My history of men with questionable character can be easily linked to my relationship with alcohol. And no, not just because I, sometimes, blindly follow them home drunk and stick to them like a limpet even after they insist ‘it was just a one-time thing blah blah blah’, ‘My girlfriend’s gonna kill you yadi yadi yada,’ ‘you really gotta stop DMing me blah blah blah…’. No. it’s something different, something…deeper.
First of all, I don’t quite identify as a good decision maker, and this is true for both when I’m drunk and sober. For example, and I’ll just pick something off the top of my head here, I was sober when I hit Tricia with a wineglass on her humongous forehead at my friend Stacy’s baby shower for calling me crazy. I was also sober when I punched Tricia on her perfect cheek bone for dancing with my boyfriend at my other friend’s birthday party last weekend. I was quite sober last night too, when I tried to pull her braids off and terribly failed because she chose a good day to wear a frisking wig. I’ve blamed alcohol every time for every sick thing I’ve done (to Tricia) while sober. I figured people let you off easy if you just say you were drunk.
Sometimes before I go crazy, I remember my mother’s voice saying ‘God is watching you Mimo, don’t forget that.’ She’d say that before leaving me alone in the house while heading to work when I was ten, she’d also say that when she came to my room and suspected I was up to no good…she said it when she brought me to Campus, on the first day and even wrote me a note saying the same. It scared me as a little girl, now I don’t even know if it means anything anymore, well except, there’s at least one person giving me unwavering attention.
It’s morning now, and I have no idea where the heck I am. I have very little memory of what happened last night when the party was over, guess I didn’t stay sober for long enough, I must have been stupid drunk when I got here. The house I’m in looks a bit too tidy for any of the friends I have. The curtains match the golden-brown couches, the air smells of sweet candy and there’s a desk next to the TV with a whole lot of books that are very well organized. There’s also a Bible open with a notebook and a pen right next to it. I am definitely not in any of my friends’ house.
Something I’ve wondered about since my eyes opened this morning; there are several writings on the wall inside brownish frames, I’ve counted about six of them now, all in different areas of the living room, all of them saying The Hawthorne Effect. I wonder what that means, I’d google that right now if I knew where my phone was. I need to know what that means, and if it has anything to do with why I’m here, and if I’m being trafficked, or if I’m a victim of whatever this Hawthorne effect is. God is watching you Mimo, God is watching you.
There’s however coffee on the table, and a nice goldish sugar dish next to it. Someone served me, not too long ago, so at least, wherever this is, I’m not unwelcome here.
I’d had five stupidly difficult months trying to get over Danny, my boyfriend of four years who’d decided that I deserved better, (his exact words, btw) and he deserved Jasmine, some petite, pretty, light skin girl he worked with. I was quite crestfallen, but not surprised. I knew he was eventually going to leave me, it was just a matter of when, and probably who.
Danny and I were what you’d call picture perfect. Our IG photos got likes for days! We made not so random videos about our daily go-abouts, driving down roads going to nowhere singing loudly along to Ckay and Wakadinali. We were kind of on our way to becoming a celebrity couple. I laugh about it now, but back then I was very invested in the nonsenses and extremes that came with creating social media content.
There were things I hadn’t liked about Danny before we started dating. Firstly, the guy was a control freak who threw the tantrums of a three-year-old child when things weren’t done his way. He hated church, almost twice as much as I’d loved it, and thought God was ‘too big’ to get hurt by little ‘bad’ actions that make us mere humans happy. His mantra was basically ‘Life is for the living’. And like many young, naïve women, I went all in with him hoping I’d change his bad habits, but I ended up adopting most of them. I shrank in the big shadow his insouciance cast on me.
During the months leading to our breaking up I’d started considering going back to church, something that would get Danny more worked up than my seasonal untidiness. So, I started listening to Mike Todd’s Relationship Goals, and if you think I stayed any longer after those mind opening sermons that pointed at all the big flaws in my relationship…I did, I stayed for many reasons, one of them being my inability to comfortably imagine a world without Danny as my boyfriend.
In the five months, we’d broken up my life had almost come to a standstill. I had so many questions I needed to ask him. Like, why Jasmine? Were they having a fling back then when I kept asking about the late-night calls? Was he really working long hours? Is she better than me? What does she do right that I couldn’t have ever learnt? So, I kept calling him and constantly begging his sister Tricia to talk to him, texting him, asking him to meet me one last time. He finally agreed to, and we picked a Friday night when Jasmine would be out of town.
Men and Alcohol
The first time I ever tasted alcohol I hated every sip of the Black and White my campus roommate Tabby had poured in my cup. I made an uglier face than I ever did watching Reality TV. ‘How do you guys even drink this with a straight face?’ I yelled at Tabby through the blasting, loud, Ckay jam we were listening to. She was at this point laughing hysterically. ‘You get used to it…after a while you stop feeling like you hate it, you stop feeling like it’s hurting you, you fall in love with it cos it takes you high,’ she said, dancing quasi-elegantly along to Love Nwantiti with a tumbler on her right hand. ‘I hate it,’ I said and poured more drink into my cup.
God is watching you Mimo, God is watching you.
I hated my drink the same way I had hated Brayo. The first time I met him just the mere sight of his existence irked me. I was at an album launch party for one of my classmates, Ian, at his two-bedroom apartment off campus. Brayo wore sagged black skinny jeans held to his small waist by a belt that was so long that it hung by his side. His shoes were either off white or dirty, he insisted they were off-white. Brayo was loud- too loud, he made some people laugh some of the time. But the one thing I mostly couldn’t stand was how loudly he sang along to every Mbuzi Gang jam that played. There’s always been something awfully disturbing about guys who joyfully listen to Gengetone.
We started dating two weeks after that first day. Sometimes I think I was just lonely, or high, or low, or confused when I accepted to be his girlfriend. For some strange reason, I stopped feeling like I hated him, I fell in love with him cos he took me high, like my alcohol. He made me laugh, always had the best movie choices, his hugs were to die for and his presence was like a remedy for every sick thing in me. He made me feel seen. He had his flaws; like dirt, laziness and Tricia. Some flaws I overlooked. We’ve been together for two years now and I still haven’t completely mastered the art of making excuses for him.
Not to use a kerchief to cover my behind, but my family was going through a lot of sh…uhm, stuff that time when Brayo and I started hanging. My mother was getting back together with my dead-mummified-beat dad and it was driving me nuts. We hadn’t seen the guy for eons. The last time I’d seen him was by mistake at a Mall in town, he was with his new wife and three-year-old daughter- he pretended he didn’t know me. Dude completely acted like I was one of the attendants.
Mum had struggled to put my brothers and I through school and I had hated to see her troubled every time. Then Invisible Man comes back and a simple sorry from him makes her give him cake he’d already eaten.
She says it’s not that simple, that it’s more complicated than that, that I’ll understand when I’m older…and often times I want to tell her if that’s one of the things I’ll get from growing up, I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to grow up and understand how you let someone who’s nothing, has nothing and offers nothing become your everything.
I’m still unable to describe the feeling I had while waiting for Danny that Friday night. It wasn’t exactly joy. Maybe a mixture of anxiety, anger, wishful thinking, pain and disappointment, eagerness and excitement. I hadn’t seen him in five months, which was the longest we’d stayed apart since we met in 2016. I dressed up in a beige bandage dress he’d bought me for my 26th birthday, I’d see it in his eyes every time I wore it that he liked how I looked in it. Either that or, his ego made him feel like I was a beautiful work of his hands.
By 7:30pm dinner was already set on the table. This was the first time I made him his favorite meal, chicken biryani with an avocado salad, even though he had constantly insisted that I shouldn’t try out new recipes on him if I wasn’t sure about them. I did. This night was about proving a point.
I sat on my couch and started browsing for something on Netflix to keep myself distracted until my tall, built, bald Prince arrives. It took me 45 minutes to decide that maybe I could try to watch the second season of Bridgerton without the king of thirst traps, Rege Jean Pierre. I don’t exactly remember when I slept off, but I was woken up at around 2 a.m. by footsteps outside my door.
‘At 2:00am?’ I said to myself turning down the volume of the TV, feeling insane rage rising within me. ‘This son of Pharaoh is lost if he thinks I’m going to open the door for him at this time of the night.’ It didn’t take long before I heard the same footsteps moving away from my door. I was livid. ‘You’re seriously just going to walk away?!’ I shrieked, quickly heading for my door. When I opened the door, there was a weirdly dressed young man and a seemingly young woman running off on the corridor towards the stairs, and at my doorstep lied a half-naked, almost overly-tattooed, blacked out girl.
‘Oh for crying out loud Brian!,’ I shrieked, leaning back on the couch after my kind lady, Emma, described to me for the millionth time how I’d ended up in her house.
‘Is this the first time they’ve dropped you off at a stranger’s house at midnight?’
‘They were dropping me at my house, house number 2B, their drunk heads brought me to the wrong apartment, lol,’ I said, Emma chuckled.
‘Why’d you bring me in? You’re not afraid that maybe it was all part of a plan and I’m supposed to rob your house or something?’
‘How do you know I’m not a cop setting you and your daft boyfriend up?’ We laugh.
‘What’s the Hawthorne effect?’ I ask, looking around the house to see if I’d spot frame number 8 now that I’d already seen number 7 next to the window when she drew the curtains. ‘And why so many reminders on your wall?’
‘It’s how we unknowingly change behavior when we notice someone is watching us.’
‘You haven’t done it? Changed your posture or fixed your hair or something, when you noticed someone was watching?’
‘Like God watching?’ Emma laughs. ‘No seriously, I’m not saying I change every time I realize it, but my mum has told me countless times God is watching me…what’s funny?’
‘I’ve never really seen God in that statement you know.’
‘Maybe if I knew God was watching me I wouldn’t have put so many marks on Tricia’s face,’ I said, jokingly, imagining what they’re up to with Brayo.
‘Tricia? I know a Tricia with a lot of marks on her face,’
‘From one of those books you’re reading?’
‘My ex-boyfriend’s beloved sister,’ Emma says, I brush it off as mere coincidence. ‘He’d come home really angry sometimes, complaining that his sister won’t leave this weird guy who’s always hitting her.’ She continued. If we’re talking about the same Tricia I’m the weird guy.
We hear a knock on the door.
‘Is your Tricia’s last name Mboya?’
‘Yup,’ she said, standing up to head for the door. ‘Tricia Mboya, stubborn girl that one.’
Her face changes immediately she opens the door.
‘Seriously, Danny?’ I hear her say.