I’ve been standing at the altar for close to an hour now when my father holds my hand and pulls me to the back of the church. I’m guessing he’s worried about the time since my bride hasn’t arrived at the church yet, only for him to give me a letter.
I smile. My father is such a traditional man, so it comes as no surprise, that he’s sharing his love with me in a letter.
“It’s from the bride, open it,” he says with a troubled look.
“I steal a glance at it, and her beautiful salutation reassures me that she’ll be at the altar in a few.
These are the contents of the letter;
I know you said you don’t love it when I call you dear because it’s old, outdated and it best suits the who’s and who’s of Nairobi, the bulging tummy Otieno’s and Kimani’s. Basically, you hate cliché, but you are my favourite one. And that’s on that.
Remember when you said you’d marry a woman that loved words? I wondered what such a woman looked like. Was she slimmer? Thicker? Taller? Shorter? Still, I really hoped that I looked something like her. No, everything is like her.
Then, you said that your favourite takeaway from Mills and Boons is ‘pure poetry in motion ‘and that you never came across any woman who fits that description till the evening I was hurrying along these dusty, populated Nairobi sidewalks, and you got off your matatu to come after me. Yet you still argue that love, at first sight, is a narrative Hollywood is selling us. Today that we are walking down the aisle, well not necessarily; what’s your excuse?
You always have one. You are strategic, and it’s almost like you plan your conversations beforehand, even with strangers. I keep on wondering if it’s just a mere coincidence that you saw me that evening and if the Nairobi talk was also a coincidence, or did you just plan on having it with anyone you’d come across on that fateful day? Was I just a lender of last resort? Or did my beauty strike a nerve with the word porn artist?
You said Nairobi is beautiful to a fault, and I snubbed you. Then you went on to say Nairobi is a legit scam, and I turned to you in dismay. You went on like ‘Hello there, beautiful lady’ and without a pause went on like ‘I’m Clinton Mike, a paediatrician. I’m guessing you are a student…’ I marvelled that you actually had a cue for me, but I smiled. I could see your heart melt, eyes blink, and you cued yourself in with ‘your smile, I must say it has its tune beating in my heart because I…I…’ I cut you right there and said, ‘Hi lifesaver, I’m Evelyne.’ I still don’t believe till now that you actually called me eleven. Fucking eleven! You made me type my name on your phone so that you get the spelling right, and you were like, ‘You might as well key in your number…what’s the worst that could happen anyway?’
It’s been eleven months since you took a matatu to Thika Road. Since you said Nairobi is beautiful.
Nairobi is blissful
Nairobi is bountiful
Nairobi is delightful
Nairobi is eventful
Nairobi is the city under the sun.
But I interjected and said Nairobi is uncertainties
Nairobi is good mistakes
Nairobi is madness
Nairobi is a legit scam
That Nairobi is just a bitch and your mouth made an O before I could finish pronouncing the term bitch. So, I covered it up with ‘Nairobi is not the perfect rhyme scheme you are portraying it to be. It’s irregular, and it subscribes to no one’s terms. I had trouble pronouncing subscribe, so you said it for me. You chuckled then said Nairobi is love.
Eleven things. Eleven things of what Nairobi is, yet somehow, you still managed to squeeze love right in. Eleven months later and I’m standing in front of our bathroom mirror, proofreading my wedding vows to you.
I originally intended to start my wedding vows; I wrote this with my best friend. Stacy, when we were sixteen, made a pact that whoever gets married first will use them. It’s actually a poem, and it goes;
I thought I’d paint you,
But no crayon matched the light
I thought a song would do
Relatable and convincing
An irregular rhyme
But I couldn’t get the rhythm
Let alone the flow
A perfect rhyme
But I thought I should meet you first.
Beautiful right? Well, it doesn’t really matter because that’s not how I’ll say my vows today. These eleven months have given us memories to last us a lifetime, a life that we’ve been building together, but that’s a conversation you’d rather not have.
At that moment, I felt safe and secure in your embrace, and that’s when I reached out for your lips. You gave me your entire being. I let myself find a different kind of feeling other than just safety and security till you rolled off me eleven minutes later. It’s no doubt you emptied yourself inside me. Throwing up this morning is enough proof, but then, I felt empty, hollow.
You cuddled me on that sofa, and we talked about life. You asked what time is, and I challenged you to write a poem with me. Do you remember this?
Forever and a day
Infinity and beyond
End of times
Rest of my life or yours?
In the moment or
With a promise of tonight?
Crack of dawn
When time allows
Till destiny’s cut short?
Fate decides or
You fly away?
In between then and now
In the good old days
Fear of what tomorrow holds or
What’s at stake today?
When do we kiss goodbye?
Tell me, when does love cease?
What inspired this? You asked and I, smiling, told you that love, uncertainties, and time did.
Is there ever a right time? God’s timing, I suppose. You unexpectedly went down on one knee and popped the question…
‘I’ve had the best eleven months of my life with you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you please marry me?’
‘Are you sure about this Mike?’
‘It’s a Yes or No question, Eleven,’ and you smiled. Half smiled with an impatience rocking on your eyes.
‘You took me by surprise. I didn’t see this coming.”
‘We’ve just had this conversation, and this is the least I expect from you. Were you just acting up?’
It was a hypothetical conversation. We basically just had this conversation. Shouldn’t you have waited for at least two months before you propose?
Why? Are you trying to say two months from now, you’ll feel different? Time is something I don’t have, and I’d appreciate it so much if you were to put it into consideration.
I never got to say Yes. You slid the ring onto my finger and we watched Scandal.
It’s been two months since the proposal, which is to say I’m two months into the family way. I haven’t told you yet, even though I have known you for a while now. Darling, I know how happy it would make you have this child with me. I feel the eagerness in your voice when you talk about children, the anticipation in your voice, but I’m sorry I don’t feel the same.
I want to have my child, but starting a family with you seems a little out of place for me. We’ve had this conversation several times, but no you’ve always been dismissive. It’s how you snore loudly, pretending to be asleep when I bring up conversations about our age, and how incompatible we are. You say that you need time and that you will grow on me, but we both know that might never happen. It feels like a chore with you every damn time. I have to remind you to do this or that.
I know you probably think this is a prank of sorts because I always joked about being kidnapped on our wedding day. But darling, this isn’t a bad joke. It’s the reality of my life, our lives. I found out about your on-and-off affair with your ex, as if not enough, the little secret with your secretary when you went on that team-building trip last month. I have given you time, to tell me about these things, even went as far as asking you, but you have done nothing but lied. For someone that’s pretty loud about how terrible one-night stands are, how then have you not thought it wise to share with your wife to be, about one you had weeks to your wedding day?
After careful deliberations, I have decided that my baby and I cannot be part of your life, considering how you lie comfortably. I hope you understand my reasons even if they cause you so much pain. I know I could have done this earlier, but now, is early enough for me. The last thing I want is to regret going forward with this marriage even when I knew I had the chance to leave. Don’t bother looking for me, I’m probably so far away already.
All of my love,
“I can explain! Dad? Did you know about this?”
“No. But I want to know why you were cheating on the mother of your child. What made you think she’ll never find out?” He asks.
“I was afraid if I told her that this might happen. So, I thought I should tell her after the wedding…” I say pulling away my bowtie, trying to fan myself with my coat.
“And cheat her into marriage? She needed to know this before anything else son!” He says as he starts walking towards the door.
“Where are you going?” I ask in panic.
“To release the guests. We can’t waste much of their time any further,” he gives me that reassuring look and my head bows down in shame. I reach for my phone, desperately calling my bride, my calls go unanswered, but I am determined to find her, to try and save the day.
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