She had always wished to build a stone house for her parents. A decent house, a cemented house, a house with a bathroom inside to avoid passing through the sitting room with a towel. One with a loo so they don’t have to urinate on Kasuku containers at night, or on the flowers just outside the house for fear of darkness. If not for anything else, she lived to fulfil this wish.
5th born in a family of eight, her parents toiled very hard to see them through the days of maintenance fee, poor road networks and jiggers. Growing up, her father was a matatu driver who proudly drove a `green FACE ME’ that was always bent on one side for being overloaded. He was a much respected man in the village, chairman of the cattle dip and a PTA member. Back then, matatu drivers were considered as rich as teachers and that status gave him a chance to speak in most weddings as a representative of the village.
Her mother was a very dedicated housewife who would do all household duties before going to the tea plantation to avoid frowning as other farmers enjoyed bonuses. On the side, she planted tomatoes, cabbages, sukumawiki and carrots on her kitchen garden and sold the products every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. She was a perfect wife. So obliged was she that sometimes she would stay up in the wooden sofa-set up to 4am waiting for the husband to come home from drinking. Mom would then serve the drank man food, wash his legs, before retiring to bed. She never understood why her mother did this; maybe it was out of love, maybe she would be chased away if she didn’t; but whatever it was, she found it oppressive.
Life was normal. No TV, went to school barefoot, consumed maziwa ya nyayo, cycled her uncle’s black mamba, and wore those multicolored woven pullovers. Her two elder sisters got married after form four and became housewives; she was a proud aunt of 5 in 2005.
When I asked her how old she is, she gave no definite answer.
`I was an adolescent when Unbwogable was released, and El Niño found me in class 8’.
She speaks with finality closing the chapter about her age. We move on.
Have you ever felt like commanding the world to stop and listen to you? Like you are very excited and think that not even God can understand to what rate?
She felt that way on 12/08/2006 after she won a green card to the United States. She would finally leave her job as a waitress, a job she hated, and fly miles away.
‘I was a very annoying waitress who made sure to share bitterness with the world. You know, check if you’re done with a drink every 7minutes, keep a customer waiting 20minutes for change so they forget and convert it to a tip, and the cream of it, make customers feel like criminals for buying just a drink instead of a seven course meal and 2glasses of wine ’.
Carol’s family didn’t have enough money for the flight fare so the parents sold cows and goats and chicken, and when she almost sold her kidney, they organized a harambee and the neighborhood people supported and when it was not enough, her distant cousin who was a pastor cleared the balance. On 12/12/2006, escorted by family and friends to the airport, she left to the United States with one thing in mind, `she had to build her parents a stone house’.
Carol was received by a distant cousin in California who had already gotten her a job as a receptionist. With the hunger to start making dollars, she reported to job 2 days after arrival. Her cousin hosted her for 8months until she had made enough to move out. She worked as a receptionist during the day, bar maid at night and was considering to take a nursing course which she eventually did 2years later. Back at home, folks were expectant of her, to pay school fees for her siblings, foot domestic bills, and by the 4th month, she had been invited as the Guest of Honor in 3church harambees. The society felt she owed them for the contribution they made to her flight fare. Most times she slept hungry and tired and the thought of building the parents a stone house still lingered. She worked for bills, especially her family bills.
Tony was slightly taller than her, played the piano, mainly rocked in shorts and tees, and she felt he was too spiritual for his age. Most girls liked him for his deep voice that came after class eight, and his dimple that looked like it could save the world from sins. Carol was among those girls. He was way above her league though as he had attended a provincial school, Carol was in a district school, and the guy went to university afterwards. When she received a call from a man with a deep voice, Kenyan accent, US number asking sasa? She was shocked and had to reconfirm that she wasn’t daydreaming. It was Tony. He had come to study for 3years in the US and wanted to check on her, catch up on Sunday school days, maybe have a drink, and have somebody familiar showing him around.
2days later they met in a fancy restaurant, she would have opted for a bar but Tony was a church elder’s son and they had probably been taught that bible verse that says consuming alcohol is the greatest sin. They talked, mainly in Swahili, switched to vernacular at some point, but Tony’s vernacular is very plastic, so back to Swahili. She told her a lot of stories about California, and work, and her nursing course, as she sipped her iced black coffee, stealing glances of his now very well pronounced dimple. She says she has never seen a man looking so good in a dimple. And this she says with a sack of emotions; it is from the deepest part of her heart.
After that date they met frequently, and texted, and called, which made her life a bit different as she wasn’t used to checking on a man every now and then. The men she had met before were a bit complicated, and used words like godamn it, and their parents knew they were having sex, and they had Facebook accounts. At least with Tony, she could talk Swahili, and reminisce about the day he wrote her as a noisemaker, and joke about the intonation of his dad when he preaches, and just laugh. They became best of friends and then graduated to date and the relationship was flowing very well.
They had plans of how their home would be like, a home where the mum is a nurse and the dad a finance guy. They would have four children, two girls and two boys so that they got a chance to name them after all their parents. They had already started googling and seeking opinions on how to get a boy/girl, theirs was to gather information and wait for the right time for practicals. They would buy chunks of land in Ruiru and Karen and build for when they go for holidays in Kenya. They opened a savings account together and saved for their upcoming home.
Four years later, Tony had finished school and had to go back to Kenya as jobs were awaiting him. He started off with a well-paying job as a finance officer and gradually got promoted to assistant finance manager and then finance manager. He moved from firm to firm; he was good at what he did. Now with the glamour of money, girls loved him more, his body changed from a very skinny man to a well-built one; gym became his thing. He still kept in touch with Carol; she was still her lover from miles away. They still talked about their dreams together. They still saved in their joint account, they were still an item.
She read him in newspapers contributing to the business dailies and applauded him; she was proud to be his lover. Tony cheated sexually. Ladies gave themselves to him even without his asking; sometimes he resisted, but most times he gave in and blamed his pistol for overreacting. Some girls got emotionally attached but he blushed them off, ignored them and the only choice they had was moving on. Carol on the other hand was more faithful; well, she cheated twice with a gym instructor and blamed dry spell. She had always wished to have an experience with the handsome, well-built, handsome man. It was a very good experience she did it again and then felt bad and even confessed to Tony who of course was very bitter for days.
Carol finished building her parents a stone house in 2015; it was a bungalow with 3bedroom ensuites and 6bedrooms. The living room was big enough to host the in-laws. The day it was opened, she was virtually present; actually, she did the opening prayers. It was such a joy to see her dream come true. She longed to go sleep in that house but that would be in 2017 when their Ruracio would be happening.
To be continued…….