“Are you married?” I asked in a huff, I don’t want to die in a love triangle, I joked. (You see I am one straightforward persona and rarely sugarcoat issues)
“I was”. He retorted. “Four times”, he continued as he puffed some smoke into the air from his edicio’n Limitada cigar and gave a blank gaze which emphasized hurt. Or despair. Or both. I pulled my seat and waited for him to proceed. He didn’t. I paused. Maybe I had made him relive his sad memories yet again.
Looking back, I perhaps now understood why he had treated me the way he had on the day I was being inducted to his previous place of work. My first encounter with him was when the HR Assistant then, was taking me through various departments for orientation. Whatever reaction gave me, made me swear by my late granny’s grave that I would never talk to him even if he held the last oxygen cylinder for my survival. And true to my words, I never uttered even a good morning until when my biometrics needed to be fed to the system and he was the same jerk I had to face since he was the ICT head.
You see, on your first day at work, you are this timid lady trying to flash smiles across departments to at least fit in and carry the image you want to sell and this was my exact position. On reaching ICT, the HR said” Hi Bill, meet Jenny, our new Stock Controller”. The bully murmurs something with great disinterest and doesn’t even raise his chin. I felt ignored but since I had an image to protect and a job to keep, I swallowed my humble pie and proceeded to the next department.
We could meet several times later on, on the corridors and Board Meetings but I would always evade his paths or ignore the sitting protocols to avoid any close encounter with him. About eight months later we, however, met at a compulsory ground. A funeral for one of our colleagues; Peter, who had succumbed after a short illness, bravely borne. The mood was otherwise somber and that evening, we met later at a casual spot for some drinks and nyama choma. We drunk our sorrow away and had some tantalizing choma as we whined how short life was. It was past midnight when I rose to leave and my crazy colleagues complained that it was too early for anything and I had to create an emergency; those emergencies that make you shoot from your seat like you suffered gallstones.
As I walked out to the parking lot I found Bill at the door. “Jenny”, he called out, his hoarse voice cutting through the otherwise silent night. “Hey”, I retorted.” I want to see you. Not today. Later, some day when you find time. Alright. I replied as I walked out because his was malaria I didn’t want to deal with at that wee hour of the night. Thirty minutes later, he called to ask if I was home and safe which I answered to the positive and he wished me a good night. Where he got my number from, I was yet to find out. Probably, until this night.
On the weekends to follow, he asked me out on several dates, which I had to create emergencies for until he blatantly joked to my face one Monday morning that I am evading the jerk he is and I had to explain that I don’t go out on dates with my colleagues. “Wow!” he retorted amused…then I will consider you as my retirement package. We both laughed it off but before he left my work station he said” I am dead serious”. I was to understand his seriousness when he left our institution when a position popped out elsewhere and he left me a note during his farewell party saying” you now have no reason to turn down my date”. I sadly missed him. Over time, I had grown to like him a great deal and looked forward to his sarcasm more often.
So when he texted me two days earlier about this particular night, I had to dress up and show up. Thunder doesn’t strike the same place twice, I affirmed to myself. “My first marriage was nothing to write home about. I was twenty-one, a fresh graduate, young and adventurous, and having fallen out with my dad over his business I was overseeing, I found this lady. She was working and settled. I moved into her house (grave mistake). One thing led to another and a conception took place. Three months later my firstborn, Wakiuru was born. I only came to meet her later when she was eight and by this time I was married to Marjorie. I was 32 and felt it was time to settle down. I found an equally minded partner tired of games and with a child from a previous marriage I loved her, warts, and all. We settled. At this point dinner is served, but, my appetite is gone. I ask for a double shot Gin (dry) to keep my sanity levels afloat. So why did you part ways? He put his fork away and picked a napkin, folding it he said” she tried killing me, twice.” “You see, he proceeded: we had great investments, we both were business-oriented. Everything we touched turned in to gold. Great prosperity, and two kids later she planned my murder. Often, when we had arguments, we would both leave, for different spots, we never had the will power to solve issues, we both were too proud for life and in return, we slowly drifted away from each other. It is on such a night that she got people to waylay me on my way home. I was clobbered and left for death, to wake up one week later in ICU. “Did you leave?” I interrupted. No, I stayed. I had kids to go home to every night, until she tried murdering me with a kitchen knife after my third born son. I left without a trace; but she took my kids to my mother. My son was two weeks old. Our divorce materialized four years ago.
I met Diana and our marriage ended before it had started, he says with a hearty laugh. She was a civil servant, I invested a lot in her and set up a business worth millions for her, she left with another man in my absence. I have never seen her to date. I hear she has my son though.
Wow! I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say to him, I sipped my Gin, I felt like I had relieved his painful life full of women miseries but I remembered I was a woman and I could be one of his miseries too. How was your last marriage?
It was pure bliss, Bobo was my dream come true, she had kids though (He says with a frown) She was 38 and no kids. We met at the ferry at the coast as I was clearing my cargo. She was in Mombasa for some conference. It was love at first sight. I loved her. She loved me or so I thought. She gave me a daughter I was elated. I finally had a reason to settle down for. I paid her dowry and wedded her in a low key civil event.
Meanwhile, my business faced issues with the taxman; I was grilled, broke, and emotionally drained. I flew from Mombasa, took a taxi to our house. She had moved houses and changed her cell number. I called her mother; she said she had left the country. My life stopped, my heart stopped beating. I suffered an anxiety attack.
I left the business and got back to employment to clear my mind, and that’s how you met me at the Founders working as the ICT head. I am still the same broken shell you see here today. “I am sorry”, that’s the only thing I could afford at the moment. You can only be sorry by marrying me he said jokingly. I laughed loudly but I empathized with him at the same time.
When he dropped me home that night as he hugged me tightly, he whispered that I should consider his wish. I promised to think about it and revert, he promised to call when he got home. The call never came and I fell asleep fast. Early Monday morning I felt the urge to call him. I didn’t. I promised myself to call him later in the day. News of his crash and death found me the following day at work during the ten o’clock tea. I was broken, crashed to the core. I lost my soul mate. Forever!