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A Whispers from London

(How ‘Love’ was those days)
Written by: Man ManKambugua E-mail: manmankambugua@gmail.com Facebook: Man Man Kambugua
May I confirm that in the tiny village where I was born and brought up, there was nothing like a Valentine day. The villagers did not care who Valentine was, whether he was black or white or whether he liked to take his porridge when hot or cold.

I am not in any way trying to portray my village people as people who did not have feelings of love. Yes, they did in a mighty way, but they were not supposed to show it. The genesis of love between two people started when they met in a dancing ceremony. You will be mistaken to imagine that they were in a hall with disco lights and all that paraphernalia, no! It would be in anybody’s home. If a man was interested in a certain girl, he would approach her and tell her that from the way she was dancing, he was interested in her and that he would want her to be his wife. The girl, if interested with the man would tell him that if he was indeed serious, he should go and tell her parents. The young man would then tell his parents who would either approve or disapprove. If they approved, they would send their friends to do thorough investigation on the state of the in-law’s family to be. The investigators would check whether in the family there were curses, whether the family was known to be hardworking, whether they had challenging behaviour and whether they were thieves, among others. I can write a whole book on how customary marriages were, but this is not the time.

As a young boy, the closest I came to know about love was through my cousin and another man who was a worker in a village polytechnic near our house. My cousin Judy was the darling of the village. In primary school, she had passed with straight A’s and was admitted in one of the most prestigious high schools. We were all told to read hard like Judy. Due to her celebrity status, I could not wait for her to close school to come and tell me about high school. “In high school, we eat breads in the morning. When lunch is served, one is given an option of choosing lamb or beef meat. As for tea, we just open the tap and the tea with sugar come out,” she would say. In my young mind, I would imagine that her high school was Heaven. She naturally loved me because she even used to send me letters to encourage me.

On every Sunday afternoon when she closed school, she would request me to take a walk with her. I noticed many times that we would always end up in the village polytechnic where a young man wearing ‘Platform’ shoes would come out smiling. Both would hug and kiss briefly. Meanwhile I would be looking at Judy and ask her whether she was serious that she was tasting another man’s saliva. She would swear by our grandmother’s thong and skirt that it was not a kiss but just a peck on the chick. We would enter the young man’s house and would be served with nice food that we only used to eat on Christmas day. As we ate, I would clearly see that the young man’s eyes were always on Judy’s chest and face. It would reach a point where he would stare at my cousin so much until his eyes would look as if he was dozing. It was at this point when I would suggest to my cousin that we go back home to give our host time to sleep. Upon hearing my suggestion, he would quickly wake up from his wakeful slumber and tell me that he was okay. Judy would look at me and tell me that we should go but she would at the same time remove her shoes and take them to the young man’s bedroom. Wow! Tell the person seated next to you that the devil is a liar!

The young man would follow my cousin to the bedroom where I would hear them talking in whispers. Afterwards, my cousin would come with some few coins and ask me whether I would want to go to the shop to buy myself some biscuits. She would then tell me that the best biscuits were found in a different shopping centre which was five kilometres away. The nearest shopping centre was less than one hundred metres away, but I did not mind going for extra miles to have biscuits and ‘Fanta’ soft drink. Out of great excitement, I would run up and down the hills to the suggested shopping centre to by my biscuits. Like any other little kid, I would take my drink and biscuits ravenously. After my stomach was full, now that I had excess energy, I would run back again to our host’s house.

At one time, having been sent to the other shopping centre as usual, I came back and found that the door had been locked from inside. Of course, I could hear clearly that both my cousin and the guy were talking but my cousin was letting up a sharp cry at intervals. When the crying was too much, I knocked the door very hard and called the young man all manner of names. I told him to stop beating Judy or else I would report him to my dad. Within no time, the cries stopped, and my cousin opened the door. She wiped away my tears and promised me that when we visited the young man next time, we would come with our big dog called Simba to eat him up. With that assurance, I stopped crying.

It was getting dark, and we had to go back home. To my surprise the man who, minutes ago had made my cousin cry was to escort us. Moreover, as we walked home, he was holding her hand. I expected Judy to call him a big D.O.G. (without a tail) but she was even squeezing it harder and telling him how he loved him. When I asked her what love was, she told me that it was the act of eating biscuits with a ‘Fanta’ soft drink. “So, I made love this afternoon in the shopping centre?” I asked. “Of course, yes!” she told me.

That night, as we went to sleep, I narrated to my brothers about my ‘Love making’ in the shopping centre. Every time I spoke, they would try very hard not to laugh but at times they could not hold it when I told them about the genesis of how I ended up in another shopping centre and how I had found Judy crying after being beaten by that ‘son of a gun’ who was employed in our village polytechnic. With time, I came to realise that all that was the manifestation of my cousin’s valentine. True love knows no bounds, the saying goes.

Obviously, everybody in the village wanted to date but due to economic hardships, courtship could not go for long. If a young man got a job in the city, he would obviously live with his new wife for a little while. When the parents heard that their son was living with a certain girl, they would ask him to bring her home, reason being that the more she lived in the city, the more she would acquire city mannerisms and become a prostitute. Since the young man did not want to be in bad books with the parents, he would bring her to live with them. After some time, the young man would go back to the city leaving the wife with her in-laws. From the moment the husband left, she would be monitored with a fine-tooth comb. They will monitor how she talked, what she ate, who she talked to, about what and so forth. Woe unto the new wife if the husband had many sisters. In most cases each sister was like a ‘small devil’ to the new wife because of minding about her business instead of minding theirs. If she dressed better than mum-in-law or sisters-in-law, then she was not a wife but a high-class whore whose interest was what the son or the brother owned.

After some few months, the young wife was supposed to show signs that she was expectant. The more she delayed to have a kid, the more the society formed an opinion that she did not love the husband. She would get all kinds of advises from older women. “Daughter of so and so, do you think our son would scratch himself if he were called a father. When our son comes, before he goes to the shopping centre, close the door and show him some ‘wrestling’ tactics. C’mon, get yourself pregnant. We don’t care what you give birth to even if it’s a small pig but not white ants hahaha. We want the population of our clan to increase,” they would tell her.

They say that loneliness and feeling unwanted is the worst poverty. I have lived in this world for a few decades, and I know that being in some relationships is like being in hell. If you are single, just know that at times, you are better off alone because you have peace of mind. There are many people who are married but very single. The only thing they have in common is just the kids and casual sex. I would also like to inform you that nobody was born to live alone. Currently the world’s population is close to Eight Billion people and out of all those people, there is someone for you if your attitude is right. Act like you have a lover, talk like you have a lover, walk like you have a lover and a lover will definitely arrive. When you ask God for somebody, do not just ask for anything. Ask for somebody who will add value to you and will love you unconditionally. In whatever you do, please find every reason to be happy because we are just passing by in this world. Best of luck my brother my sister.

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