I can still remember the feeling I got when we reached Westlands on the fateful day that I landed in Nairobi. After hours of travelling from upcountry, I was finally in the city of mixed fortunes. The village mates who had come to the city before me had already shaped the narratives of this different kind of jungle for me. To some, Nairobi was the city of opportunities; if you worked hard enough without being picky then you could strike gold along the way. To many others, the city is like a forest with many predators and you could easily fall prey to them. Looking over your shoulder is a constant requirement if you’re to survive. From the pickpockets in the broad daylight to the fine women who have sent many village boys back home after causing them trouble.
Despite the narratives I had heard of the city, I was not worried about the latter, women were not my vice. I have always been an introvert who hardly socialized with the men like me let alone women. I only had one purpose in this city; to get an education and make money. While the tall buildings and fast-paced life intimidated me at first, I had this burning desire to thrive in this land of opportunities. After all, I had no safety net back at home so I had no choice but to succeed.
Thus the story of my life began in the city. I started classes in one of the popular public universities in the cities. Besides attending my first year of classes, I also picked up money-making skills on the side. The partying and socializing scene did not entice me. So, I had no trouble spending my time working on the side. As fate would have it my studies were cut short. Family emergencies meant that there was no money for my school fees and even worse I had to start helping my mother with taking care of my two sisters as I was the only boy in the family.
One of the gigs I had picked up on the side was writing so that became my source of income. Supporting my siblings and mother were my main focus, so all I needed for myself was a roof over my head and food. Everything I made was spent on these areas. At my writing gig, I encountered age mates who were still in the university, for many the gig was to supplement what their parents gave them. So it was mostly to support their leisure activities, trips, girls and to buy the trendiest clothes, shoes, and gadgets. Sometimes I wished I had that luxury but I was very aware of where I came from and what needed to be done.
About a year later, one of my siblings got a chance to work outside the country. While this was going to be a relief it also meant that everything I had been saving was used up in sorting out her travel and relocation affairs. However, we were thankful for this opportunity. There would be another person earning an income in the family. My load would be lighter and I could finally focus on myself.
Every once in a while a man needs to treat himself to a good meal so I decided that I would have some fish. I had sacrificed so much that I felt I deserved to spend those three hundred shillings on a meal. This was where I met her. The words from her mouth intrigued me before I could even see her face.
“I have decided to treat myself today. You can’t spend three hundred shillings on one meal every day if you want to survive in Nairobi,” she told the fishmonger.
I found her in the middle of a conversation with the fishmonger. Immediately two other customers joined in the discussion. By now I could see her face; she had such a gentle smile to complement her symmetrical face. I couldn’t decide what I liked more, her beauty or the fact that a beautiful woman was financially conscious. In the era of slay queens, Instagram, and Snapchat it seemed all women thought about was spending and looking good. I would typically not pursue anyone I had just met but there was just something about her. So our journey started.
I couldn’t afford to take her to the fanciest places in town but she didn’t mind dates at averagely priced restaurants. We grew fond of each more and more as the months went by- or at least I thought we did. With my sibling doing well, I could now concentrate on my own progress. I didn’t hurry to go back to school but instead decided to first set up businesses and build a home back at home.
“Babe, I’m thinking of setting up a structure back at home just in case life got hard in Nairobi, there would be something to fall back on. In any case, my mother would also benefit from the house, “I told her one evening.
“That’s a very good idea babe,” she said with a glow in her eyes. “In fact, I have a business idea that could bring us extra income to accelerate the construction of the house.”
Nimmo, that was her name, had a diploma in business management but was yet to find a job. When she suggested that we set up a business selling household stuff, I was delighted with her progressive mindset. This was before many people took up the idea so the business thrived.
Between my writing gig and the business, we were making good money. The next step naturally was to move in together and we also opened a joint savings account.
“Babe, pick any place that you want us to have dinner this weekend,” I told her with so much pride. I could now afford to take her to better places.
“Babe, instead of going for dinner, how about we use that money to buy a bigger bed and a Maharaja mattress?” She asked me.
I had hit the jackpot. I wasn’t dealing with just any woman- she was focused and developmental-oriented. This kind of thinking and sacrifices fast-tracked furnishing our house with quality furniture and gadgets. Our savings account now had over a hundred thousand and the house project had commenced. In fact, I decided to go upcountry earlier to oversee the project in December before the Christmas holiday. Knowing the kind of spending that December comes with not to add our projects, I decided to pay at least two months’ rent in advance.
The holidays came and went and the new year began. So did the drama. On the third of January, I came back to our house only to find that my girlfriend had invited her sister over without informing me. I wasn’t alarmed yet, so we spent the evening bonding, and then came the time to go to bed.
“Babe, you’ll have to take the couch because I can’t have my sister sleep on the couch in my house,” my loving girlfriend said with a straight face.
“Okay,” I said in disbelief.
“So for how long will she be around?” I added.
“Ah babe, si she’s relocated to Nairobi. I don’t see why she should stay in ushago while I have a house in Nairobi,” Nimmo said so casually as though she thought she was making sense.
It was 10 p.m, I was tired from travelling and before I could recover from the shock of being asked to sleep on the couch in my own house, I had just been informed that we were having a permanent house guest. I was in shock and couldn’t comprehend just what was going on so I needed to get out. I called a friend and stayed in their house.
It still wasn’t time to share this information with anybody. My previously reasonable girlfriend was telling me that I was going to sleep on the couch in my own house indefinitely since the sister was now our roommate. The sister who had nothing tying her down in Nairobi, except Nimmo, was now going to lie around in our house and it was clear I had no say in the matter. Before I could even recover from the shock, she texted to say that she thought we needed some space.
As you can correctly guess, I was now homeless because the line had been drawn in the sand. That house was no longer my house but hers. Like a lover in denial, I asked to have a discussion with her to figure everything out. I was denied a face-to-face meeting and she changed the locks to our house. The cherry on the cake was when she casually texted, “Oh and I used the money in the savings account to get more stock for the business so I’ll send you your share once I make some sales.”
I felt dizzy as I read that message. There are things that happen to people that shake them to the core and this was it for me. I grieved over financial loss, a broken heart but mostly over the loss of trust in humans. My ‘wife material’ girlfriend had just robbed me without any violence.
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