Your cousins will be the first to find out. Because nowadays, social media won’t let you keep a secret for too long. Photos will be exchanged, sly comments too. But still, they’ll wait. They know the drill.
It’s when you start wearing matching vitenges that your aunts will find out. And boy, if you have nosy aunts they’ll prepare a dossier. See how soft she looks, some will say.
“Did you see their pictures mama Boni? All I can say is he chose well.”
Then they’ll scheme on how to test your woman the day you bring her home. Your coolheaded aunts and uncles will invite you for dinner. And your distant cousin, the one you almost fucked in your heyday, will be the first to wish you well.
You’ll find yourself in a tough spot because you haven’t decided to take anyone home just yet. I mean, marriage is complicated, you have to make the right call or it’ll be a prison for you. But wait, if we really make it up to the matching vitenges stage then si iko ndani ndani ndaaani ama? Hook, line, and sinker.
Of course, the news will reach your mother, but she knows you Kevo. Kwani you thought she never noticed when you brought girls through the back door way back in high school? That Sunday when three of your girlfriends came to greet her personally after church, and she drove home laughing, it was all you. No one knows you as she does.
You also know that despite reaching the vitenge stage, you are not ready to commit, so you break up with Lisa. It’s bad. Later she sends you a text saying that you did not receive enough love as a child and that’s why you’re afraid of commitments. Because your father left you guys. You have always been alone, she adds.
It stings because some of it is true, but you don’t reply. You call her instead and try to explain why you think things didn’t work.
“I don’t know you anymore,” you tell her over the phone as you’re making supper. “You’re so fixated in being some kind of classy girl. You want to fit in so badly. That’s not what drew me to you. I know you’ve grown but you want to belong with people with whom you have nothing in common. So badly that you’ve forgotten who you were. You lost your spark. I don’t know what happened, we were good together, but we both changed.”
Before you press send, you think that maybe you should take the high road. Don’t kid yourself, you still press send.
“Wtf Kevo!” She replies. “I thought we talked about this. Fuck you!”
You don’t talk for a while.
Sometimes when you see couples holding hands you think, that could be us. You still want to give it a chance, you know that the things you like about her outdo the things you don’t. You’re willing to live with some of that.
You remember the first morning, after the night you met. You knew she was the one.
The way she danced to Lingala, that day at your place like you’d known each other all your lives. Her raspy voice. Her eye for design. Her chapos. Her moans when you’re inside her. The way both of you woke up on Saturdays to just go take photos.
The deal was sealed when you both realized you’d volunteered to Vitabu Vyetu in campus, and believe it or not, you’d both been posted to the same station at Lunga Lunga.
It’s these memories that draw you back to her two weeks later. She picks up on the first ring.
“Can we talk?” You ask.
“Yes, we can. Do you love me, Kevin?”
“Yes, I do. I love you.”
“I would like us to have a baby.” The silence that follows this is disturbing, you unsure of what to say, her still hopefully waiting on the other end.
You don’t know what to say. You definitely don’t want a baby at 26. So, you tell her you’re not ready and from then on she doesn’t take your calls anymore.
Then three months later, when you are diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer. She’s the first to come.