It was a beautiful morning, so beautiful she had to call in sick. Her boss already knew of her migraine problem, so getting away with this little white lie wasn’t the hardest of tasks. From where she lay, with Kinuthia’s sheets sparsely covering her body, she could tell she had slept well into the morning hours from how the sun’s rays lingered on the curtains. She felt new and weirdly alive, the kind of mood that compels you to go watch the sunrise while you drink a cup of anything hot, coffee preferably. Kinuthia on the other hand is an early bird, and going out for his morning run is his way of catching the worm, his way of always staying ahead. Running is also the one thing he has never convinced Sandra to do, her love for the sheets has always outweighed her love for the streets.
Although the sun was already out, the house was still too cold for skimpy dressing. She needed the fluffiest of Kinuthia’s hoodies and jumpers if she wanted to get out of bed at all. Sandra lazily stretches and kicks off the duvet before walking over to the wardrobe adjacent. Mindlessly, she rummages through the pile of clothes, not sure what she’s looking for but convinced it’s not on top of the pile. A sharp pain through her left middle finger forces her to recoil her arm.
Wincing, she stares at her awkwardly bent cosmetic nail, briefly sucks on it then digs right back into the clothes to fetch whatever tried to break her nail. It’s a box, a tiny box. The kind of boxes she sees on videos of people proposing or being proposed to. A cold wave of emotion floods her whole body. She quickly tucks the ring box back and hastily closes the drawer. She can feel herself tremble from the inside as her breathing increasingly becomes irregular. She wanders off to the kitchen, pours a glass of water and gulps it down. She stares at the glass for a second or two then pours herself more water.
“Haiya,umetoa sausages wapi?”
“Kwa kale kasupermarket kako pale chini, kabla upite ile butchery ya pork”
“Ooh, kumbe kakona freezer?”
“Aai, si umekadharau…niliona utatoka kukimbia ukiskia njaa so I thought you’d want me to make you breakfast,”
“Alaa, kwani uko na mpango gani? tangu jana usiku umekuwa ukichanganya mbaya!”
He laughs, walks into the kitchen in his drenched running gear and stands close to Sandra, his eyes on hers.
“Imagine nilikuwa nishaanza kukumiss,”
“Wacha nikaoge kwanza ndio unihug,”
“Unashtuka nini and it won’t be the first time you’re sweating on me,”
Kinuthia chuckles in her face as she wraps her arms around him.
“Na tumikono twako ni tubaridi, si uvae kitu ikona joto…nikuletee hoodie?”
“Acha kwanza nifry hizi sausages, inaeza splashiwa mafuta”
“Ooh… by the way, chunga usijichome basi,”
He leans forward, kisses her forehead then lightly smacks her behind before leaving for the bathroom.
It’s a few minutes past noon. Kinuthia has cleared most of his morning tasks and is now watching a movie with Sandra. They’re all snuggled up on his couch, patiently waiting in each other’s warmth for the day to age away.
“Nikuulize kitu weird?”
He stares at her suspiciously for a second.
“Mbona umeniangalia hivo? Ama wacha tu,sitaki useme nikona issues”
“Zii, saa nisikuangalie? Acha hizo, uliza tu,”
“Nisaidie na hio glass ya juice kwanza basi,”
She takes a few sips, stares at the TV for a while, and then continues, her eyes still on the TV.
“Do you really think I cheated on you?”
Kinuthia almost chokes on his tongue.
“Unajua I love you Kinuthia but if you don’t trust me hakuna kitu tunado hapa…”
“Kama ungekuwa mimi and you saw the same text niliona ungedo?”
She hands the glass of juice to Kinuthia and then leans in towards him.
“I get it baby,kabisa…ndio maana I didn’t react ata, cause I know hizo si vitu I should be texting with my boss… lakini si ata wewe you know how toxic these offices are? If I decide to be mean to him imagine naeza anza kuwa mistreated kwa ofisi…aanze kipendeleo… kidogo kidogo I’m not getting bonuses… ama sijui mshahara inachelewa…”
She kisses Kinuthia’s chin lightly and strokes his beard.
“It won’t happen again baby,”
Kinuthia sits up and places the glass in his hands on the table. His thoughts are racing but his mind feels blank. Sandra gently pulls him back towards her and makes him lay his head on her thighs.
“Also… what do you think about marriage?”
“What about it?”
“We unaiona aje? Is it something you’d want for yourself?”
“Uhm… I haven’t really thought about it lakini sidhani naimind, why are you asking?”
Sandra’s left hand is now skimming over Kinuthia’s grainy chest.
“Hivo tu, huoni tunazeeka wewe… mpaka most of our friends now are getting kids or married”
“Haha, si hio ni maisha yao, ama?”
“I knooow… but… wewe huget…okay, acha nirephrase swali…where do you see yourself in 3 years?”
“In 3 years?”
“Eeh…kwanza wewe utakuwa umehit 30”
“I should at least be self-employed, hii story ya kutegemea mshahara pekeake ni ngumu,”
“Na si you told me your dad’s dairy farm does well… you wouldn’t want to help him run it? Ama kwanza you want kujitafutia?”
“Ata si hivyo…bado mzae akona nguvu, acha asumbuane na mang’ombe zake for now, na si ati hana shamba boys wake hapo,”
“Oh, yea, makes sense… And kids?”
“ Sijafikiria that far bado,”
“Oh, personally nataka kusettle down … nimalize story ya kupata watoto in my twenties,”
“Wewe unataka kupata wangapi?”
“Isipite watatu… but at least wawili, wa kwanza kaboy alafu maybe kadem later,”
“You’ll make an amazing mother,”
“Aaaw, you think?”
“Eeh, bwana yako atakuwa na bahati,”
Sandra’s face contorts. She looks like she bit bread that tastes like moulding leather.
“Unajuaje haitakuwa wewe?”
“Things happen, how sure are you I’ll still be around in 3 years?”
“Si mtu husema God willing basi,”
“Okay, God willing, you’ll be the mother of my children in 3 years.”
“Umesema hivo because nimekuambia ama because you mean it,”
“Does it really matter, si bora nimesema,”
“Aai,kwani I speak for you, si wee uniambie unataka nini,”
“I already told you, self-employment,”
“Hiyo tu?? Umeanza kubore baby,”
“Acha nikuonyeshe nini ingine basi,”
Kinuthia pauses the movie none of them was watching then disappears into his bedroom.
“Umeenda wapi sasa?”
Silence. Sandra moves to the edge of the couch and pours herself more juice. She stands and walks over to the window to catch a glimpse of the outside world. The sun looks unapologetically hot, and everyone walking under it looks like they could use the glass of cold juice in her hand. Kinuthia walks out to the sink, splashes water on his face then walks back to his bedroom. Sandra follows him closely, confused by the sudden change in atmosphere.
“Baby uko poa?”
“Eeh,ningojee hapo sitting tu nakuja,”
“Hio ni nini umeshika?”
Kinuthia continues fumbling with something in his hands and then heaves loudly before turning awkwardly to face Sandra.
“I wasn’t supposed to do this here, but the conversation we’ve had imenifanya niamue kaa mbaya mbaya,”
He pauses, goes down on one knee then holds out the ring box towards Sandra.
“Kama utanikataa nikatalie hapa kwa bedroom yangu tu,”
Sandra has her face buried in her hands. This wasn’t how she saw it happening but the emotions are overwhelming nonetheless.
“Will you marry me?”
She stretches out her left arm and watches as Kinuthia struggles to get the ring in.
“Yes,” she manages to whisper.
Kinuthia enthusiastically springs to his feet and lifts her into a bear hug. They hold on to each other for what seems like forever. Sandra’s sobbing into Kinuthia’s shoulder. Being engaged was the last thing on her mind when she asked Kinuthia if she could come over. But the opportunity had presented itself and the 12-year-old in her wouldn’t let her say no. She was going to be a bride, wapende wasipende. She knew Kinuthia wasn’t the man of her dreams, the man she had seen herself end up with, but he loved her. And being with someone that adored her was more valuable than chasing the mirages of the men she thought she deserved. She also knew it was time to end whatever games she was playing with her boss. She is an engaged woman now.