Two weeks into discovering my writing, it was time, she felt, to try connecting with this word wizard offline. I am an open person. Working with people opens you up, especially when you have a huge base of readers who constantly want to be talking to you. You talk to great, weird people and lost ones, like you. Wangari* boldly asked for my number. We’d text all day long and three quarters of nights; sharing thoughts, teasing, flirting, and talking about nothing. She was 30. I was 25; igneous, curious and trigger happy.
I had always been fascinated by older women, two-three years ahead of me. Facing the world from their minds was amusing. It was different. Younger girls were troubling to fuse with. I needed to talk about heavier things than fashion and movies. Wangari loved that I could text full sentences in paragraphs. She’d do the same over pages of awe-inspiring words that made me journey, mesmerized by my youth and knack to express myself exquisitely. She kept remarking it aroused her. Those were dangerous things to say, but they made me feel good. Energy. Everything she said came with roots. I had to keep digging.
The feeling of waking up in the morning to a well thought text in your inbox from a mature person could count for fine breakfast, at least for the soul. And she’d call when she needed to hear my, as she described it, stimulating voice. I had been in several relationships where I was the one doing these things mostly. It was a first time experiencing it from someone who knew what they were doing and to whom. But it was just that, friendly conversation, only that it was drunk and spirited sometimes. Many times.
Then one day she made a mistake (it wasn’t really). She stated that she wondered what it would feel like to connect with me sexually, adding a ‘just saying’ at the end.
I replied, ‘’When are you available?’’
There was no wasting time. She taught me you’ve got to be direct with your words when you know what you want. Don’t mince. You mince, you miss your chance. And sometimes a woman puts things out there so you could read the cue. They don’t like smart men for nothing. Smart men know how to read.
This was Wednesday night. A month after commencing conversations. We had never met. Her Facebook photos only revealed her face. There was nowhere you’d see her full body. Let’s be honest, these things matter. You want to know what you are getting yourself into – or whom. And prepare accordingly. But I couldn’t have that privilege. Instead, she decided to describe me her physique, including the acne on her face, outrightly stating she loved fairly short men, but not too short. That was me. We let our imagination work. Suddenly Saturday felt like three millennia away.
Two fat days moved very sluggishly. We still talked about other things: politics, family, the food she was cooking, the girls texting me, books, and God. Yes, God.
My Saturday evening was packed with activity. She was attending her friend’s birthday party in Umoja. She didn’t want us to meet in the city. This is what Wangari wrote me,
‘’I want to spend this night with you outside town. Find somewhere 30+ kilometres radius. Rongai, Thika, Kitengela, Ngong – just somewhere far. When you get a place text me the directions. Don’t call. I will locate it. Where you choose, I shall come.’’
Oh! That was orgasmic! A challenge! A woman who gave me a challenge! I racked my brain. No kidding. My adrenaline reached Venus in thirty seconds. My cousin’s girlfriend worked at a hotel somewhere outside town. I called him.
In five minutes I had already booked a room. She loved me giving details so I texted her the directions explicitly. After my businesses, I went to the room, left some food for her then rushed home. Home was a short while via a bodaboda drive. Took a shower and waited.
A text came in.
I just shook my head.
‘’On my way. Give me fifteen minutes.’’
I wanted to get there fast, but also didn’t want to at all. I was going to spend a night with a stranger. The last time I did something like that was with a younger woman three years back. I was so scared I remember her asking, ‘’Utafanya bila kutoa nguo zote?’’
On this night it was a lady five years older than me. She had been with older men so I was definitely the underdog.
I knocked the door with false confidence. Would she like me? Would I satisfy her? Would I make it to morning alive? Was she a ghost? Did she have a gun in her handbag? Had she hidden it under the pillow? But who would hurt just an ordinary poet? One thing was certain though. I was not making it to church on Sunday.
The door was unlocked. Wangari asked me in. The site of a curvaceous thirty year old graceful textaholic filled my vision. I sighed. She beamed the first time our eyes met.
‘’Hi poet.’’ She greeted.
‘’You.’’ I don’t know where words went.
‘’Come sit here next to me.’’
She was still eating – in bed. Her essence felt like she was ready for business. We talked for close to forty five minutes before getting into the naughty affairs.
The night was filled with racing, rolling and conversation. I learnt so much, about things I needed to improve on and ones I ought to be doing. She was deep. Damn deep. Her mind was a well of minerals. She’d say something and I’d travel to the future.
We slept. Woke up at five for more rounds. I think I touched the rainbow. She’d say I’m too good to be true. That men cannot be that caring. She’d never met them. She taught me how to touch more sensitively, what to say at what time. We got more hands on with my past. She could not understand how I was not in a relationship with all that juice and why I kept snubbing the girl who was trying to reach me the whole night. Then she asked me if I have ever loved a woman. Each time I was asked that question, I’d go back to 2006 when Atieno* left me to marry some omera a decade older than her. She’s now sadly divorced with three children. It’s painful. She gave birth to her first-born on my birthday. I don’t know what that means. She was 19. Me, 17. How years have moved. She burned with Luo soul. Took me a while to accept she wasn’t the girl I would marry. Everything I did with relationships after that, I think, was me trying to find myself, because I fell into people, much as others hurt me too, but it never really cut.
Wangari laughed. Then she framed, ‘’No. That wasn’t love, baby. It was just a kiddish feeling you had. You were both children. You didn’t understand commitment and sacrifice, did you?’’
I felt like something unlocked in my brain. Like I had been living in a cell for so long without even knowing it. A moment of awareness. She went on,
‘’You haven’t loved an adult.’’
That blew my mind.
So I’ve been loving children all this time. That means I’ve also been a child all along.
I never heard from Wangari after seeing her off on Sunday afternoon. She never picked my calls nor replied my texts. Neither could I trace her online, even using other accounts. She just vaporized. After some time, her number did not go through. Where did she go? Was she real? I needed more conversations.
Her words refused to die. That statement ‘’you haven’t loved an adult’’ kept stinging. It changed everything. I started digging myself up, examining tendencies and behavioural patterns that characterised my past relationships. I had to undo a lot of perceptions to change course. To think like a man needed facing myself. I’m passionate about family and fatherhood, but I realized I couldn’t achieve any in the mess I was. That meant building a new way of seeing things. Of seeing women, friendship, parenthood and everything else. It meant sitting myself down to set real goals and ambitions. Where was I? What did I need to change? Who did I need to walk with? What kind of a family did I want? What did I need to learn to prepare myself for it, spiritually, emotionally, financially, and psychologically? How should I relate to women? What was my support system like? Did I have people around me I could trust?
But growth too is a thing that takes time. I couldn’t answer all these questions in two weeks or a month. I just didn’t know it would take years. A few months later I unreadily got into a relationship. I went into it thinking I was wiser. Little did I know I was setting up myself for slaughter. Three months into it and everything came tumbling down. We were both broken on different levels but trying to work on something without the fundamentals. Facing the truth has never been easy. Truth that swallows your ego. I got into depression. I don’t know how I survived it but somehow I lived to tell the story. I’ve never been the same.
A lot has changed since then. I have grown quieter and more deliberate in how I’m living. Love means something else now. It means giving my all, consciously. It means understanding where other people are coming from. It means taking my time. Breathing. Going on my knees to pray. Asking for forgiveness. Listening more than I speak. It means sharing. I live like a man who remembers the pain his mother went through to bring him into this world. You get more careful.
When many women ask for a God fearing man, they don’t really know what they mean. It’s mostly a man who can talk about God, not one who can do God. The latter is harder. Those men are countable, even in church. As I keep preparing for fatherhood and husbandry, I’m healing that past little by little, cleansing myself for matrimony. It’s a difficult path but equally gratifying. Now I’m speaking to young men about their insecurities. To be called to schools and parents looking up to me as a light for their children weren’t part of the plan, but it’s part of the progress. Each day there is something beautiful to learn.
I shall never forget Wangari’s words.
‘’When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.’’
– 1 Corinthians 13:11
Happy Easter to all of you!