“Please be careful, Joyce,” my best friend Mary counsels. Mary is also my roommate in the campus hostel. She has been watching silently as I pack my things into my handbag, as I do every Friday evening. I am going for a Christian fellowship, but I will not be back until Sunday evening. Mary knows that I will be staying with my boyfriend from tonight until Sunday. He will pick me up at the campus parking lot and we will drive together to the fellowship, which is normally held in Nairobi’s CBD. After that we will go to his house where we will spend the whole of tomorrow. I will spend the morning washing my boyfriend’s clothes, mopping the floor and generally doing general cleaning. After that, depending on what plans he has, we may go out and spend the day outdoors, or we may spend the day indoors. On Sunday we will go to church together, and then we will go back to his house for lunch. I normally spend Sunday afternoon ironing his shirts for the week. His suits are cleaned and ironed by a laundry company based in the neighborhood. I normally wash shirts, vests, socks and casual clothes.
I still cannot believe that I have a boyfriend. This is the one part I had not envisioned when I was growing up. I had been brought up to know that the whole idea of being in a premarital, romantic relationship was sinful. I always thought that when I came of age, a Christian man would ask for my hand in marriage. If I thought he was hardworking, kind and well-grounded in faith, and if my parents approved, then I would accept and marry him in a church ceremony. I would then settle down to give birth to and nurture his children. For me marriage was a practical societal function that had nothing to do with feelings. Feelings were for heathens who do not know God.
But then Ibrahim came into my life and made me realize that I could love and be loved by both God and man.
“I am always careful Mary,” I tell my friend, as I close my handbag and sit on my bed waiting for Ibrahim to call. He always calls when he arrives at the parking lot.
I was brought up in Kaharati, Murang’a County. My parents were strict Akorino Christians so I was basically brought up in the ways of the Lord. I wore my headscarf and pleated skirts proudly. In fact, my father had a run-in with my school head teachers because he wanted me to have pleated school skirts. The head teachers of both primary and secondary schools that I attended refused to allow my father to get me pleated uniform. Such obstinate heathens! It did not help matters that I always had huge fee balances. But they did allow me to wear my headscarf. It turns out that the descendants of Pharaoh have human hearts after all.
Anyway, I breezed through High School and scored an A-. Oh, the celebrations! I am sure our drums could be heard as far as Kabati and Kangema. I went to study law. My parents worried that a career in law would take me away from our faith. They need not have bothered. Law School helped me meet a Son of Adam who has made me feel more than proud of being a Mukorino. We met by chance when I was in first year. I had attended a fellowship somewhere in the CBD, invited by a Mukorino friend. It was a gathering of Akorino students and young professionals.
During the fellowship, we sang and danced to joyful Kikuyu gospel songs. Oh, the joy! But amidst the frenzy of singing and dancing, he stood out. He was impressive to look at, but even more impressive was his melodiously booming voice. He sang beautifully in a deep bass, with an earnest (and handsome) face to complete the picture.
His name was, and still is, Ibrahim. I later learned that he was a practicing Advocate.
All the girls were stealing glances at him. Not that any of us would admit it, because we Christian girls are (supposed to be) quite beyond carnal desires. After the singing, I was introduced to the congregation because I was the newest member.
Ibrahim offered to drop me at the campus in his brand new Toyota Premio after the fellowship. Since I was the only one from Parklands, we were alone in that car. We talked about the law; we talked about God; and many other things in between. His brilliant mind captivated me, and his self-assuredness made my knees weak. In fact, his self-confidence was skirting around the fringes of cockiness. Which girl doesn’t like a man like that?
And he was a believer!
Over time we became friends. He took me out to dinners. We went for long walks. He started picking me up at the campus on Friday evening so that we could go to the fellowships together, and he would drop me afterwards. Friends from the fellowship started whispering, but we insisted we were just friends. Okay, he insisted, and I played along. You don’t have to tell people everything because people are spoilers. Those were his words, and they made sense.
Then one day, not long after we met, he invited me to his house. He lives in an expensively furnished apartment in Lang’ata. Would this be my home? Could the daughter of a peasant farmer from Kaharati live here? That thought startled me. Because it made me realize that I had fallen in love and had subconsciously started seeing myself as his wife.
It is on that first day in his house that I discovered that this blessed Son of Adam could cook! I marveled because all the men in my village will never be seen anywhere near a kitchen. It is sacrilegious for a man to witness the process of making food.
“A princess like you needs to be treated like royalty,” he said, laughing.
I was smitten.
We ate and then sat on the sofa to watch a movie. At first, it was his hand brushing my knee. My body automatically stiffened, and he stopped. Then the hand went exploring again, this time more deliberately. My body came alive with sensations I had no idea existed.
Before I could say anything, he planted his lips on mine. I surrendered my body to him that day, losing myself in carnal delights that I had never experienced before. I did feel guilty afterwards, but he assured me that I was now his and that God would understand. He told me that we would get married immediately I completed my studies. That eased my conscience and I started to enjoy the relationship.
I now spend all my weekends at his house. He picks me up from campus every Friday, which is why I am waiting for him today. I am now in third year, so we have been dating for almost three years. I feel like a wife already. At least, I feel like a wife every weekend: I cook and do the dishes for him, wash his clothes, iron his shirts, mop his house and make love to him. I love it actually, and I can’t wait to finish school so that I can wake up every day beside him. It is Friday, and I really miss him, having not seen him the whole week. Speaking of which, he is late. It is 8.00 pm, and he normally comes to pick me up at 7.00pm. Mary has already gone to the Christian Union evening service.
I have called him thrice since 7.30 pm but he is not picking up. I imagine he is running late in a meeting, although that is strange because he would have told me if he had such a meeting. Since I have waited for an hour and he is not calling, I decide to go to the fellowship alone and meet him there. I don’t bother texting him because I know he will call me immediately he finishes whatever engagement is keeping him busy.
I am late for the fellowship so I sit at the back. During the fellowship, the convener, Brother Elijah, tells us that Brother Ibrahim has an announcement. The Son of Adam stands up, dashing as ever. He announces to a cheering congregation that he is getting married. My heart skips a beat. Is this how Men of God propose? I nearly faint with excitement. But then he is joined at the front by a woman; a beautiful woman, admittedly. I do not understand what is happening at first, until Brother Elijah congratulates him for having a beautiful bride. That is when it dawns on me that this is the woman he is marrying.
To say that I am humiliated is an understatement; I wish the earth can swallow me. How can he? Fortunately, I am seated at the back so I simply slither out into the darkness, tears dripping down my cheeks.
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