The only thing Dave knew for certain, was that he wanted another wife. A new wife.
He wanted to watch her take off her usual black bra. He wanted to touch
her, run his hands through her kinky hair, feel her warmth and finish
sentences for her.
That was an easy one. The only thing he was not certain was whether she would stick through thick and thin-these digital wives!
“I was dumped via a whatsapp text, ” he says as we walk towards the bar.
I stop him from speaking. I want us to settle down first. I am the type
who wants to grasp every word of the story and digest it. Walking in
itself is interruption enough to a story.
I usher him in first but I am wondering how people get guts to dump via text.
If I’m dumping you, I’m going to google. I’m going to wikipedia for instructions, skimming through pieces on breaking up and screenshoting main points that I will refer to. I’m at least giving you reason for break up and trying to do it nicely so that your ego doesn’t feel like I burnt it with a hot cigar. People are different.
Dave looked mint. White shirt with folded sleeves, navy blue trousers and deep brown brogues. The bar was not crowded and at the background, Jamie Cullum played softly. I wanted the song louder. I wanted it louder! You know those songs that take your whole being and you want to tell the whole world that you know it? This was it. He orders a whiskey and I, a tonic. The yellow lights against the dark grey background made it warm and inviting.
“My marriage ended by a text. No one should have their marriage end so disrespectfully. At least not for a marriage that seemed seamless,” he says pulling athe bar stool.
Anyway, you wake up one day and are no longer able to cater for your family.
You can not afford anything. If you have to jav to town, you have to sell yourself literally. Exchange yourself for your own fare. I know, I also don’t know what I said but I know you get. You are broke broke. And you have a wife. One who smells situations from Timbuktu and reacts faster than light.
Drama or drama free, you married her. Infact, in an intimate wedding. Invite only. If you don’t bring the card, you watch on viusasa or climb trees to catch a glimpse. How fast she runs her mouth or at what angle she holds her waist and shakes her thighs while seeking trouble is not a problem. You are used to it. Of importance is how much chama money she can borrow for you from her purse in the bedroom and ask you to return with interest because those chama women will not take it without interest.
So, your mortgage
house is being repossessed. Meaning, you will be homeless in a few days.
No. That’s not all, you owe the banks a few thousands. Then, you know
those small debts you have, suddenly all of them want you to pay at
once and if you fail, they will “close” with you.
Mama mboga’s G, 5k from Tony, 40k from Njenga, 3k from the butcher, 60k at the mech…and then, the mobile loans. You have borrowed until you can not borrow again because you haven’t paid the monies you took. You are in debt. Huge debt including her “chama” money.”
You are in so much debt that people have saved you “Tatu Deni. Or Tatu Deni ya mboga or Deni Mtura.” Things are thick.
That is Dave. 37, entreprenuer. He called himself jua kali. Dave was married to Maria and they had two kids.
He met Maria abroad. He was on a business trip then saw this girl of color on a bicycle. He followed her. She was riding. He was running after her. When he got to her, he told her he was visiting but wanted to borrow her bike for an hour then return it. Who gives a stranger their bike? Why does he want it? Would he even return it?But she was Kenyan, he was Kenyan. This even didn’t matter. They were both Africans.
The thing about being out there, you become relatives by virtue of skin color, country and whatnot. You forget that you don’t know each other but you feel like your blood is talking to their blood and flowing in both of you at the same time and that your grandmothers are having lunch together. When one of you is going home, you send them to say hi to your people in Karatina. Yet the traveller hails from Alego. You tell them to tell you whether their grandpa’s gumboots are torn because you feel you know each other and can trust each other.
That is how Dave got his one hour with the bike. He pushed it to the train station, sat there and after an hour, called to return it. The res of what happened can be summarized as they have 2 kids; Paqo and Qwes. Twins.
They connected seemlessly. He drove his kids to and from school daily
unless he was out of the country. He also attended all school functions.
One day of the weekend, he took his family somewhere. He was a present
dad, present husband.
One day, he went to pitch for a contract. While in the board room, she received a message. Curiosity. It was Maria.
“We are done. We can’t be two women in one house. A useless piece of shit. Pick your kids at Naomi’s and learn how to be a man. Men provide.”
He had not told her that he was in trouble. He had avoided mentioning it. Men don’t say when things go unplanned. They fix the damn things. His plan was to say once he fixes it. Was it just about him providing? He was struck.
” I was in shock. I didn’t quite get the rest of
the meeting . I wanted to cry right there. I rushed home. I wanted Maria
to stay. At least for the kids. I would definately find a solution.”
So he runs straight to his room because if Maria is leaving, then she is possibly packing or maybe looking in the wardrobes to make sure she leaves nothing. Maria is standing at the window.
She is looking at the kids playing outside. Whatever is going through her mind, only she knows.
“Since when, since when Dave?”
“Since when what?” he said as he moved closer.
“What else? What else Dave? Look! ” she asks as she hands Dave the envelope.
Dave knew this would happen. Men know. They have a way to just know it will. He expected it and had planned to counter it but on the material day, he couldn’t explain himself.
“Don’t Maria me. Just tell me you have money somewhere and you are fixing it.”
“No, I don’t. We are bankrupt.”
He laughs when he recalls this. He doesn’t know where the courage came
from but after telling her the truth, he felt lighter. He felt like it’s
all he needed to re-write his story. To start again.
“Bankrupt, we? We who? You and who? What will I tell my friends? Where will I hold my chamas from?”
It was about her and her image. Not about the current situation they were in.
Their house was being repossessed. His business had sunk and he had small other debts so nowhere else to borrow again.
Here is how it happened.
Dave was on mortgage. He had a solid payment plan and was sure sure it
would work. A few months back, he had received a letter from the bank.
For some reason, there was a sudden demand of a new repayment amount.
This was double his previous amount per month. It was not feasible. He
did not share with Maria. He knew he would some how fix it.
The inner him must have been a fundi or a writer. You know how these guys tell you ” aaaah, that’s a small thing. We will fix it. That will be done by tomorrow 2pm.” Always with solutions even before they try out. The confidence!
But that was how he sank into late payments and finally no payments. Even fundi’s don’t deliver after all that confidence and chest thumping. You find them drinking uji. Hot uji with a tape measure on their necks and chalk in hand. They smile and they fix you another date.
He was a guy of solutions. The don’t worry, I will take care of it, “kind of guy. See, if Maria was cranky, he would simply carry her and tuck her in bed, switch off the lights and problem solved. If a fly buzzed around, pick a broom, thwart it, broom shredded but problem solved. Spider on the wall, get a hammer, break the wall, kill the spider. Problem solved. You would never doubt that he will fix things. Even in the worst of times. He believed in himself so this would have a solution. A slow one though.
But the devil came wrapped in calamity. Maria’s mother needed bone marrow transplant for her leaukemia. Her twin brother had had an accident and needed spinal surgery. He was that guy for Maria’s people. He came through. You know harambees are for small people. Committees give you not even a quarter of what you want. Dave saw no need yo hustle it yet he had the money. He was hopeful that in a month so, he would have made money enough to replace that spent on his wife’s people.
This was in a way to show that he loved her but also, they had to respect him. Those inlaws! They had to lick his toes. See, Maria’s family did not like Dave because of where he came from. They had a family war against people of that region. They hated their chicken. They couldn’t even eat chapos made by the cutest woman of that region. So to make them accept him, Dave had to use money. He had to show them that he was final. That he was a god and them his sheep. So they bleated in his presence and he liked it. So, he funded them to gain more marriage hours.
“I almost lost my
mind. You don’t want a non-supportive wife at such a moment. It doesn’t
matter that you spent money on her people! It is forgotten. It slides
down as fast as her issues end.”
A couple of days later, he comes back home, finds the kids playing outside Naomi’s house and a note from Maria.
“I am gone. I deserve a better a man. A better life.”
That was the last he heard from Maria or his household items. Maria carried everything. To the last tea spoon. She only left their clothes and the kids toys. She must have blocked him. His calls never went through and ge decided to never call or ask her family.
“You loved her. It was only fair that you follow up, ” I say.
“Imagine me asking my mother inlaw if she had seen my wife or my kid’s blue potty or the toilet brush or my luminous inner wear?”
Have you ever had food poisoning or just a bad tummy then all washrooms you go to are locked? His luck was as bad as this. Someone must have sat on his shadow in the indian ocean. He tried looking for money everywhere but ge failed.
“I sat in an empty sitting room and cried. I was
crushing. I was not sure I would see the next day. My kids slept on the
floor covered with my clothes. Maria. Was she this cold? How could I
never have known?
2 days later, the house was repossessed. Locked and a new “for sale” banner put up.
Dave is the hand to mouth guy. He seals a deal, has 2 milli, they go to
Santorini and blow it. Tomorrow will fix itself. Today, walk around in
while ribes and white inner wear.
He had no other investment so he oly had himself, his kids, their clothes and his car.
“You haven’t sat in the car and thought of how you need to call a fundi to fix you a bathroom and toilet in there and you need a kichen and bed. You don’t have to pay rent for your car do you?”
He slept in the car with the kids for a few days. When his mother called, he said they were okay and Maria had gone to the shop today. The salon tomorrow and for further studies next day. The kids were playing today. Sleeping tomorrow, at a birthday next day….a series of lies. Mothers are mothers. They sense. They feel. They hurt without being told.
The kids were just kids.
“Dad, I tell you something, Tippy, took Paqo’s bike without asking. Si that is bad manners? ” asked Qwes.
“Who is Tippy?”Dave asks half his attention on his phone.
“Haha. You don’t know Tippy? That boy of house number 3 who susu’s on self,” Paqo said.
“Aaah that one! (He was clueless but…)
“Daddy si it’s bad manners?”
“Yes. It is. Kwanza he needed to kneel down and beg for that bike. It is not his. It is yours!” said Dave
“Eeeh. Even, he should have cried first before I give him. Because, this would show that he really wants the bike, ” added Qwes.
“Qwes, I was joking. Share. Don’ bully your friends.”
“What is bully?” Paqo asked.
Dave was not in the mood for these questions but does being a father stop?
“Daddy, dad, I want yoghurt,”Paqo said tapping his back.
“Where is mommy? You know house number six, their mommy bought a new baby. Even me I want one, “Qwes said sinking further in his sit.
“Aaah Qwes. Clap for yourself. How did you know that mommy went to buy another baby? You are smart. Hi -5. Mommy will be away for some time. Buying a baby is a lot of work.
“And why are we sleeping in the car? ” asked Paqo.
“Because we are travelling and everyday we stop somewhere new,” added Dave.
On one end, he was happy that the kids were not rebellious and they didn’t question a lot about their mom. On the other end, to justify his lie, he had to look for different safe spots to call home.
day my mom called. I was broken. I just cried. She said she knew I was
hiding something.” “Just tell me where you are I am coming now!” her
mom’s voice shakenly said.
” Then she prayed. She must have said something like God protect us and open ways. But she prayed for us. Mothers! Bless her soul. She came and picked her grandkids. I promised to follow once I fix something,” he went on.
He had other debts chocking him. Those mama mboga, garage bills…and all of them wanted their pay at the same time.
“I sold a 4million car for 800k. I owed everyone. I felt like I slept, walked and ate debt. I was tired. I let the car go and I cleared all my small debts. I had a little more left. I gave my mother and asked her to watch over the kids until I am able to. Then paid for a bedsitter for 6 months and began a fresh hustle.”
One morning, 4 months into hustle mode, in his cubicle, a phone call came in. It was a foreign number. 2 years ago, he had pitched for a project funding and travelled to the U.S for presentations. He had long forgotten about it. It had gone through and they wanted him to confirm travel for final signing of documents and a meeting on the way foward. The trip would be paid for.
That is how life flipped again. He has since opened several branches for the project across the world and is a media owner. He owns a T.V station. His kids got back and are now in school.
“Maria? You haven’t looked for her?” I ask.
“Who is Maria? ” he responds laughing and putting down his whiskey glass.
“Aaargh. Stop. I want a new wife. Problem is knowing who is genuine. I will be a little observant. Sure the Lord will provide.”
“Women pretend. Men pretend. She could just pretend…”I add.
“Like you are pretending. Tonic is all you drink? Oh please. Get you a tot of something. I will drop you or you can uber. Just easen up,” he said.
I turn off the recorder and slide it in my jacket.
“No thanks, I say.
“Okay. Look me in the eyes and say no to this. The whiskey can pass. Will you marry me? Tatu?”
How? Dave. I don’t know you!”I say trying not to be annoying.
“You don’t have to know anything. Just say yes. We will learn to live together. I promise not to hurt you. I will also not just fix things, but I will talk to you so we put our heads together. Say yes. I will get you a ring tomorrow.”
He looks serious. Emotions all over. I am
scared about what I got myself into. His phone rings. It is Maria. She
is sorry and wants to come back to him and their children. He listens
then hangs up.
“Tatu. Will you?..”