Character development; if you are a Kenyan, I will not even bother going into the details of the definition. At this point, you have sung this name and even inserted it in places it doesn’t make sense. Some have used it to seek sympathy from unsuspecting and naive victims, and others have used it to simply exaggerate nonsensical agendas. I was listening, my bad, I meant eavesdropping on a conversation at my mutura guy and a young lad was confidently claiming that he has been through character development. His young friend endlessly asked him to spill with the “Manzee Don huezi tuacha hanging“. After a thorough session of being gassed up and to the satisfaction of everyone engaging their taste buds at WaMbugua’s Butchery, he begins narrating his woeful story.
This was an invitation for community development. They secure their positions at the wooden benches and listen closely, each of us with different expectations. In every market, there is a gossip, a madman, a seller, a buyer and lessons to be learned. Ongeza ingine ya 20 na kathufu iko na firifiri, I tell my mutura guy. This story needs an excuse for me to be there.
“Majama, story ilianza like this. I am living with my roommates. Si you guys know Valentine and Collo.” says the narrator in red shorts.
“Yeah, we know them,” they reply in unison.
Collo studies medicine and he is not only book-smart but also a charmer and a lover by default. Collo comes from a rich family, and where money talks, Collo talks as well. He has a well-kept bedroom. There is so little you can do when living with roommates, especially in the living area. Your next living room is automatically your bedroom and honestly, exile doesn’t work all the time. They say there are two ways to know whether a man has his affairs in order. One, look at his toilet, and two, his bedroom then you can progress to the rest of your checklist.
Valentine is a more grounded, emotional type that stays indoors most of the time. He is a lover man just like his colleague but a silent killer. A smooth operator; especially when you have something his deceitful heart desires. He is the green snake in green grass. You wouldn’t know when he strikes.
Finally, our guy in the red shorts. In a house pumped heavily by testosterone, he was the only lucky one to have estrogen around on the weekends. She was an angel that fell from heaven and every time Valentine asked her if it hurt, she lovingly swore not even one bit with a slight smile to affirm her statement.
Vivian made the house a home. Every time she was around, the boys would share a loving meal, watch a comedy movie or two, and share their laughter. She was the missing link in their relationship. She didn’t qualify to be one of the boys because she had an air of authority and sophistication. Her motherly touch roused the best in everyone. The masses agreed that Don had outdone himself. With a slight smile at the edge of his mouth, you could detect a hint of pride as he passed his phone around showing off his sultana.
“Unataka kuona?” Don asked me. He had caught on that I was automatically in this with them.
“Yeah, sure,” I replied casually trying to contain the smile that was bubbling to the surface of my face. With the picture of an extremely vivacious woman in my hand, he went on with his story.
“But wasee kusema ukweli sikuwa na game, sikuwa na doh but nilikuwa na uongo“, Don admits. Don knew how to build castles in the sky. He was a master architect in the landscape of imagination and a bright future. However, the reality was a tad too real for him. He nurtured Vivian’s inner child and he was her perfect playmate in the field of lies and dreams.
On the days Vivian would miss Don in the house, Valentine who was always there would open the door and keep her company as she waited. Also, it made it less awkward for the couple. ” Save a brother and keep the queen at ease,” Valentine thought. The slow progress of easy friendship and tiny acknowledgment wasn’t damaging at all. If anything, it was an extra tally in the friendship book between Don and Valentine. Don didn’t think too much about it because Valentine also had a string of good-looking women who like a flowchart had a conditional execution of “while loop” only God knew what he was looking for.
Collo on the other hand was a captive of high-maintenance slay queens. He had to prove his wallet and facial fitness to the modern-day Delilah. As a young man with no responsibility, the world was his. Vivian was like a sister to him. He didn’t think too much about her. An occasional word of advice, when Vivian asked for it and careless jokes to test the purity of her commitment to Don was the most interaction they shared.
One year passed, and the more Vivian grew in wisdom and maturity, the more the relationship started falling apart. It was holding on to its dear life. Already past the ICU department heading to the death bed. Don’s lies were no longer sustainable. The boys started seeing less of Don around but Vivian would still faithfully come by. The spark she used to light a fire in the household was slowly fading. This did not make the trio happy. Don was at the edge with no strength left.
Valentine being the knight in shining armor decided to take matters into his hands. His thoughts still circulating at, “This one is for Don. I gat you bro” They say chivalry isn’t dead. From the little touches on the arm to meaningful morning texts and coffee bars during the weekend, Vivian’s spark was ignited, and found a reason to press on with her relationship with Don. “Maybe things will work out, after all, mvumilivu hula mbivu.”
At this point, they already knew where this was headed.
“Kwani hukuona bro!” asked the comical-looking guy at his side. “Eeh manze, love is blind na pia nilikuwa depressed at this point,” Don replies with a hint of regret and pain in his voice.
Collo on the other hand found a loophole in the crack of their relationship. His advice advanced to statements and his jokes weren’t so funny anymore. He meant serious business. When Valentine made her laugh, Collo proved that he listened to her. How did he do that you ask? Well, she got first-class tickets to her favourite band, Sauti Sol. As if that wasn’t enough, she had epic friendly dates that were unforgettable. They definitely didn’t forget to say cheese after those rhumba and lingala nights. A text before bed saying “You made my day” became the daily bread. Beautiful memories and poems; elegant gifts and expensive wine to calm her bitter distress came flying from both angles. She was showered with lust.
“Wasee kabla niambiwe, We are done, kitumbua kilikuwa kimejaa matope,” His pillar of strength and stability had moved in with Collo. They did a thorough house shopping session and landed a beautiful apartment building in the Westside. As if that wasn’t enough, the building was named New Beginnings. This was the moment the clueless lad came to his senses, when he was invited for a housewarming party at his former roommate’s new establishment. Before Don could reel in shock, there was an announcement that there would be a baby shower to grace the queen of the castle and her little incoming prince.
“Watu wangu, si mnajua mtoto ni baraka. Na Mungu akileta hatutakataa,..” These were the last statements flying in the air as Don staggered out of the house. He was drunk with devastating confusion. The lot of us were in deep silence. The story took a sharp U-turn that we wouldn’t recover so fast. We had to clutch onto our seatbelts as our hearts beat so loudly in unison that it would have put Muthoni the Drummer Queen in sheer shame. For the lot like me who were waiting for a punchline and little giggles, all got stifled.
There are so many proverbs and moral lessons that I would have ended with but be my guest. Feel free to be the judge, persecutor, defendant, lawyer, or jury. As for me, my itchy fingers had to scratch this keyboard.