It’s around 11 a.m. on a Saturday. It’s been a long week. I need some peace and quiet. I am also yearning to listen to the sound of water so I go to Karura Forest. I am headed to the waterfall because there is just something so soothing about the sound of flowing water. Despite this being my fourth time at Karura I get lost on my way to the waterfall. This is how I meet him. He is cycling with a group of four other guys. I ask him for directions and he spares a minute or two to give me directions. Meanwhile, I am mesmerized by people who wake up that early to go cycle. They look like the kind of people who have it all figured out.
“You do this every Saturday?” I ask him.
“Most Saturdays, not all but I try to be consistent,” he answers in a deep baritone voice.
“Impressive, I would never be that committed. Anyway, thank you for the directions. Enjoy your ride,” I remark as I walk away.
I am distracted by the effort and commitment people put to stay fit. I wonder if I could ever be one of those people. The numerous attempts at workout routines that end up as a one in 10 months thing just convince me this is not for me. Soon I am the waterfall. The calm and tranquillity that I was looking for engulf me. I sit on one of the benches and stare at the water falling. I listen as each drop hits the rocks and quickly flows to join the rest of the water. It’s so Zen, the peace feels tangible. There’s no one else at the site just the water and me.
“Enjoying it that much, huh?” A baritone voice asks.
I am startled so I turn around. It’s him again.
“I don’t have the words to explain how therapeutic I find this,” I respond.
He invites himself to sit with me on the bench. We sit in silence for 10 minutes. No words were spoken, no movement just us watching this performance by nature. The air is so clean, the weather is beautiful; not too hot nor too cold, the birds chirping and the water doing its routine dance. It’s a perfect moment with a stranger.
A group of young friends interrupt us with their shouting and laughter as they try to find the right posture for a photo. I roll my eyes and shake my head disapprovingly. Mr. Stranger laughs.
“Are we being judgmental?” He asks.
“Youngins and ruining experiences,” I say as I prepare to leave.
This is the beginning of what the next couple of months look like; beautiful and intimate moments and deep conversations. He even tries to persuade me into joining his cycling routine. I warm up to the idea, I swear I do but life keeps happening. A hangover overpowers my desire to cycle on some days, work comes in between and on other days it is the sleep. Do you know how sweet morning sleep on a weekend is? Heck, I would sleep through weekdays too if adulating wasn’t an actual thing.
His dedication to the fitness routine still intrigues and gives the illusion that he has his life figured out. That is until the first red flag appears.
“Babe, do you have 15k in your M-Pesa I am in the middle of meetings I’ll refund later,” he texts.
You know how you have that one friend who always has cash in their M-Pesa? I am that friend. So I do not hesitate to send it. Before I can even ask for the money back the series of misfortunes start trickling in one by one until when they decide to hit like a swarm of angry bees.
Two weeks after the 15k he comes to my place looking all tired and worn out. He is a ‘tenderpreneur’ and he is back from a meeting with his partner.
“What’s wrong?” I ask in concern.
“We have an available contract but we have an issue with KRA and the other payments are yet to be paid,” he says almost in a whisper.
I comfort him. I also ask what the solution is because I don’t believe in telling people that things will be okay. He explains that before the payments come in, they need to find a way to sort out the KRA issue first. Though they prefer to use their own money for the contracts, they will try and get LPO funding from the bank. I ask when the payment is expected.
“In about 3 weeks, 4 weeks at most,” he says very confidently.
After which I decide to float them the money as a loan though. In case, I intend to use this money in three months and he is sure that he’ll have it back by then. The mood in the room changes since there’s a solution to the problem. I give him the money the following money to go and sort out his biashara.
About four or five days later he calls me at midnight. He is out with his friend for drinks. His friend, who is also his business partner, is arrested for drunk driving. They are at the police station but have no money to get him out. Apparently, it’s pertinent that he gets out because they have an important meeting the following day. I am getting tired of these money escapades but I begrudgingly send him the amount. I emphasize that his friend needs to pay up in a week.
When the misfortunes leave him alone, they now turn to me. I guess trouble can be contagious. While busy working on my laptop, I hit the cup of coffee next to it and it pours on it. I quickly try to wipe off the coffee but there’s some damage. Just my luck! I am angry and I decide to call him to calm me down.
“You wouldn’t believe the kind of morning that I am having,” I say.
“What’s wrong? You sound angry,” he asks.
“I probably need a new laptop; I spilt coffee and damaged something,” I say in a frustrated tone.
“You’re in luck. I know a cheap plug. A friend of mine just shipped in some laptops so I can get you a good deal,” he says almost in excitement.
I quickly interject by telling him I will consult with an IT person first and we end the call. A few hours later in the day he calls with laptop quotations and asks me what I am looking for. I am fuming angry. I already said that I was not looking for a laptop before consulting with an expert on whether the damage is repairable. He doesn’t even ask whether the repair is a possibility.
From my tone, he can tell I am against the idea. I bring up the fact that I gave him my money and I do not have money for a laptop at the moment. He even suggests that since he knows the seller I can pay in instalments. I decline the offer.
He calls after five minutes.
“I’m wondering if I did not explain the deal well enough. This is a very good deal, you’ll not get such prices in the shops,” he says.
Gathering all the restraint I can at this moment, I maintain my calm.
“I don’t want other money dealings. I will get it fixed,” I say with finality. He hangs up.
In that moment I realize that his money incidences are beginning to get to me. It didn’t even occur to me to evaluate this supposed laptop deal before declining the offer. I rejected it because I didn’t want to give him any more money. I soon discover that my bad feeling about it is with good reason.
After rejecting the deal the relationship changes. Communication changes and we hardly talk. I try to enquire what the problem is but it’s futile. Soon I am ghosted. He stops taking my calls, he leaves my texts on blue ticks and unfollows me on social media platforms. The message is in black and white, I was in a relationship with him but to him, I was just his ATM.
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