Isn’t it weird? That instinct we often have to treat someone as our own when we’re in love with them? That even when we’re not officially together our blood boils when you see them smiling with someone else, or how when they get on a long phone call with someone else you get kind of irked, a little angry…like how dare you have something to talk about with another girl for an hour? Or why did you stare at that Instagram picture for a bit too long…you know, the kind of things some guys think we’re petty for. And yet they feel the same way too, when you hug someone else a little bit longer than a sec.
Maybe Derrick (not his real name) knows that feeling all too well. He’s had bad luck with love. In high school funkies he didn’t always get the girl he wanted. He wanted girls like Ivy, long hair, beautiful skin, deep crispy voice. But guys like Derrick didn’t get the popular girls. He got those ones always standing next to the bus eating five smokie pasuas, reading novels. Those ones that almost no guy from school talked to; the C.U girls who’d almost always tell you about the wages of sin and the smarty pants who had little or no knowledge of the hailed pop culture. One girl like that was Cate, a smart ‘four-eyed’ C.U girl who happened to be the kind of pretty Derrick likes. Light skin, short and curvy. And after letters upon letters when they got back to school, her name came up in the dormitories as the girl his class prefect Dennis had hooked up with.
It cut him deeply, but he is not the kind to give up on love.
So, after high school he tried his luck with Lucy Wambui, his beautiful neighbor who had staunch catholic parents that wouldn’t let her go out with anyone. It was hard for them, they could only meet at the canteens during the day with the scorching sun on their African backs. Derrick didn’t mind. This kind of woman would make a good wife in the future. She didn’t sleep around with the neighborhood lover boys like Kevo, she didn’t even hang out with renown ‘street hoe’ Sandra. Lucy was perfect, and night after night he pictured their lives together. He’s that kind of guy, Derrick, the kind to imagine grand weddings and beautiful babies. A rare gem.
After his first Semester in campus, down in Eldoret, he came home so excited to meet his Lucy. It had been three months of just talking on phone and texting. Tell you something, Derrick so loyal, he didn’t even check out Daisy, the kao chille every first-year brother man was melting for. Not even Tracy, who tried to invite him for dinner almost every other week. He had his Lucy waiting for him at home. And that evening when he got to Kahawa Sukari the first thing he did was call her. She didn’t pick. He called, and called and called…she didn’t pick. He left her a message, giving her the good news that he was finally home.
Which reminds me…if you call me twice and I don’t pick bruh just get a life coz if I wanted to talk to you I would. Anyhu, back to Kahawa…
He imagined that maybe she was asleep, or busy with chores, but bro, it’s been three days now it couldn’t possibly be the chores. So, one day he’s walking to the shop early morning to get milk and bread for his family and he meets her, his Lucy. She looked different, chubbier cheeks, larger nose, her dera went a little bit too forward at the front like mine does when I have chicken for dinner. ‘You’re pregnant?’ he asked, his heart doing the dougie, the 100 bob in his hand drowning in body fluid. She didn’t answer, she walked away, like they do in the movies. Except she wore those famously Kenyan blue sandals and covered her head in a stocking, so she didn’t look like the girls in the movies. He stood there like he’d seen his grandma’s ghost, debating whether or not it was okay to shed a tear in public. He was so angry he deleted her contact and spent the rest of the day remembering to forget everything about her.
But he is not the kind to give up on love. He’s a hopeless romantic this Derrick.
After a few months of mourning and whining about women, he meets Eve in Campus, in his Economics class. They click, on a hundred different levels. I mean, this mama is smart, her convos are mind blowing. You can spend hours listening to how eloquent she is, how much she knows, how many books she has read. She’s petite, unlike Lucy. But her hair is long and her hands, oh how smooth her hands are. On day 3 of meeting her, our hopeless romantic Derrick has already imagined pet names for her. He doesn’t want to use ‘babe’ it’s too common, and he’d used it with Lucy so maybe it’s cursed with bad luck. Cherry? Maybe? Or Love? Naah, it has the WaJesus written all over it. Jelly bean? Yeah, maybe. Jelly bean.
He moves in with his Jelly bean six months into the relationship. They’re happy, they even start a laundry business together. She’s working part time as a receptionist at a restaurant in Eldoret town, she’s bringing in some good mullah. And slowly they start filling their house up. They buy a screen, a fridge, a nice bed…then one day Jelly bean comes home with a couch. A nice, expensive-looking cozy couch delivered by the owners of the furniture store themselves. He’s almost mad that she used their savings without asking, until he realizes she didn’t. He brushes it off, she must be getting some bonuses at work.
Three months went by, Jelly bean still buying item after another. Derrick got curious. And that demon that wakes you up in the night to check your lover’s phone woke him up one early morning. He went through her phone. Her Mpesa messages…everything.
And the reason he couldn’t attend her funeral one cold Saturday in July of 2020, is because he was in remand, awaiting trial for butchering her to death. That demon that had woken him up that early morning had him finding out that Jelly bean, no, Eve, had been having a mzungu boyfriend who was footing all the bills. They’d been together for a year. A year!! Even more, maybe. The entire time Eve was writing poems, declaring unending love for our guy, she was sending nudes to a sixty-year-old wrinkled white man. And of course, I cannot even begin to describe his hurt.
And yet, I cannot say that killing was right just because of how hurt my guy was. Eve’s sister still has nightmares to date, remembering how they found their own sister’s body chopped up and stacked in a sack. She’s embarrassed that the whole country saw on the news how her pretty sister died. She’s probably broken till Kingdom come. And I think Derrick should be in jail for longer than life, because killing remains wrong regardless of what the feelings are.
And regardless of any explanation Derrick might have for taking the life of his lover, it would not change the truth that taking someone’s life is wrong. Truth is not rational, it doesn’t change with how we feel or what our circumstances are. Truth doesn’t change because of how we feel. If we give ourselves the right to rationalize truth, the Derrick should have that right too, to say he wasn’t wrong because he was hurt. He should have the right to say it’s wrong according to you but to him it’s not. If we give ourselves the right to rationalize truth even rapists should be allowed to defend themselves with ‘I don’t find it wrong’ and ‘it’s my truth’.
Maybe Derrick’s story is not the perfect one to use to remind us this, but if we disagree with the presence of absolute truth, which we’re made aware of through the word of God, then no one, absolutely no one has the right to call out what they ‘feel’ is wrong. Not even national injustices.
(Based on a True Story)