the first of August and it’s my birthday.
I was led to believe that being born on the first of any month made you feel as
if you had a silver spoon in your mouth. But, why do I feel as though I was born
on the first of April? And yet I am smiling. Why, you ask? C’mon man! We had
sex. I and my partner did, and boy was it mad. Ours always is, and it’s never
planned, just happens after we’ve had an argument, which is a lot of times, and
the funny part is, my partner always wins, always!
Like yesterday? It all started with my partner coming in late, as usual, quarter
past midnight, and when I brought out the food, she started complaining that the
food is cold (Sometimes she says that she’s not hungry in her made up European
accent though we all know that she comes from the slopes of mount Kenya,
somewhere in the Nithi district). I then asked her why she’s late and she said
that it was none of my business, as usual, and I told her that I am worried
because I care for her, that I don’t like her coming in late and went on to
explain to her that I love her and that’s where the quarrelling started. She
started yelling, asking me what do I know about love and then she pounced on me,
pinning me up against the wall and started chocking me, and tried to deep-kiss
me and I resisted her. Why, again you ask? Her hot breath was a mixture of
tobacco and malted barley, and then, her talons were still on my neck. Tell me,
how is a man to enjoy this simple _expression of love in such a compromising
situation? And mind you, all this while the bitch was screaming her lungs out as
if she was the one being attacked!
I was flung onto the leathered couch. She then got on top of me and as they say
the rest is history. Truth is, I don’t think I can take it no more.
Darn! I can feel a strange wetness bruising my cheek now. Is that a tear? It is
indeed a tear! Double darn. My dad—may the lord rest his soul in eternal peace–
must now be turning inside his grave. He’d always give us a thrashing whenever
he saw us crying, for he always said that crying should be left to the womenfolk
and babies, and not men, most of all not for 25 year olds like me.
I raise my left hand, which is holding the cream taffeta cloth, close to my
beady eyes and then I remember that it’s supposed to wipe the forks and knives
and cups and plates which are lying lifeless on the water filled silver sink in
front of me and not the chocolate-brown toned, and the somewhat chubby cheeked
features that make up my face. This must be how my mum felt whenever dad hit
her, so dejected, and now the tables have turned and it’s me who’s repaying for
my dad’s sins.
I move towards the kitchen windows and pull aside the blinds. The blue sky
remains silent yet shows some signs of sadness, maybe in reflection to my heart,
while from behind the tall, oak wood trees, the sun peaks brightly, ready to
start a new day.
The rays are free. So are the birds which are singing gently by my window as if
they want me to join in their fun. The fowls too are clucking with happiness and
pecking away on the kales which are growing on the small shamba right outside
our kitchen window. My God, even the dog is happy. I can see it leaping up to
the gardener and trying to lick his face. Why not me? Why can’t I be happy?
Today I’ll be gone. I’ll be free of her. I’ll be free to roam the streets.
Two years ago I and a friend of mine, Father Agostino Tonnuchi —an Italian
missionary— had walked through the ‘Monte Carlo’ clubs’ double doors and into a
room lighted with Pink and blue neon spotlights which were lined on the ceiling
perimeter, and had later settled ourselves on one of the round tables and chairs
under the ceiling fan which had been whirring furiously against the day’s heat.
This was a day after I had been thrown out of the monastery by the Father in
charge after he had found me masturbating in the confession booth.
Well, they say that everyone should fall in love at least once a year, or more
accurately put , ‘tumble into an infatuation’ which they say is healthy in that
it clears the blood vessels and makes the blood flow with ease, that it also
clears the skin and makes the hair grow. I don’t know how true that is but I
must admit it has a ring of truth to it ‘cause that’s how I felt when I saw her
5' 8" frame leaning at the bar counter with her ample butt jutting out. She had
long, flowing hair —which I later came to realize was a weave—, olive skin and
had the figure that always stayed in the gym. My blood had raced and my hair
had stood on edge, and as for my skin, I don’t know if it was glowing. Maybe
that’s what had made her notice me ‘cause no sooner had we finished our first
bottle, the waiter had come with our second round –though we had not ordered for
it—and handed us a slip of paper in which was written, “I am dressed in red and
I am standing at the counter and I want to speak to you”, in a secretarial
After debating with my friend about who the request might be meant for we had
settled on me and I had moved closer to her. It was indeed me she wanted. You’ll
have to understand the state I was in, especially once you had looked at her
hazel eyes; they were large and in-charge, and every time I had looked into them
I had felt like I had fallen in love a thousand times over.
That night we had ended up in a motel room situated just above this pub. As soon
as we had passed through its door I discovered she was even more sex starved
than I. She wrestled me to the bed and got on top of me and every time I tried
to bring her under me she was always resisting it. —When we were in school we
used to talk about girls and stuff and one was about a girl’s behavior whenever
you are having sex. That if a girl always wanted to be on top whenever you were
in the act, it meant that she’s the demanding type. But, I had always dismissed
it as mere bullshit but now it all seemed a realistic, credible bullshit.
By the time we were through, rather, she was through with me; she rolled off me
and slept snoring.
At first I dismissed this first night’s experience as an urgent need on her
side, but the more they became frequent the more I felt my ego being bruised.
I now hold my still aching throat. Yester night she had come home
with a man whom she’d told me was her boss and that they had been out
celebrating the winning of a case against another firm, but I could smell
masculine cologne other than her normal “Channel” perfume. Plus, I had seen them
kissing goodnight in a provocative manner under the moonlit sky. I had switched
on the light at the front porch to let them know that I was awake, and when I
later confronted her about it she had started accusing me of being a peeping
Tom. Imagine that! Honestly, isn’t a person supposed to know what lands in his
I now slap the sink using the cloth and I stare out the window. I can see the
pink dressed young girl through her window; now that’s another reason why I
wanna leave this bitch. I mean, that gal is fly, makes my heart give out sparks
like wild fire, especially whenever I see her all dressed up in her see-through
nighty, and everyday I have to watch her through her netted curtains undressing
and I think, I must whisper my sweet nothings to her ears one of this days, that
is if the security guy at the gates will disobey the orders of my forty five
year old partner and allow me to go out.
Ten o’clock and am done with the dishes. Soon she’ll be home for lunch.
I can hear the phone ringing in the living room. Must be her. Do I ignore it? To
be honest, I don’t have many friends … honest. Where do I get to see them while
I am always locked up? And, I have never given out this number to anyone, ever.
So it must be her.
The phone rings again and I switch on the quiescent monitor, which is mounted on
the wall and I stare at it without blinking, wishing it would stop. As if to
spite me, the shrill sound goes on and on. I groan at it and before the damn
thing can ring once more, I reach for the receiver. The sooner I find out who is
so determined to disturb me, the sooner I will return to my grief.
“What are you doing now?” It’s my partner. And I can hear some background
noises. She must be in a pub or something.
“Ati what? Can’t hear you.” She interrupts me. “I am coming home for lunch, do
prepare something nice for me darling.” She croons at the word ‘darling’ and
then laughs and the phone goes dead.
I curl my hand into a tight fist. “Who does she think she is? Who!?” I rumble
and bang at the table. She must not find me here. But where do I go? I have no
money of my own and where we live at is a far off place. Still I must go.
I climb the stairway and end up in front of a white door –our bedroom. I push at
it and it opens with a resounding echo that seems to fill the house.
To my left is a white-tiled bathroom, little more but a sink, a shower and a
toilet, separated from the rest of the room by about six feet of solid white
wall which seems to be there only for static reasons, and that’s where I’ll make
my first steps towards freedom —by having a shower.
After showering I move over to our enormous bed, boy will it become too big for
her come tonight. But she called me ‘darling’, maybe she’s coming to reconcile.
I cringe at the thought.
I dry myself and move over to the two short sofas and I reach from underneath
them and take out a small blue briefcase which houses my clothes. On top of it
is my name written in white, a briefcase which has been with me since my school
days, my only true possession.
Two hours later and I can hear a car driving up, and it would be an
understatement to say that I have my doubts if that’s her car. I rush towards
the living room. If it is indeed true that the bloke whom she says is her boss
will be with her, then I’ll have to react. I’ll cause so much chaos that the
watchman will just have to leave the gate open for me to leave.
Though peeping was what had started the fight last night, I must admit that I am
far too curious not to peep. This is my partner we are talking about, and so I
move over to the window.
The first thing I note about the bloke when they come out of the car is his
youthfulness. He’s putting on tight fitting, black, jeans trousers and a white
shirt which is starched, almost shining and fits tight into his barn of a frame,
he is a little taller than me, and his head is shaven bald. He sees my face
framed on the front porch’s window and stares at me like I were a ghost.
I am a bit intimidated as their footsteps tap closer and closer and I can feel
my stomach muscles tighten. My whole body is shaking with rage and I place my
Sweat chilled palms onto the brown Formica that’s on top of the small table
where the phone is, which is near the door and my palm prints remain on the
surface. I must remain calm. I try to distribute my weight between both my feet
which are now planted firmly onto the rich, white cashmere rug on the floor.
There is a slight push at the door and in they wiggle across the room and
towards me, her velvety, light brown, long flowing dress with a low neckline
rustling against her skin. Her hands are clasped tight on her friend’s hairy
arms and I can sense her nervousness too as her lips jerk into a stiff smile and
she says, “I’d like to introduce you to my chef,” while pointing at me but the
bloke doesn’t offer his hand.
I stare hard at them between my slit eyes and I feel a muscle in my jaw tick.
Imagine! Me, a chef?
“And this here is… O…ti… Oti, right?” she adds, rubbing his sinewy hand and the
fool nods his head in agreement.
“Oti … Oti … I love the sound of your name… ” She calls his name over and over
with a drunken but sexy voice as they walk away from me and head towards the
dining room, and I begin to feel bile filling my nerves.
I remain immobile for a while and soon I hear her voice call. “Mugambi! Where’s
the food? We haven’t got all day you know?” And she laughs that laconic laugh of
She later clears her throat as I bring in the food and orders, “Sit!” and I
She removes a cigarette and a lighter from her purse and lights it.
“What did you do today?” She asks after a short draw on it and then looks around
the room as if seeing it for the first time. “Did you clean the windows, and the
Before I can answer she continues. “Oh! Do remember to dust the cobwebs off all
the corners of this house, and under the stairway, sawa?”
Always the obedient puppy, I nod in agreement. It seems the safe thing to do
right now. And obviously the right thing, too, for she leans back and stares at
the smoke painting lazy circles into the air and nods her head in content. “And
don’t forget to put out the garbage.”
I nod again and before I can begin serving the food, the bloke’s hand is already
on the serving spoon and one cannot fail to understand why he’s so big.
“Enough of the orders dear…” His baritone voice now says. “…Lets concentrate on
the food first and then you can show me around the house.” Then nudges her hand
and she laughs and pauses to put out her cigarette in the small metal ashtray
lying lifeless on the table and then points towards her plate. I stop serving
mine and I attend to hers.
“How long have you been working for Agneta?” The bloke asks.
My anger has been swelling up from my chest since they entered this house,
threatening to choke me with bitterness and now at least I have been given an
opportunity to open my mouth. I stare hard at the home wrecker that is Oti and
my partner, who are seated across me and I think, okay, let’s play on.
“From June 2003 I have been the loyal and faithful servant to Madame Miranda
Agneta Atieno. Isn’t that right Agneta? And oh, so loyal I have been. Isn’t that
right Agneta?” I bite out, wanting desperately to smash my fist into the sides
of both their heads but I restrain myself. This bloke might squash me.
She grins and says, “That’s right,” as if reading my thoughts.
He nudges her shoulder using his left arm and says. “So she must be so good to
you then mmhh?” then lets out a short, bellowing, laugh.
“Yep, so good that in fact I can’t take it no more.” I say and stand up.
Anita stands up too and glares at me, then scratches her head, and twirls at her
long ‘hair’ then breathes in and out a few times, sighs and says, “Is it… is it…
because of the… pay? I will double it… no problems… now sit down … and eat...”
And she points towards a seat but I don’t and instead stare at them like a
madman. Oti now leans forward so that his head is over the rising steam from the
stew and he munches away at the meat balls and the mashed potatoes and the salad
without speaking. Bury your head in the sand fool, just like the overgrown
ostrich that you are, I scorn inwardly.
My jaws are tight as I take off my apron, and I flash my eyes at her then the
words erupt from my mouth, more like a hiss. “Many a months I have been a loyal
servant to you, a partner—” And I note her face distort but I continue. “—And
what have you been? A she devil, demanding, impatient, loud, and all round
unpleasant. If it’s not arguing about this; must be about that, if not about the
food being too cold, must be about the spices being not enough, or them being
too much. When did you ever prepare a proper cooked meal? All you ever did was
to make all our lives a living hell. Not the gardener, not me… a living hell.
And oh no! We wouldn’t want to ruin your reputation, now, would we? You, an
astounding lawyer, an influential lady, all bullshit! And dammit, telling the
truth! I loved you despite your pretences.”
The bloke is through with his meal and he now stands up, towering above me, but
remains speechless and I get that sinking feeling again, half expecting him to
smash me, but he doesn’t.
Fool. How can he be so calm while everything else is crumbling? He must be a pro
at his break-ups job.
I step away from the table. “God, how I admired you before, you self-worshipping
bitch. Now I don’t.” I conclude and begin to move towards the stairs.
“And I am going too.” The man announces and now all this seems to bring the pot
to the boil.
Agneta stands up and yells. “What! Because of him? Let him leave. He’s nothing
to me anyway…” but already the man is on his way to the door.
Her last words make me pause and I turn towards her. “I am nothing … RIGHT!?” I
bark, and I raise my hands as if to hit her –I know that’s what she’s waiting
for, since she flinches but doesn’t shield her face.
Though she has destroyed my last hopes of Love, and I feel like murdering her, I
still can’t raise my hands to her, I had promised my late mum never to hit a
lady, and I won’t, so I whisper, “I am nothing… thanks for reminding me.” And
then turn round and begin to walk up the stairway.
She follows me. “Where are you going? Not to my bedroom I hope.” Her voice is
raised but I still walk on.
She later pauses at the top of the stairs and looks down, as if still undecided
on whether to follow Oti or me. Soon we hear the gates being opened and Oti’s
car driving off.
She speaks now. “You are not leaving me too … are you?” her voice soft.
She’s got the nerves this woman, I think. How can she ask that when she can see
that I am already holding my briefcase? I don’t know what I’m gonna do after
this, where I’m gonna go, but right now, the door would be a good option, so I
look at her for the last time and march past her, avoiding her outstretched
“Go! Leave! All men are the same. GO! Coward!” she hisses behind me, full of
hatred. “What man can stand up to fair competition from a woman? Leave! Of what
use are you anyway? I work in town; you work at home — if that is all you are
complaining about—where is the big deal in it? Go! You ungrateful little bitch
of a man!” —I flinch at this and pause near an armchair and place my bag on top
of it. Should I react?
She then moves over to the bed. “My whole life I had been a servant to my poor
excuse of a husband! For eight… e-i-g-h-t years I had been his slave. And just
because he was paying for my college education he’d always thought that he could
enslave me—” A sob escapes her. “—I was always there for him… and how did he
ever thank me? Nothing! And wanna know what he left me with? A son, and a
goddamn spitting image of him! All men are cowards. You too can leave. I’ll
manage!” And she turns away from me, her hands on her eyes.
Her voice is now a feint echo of, “LEAVE…” behind me and I pause. Should I
console her? But I must leave. It’s now or never.
Soon as I’m out of the room and just as my left foot has landed on the first
stair I hear something whiz past me and it later bursts in front of me, down at
the stair’s landing. A mess of reds and greens and whites and browns now litters
I let go of my briefcase in shock and it clatters on its way down. Before I can
turn round I get a heavy shove on my back and soon the impact at the foot of the
stairs is hard as my head bumps into the broken flower vase which, a while ago,
would have scattered my brains.
A sticky warmth of blood is soaking into my shirt now. I can’t move. I try again
but this time a dark veil of darkness sets into my world and the last thing I
hear is her screaming, “Help! Help! He wants to kill me!” in a shrill voice.