It is 4 O’clock in the morning. One hour before my friends and I leave 1824. It is evident my friends do not want to leave from how occupied they seem. The two Nigerian guys they’ve been vibing with since we entered this club, also seem to reciprocate their feelings. This makes Jean and Kate reluctant to leave their hot seats. I’m at the corner seated on a couch, cautious not to lose sight of them. The smiles these two radiate don’t give me the assurance that they wouldn’t walk off with those men.
Beside me is a self declared celebrity who insists on getting my number because as he says, I am Queen Sheba who walked right out of his dreams. I just smile hoping that he will understand that as a cue to refill my glass.
“Do you want another drink?” he asks instinctively.
“Yes. Amarula please.” I respond.
Drink served, I know it’s time for him to claim returns on his gesture. With a swift mild sigh, he looks down at his glass. I can tell he is thinking about what he is going to say and I can already tell it will be a lie.
What comes next is a story of how he has been living in a loveless marriage for eight years and he just cannot wait to get out.
“Any kids?” I ask alarmed.
“Yes, two daughters.”
“Why are you staying? Don’t you love your wife, or doesn’t she love you?” I probe.
“Well, we grew out of love. She is one crazy and impossible woman and I just don’t think that I can tolerate her anymore.” He says.
“Why not get a d…?
He interrupts by saying that a divorce requires a lot of thought since they have a family. He just wants a short break before taking any definite action. After all, family is family, he says. Not that the saying makes any more sense to me than it does to him.
“Does your wife know that you’re considering this?” I continue at this point, paying extra attention to his reaction.
“Well, yes, she is cool with it.” He turns to look at his glass, now empty as he tries to hide his expression by refilling it. He darts a glance sideways following the subtle cheekiness on his smile with a question.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
I realize this is his way of evading my third degree and so I respond, “No.” With a smile, he looks at me sipping his drink claiming that I am lying and that he does not believe a woman like me could be single.
I take it as a compliment and after half an hour of listening to this guy’s lies, I look at the time noting that it’s almost 5 O’clock. I tell him I need to leave. Not one to give up, Jay asks for my number again, which prompts him to send Ksh 500 into my Mpesa account. This is an attempt to confirm if I am being truthful about my number. With a smile, I wave good-bye and I inform my friends that our ride waits outside.
I’m the odd one for being sober I notice. On the other hand, what a blessing it is that Jenifer, who drinks like a fish, can walk even though she can’t walk straight. We enter the cab and 45 minutes later, we are in town and the driver drops us at Moi Avenue. Jeny is very high. Kathy is better off. I just hope that that ride has earned her a little time to sober up for in less than a few minutes each of us will go on their separate ways.
The morning twilight and golden-yellow ambers dawning far beyond the tall buildings in town are now visible. It must be six o’clock from how the public transport vehicles are slowly increasing in town. This would be a safe time for walking and in a few minutes, Jenifer and Kathy will take their leave, and I’d be left on the road alone.
Walking fast, I walk towards Afya centre to get a matatu, which will take me home. I take out my phone at the sound of a beep and before I can read the whole message over the notification bar, someone pushes me from the back. A sudden chill washes over me. Simultaneously, my phone goes off and as I slide it into my bag, I feel the same presence ar the back of my neck. I sense the change in atmosphere, the smell of danger behind and a cold sweat breaks flowing along my spine.
Just before I can take to my heels, pain runs through my arm and in the speed of bolt, a figure not so much taller than Inspekta Mwala passes by knocking and sending me to the ground as he snatches my handbag. I feel the pain but how my mouth responds is by screaming, as I scan for passersby who would care and help me out.
“Ahhhhhhhhhh! Uuuuuwiiiiii mwizi! Mwizi! Shikeni uyo ameniibia! Ameiba simu na kibeti yangu! Mwizi! (Help! Help! Somebody catch that guy! Help! Help! Help!).
I get the attention of most who seem concerned but also torn whether they should help or head to their places of work. Ahead a woman looks at me then again at the person approaching her. Instantly, she notices it’s the guy I’m pointing at but he notices and evades her. He grasps the door of the nearest matatu and gets in.
As I run towards him in my desperation to get my bag back, the guy turns and stretches out his hand towards me.
“Mwizi! Ameiba simu yangu na…!” My next cry for help fades and I’m left stunned by what he blurts out.
“Huyu ni bibi yangu amelewa hajielewi. (This is my wife. She is drunk and just acting out to get back at me). The more I shout and deny what he is saying the more he emphasizes the lies with a sneering face that showed he had me.
“Babe ingia ukae.” (Come and sit). He says sarcastically letting out a small laugh to show the passengers looking at us of how close and crazy we are.
I’m all teary and my voice is shaking as I desperately try to convince the people around that I do not know the man. The matatu is about to leave and the tout is pressuring me to get off or settle in and sort out my domestic matters along the way.
I’m running out of options. I cannot alight because this is the only bus in town headed towards my place. Also, that would mean letting this shameless thief win.
“I do not know you. Call my phone then if I am your wife! Shout my name then if you know me!” I cry out.
For an instant people react and they seem puzzled.
“Yes! Yes!” I repeat, “What is my name and how come you’re not calling my phone if I’m someone you know?” I am praying fingers crossed that he does not realize my phone was off. From the crazy glare he gives, I can tell he does.
This also brings me to the realization that I do not have my ID, which I needed now more than ever to get back at this man who took me for a joke. How can I prove that he and I are not related?
I cannot shake the anxiety and anger that overwhelms me followed by despair. Deflecting, the man grabs my hand, expels me outside, signals the tout with a wink, then continues to push me in the midst of people until passengers in the bus we alighted from are left believing I am his wife. The tout responds by saying something the back of my head, closes the door and the bus departs.
I’m struggling to break away from his grip when I feel him let go as he threatens me, “Nifuate nikuonyeshe” (Follow me and you shall see what happens.) Overwhelmed by fear I refrain from chasing him and I’m left sinking in my abyss of untamed emotions in the midst of a busy town filled with people, hooting sounds from the vehicles around, touts calling out for passengers and worse, people staring at me. My focus remains fixated on the back of the short thief disappearing with my efforts, strength and above all an iPhone that had taken me close to a year to buy.
“Madam unaishia?” the voice brings me back from my stupor and as I follow the tout who seem puzzled as to why I’m shaking, he asks but I cannot explain. My throat is dry and shakenly I only manage to tell him that I had just been robbed and I needed to get to South B. He believes me and as I sit looking out the window the whole scenario plays out like a sick prank from a Home alone movie. ‘If only I had my ID, I could show it to people and he would have been caught. Then he did refuse to say my name, instead, he called me babe. What could I have done differently?’
As if to test my patience, I feel a hand on my shoulder, which makes me jerk when I realize it’s the good tout who notices my reaction and offers an apology. He looks kind and swiftly goes on to tell me how one day this scenario would be a story and eventually I will forget about it.
Well five years have gone by, yet I still remember the thief who claimed to be my husband. Unbelievable is the last message I read from my phone before he stole it.
MPESA REVERSAL. NCN0P7ULU1 confirmed… With no need to strain thinking about who had sent it, I just knew Jay, “the celebrity” had reversed his 500 shillings.
Oh what an eventful morning!