Regina Gichunge

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This is how I lose him

This is how I lose you; I wake up and sluggishly reach for my phone to check the time. Time is half past six on Labour day 2015. I am allowed to sleep to my fill but I have this body clock that doesn’t have a snooze option.
I stretch, curse my indifferent body clock and try to go back to sleep in vain. I surrender to my inability to summon sleep like Jay who’s snoring softly on the other side of the bed. I reach for my phone once again, this time I prop myself with the pillow more comfortably so that I can pick up on my read, Hossein Khaled’s ‘And the mountains echoed’. I pity the author a little for having the ability to summon such tragedy and share it so effortlessly. Along the way I decide to check on the interwebs , so I turn the mobile data on. WhatsApp messages hit the top of the screen and then pile up under notifications willing to be opened and read. I scan through the list for an interesting one; a message with your name on it, a joke, a meme or something to make my day brighter. There isn’t either of these so I ignore all the others.
I logon to other social sites not knowing this would be what would create a rift between us, a rift so big, it makes the one in the valley pale in comparison.
When I get to the site we both share, my heart drops to the stomach. I blink and wish your pictures and captions away but the damage has been done, rather the error has been corrected.
It’s funny we should break up on social media considering our first conversation was over a phone. I had a tiny Motorola whose backlight was a sickening shade of blue, you had a Nokia 110. I thought there was something macho about the way you smashed snake xenzia scores. When I said I did not know how to play you offered your phone and lessons. While I played on your phone you liked to rub the top of my Motorola and joke it resembled a roll-on bottle. I thought you represented the little chivalry left on the surface of the earth. Your sense of humor was the icing on the cake.
This was years ago back in the village, soon after we had completed high school. We met at the village primary school prize giving day. The women in charge of catering fussed with our seats and ensured they were placed side by side. They went ahead and placed so many bottles of soda in front of us causing the kids to turn green with envy. We talked through the ceremony. We represented so many things to the congregation. To the parents we were what their answered prayers would look like, to the kids we were the dream to the rest of the people we embodied ‘cool’. That’s the day you showed me how to play snake Xenzia on your phone and that’s the day we came to be.
Being the village standard of hard work, and success it was little wonder when we were approached to start tuition classes. The request was to help the kids in mathematics and sciences; we aced these in KCSE so it was difficult to say no. Seeing as we were equals we alternated in tutoring the kids. We were like that couple in ‘The river and the source’ by Grace Ogot; the two doctors who only dated because they competed to be top of their class.
Our definition of life and love was different. We custom made it to fit us. We had clear cut goals and dreams, we would not accept a middle ground or a grey area. Our world was painted in definite hues. The future lay before us untouched only for us to lose.
We shared dreams of grandeur; you wanted to own a Suzuki I longed for a sleek land rover, you wanted to run your own company, I wanted to build an empire. Like they say opposites attract and we did.
Ours was not the conventional relationship, we said we would be different, we would not tow the line. We would be rebels. And rebels we were; opting to pursue electrical engineering while there wasn’t so much as a rumor of electricity ever running in our homes. We spent countless hours visiting the market three kilometers away just to watch KPLC staff work. We shared our campus rooms and decided we would be civil about it; we would wait till we put a ring on it.
We went on coffee, lunch and brunch dates. We waited till 11.59 on the 31st of each end year so we would wish each other a happy new year. You introduced me to your friends with a coy smile that I misread as an indication of better things to come. I defended you to my friends when they told me I was wasting my time with you. We fought when we had to, apologized and moved on.
We loved implicitly, you said it was too pedestrian to paint the color of our love for the world to see. There were days we questioned us but you always assured us nothing would ever tear us a part, I believed you until today when I lose all my senses because of the pictures.
A picture is worth a thousand words, you posted an album I take a minute to take it all in. Here you are kissing this girl on the forehead with both of your eyes shut. She’s half a foot shorter than you are which implies picture perfection. The friend in me wants to call you and say ‘looking good my friend!’ But the disillusioned lover in me screams and wants to tear you part from that kiss and ask ‘but you said we would never come apart?’
She has a dark flawless skin which must be your definition of beauty, if I recall right you had a crush on Lupita or was it Ajuma?. This girl has her eyes shut; while she’s with you she feels safe. Deep down I know you wouldn’t have told me i wasn’t the girl you saw in your dreams.
I was functional, not necessarily a trophy you would want to put on a pedestal for the world to sing praises to. In a weird way I understand that, I could never be that girl who touches you with their index finger and then produces that hissing sound because you are hot.
Instead I carried your books in my backpack to a construction site so when we went to study. I sat with you in the library all weekend studying for a continuous assessment test, one that that was worth ten marks. I went with you to Bata miniprice on River road to buy rubbers because we thought they were cool. I would never measure up to this girl that you see in your dreams, day dreams even.
To blame you alone would be childish. I knew all those times you said you didn’t want to go anywhere with me that you didn’t want you weren’t lying. When you helped me move you did it out of the brotherly sense of responsibility. When you slept on my bed, and smiled in your sleep I prayed you would be dreaming about us as I was certain you weren’t. Yet I stayed.
I was naïve and hopelessly ignorant of the systems of the world. I thought relationships run like mathematical formulae, that you wouldn’t lie because that was not the way to get the right answer. I trusted your word, completely ignoring the fact you were human and thus fallible. I gave you the benefit of the doubt and forgot to expect the same of you. To blame you would be a lie.
Still my heart thumps in my chest with gusto at the sight of you. Maybe by design or a fault these pictures lift a burden off my shoulders, a burden I didn’t know I bore. It’s scary not to have my faulty description of love but I will live. The thought of explaining to my friends the pictures sends chills down my spine. I don’t have to explain anything to anyone but I have believed dogma that I owe the world an explanation for far too long it’s scary to be normal.
Jay stirs a little in his sleep, it’s possibly this white glaring light. Phone backlight has this way of sneaking me unpleasant surprises so I switch the phone off. I can’t run the risk of ruining the one thing I know to do well; babysitting my nephew Jay while his mum works the night shift.

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