There are only so many secrets you expect your partner to keep, a few traits that could go unnoticed in two years. But nothing prepares you for when the secrets come to light, and you have to wonder if the person in question, is the same person you have shared love with.
We are familiar with jokes about how Nairobi is one big bedroom. But no, I’m not here to corroborate that narrative. Two years ago, I would have, because believe me when I say have been through it with love in this city. But after how my relationship ended, I don’t know what’s better, a cheating boyfriend or a criminal?
Talking about this makes me feel like Milly, the author of my life with a criminal. Of all the things I set out to do in life, talking about a criminal in the capacity of my lover is the last thing I thought I’d ever do. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those movies; mafia wives are badass, better than their husbands, but take it from me, all that looks good on TV, in reality, sucks. I wonder how those movie stars get into character and deliver such stellar performances because I can’t seem to wrap my head around it.
Eric and I met through a mutual friend two years ago and we were instantly attracted to each other. I usually don’t get into relationships with people I haven’t known for two years or more, because I feel like I don’t know you. I’m the kind of person whose friendships develop into intimate relationships. But with Eric, everything seemed pretty fine because of our mutual friend who had nice things to say about him.
I knew he was working but I didn’t care so much for the details of his career, because we were together anyway, I’ll definitely end up knowing. But how quickly and fast he furnished his house, changed his furniture and his wardrobe made me a tad bit too interested in his career because damn! It was paying. Asking our mutual friend was out of the question because I didn’t want it to seem like I was really invested in his money.
Most of my questions about his job were vaguely answered and I didn’t have any grounds to push these conversations. Time went on pretty first and almost a year into the relationship, I realized I was pregnant. I was a bit worried about keeping the pregnancy, bearing in mind that I’m a student and my single mother would be very disappointed in me. Eric on the other hand was extremely happy and over the moon about the news and he asked me to move in with him.
It’s probably his willingness to take responsibility and joy that drew me closer to him because I remember pranking one of my ex-boyfriends that I was with child! I’m glad I did the prank. Moving into Eric’s place was a plus for me because sharing hostel washrooms is the absolute ghetto, especially if there’s no water. Anyways, I packed my bags into Eric’s two-bedroom apartment in Kasarani and that was the beginning of my life in crime.
I noticed Eric would make these secret calls on the balcony or on the rooftop and my instincts told me that he was probably cheating on me. I made a fuss about it, and he tried to prove his loyalty to me with zero success. After threatening to leave, he finally decided to tell me the truth.
“Babe, these are just my clients,” he said.
“Clients? What business do you run?”
“That is not important right now,” he offered.
“No! Eric. I can not have a child in this house while you go around cheating on me.”
“Babe you are insisting on this path and I’m certain it will disorient you. Stop being hard-headed.” He moved from the door to the new grey sofa sets that were barely a week old.
“I don’t care at this point, Eric!” I was starting to act up, so he gave in.
“I’m sure you will regret this.” He said, clearing his throat loudly.
I watched in dismay, as he took out a different sim card, inserted it in his phone, send a fake Mpesa message to someone, and then called them, trying to get them to ‘refund’ the money. If you are Kenyan, then you most definitely know what I’m talking about.
Eric was one of those scammers that would send you text messages, claiming to be your high school kid who has lost a sweater, is in need of set books or transport fare back home and you should send it to a certain number.
I literally felt the baby move in my belly as I tried to wonder how I ended up with this petty excuse of a man, and worse pregnant by him. It infuriated me when I remembered a time in high school when my mother sent money to one such scammer when I was about sit my national exams. What if Eric was the scammer, could my unforgiving mother ever find it in her heart to forgive him?
Pregnant and afraid to go back home and announce to my mother that the man responsible was a criminal, I stayed back, because there was practically nowhere else, I could go. But things took a different turn when he asked that I join him in business, because people had gotten smarter, and he was making lesser money every day. I was reluctant at first until I realized that we’d go for days without food and he had to sell the TV, dispenser and fridge to offset rent I knew we were in trouble.
At seven months, I started the conning business and we’d stay in the house often, convincing people to send us money. Things never got better, and we started fighting about little things. There was a time he blamed me for the bad luck in his business and he hit me real hard because I had used the money he left to buy myself a dera. Unfortunately for us, I had a stillbirth.
Eric was really looking forward to our baby and I was sad at how downcast he was. I was selfish enough to think that it was probably for the best because as an excuse to get more money to fend for the child, he had joined this gang of armed robbers who’s come to the house and spent the better part of the day there. They had reduced me to their housemaid, cooking and cleaning after them and I knew I couldn’t proceed on that path.
I moved back home for the rest of the time I had deferred from school but never mentioned Eric and the pregnancy. Although my mother seemed suspicious of everything, my good character took her off my case and believed my lame excuses for deferring. Eric had threatened to come after me when I broke it to him that we are over, but the threats died a natural death after about two months when I saw his Facebook posts with a new girl.
I don’t wish death on him, but I’m really glad that I possibly escaped death by being affiliated with him, and the scrutiny of raising a child with a criminal. I’m happy that I no longer sleep with the fear that we could be ambushed by the police anytime or I could meet my baby daddy’s dead body on social media one day. I’ve since resorted to my years of friendship before an intimate relationship model, it’s safer this way.
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