Everyone on Facebook for some reason thinks that I should marry Sarah Haluwa. And if that happens, it will be the most talked about wedding of the decade, perhaps a century, more than the smashing wedding party that Magunga threw recently.
I have thought about it. It is a tempting and seductive idea. Sarah hates the very idea of it.
Sometimes we don’t get what we want, or what we deserve, or sometimes, like in the case of Sarah, she doesn’t want me. Yesterday, when she wrote on Facebook that she has never been hugged by a tall man, and she expressed the agonizing and scary fear of dying before being hugged by a tall man, everyone in the comment section was asking if I am a man enough.
I have an engineer friend who is part of our Special-Dowry-Negotiations team (no kidding), which compromises a collection of the best and sharpest men from Nyanza Province. Men of means too. It is like a chama, that specializes in dowry negotiations of the men in the group. The engineer told me that I am the only reason he will ever want to visit Kilifi, and if I can’t afford it, he will contribute all the livestock that is needed to ensure that the exchange program between Kisii and Giriama takes place.
It would be a match made in heaven. Sarah says “rubbish”.
So, we have a situation here. Tall Kisii man admires perhaps the best export out of the Coast province with the beauty, the wit, and the curves to match. The whole country says that would be the marriage for the books. But the girl stubbornly says, “NOOOO it would be a bad idea.”
She has a point though.
At The Beginning
Sometime in January 2017, I received a call from my buddy Ben. He was exuberant that he had discovered some talent worth checking out. Talent then within my circle referred to a euphemism we branded girls, an appropriation from football parlance when teams buy players.
“Oh, boy, there is this girl from the coast, she is not only hot with killer curves, but she is even funnier in her writing, try her out. She actually writes as you and you guys can even work together…”
I was a bit skeptical. At the time, there was an unfolding scandal that I was watching keenly about a female impostor who would later embarrass a top city lawyer. I didn’t want to end up with an egg on my face. So, I checked Sarah Haluwa out, and she was legit funny, shared some scandalously sexy pictures of herself and men couldn’t help but drool over her, each wanting a piece of her. Literally.
Men are used to women with curves posting their pictures with no caption or a silly quote, or at best, a verse from the bible that rings hollow. But when there is a woman who possesses the best body any man can imagine and who tops it up with brains and razor-sharp wit, they don’t know what to do.
“If I was your pimp and not your simp, we would live in a Karen address,” I have often joked to Sarah, who often tells me, to get lost. No girl takes me seriously in Nairobi.
So, having verified, she is legit, I slid into her inbox with uncommon confidence from the shyest man West of Nairobi. We hit it off like the Kenyan Kwanza government with chaos. Man, she was a good sport, and we were on a roll.
Weirdly, I have met so many female strangers online that we talk about a lot of confidential stuff. Some, we never get to meet. They get married and disappear. Or they play with bearded thugs and then disappear. For Sarah, we would chat for almost a year before we met.
The chats were witty, in turn lewd, in turn crazy, but it was banter as best writer friends can have it. She opened my eyes to the charming ways of coastal women who have become my weakness in recent times.
The First Meeting
We were having such a ball of a conversation, chats, phone calls, and all, then tragedy struck. I will censor this bit. OK, GUYS? She will one day tell you about it in her memoir, how I embarrassed her in a nasty way. She has a forgiving heart though.
So, when she came to Nairobi to attend a play and other personal matters, we bumped into each other. She is shy. Or is it reticent? Because of the embarrassment I had caused her, the meeting was fleeting; her reeling from the anger of it all, and myself, still contrite. The meeting was at best forgettable. One couldn’t believe that the people whose chat could cause a scandal of epic proportions met, shook hands, walked like 100 yards and it ended there.
What followed was an awkward silence for like a year. Any attempt to reach out to her, she painfully reminded me of my follies and asked me to clean the mess before she could ever trust me again. I licked my wounds, played Hov’s Lost Ones, and took that L like the professional simp I was back then.
Then as fate would have it, and in what Ben predicted, Sarah was brought to share a page with me at the Nairobian, where she wrote a column called Fireworks. Her column sat on top of mine, and in her clever, amusing, brazen, and controversial ways, she spoke her mind. Her most famous article that goes viral every so often is when she told Nairobi men, that they are getting a raw deal from Nairobi women. What the manosphere calls ‘hoeflation; i.e the increase in price men have to pay for lower value women. Basically, our fathers paid far less for far high-value women, and for us millennials, we are paying far more for far lower-value girls. It is not an article that may have been received well by girls, but it is a smash hit with all the male WhatsApp groups in the country.
We shared the page for a brief two years or, before I quit, and she followed suit, soon afterwards.
Coming to Nairobi
The friendship resumed, but now it was permanently damaged. I was now permanently guarded. Any time I tried to veer off topic, she would crack the whip. She cleverly friend-zoned me, but such is life.
For the longest time, she was domiciled in Kilifi, regaling us with the mundanity of her coastal life, with a blend of humour that is easy to love, male or female. Her self-deprecation, and her down-to-earth, won her fans from across the country. Of course, the photos by the beach donning some of the best dresses played their part.
Having become sort of a confidant, and a soundboard, when she wanted to relocate to Nairobi, she reached out to me for advice. I vehemently told her that with her coastal attitude, she won’t make it in Nairobi.
“Find opportunities in the coast, in your county, or just write from there. Nairobi will break your heart….” I told her that. And I meant it. At that time, Nairobi had broken my heart and personally, I wanted out pronto.
She listened to me keenly and tried to argue her case, but I was adamant: “don’t set foot here’: Of course, she promptly ignored me and came to Nairobi. Went a step further to spite me and settled in Kitengela. I hate women who disobey my advice, by the way.
I move to Kitengela
Fate is a bitch. A bad one.
By a crazy turn of events, I did find myself in Kitengela, that dustiest part of Kenya, that my friend once said, “living in Kitengela is the opposite of Self-Love”. Fate condemned me to a town I never thought that even in my worst nightmares I could ever settle in.
And Sarah was part of the community that welcomed me to Kitengela. Using coastal hospitality, she would buy me coffee every once in a while as we killed an afternoon off at the height of the Covid pandemic. And weirdly, she ended up knowing Nairobi better than I do, and in Kitengela, she started to show me ‘chuoms’.
We lunched in Enkare, eating ribs or fish. She took me to a private and chic place called Meat & Grill where we tried their pork. No opinion about it. Did we go to Galaxy, that hidden treasure where Covid-19 night parties used to take place? I remember the one or two afternoons at Pavilion where we bumped into Churchill. Halcyon? Of course.
If these meetings sound like too much, believe you me they happened once every six or seven months. The rest of the days, Sarah disappears to God knows where. Of course, she went back to school and graduated as a clinical nutritionist from Kenyatta University. And she has a daytime job, which is her obligation to reveal to you. And in between, she published books for children with Story Moja, and as you read this, your child in lower primary is probably being entertained by her books. So, she is equally busy.
So to plan a lunch, usually takes a back and forth of like five weeks, which comes with enough rain checks, cancellations, and a lot of annoyance on her part. She keeps her word. I am not good with mine.
Fate loves irony. Our birthdays are five days apart, in that most desolate, ‘unbirthday-friendly’ of all months: January. Worse, it is with the first ten days that come with post-Christmas and New Year celebration fatigue. And folks are broke.
But in the last three years, we have had a deal, and we make the most, given the circumstances. Nothing much. Nothing fancy. Sometimes, just sit, eat what is there, drink what is there, and reflect on life and how the years are chasing after us.
This year, I proposed a weekday lunch at Fred’s Ranch just before Isinya.
I love Fred’s ranch because of what Fred Obachi has been able to create, reminding us that Kenya has so many possibilities. On a weekday, it is quite chilled to sit there and soak in the clean air, as you reminisced about the old times and anticipated the new times. Sarah was game, and thus we drove there, arriving at around 3 p.m. and we sat by the resplendent pool. There was a bunch of guys that one could not define, any more than they would define Sarah and me.
Lunch at the ranch always consists of a nyama choma option and kienyeji chicken, wet fry for me. As the waiter went to work on the orders, a cold beer for January heat could do for me. Sarah is a light drinker and one Tusker Cider is enough to knock her off. We were off to a fantastic afternoon, and I had questions for her.
Like who is Sarah Haluwa? Or more importantly, what is it that one thing that men get wrong always about women?
“Can I talk about sex?” she asks me.
“Of course, that is what I am asking.”
“I think most men worry about the wrong things. You guys worry about size, about duration of the activity. Instead of just learning what makes your person tick…”
I look at her, like has she the kind of things women talk about on Facebook.
“Like for me, foreplay is overrated. Get me junk food, and let us just chill, talk, and laugh-that gets me going more than kisses or whatever?”
Of course, I don’t believe that. But it is her story.
I asked her if she has ever been embarrassed by a man, besides my monumental stupidity. She says one time a dude she was dating left home never to return. She went searching in hospitals and a morgue. Only to find out that the dude had carried some random girl, was fed some rice, and woke up in a dingy lodge somewhere 24 hours later.
“I felt sorry for myself.”
What a pity.
“Did this scare you to stop dating my gender? Are you dating?”
“No, I am not dating. Don’t give me that look, I am not hiding a man somewhere.”
“Do you ever think about marriage?
“About marriage, I don’t know, man. I’ve never even tried a come-we-stay so I don’t know how things will be. But for me, I believe the key to a long marriage is having separate bedrooms.”
Interesting. This advice will save a lot of marriages.
As the food is served and gobble it to rush back to Kitengela before nightfall, I am curious how her experience in Nairobi has been.
“Though Nairobi robbed me of my peace and that sense of security being in a small community gave me, it gave me lots of opportunities and opened so many doors for me.”
She says, even as she plans to relocate to Kilifi, soon enough.
NB: For those curious if Sarah is the Famous Mercy, I will reveal who Mercy is on April 1.