(Continued from Pitfalls of Love V)
Consolata calls Morris immediately she leaves the hospital. She knows he is heartbroken.
“Where are you?” she asks when he answers the call.
“In my house,”
“Are you okay?”
Morris hesitates. He is certainly not okay, but there is no reason to burden Jedidah’s friend with his misery. He will get over Jedidah eventually, and the pain will go away.
“I will be fine,” he says after about half a minute.
“Look Morris, why don’t you meet me for coffee today?”
“Aren’t you going to stay with Jedidah?”
“She kicked me out,”
“Because I told her that she is making a mistake by leaving you for that crook Jacob,”
“She didn’t leave me Consolata. I was never in her life in the first place. I just assumed that I was. I thought she liked me. But it is no big deal. I will get over it eventually,”
“Then at least allow me to buy you coffee. I am the one responsible for this second round of heartache and now I am feeling guilty. I shouldn’t have asked you to come,”
“It is okay, do not sweat it. I am an adult, and even before I came to the hospital I knew there was a risk that I would get hurt. But you sounded so sure that Jacob wouldn’t show up. I assumed you knew something I didn’t,”
“I thought I did. I did not think she would have entertained him ever again,”
“Why don’t you accept my offer of coffee then I will fill you in?”
“I am not coming to Nairobi again Consolata. I have just gotten home,”
“You don’t have to come, Morris. I will come to Ruaka,”
“Alright. See you in a few,”
Consolata hangs up and walks quickly to the matatu stage. There are no direct vehicles from Westlands to Ruaka, so she will have to go down to the CBD first. She cannot believe she is doing this. She likes Morris. And if Jedidah cannot see the jewel in him, then it is her problem. The challenge will be getting Morris to love her the way he loves Jedidah. But challenges exist to be overcome. Winning Morris’ affection is worth trying.
Ruaka Haven is a medium sized coffee shop that is popular with the white collar professionals of the growing town. It is situated just outside town, on your way to Banana. Consolata’s heart is pounding as she steps into the place. Is she being too forward? What will he think of her? Is this a mistake? But then it is not like she is going to ask him to be her boyfriend. She will not even tell him that she likes him. She is going to befriend him, find reasons to meet him again and again and hope that nature will take its course.
She has already dumped Oscar. She called him before she boarded the matatu and told him that it is over. That relationship was doomed to fail anyway. Oscar is a childhood friend. They grew up in the same neighborhood and went to the same primary school. They started officially dating when they were in high school. It looked like the natural thing to do, so they wrote each other letters expressing undying love for one another. He was in Maranda High while she was in Lugulu Girls.
They found themselves at the University of Nairobi. She was at the School of Business, Lower Kabete Campus, while he was at the Main Campus, studying mechanical engineering. Consolata is yet to secure a job and is out here hustling. Right now her hustle is making and selling Ankara handbags. Oscar landed a job with Nissan Kenya almost immediately after graduation. They haven’t talked about it but it looks like the natural thing to do is get married.
Except that Consolata has been restless.
She does not want to get married to Oscar. She knows she doesn’t love him but they have dated for so long that she didn’t have the guts to leave. Oscar is a nice guy. Consolata sometimes whines about his frugality and his being a workaholic but she knows that the reason he doesn’t spend time and money on her is because he is supporting his siblings’ education. His parents died in a car crash just after he got admitted to UoN and as the first born, it fell upon him to take care of his younger siblings. She can’t fault him for that, but it is also a fact that she has been feeling lonely in the relationship. That is why she complains to Jedidah. She has never admitted to anyone that over time she fell out of love with Oscar, but it is true. Perhaps because over the years they have hardly been seeing each other. The truth is that they have been drifting apart for a while now.
The relationship has been strained for a while now and Consolata has been thinking about exiting. But Oscar didn’t want to end the relationship. She could see he was trying so hard to make the relationship work, but he still wasn’t willing to invest time. She has urged him several times to let his siblings help him foot the bills by working while studying but he has always refused. She has known in her heart for a while now that she will not marry him, she just didn’t have the courage to tell him. Until today. She likes Morris and has realized that she doesn’t want to be stuck in an unfulfilling relationship just because she is afraid of hurting Oscar’s feelings. And she doesn’t want to entertain others behind his back. To her that is cheating. That is why it was important that she ends things with him before she meets Morris.
But as she stands near the entrance of the coffee shop, she wonders whether her ‘forwardness’ will ruin the whole thing. The problem with dating Oscar since teenage is that she doesn’t know how people behave on dates. What if he doesn’t want to see her ever again? She spots him sitting at a corner table. He smiles and waves. She suddenly becomes self-conscious. Is her dress okay? Is it too short? Too tight? Is her make-up proper? She subconsciously tucks in her tummy. She forces herself to smile as she walks towards his table. She hopes he will not notice how nervous she is.
Although Consolata has been threatening to leave for a while now, Oscar did not imagine that she would actually do it. And even if she decided to do it, he thought that she would have suggested dinner, or a walk…a face to face meeting, but not ending their relationship on phone. It would have been easier to plead with her to be patient with him if they had met face to face.
He has been with Consolata for so long that he always assumed they would end up married. Maybe for this reason he became complacent. Maybe he should have tried harder to keep the romance in their relationship alive. Maybe he should have taken her out more on those dinners that she wanted, bought her more gifts…but he knows it wouldn’t have been possible. Ever since his parents died he has been dancing on the verge of bankruptcy. He used his HELB loan to keep his three siblings in school. And because it was hardly enough, he had to get creative and look for money elsewhere. His parents used to own two restaurants in Eldoret, but Oscar realized that he wouldn’t be able to run them while still in school. The employees were stealing massively and he was losing more money than he was making. He closed both of them two months after the death of his parents.
He tried GNLD with their promise of quick wealth, but quickly realized that it wouldn’t work. Getting people to sign on to the network was not as easy as they were making it sound. A year ago his twin brothers told him they had found an easy way to make money and help him with the financial burden. When they explained how AIM Global works, he smiled and explained to them his adventure with GNLD. They argued it was different and went on to try it. They didn’t tell him when they quit.
Finally he discovered online writing and it helped him make that extra coin. Doing online writing while at the same time focusing on his studies was difficult. He slept little and was always either in school or writing. He was fortunate to find a job soon after graduating, because the twins did not get grades that would allow them to pursue their dream careers. He enrolled them in a private university. Since his salary is not enough to keep them in school, he has been taking Sacco loans to h. He has also been moonlighting at a high end, private garage. If he had time he would still be doing online writing but two jobs are killing him. He has no social life whatsoever. That is the main point of friction between him and Consolata. She doesn’t really care that much about his financial status, but she always complains about his unavailability.
He really cannot blame her. He has not been available, physically and emotionally for her all these years. She has actually been very patient, but she is human and is bound to get restless. He can understand why she would imagine that he doesn’t love her. He has tried to explain, and while she says she understands, she has always wondered why his siblings cannot fend for themselves like he did. The truth is that his siblings know he is struggling and want to help. It he who forbid them from working. He knows the pain of working while studying and decided to sacrifice himself so that his siblings can get the best. He is not doing it for himself or for them. He is doing it for his parents. He always saw how hard they worked just to make sure he and his siblings got the best in life. He is determined to make sure that even though death robbed him of the comfortable student lifestyle his parents envisioned for him, then at least his siblings should get it. They should at the very least get quality education with minimum fuss. And that is the point Consolata has had trouble understanding.
But what hurts most is that Consolata has left him just when the hardship is almost over. The twins have only one more semester to go. After he pays next semester’s fees the burden will ease. His last born sister is in second year but Oscar can handle her because the girl scored a straight A and is therefore a government sponsored student. She decided to follow the footsteps of her big brother and pursue mechanical engineering at the University of Nairobi. Oscar is willing to quit his moonlighting activities once the twin boys are through with their undergraduate studies. With his salary, he can comfortably pay off his loans as well as take care of their last born.
Which is why he desperately needs to talk to Consolata. He needs to make her understand that their future is almost here. The future where he is available and has some money to spend. Just a little more time. But she is not picking his calls and is not responding to his text messages. There is only one other way to contact her. Her best friend Jedidah.
Morris is sure he knows why Consolata is looking for him, and it has nothing to do with her feeling guilty about getting him into an emotional mess. He knows she likes him. He has seen the way she looks at him. She is a beautiful girl, and for the time he has interacted with her, she has a beautiful personality too.
But he is not sure about his feelings for her. The one person he has been absolutely in love with is Jedidah, and he doesn’t want to get his emotions mixed up. So he decides to be honest with her from the word go. After chatting idly from about thirty minutes, he decides to go straight to the point.
“You are falling in love with me, aren’t you?” he asks.
Consolata nearly chokes on her coffee. She did not think anyone could be so direct. That question presents a problem. If she denies it, she could lose him forever. If she affirms it, and he doesn’t feel the same way, she could be humiliated.
“Yes I am,” she admits, her eyes fixed on her coffee cup. Her face is burning.
“There is nothing to be embarrassed about Consolata, we do not choose who we fall in love with,”
Her heart is now pounding. So he doesn’t feel anything for her after all.
“I cannot say that sitting here and looking at you I am feeling nothing. You are an attractive woman, and I am attracted. But I don’t think we should act on attraction alone. Especially for me who has been in love with someone else for quite a while. I suggest we meet for coffee more regularly and see where it leads. You don’t have a boyfriend, do you?”
“No I don’t have a boyfriend but I have a question,” she says looking up slowly to meet his gaze.
“We will be meeting as who?”
“What do you mean?”
“You already know I like you a lot. And I now know that you have some feelings for me. But we are not dating. We are meeting to see if we can date. At what point will we say, now we can date? I do not want to find myself in a situationship,”
Consolata knows only too well Jedidah’s five year predicament with Jacob. She will not allow herself get into such a situation.
“I understand,” Morris says and sighs. “Okay. We could give ourselves a chance. So what do you say, will you be my girlfriend?”
“Of course I will,” she replies with a smile. He leans forward and kisses her lightly on the lips. Just then his phone rings.
“Strange. It is Jedidah’s mother,” he says.
“I hope Jedidah is okay,” Consolata replies.
Morris picks his phone and she can see him frowning.
“What is it?” she asks when he hangs up.
“She was asking if I know where you are and I told her you are with me,”
“She says your boyfriend Oscar is looking for you. He is with them at the hospital. You just told me you do not have a boyfriend Consolata. Did you come all the way to Ruaka to lie to me? Don’t bother to answer,” he says, rising up to leave.
(To be continued on Friday. We are wrapping this February series on Friday, which is the day I will release the whole story as a novella. In the meantime, you can purchase and read last month’s story by following the instructions below)
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