I got the girl to say yes. But you can only get so far with skirt-like trousers. They are not known to make lasting impressions on the heart. Ok fine, sometimes they do. When Aaron was making burnt offerings at the altar, God’s heart was touched, his skirt notwithstanding.

    That is not to say the girls were blameless either. When you love someone, you don’t drag them through the mud to prove it. I am the kind of person who, if you say no, will walk away. That is because I see it in two ways: you either mean it, or you are playing hard to get. If you mean it then I obviously need to respect your decision. If you are playing hard to get then you are immature and I need not waste my time with you. Either way I will walk away. But you don’t act lukewarm. You know, giving someone just enough warmth to keep them hoping. Making them feel the need to prove their worth in order to gain your acceptance. Don’t do that. Because you are in essence selfishly using them for your convenience. If you don’t like someone give a firm no. It’s not a crime not to like someone who likes you.  If you are unsure, give a no and state your reasons, and give yourself time to deal with your emotions. Because you are dealing with a living being, not a test tube.

    Those were the reflections that were going down on Saturday night, amid teasing and laughter with the bachelors. At around 10pm, one of the girls I was going with on Sunday called and I assured her that I would be in town by 6am. You see, the plan had changed. Having realized the talk wasn’t going to end anytime soon, we agreed to wake up at 5am and head out, so that we would be in town by 6am. And even though we eventually slept at 3am, we did manage to wake up at 5am. But our host adamantly insisted that we take breakfast. Which is how I found myself in the kitchen. When the same girl called at 5.45am, I wished I could tell her I was cruising down Valley Road. But I couldn’t. Because at that moment I was salting eggs in Matasia. Matasia is between Ngong town and Kiserian, for those who are wondering.

    We left well past 6am, and I had to tell the girls (I was the only guy) to be going ahead, I would join them later. Have you ever noticed how nature conspires to slow you down when you are in a hurry? The road from Matasia to Ngong is miserable, and so we drove at a snail’s pace. Just when the potholes became fewer, we encountered a herd of cows. Right on the road. About 20 cows sashaying on the tarmac like models. They didn’t even bother to look at our small car. Ok, one of them may have briefly glanced at me through the car window. But it was that look that seemed to say ‘dude, what’s your issue? The potholes on this road should make it clear this road is ours not yours. This is a cow track, not a highway’. Then it sashayed away, its udder swinging from left to right.

    I finally did catch up with the ladies at the school. We had a wonderful time, holding several sessions with various classes. But the last session was my highlight. It was a Q&A session. One of the questions asked was:

    “Do you know you love someone only after having sex with them?”

    That caught me unawares. You see in my day in high school Christian Union, we had just one innocuous question:

    “is it wrong to have a boyfriend/girlfriend?”

    And the preachers of the day had a standard, intellectually lazy answer:

    “the very fact that you are asking ‘is it wrong’ means you know it is wrong”

    Come to think of it, we were not even creative enough to rephrase the question the next time we asked it.I wished I could get one of those preachers just to see how they deal with this generation of students.

    Anyway, the thing is, I see all the elements of a Fisi mentality in that question. Someone has managed to convince sixteen and seventeen year olds that the only proof of love is sex. Makes it easier to prey on them I guess. Which is unfortunate. Because the way I see it, love and sex are two distinct concepts. You can have love without sex, and sex without love. The two are supposed to converge at the apex called marriage, but that hardly happens these days. Casual sex and loveless marriages are a bit too common these days. And that’s unfortunate too.

    That being so, I have my own theory on marriage and love. It has grown over time. I am no longer chasing fairytales, because I have made peace with the fact that I am not a fairy. All I am asking is two things. One, we must share a value system. In church we are told we should marry Christians. But I find that too broad. These days Christians have all manner of beliefs. This girl should perceive God and the Bible in a similar way as I do. Because that’s the foundation of my value system. That will save us a lot of trouble. Because even when we disagree (which we will), it will not be on any crucial belief. But for me to know that, we have to be friends. That’s the number two. By friends I don’t mean a girl who will be gushing about me on Facebook calling me ‘my main’ every two seconds (what does that mean by the way? Main gate? Main switch?). Nope. I mean a girl whose company I can enjoy away from the public eye. If we are spending 60 or 70 years together, then we should at least be happy about it. This girl should be able to tell me off when she thinks I am wrong. And I am not talking about those deluded women who think winning arguments against men makes them ‘powerful’ or ‘strong’ or’ liberated’. Nope. I am talking about a woman who is secure enough to know that both she and I can be wrong, but we can find the truth through a logical discussion. She is not interested in making shallow impressions on me, but neither is she out to undermine me to feed a feminist ego. I am just 26 so I am willing to wait until she shows up. Even for a few years. But please don’t tell my mother I said that last part. Because she believes I am praying and fasting day and night for a princess to fall down from heaven. Let’s keep it that way. No need to worry the good lady unnecessarily.

     

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