I asked you, readers of Hadithi Hadithi to send me stories of when you felt love in your lives. You sent me stories that shook me, and made me all emotional. I chose 6 of those stories and I am choosing to share them with you….enjoy.
She was my best friend’s best friend. She loved to write and I love to read. She preferred Ayobami’s “Stay with me” to my Kalanithi. I thought a man should read everything under the son. Only Africa mattered to her. We figured, we had to meet and have that discussion in person. She showed up at my flat on a Friday night with an overnight bag. And discuss we did. She fought dirty. Kissing me into hardness then softness when I tried to make my point. We temporarily suspended debate. We fucked. She made dinner. Then ate and argued as she sat precariously perched on the corner of my mattress to avoid a patch of wetness. She told me about why she loved African writers. She wanted to see our collective story in print. Telling the reality of our existence. That our story mattered too. She refused to understand why I felt it was necessary to also read the Khaled Husseinis’ of the world. It didn’t matter to her that the Afghani and Kenyan stories are interlinked. That night I called her “Hamshira” once. She was impressed but would not relent. No clear argument emerged for those 3 days. At the end of that weekend we agreed to call it a draw.
The next Friday, I showed up at her apartment with an overnight bag.
I wanted a rematch.
We met on a bus to Kampala. She had red braids with wisps of purple on. She looked delicious. And she had the tiniest eyes. You were never too sure if she was asleep or staring at you. She was at Makerere, studying law. She loved school but hated the loneliness that came with being in a foreign country. She looked forward to going back to Kenya during the long holidays. Everyone she loved was there. Always got on the first bus home as soon as her exams were done. But something changed that day, at least that is what she would later tell me. That on a bus to Kampala, somewhere between Busia and Jinja she figured that she liked me, and the jokes I told. She asked for my number when the bus stopped. For the next 3 months, she would hang out with me in the evening after her classes and my job. She loved it. Said, it was the first time it felt like home here. At some point she told me she loved me. I felt it too.
That end of semester, she took the last bus home.
“He always had this ferocious look every time we made love.”
That was how I described my ex’s lovemaking to the new one.
We are on his pillow in my house. Naked. Talking about all the things our ex’s did wrong. He completely misses the point of my description. He doesn’t understand that my describing his lovemaking as tender was and is a compliment. That I enjoy it, when he takes the time to pull off my knickers and not tear them off. The way he stops kissing me at some point and asks if I am okay. I am. That given the choice I want him to make love to me in exactly this way for eternities with him. Instead, I have to assuage his ego. I tell him that he is enough. Then I look at him, and again tell him that he means the world to me. He calms down, apologizes for overreacting. Then he asks if I want to make love again?
My dad moved in with my sister and I a year ago. He was sick and too weak to stay by himself. Though he claimed he wanted to be closer to his kids. I think, he was feeling the loneliness a lot more ever since mum died.
Normally, he would wake up early and go sit on the balcony. Said he loved how the sun rose differently every day in my hood. Like God and his angels were playing a game and whoever won decided how the sun would look like in the morning.
That morning, I woke up early too. I liked to sometimes spend a few minutes with him before going to work. He wasn’t on the balcony. I figured he was too tired today. Went to his room to check up on him. I found him on the bedside chair, seated, still in his pyjamas but wearing his house shoes. He hated the tiled floor, always complained they were too cold. I tried to wake him up. His skin felt a little cold, and his pulse was missing. He looked so peaceful there. So for the next hour I sat with him, told him all the reasons I was grateful for him. I initially thought of calling my sister but I thought better of it. She deserved that extra hour of sleep before her world broke.
I met him on the first day on campus. I was hungry, tired and he was just trying to meet a “fresha!” He had these dreadlocks that my father quickly described as “nywele ya mungiki”. He walked me to my campus dorm room, as my father dutifully looked on. He was supposed to be part of the University’s onboarding group (whatever that meant). Though, I think he spent a lot of more time on me than was acceptable. Once I was settled in the room, he left and my father breathed. The boy left his number in case I needed my “class schedule.” Dad would leave later, after warning me to stay away from boys who had dreadlocks. I promised I would.
That night, I called him. The dreadlocked boy.
I was feeling guilty for choosing to come to a University far away from home and from a boy I had dated all through high school. He had tried to pressure me into giving up Uni and staying with him. I would have, had my father not threatened murder if I stayed. When dreadlocks came, he made me happy. He was funny, charming and carried 2 bags of fries. He made it easy to ignore the repeated calls from the other one. He slept over, we had sex. When he kissed me in the morning. I knew.
He would never come back.
You come home to me. You remove your shoes and place them on the rack. You empty your pockets, place the change and your wallet on that table next to the door. You throw your coat gently on the sofa. You come over to the kitchen, wrap your hands around me. You kiss my neck, and I giggle and blush like I am not a 43 year old woman. You whisper into my ear something nice. I push you away playfully. You settle into the kitchen chair. You look at me. You ask me how my day was and you actually listen. For the next 30 minutes your world ceases to exist, and you are in mine. You listen, even when I know nothing of what I am saying makes any sense to you. You dutifully taste my food when I hold up the ladle to your mouth. For those long seconds, we are silly kids in love, and I want to stay in this bubble a little longer. Instead, you stand up. You have to shower before dinner. You come again to me, wrap your hands around me, you kiss my neck. And whisper you love me. You walk to our bedroom and momentarily, I can hear the shower beating down on you. I already miss you.
Come back to me.
“Saaaaasa, Saaaasa! Unaitwa nani?” He asks. He reaches out and strokes her cheek. She grabs his thumb and coos. She tries to say something but it comes out as a baby’s babbling.
He is playing with my child. I am stuck in bed for the 3rd time this month. The chemo ravaging my body and leaving me too weak to do anything but sit and take it in. The baby likes him, you can tell the affection is genuine. Like she knows that this is a man who can be trusted. They’ve been at it for the last 15 minutes. Him asking question, and she answers them. He pulls out his phone, shows him pictures of his children, her aunties and uncles. He explains to her who they are and where they are. She sits quietly concentrating on all this. Asking questions after every 3 pictures, and he answers them gracefully.
“Huyu ndioni Uncle Kariuki, first born wangu. Unamjua?”
“Ayayaya aya ta”
“Eeee ni yeye anakuwanga mkubwa”
“Ayaya ya taya” All this time saliva dripping from her mouth.
The nurse comes in. Asks if I am okay, I nod. He plumps up my pillow, checks my Stats and then changes the IV. All this time my daughter is too distracted to notice his mother is dying. In that moment, I am grateful. To God, the Universe, my ancestors to everything for whatever I did right. To deserve a man, a father as good as him. If he raises her up as well as he did me.
She might not notice her mother is not around.
Thank you for reading, make sure to SUBSCRIBE and share with 1 friend. PS…I should mention that everything on this post is fiction. Any resemblance to real world characters and personas…is unintentional.
PC: Pexels.com/ Vinicius Vieira