Moved to Nairobi last week and found a journal in the clothes cabinet of my new apartment. I am as pleased as anyone would, to find out that the previous owner of a place I now call home, was contemplative and took time to write a journal. Other people find possessed dolls and hidden cult caskets, I found a journal. Reading another person’s life in their own handwriting, to a writer is like discovering treasure. They are honest, vivid, raw and bare. It might be against the law, but if the law was a little bit interesting, we would all read the constitution on vacations.
Well, we are a family, let me share, a little for everybody. No gluttons please, there is enough to go round…
March, 2013; Protective Parents.
Mother will not let me leave the house. She has been going on and on today ranting about discipline and responsibility. All because I left piled dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. It is a bunch of bullshit. They wanted me to pass my final high school examination, and I have given them a clean 75 points KCSE certificate.
I was wrong; academic excellence is not all I need.
Nobody calls my phone. I think I am not likeable. Meanwhile, at the same time, my friends on Facebook have cool, sexy photos in booty shorts. My frenemy Agnes from high school was at Princeloo last weekend. That damn woman has a university boyfriend who takes her to amazing places. Everyone is moving, everyone but me.
September, 2013; First day in Campus.
Jomo Kenyatta University is going to be awesome for me. I am a grown up. There are cool people everywhere. At the cafeteria today this fifth year engineering student I shared a table with asked for my name. He gave me his number in case I needed anything. I liked him. People are cool in university, the dresses other girls wear are prettier and shorter. I hope I can make friends soon.
I think cool people live outside the university. Hostels are for kids who need curfews, cafeteria privileges and old school furniture. It will not be an easy task to convince mother to move me out of the girls’ hostels and into one of those large attractive apartments in Juja. Something on the seventh floor and with a balcony.
I can make up a lie about bedbugs in the room or the uncomfortable situation of living with three other girls in one room. Actually, in all honesty, it is a little bit awkward. Yesterday I came from 4 pm class and found the door to the shared room locked. There was a commotion inside, yet I knocked and had to wait for over thirty minutes to get the damn door opened. My roommate was with her boyfriend when they finally opened the door a stench of sweat and hot rubber hang in the air like an anchorless balloon.
It was weird.
My other roommate cooks the rice without washing it first. She is kind and quick to share, but it is disturbing and annoying. It is simple if you have to cook rice, then wash it first. The number of times I have left to put up with this depressing lifestyle is slowly ticking away.
November 2014; Dream Apartment
I got that apartment I always wanted. The only problem is that my boyfriend pays the rent and not my mother. I do not have the luxury of choice plus; only an idiot would spit on the hand that feeds her. It is a well-furnished loft on the sixth floor of Jubilee Apartments in Juja. I do not have to struggle with rent because my boyfriend ensures that I am comfortable.
He works shifts as a bartender in Westlands. He gets paid 7000/= a night and works three to four nights a week. He is also a Computer Science Student at my university. He is the full package.
We met in one of the school labs when he was viciously searching for someone with a Dell Laptop charger to make one those class presentation. Nobody he knew did, so he went to the corridors, sweating and desperate but I had to be the one strolling through the halls with earphones plugged into my ears. He was good looking. I could see myself caressing that No Shave November beard, naked, in bed on a Sunday afternoon. When he asked for the charger, I graciously handed it to him. I did not give him my phone number or a return address though. I must have been distracted by the beard. Regardless, he looked for me, but I was nowhere to be found, and I settled for buying a new charger – That is until we met at a party, and had sex that same night.
Now Damien was my rock.
April 2015; The Poster.
I was walking around school today and saw this humongous poster about not cheating on an exam. End of semester exams culminates next week.
The reason the poster caught my eyes was the futility of the message in the poster. Something about being honest with yourself and letting your own hands determine your success. It does not make sense. Honesty has never guaranteed success. In any case, the two are inversely proportional.
April 2015; Something is up with Damien.
It is almost two years since we started living with Damien. On normal circumstances, we are the goals kind of couple. Our fights are loud and petty, but they linger only between the two of us. Quite often we talk about our future wedding immediately we are done with school. I want to marry Damien, get a job and pay him for all his generosity in the last two years with the rent, the apartment, and the class. I plan to be the best kind of wife to him.
Long-term family planning methods have been working out okay for us. I do not like the term, ‘family planning,’ it makes me feel thirty-five, yet I am only twenty-one. I like to think of it more as a means to avoid pregnancy until a time that is right. The hormonal injection by our doctor has taken a toll on me. I think I am adding some major weight that does not equal up to my diet.
Damien has also adopted this new drinking habit which involves him being drunk almost all the time. Initially, we drunk together; but, now his whiskey bottles are his own. I do not like the round patches his whiskey glasses leave on the living room table. The patches are a delicate topic which I am certain will be received with a lot of hostility at the slightest mention.
He says he is stressed. He is failing his computer science classes, and also, a few months ago he lost his eldest sister to breast cancer. He is sad. He does not need scepticism at this moment; he needs love. I have never had to take care of anyone else in my life except me, so this is going to be a journey. It is going to work out, isn’t it?
May 2015; He crossed the line.
He came from his work shift early in the morning. I was half asleep when I opened the door for him so I cannot recall the details vividly. If I am right, then he forcefully pushed the door on purpose hitting me on the head so hard that I am struggling with a splitting headache. He did not even apologize, he just walked into the bathroom and blacked out on the toilet bowl.
As I write this my hands are shaky and sweaty. My mind is disturbed and my peace shattered into a million pieces crumbling all around me. I do not know what to do or who to speak to.
When you are in the constant action of trying to keep people happy and comfortable at the sake of your peace, people get contented, too contented and in the place of gratitude, they dissipate contempt towards you like what you do for them is their right. It begins with the little things in the house, but you never notice. Then it moves on to bigger things, and by the time you take note, your eyes are red, and your pillow is heavy with tears.
June 2015; A distasteful Dinner
We got invited by a friend couple of ours, Ken and June. Owing to the long time since we had hang out with other people, we gladly obliged.
We got to Kabete earlier than the stipulated time, and while June finished up on the cooking in the kitchen, I sat with the guys in the living room sipping some good, expensive whiskey we had brought for dinner. It began as a joke sneer that quickly evolved to a malicious scorn. Damien began making fun of how I sit with the guys and never help in the kitchen. Even though it hurt a little, I was for the idea that it was an out of place joke that would die down in seconds.
Then he rudely sends me to the kitchen to help June. June objects and clarifies that she was almost done. Then in a condescending tone, he declares that he even teaches me to behave like a woman.
The last nail on my conscience had been hit. I did not wait for dinner. I just walked out. I have no friends to call and ask for help, so I just went to our house locked the doors and cried on the dining table, in the bathroom, above the bed, and between the sheets. My life as I know it was taking hit after hit and the cover was barely holding up. That night when he knocked I did not get the door for him. He shouted, and the apartment’s security guard took his drunk ass to a holding cell until he could come down.
I need an exit plan.
February 2016; Primary Restructuring.
I got rid of my birth controls and moved back to the hostels. It is my final year in university, yet I find myself in the company of three first-year roommates. In a few months, I will be done with university and leave all this behind me.
March 2016; One step forward, two steps backwards.
Damien called, and I agreed to move back with him. He says he is a reformed man now and has even suggested to join me to church every Sunday. He is has changed, but even a blind man can see that he is struggling to stay away from the bottle.
Alcohol is this beautiful mermaid singing beautifully in the ocean drawing sailors closer and closer and the drowning them in their tears immediately they are within reach. A recommendation by the school counsellor was to see a serious therapist, and that is what we did.
March 2016; Honesty in Therapy
I wanted him to stop speaking, but he kept on going on and on about the many girls he had secretly slept with when we were still dating. He said that he wanted to make full remedy, so he was coming out to me in front of a therapist.
Sex had happened in the absence of my knowledge on the bar counter where he worked, in our house when I was out on holiday, in my bed. With my ‘friends,’ with hookers and with older women for money. I sat there watching my pride being plucked from my skin one by one until I was a mass of humiliated flesh. Am I not beautiful enough? Why would he sleep with June in our house?
I have wasted three years of my life for a sexual predator.
March 2016; Secondary Restructuring.
I was lucky when I went to see the matron and found that she had an extra bed left in the hostels. I moved in the same day and quickly forced myself to adjust to the new circumstances permanently.
My final year grades are suffering, and I can barely concentrate in class. I feel mortified and even worse, the fire that burned behind the conviction to be a better person is all gone. I am a mummy watching things happening before my eyes but barely willing to force my intention on them. The grief that has pounded over me comes in waves leaving me gasping for air, and when the wave washes back, I find myself looking out over a blackish wreck which is illuminated in a light so lucid, so heartsick and empty that I can hardly remember that the world had ever been anything but dead.
July 2016; Reading Shakespeare.
Before Othello took his own life in the play, Othello by Shakespeare, he pushed a dagger into the love of his life, Desdemona. In a monologue to explain his thinking to hurt Desdemona, who in the whole play is described as innocent and unaltered, Othello had discovered the torture behind loving someone yet at the same time everything working against you. The villain of the play, Iago, had poisoned Othello’s mind, yet the death of the two of them was the only solution the play offers.
When I called Damien on that day, it was to tell him that I wanted to die because he did not love me the way I wanted. When he picked up the phone, he had another intention altogether, and it was not to die.
July 2016; Hello, stranger.
The day finds us in a restaurant in the city having lunch. A bunch of roses lying at the edge of the table and I can almost smell the beautiful scent of the flowers above the familiar deodorant odour. I have just finished introducing myself to the stranger on the other side of the table. If I am going to date this stranger, he will have to change his deodorant.
He is not a stranger as such, but the situation is new. It a take three for my life’s film.
It is a date with Damien.
Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri.