I love to watch people. I will go to a restaurant, sit at the corner, order a meal or drink, just to watch people. It’s amazing I tell you. You should try it.

At that vantage point I look into other peoples’ worlds. I study their actions, utterances and non-verbal cues without them even noticing. I pay attention as people play out their role in this theatre of life.

I will notice all the frenzy. I notice how waiters crisscross the restaurant trying to make sure every customer is happy. There is the super sharp and active one. The one who makes the rest look bad because she (and it’s usually a she) delivers on orders pronto. She’s allover the place, energy levels at the peak, smile on her face, all chatty and getting work done. She is the darling of the customers.

Then there’s the lazy waiter. The one who walks around like she was forced to come to work. She behaves like her showing up to work is a favor to all of you. You gesture to her to come and she’ll take a whole 5 minutes to move to where you are. Then she gets there and stands hands akimbo like you’ve insulted her by calling her.

The worst is the tired, moody waiter. The one who has an attitude from hell. She always wears a resting bitch face. She never smiles. I have no idea how she got the job in the first place because I assume they ask all waiters to smile during the interview. Well, if they don’t then that question should be included in the interview schedule, I think.

Lastly, there’s the one who’s always in a hurry. You’ll be telling him what you want and he’ll assume you are done mid-way and start striding away to the counter. Then you have to call him back and go through the order allover again. Needless to say, he will still get it wrong when he finally delivers.

Waiters! Sigh!

I’ll also notice who’s eating what. That customer who’s ordered something they’ve never tried before. You can tell this by how they struggle to make the spaghetti Bolognese stick to the fork all the time with amazing failure or how they cringe when they taste the espresso.

The thought of life’s drama and people watching occurred to me because I was meeting Kanini in a restaurant. Well, that and the fact that I’m a stickler for time. Kanini isn’t her name. Kanini is her stature. She’s a petite girl and that’s what they call something small in my native language.

So as you would imagine, the first thing I noticed about Kanini is that she was late. She was 24 minutes late to be precise. We had agreed to meet at 1:00 p.m. She calls at 1:15 p.m. to ask whether I have arrived then walks in 9 minutes later and asks what time I had arrived.

I shrug and ask her “kwani what time were we meeting up?” She laughs. I don’t.

We exchange pleasantries.

Kanini is not new to me; I have known her for two years now. When she said she had a story for me to write, I actually thought that she was joking. She’s one of those people who know how to pull a poker face. I struggle to tell her serious from her joke side two years on.

“Are you serious that you have a story by the way ama you just wanted to hang out?” I ask. She draws a blank look then asks me “Which story? What are you even talking about? Mimi I just wanted to meet up!”

I almost get upset but I take it in good stride. She notices that I am not joking and starts talking as she makes her order.

“We met in church.” Kanini says.

I laugh out loudly. She’s taken aback and wonders what’s funny with meeting a boy in church. I don’t tell her but I laugh because Kanini doesn’t look like your usual church girl. If you have been raised in church for 30 years you can tell a church girl from a crowd with your eyes closed. But if she says they met in church, then they met in church.

They became friends but she wasn’t into the whole dating thing. She had performed the zoning thing on him before he could even declare his intentions. Girls can be mean sometimes. They take one look at you and throw you deep into the ‘bro-zone’ sea before you can even compose yourself to ‘throw vybe’ their way.

But credit to him, he did hit on her a couple of times.

I think there’s something that tells a guy to just go back and ask again even if the first answer was a ‘no’. I am not sure whether any of us ever got a ‘yes’ on the first ask anyway. First ‘yeses’ evoke lots of suspicion. So she still lengad him and because she was in college, she went back to school. While there, she lost her phone and with that, lost all her contacts. But as fate would have it, they met again, they exchanged contacts again.

When this happens, guys take it as a sign from the gods. A guy would be like “see, even the gods wanted us to be together! They brought you back girl!”

So they started talking. A lot. They would have those kinds of conversations that guys have till the wee hours of the morning. The ones where no one wants to hang up. So they will talk until they run out of airtime or until one of them blacks out. Lakini love can be stupid, yeah?

“I don’t even know how I ingiad his box by the way,” Kanini says. “It is like he slid into my heart unnoticed. One minute I was na huku saying how we are just friends, the next minute we were calling each other boo and sweetie.”

Kanini was 21. He was three years her senior. She tells me that he, even as a student was a very well put together kind of guy. He was intentional with life. He even had a hustle as a student and his own place. He also dressed very well. He was always well groomed.

I get a sense, by now, that girls like a well-dressed man. Hint hint single guys.

She fell in love with him. Like really fell in love. When she says she loved him, she gets lost in that statement. Like goes into a trance. I literally have to snap a finger at her the shrink way to bring her back.

They were together for two or so years and Kanini tells me that they never talked about marriage. It would make a bit of sense seeing that both of them were still students.

“But he was serious with me.” She says.

She knows he was serious because he made her meet his mother. You know a man is serious when he takes his girlfriend to meet his mother. It is like one of those do or die stages in the vetting process of marriage. If a girlfriend scores high with a guy’s mother then her chances of transiting from girlfriend to wife are high.

Kanini passed this test with flying colors. His mother loved her. Wait, more like adored her. They even became BFFs. She became friends with his sisters too. It’s like she became part of the family. The only thing he needed to do now was put a ring on it. This was an almost done deal.

But life will often times throw us strange curve balls. Anyone who manages to hit a home run in this game of life is surely a master batter.

“So I am on FB one day and I decide to check out my Bae’s timeline,” She says. “I am scrolling through when I find this photo of a baby with the caption saying ‘my lovely son’.”

In her mind, she thinks that that can’t be his son. She decides that she’ll ask him about it later.

“When I asked, he said that that was his friend’s kid. But I didn’t believe him. He didn’t look convincing. You can tell when someone is lying to you. I knew he was lying.” Kanini says.

She’s goes quiet for a minute, like she’s trying to process her emotions, then looks up at me.

“I asked him about the kid later. This time, he admitted that it was his son. He said that the son was from a previous relationship and that even he didn’t know that he had a son until much later.” She tells me.

She says that that discovery was the advent of all kinds of drama. There’s a bit of truth in the old adage that goes ‘some things are better left unsaid and that what you don’t know cannot hurt you.’ Knowing that he had a son threw everything off balance. It was a literal can of worms and Pandora’s box both flung wide open in her face.

“That is where the drama started.” Kanini says pensively.

I found out that he had a crazy baby mama. He had being sued repeatedly and had been taken to court over his son’s upkeep. Even though he was a student, he worked his behind off to make sure that his son was taken care of. The worst bit about it was that he had kept all this to himself. Not even his parents knew about it. His own mother didn’t know that his son had a son already. He was dealing with it like all men do, like men!

“See that’s the problem with you men,” She says in an accusatory tone. “You guys don’t talk! You carry all these things in your heart and say nothing about it.”

I am still processing this statement when Kanini asks me “Ni nini huwa mbaya na wanaume lakini?” I don’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s meant for me.

She would see that he’s struggling with something but he would just not open up. Even when she’d pester, he would still shut her out and not say anything. For some reason, she always hit a brick wall whenever she asked him what was going on. She tried and pushed, she pestered and at times even coerced, but she could only do this for so long, she gave up.

Nilichoka Mwendwa. I couldn’t do it anymore. Mimi sijui kushindia nikipush mtu aniongeleshe.” Kanini tells me.

They had always had arguments with the baby mama about the baby but now that Kanini knew about it, it seemed like the arguments just escalated. The ex wanted him to marry her and she knew how to use the son to good effect. It is sad how a kid could be used as a bargaining chip in a game of chess that he never signed up for.

Between the baby mama drama, his hustle and school, their relationship was suffering big time.

She says that shit hit the fan when they, in a wedding, met the baby mama.

“I didn’t know that he hadn’t told the ex that he was dating. That was the first time that we’d ever met. She didn’t act abnormally. In fact she was very cordial. We even took a photo together, the three of us.” Kanini says.

She should have known that this was the calm before the proverbial storm. The drama that ensued after that could have easily won the best act at the Nationals of the Kenya Schools and Colleges Drama Festivals. The baby mama would have been crowned the best solo act unopposed.

“It drove me crazy Mwendwa. It was drama after drama. Everyday we dealt with something different. The baby mama was hell bent on ensuring that he married her and if she wasn’t going to have him, no one else would.” She says.

So she got fed up and decided that she was walking out.

“I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. So I sat him down and told him that I wanted a break.” She tells me.

It’s those kinds of breaks that mean that it is the end of the relationship only that we call them breaks. In actual sense, we should just say it is the end but mostly, we don’t have the guts to call them what they are.

Kanini breathes heavily and sighs before she continues.

“Mwendwa, this guy flipped when I told him that I was leaving him. He threatened to commit suicide if I dared and he wasn’t joking. So I stayed.”

She talked to her mum about it. Her mother told her to hang in there, not to give up on him that fast, that he was a good guy and that he just needed time to sort himself out. So she stayed put because mama knows best. But this time, mama was wrong, very wrong.

Things didn’t get better.

Things never really do. There is a turn that a relationship takes that it can’t be remedied. It’s like a car that starts skidding and veering off the road on a rainy night. It can only be stopped by a collision. What we call an accident. That accident is normally a break up.

I ask her what the straw that finally broke the camel’s back was.

“So the baby mama had travelled out of the country,” She narrates. “When she came back, she insisted that he should go see the son. She was at her parents and that was in another county, far from his own, so he had to spend a couple of nights.”

When he came back, she noticed that something was off. She couldn’t put a finger on it but it was there. She knew something had happened during his trip. Girls have a sixth sense. They can smell trouble, a lie and the scent of another woman on their man a week later.

So she asked and asked again.

She wishes she hadn’t though. Truth is good and yes, the truth sets you free. But the truth can break you in such a way that you can never trust again. There is a reason why the good book advises that ‘love covers a multitude of sins.’ Some sins are better left covered.

“I asked him where he’d slept when he visited her. He said that the first day, he slept in a separate room but on the second day, she’d insisted that they sleep in the same room.” Kanini tells me.

She asked him whether anything happened. He couldn’t answer at first but she persisted.

“Finally, he admitted that something had happened. He said that she forced him to sleep with her. I didn’t believe him. I still don’t,” She pauses, visibly upset. “How does someone force you to sleep with them Mwendwa? I asked him if he was raped, he said no! So how was he forced? I am sorry but that is a lot of BS.”

After that, she was done. She stood up, wiped her tears and walked out. She walked out and didn’t look back.

“He was shocked that I left. I could hear him crying as I walked away but I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t even stop to look back. I just kept walking. I was done.” She says.

She got calls from his best friend asking her to give him another chance but she couldn’t bring herself to do that. Something had died and she had dutifully buried it. She wasn’t going to try and resurrect it.

I ask her what she’d say about the relationship.

She tells me he was a good man. That he made her the woman she is right now and for that she’s truly grateful. She tells me she loved him, and yes, part of her still loves him but that’s it. Sometimes love ain’t enough.

“I think you’ve got to know when someone’s part in the play of your life ends. You don’t hold on. You let it go no matter how hard it is. It doesn’t have to work and you don’t have to insist on it.” Kanini says.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out and that too is okay. Even that can be God’s will and plan for you. William Shakespeare once said that “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances…”

Kanini and I concur.

  1. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and that too is okay. Even that can be God’s will and plan for you.
    Kidogo narelate na Kanini😁

  2. ‘when someone’s part in the play of your life ends. You don’t hold on. You let it go no matter how hard it is”…..so true

  3. Matters letting go, the sooner the better! I love the fact that your stories are relatable and have a silver lining – lessons!

  4. All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances… Isn’t that the truth? Wisdom is knowing when to try harder and when to let go. Kudos to Kanini. Great story as usual…

  5. Am more interested to understand the mindset behind this guy’s Ex. Was her determination to get married to this guy as a result of the proverbial saying of ‘You get to know the value of something after you lost it!!!!’ And that after knowing the value she was not ready to loose again to a Kanini?
    Were the child support proceedings a thither for the guy to stick around? And that Kanini was seen as someone who has untied the thither rope?
    Did Kanini break it off because she was saving herself for the guy or she saving the guy? We may be players on the stage but in our playing we have roles and characters to take up. I just hope as we play we don’t leave stage incomplete and unfinished.

  6. The dude was enjoying two chics… One was in Oblivion & I’m afraid that’s Kanini. Praying that she heals and moves on. Si wanaume si wazuri!

  7. You are allowed to end a toxic relationship. You are allowed to walk away from people who hurt you. Knowing when to ct holding on or letting go is a skill on another level.
    Thank you so much Mwendwa, your stories are timely and relatable.

  8. Much respect to Kanini for letting that man go.

    Its such a tragedy to be with someone who is unsure of what they want.

  9. The sad part is that the gentleman is stuck in a toxic relationship. Too much drama . When he finally gets tired the baby mama will have it rough.

  10. On my view the gentleman was not firm on his decision and was playing games for kanini she should have left long time ago.

  11. Kanini,keep walking and do it as many times until you find your true gem.To my brother,the minute you realize every opposite sex friend you have Including your EX must be friend zoned is the day your marriage/relationship prospers .You must Delilah proof and Jezebel proof yourself !!!

    Nice piece Mwendwa.

  12. Shall we then say relationship at tender age is wrong so as to avoid problems in one’s future Marital life… Well I hope kanimi finds her true love soon and I wish her a successful marriage this time around…

  13. Shall we then say relationship at tender age is wrong so as to avoid problems in one’s future Marital life 🤷… Well I hope kanimi finds her true love and I wish her a successful marriage this time around…

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