Years ago when I was young and not so clever, I was canoodling with a man who was not good for me. He was tall, 6’3’, nice build, had a decent grip of English and was a tad naughty. He introduced me to phone sex. He always started with something like.

‘What are you wearing now?’

‘Nothing.’ (That was lie most of the times. Usually I had my flowered pyjamas on)

‘You know what I could do to you right now?’

Then it would get extremely graphic and there I was pretending to like it all the while just wanting to sleep to make it for an 8AM class. Thing is, I am better at expressing myself during sex than talking about it. Heck I would rather write about it than talk about it. After seven minutes of torture and he had jerked off (assuming that is what he did) we would say goodnight and I would pray and sleep. Thank God for his mercies.

One thing that he won me over with was his cooking. Nothing fancy but good food. Filling at that. I think that was his strategy before wearing me out. You see growing up without a mother and an absent father, the most I knew about sex was what I had read from books and magazines. Anyway, this day he made mash potatoes with spicy beef and salsa.

It had been two years of this thing that we had not defined. We were happy with how things were then my heart started to yearn for him. I started to call him more, think about him and consider him as I made detrimental decisions like changing my hair style. It is an important decision. Not sure whether he felt the same way, I kept mum and waited for him to say something. He never did.

On this day after my body was bursting with oxytocin after a good session. I asked.

‘What are you looking for in a woman?’

How ironical given I was barely out of my teens. His body went stiff and I could have bet that his body went numb for a split second.

‘You know the usual, someone who can cook at least something, but I do not mind cooking. A woman who loves God and someone who will bring something to the table’.

‘What exactly should they bring?’

‘You know support, love and care’

‘Good because I am ready to give you that’

He gave a groan that insinuated that he did not think so. I panicked. I thought we had a good thing going on here. The way he touched surely he must have felt something. He was the only man thus far who had turned my world around, in a good way. He was the only one I loved after my father.

‘What do you mean by that?’

‘You know I need a woman who is making a decent living so that she does not leave all the responsibilities to me.’

‘I know what you mean. I know I will be rich so we should be good.’

Another groan. Was there something I was missing? We had a connection. I think. At this point I was choking on tears but too proud to cry and so I swallowed hard. Did he not want me? I was good person. I was not a size zero but neither was he. He could carry me like a child and not complain at all. We had pillow fights, cuddled and pillow talk. That counted right?

‘Don’t you think I can be that woman?’ that made me sound insecure and sad. I hated feeling like that.

‘No. You are a good person but you are a creative. I am not sure whether you will be rich or not. Most artists in Kenya are broke.’

What? I was in campus and had a job at the same time. I worked hard. I was not there yet but I knew that I would make something of myself.

‘But I am going to be a writer and very successful by the way.’

‘Yes but you are not sure and I am not going to gamble on that.’

It felt like a judge had passed a sentence of indefinite loneliness and banged the gavel to seal my fate. He then gave me a pity kiss on my forehead. I lay on his chest and started to cry. He was supposed to be with me. Love me with my faults. Hormones! He had proclaimed his love for me the first time we were intimate and I thought it was good sex but he said again on a phone call and in many conversations afterwards. Two years later, my future was a bit too bleak for him.

‘Is there someone else?’ I asked mucus dripping to my mouth but my feelings were too hurt to care. According to him I was going to be homeless and destitute so a little mucus was not going to scar him.

‘What do you mean? Like another girl?’

‘Of course another girl.’ Why do men answer questions with questions?

‘Well we are not dating are we? I mean we have never talked about it.’

‘Oh really? Then let us talk about it. Who am I to you?’

‘Well I like you…a lot. I think you are a nice person. You are very caring and you have a special part in my heart.’

‘You could say the same thing about Mother Teresa, answer the damn question.’

He went ahead to tell me that he had met someone else in the last year. They were in the same department where he worked. He liked me but after weighing the options he figured that the other woman was a better partner. Now I sobbed like a child denied candy. I wailed out loud and whenever he tried to calm me down, I went a notch higher. He gave up and stared at me. Seeing that my tears were not moving him, I went to bathroom and took a long shower. His rejection reminded me why my mother left. I was not good enough for her, now for him. I dressed, ready to leave.

‘Please talk to me.’

Oh, so now he wanted to talk. I left his house and made way to the bus stop. All the while crying, my efforts to contain it proved futile.

When I got home, father looked at me and figured he did not want to know what happened and without saying a word, he held me as I cried again. I could tell he knew that it was a boy. Given that girl talk made him uncomfortable, I figured no need to bother him with details of my horrible evening. Plus if he found out that it was a boy four years my senior in a campus he particularly hated, someone would end up dead. As the cry died down to soft sniffs, he looked at me and said,

‘Whatever it is, will not be as bad tomorrow. You are a strong girl and it is okay to cry but unforgivable to dwell on it. Is it something you can change?’

‘No, I don’t think so.’

‘Good dust yourself up and move on.’

With that he served the take away chicken and fries he had bought at our local fast food joint and we ate in silence. At least one man in the word thought I mattered. As I lay down that day, I thought of all I wanted to be and something in my gut told me that I will be perfectly fine.