Felista couldn’t get him off her mind. Neither could she get the moment off her mind. It was frozen in time. A story to be told to her grandchildren. The story that would become the living tale of her clan. Her clan with Jack. They would be sitting in their comfortable yellow sofas, whiling away their retirement years while listening as their six-year old grandchildren narrate exaggerated versions of the story to their four and three-year old cousins.
The story itself is about the magic moment when she met Jack. It was just after the church service. A young man of medium height, wearing blue jeans and white T-shirt. The charming smile disarming her and shattering all her defenses.
“Hi Felista?” he had said, stretching his hand.
It is not like she was seeing him for the first time. They had grown up together, having gone to the same primary school. The competed for the top spot in the class during those eight years, before parting ways at the end of their primary school learning. He went to Kanga High School, she went to Bishop Gatimu Ng’andu Girls. She had had fleeting crushes on him, but never anything serious.
But then, on this particular day, he stood before her, looking all grown up at 19. She felt something move in her. Perhaps the rejoicing of their unborn children in her ovaries. For this was a historical moment. A moment when she realized she was deeply in love with him.
“Hi” she had replied, her hands trembling slightly. He had engaged her in a leisurely conversation. All the while she kept shifting her weight from one leg to another, in feeble attempts to hide the sudden rush of adrenaline that was filling her knee cups with jelly. She did not hear much of what he said, except that he had asked for her number. He did call, and the rest fell into place naturally. They were meant to be.
They went to college, and their relationship blossomed. He became her god, and her constant fear was losing him. Whenever she met a cute girl, she would be overwhelmed with a sense of insecurity. Would Jack see her too? Would he dump her (Felista) to pursue the new beauty? Jack was hers. And she could not imagine losing him. They would get married, have two adorable babies and then grow old together. It was all figured out in her mind.
But, like most teenage relationships, it call came tumbling down. They started drifting apart. When she sensed it, she tried to cling to memories and her the ideal she had constructed. But that did not stop the imminent collapse. Fights became more frequent, and finally he pulled the plug.
She lived in denial for a while. Quite obviously, her next relationship was a rebound. She was still trying to recreate the image of Jack. But with another man. Finally she did get over Jack, although his memory was archived in a special part of her heart. But at least she started considering other men by their own merits, not on the standard that was Jack. Or so she thought.
But she found the garden of suitors to be terribly wanting. Having lost the white rose, the rest were lowly bougainvillea. There was Raymond, the macho ruffian who sent her emotions on a rollercoaster. But he drank heavily and lacked Jack’s polished mannerisms. She dumped him the day he insulted her while drunk. Then there was Phineas, a good but miserably boring guy. He seemed to have his life figured out, but he couldn’t tell a joke to save his life. Then Simon, an okay guy whose capital offense was being two months younger than her. She couldn’t bear the thought of getting married to a younger man. Oh well, Felista thinks now, with the benefit of hindsight; the folly of youth. I lost a good man because of two miserable months.
Felista has completed her undergraduate studies and has a job. She is pursuing a post graduate degree. But she is now ready to settle in marriage. But what are her options? There is Peter, who looked like the ideal man for her. In her scoresheet, he scored an A in every department. His height. His lean body build. His taste of clothes. His smell. His humor. Their friendship was growing, and Felista was sure he was going to ask her to be his girlfriend. Then one day he sent her a WhatsApp message. An e-card. An invitation to his wedding. She had studied the photograph on the card for a long time, trying to figure out what the other girl had that she (Felista) lacked. But Felista couldn’t see how different the girl was from her. It is not like she has weak eyes, that Jacob (Peter) should choose Rachel (the e-card bride). So she had silently nursed her pain and tried to be happy for them. But she skipped the wedding, not sure whether she could stand it. So Peter is no longer an option.
Then there is Moses. This guy looks like he likes her. And she likes him too. But he never asks. He hovers around her all the time. He tells her deep things about himself. He sends her thoughtful gifts. Something that even Peter never did. His text messages are poetic. But he never comes around to ask her directly to be his girlfriend. And after Peter, she is not willing to assume anything. It is close to a year now, and she has reluctantly pushed him to the friendzone.
Then there is Elijah. This one has declared his undying love for her. He calls. He texts. But she finds him rather annoying, perhaps because she does not share his feelings. He has already asked her to be his girlfriend, though in a long, winded way. But she declined because she doesn’t feel the same way. But that doesn’t deter him. It doesn’t help matters that she finds him weak. He cannot hold his own in an argument. He will do anything she says. And she finds that annoying. Plus she fears that he is putting on a show to win her. And that if he marries her the savage African man in him will show up. And she had rather not find out after the wedding exactly how bad his savagery is. Elijah is not good looking. He is not romantic. She does not love him. But he is the only serious prospect in her life. Should she ignore her feelings and fears and give him a chance?
Why can’t finding mutual love be easier? What is a girl supposed to do?
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The basic outline of this story is a true story of a female friend of mine. She said I could write but I conceal her identity. So I changed her name, then meshed up the story with stories of other girls in my circle. And fleshed it up with my imagination.
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