By Kemboi Victor
I first saw her from the waiting room being cleared by the secretary at the reception. She looked thin, tired, emaciated, stressed, unkempt and desperate. She was already sweating and heaving from the strenuous walk she had made with the help of crutches, her left leg in plaster to indicate it was broken.
At a snail’s speed she limped, her pink handbag under her armpit and I pitied her so much that I almost rose up to help her sit down. From the look of things, a rogue PSV vehicle attendant had dropped her at the gate and she walked the 50 meters to the hospital without help. No one had even accompanied her. Didn’t she even have someone close to help her? I wondered.
Painstakingly, I studied her semblance and I recognized her. She looked like Gloria, my ex girlfriend whom I broke up with her six years ago.
But what happened to her? I wondered refusing to believe my eyes. Perhaps I was wrong. People do resemble and there was no way Gloria would look like this. I knew she was beautiful and royal, a thousand and one times better than this. As a matter of fact, she had dumped me those days because I could not afford to take care of her, and got married to Jude Ndegwa, a rich man who worked in a local bank, to enjoy the privileges from a rich man. By no means would Jude have allowed her walk to the hospital.
As she moved towards the waiting area, where I sat at the bench, my head engrossed in a newspaper that was in my hands, I gave her an enquiring look from the corner of my eye, studying her more keenly. It was Gloria, no doubt. The birthmark on her face was a total assurance.
I could recognize the voice well
I could tell that I was better than her now unlike those years when she had treated me like trash, saying I was to man up and live a decent life. From then I had resolved to never talk to her or have any dealings with her but now because of curiosity I wanted to understand what happened to her after our break up. After all, I had Sheila my sweet wife, who was then being attended to by Dr. Kafu for Marlene’s check up, our beautiful seven month’s old daughter.
Her proximity to me completely emptied my mind and by the time I came to myself, she was telling me to turn the newspaper the right side up because it was already upside down. Apparently I had concentrated so much on her at the expense of my newspaper.
I could recognize the voice well . It was indeed Gloria’s voice, Gloria the one I knew.
“Daktari mwenyewe ako ama ni yule assistant wake?” she asked, looking relieved.
“Yes, daktari is in. Pole sana,” I said and adjusted my glasses so that I could see her well.
She didn’t pay attention to me again after I had answered her. I think she wanted to rest than study faces. And certainly, she didn’t even notice who this strange man she was talking to was. To make her get the picture well I removed my glasses.
“If I am confusing you with someone else please forgive me. But you are Gloria, right?” I asked.
She looked at me and smiled, pain seemingly gone.
“Melchizedek! It’s you?” she asked.
“Yes, it’s me, Gloria,” I replied.
“Pole what happened to your leg?” I asked
“Wow! I was wondering why you gazed at me that long and thought you pitied my broken leg,” she said stretching her hand to greet me. I rose up to embrace her, laughing heartily at our first meeting after our break up six years ago. It was one long and romantic embrace as my mind flashed back to those years.
“Pole what happened to your leg?” I asked. I didn’t even feel the prolonged embrace and I continued holding her. Funny, Gloria too didn’t complain but when I remembered my now sweetheart Sheila, the love of my life, who was likely to get out of Dr. Kafu’s clinic anytime from then, I forced myself out of Gloria’s gripping embrace and sat down to continue hearing from her. Actually if Sheila bumped in and caught me in that state, I bet it would be the end of me. Our marriage was just one year old and I was carelessly embracing any woman I met!
“What happened to you Gloria?” I asked again, expressing concern. She was still excited at our meeting.
“You don’t want to know my dear. It’s a long story,” she said. “But tell me, where were you all this time?”
“It’s also another long story my dear. But to cut it short, I was in the Korea.”
“What! And you didn’t tell me you were going,” she exclaimed. However, before I answered her she continued speaking, “But anyway, I am the one that wronged you and there is no way you could really think of me.” Her face turned ashen with regrets too. The door from the clinic opened and out my sweet love came out holding my sweet daughter.
I had to end my discourse with Gloria. But I still pitied her. Not even because of her broken leg but her shaky appearance. During those days when we were lovers, she was a beauty to withhold.
Then here, six years later, I wondered what had made Gloria so deplorable and desperate.
Those past days I was with her as sweethearts flashed in my mind…
Finding a job was like finding a glass of water in a desert
I had just cleared my BA Science, Information Technology while she had cleared her BA Business Management. After university, life got so hard. I couldn’t find a penny to dress Gloria, take her out, and provide luxury which she so much demanded.
Finding a job was like finding a glass of water in a desert. Gloria was never used to cheap life and she got tired of me.
Before long she met Ndegwa—I won’t forgive him in my lifetime— who edged her away from me like a hawk does to a hen when it takes away its chick, and made me single again, in a time that I didn’t want to lose Gloria. I went through so much heartbreak then and now with Gloria opting to have Jude, I felt no girl ever wanted to be part of my miserable life. I hated myself, disowned myself, cried to myself, cursed myself and just felt useless. I simply had no money and wealth to impress a woman like Jude did, and I mourned like I had lost a close relative. I mourned for so long thinking about my poverty level, cursing myself and God.
A year later, after struggling back and forth, at times doing odd jobs to find something in my pockets, my uncle, who seemed to have understood my distress helped me and sponsored me to Korea, to further my studies. He couldn’t take a graduate working in people’s farms and at times at a construction site as a high rise construction worker.
That was the turning point of my life. I felt my esteem rising up again. I was so happy that I felt like it reached to Gloria that I was flying abroad, only that I didn’t know where she had settled with Jude to deliver this news. I had heard that the duo was happily married in Eldoret, and they had a child already, which although pained me, I chose to focus on my career and studies.
I was determined to succeed again. And I resolved to never have a word with Gloria forever and never wished to meet her in my life.
The years went on well. And in my stay in Korea I got some part time job which enabled me to pay my fees and also send some to my parents in Kenya. Before long, I also managed to buy myself a home in Eldoret town through my earnings.
After my return I got a job at the Summit Technologies as Director of ICT. I was doing well and in fact, I bought a car few moments after. Soon, Sheila, the light of my life, came to my life. I had met her at a wedding being the bridesmaid when I was the best man. Both of us developed a liking and we started speaking. And few days later we would date. Not before long I proposed to her. She accepted my preposition and here we are now as husband and wife, living happily.
“Today was not a serious thing sweetie, let’s go,” Sheila said immediately she reached me at the waiting bench.
“Ooh and how’s my Marlene?” I asked and rose up to help her carry Marlene who was holding her doll in her hands and playing with it. I took her and held her on my shoulder as Sheila put her things in order inside her purse. These were few sachets of medicine and some syrup bottles.
“She’s doing great. Her weight has increased immensely,” she said excitedly. Once, Marlene would drop her doll and I would bend down to collect it for her.
Immediately Sheila was through and noticed the woman that was seated next to me, I realized her change in facial countenance. By default, she didn’t like Gloria’s unkempt appearance or perhaps her deplorable state. I also sensed Gloria’s jealousy on my family in her eyes but why should I care? Isn’t she the one that dumped me for money and riches? I asked myself. But what puzzled me the most is Sheila whom I knew was kind only to react so strangely towards Gloria.
“I will find you Gloria.” I decided to break the confusion away. “I think with that length of time we have a lot to discuss. Call me for a cup of coffee or better still welcome me home. Where do you work of late?” I asked. But of course I could tell that she had no job from her shaky appearance. In fact, that question made her to hesitate a bit.
She was about to murmur out some words before I interrupted, seeing the difficulty she was in.
“Anyway, don’t worry we shall meet and talk a lot. Have my card please.”
I handed her my business card and introduced her to Sheila. Then I noticed Sheila’s absentmindedness while she looked at Gloria and Gloria’s discomfort as she looked at Sheila. Even while I spoke to them, they were not concentrating.
“You mean you people mnajuana ama nini? I find this strange,” I said. It took several seconds for Sheila to come back to reality, just like Gloria.
“Aaah…yes…no…I have never met her, just confusing her with someone,” Sheila murmured.
“This is my sweetheart Sheila,” I told Gloria. “And Sheila, this is my long time friend Gloria. And Gloria, this is our daughter Marlene.”
“Nice to meet you Gloria,” Sheila told Gloria, though Gloria still looked flustered.
“Gloria, you’re welcome to my house anytime.” Sheila told Gloria.
And Gloria promised to visit.
Now as we left Dr. Kafu’s clinic, in our car, Sheila asked a lot more about Gloria. How did I know her? I could feel her emotions boiling but without flinching I told her that Gloria was the useless, shameless, gold digging ex lover who dumped me at the time of need to get married to a rich Ndegwa somewhere.
The mention of Jude Ndegwa made her gasp. I could also tell that her heart was beating more rapidly than before. She held her mouth with her hand and almost dropped Marlene who was in her hands. For some few seconds again she went to her own world. She understood shortly that I was looking at her and relaxed saying Marlene, who was sitting on her, had hit her with her head so dangerously. However, without guessing, I could tell she knew Gloria and Jude Ndegwa. Whatever that was, I decided to go on with my story, now sure that she didn’t want me to know something. I only decided to wait until the day she told me. I knew her well; that she wouldn’t hide something from me for long.
END OF PART ONE