Do you ever wake up and you know that it is going to be one of those days? That day you should have probably stayed in bed and given your boss the ‘my tooth was aching real bad’ excuse just to skip work? Well, I must say I gave that idea quite some thought but decided to show up eventually. I mean what’s the worst that could happen?
By lunchtime, I felt stupid for not following up with the idea. My body was beat and I just wanted to go home, wear my oversized pajamas and drown myself in a bottle of wine. As I said, it was one of those days. Well, that ship had sailed so I accepted my fate and began to sluggishly rise from my seat.
‘Are you going for lunch or not?’ my rather obnoxious workmate and friend Kara asked as she passed by the desk, ‘I know you are old but damn today you look beat.’
Well at least I had Kara, her insulting jabs were sure to keep me awake during lunch hour. I mean who needs wine when you have a brutally honest friend to tear your confidence down brick by brick?
‘Yish, give me a minute will you?’ I mumbled as I struggled to get my phone that was buzzing incessantly in my bag. It was my younger sister Nancy.
‘Hallo?’ I finally got to my phone. What followed was a sharp scream that can only be compared to a banshee.
‘I said yes! I said yes!’ Nancy screamed, ‘He proposed and I said yes!
‘Oh, I am so happy for you sweetie!’ I replied after her screams had died down. What followed was a continuous babble of how her engagement had gone down and details of her engagement party. After a while, we ended the call.
‘And the Oscar award for best actress in a leading role goes to… Lulu!’ Kara began to tease.
‘What do you mean? I am genuinely happy for her.’ I replied sounding a little unsure myself.
‘Sure, sure. And I own a yacht in the Bahamas. I mean your younger sister is getting married and you do not even have a man. Your mum and aunts are going to have a field day with this.’ Kara burst out into laughter.
Well, Kara was on a roll. She was not just breaking my confidence, she was stamping on it and bashing it with a hammer.
‘Let’s just go and have lunch, Bahamas billionaire,’ I told her as I started walking out of the office.
Kara was right though. My excitement at the news died down. I mean I was happy for her. She is, after all, my little sister. But the news just served to remind me that I was single at 32. I couldn’t seem to find love and my little sister found it while helping out at a convent along with other volunteers to help raise money for a retreat. I mean come on! A convent?! Do not get me started on my mother and her army of inquisitive sisters.
‘By the way, Aunt Hilda and I met Kimani recently when we were buying groceries. Do you remember that sweet boy who used to be your friend when you were young? He is not so young anymore and he is doing really well for himself,’ my mother would start.
‘Na hakai vibaya (He does not look bad),’ my aunt would pitch in,’ Si he gave you his number Mama Lulu. You should…….’ At that point, my mind would wander off just to avoid what followed.
Now that my sister was getting married, those statements would only get worse. But why did I care what they thought? I had a great job, a great house, a nice car and a budding side business. I mean who needs a man right? Right?
That was the mindset I intended to go to the engagement party with. I was not going to let anyone bring me down. Not my mother, not my aunties. I was proud of where I was in life and nothing was going to make me think otherwise. The stars were on my side. The day went on well, no unwanted remarks about my spinster life were being dished out. We ate, made merry and heard the engagement story a couple of hundred times. It was actually a really romantic surprise if I should say so myself. At around 10 in the night, my grandmother armed with her glass of wine walked up towards me and invited me to sit with her.
Grandmother Maggie was on the younger side. She was the last born in the family of my father’s mother. She liked to dress up, put on makeup and even go out once in a while. She did not have any children so she loved to spoil us rotten even in our older years. We called her ‘auntie-shosho Maggie. She was a young spirit. She had never asked me about my relationship escapades so I did not think much of her wanting to talk.
‘Lulu, what are your future plans?’ she said in a rather serious tone.
‘To advance in my career, grow my business and live life to the fullest’ I replied oblivious to where the conversation was headed.
‘How about a family?’
‘Well, I would love to have one in future. I am just taking time to find the right partner.’
‘Have you thought about freezing your eggs?’ she asked.
‘Grandma!’ I was puzzled, ‘I am only 32!’
‘Yes, you are. However, time passes by really fast. Technology has given you opportunities that some of us did not get. You do not want to take your time then realize that you cannot conceive. Take it from me, a childless life can get lonely.’ She concluded.
‘You are right in some aspect,’ I replied not really having much to say.
‘When it comes to finding a man, it is okay to take your time. However, do not let go or ignore potential men because they do not fit your idea of an ideal man,’ she said, ‘but no matter what happens, we love you all the same. She then smiled, stood and proceeded to walk away.
And just like that, the armour and shield I had walked in with that afternoon fell off. I mean she did make some valid points. I really did want a family and maybe my standards, when it came to men, were a little high. Maybe I was not accommodating to…
My thought process was cut short by a tall dark shadow that almost toppled my wine glass.
‘I am so sorry, I did not mean to…I was just coming over to say hi,’ the tall figure fumbled his words.
Oh no, no no no! This was too coincidental. I am suddenly thinking through my relationship life choices and then this man literally almost falls on my lap? No! I refuse to be that cliché in the movie.
‘Umm. Hi,’ I replied seeming uninterested.
‘I did not realize your glass of wine meant that much to you,’ he pushed on.
‘Huh?’ I honestly was not following the conversation. I just wanted him to move along.
‘It seems almost toppling it has angered you,’ he clarified seeing my complete confusion.
‘Oh, he is trying to be funny. I would have probably smiled if I was not trying to ignore him so much,’ I thought to myself.
‘I am Muiruri. A friend of the future groom,’ he continued unperturbed by my very noticeable lack of interest.
‘I am Lulu. Sister to the future bride,’ I said finally giving in. Playing hard to get was clearly a skill I needed to master.
What followed was a surprisingly interesting conversation. He was the kind of guy you could spend hours debating about worldly issues with. He was funny- I liked funny. At the end of the night when he asked for my number, I did not hesitate. He was after all just a friend. I was still hell-bent on avoiding the movie cliché where you meet men at weddings and engagement parties.
The following week, he asked me out on a coffee date after work. I accepted the offer and yet again we talked until darkness set in. There was no denying it, I enjoyed Muiruri’s company. So just like that, I became the movie cliché. That date quickly turned into another and another. On one of our late night drinking dates at a club, he asked that we sit in the smoking zone. I did not think much of it, I just thought he wanted to sit out in the open. Halfway through our date, he popped out a pack of cigarettes, pulled one out and lit it.
‘You smoke?’ I asked a little puzzled.
‘Yeah. Occasionally really. Does it bother you?’
‘Not really. Go ahead,’ I said lying through my teeth. I detested smoking and everything to do with it. The smell sometimes made me feel nauseated. But I was not going to be the buzzkill tonight. Not when we were having this much fun. A little smoke would not hurt.
At this point, I figured it was time I shared the news of the new man in my life with Kara.
‘So what does he do? How old is he? Do you like him?’ Kara had a million questions just as predicted.
‘Haha. He is a 35-year-old financial analyst and I really like him. Our conversations flow perfectly. It is really easy to talk to him. But…’
‘Come on Lulu, there is always a but with you. Can’t you just enjoy spending time with a guy without picking out every mistake he has?’
‘He smokes. You know how I feel about that.’ I finally finished my sentence.
‘So what if he smokes? You do not have to be there as he does it. Do you honestly want to stop seeing the first guy you have liked in ages because he smokes? It is just smoking!’ a clearly frustrated Kara replied.
Well, Kara had not been one for giving solid advice in the past but maybe she had a point. Grandmother’s words of wisdom about the futility of searching for a perfect man also echoed in my mind. So it was settled. My body was just going to adjust to the smoke.
Muiruri and I were clocking six months into our very young but budding relationship. Truth be told I wanted to rub my new relationship in all the naysayers’ faces but six months was barely anything to brag about. Looking back, I am glad I did not. Muiruri began being distant. Our dates were dominated by rainchecks due to last-minute work-related issues. The calls and text messages also reduced in number. I did not want to overthink it. It was probably what Kara called the ‘post-honeymoon period’. The period after you and your significant other have peaked in the early stages of your relationship and things start to normalize.
But it only got worse. He barely returned my calls and when he did, he seemed disinterested and in a hurry to hang up. The bar was lowering quite fast but I decided to be patient with him. You know men, he was probably going through a hard time and did not want to share it with me for now. Besides, he had just opened up his personal business. One Friday night after not hearing from him for over a week, he called. I was elated at seeing his caller ID.
‘Hi! How are you holding up? I am sorry I have not been returning your calls. It is just work that is distracting me,’ he started.
‘I’m doing good. I get you are flooded with work but a text telling me you are fine wouldn’t cost you a thing,’
‘Noted. I was wondering if you would do me a favour. I am in a tight spot right now. Can you loan me Kshs 10,000? It is for business. I will refund it to you by the end of the week.
‘Yeah sure. Let me see what I can do,’ Normally I would have been very vocal to find out what someone intended to do with that money or basically have an idea but I did not want to ask too many questions. I just wanted him to see that I was supportive no matter what he was going through.
However, two weeks later when he asked me to send him more money having not refunded me the previous amount, I got a little inquisitive. That did not go down well with him. He claimed that even though I was loaning him the money I had no right to snoop around his business. Honestly speaking, this was new territory for me. It was not in my nature to just hand over money without knowing why I was handing it out. However, I did not want to overreact. So I approached Kara and she had the same advice, he was probably just having a rough month. So again I stuck by him. He even agreed to sleepover. Things seemed like they were back to normal.
After that weekend, he went back to his usual ways- quiet and unresponsive to my texts. At the end of the month, he asked me for more money. Now I was a little angry. He only came to me when he needed me? Where was he taking the money I was loaning him? What did he need it for? My train of questions caused us to have the biggest argument me and him had ever had. Words like ‘controlling’ and ‘unsupportive’ were thrown around. However, the last statement he uttered in a fit of rage got to me.
‘Men have little patience for women your age who are not accommodating to certain things. Otherwise, who will marry you?’
Needless to say, that was one of our last conversations. The other conversations that followed were pretty much different versions of the same argument until we decided to call it quits. Just like any other relationship, I was sad it was over. I sobbed myself to sleep a little.
The truth is, I do not know what caused the sudden change with Muiruri or what the money was for. He probably just got bored, who knows. Many things could have caused him to change as he did. However, at the end of the day, once the tears had cleared, I realized how quickly I was willing to settle for a man who cared very little about me just so I could claim I had a man on my arm. I was willing to conform and bend to his will just so I could say that I had a man.
I came to realize many women my age felt this way. The need to chase after the biological clock that you settle for any kind of a man just to shut our peers and relatives up – just so society does not label you a spinster. I get the allure, trust me, I do. It is easy to convince oneself to lower their standards or ignore red flags along the way just to hold on to your man but at what cost? Your happiness?
I am 37 years old now. I am well on my way to having my first baby with an amazing man I met a couple of years after Muiruri. I took my time with this one, I did not settle. He is not perfect, but he does not take me for granted. Take your time, do not rush but most importantly, do not let anyone rush you.
Single lady in Nairobi is a collection of real-life stories and opinions from different women. It looks at the current world of dating and the experiences that ladies have gone through. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Potentash.com.
Featured image via Chicagocrusader.com