Jared (a really terrible name) was crying uncontrollably. He twitched and wheezed on the bed in a feverish way, but no so alarming. It was cry of acceptance. Submission to fate.
I stood in the middle of the room, not knowing exactly what to do. Or what to say. It is not what I expected when I decided to go home. Here was a man crying. The cry had a dreadful tune to it signaling a deep personal loss, certainly not death.
“What is it Jared?”
More sobs. More crying. More involuntary twitching. I stood there, rooted for nearly ten minutes, waiting for him to compose himself.
Jared was a young man I was housing several years ago. He had moved to my place temporarily after his brother told him to stay with me for a weekend before he found a place of his own. This was like the sixth month he was living with me. He was young. 20 or 21. Muscular. Quiet. Humble. Averagely tall, and well built. Spoke a voice that ranged from an average tenor to an average alto. He was attending the University of Nairobi’s Lower Kabete.
He left the house in the morning and came back late at night. But here we were, around 6 p.m, the sun about to have dinner and sleep. And Jared was crying.
“What is it?” I asked much more authoritatively, with a whiff of impatience.
Sobs. More sobs.
“It is my girlfriend,” he muttered, even as he exploded into another tearful twitching.
“What about her?” I asked, disapprovingly. I hate men who cry. The only exceptions is when they are cutting those onions from Ukambani…
“She is pregnant.” He said with a doubtful voice.
“Is that why you are crying?” I asked, trying to be level-headed. “That we can handle, it is a very small problem. Every man will at one time ‘accidentally’ impregnate a woman. Unless her father is the head of CID, or an OCS…” I started rambling…
“No. That is not the problem.” He said firmly, even as he sobbed more violently.
“The pregnancy is not mine!” He proclaimed.
“Oh Noooo….” Is that why you are crying, I asked now really being empathetic of his situation.
There was a brief moment where he entered a monologue about how he loved the girl.
I wore my relationship expert hat and specs and launched into ‘unsolicited advice mode’, sounding like Sigmund himself speaking in Dr Phil’s voice.
“Look, Jared. That is not the end of the world. A woman will betray you at least once. You should be happy, that it has happened when you are young, not quite 21. Now, stop crying, we need to go have a beer.”
“No Silas. That is not the problem!”
Now I was honestly lost. What can be probably worse than what Jared had told me…
“Hiyo mimba mwanaume alimpea ako positive.” (The man who gave her the pregnancy is a HIV-positive.)
In one sentence, Jared had revealed to me that he had been tapping the lady raw. He feared the worst. I feared the worst. But I knew this phase of life.
Every sexually active man I know has been in this situation. You are scared shitless about your overnight indiscretion. May be it is a chips funga. May be it is a woman you met in a matatu. May be it is your neighbor.
It mostly happens with a woman you don’t have her sexual history whatsoever or somewhere you can dig it up (not that there is a woman you can 100% know her sexual history. but at least those you meet in the right places, you get to ask around and have a picture however skewed.).
So you meet this woman. You barely know her well. Not even her second name. You take her to bed. May be you are drunk. May be she is good in bed. May be you are thirst. May be the two of you are too thirsty. May be you went to fast, too strong the condom burst in your furious and ruthless work. Bottom line, you end up chewing the stuff raw. After you reach the climax, you sleep and the morning after, you wake up, and reality hits you so hard like frozen stone.
Usually you wake up, your mind overheats, something more powerful than the sun illuminates on your eyes. You lose your appetite. And you start thinking about life deeply.
“If she gave it to me raw. How many men has she met this way and slept with raw? I swear to God, I am positive.”You tell yourself, convincingly. You look up to God and think of the 13 places where you would were supposed to have been before you made the stupid move.
Your whole life flashes in front of you. You think of the castles you would have built, the happy family you would have made with your official girlfriend. Your loving mother and aloof father. Your cousins. And your friends. It used to be worse, before ARVs came to offer dying HIV victims some modicum of dignity. In the past, you saw your own body, wasted to the last bone, skin darkened, and reduced to a mass of shrunken bones that people have to squint their eyes, and lean lower in order to see you in the blanket. You become hysterical.
Somehow, I have never seen women bothered by such. More often than not, as long as there is a chemist on her way to the stage, or in town, they are cool. It is like women never bother with HIV. But two women very close to me have ever called me out of nowhere-do you know those Tuesday or Thursday 10.37 a.m calls? Yes. Those. These women called me and ululated that they had passed an HIV test. I could feel the relief in their hearts. It is not easy going to the V.C.T when you know you have not been a good boy or girl recently. .
So I knew Jared’s predicament. Anyway, Jared did go to the hospital, several weeks later after we advised him as men. He was negative. He joined a church and I am happy he is serving the Lord, and hope he never strays again.
- Do you work at the Norfolk? The day a woman asked me, when I wanted to take her there for a date.
I have told this story before, so I will be brief. Back in the day, along Standard Street, there used to be a Club Soundd on the 3rd floor of Hamilton House, just opposite Trattoria Restaurant.
Now, there are only three types of people who drink alcohol in town. People without cars, university of Nairobi students and visiting students from other universities. Those from other univeristies will throng Moi Avenue and below. UoN kids are cool and will go to the decent, up urbane clubs in the CBD, where beer is sold at Sh 250. Only UoN, Strath, USIU and Catho and could afford that.
Soundd was one such club thronged by men in their late 20s and 30s who wanted a more mature crowd of women who will not puke after insisting on a cocktail they had no idea about its limit. Or the young, horny boys who visit the dance floor with evil intentions: stealing phones and dancing and getting off female backs, really disgusting.
So we happen there. It is a random Saturday night. These women come in a group and they sit across our table and I am smitten by the hottest in the group. She looked like a younger Cece Winans. Despite the weave, she had one of those fresh and smoothest, natural skins that pulls you in her direction like gravity. We exchanged eye contact for so long. Being shy to make the first move and since I can’t dance, we sat there eye-balling each other. When she stood to dance, she seemed to me too rigid, to dance, She tried a couple of moves but she went back to sit. She was a tad heavy, but in a tremendously desirable way. My boy Joe, did get me her number. A 0724 or a a shadier 0726 (for some reason I loathe any number between 0726 to 0729 and I never call them at all).
Her name was Margret. I should have read the signs that she was trouble. I called on Sunday, she was busy. On Monday, since I stutter over the phone when making important phone calls, I gave my man Plato the phone to call her. I wanted to play that stupid card where you want to impress a woman by wowing her. I could afford a cup of tea at Norfolk, even though that meant starving the rest of the semester.
So Plato calls the woman and she picks and we ask her if she could come to Norfolk hotel…
“Kwani you work there?”
As in all her estimation, the only connection to Norfolk I could have was only if I was a waiter there.
Ile madharau nimepitia hii dunia. Acha tu.