Something weighed heavily on my heart. I loved James. He treated me right, yet something held me back from committing fully to the relationship. I couldn’t put my finger on it at that time. James’ close circle was his elder brother, Tom and his best friend from high school, Brian. Initially, I liked their brotherhood. They say someone’s close relationships can indicate his commitment ability and social skills, and we all want someone who keeps friendships. James scored highly in this area.
We’d just come back from Malindi after a weekend down there. We had gone to celebrate my birthday, just the two of us. I had a couple of hectic weeks and wanted some downtime as I reflected on the past year. James went to great extents to ensure I had a lovely time. As we walked on the beach, we had a conversation that I felt took us to another level of intimacy.
“Babe, you know we’re growing older and we need to start making decisions for our future,” said James.
“I know what you mean because I have been feeling it too,” I said.
“I have been toying around with the idea of buying land in the outskirts of Nairobi.”
“Where do you have in mind?” I asked him.
“Ruiru and its environs,” replied James.
“I like the area. It’s growing fast and has good amenities,” I responded.
“We can go check out what’s available at the end of the month,” said James.
The conversations got so intense that, at some point, I wondered whether he was planning on proposing. We had been living together for three months at the time. We had fought about nothing significant besides his brother and friend being around the house too often. “Babe, you know they were used to hanging out here. Give them time to readjust to the changes,” James had said in their defence.
We went back to Nairobi and resumed regular scheduling. I knew that at the end of the month, we had plans. A week before the planned date for our land search, James went out with Tom and Brian. One of the days on the weekend was set aside for the boys, which I didn’t have a problem with. I also liked that I got time to do my own things. So, James went out with the band and returned later at night. I was already asleep when he came, but he woke me up.
“Babe, babe, babe get up,” he said excitedly.
“What’s going on James?” I asked, struggling to open my eyes.
“Come check out what I got.”
He took me to the parking lot in our apartment building. That was where he showed me the speed bike he had just bought. His friend Brian was a biker and had encouraged James to get one, too, so that he could join the community. James blubbered about how he had gotten a good deal on it that he couldn’t pass.
A week later, we looked for land parcels that we could buy. It was one of those trips that made you question your ambition levels and achievements in life. The realtor taking us around the area told us stories of some of the estates that were coming up. He told us about businesswomen who started as grocery vendors but slowly graduated to wholesale suppliers of the same and had formed a group that was now creating a whole estate.
Some houses we saw in the area were beautiful and massive, with unique architectural designs. Like a salesman worth his title, the realtor told us more stories about the area and its occupants. We spotted something we liked and got lost fantasising about how life could be in the area. We went home with a mission and a new goal at the end of the visit.
As expected, James shared the details of our visit with his boys. They even planned to go back the following weekend. When James came back, he was singing a different tune.
“Did they like the area?” I asked him.
“Yes, generally but it’s too expensive,” said James.
“Okay. I’m listening,” I said, wondering where the conversation was heading.
“You know Tom and Brian were thinking of buying land in Athi River or somewhere around that area. It would be good to be around people we know. Plus I just bought the bike so I need a bit of time to top up what was left,” said James.
“What about all the reasons behind our decision to zero in on that area?” I asked him.
“We can find good schools anywhere and other amenities. I know you have business interests on Thika Road but that’s why people have cars. The weather could be different but we’ll get used to it. I think it’s important to be around people you know,” James replied.
“It took one visit with your boys to change your mind about something we had discussed at length about our future? Let me not even talk about that bike!”
“You have a problem with my bike?” James asked.
“Who impulse buys something worth hundreds of thousands?” I said in frustration.
“It was a good deal and to be frank, it’s my money,” James said defensively.
“I know it’s your money but we had plans as a couple that came before that purchase that you’re now using as an excuse. This always happens when you’re with Tom and Brian,” I said, realising my mistake as soon as the words came out of my mouth.
“Do you also have a problem with my blood brother and Brian, my best friend of many years?”He asked.
“I didn’t mean it like that. However, you always seem to make decisions that affect our relationship when you are with them,” I said, struggling to salvage the situation.
James was angry. I knew I could have explained the matter better because it seemed as though I was attacking his close circle, but I was angry. I wondered whether the decisions of his boys would dictate our lives forever. It had happened many times before, but those were minor things. We would discuss something and agree on a plan, but our plans would change once Tom and Brian whispered something different. They didn’t even need to talk; they just needed to do something else.
Once James told Tom and Brian, our relationship ended. There was animosity between us, and Brian even suggested that I was trying to control James. I couldn’t win against the people he had known for most of his life. Except for our relationship, they had shown up for him so many times, so I didn’t fight it.
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