As my workmate narrated her relationship ordeal all I could think was if pathological liar had a face, it would definitely be his. My workmate, let’s call her Aggie, was fresh from high school. It was back then when one had to wait a year before joining public university under government sponsorship. She was smart and as she waited to join uni, she enrolled for an accounts course at a college in town. She also loved reading and occasionally when her pocket allowed her to have lunch somewhere else besides a fast food, she would carry her book with her. This is how they met.
She was having lunch at a restaurant in town reading her book when he came to sit at the same table. He was an avid reader too and a lover of literature.
“Hmmh, a Jeffrey Archer fan too?” He asked.
“After Kane and Abel I don’t pass on any of his books.”
“Kane or Abel?” He asked Aggie curiously.
“Definitely Kane,” she answered with so much vigour. Here was a stranger who spoke her language. This first encounter was like a script from a Mills & Boon romance novel. Theirs was instant chemistry. They started hanging out and got closer. As he told his stories three people stood out, his brother who was dating a Tasha and his cousin Njeri whom they were very close.
Four weeks into their interactions, it was clear that they would be in each other’s lives for a while. The man dropped a bombshell.
“My dear, it seems like this is going somewhere and I need you to sign this NDA because I work for the NIS.”
Shock and thrill engulfed her in equal measure. When they first started chatting, he had said he was a business person and even showed her his office. Never would she have guessed that her now boyfriend lived an even more interesting life as an intelligence officer. The NDA contained all her details and he made sure to explain that she could not disclose this to anyone. She also couldn’t question him if he wasn’t reachable because the explanation would probably involve classified information. She wouldn’t want to get involved in matters of national security now, would she?
Like the patriot she was, she gave her boyfriend space to perform his duties to the nation. Several times, in the evening, he was unreachable but he had given her prior explanation for this occurrence. He was also a busy businessman so he couldn’t stay up all night chatting like an idle lover so ‘getting to bed early’ was also not unusual. She didn’t complain about it since she also needed time to read, accounting required the extra time.
For months on, they were happy, travelling across the country. Sometimes it was work-related and she would meet his business associates. He was always very proud to introduce her to his acquaintances. Other times they would travel for fun. He especially loved the Coast. He also loved taking photos of her using his phone. In any case, he had the camera phone between them. When Nairobi pickpockets happen to you severally nobody can treat buying phones like a utility, so a feature phone (kabambe) was her communication gadget. Severally she asked him to email her the photos but who remembers to email such things?
He was a chatty person and very eloquent. Often he spoke about his brother and Tasha. So much so that they had gotten into the habit of analysing his brother’s relationship problems every so often. She was quite mature for her age so he kept teasing her about being a wise old lady because she would offer solid advice. Aggie was empathetic of the ‘future brother-in-law’ and she only wanted Tasha and him to be as happy as they were. Njeri, his cousin also came up a lot in conversation. She would probably be doing something that he didn’t like or behaving in a certain way in her relationship. Like the power tag team they were, they would also find solutions for Njeri.
Dating an older guy at that age alienated her a lot from her friends because they were dating college guys. The dynamics were different. The NDA also demanded her discretion so she said very little about this boyfriend. She would have long phone calls during the day in between her breaks. She would drop by his office for lunch a couple of times in the week. They were happy, in sync and were even those couples who gifted each other books. Aggie’s friends could not understand this kind of love but they were happy for her. She had that glow one gets when they are loved right or so they say.
A year later after that first meeting, they were still holding hands and sending each other poetry. Their anniversary was coming up which also coincided with his birthday. Aggie was planning a double celebration weekend. She had scoured the internet at several cyber cafes in town for almost two weeks for ideas. Finally, she had settled for a surprise dinner at his place and a personalized gift. Scented candles at Nakumatt Lifestyle during its glory days were part of the plan and she would source roses for the petals at City Market. She had done Home science in school and knitted a scarf for him because it was way cheaper than buying a new one. It was the least she could do for him for being the perfect boyfriend all year long.
She had learned the art of discretion pretty well since it was part of this relationship package. He didn’t suspect anything and on his birthday, she woke early enough to pen down a heartfelt message. Later in the day, she would rush to the cyber café to put it up on his Facebook wall. The alliteration was perfect and the rhyme was just enough because they shared the opinion that rhyme was a lazy poetic feature. It would serve as a good preamble to the weekend that would be. The excitement fizzled out so fast once the first post she saw on his wall was from a Tasha Njeri, who called him sweetheart and had many XoXos at the end of the message.
She forgot to post her message and instead called him to ask whom that was. Because men are just those people, Aggie was convinced that she had overreacted and was ruining his birthday with jealousy fits. She cried and sobbed and texted asking for forgiveness but he was ‘too mad’ to respond. Determined to salvage his birthday, she decided to push the weekend’s plans earlier.
In the evening, she passed by all the vendors to get her supplies. Then she boarded a matatu to Fedha estate. Since when it rains it pours, the bus she was travelling in had a tyre burst a couple of minutes after leaving town. It was so scary and the loud sound elicited screams. She desperately wanted to text him but he was still not talking to her and she would ruin the surprise. They had to wait for another bus to come and ferry them for the rest of the journey. That was at 7:30 PM. It was 10 PM by the time the other bus arrived and the traffic jam on Jogoo road cleared up.
By now, it was clear she wouldn’t make it in time to make dinner so she decided to get his favourite drink instead. Aggie, her flowers, candles, scarf and drink climbed up the fleet of stairs all the way up to the fifth floor. (Fifth floor because of his privacy). Her eyes were still a bit red from all the repentant crying she had done. She knocked on the door and waited. The person who opened the door surprised her.
“Natafuta George.” (I am looking for George).
“George?” The man at the door asked.
“Yes, he lives here,” Aggie responded on the verge of tears. What was happening?
“Oh, George Maina? That’s my boy. Were you supposed to meet him here ‘cause he didn’t mention anything? Was there a party today? Come right in then.”
Her knees gave in and the stranger at the door caught her in time as she almost hit the ground. George had brought her to this house at least five times. Now it turned out it was a bachelor’s pad for him and his boys. There she was with her tokens of love and a shuttered heart at 11 PM stranded in what was now a stranger’s house.
The decision to sleep over until morning wasn’t so difficult since she could hardly see with all the crying she did. It would take several keshas and night vigils in church to stop crying once she also found out that Tasha and Njeri was the same person, his girlfriend. All along, they had been living together and that was the reason he didn’t communicate at night. To drive the dagger even deeper into her heart, she saw photos of this Tasha on Facebook at the same places that he had taken her for vacations.
George’s lies were well thought out down to every detail. For a whole year, she had not figured out anything. He had covered his bases just right and even picked her brain on how to handle his relationship with his girlfriend. He lied to her daily and in his wake left a broken heart, shattered confidence and a whole array of trust issues in the poor girl.
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