The Unlikely Circumstance: PART ONE

By Kezia Elaine Ayikoru

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BIO
Keziah likes to say she is created to create.
Her life revolves around the Arts.
Some of the things she is actively involved in currently are fashion design, architecture and writing.
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“God is good…” he said as he waited for the church to respond with an emphatic all the time, “…and all the time…” God is good.

Pastor Njoroge sauntered across the front of the church waving his bible, a big smile radiating towards the congregation. It was a Sunday morning and the sun’s rays streamed through the tall church windows casting a glow on the people present.

“Friends, we should be grateful that God’s sacrifice covers all our sins. Ametuokoka kweli! As we read in John 3:16, this sacrifice of the blood of Christ is available to everyone. Kila mtu anaweza partake if you believe. Church this is indeed good news!” he said.

Bruni, who was seated in the choir section, smiled as she heard this message. I am surely glad God covers my sin, ni grace kweli, she thought. At that moment, she remembered the program she had watched on TV where prisoners were testifying that they had been saved through God’s forgiveness and she thought, ah God, those people too? Umewasamehe kweli? Surely some sins are bigger than others! Like murder, adultery, fornication-those surely don’t compare to lying. Sins are definitely not the same!

“All sins. He covers all sins! Oh what grace!” the pastor said, as though he were responding to Bruni’s thoughts.

***

Bruni walked into the cafeteria that warm Sunday afternoon with a skip in her step.

Patchwork by Ellen Banda-Aaku

Her big-eyed, loud-mouthed, plump friend Janine walked in right behind her. They sat in their favourite spot in the corner of the cafeteria as they ate their meal. Janine and Bruni were both doing their bachelors in Creative Writing at Kenyatta University. They both loved reading novels and on Sundays like this, they often lost themselves in delicious discussions about their most recent reads. They were talking about Patchwork by Ellen Banda-Aaku, when Jox walked up to their table.

Jox was a Biotechnology student at the university. He was average height, chocolate-skinned and chubby-cheeked. What captivated Bruni about him was his smile and manner of warmth. He always seemed to keep a cheerful spirit.

“Can I join you ladies?” he asked with a smile.

“Janine, this is Jox, we met juzi at a book club. Anafanya Biotech,” Bruni said as she moved over on the bench to create space for him.

“Mmmhhh, the bright ones eh, nice to meet you brainy,” Janine said as she smiled at John teasing him with her sarcastic tone and mocking eyes.

“Eh Janine, wewe nawe, you just met the brother, be nice.” Bruni gave Janine a threatening glare.

“Okay, okay,” Janine raised her hands in surrender, “so Jox, we were just discussing Patchwork by Ellen, have you read it?”

The rest of their mealtime was spent discussing Patchwork. They spoke about the main character Pumpkin and her challenging childhood with an alcoholic mother and a hardly-ever-present father.

That evening, she went through her normal before-bed routine. She brushed her teeth, said her prayers and planned her next day. It was a successful day, she thought, feeling pretty pleased with herself. It was at that moment that her phone buzzed, declaring a text message with her Winnie-the-pooh message tone. She smiled.

“You are quite intelligent, I’m very impressed,” the text from Jox read.

Brunie smiled. “Where is this coming from?”

“The discussion at the cafeteria, plus what you said kwa book club.”

“Thanks.”

“And beautiful too.” He had inserted a smiley face.

Blush emoji. He is sweet she thought.

***

Bruni and Jox met more often in the following weeks, at the book club and cafeteria. Brunie looked forward to meeting him. They always had such pleasant conversations, mostly about novels. Jox was the absolute gentleman, sweet and kind. He showered her with flattery and made her feel special beyond description and she loved the attention. Very often, Bruni found herself thinking about him. She started mentioning him more in her general conversations — what he thought about certain topics, what he said and what she thought he would do or say.

“Umefall vibaya my friend,” Janine said one day, in her usual teasing tone.

“Hapana, we’re just good friends,” Bruni replied.

“Hivyo ndo inastart. Boy meets girl. Girl says tuko just friends. Before you know it, they have three kids and a dog.”

Bruni reached forward swiftly and slapped Janine’s shoulder, though she was smiling. “You crazy girl! Nothing like that is going to happen. He hasn’t even asked me out.”

“Aha! So you want him to ask you out. Admit it!”

“Wewe, you are too much!” Bruni said and got up to leave.

“Bye love-struck puppy,” Janine waved, smiling.

This was the first time Bruni had been genuinely interested in a boy since Paddy, her first boyfriend. She and Paddy had the sweetest and most innocent puppy-love relationship in high school. However, when they moved to different universities in different cities, the distance separated them and slowly they drifted apart from each other. Bruni had a hard time getting over him and hadn’t dated anyone else even though it had been two years since her break-up.

***

On Sunday afternoon, the week before the end of first semester exams, Bruni was organising her room when she heard a knock on the door. She opened it.

“Mambo,” Jox said in his usual jolly tone of voice, “I was just passing by and thought I’d say hi.”

“Karibu. Uko poa?” Bruni said as she gestured for him to come in.

“Yes, niko poa. What are you up to?” he asked as he sat on a chair next to Bruni’s reading table.

“Just organising hapa so that I can read in a clean and organised chumba. Exams are next week and sitapata time nyingine to do this.”

“Mmmmhh…unapenda kuwa organised, eh. Nice. Sasa, what are you planning to do after exams?”

“I’m going home for the three week break,” She replied very matter-of-factly.

“I’ll miss you,” he said while looking away.

She was surprised and pleased. “Aww, nitakumiss pia.”

“Can we hang out the day before close of sem? Nataka kutoa out kidogo.”

“Yes,” she said and smiled.

Courtesy of Pinterest

“Great,” he said, smiling, “and please wear that lovely blue dress you are folding now.”

She laughed. “This is one of those clothes I bought kwa mitumba down town but I wonder why nilinunuwa yet I never have the confidence to wear it.”

He seemed surprised. “Really? Why? You have such a great body. You should definitely wear it that day.”

I have a great body? Nice! She thought as she finished folding her clothes, too shy to look up and face him. Her friends often said that she had all the right things in the right places and that she was appropriately endowed. Bruni wondered how though, especially when she had to shop in the kids’ section sometimes.

“What time should I come pick you up?”

“I’ll be ready in 30 minutes,” Bruni replied.

“Sawa and don’t forget to wear the blue dress.”

Darn! She was hoping he wouldn’t remember. The blue dress was silky and showed every curve of her body. It was also short and had a halter neck. She couldn’t go out like that, she thought, so she put on a pair of leggings under the dress. The leggings covered her knees and stopped at her calves. She grabbed a sweater off the rack too, to cover her exposed back.

She took one more look at herself in the mirror and was brushing her hair for the fifth time when Jox arrived.

“You look lovely,” he said, a slight disappointment showing in his face as his eyes reached the leggings. He looked back up at her face and smiled brightly, with his usual warmth.

He was dressed in a properly pressed baby pink shirt, tucked into neat black trousers that stopped right above his black suede shoes. He had clearly visited the barber and looked pretty good. She wondered where he was taking her.

The restaurant was small but cozy and charming. Gatto, it was called. Its entrance was covered with creeping plants that revealed a warmly lit interior with polished cement tiles on the floor and red brick cladding on the walls. Brown two-seater tables were neatly arranged around the room with red chairs sharply accenting the earth tones of the room.

He led her to the farthest table in the corner and pulled out a red chair for her, after which, he sat opposite her.

“Eh, Jox, una ka good taste hivi! This restaurant is great!” she said sounding impressed. She wondered whether the food would be just as impressive.

As though on cue, a waiter walked up to them and handed them menus. Bruni’s eyes instinctively went to the right hand side where the prices were. I must choose something cheap, I don’t want to be a burden. Also, what if he doesn’t have all the pesa?! I better choose something I can pay for by myself asipokuwa na hela ya kutosha. She settled for chicken and fried chips with a coca cola.

As they waited for the food, Jox placed his right hand on the table, palm facing up gesturing to Bruni to place hers in his grip. She hesitated but reached out and placed her palm in his. He gently fondled her hand while staring into her eyes tenderly. This feels nice, she thought, allowing herself to indulge in the warmth of his palm over hers.

“You know, nimetoka a relationship and did not want to date again but…I am suddenly reconsidering,” he said.

The word relationship sounded nice to Bruni. It was like a pair of durable shoes from the second-hand mitumba market. She smiled but did not respond for the fear of sounding too eager. She remembered hearing that a man can smell desperation a mile away and while she felt she wasn’t desperate, she didn’t want to give off any misconceptions. The food arrived and they spent the rest of their time at the restaurant eating, drinking and chatting away. Bruni thought the dinner was tasty and well done. Her company had kept her entertained and she felt happy. The time seemed to pass so fast though, and soon it was time to leave.

While walking back to the university, they walked past a bar that was blasting Unconditionally Bae by Sauti Sol.

“Napenda that song. Ina beat nzuri,” Bruni said.

Without warning, Jox jumped in front of her and started dancing back and forth to the song. He had mastered the strokes in the music video.

“Make love to meeeee…unconditionally bae,” he sang.

Bruni held her hand over her mouth in shock and amusement. Her shock turned into laughter as she burst out loudly, hand-on-tummy as though it would restrain the laughter.

Within the university, a few meters before her hall of residence, he stopped and turned to face her. They were standing on a deserted street lined with trees on both sides. The trees created shadows under the overhead streetlights, and they were right under a shadow. It must have been past midnight because there was a lot of silence in what was usually a noisy university.

Artwork by Jamilla Okubo

She liked how she felt standing facing him, looking into his face, where there was such warmth. I like the way he’s looking at me, she thought. He moved closer and put his other hand gently round her waist. He pulled her towards him gently and kissed her lightly on the lips. He held her close for a few more minutes before letting go and leading her back to her room.

Bruni opened her door and found Janine waiting for her. She had given Janine a key in the case of an emergency but had regretted that decision ever since. Janine saw it fit to come over whenever she pleased. She would let herself in and make herself comfortable.

“Oya Janine, I’m about to take back funguo yangu,” Bruni said, pointing her finger threateningly at Janine.

“Ah stop those empty threats. It’s not the first time. Wewe, I have news for you. Alafu, where have you been dressed like that?” Janine said.

“Nilipelekwa out.”

“And you didn’t tell me? You’re such a bad girl! Was it Jox?”

Bruni nodded in affirmation with a smile and Janine went unexpectedly silent for a few minutes.

“Kitu gani? Why are you suddenly quiet?” Bruni asked.

“I don’t know where to begin but there’s something I need to tell you.”

Janine then went on to tell Bruni what she had heard from Staicey, Janine’s roommate. Staicey said she went to the same rotaract club with Jox and he had a very bad reputation. He was a player and was known to date many girls at the same time. She had been told he was very rude and disrespectful.

“Maybe he has changed kwako but be very careful. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.”

***

For the next three weeks of the semester break, his kiss played over and over in her mind. They spoke often on the phone. She couldn’t wait to see him again.

The other thing that played over and over in her mind was Janine’s warning. She felt uncomfortable every time it came to mind and yet every time it did, she brushed it off.

***

Day one of second semester seemed to have taken ages. As soon as she got into her room, she pulled out her phone.

“Hi Jox, nimerudi, I’m in my hall,” she typed.

“Welcome back sweetheart. Ntakuja baadae at 7pm,” he replied.

Jox came in much later than he had promised to — at 9pm and Bruni struggled to contain herself though she was seething with anger. When she opened the door, he stood there with a big smile and she felt slightly disarmed.

“Mbona umechelewa? You said you’d come two hours ago!” she said while folding her arms. She wore a serious look, her forehead creased, resisting any possibility of a smile.

“I’m sorry,” he said. He drew close to her and placed a peck on her cheek.

The smell of his cologne tickled her senses and the feeling of his lips upon her cheek left her wanting more. She went silent, unable to continue her complaints. He unfolded her arms and placed them on his shoulders, while his went round her waist.

“I’ve missed you,” he said as he leaned forward and placed his lips on hers, teasing her with its strokes, beckoning that she respond.

How can I resist this, Lord! It feels so good, she thought as she lost her defenses and responded to his kiss. She felt the effect the distance had had and words without sound passed between them easily in their kiss. She was thinking about how this must be the best kiss she has ever had.

When she felt his hands move from her high waist and lower to the rim of her jeans, she started to feel a bit uneasy. Wait, what is he doing? He can’t really be thinking what I think he is thinking! Bruni thought. As though he was confirming her doubts, he started unbuttoning her trousers next. Out of reflex, she pulled away, shock showing in her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” Jox asked, quite puzzled by her sudden action.

“I don’t want to go further,” she replied.

“Why?”

“I feel it’s wrong”

“Kwani, wrong how?”

“Sex before marriage. It’s wrong”

“You mean you are still a virgin?” Jox asked, sounding as though he did not believe what she was saying.

Dreams of love

She nodded in affirmation as she sat down on her bed, looking like she suddenly could not stand, for it required too much effort. All around outside, the university was buzzing with activity as people reported back carrying their belongings into their different accommodation halls. In Bruni’s room, silence reigned for the next fifteen minutes.

“I think you are wasting time. Just do. Future husband wako is out there having sex na mtu mwingine. You, uko hapa waiting. Just do,” he said as he stood up and headed towards the door.

“Future husband wako is out there having sex na mtu mwingine”.

Why would he say my future husband is out there having sex with someone else? Is he not my future husband? Surely, he is serious about me, right? Why else would he have communicated everyday? Why else would he have said he loved me — he did say so during the holidays, right? What do I say to him? Why is it so wrong to want to wait for sex? Paddy understood me. I remember we used to make out without having sex. Why is Jox different?

All these and more questions plagued her mind. She kept on turning them over in her mind, like meat being grilled over a slow fire, trying to find answers. That meat did not cook though and soon the wings of sleep carried her away.

*** PLEASE COME BACK TO READ PART TWO***

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