This past weekend I had a surprise for the #PrayerPartner. I had decided over a month ago that it was time to gift her a ring. I wasn’t keen on calling it a proposal. See, thing is, she and I had agreed way before that we are getting married. That was settled. We had even agreed on the wedding date. And we had started premarital classes at church. So it sounded ridiculous to go on one knee and ask “will you marry me?” Then she would act all surprised and say “yes”. And I would pretend to be all excited because she said yes. *Rolls eyes*
But I knew that she needed a ring, just like any other girl. The question was how to deliver it, so that she could be happy. And it is my business to make her happy. So I told a friend of mine called Maureen, who deals with jewelry, to get me a ring, as I figured how to deliver it. When it was delivered about two weeks ago, I still had no idea how to give it.
But one day last week, as I was typing a letter to a client, the idea came. Why not write her a letter? Why not remind her of the journey we have walked? I decided to put it on my kiosk’s letter head, but change the name on the letter head from “Maroncha Consultancy Services” to “Maroncha Romantic Forces” and changed the address as well to suit the circumstances. And that is how the letter to General Charity Gakii was conceived.
The problem now was the occasion. But it fortunately presented itself. My Bible Study gang was meeting last weekend for our monthly fellowship. So all I needed was to convince her to accompany me. She has accompanied me before so that wouldn’t be difficult. So I reached out again to Maureen and also to my friend Major, who lends me his brain sometimes, to help me work out the finer details to surprise her. Those who were coming to the fellowship were alerted and roped into the plot. After the meal (we share a meal in our fellowships) Maureen got busy confusing everyone. Charity was told to get people fruits from the kitchen and I was whisked away to the bedroom. Then as she delivered the fruits, Major handed her the letter.
From my hideout, I heard her ask, where is he? When she was done reading, they put on music to alert me that it was time to appear with the ring and flowers. When I finally put the ring on her finger, she put her head on my chest and sobbed. I guess that having already started preparing for the wedding, she had assumed that no ring was forthcoming for her except the wedding ring. Mission accomplished.
But this whole thing really made me reflect on the incredible journey we have walked. We met in 2009. I had been recruited by my former school, Ikuu Boys, to work as a peer teacher before joining University. So I found myself a church to attend. PCEA Ibiriga church. I started attending not only Sunday services, but also Wednesday prayers. We used to be a small bunch of less than 10 on Wednesdays, and she was one of them. So I got to know her.
We got acquainted over time, though we still did not know each other very well. But in September 2010 I decided to ask her to be my girlfriend. I still didn’t know her that well, but I was 20, and caution was not one of my strengths. So one evening I sent her a quote on text from The Merchant of Venice. That was the set book we both did in High School. It was a line Bassanio used to woo Portia:
Madam, you have bereft me of all words,
Only my blood speaks to you in my veins;
And there is such confusion in my powers,
As after some oration fairly spoke
She responded with the words of Portia:
You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
Such as I am: though for myself alone
I would not be ambitious in my wish,
To wish myself much better;
Over a week we flirted using Bassanio/Portia quotes.
The following Monday I called her to my office. Yes, I had an office that I shared with two other peer teachers. I told her I wanted to introduce her to the girl I had a crush on. Of course there was no girl when she came. So I told her I would call the girl. And called her number.
“Why are you calling me?”
“Because you are the girl I wanted you to meet” I replied sheepishly.
And that is how the one woman who has been most influential in my life, besides my mother and my grandma, Mrs Maroncha, came into my life.
The next one month was glorious. We watched The Promise every evening at 6pm in their house (Citizen TV was re-running it). We had money because we getting paid a few thousand shilling with zero expenses (she was staying at home, while Ikuu was giving me meals and accommodation in the staff quarters). So we fought over who should pay for what. I thought I should foot all the bills, but she was this independent woman who thought she should contribute.
It was a good problem to have, as we soon realized, because we soon joined University of Nairobi and were both seriously broke. She went to Kikuyu campus and I went to Parklands campus. I would see her every Saturday. Even when I was the CU chairman, my committee knew that if they insisted on putting an event on a Saturday they would be on their own.
We were broke yes, but happy. We cooked meals in her hostel room. Sometimes we went out on dates. Our dates when we were broke, as was often the case, would be to Ndunyu to take goat soup worth 10 bob a mug. I bought her cheap gifts. Our favourite place was the railway line. Just outside Kikuyu campus there is a railway line that passes through the farms. We would walk there and sit on the rails, talking. We loved the sound of trains coming, and the tremor it caused.
But our childishness caught up with us. We both made mistakes that strained our relationship. Perhaps we were trying to grow up and find identity outside each other. After all, when we started dating, I was 20, she was 19. In our fourth year of dating, things went south quickly and finally we broke up in July 2014, a couple of months after finishing fourth year. But it was amicable and we remained friends.
We came out here and experienced the brutal life that is modern dating. Perhaps because we met each other so early, we were shielded from the realities of life. There is so much chest thumping out here.
“Dah, me I cannot cook for a man who is not my father or my husband”.
“Me? I can’t date a broke man. How will he take care of me?”
“I can’t date a woman who wants marriage. I am not ready, I just want to enjoy myself”.
Everybody has conditions for dating. Everyone wants a perfect package, even though they themselves are not perfect. It is a brutal world.
That is when I realized that what Charity and I was perfect. There were problems yes, but it was perfect in a sense. So I called her to a café in Chuka and told her exactly that. She was of the same view. So we agreed to get back together and make it work. We started by solving the issues that had made us break up. But that was easy because we were now all grown up. What was more difficult was dealing with the baggage we had collected from the world during the time we were separate. We were both suspicious. We had been taught by the world not to trust anyone.
But slowly we rekindled what we had earlier. We became sure of each other’s love and commitment. We discovered that we could trust each other. Okay, let us be honest, this woman drives me insane sometimes. And she says sometimes I do drive her crazy too. But we both know that we wouldn’t hurt each other deliberately. We care too much to do that. And we apologize whenever we learn of our wayward ways.
This is the one woman I can trust with my all. My property, my family, my life. Because she has walked with me through a life’s journey. She came even before I knew I was going to law school. She stayed when I had nothing material to offer. I still don’t have much, and she is still with me anyhow. She stays even when we disagree. The one person who believes in my dreams, however wild they are. If there is anyone I would want to share my life with, then it is her.