I met him the day his daughter was born. I had travelled upcountry for a friend’s funeral, so I got the news pretty late via our family WhatsApp chat.
He was wearing dark glasses, a white T-shirt, vans and dark blue ragged jeans. He was huge, a lot more than he appeared in pictures.
He was probably waiting for someone to open the gate when I arrived.
“Hi, do you live here?” He asked.
“No. I’m here to see a friend” I replied.
“Could you call them, they come to open the gate?”
I already have, I don’t know what’s taking them so long”
We both heard footsteps approaching the gate from inside, and our faces collapsed with relief.
Daisy, my sister’s help opened the door and ushered him in. She then stuck her head out, looking for me.
In her heavy Ugandan accent, she joked,
“Shorty, aren’t you coming in?”
I burst into laughter and he stopped walking up the stairs and looked back. He gave me that knowing look. Our eyes were glued for less than a minute. With hesitation, I looked up again, and he was still looking at me. I felt seen.
Daisy was trying to mumble something about my braids, but my mind was in a race.
Did he just move in? I was keenly looking at him, curious to know where he lived. Who he lived with. My heart was shattered when he stopped right Infront of my sister’s door. He must be Anthony. My gut was right. He’s Kristie’s dad.
Our first date was pretty much the same afternoon I met him. When I got to the house, busied myself with the baby. She was light, it was the most auspicious thing about her. That she looked nothing like her mother and father.
His face shone with delight when he held Kristie in his hands. I tried so hard to avoid eye contact, but every time I tried to steal a glance, I caught him staring.
We left in his Subaru for Naivas after an hour or so. He was playing soft Rhumba as we cruised along the sunny streets of Mombasa. Temperatures were high, and I made that the point of our first-ever conversation as in-laws.
“You should have packed some shorts and vests, the temperatures get higher than this” I started.
“I didn’t even think about that, I was just excited to see my daughter and I rushed down here. If I get that transfer, I’ll come prepared”.
“You can still buy some at the supermarket”
“If you help me choose, why not?”
I laughed softly.
We bought three summer shorts. I particularly liked the bright yellow with white tropical tree prints. But he liked the chocolate brown and said it was a beautiful tone, just like my skin.
Significantly, he bought me a short, A-line pink dress and I instantly felt like I should hide it from my sister.
We set out to be friends, besides being in-laws. It was despicable that I even enjoyed the brief time we spent that afternoon shopping for my sister and their new baby. He, however, seemed to be okay. He casually asked for my number, in case my sister was unreachable, he’d call through me. Even though I had mentioned I lived in Malindi, he still thought it wise to have the number and he did.
I called him the next Friday when I travelled to Nairobi. It was pretty late into the night. I had missed the SGR so I took a bus. There was loud beaming music on his side, so he offered to call me in a few. He must have stepped out in the cold when he called back.
“ Hey! How are you?” he asked
“Not so great, just arrived in town, could you drop me somewhere?”
“I’m on Thika Road, give me fifteen minutes” he hangs up.
I was flattered. He didn’t mind, picking me up and dropping me off at wherever I wanted to go.
Joe and I have been experiencing difficulties since I relocated to Malindi. I’d caught him cheating several times, and he blamed it on the distance. So I always snuck into Nairobi at the slightest chance. I was here to surprise him for his birthday the next day, but he hadn’t answered any of my calls or texts all day when I was travelling. Regardless, I was determined to make our relationship work.
Anthony called about twelve minutes later and told me to meet him next to the former Tuskys Commercial behind Naivas.
“Hey! Get in!”
“That was fast”, I said as he leaned in to hug me.
“Been meaning to see you since last time and it’s indecent to keep a lady waiting?” he said, trying to sound sweet.
“So, must you go to his place? I mean, I know some beautiful Air Bnbs in Kitengela, we could get to know each other, deeply”.
My heart leapt, in ecstasy. I couldn’t pretend that I didn’t wish for this, because I had imagined it a couple of times. Somehow, he maybe felt the same, and I really wanted to pick his mind on some things, especially, the wrangles he was having with my sister. He could lean on family, I was here to support him.
“What about her? What happens if she finds out?” I should have known at that time, that this was bound to fail because he shrugged it off and said, ” unless you tell her…”.
I bit my lower lip, and waited patiently, to get to his destination of choice, I regret ever letting him take the lead on life because he drove us right into a ditch.
His touch was unfamiliar. Precise and quite intentional. He did all the right things, said what I wanted to hear and I was sold. This was the onset of our love life, one that I thought, would have a fairytale ending, despite the circumstances.
We went out a couple of times, mostly on road trips to Nanyuki, Nyeri and Meru. We barely talked about his relationship with my sister, it felt like a taboo every time he started talking about Kristie. But I never mentioned that it made me uncomfortable, instead, while on these trips, I bought her countless gifts and both he and my sister were in awe of how much I loved her.
“Baba Kristie and I broke up. We couldn’t agree on when we should get married. He insists on paying dowry at the end of the year, but I don’t feel like marriage is it right now”.
I almost choked on this information that Saturday afternoon as we had our sibling banter. We are a family of six,; two brothers and four sisters. We make rotational visits to each other’s homes to spend time with each other and discuss the plans we have for each other’s wins and woes.
My older siblings stood in support of mama Kristie, with Joan taking the opportunity to discuss how limiting marriages are. It’s all she ever talks about since her separation from her ex-husband. A storm was raging in my mind. How could he?
“Do you honestly want to marry her? I thought we had something good going on. ” I texted barely twenty minutes later.
“Come on! Your sister hasn’t decided to settle down yet. I needed to find a way to end things, applying that pressure on her was the best way,” he responded almost immediately.
Naively, I believed him. He promised things would get better henceforth, and they did. He cut communication with Mama Kristie, and I was the only channel of communication about their daughter. I sent him, pictures, videos and updates about my sister’s dramatic love life and we laughed at her, in between hotel rooms, tenting camps and his house.
For 2 years, we sustained this relationship, until my sister raised concerns during Kristie’s birthday.
“Have you been sending baba Kristie pictures and videos of my daughter?” she directed the question to me.
I was completely thrown off. I did so little to prove my innocence. But everyone seemed convinced until mama Kristie brought out a video I had recorded with Kristie.
I went into panic mode, as my sister demanded I explain why I was in constant communication with her baby daddy. She asked to see my phone; peruse through my gallery, Mpesa messages and chats. I refused. My phone had incriminating evidence, there’s no way in the world I would agree to that.
Anthony was rather too calm when I brought up the issue that evening. He only said we should be careful, lest my family finds out we’ve been seeing each other secretly. That was totally a different tune from the conversations we used to have.
I lost my job, so I moved into my sister’s house in Mombasa. Two weeks after, Mama Kristie shared that Anthony would be coming to visit Kristie, making up for the lost father-daughter time. I was elated because I thought we’d spend some quality time together.
He rented an Air BnB for that entire week and to my shock, my sister spent more like five nights with him at this place, no baby in sight. It made me sick, the thought they spent nights together, somehow, doing nothing else but talk about their daughter. I felt cheated.
But you know you know how you can tell the energy of a woman that just got back together with an ex. She was smiling more, dressing up, spending more time in the shower, her skin was tender, she was jovial, and laughed at the little things, recounted his jokes and laughed heartily.
Her texts in the WhatsApp family group confirmed my doubts, they were talking about the possibility of marriage. Anthony did what he does best, crisis management. He sneaked me into his residence the next day and vowed that my sister was mistaking his responsibility towards their daughter for love. I believed that too.
For months, my sister was her baby daddy’s side chic. We took turns travelling to his place during the weekend. I disguised my travels as job interviews, attending friends’ birthdays and my boyfriend, whom we had broken up years ago. I was well aware of this, but somehow, I believed that things would go back to normal once they fought again, and they did.
During my sister’s turn to visit, she decided to surprise her soon-to-be husband, at his place of work.
“Are you his sister?” the receptionist asked her.
“No. His fiancee’, we have a daughter”. She looked surprised. Like she wanted to tell her something, but she couldn’t. Mama Kristie went to sit down, waiting for Anthony to finish his meeting.
He walked in minutes later, holding a child in his hands, bearing a striking resemblance to my niece Kristie. My heart sank into a fist of iron in my stomach as my sister tearfully narrated to us how Anthony played her for a fool. But I ought to be the bigger fool. because I’m still seeing him, despite having a wife who lives at their upcountry home and manages their businesses and my sister for his baby mama.
Last month, his wife called at around 8 pm to say she’ll be in town for a friend’s wedding. I had to book a hotel room and an early SGR ticket, before she gets wind of our affair, because she will, eventually.
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