Can you fight with some love, please?

We fight, I fight, Jesus! I curse! we almost want to stab each other at some point. We hate those we love the most because we love them that much. However there are things, a many that we forget. Fights in relationships are inevitable. Fights, they say are healthy, in fact, the more you fight, the more you understand each other. The more you fight, the better you get when you make up! I am struggling to keep the thought off the next thing that rhythmically comes to mind…the more you fight, the better you get at it! Oh my, that’s evil! This is however not how we feel in that instance when a fight starts. Its systematic, often kicks off with a stupid word or grunt that we usually regret to have said later…that one cotton-picking word that just sets the whole place ablaze. (Forgive me, I got some rub-off from my favourite writer) From what I know and have seen in the news , with my neighbours and with my husband, it always starts with a bad mood followed by a wistful feeling to quarrel.

Mr. and Mrs. Dog

This is how it starts with us, and exactly how it started at my neighbours’ despite frantic efforts to talk in low tones. I contemplated singing a loud misplaced song, one kind of zilizopendwa that they like playing so loudly on weekends making us unwillingly nod rhythmically to the tunes even when our minds want out of the tunes. couple-fightmy intention would probably be in an effort to make them realize that whatever it is may not really be worth it. Still, I remembered how that wistful feeling must pass before any reasonable thoughts are reached. So I listened. “Woman, did you just call me a dog? Me; your husband? A dog?” the man sluggishly spoke. Clearly he had had enough to make his tongue heavy. Wow, that was wrong, I thought. She didn’t feel wrong though, “ You come in here all drunk at this time of the night and won’t let me sleep! Yet I will leave you here snoring like a train with a broken engine in the morning!” Ouch! I thought. She wasn’t making this any better. The guy, drunk and sloppy seemed to struggle to get his balance, which he lost anyway and hit something, that went sprawling to the floor. “You called me what?” he muttered clearly struggling to focus on the latter insult. He would deal with the train one later.

Socks and matchboxes

The dog punched his wife somewhere near her mouth, as the next words that came out of her were, “Oh, what’s wrong with you?” But they sounded more like Oh! hats hang ith yu! A struggle ensued and the dog proved himself stronger than Mrs. Dog who eventually conformed into begging him to calm down so they don’t let the neighbours hear them. We heard from the part where you called him a dog! I was tempted to say, instead I checked to make sure al my girls, Viv, included were not party to my eavesdropping. As I did so, I couldn’t help but think of all the tiny things that have made Justin and I fight almost to hell and back; As a smoker, he would steal my matchboxes, use them and place them in places he would not remember later(in his pocket, on the TV counter, in his other pocket or on my dresser). He still throws his socks and misses the laundry basket… and sometimes even when he cant tell me a juicy story with all the juice in it I cause fire, but a dog? No, I would never call him that.

Appreciate your Mom everyday

Mothers around the world celebrated their day a few weeks back. Like Valentine’s Day many only wait for this day, on cue to appreciate their mothers. Someone openly posted on his timeline, “Motherhood is struggling to bring up an idiot who sees fire and wants to touch it, breaks glasses and wants to eat the resulting mess, pour milk then cry of hunger, you know the type who would wash a smart phone and mix sugar with flour? Yeah, those types. We all have been those idiots and our mums never gave up…they still never would give up. …” Eman, thanks for openly calling us all idiots… The messages are beautiful and endless;I joined the bandwagon and sent a few texts to my mother and my mom in-law. The former called later to complain that she never got as much as a text from me (Old age must be sited in her living room). Even so, I didn’t feel like I had done much in that text she never received. Being so far away from them, Mothers day was like a day that you would want to just pass: like Boxing Day, or mid- term. So, making my mothers feel special would involve a lot more than just a plain text message.

Vitenges and Sombrero

I would need to take her shopping (all women love shopping) get her a nice kitenge or Batik fabric, depending on what she styles in, show her the new buildings in town, hold her hand when crossing the road, buy her jewelry to match her latest fashion, like statement earrings for my mom in-law (something she could wear every day and anywhere) or a sombrero for my mom…she really enjoys big events of late. We’d chow popcorn as we walk into a park, enjoying the sight of Nairobi residents rush their lives away. We drop off small bits of corn along the grass, Hansel and Gretel style) and find us a city council bench and slump in it like we all did when we were in high school kicking off manners and letting our backs slouch. We would gossip a lot about the men in our lives, (and shoes) even though these men could be my father or…and her son. The convos would entail bits and pieces of these… ‘Men should learn to appreciate hardworking women.’ ‘Men Change…you can never pin a man down’ ‘Always have separate bank account, ‘Yes Ma’am’ I love any shoe with a red sole,’ ‘Marie Claire is good’ ‘they don’t have red soles’ ‘Almost all men in the 19th century have children out of wedlock’ ‘No, Mom. Not my dad…’

We would walk, bask, touch, laugh and cry. If the sun burns our foreheads too much, we would put elegance back on like huge coats, and pick up lady-like manners where we had dropped them. If it still soothes then we would gossip some more. We would pop into a classy restaurant for a meal. Order something we can’t whip up at home and remind each other how this world and the men in our lives expect so much from us…we would laugh so hard at life’s pleasantries, and wipe tears off at the sad memoirs. We would encourage each other to keep going and then hold hands some more. “You look just like I did when I was young,” Mom would say and I would respond to how I am not worried about how I will look in my sixties. “You are too beautiful, many will fail at guessing your age” I would respond. She would go again that its life’s tough situations that make her how she is, and that she accepts her age and her time. I would hold her hand and without a care in the world add that I want to be just like her, if tough situations made her the great person she is, that let them come. An assuring smile would seal that convo off. ………………Unfortunately all I could manage was a plain text message.

A stranger who belongs

It felt as though someone we would easily regard to as a friend of a friend’s friend had died. Someone we knew but never quite interracted with. For someone like our house help who hardly spoke a word, it was very easy to forget her very existence. We would mourn as quietly as her character is and move on as quickly as we can. Just before this would happen I had to make sure my family was doing OK. If I was not on call with my husband, I was text chatting with him. I do not remember a time I have ever been so happy to have him off work. He was that gasp of fresh air. He survived the full day at home with Pesh and Raine and by surviving I mean forest- like surviving. If he didn’t trip on himself as he did it then it beats sanity off me. The dishes from their lunch were all over the kitchen counter, scrumbling for space amidst those they had used for breakfast. Used baby bottles lay all over the house, and so did Pesh’s sweaters and T-shirts that she kept changing without her father’s notice.
I walked into the house, too exhausted already and placed my bag on the little space I could save on the couch. With quick hellos to everyone, even the sleepy baby Raine, I grabbed the apron and started clearing the dish mountain Justin had built. I placed Pesh’s bathing water to boil as I went along, pulling in all my mutitasking skills together. The dishes were almost done when I noticed a fliker on my phone. Vivianne had not called me by one as I had instructed and I had decided against looking for her. The number calling was strange and disconnected before I could read the whole of it. Someone beeping…; that could only have been one person; the one person who was probably using another phone to let me know she was looking for me. I called back. I always do to get the annoying beeper off my dial zone.

Good cop, bad cop
“Are you home?” it was Vivianne’s faint voice. I responded positively and she went on to ask if Pesh’s dad had changed his mind on her coming back. That pleasantly surprised me. I wore a big smug on my face and felt like a whale that just spotted a fat swimmer’s behind. So she actually wanted to come back! She knew we were all on the verge of kicking her out but she still wanted to come. Funny how one can decide to walk through burning flames. Beats the Jesus out of me! I asked her to come. Justin played bad cop and me, the good one. We planned on our words and even our intro. We practised to Pesh’s confusion and knew how we were meant to react. By the time she walked through the door, we were set at the right spots wearing glum yet serious looks…and when she came, we were prepared to have her pack her bags and leave. At the same time, we were ready to keep her if she stood to herself. We had to be tough; if we were to let her back in. For whatever reason, all Viv did was cry and insist that she was not ready to get married. Pesh sat there wailing with every tear that vivianne let off. She wanted us to stop talking that way to her; she wanted us to stop pointing fingers; she wanted us to speak in a language she would understand well. We didn’t change language but we stopped the argument and let Vivianne back in. However, a challenge rested on our shoulders…this was just a sign to get ready for her final exit.

My House help’s dramatic escapedes

The day I had for so long been dreading finally came. I wasn’t prepared. No one really is and the most we can do is make do with the situation you find yourself. I left work at four as usual and almost literary ran home to my baby… and Pesh and her daddy. OK, who am I kidding? I only run home to baby Raine. The rest can always wait. I got home to find she had just fallen asleep and Vivianne was taking a bath. Instinctively, and without a break to rest I put on my apron and started cleaning the day’s dishes. I try hard to minimize the number of chores Vivianne forgoes during the day in an effort to keep her sanity and mine on a high. Soon, she was out of their room looking fab and fresh. I smiled and thought to myself that she most certainly had a date. She wore a dress I had gifted her just recently. This dress meant a lot to me: I bought it after my very first temporary job and wore it when I was crowned 1st runners up in a modeling contest back in college. It was one of those items I held on to until the beginning of this year when I made a resolution to move past my past attire-‘ristically’.

How it all started

She left claiming to want to fix her broken phone and I did not hesitate to say OK as I knew she had other plans besides that. Meanwhile I took advantage of the sleeping baby to clean some clothes and prepare dinner. Three hours later, at around 8pm, something made me want to check to see if Viviane’s belongings were home. Everything was intact especially her latest new clothes and her phone charger. It didn’t look like she was going away for even a day, but only a phone call would confirm that. I called three times before she finally picked the phone. Her voice was broken and she sounded like a man. “Hi mom,” She started, “Viv?” I probed. “No, my name is Collins and I would like to talk to you”, was the reply. Thoroughly infuriated, I told Collins that if I wanted to speak with him I would have dialed his number and immediately asked to speak with the owner of the phone. Vivianne came on the line sounding submissive like Collins was her colonizing husband. She claimed this man wanted to speak with me despite her frantic efforts to stop him.

boy girl
“He wants me to sleep over…and be his wife” Oh wait, I didn’t get that right. Was this boy asking me boldly to have sexual relations with my house help? Why not just have it and let us move on with life? I was exasperated. Vivianne had two things to do, sleep over his place and live there for ever or come back home immediately where I planned to send her back to her parents. I though Collins might as well make that trip to fetch his soon to be bride from the right people. My mind raced, thinking how disappointed I was that Vivianne could build such a great rapport over four years only to crash it down in just a few hours. I felt let down and knew it would take time to heal. She chose not to sleep home and I was left to organize the children with my husband. Would Justin let me go to work and stay home with both our children or would he be like most men and ask me to stay home?
Night stand of sleep-over?

The night was sombre sad and half empty. OK, make that a quarter empty, or even better yet, with just one empty slot. There is nothing like getting used to someone who doesn’t belong. The space Viv left felt large, ugly and empty. Like an open wound that was better off left open. We all hated it especially since she had left unexpectedly. Pesh was confused and kept asking where Vivianne was. She went to bed that night still doubting our elusive responses. It was on a Tuesday night; right in the middle of the week. What a day she picked to mess me up. I hang on to the last memory I had of her, leaving with a lame excuse to go repair her phone yet her made up face , hair and dressing perfectly placed her on the laps of a loved one… a male loved one. I shook my head hard to get rid of that last thought. It was enough that I had spoken to that scumbag. A good for nothing idiot that had no concern for the time of his actions; funny how a man can totally bamboozle a woman and yank her out of a great opportunity only to land squarely on poverty and the outcomes that come with it. I was not a happy woman.

The following day, I woke up to my husband’s assurance that all would be well. “On second thought, I could just report to work and come right back,” I offered and all he did was shake his head. “Just go. I will let you know if I don’t manage.” was his calm response. I left with my head looking behind my shoulder as if waiting for him to call me back. I thought he was joking, but I realized he wasn’t when I disappeared round one corner and the house was completely out of sight. I immediately pulled my phone out and stared at it, still in disbelief that he would let me go to work. He didn’t call, he sent a text message. ‘I am back in bed. Both girls asleep, breakfast ready in wait’ I smiled and settled in my heart. Something told me he would be just fine and I believed that ‘thing’.

That same thing made me want to call Viv just as I boarded a bus. It was as though she was chanting at her phone and casting a spell on it, hoping I call her. Since her phone was completely ruined, unless she borrowed a handset, all hope was lost. It rang. I had given in to the urge. “Did you sleep well?” I asked and she responded positively. I asked if she was hurt and she said no, then I turned cold. “Pesh’s daddy doesn’t want you home.” She went silent, making me check if the call had dropped. “’are you there?” I probed and she asked again what I had said about Pesh’s dad. That seemed to have touched some part of her. Hmm, she still has some respect. That’s impressive. I thought and went on to hand over the ultimatum. She had up until noon to tell me what she had decided to do with her life; come back or move in with her boyfriend. I hang up, squirmed in my seat to get my comfort spot and continued to read from the page I had left the previous evening.

To My Precious Girls with Love

Just the other day, as it seems, I held you in my arms for the first time. The doctor showed you to me to confirm that you were my precious little Raine and not Oden as I would have named my son. Forget about Xenia…if it were really you haunting my dreams back then just know I was not ready then and I wouldn’t want to be reminded of that past now. I was happy to meet you. Weighing barely 2.9 kilos you looked so tiny and helpless yet peaceful and contended with where God placed you, in my arms. I loved you from the very moment I knew you were growing in me; I loved you more when I met you. You are beautiful, even when you cry, you tiny mouth curls up in a very cute pout and sometimes I forget you are crying because you look so stunning!
I need to leave
Time flies, my love. I cannot believe I am telling you this already, but I have to go back to work. You may not understand it now, but I actually signed up for this the moment I decided to become a working mom. I needed to help your father, that’s what good wives do; they act as the neck to the head. Oh my, this you will also not understand now. I write this as I also plan myself for my first week at work. I can tell you for sure that I am not looking forward to this at all. i had changed my schedule to fit into yours, my life was all about you, your sister Pesh, your daddy and our house. I hardly moved away from home just so I could give my children the best of my time. I hope I have given you a great welcome these last three months. I hope you do not forget me, hun. That is one of my biggest fears. See, I was with your sister for about eight months when I had her and leaving her was pretty bearable as she was a lot older than you are now. She was weaned and…Oh dear, it still wasn’t easy leaving her behind. I guess I’m just being a normal mom here. Simply put, I am not used to leaving any of my children at any one point in my life; it’s devastating.
p & R
You are my world
Pesh, I had a great time bonding with you, helping you with your homework each day and well, fighting with you to eat, clean up after yourself and sleep. You may have made me want to run up the wall but in the end, I would not barter this experience for anything in this world. I may start taking you to school next term, I hope I manage to juggle all these and still remain you and Raine’s super mom. I love both of you with every bit of me and even if you see less of me, I still love you to bits. One day when you grow up, you will understand that I am doing this for you; for a better life for you my girls and our family. I can’t believe its time already.

…and the moment we have all been waiting for…

I went straight for the bathroom only to notice I still had my handbag with me. I called Pesh and sent her with it to my bedroom. The naughty girl followed me back into the bathroom and tried to get a good peep before I quickly whisked her away. I had my small tins hidden away in the locker so I pulled one out and filled it. That was easy; I needed to pee every thirty minutes anyway! I put in the stick one at a time, laying them neatly on a piece of napkin when done. My heart throbbed…real fast as I imagined what I would feel if it were positive…or negative.
I had stopped thinking about it. Ever since I got my BFN (Big fat negative) the last time, I was in no pressure at all. I let it go and as I promised you, let it remain God’s will. I never tried again, I promise though I kept track of my usual body changes.
I sat on the toilet bowl and gave the first six test kits a full ten minutes.I know I only needed 5 but something naughty in my head thought it would be funny if they tested and all dried out! I was curious of the test results, yet not sure I was ready for them. Have you ever felt so happy yet scared at the same time? What if I wasted so much money on twelve kits and got more BFNs? I would block the toilet flashing them all in! I thought angrily. Justin came to the bathroom door, obviously concerned. I could hear Pesh’s tiny footsteps trotting along. “Are you ok in there?” he startled me and I immediately jumped and stood casting the dizzy spell on myself again. “Yeah” I struggled to reply. “Just testing for pregnancy in here” he was silent for a moment. “Would you like some help?” Of course he wouldn’t miss it for the world. “No, I just need to read the sticks now” I responded calmly as I turned round, eyes closed. Sorry, I was in no hurry to confirm it just yet. “…and? Would you like me to help you read the tests?” Justin probed. “Mommy, you have a bad tummy?” Pesh too seemed concerned.
“I am coming in a bit, please take Pesh away so I don’t die of tension” I requested as I opened my eyes…and they popped really wide at what I saw before me. “All six test kits are spoilt!” I whispered to myself. They each had two bright red strips on them…they all read bright and fat positives on them.. ‘How could I not see this coming; how on earth did you sneak in you little punkin’. I poked my tummy and bent to glimpse at it. ‘How long have you been there? Oh dear, I am going to be a mom to another? I can’t do it!’ I panicked as memories of my first pregnancy flashed before me. It was hard telling my parents the great news and even harder when it was time to push the creature out. I remembered I hadn’t told Justin yet. I grabbed the kits and sneaked quickly into the bedroom. Justin and Pesh both came running in moments later.
“What’s with you and Pesh stalking me everywhere I go” I complained, struggling not to smile. “Of course you know why,” he replied “You are acting unusual so we all want to know what’s up.” I pulled out one kit and handed it over to him. He smiled excitedly and clapped his hands to which Pesh imitated and celebrated. “You are pregnant?” He asked now looking straight at me, “A little” I answered coyly and accepted the group hug that followed. It dawned on me that I could not take it back; it was done. I remembered the words of a nurse who warned me when I confirmed my pregnancy with Pesh, three years ago. “It is now up to you to take good care of that baby; that is God’s responsibility to you. Never question your ability to be a good mother. You will be the best you can be when the time comes.” I remember it took a whole month of denial when every morning and every night I would unfold the piece of paper that had my test results. I would read the word positive over and over taking it all in before I folded and hid it back in my drawer.
This time round, it was different. It was not the first time anymore. My fears and concerns were not the same; I wondered when we would be buying that car we always wanted…because we now really needed it. Two kids would easily drain me and the more I thought about it, the more it scared me. I looked at Pesh and even as she smiled back the fear of impending motherhood…more motherhood dawned on me.

That moment when you feel so mortal…

The night was sombre, cold and weary; dark with the clouds swaying so low you could literary smell their thickness in the air. The rainy season was fast approaching and as usual my family and I kept warm from the chill. Meanwhile, Vivian, (I would like to change her name to Presley- I risk getting caught! Remember the name changing episode I told you about?), worked herself off in the kitchen frying, stirring and making sure to fully own the kitchen space. She wore her favorite apron that she would simply tie round her waist and still show off her girlie top. Pesh was warmly dressed as she took to the floor racing her plastic chair like she would a car; from the kitchen and straight to the end of the living room. We happen to have an open kitchen plan that at some point we regret especially when particular foods are prepared. Pesh raced on, driving us mad as we struggled to watch the prime time news amidst all the noise.

It was on a Thursday and the menu read rice and beef stew. All seemed well till I heard a knock on the door and immediately stood up to get it. I felt a pang of dizziness that sent me back into my seat, leaving me both confused and terrified at the same time. Justin’s attention was with me and Pesh loudly voiced, “Mom! What is it?” Presley got the door. It was no one worth rushing for; the monthly security was due. Justin sorted it out and came back to sit next to me although I felt better already. Pesh went on playing and occasionally ran up to peer into my face and make sure I was alright.
The following morning, I went to work at my usual time; however I felt unusually hungry. I could not hold it any longer so I stopped by a supermarket in town and bought me some queen cakes. I carried them in my bag and took my second bus to work. I constantly kept having the urge to pull one out; something I was not used to doing especially if it was meant to go down with some hot beverage at my office desk… this was getting interesting… I let my hunger rule and quickly pulled one cake out. Without a care in the world, I munched it up systematically pulling out another and taking it all in three huge bites. I surprised myself when I felt OK and full enough to get to work before I could eat again.

I seemed OK at work; except the part where I forgot it was time to send out monthly invoices for our clients. My boss sent me a reminder; not too pleased that for the past two years I have always been on time, and then suddenly it didn’t seem as important anymore. I apologized remorsefully and went ahead to send an invoice that read 0.00 in a neat PDF document. It read paid in my records and I only realized this grave mistake, four hours into the day. Just when I found out I had made a mistake and began rectifying it, the telephone line by my desk rang. The extension number that read on the screen was enough to get my heart on a marathon race and I had this dying urge to ignore it and pretend I was in the bathroom. Unfortunately, I happen to be a bad pretender. I picked the handset up and answered it meekly. His booming voice on the other end wasn’t helping much as I quickly explained that I had just dispatched the correct hard copy (which I still held in my trembling hands. He sounded like he was trying hard to understand me; for some reason, he seemed to comprehend me better than I did myself. I was creeping myself out.

By midday I was already ravenous and surprisingly, I didn’t fancy any food. I held my hunger two more hours and by the time our lunch lady came in, I was so hungry, I never thought fasting could happen while still on a heavy meal. I felt disgusted by my own saliva and the food could not go down. “It must be the hunger” I thought it’s that feeling one gets when they starve too long and suddenly have a heavy meal. My tummy could not hold it so I rushed into the bathroom and it all came out. Scared and confused, I opted to have fruit salad till my body got normal. The salad went down well despite the metal taste in my mouth and every time it landed inside I felt a sense of reassurance. That evening, I went home peacefully and all seemed well till I got off the bus in my hunger surge, I went straight into butchery and bought a large chunk of mutura gobbling it all with a lot of chilli. This was getting too much. I picked up a dozen pregnancy test kits from a chemist nearby and slowly trotted home.