Margaret Jane was feeling very lonely. She wanted to die rather than live in this cruel, heartless, unlucky world. Both her female and male friends had rejected her. Every man she had dated had abandoned her. It was true she had gone overboard. Once she had dated a man for one week, she would ask them to marry her. Her married friends were cold to her since she had asked their husbands to marry her as a second or third wife . Men gossiped as much as women and word had gone round. She had become the laughing stock of Nairobi City, with men teasing each other with the words, “will you marry me?” and laughing loudly wherever she passed. They kept telling her they would get back to her after the proposal. But she never heard from them again. Most of their phones were either switched off or diverted to a woman, laughing cheekily at the other end. Friends and family no longer invited her for functions. Her visits to Pastor Ogjibani prayers at Nyayo Stadium had not yielded any fruits. She was frustrated to a point of no return. What did a man want?
What did they want her to do? She wished they could fit into her shoes to know how she felt. At 50, an MBA degree holder and a financial analyst with a leading bank in the country, she had reached the peak of her career. Yet her posh huge home in Gigiri, her Imprezza, her DSTv and every luxurious item in her home had not filled the yearning in her heart. To have a man to love and to hold. She had met Dan Mara, a young pilot with an international airline while attending a world conferences in the Netherlands. He had shown an interest in her, raising her hopes for a big wedding. The relationship had gone well that week and he had promised to buy her an aeroplane. Dan Mara had promised to come to Kenya in one month. They would take the new found relationship to the next level.
She looked at her four German Shepherd dogs and six Persian cats playing lovingly around her. She had bought them rather expensively and their meals cost her upto Kshs150,000 a month. But this was nothing compared to the Kshs 1.5 million she earned every month.
Initially she had loved her pets and talked to them daily, took them for a walk and ensured they visited the Veterinary Clinic next to the UN offices regularly. But none of her boyfriends had loved her pets and one had complained that she loved one of her cat Doughnut more than she loved him. Doughnut seemed jealous of her boyfriends and would sit on her laps, everytime she had a male guest. Margaret Jane walked around her huge quiet house, desolate. She went into her shoe room and stared at her 200 pairs of shoes. She often went to the shoe room and tried one pair of shoe after the other. It excited her. But today not even trying her new pair of high heels she had bought in the Netherlands brought her any joy. Netherlands had sad memories. She had lost her chance to get a husband at the Schippol Airport. Dan Mara had seen her off to the Departures Lounge and kissed her goodbye, promising to be with her in Kenya after a month. But after the kiss, she raised her voice at Dan Mara and asked him, “will you marry me?” “What?” Dan Mara had stopped dead in his track, surprised at this sudden proposal. “We have only known each other for a week. It would be inappropriate at this point.” Margaret Jane knew she was behaving badly, but something seemed to drive her on. She insisted, her voice getting louder. “Haven’t you heard of love at first sight?” She taunted him. “Why do you need time? Marry me now. Marry me!” Her desperate high pitched voice seemed to attract other passengers who milled around. He had suddenly turned and walked away, never turning back.
Two months had passed since her trip from the Netherlands and not a word from Dan Mara. It was as if he had changed his telephone lines. She had made several inquiries through various agents at the KLM and Kenya Airways offices but no one seemed to have even heard the name. Dan Mara, she had loved him very much, even if she had known him for only one week. Why had he refused to marry her? When Doughnut walked into the room and rubbed herself against her feet, Margaret Jane kicked her so hard that she mewed loudly in a terrified, surprised voice and ran out. After a few minutes, her cat donut was back in the room. She looked at Dan Mara sadly then rubbed her feet against her mistress. Feeling guilty and unfair to the cat, Margaret Jane picked the cat, stroked it lovingly and told Doughnut,” marry me, pussy cat. Humans don’t love me. Marry me!” “Meow.” Doughnut replied, snugging closer to her new ‘husband’ Margaret Jane.
When love comes knocking, it is often so sweet, so gentle, so yummy, like chocolate or candy, so super-duper-turvy but somewhere along the way something happens. Just somwewhere out of the blues, the smell, the colour, the taste of love suddenly changes, like a wind that has lost direction or affection, like unexpected rains that come without a warning; sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
It all started with an innocent smile. Whoever thought that a small tiny sideways smile could turn into something so huge? Whoever thought that years later her love would follow him to the grave?
He had died loving, not loving her as she had hoped or expected but he had died, loving another woman. To make matters worse, he had died in the arms of another woman as she waited for him to come home for dinner.
That day, he had called from work telling her he would be home early. “Do not sleep before I get home, he commanded, “I have something important to discuss with you!”
They had not been on good terms of late. They had had frequent quarrels over his love mannerisms, his bad phone manners of always switching off his phone when she most needed him. Calls kept coming in when they were in bed and he would run to receive them in the bathroom. On one on occasion, at midnight, she had tiptoed after him to eavesdrop on his conversation. The sounds were not clear and she was forced to lie on the cold floor and place her ear next to the lower part of door. That was when she heard him say, “darling, don’t worry about her. My wife is harsh but that will not stop me from meeting you tomorrow. If she asks me about you, I will beat her up, send her back to her parents and demand my dowry back. I can even use the same dowry to marry you!” He said chuckling.
That was the day he had beaten her so badly she had thought she would die. By bad luck, he had suddenly walked out of the bathroom and found her sneaking up on him. Without even getting time to get up from the floor, he had stepped on her face several times as if he was killing a snake. “You stupid spy, why are you following me everywhere? Do you want to control me?” He shouted at her as he kicked and rained on her with slaps. He had then packed her things and thrown her out of the house.
She did not go to hospital. They would make her sign some P3 forms and charge him in court with sexual violence. She did not want him jailed. She still loved him so much. She did not want to involve her two young children, so happy with the world, with school. It would have been so fair to disrupt their lives. Thay adored their father and always spoke of him as if he were some super man.
She was still nursing her injuries at her sister’s house in the neighbourhood a week later when he came for her, so remorseful and gentle. Her sister had advised her not to go back to him or pay him any attention and she had sworn that she was through with him. He held her in his arms and apologised profusely as he looked gently into her eyes.
“I am so sorry,” he said as he kissed her and wiped a tear from his face.”I deeply love you. I don’t know what happens to me sometimes, what makes me so stupid. Forgive me for everything. You are the most important thing in my life. I cannot live without you.”
She had melted in his arms, accepted the apology like a good loving wife and sneaked back to their home without informing her sister.
But soon history repeated itself as it very often does and her husband started spending the night out again. So when he had called and said he was coming home early for dinner, she had felt a little excited. When was the last time he had eaten at home? She could not remember. She prepared his favourite dish of chicken stew in boiled potatoes and a huge ugali. She would serve him all the parts he loved; head neck, legs, intestines and his most favourite “Adhiambo S”. She then rushed and changed into an attractive yellow dress and put on some soft Lingala music by Franco. She was psyched for an evening of great romance.
But it was never to be. She sat up with the food until midnight, when the dreadful call came. It was a policeman from Central Police Station asking her to go and identify the body at Chiromo Mortuary. “Madam, are you the wife of Johnson Makutano? He was killed by a Commercial Sex Worker from Koinange Street after he refused to pay her his dues. He died in her arms at a Lodging down River Road. I am sorry!”