(Continued from Pitfalls of Love)
Consolata calls Jedidah back while Jedidah is still at her observation table. She goes back to the bathroom to pick the call.
“What’s up, woman?” Consolata is chirpy as usual.
Jedidah cannot help it. She breaks down and starts crying. Consolata lets her cry for a while before saying anything.
“What is going on, sweetheart?” she asks when Jedidah’s sobbing subsides.
“I am at a restaurant. I told you I am having a date with Jacob today,”
“Yea, the one where you were to set him straight. Has he decided to dump you?”
“Worse. He came with Charlotte. And I have just watched as they kissed,”
“No way! He kissed her in front of you?”
“Not exactly, they haven’t seen me yet. They are sitting on a different table chatting as we speak. I was in the bathroom when they arrived, and when I saw them together, I called you to ask what I should do. But you did not pick. So I called Jacob and told him that I would be late by thirty minutes. I don’t know why I did that. I guess I just wanted to see what they were up to. What should I do?”
Jedidah is fighting tears. She feels like pulling her hair and wailing. For a while now she has had doubts about their relationship. She has been feeling like she is not a priority in his life. Perhaps that is how things have always been, but she has probably become more self-aware as she grows older.
“Go over to the table. Do not confront him first. Listen to how he introduces her. If he says they are back together, walk away with your dignity intact. If he gives you that nonsense about her being his cousin or sister or wherever…”
“Would he do that?”
“Why not? He doesn’t think you know her,”
“I swear if he says she is his cousin I will kill them both,”
“I know it is hard, but try not to cause a scene. You don’t want to wake up tomorrow and find yourself trending on social media. If he says she is his cousin, calmly tell him that you know she is his ex-girlfriend, and that you have seen them kissing just a few minutes ago. Tell him it is over between the two of you, then walk away. I will meet you at your house in an hour’s time,”
“Can’t I just walk away and forget him? Maybe text him and tell him it is over?
“You will not forget him, and we both know that. You will keep wondering whether you overreacted. You need to face him for you to find closure.”
Jedidah knows Consolata is right. After she disconnects the call, Jedidah wipes her tears and retouches her make-up. She cannot help but wonder about the ironies of life. Here she is, being betrayed by a man she loves deeply. A man she has been willing to marry even though she knows he doesn’t treat her right. Yet for her friend Consolata it is the other way round. Consolata has a devoted fiancé who proposed two years ago. If it were up to the guy, they would be married by now. But Consolata says she is not ready for the commitment of marriage.
Sometimes Jedidah feels like Consolata does not love her fiancé, and is only passing time until she falls in love with someone else. Is that what has been happening between her and Jacob? Has Jacob simply been passing time, waiting for someone else? Consolata says her boyfriend is a miser, but that is not true, it is just that Consolata’s expectations are beyond his means. Eliud cares about her. Jacob is the definition of miser. He not only doesn’t care about her but has also proven to be a cheat.
If Consolata’s boyfriend feels the way she has been feeling, then she should talk to Consolata about it. It is not fair to treat someone who loves them that way. But before she starts thinking about talking to Consolata, she has things to do- a demon to confront and slay. She retouches her makeup for the umpteenth time and steps out of the bathroom. Her heart is pounding, and part of her is telling her to sneak out of the restaurant and run away. But she has to do this.
Jacob is laughing at something with Charlotte when Jedidah arrives. She has never seen him this animated before with anyone. The only time he gets excited is when he is watching football. Jedidah cannot remember the last time she enjoyed a moment of laughter with him. She realized a long time ago that he does not appreciate her jokes, and he doesn’t say anything funny. And of late it seems that all he does is either rebuke her over something or the other or giving her silent treatment.
“Hi sweetheart, I am sorry I am late,” she says. It has taken every ounce of energy in her body to call him ‘sweetheart’.
“It is okay Jedidah. At least you are finally here,” he replies, hardly looking up.
Jedidah. At least he has been calling her “sweetheart” or “babe”. It was often said without affection, but at least he has been saying it. But that too is gone now. This relationship is really over. If she were honest with herself, it ended a long time ago. It is she who has been clinging on to the hope that he still wants her. It is actually possible that Jacob has never felt anything for her.
She sits down at the head of the table, with Jacob on one side and Charlotte on the other. A waiter hovers around, waiting for her to order. Jacob and Charlotte are already eating. She is having pilau and chicken with a glass of orange juice. He is having chapatti with beef stew. Jedidah wonders whether he will pay for the meal-the same Jacob who has never taken her to a decent restaurant for a meal. Jedidah orders for a glass of orange juice.
“Aren’t you going to eat?” Jacob asks.
“No, I am fine. I ate lunch late,”
They settle into an uncomfortable silence. Jedidah’s juice is brought and she starts toying with it. She doesn’t know how to begin. She is boiling with anger. What kind of humiliation is this? Why has she allowed herself to be treated like this? What is she even doing here? Jacob is concentrating on his food, while Charlotte is concentrating on her phone while hardly touching her food. Jedidah feels like an intruder in someone’s date, even though this is supposed to be her date.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” she asks finally.
“Oh my bad. This is Charlotte. Charlotte, Jedidah,”
Charlotte looks up and shrugs her shoulders in a half-hearted acknowledgement. Then goes back to picking at her food while toying with her phone. She keeps throwing glances at Jacob but he pretends not to see. Jedidah is having trouble controlling her anger now. She feels like strangling Jacob with her bare hands. She has been with him for five years and this is how he treats her?
“So is Charlotte your latest conquest? Or should I say re-conquest?” she blurts out.
Suddenly both of them look up.
“What does that even mean?” Jacob asks.
“What do you mean conquest?” Charlotte asks at the same time.
“What did he tell you he is coming here to do?”
“To be with you because your mother-his aunt-died recently and that you are still having issues coming to terms with it, and since you are his closest cousin, it is only right that he spends time with you,”
Before she can stop herself, Jedidah splashes her juice on his face.
“You don’t have the guts to break up with me, you do not have the guts to tell your new catch that you have a girlfriend that you have not yet dumped but you have the guts to bring your new catch to the date your girlfriend is sponsoring? What kind of man are you anyway?”
Jacob is stunned but before he can react, Jedidah takes her handbag and leaves. Jedidah has always been the calm girlfriend. He has never heard her raise her voice. He had not even expected her to ask who Charlotte was, leave alone know her already. Or should I say re-conquest? Those words are still ringing in his head. Jedidah is obviously not as dumb as he thought she was.
“What was that Jacob?” Charlotte brings him to the present. He had forgotten that he has a more pressing problem: placating Charlotte.
“I also do not know what has come over her. Maybe she is depressed. I will call my mom and tell her that she needs help,”
“What do you take me for Jacob? You are just as hopeless as you were when I left you those many years ago. And here I was imagining you had changed. I shouldn’t waste any more of my time with a loser like you,” Charlotte says, rising.
“Please don’t go babe, I can explain everything,”
“Explain what? That you have been cheating on me and have lied to me on top of it?”
“I am sorry, babe. Please forgive me. I just didn’t know how to end things with Jedidah. But it is over now. Please give us another chance,”
Charlotte almost laughs out aloud. She knows all about Jedidah but Jacob doesn’t know that she knows. She also knows that Jedidah has never been a threat. She, Charlotte, is the woman Jacob really loves, and will do anything she says.
Charlotte went back to sleeping with Jacob about three months after they broke up. That was four and a half years ago. She was seeing him secretly because she did not want her sponsor to find out, and that is why Jedidah did not find out either. At the time, her sponsor’s wife was terminally ill with cancer, and she was hoping to get married to him after the demise of his wife. She did not want to jinx that by being associated with a boyfriend. On his part, Jacob never publicly acknowledged Jedidah as his girlfriend because he did not want his secret lover Charlotte to find out.
Charlotte’s sponsor’s wife died two years ago and Charlotte assumed she would be the obvious replacement. But earlier this year the old fox married a forty five year old woman in a colorful wedding in which Charlotte was obviously not invited.
But the sponsor started sleeping with Charlotte again almost immediately after his honeymoon. It was for their mutual benefit. At twenty seven, Charlotte is almost half the age of the old man’s new wife. The old man himself is seventy six. After pouting for a while over missing out on the wedding ring, Charlotte quickly realized she could turn the new situation to her advantage. Continuing to sleep with the old man would guarantee the continued flow of financial resources, thus ensuring that she continues to enjoy the lavish lifestyle she is used to.
In addition, she could marry Jacob. He is youthful, good looking and with a respectable job. He is broke because of poor financial decisions, but that is not a problem for her because she has her own money. Thanks to the old man, she hardly touches the salary she earns from her job at Boldering Insurance Group, so her savings are piling up neatly.
She will continue sleeping with the old man even after she marries Jacob. The old man will make her wealthy, while Jacob will give her status and children. She has it all figured out.
Tears are flowing freely down Jedidah’s cheeks as she walks towards Tom Mboya Street to take a matatu to Kikuyu. As she crosses Moi Avenue at the pedestrian crossing next to the Bazaar, she is knocked down by a speeding matatu. She blacks out before she can even become aware of the pain.
(To be continued on Friday)
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