He sat on the matatu earphones plugged in. He could hear love. The song playing over and over.
🎵🎵When a good girl gone bad… 🎵🎵 Sauti Sol.
No song played on his phone though. The music was in his head. Voices. Confusion. Fear. Depression. All together in unison tormenting his once peaceful mind. He could not fathom how the world could be so cruel. How people could be so heartless. The more he wanted the thoughts away, the more they hit his head even harder.
He had been her solace in time of need. Her joy in times of sorrow. It was his shoulders she leaned on when she needed one. He could let her lean on it even when his burdens weighed on him. He would forget his for the time until she’d stood on her feet. And then he’d go back to where he left his. When she needed money, he had in most instances denied himself and lend it to her. Knowing too well she would never pay back. Love has a way of making you forget fast. Its why he never went back to claim for it. He forgot. It was love. He thought. When she couldn’t find a job, it was him who took her in. It was his money she used for application letters. His laptop and printers. His internet.
She stayed with him. She cooked the food he brought home. Slept in his bed. Lay on his chest all night long. Like a baby in its mother’s hands. Peaceful. Protected. With her there, he had the world in his hands. He had conquered it all. And when he made love to her, it was love all the way… He gave his all… She had to know she was queen and he the King.
So with the passion of a king for his kingdom and energy of a master on his slave, he made love to her. Nights on end. And each day, his love for her grew. With each thrust. Each heave. Every moan and scream. His love for her grew stronger. deeper. And he wanted her to himself. Him for her. Her for him. With her, nothing else mattered. He wanted to live with her. Here. Now. Forever. He wanted to officially make her his wife the soonest he could just so this kingdom could be sealed.
She loved him too… The way a toddler loves its mother. Like water to a fish, so was he to her. He was her air. Her life. She could not live without him. It’s him she missed every second he was out fending for her. She wanted to be with him. Linger around him. Play with his hair. His Masculinity all over her. His scent around made more sense than the food he brought in the evening. Feeling his presence was enough. Better than the money he gave for supper. She missed everything about him. Every bit. Every second that passed without him seemed like hours. Days even.
At such times, she found solace in reading his articles. When she was not reading, she was busy cooking for him. Her king. Ironing his clothes or washing them. She washed with such devotion you would think she was bathing him. She loved every bit of it. And when he came home, it was all merry. Joy filled her air. The happiness she could never describe. It was bliss for the both of them. And they wanted to sit together. Dine, dance. Laugh. Watch movies. Cuddle. Make love. Sleep. As long as they were together, Even silence was fun. He’d occasionally gift her chocolate. For loving him this much.
At times, they’d take a walk in the dark. Holding hands, playing with each other’s hair, tease each other. He loved the walks. They’d see people bring up mansions. He would open up about his dreams and ambitions. Of owning several such apartments and more. Land too. How he had a future. A bright one. It was only now he was struggling with finding a good job. He also had a thing for good vehicles. Subarus especially. BMWs and Mercedes-Benz too… He dreamt of ferrying his children to school in one of those.
Then one day, she found a job. How happy for her he was. This was God-sent. After ages of searching, the light had finally shone on her. And they thanked God. Unfortunately, it was far away from him. This was no problem though. She promised to visit every once in a while. Stay in touch. He knew she was going to keep her promise. He trusted her. The goodbye was a sad one. He carried her bag to the bus station. At the bus station, he waited until the Matatu filled up with passengers. They hugged. Kissed. The Matatu left minutes later. He now had his phone and her memories to keep them together. She had her phone too… And fond memories of their love.
His thoughts were cut by the tout who was standing next to him asking for his bus fare. He smiled curtly and gave him a hundred shillings note. As he waited for his 30 bob change, he noticed the couple seated in the seat just next to him. They were in their own world. Laughing. Loving. Cuddling and exchanging sweet nothings. He felt the taste of bile in his mouth at the memories. Bitter at what their love had become. Regret. Just a month and two weeks away from the day she left for work. The song rung on:
“…She’s a heart-breaker…”
He remembered how things had changed three weeks into her new job. She had told him that her job was demanding too much from her. That she could no longer text him as much as she used to. That she slept early due to fatigue following a long day’s work. He was sad. But he understood her. She was working in one of the biggest media firms in East and Central Africa. It must have been so demanding. He tried to survive along. Tried to communicate only when she was available. That was not okay with him. What could he do though?! Love is what that matters. The heart. He encouraged himself.
But love is a different kind of feeling. You can feel when it flies out of the window. You can feel the vacuum fill the room. The emptiness. The cold heart. The warmth in your conversation takes off and words freeze even before they are out of the mouth.
So the conversations became shorter with each passing day. His chats were answered in one-word texts. She never visited either. He remembered her stories during her first weeks of how her bosses were hitting on her. Could she have fallen for their vibe? He remembered how her tone had drastically changed in their conversation. She was no longer the sweet humble girl he once loved. She was a lioness… Words fierce than the barking of a headteacher to a pupil. Hotter than a furnace. She no longer chose her words carefully when speaking to him. She didn’t care no more. Her words sometimes felt like venom. Like a dragon spitting fire right onto his already bleeding heart. He ached from within. Yet, he couldn’t do a thing.
So he sat in that Matatu. He remembered the words he had once read by Philip the sheriff. He had once said something about good girls:
“A good girl isn’t found in a church, an isolated village or in places where you think people have good morals reside.
There are two kinds of “good” in a girl. The first is situational, where she appears good only because the devil has yet to tempt her. The second is tested, where he made his offering but she resisted. Sometimes when a man identifies a girl who has upstanding character or morals, what he actually found is a girl who has yet to be tossed into a world of sex, partying, money, or attention. Once that temptation occurs, or she is removed from a bubble that has kept her good, it’s nearly certain that she will dive head-first into the ocean of human depravity.
In that case, a truly good girl is one who has conquered all kinds of temptations thrown at her and remained sensible. She has been around people who are super spoiled but she is not super spoiled. She has been in environments and circumstances that could have influenced her badly but she remained focussed.
That’s a good girl.”
The truth of these words dawned hard on him. He knew what category his girl was especially with all the bosses and fellow badass employees she had told him about during her first weeks of work.
So in that Matatu he closed his eyes. In agony. Praying. Not for himself but for the couple across. For all the other beautiful relationships as such. His had died out. The embers had long gone out. Just hot ashes and smoke left. A sign for those coming behind. There used to be a burning flame here. A fire. A furnace even. Hotter than coal, sulphur and brimstone combined.
But one day, It died out. Killed by God knows what. He didn’t even get the chance to know what part he played in killing it. At least he thought the person he’d trusted the most with the flame had put it out. He hoped to keep the ashes hot. And the smoke too. To serve as a sign. A sign for his son and generations to come. That Love is a beautiful thing. Until one day the flame goes off.
Photo Credit: Devin Avery