I adore tattoos but I do not have the courage to get one myself. Probably because my mother would disown me if she saw art imprinted on my skin. But I’ve also heard rumors that the process is painful. this probably explains my admiration for Jane Doe. She has a tattoo on the left side of her chest, slightly below the collar bone, and a few inches above her left breast. I thought it reflected courage especially in a world where tattoos are perceived negatively as a sign of being spoilt. “She must be brave for not caring what people thought about her because of the combination of butterfly and falling stars elegantly tattooed on her body,” I thought.
Summing that up with the fact that she was a good listener instantly earned her a spot in my inner circle. Let’s admit it, very few people can listen without interrupting you to share similar experiences they’ve had. She was different. She listed as I talked about my heartbreak and consequent fair share of misfortunes in the streets of Nairobi. So, we became friends real quick.
Now that I put some thought into it, I did most of the talking so I never knew much about her. We switched our hanging out venue from the dimly lit corridor to my friend’s house (where I lived). Without a stable cash flow, I couldn’t afford to go to her place. I didn’t know where she lived but I knew it was in one of the high-end suburbs in Nairobi. We obviously couldn’t meet up in town for various reasons. As I mentioned before, everything in the streets of Nairobi costs money including sitting idly in Jevanjee gardens. So, the economical and reasonable thing to do was hang out in the house, our comfort zone. Life at Pangani was affordable since it’s in the affordable parts of Nairobi.
We talked about anything and everything, though I did most of the talking. I told her about how John Doe had broken my heart and set me on a path of self-destruction. How I had landed my first job, then about my narcissistic boss and finally about ‘Not a dull jack’.
At the time, the toxic levels in the Pangani house were at a critical level. My host had had enough of me. Her grace period had expired and she wanted me out of her house ASAP. I had not found a job yet which meant zero income therefore I couldn’t get my place. I had searched everywhere in Nairobi for any kind of job with no luck. By this time, I had shed all my ego and was ready to settle for any kind of job provided it put food on the table.
I shared these frustrations with my new friend one afternoon. She listened silently without letting off any emotion. I couldn’t read any emotion from her and this got me fired up. My mini-speech gradually turned into a passionate and bitter rant, I was now angry at her for not showing any emotion. As if she had read my mind, she let out one of those warm smiles as she moved closer and tightly hugged me.
My rant had turned into mild sobs as I eased into her warm embrace. But she was suffocating me so I gently pulled away and that’s when it happened. She slowly let go but before I completely broke free, she was in my face. Her lips searched for mine and in a flicker of light, there was a mutual outburst of emotion. For some reason (unknown to me yet), I didn’t fight her. Instead, I allowed myself to be carried away by the emotional tide and drown in the pool of emotion. I could say that it was the first time I had genuinely submitted to someone.
A few minutes later, we lay on our backs catching our breaths. I wasn’t sure what had just happened. So I lay there in rapid shallow breathes, semi-consciously looking at the flickering bulb lost in thoughts. I did not understand why I was sweating profusely but I knew I felt alive for an instant. Whatever had happened had lifted a load off my shoulders. She held my hand gently interrupting my thoughts and gently said, “don’t worry. You can come live with me before getting your things in order.”
This came as a relief but I wasn’t sure it was the right or appropriate thing to do. Not after what had happened a few minutes ago. So, my mind slowly drifted back into the previous turmoil as I tried to comprehend what had just happened and why it made me feel alive. Everything was happening very fast and before I knew it, I had another place to crash. I took the pillow beside me, held it tightly close to my chest, and closed my eyes, slowly falling asleep.
I woke up a few hours later and turned to my right searching for her but she had left. Looking around, I searched for my phone hoping that she had left a message. And she had, saying that she didn’t want to interrupt my peaceful sleep. I sighed with relief and for a moment I felt this grin as my lips stretched wide forming a line across my face. I took a shower and began packing my baggage. Since I only had a handful of essentials probably because of my nomadic lifestyle, it didn’t take long to pack.
Jane Doe came home from work earlier than usual that evening with her usual negative energy. Her face lit up for a moment after seeing my baggage at the far end of the room. She inquired and I confirmed that I would be leaving that evening. As if aware of what was happening, my friend sent me her pin location and assured me that she would sort the cab fees once I got there. At the time, I believed that my guardian angel was overworking.
I took a cab and in about 1 hour, the cab driver was hooting at my friend’s apartment block. She paid the cab driver as promised and helped me settle in the guest bedroom. She lived in a two-bedroom DSQ in the Ruaka suburbs in Nairobi. I didn’t understand how she managed to live in such a neighborhood but I didn’t ask. I feared I would offend her and get kicked out for being nosy. So, I minded my own business and kept my questions to myself.
But this was not the only thing I did out of fear. I feared offending her so I continued submitting to her advances. However, fear wasn’t the only motivation. Some part of me enjoyed whatever we did. The part of me that wanted to explore this side of life and see where it led me. Besides, what did I have to lose?
I had developed a different perception of life. I figured that I had a second chance so I began searching for a job. This time, my search was not only fueled by desperation but by the hope of being independent by the end of the year. A year and a half after graduating and coming to Nairobi, I hoped that I would soon catch my break. So I kept an open mind and we lived in harmony for a few weeks.
We did not talk about what we did, we just did it and carried on with life. Probably because we didn’t want to label whatever was happening. I did not want to accept or rather normalize the idea of two ladies romanticizing. I landed a job in town working as an office messenger in Nairobi’s Central Business District. It wasn’t my desired job but beggars arent choosers. At that point, I was grateful for what (the job) I had and remained optimistic for a better one in the future. But life isn’t that simple.
I got home one afternoon after a busy morning running errands, picking and delivering messages as usual. My friend had made it clear that I was not to go to her bedroom even if my life depended on it. I did not take that as a red flag but I should have. On this day, she had left for town to attend a business meeting. Home alone, I was tempted to sneak into her bedroom and look around. What was she hiding? Before I could open her bedroom door, there was a commotion at the door. I aborted the mission and ran back to the sitting room to pretend I had been watching TV and not up to something mischievous.
The main door opened and a charismatic man walked in, a briefcase in one hand and a suitcase in the other. “Hi honey, I’m home. I left Nigeria early and decided to surprise you before leaving for DRC in two days,” the man said as he placed the briefcase and keys on the console. His words took me aback. Who was this man and who was he referring to as honey?
He came to the sitting room but wasn’t surprised to see me. He had this to say, “Ooh hello, you must be the house manager my wife was telling me about.” Wait, did he just say wife?
End of part 3
Read Part 4 here.
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