“We need to talk” she said, just as I was fighting my left work boot off. I barely caught myself by leaning on the door. It was the kind of statement that could throw an adult male off balance...literally.
One glance at her and the ridges of horizontal frills forming on her pretty forehead told me that this wasn’t going to be the ‘abujubuju babe you’re the best’ kind of talk.
I turned my attention back to my boot -which seemed determined to test my intelligence. Luckily, the non compliant shoe was giving the priceless seconds I needed to hastily run through a mental recap of any potential ‘crime/s’ on my part to explain the unexpected hostility.
Nope. Her birthday is 6 months and 23 days away.
Nope. I definitely called back after missing her call earlier during the day.
Nope. I wasn’t seeing anyone else...or was I and didn’t even know it?
“Baba Jayden. Did you hear what I just said”
She just referred to me as Baba Jayden. This was bad...really really bad...the marriage counsellor needed kind of bad.
Then it hit me just as I was about to mumble out some incoherent response to buy myself some more time.
An accidental look at the calendar hanging just below the wall clock we had been gifted on our wedding day and my ‘crime’ flashed before my eyes. Blinding me.
“Ehe…” she knew it.
I had been so oblivious of my actions over the last few months or so, but it all came flooding back to me. Like a raging river. Determined to wash me clean. Determined to expose my big secret.
This explains all the hostility...I thought to myself.
Looking at it from her point of view at that very moment, I knew my goose was cooked...roasted to ash.
“How could you do this to me? To us?”
“Did you honestly think I wouldn’t find out?”
The hard-hitting questions were coming at me faster than I could think.
“Ha ha ha really! A million babes can’t get you out of this one,” she blurted out before my attempted response had even left my fast-drying lips.
Her sarcastic laugh pierced through the living room of our 2 bedroom apartment like a hot knife through butter.
“Let me expla-”
“What’s her name? Explain that,”
“Wait... What? Who?”
“Who? Who? Are you an owl?”
“The name of whoever you spent 4 million on juzi!”
Dear reader, I think it’s important to explain why I began laughing hysterically at this point.
First of all, the owl reference floored me as it reminded me of a movie I really like.
Secondly - and more importantly, the 4 million reference finally made things clear. I now knew why my better half wanted my head on platter.
If you’ve ever been in a relationship...specifically for us guys, I think you’d understand why I decided to milk this particular situation for all it was worth.
Let me start by taking you back to the ‘Juzi’ my pretty Mwikali had just mentioned.
To celebrate our 10-year anniversary, I had decided to surprise her with a house.
2020 was the toughest year of our lives. Mwikali single-handedly kept us afloat.
Who would have known that her decision to quit her full-time gig at a 4-star restaurant in town back in June 2019, would end up us our saving grace a year later.
We took out a salary loan at Co-op Bank since I was still bringing in the big bucks back then.
The funds were directed towards Mwikali’s food truck and the rest is history.
2020 was her year.
On my end, 2020 was just 300 or so days of tarmacking across this concrete jungle called Nairobi as my employers were forced to close down at the end of March.
Anyway….back to ‘Juzi’.
I finally landed my dream job at the end of 2020, and as fate would have it, I also happened upon the perfect anniversary gift.
A dreamy house in the hilly outskirts of Thika town.
The good rapport at Coop Bank made it pretty simple for me to secure the Ksh4 million salary loan that Mwikali was going crazy about.
I needed it for her gift.
So, on the Juzi in question I remember walking into the open house, the eartherial scent of pine trees hit me like a tonne of bricks.
Swaying to the gentle breeze in perfect harmony, the trees lined up the backyard in neat rows. Like sentinels.
I knew right there and then that this was our dream home.
That scent, that damn childhood-memories-inducing scent got to me.
“Are you ready to check out the master bedroom?”
The question caught me by surprise. For a split second, I was back in the hilly scapes of my youth in Timau.
At the end of every year, a sea of yellow hills stretched as far as my 4-year-old eyes could see. Filling up our entire backyard.
After every kilometre or so, a wall of gigantic cypress trees broke the sea of yellow in neat rows.
From the bedroom window of our cosy little farmhouse, the blossoming bright yellow plants looked like a spongy football field designed by really smart aliens.
I remember waking up just before sunrise to witness a magical event that only took place in our backyard.
Just as the sun kissed the tip of the huge yellow hill in the east, a million tiny black birds (could have been just a hundred but 4-year-old me saw a million).
Anyway, the swarm of a million birds embarked on this enchanting sort of dance, with the sea of yellow flowers transformed into a picturesque dancefloor.
Just as one bird hovered millimetres from a flower’s edge, its needle-sized beak plunged deep into the dancefloor, another was taking flight.
Now take that and scale it to a million and what you got was a bouncy dance like no other.
My parents may have been farmhands at the huge estate, but we lacked for nothing, and had a lot of magical mornings to spare.
As fate would have it, I was now working as a scientist at a local factory that specialized in the production of Canola oil – just a fancy type of vegetable cooking oil.
This particular type of vegetable oil is derived from Rapeseed...Yep, the very same bright-yellow flowery plant that colored my entire childhood.
“Are you okay?” the puzzled lady whispered in genuine concern.
“Yes, yes” I muttered.
“Let’s check out the bedroom,”
A slight shake of the head was all I got as she ushered me through the marble-floored hallway that led to the master bedroom.
“You know what, I’ll take it. I’ve seen all I need to see,” I blurted out.
“I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she sees this place”.
Flash forward to two days later and there I was... Fighting my left boot after walking into an ambush at our 2 bedroom apartment.