He pulls up, sits in for a few minutes, he has to let the engine run a bit before he can finally leave the jalopy, otherwise it may not start at all tomorrow. He opens the cranky doors and the noise from the rusted hinges is succeeded by one light after the other as neighbors wake up to check what is happening at the parking. He gets out; jacket in hand and from the back seat pulls out a bunch of flowers. He bought this with the only money he had left. He had to do something to affirm his love for her.
He walks up the stairs. Water has poured all over the staircase, the pipes up there are leaking. Water sips into his shoes. This is the only pair he has. Life has been so tough he can’t afford any other. He curses at the thought that a few hours later he will have to put them on again, this time wet from the water that sipped in. Yes, he lives in the Leafy Suburbs Estate and everyone imagines how well off he is, little do they know that he lives in the poorest flats in that estate.
He knocks on the door. Today he came thirty minutes early and yes with flowers in hand. He has this sheepish grin, he hopes this gesture today gets him at least a bowl of soup for the show of loves. He has to stand at the door for 15 minutes, she is asleep. When she finally opens she throws a casual “hi!” and walks back to the bedroom, evidently tired from the five months pregnancy.
He doesn’t understand why she hasn’t left all this while. He walks into the kitchen and as usual there is nothing to show that he lives with a woman. He pulls out his phone to call the pizza guy then he remembers he used the last money on the flowers, flowers she never even realized he was carrying. Oh! He remembers, the text, the text that came in when he was busy in the office and couldn’t read, busy working hard for their future. He hopes it is an M-Pesa message from one of his debtors. He opens with a smile, it reads “Come home with food, I haven’t eaten a thing all day. I feel like Gallito’s kuku”
He has nothing to do. He walks into the bedroom, changes and gets into bed. He can’t even have the evening shower he used to love. The thought of using that fish smelling bar soap again. He couldn’t get a few coins to get toilet soap. He wants to kiss her goodnight; she covers her lips, turns and faces the wall. It has been long, very long since he last had a touch.
He can’t sleep at all. He has been on twitter all night, scrolling what everyone else is saying. The dates at Serena, the night outs at Skylux, the camps at Crayfish and the business flights to Dubai; these were the thoughts he had a few years ago when they met. The life he struggled to prove to her he lives. He had a car, no sorry a jalopy but at least she saw him go get insurance. He lived in Leafy, well no she never knew he struggled, he had the most expensive shoes, what she didn’t know was that they were his only pair. He was in a suit; she never knew he went hungry for a whole month to get one.
He logs off twitter. Tomorrow is another day, payday is here. *phew* He wants to budget his salary. His keypad is too faded he can’t find the figures to key in. But life is a struggle and he finally manages. Rent, insurance, fuel, hair, shoes, birthday, cologne, clinic, before he gets to food, new shoes and shirts – DEBT. The calculator reads “NEG”.
He looks again. It reads “NEG” because he is in love alone!