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(I first wrote this story in August 2019. I am re-writing it so that I can expand it into a novella.) Sodi is a sleepy little town in Shava County. It is about twenty kilometers from Shava town, and twenty five from Messa town. There is nothing remarkable about Sodi, besides the fact that it probably has the best roast meat joint in the region.
Walan Retreat Centre, the meat joint, is not exactly in Sodi town. It is nestled in a village about five kilometers off the tarmac, at a place not far from Sodi Secondary School, where I teach. Every Sunday afternoon the place is usually brimming with people from all backgrounds, both white collar and blue collar types.
My friends and I go there every Sunday afternoon. But today I am alone. Jackie and Carol, my friends and colleagues, have dates with their boyfriends. Jackie has been taken to Maasai Mara, while Carol is being wined and dined at Messa Oval Restaurant in Messa.
I was supposed to meet with Carol here today, but her boyfriend called and told her that there is a band playing at Messa Oval. He had apparently gotten them tickets, so Carol will not be here either. My other friend, Betty, is married. Sometimes she and her husband join us for the meat at Walan, but more often than not Betty travels to Nakuru over the weekends because that is where her husband lives and works. If her WhatsApp status is anything to go by, today she and her husband are climbing Mount Longonot.
“Hello Elosy,” someone says. I look up from my phone. My colleague Charles is standing at my table, a sheepish grin on his face.
“Mind if I join you?”
“I am sorry Charles, but my boyfriend is coming,” I lie smoothly. “We were planning to enjoy the meat and conversation privately.”
Charles is also my colleague at Sodi Secondary School. He is also an English and Literature teacher, just like I am. But he is annoying. He has been making moves at me ever since I joined the school, even though I have told him several times that I have a boyfriend. Even if I did not have Danny in my life, I wouldn’t look at Charles twice. Charles is a traditional man and a very conservative Christian. He is also an unapologetic chauvinist.
I want to have a little fun in life, and I wouldn’t mind a husband who will pamper me the way Danny used to pamper me when we started dating. Unlike Charles, Danny cannot get a heart attack when I take a glass of wine-Danny introduced me to alcohol in the first place. Charles would get a heart attack if he saw me in a bikini-Danny is the one who bought my first bikini, and used to take me swimming at Kenya Science Campus every weekend. If I marry Charles, my entire social life will revolve around Sodi Secondary School and PCEA Sodi Church. I will join the Woman’s Guild then I will become one of those mamas. God forbid.
I had rather stay with my Duncan than marry a man like Charles. Duncan is the father of my daughter. We have been dating since campus, but something about our relationship is off. Danny is aloof and mysterious, but I know he can be romantic. At the time he got me pregnant, he was the most romantic man I knew.
But these days he visits me only once a month. He usually comes for a weekend, eats my food, makes love to me then disappears for another month. He lives and works in Mombasa, but he has never invited me to his house and usually brushes me aside whenever I offer to visit him. That is how it has been for years now, but I still love him dearly. He insists that he still loves me, and has been promising to pay my dowry and conduct a white wedding thereafter. I am really praying that that happens soon.
I met him at the University of Nairobi, Kikuyu Campus. His name is Duncan, but everyone called him Danny. He was a huge and loud fourth year student. He was also a member of Mean Machine, the university’s rugby team. Because I was a CU girl, I naturally stayed clear of him because he was a drunkard. But his friend started dating my roommate and he would sometimes accompany him to our room.
Danny gradually won me over. One evening he and his friend came to our room. I stubbornly refused to leave, because I knew if I left the room Danny would also leave and my roommate and her boyfriend would exile me for the rest of the night. So I stayed put.
Danny started asking me questions about the Bible. We talked a lot and he was showing so much sincerity that I was convinced that he was a heartbeat away from reconciling with Christ. He told me that he had been born again as a child and teen, but the freedom of the University had carried him away.
The next morning I reported to the prayer group that the Lord had led me to a soul that I needed to rescue. When I mentioned the name, the room fell silent. The fourth years told me to be careful because Danny was a smooth operator. But I convinced them that I had prayed and was feeling a strong conviction from the Lord that Danny needed me to lead him back to the flock.
Danny became my project. Every evening he would come to my room and we would talk scripture as we ate the food I cooked. My roommate and her boyfriend moved their carnality to his room. The Lord had heard me. Danny did not argue with my scriptural conclusions, and I would pray just before he left. Sometimes he would come drunk but he would still listen carefully, even though he would sometimes interrupt me by singing loudly. But he always sang worship songs when drunk so I did not take offence.
In fact, I was beginning to like his loud self. I liked his booming voice, his wit, and his charm. Every now and then he brought roses and chocolates for me. He always said things that left me dying with laughter; or blushing deeply. Some CU members started whispering behind my back but who would challenge the mission of the Lord?
I did not see it coming, but when it did, I instantly knew that my relationship with God was in trouble. Danny came to my room one evening, semi-drunk and singing a hymn loudly. When I let him into my room, he bent over and kissed me on the lips. My body jolted into sensations I had never experienced before. That night he slept on my bed.
I did not attend the prayer meeting the following morning; or the next. I slowly faded out of the CU as my relationship with Danny gathered momentum. The romance was a storm: passionate and carefree. I looked forward to a lifetime with Danny.
His drinking no longer bothered me. He would take me out once in a while and we would eat chicken at Nairobi restaurants. He even introduced me to cheap wine. He showed me around the city until I became familiar with it. I went to all his games, even when Mean Machine was playing out of town. Danny would pay my fare and we would spend the night in a cheap guest house. We held hands in the streets. We became the face of love at Kikuyu campus. He even stopped hanging out with his friends as we became inseparable.
Then I became pregnant, and our relationship cooled down considerably. I got pregnant only five months after we started dating. But I wasn’t worried. Danny was in fourth year, and he had several offers from professional rugby clubs. He promised that he would take care of me and our daughter.
When he completed his studies and left campus, our relationship cooled even further. Danny insists that he loves me, and blames pressure from work for the distance in our relationship. He says that once he gets promoted, then we can settle down and start a family.
Although our relationship has now been reduced to the monthly sessions of hurried sex and repeated promises, I dream of the day Danny will be ready to marry me. I might even resign from my teaching job and join him in Mombasa, if that is the only way I can wake up every morning next to him.
I am quietly eating my meat and scrolling through Facebook when photos of Danny catch my attention. Duncan has been tagged in wedding photos by a girl. He is quite obviously the groom, and the girl who has tagged him is the bride.
I immediately call him, but his phone is off. I feel like screaming, and causing a scene. I wish I was in Nairobi. This would have been the perfect day to drink away my miseries. But I am a teacher, and a teacher is a respected professional in a village like Sodi. Besides, in a conservative Christian village like Sodi, respectable women do not take alcohol .
When I feel tears stinging my eyes, I quickly pay for my meat via the till number and hurry to my house, leaving half of the meat uneaten on my platter.
Image by Brendy Pradana from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/woman-model-waterfall-nature-water-5526487/
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See you all on Friday.