When I joined high school in 2009, there was a book that used to make the rounds in my class in those first days of school when we had nothing to do. It was called “My Life With A Criminal”. Foolishly, I did not read that book. I should have. I really should have, because it might have prepared me for the six months I have had to spend as someone apparently dating one. (I use the word apparently for a reason, stick around and you’ll find out why.)
A few months ago, I travelled 8 hours by bus to the fruitful land at the border of Kenya and Uganda, at the foothills of Mt.Elgon, known as Bungoma. If you have no idea where that is, Google Maps is there for you. I went there to do what most university students in Kenya have to do when they get to their third year: get practical work experience. Foolishly, I forgot this as well.
I met someone. Yes, someone. Not just someone. Someone I thought was cute. Had a nice smile. Someone who seemed harmless. Someone who seemed like a gentleman. That was my type then, I was looking for harmless, because I had been around enough of those full of themselves, I-rule-the-world-so-things-should-go-my-way, pseudo-macho men. Yes! I thought. It was my turn to get a reprieve. I would finally be able to have a drama free relationship and move on when it died its natural death, because when I met him I got that feeling. Ladies, I know you know it. That feeling that this will probably not last as long as we lie to each other it will.
To be honest, he told a sob story and I was sympathetic. Maybe it was true, maybe it wasn’t but my goodness I ate that nonsense up like those people who waste time taking Nairobi Diaries seriously. Yes, I said it. Moving on. He seemed so sensitive and so normal. He also put on such a convincing show of liking me. He of course pulled that line of, ” You’re very beautiful.” There was also the classic :”You’re really nice.” Among other many sweet nothings…including : “I don’t know what I would do without you” (Which should have tipped me off because it sounded like those sappy love songs I hate. What do you mean you don’t know what you would do without me? How about what you were doing before you met me? That could work.) Sadly, I fell for it, while everyone watching found mirth and amusement in how fast I fell. While those who care for me expressed wariness. (I should have listened)
So, anyway, two months later towards the end of my time in Bungoma, I had a sit down with him…and asked him the all important question:
“What are we?”
At that moment, the brother who had all that mushiness to regurgitate from some sappy love song he had heard, because, you know, those were “his jams”,hesitated. I got suspicious and stored that in my file to use for the day of break-up, because I knew then that I would be ending the situation. However, he did give me an answer. You guys, this is what he said. For real.
“You’re my date.”
I really wanted to laugh when he said this. Just from a grammatical perspective alone, seeing as the word to define someone you’re dating does not necessarily result in the noun “date” . I won’t lie. I corrected him. My first impulse was to correct his grammar, and I followed it. Unapologetically. I said,
“That’s not how you use that word.” Or something along those lines.
I asked him that question for a whole ten minutes and he didn’t answer anything other than, “You’re my date.” So, I solidified my decision. This relationship would end. Even just on the basis of poor grammar. It would end.
A few days later, I was back in Nairobi and the funniest thing happened. My feelings ran out. I will be honest, I had also said some sweet nothings, which at the time I totally believed to be true. Until I hit the Nairobi air. It cleared out my mind somehow. (I’m msichanawanairobi for a reason. My common sense is so alive here.)Well, that and the fact that Mr. You’re My Date kept calling me to ask me for money. That was the only time he would call actually.
He’d be like, “Hey (some weird pet name) , I just wanted to hear your voice.” I usually consider that the silliest reason to call someone. One of my exes used to call me at 3 am, while I slept, just to hear my voice. Apparently, the two of them had read the same foolish advice in some unrealistic male magazine under an article, “Things She Finds Romantic” and they only remembered “Call her randomly and say you just wanted to hear her voice.” I hated it when my ex did it. I hated it when Mr. You’re My Date did it. This is something I need people to understand: In my family, we don’t call each other to hear voices, we call each other to convey messages and important information. That is what phones are for. Anyway, he would call under the guise of wanting to hear my voice and when I didn’t bite the bait and awkward silence would ensue he’d finally get to the point.
“Do you have 1K? …Do you have 4K?… Do you have 3K?”
In hindsight, I am so grateful I was broke, because at the time I was actually willing to give donations to him. Apparently, he mistook himself for a charity organization. I will take this moment to say, because I have experienced this feeling, it is the most uncomfortably unnatural thing when a man asks a woman for money…all the time. It is disturbingly unnatural and so obviously suspicious that I want to hit my head against the wall for not trusting my instinct. It was also at this time that I realized this guy was not dating me, he just needed a source of funds. Yet again, I was in a relationship alone. Again? Yes. Again. This has happened before. Twice. Or is it three times? Goodness, my love life is a lesson in Hot Mess.
Okay, I know you are probably wondering what “My Life With A Criminal” has to do with this. Well, I really wish I had taken the time to read the book because perhaps I would have been able to identify the criminal intention that had been hanging around me for months.
Get this.I had given him money. 30,000 shillings and some change. Remember how I said I am broke? You do? Then you know that money did not come easy. The money was given to him, not out the kindness of my heart, but for purposes of procuring a laptop on my behalf. (Now you understand what I mean when I kept saying I’ve been having problems with my laptop.) Mr. You’re My Date, masqueraded himself as a part time vendor of electronics with a cousin he apparently made up, who conveniently lived on another continent. Now, pay attention. We’re going to move pretty quickly from here.
When we got to Nairobi and I finally finished paying for the “laptop” , Mr. You’re My Date dropped off the face of the earth for three weeks. CIA style. Incognito. I got the news from some of my classmates that the young man had chose to vacation on India. At the time, I was annoyed as his “date” (I just want you all to know, I laugh every time I say this word.) When he resurfaced, he was not apologetic not even one bit. So, I kicked him to the curb. Well, his behavior gave me the excuse I needed to kick him to the curb. Unfortunately, I was unable to move on because he still had to deliver my laptop. Long story short: he had lied about that. He had probably used my money to fund his vacation. I also found out, when I took the time to investigate his character (something I should have done earlier), that he was notorious for absconding with people’s funds under false pretenses. Which, by the way, is a crime. Now, what do you call someone who commits a crime over and over? A criminal. In fact, in this case, the correct term is habitual criminal.
Mr. You’re My Date (read as You’re My ATM), was an extortionist and one with experience on his side. He was also a pathological liar. You know, those people who lie for thrills and tickles. He came up with fake fathers. Fake MPESA agents. Fake email addresses. Fake emails. Fake texts. Fake phone numbers. He recruited his “boys” to be his accomplices. He sent his cousin to Zambia. Czech Republic. Had this gone on longer, maybe he might have had his cousin arrested and detained in Iraq. Who know? The chap was quite imaginative. What got me though, is that he kept lying even when I confronted him with the truth.
I went to the police. I went to the school administration. I tried to pull strings, but sadly I realized I don’t really have strings to pull. It was a blow to the ego, to be honest. How could I not “know people”? I was about to give up. I was annoyed with myself and angry that I had managed to attract someone with everything wrong about my exes personified in him, plus mens rea to boot.
Finally, I swallowed my pride and stopped trying to be the woman who could fix everything herself, because I am not. Not even close.
I finally called in the big guns. The first wise decision I made in this whole mess.
I called my Heavenly Father and my Dad. You guys, miracles happened. Miracles happened. I don’t even know how to explain this in a way that is believable but God worked things out in such an organized and speedy way when I left it all to Him. What I had not been able to accomplish in almost four months, he accomplished in a week and a half and he used my dad and the most unexpected people to do it. In my frustration I had focused on how I don’t know anyone and forgotten that God knows every0ne. I got my money back. I got my laptop. Of course, I had to deal with my father’s look of disbelief and him probably wondering whether it was really him who raised such a fall-for-anything daughter. I can’t count the number of times my dad has told me, ” How can you just trust anyone? You’re so gullible.” and he says it with so much amazement that it makes me want to laugh, but I don’t. You can’t risk having your laughter interpreted wrongly where an African father is involved. He might think I don’t take the situation seriously.
I’m able to write this comfortably today because God came through and my dad had his gullible daughter’s back.
This story is funny now. My disasters are often funny…after the fact.However, there are a four serious lessons I have learned from this. First, God is the most powerful man I know. Thankfully, He isn’t even a man. If He doesn’t help, things go nowhere. Second, my father is the only human man that can be trusted. Just him. Third, keep your emotions to yourself. Not everybody deserves your feelings. In fact, most people don’t. Finally, I am not old enough to date. I am not old enough to get married and when I am old enough, if ever, my father is arranging my marriage. Really, he is, because who knows what strange thing I’ll attract next?
P.S. To all my close friends, if somehow you see me purporting to partake in this tomfoolery again, I give you permission to slap me twice. Each of you. To all my male friends, the paranoia is about to get real.