We were both intoxicated when I first met Jesse. He was dark, but not too dark. He had a small afro that was well combed and was taller than me. Now when I think about it, I had very low standards back then. All you had to do was to be taller than me. You see, I was 6’1, and it wasn’t easy finding guys who were taller than me in Nairobi. So every time I met one, I thought that we were soul mates. I had sworn to myself that there was no way I would walk down the aisle in flat shoes just because my fiance was short. That was the basis of all my relationships. Just be tall, and we will forcefully have a happy ending.
I saw him at the bar ordering tequila shots as we walked into the club. He looked at me for a while, and I looked back. It was almost like a staring competition, and when I drifted back to reality I almost hit a lady who was holding a bottle of whiskey in her hand. I knew immediately that I had dodged a bullet because I didn’t have enough money in my wallet even for a quarter of a bottle. I had calculated enough money for two beers and an uber back home. Anything outside of that would be off my non-existent budget.
My friends and I quickly found a spot at the corner of the bar. Luckily, just as we were entering there was a group of people leaving that spot. It must have been our lucky day.
“Should we order shisha?” One of my friends asked.
I looked down as though I wasn’t interested, but deep down I was. I was interested in taking a video for my Instagram blowing the smoke off. It’s my pockets that couldn’t allow.
“I don’t even really like shisha. You guys can get. Just count me out,” I said.
My friends quickly divided the price of the shisha pot among themselves and gave it to the barman. I ordered my first bottle of beer.
A guy came by the bar and asked if we wanted a round of shots. Who were we to say no? Five minutes later a full rack of shots came. 20 shots. He signalled the friends he was with, and that’s when I saw my guy approach the table. I felt a tingling sensation in my stomach.
He walked up and stood next to me as we took the shots.
“I’m Jesse, what’s your name?” He asked.
“Natasha,” I replied shyly.
I don’t know what happened next. That’s the last memory I had of that night. I woke up the next morning in my bed, and I had no idea how I’d gotten there. Before I even opened my eyes, I moved my hand around trying to locate my phone, and as soon as I did, I relaxed. That was the only thing I cared about at that particular moment.
Two hours later my phone rang loudly.
“Hello,” I said, my voice sounding tired.
“Hi,” the person responded. He had a deep voice.
“Who am I speaking to?” I asked.
“It’s Jesse. The guy from last night,” He said.
We spoke for a few minutes before I told him that I was exhausted and needed to go back to bed. I promised to call him as soon as I woke up, and I did. He said that he was dying to see me again and that I was very beautiful. He thanked me for the kiss last night, and I acted as though I knew what he was talking about. But deep down I was confused.
The next weekend, I urged my friends to accompany me back to the club. It had been three days and I hadn’t heard from Jesse. We had a small fight after I refused to go to his apartment. You see, I was a hopeless romantic. I wanted something real. I wanted fancy dates in public restaurants and long cute walks but it seems he was only interested in getting into my pants. So I resorted to playing mind games.
My girls and I went back to the bar the following Saturday. This time, I had only 500 shillings in my pocket, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I wasn’t going to dress down either. I was dressing to impress. We sat down at the same spot, and I quickly took out my phone to put up a few pictures on my Instagram stories so that he would know where I was. I wanted to be present and live in the moment, but I just couldn’t. My mind was fixated on this guy and every two minutes I scrolled to see who had viewed my story, and eventually, he did. I was excited.
We stayed at the club for hours as I held my beer closely and drunk it as slowly as I could. As we were getting ready to leave, I saw him. The ‘man of my dreams.” I smiled when I first saw him but I soon realised that he was walking with another girl in his arms. I was angry, and I walked away angrily.
Jesse shamelessly texted me the following day. He had seen me and was wondering why I looked so angry. If there was a good time to give up, this was it. But I was smitten, and I chose to ‘look at the bigger picture,’ which in my head was marriage.
Things were on and off with Jesse. We only met when we were going to drink at the club, and with other people. I hated it. I wanted to spend time alone with him. I wanted him to love me desperately. Months later, his friend invited us to drink at his house. I was excited. Another chance to prove myself worthy. I wore my favourite dress. Short, blue, and covered with sequins. I thought that if he saw me looking like that he wouldn’t be able to resist.
We arrived at Jesse’s friend’s house at 5 pm on Friday. There was a lot of smoke in the air and the boys were playing Play Station. They offered us a drink immediately and without wasting time, we started to take shots. I wanted Jesse to recognize me, and so my laughs were exaggerated and my voice louder than usual. It had been thirty minutes and he hadn’t taken a look off of the television. I drank more, and eventually, I blacked out.
I woke up the next morning at my friend’s house.
“Maybe you need to stop Natasha,” she said.
“Stop what?” I asked cluelessly.
“This guy doesn’t like you. I know that you know it,” she said.
“Excuse me, what?” I asked.
“Last night, when you passed out, they started mocking you. While we were there. Maybe you should just let go,” she said. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I carried my bags and called my uber back home. In my head, this girl who I called my friend didn’t love me. She didn’t want the best for me. She was jealous that I had found true love.
I didn’t speak to Jesse for a while after that. But in my head, we were just playing mind games. I knew he wanted me. He was just playing hard to get, and I was too. I knew eventually we would grow out of it and finally profess our love to each other, and then we would live happily ever after.
It was almost a year since I first met Jesse. I invited him to my birthday party. This whole party was planned out just for him. I wanted to meet him and show him off to my friends. But I couldn’t admit that to anyone. That night, Jesse arrived with another girl. She was pretty, so pretty that when I saw them together I went to the bathroom and started to cry. I didn’t attend the rest of the party, I heard it from the rest of my friends.
“What happened to you yesterday?” Jesse asked when he called the next morning.
“Nothing, I was just a little under the weather.”
“On your birthday?” He asked.
“Just tell me the truth. You were jealous of Patricia. Well, she’s just my best friend. I would never do anything to hurt you,” he said. I believed.
We started to talk again. One time, my friends and I were leaving the club in the wee hours of the morning. All along I had been texting Jesse and he asked me to go to his house. I was excited, but as soon as I told my friends about it they were disgusted. One look into their eyes and I knew for sure that if I went, they would lose all their respect for me. What I didn’t know at the time was that disrespecting myself only allowed other people to disrespect me, and Jesse was one of those people. I went home.
It had now been two years. I was scrolling through my Instagram when I saw that Jesse had posted a picture of himself with a girl who he was holding closely. When I looked closer, I realised that it was the same girl who he had brought to my birthday and claimed to be his best friend. The caption said otherwise.
Six months with my baby, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It turns out Jesse was celebrating his six-month anniversary. But out of these six months, I had met him more than ten times and he had proclaimed his love for me. I wanted to cry, but I went numb. This guy had shown me so many times that he didn’t want me, but I, with all my stubbornness refused to believe it.
It took me almost a year to finally get over him, and when I did, I met the love of my life. It turns out that he was shorter than me by a few inches and if I married him I would be walking down the aisle in flat shoes. My biggest nightmare. But I had come to terms with it. As they say, love is blind, and if anything, I had learnt that from Jesse.
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