Mother thinks I should get married now. She knows I have no interest in marriage, but apparently, I’m running out of alternatives. I no longer have bargaining power, she says. I cannot choose but only settle. The least I can do for myself is settle comfortably, with a rich man. Preferably a white man, but mother says any rich man with money will do. Mother insists that I must not forget that I should think like a beggar now. A beggar, so I must not be choosy, but you know, white men have more money. I get confused sometimes. Mother keeps saying I should not be choosy in my type of rich man but is hinting at a ‘rich white man’ every few sentences. It’s interesting, I have not even uttered a word.
I must admit that it has not been easy because look at me, considering my mother’s suggestion. A rich man. The idea is enticing. I’m tired, really tired. A few years ago, if you told me that this would be me in my thirties, I would have laughed at your audacity. But look at me now, doing dishes in my mother’s kitchen. My plan was to get her a maid after I moved out, but I digress. My mind wanders a lot. What use is it crying over the spilled milk that is my life plan? Man! I had it all written down. Anyway, back to the rich man.
There’s a problem. I don’t have a rich boyfriend, or any rich suitors my age… wait, no, I might know a few. Well, they are not after me, but I can go after them, right? I know a few young men who are trying, starting to get noticed. That nouveau riche kind of money. Subaru Boys, that is what we are calling them here. They drive a Subaru for its speed, live in a one-bedroom apartment where the rent is half of their salary, and post a lot on Instagram. See, I don’t have much going on for me, so I am on Instagram an unhealthy amount of hours a day. That’s how I know these Subaru Boys. I went to school with a few, grew up with some, and stalk them all on social media. They look rich. I should make a move. Mother says I have no choice, but I think I can choose between a young rich man and an old rich man, and I prefer a young rich man.
Okay, how do I do this now? How do I get the attention of a young rich man? Come on girl, think! My mind is now overworking. I’ll just be simple, send a DM on Instagram. My pictures on Insta look hotter, flirtier. I cannot do Facebook. I use that for serious business. To any potential employer, my social media presence is limited to Facebook and LinkedIn. So, Facebook is a no-no for rich man hunting. I’m too boring there. My cleavage is on Instagram. It’s settled then. Back to the DMs. This one guy seems interesting, moneywise. Gold watch, Mercedes, vacation in Diani last weekend, and land. Lots of land. He sells land. Good business in a country where land is gold. His face is bearable too, but that is not important. I’m thinking of writing “Wassup, remember me”. I like my “Wassup” greeting, I use it a lot. It’s quick, at least when I’m saying it. I probably shouldn’t write it though, so I will just say “Hello there” and wait. Oh, I also liked his picture, the one where he’s flexing a six-pack and is only wearing boxer shorts. I posted a thirst trap too, more cleavage. I hope he’s not a butt guy because dude! like the rest of my life, there isn’t much going on for me there.
I have a date next Tuesday. He was a boobs guy after all. He liked all my cleavage pictures.
I think mother wants to discuss more on my marriage chances today, but I’m not in the mood. Today I just want to see Mark. Mark is the bartender at my favorite mojito joint. I met him one cold Monday when my friend Stacy took me out day drinking. Mark was nice, he is nice, and we have been like the best of friends ever since. I will take my Tuesday date to Mark’s joint. The place is classy enough and the prices are not exaggerated. This city is tricky nowadays, so if my date decides to disappear and leave me with the bill, I can get Mark to agree to my paying in instalments. Oh, Mark! Mark makes me happy. He is easy to talk to and really listens. Sometimes I get butterflies when I see him. He has a beautiful face. But Mark is just my friend, and the bartender, just a bartender.
It’s Tuesday, and Lenana is early for our date. We agreed on five-thirty, and he was there at five. I’m not at Mark’s yet, but Mark, like the good friend he is, is keeping me updated. I even know that my date is in black jeans, a white t-shirt, and brown loafers. Mark sent a picture about five minutes ago. Lenana looks good, but I’ve seen that look on his socials. Oh shit! I’m going to be late. Late is never a good first impression, but these traffic jams catch me on the worst of days. I should have just taken a taxi to avoid the highway. Taxis can pass through the estate shortcut to Mark’s joint, but Matatus are not allowed through the wealthy, quiet estates. Also, Matatu fares are cheap, and right now I prefer cheap, and I will be late for this date because I preferred cheap.
Here I am, confidently walking into Mark’s twenty minutes late. It would have been fifteen but when I got here, I went straight to the bathroom to retouch my make-up and put on my four-inch heels. I don’t like heels. I usually walk funny in heels. I’m also afraid of getting the kind of calf muscles I see on women who wear them too much. So, I prefer sandals or any shoe that has flat soles. But today, heels will serve me well. My red heels go well with my black, thin strap jumpsuit. I love the low cut back and open cleavage on this jumpsuit. And when I walk, my bosom wiggles a little. Mark once told me I look beautiful in this jumpsuit, and I wasn’t even in heels! Today I not only feel beautiful but dangerous too. Lenana is excited to see me, he just greeted me with a “Hi Beautiful!” Hi beautiful! Oh man, this is not good. I don’t like it all. Njeri, that is my name. Say “Hi Njeri!” These men with all their beautiful, pretty, sugar, honey, love, and other sweet nothings just tire me.
I have been with them all now; young, old, black, and white. I even drive a small car now, bought by that married man who works at the Chinese company in Mombasa. Mother calls my tiny car a ‘shopping basket’. She prefers big cars, like our neighbor’s Range Rover. I don’t know where my mother is planning on getting a big car from, but a woman can dream. My shopping basket is good for market days though; all of mother’s friends fit in there, and she never misses a chance to show off her daughter’s car. Oh, what I have been through to pay for this car. The things that married man made me do, I only told my friend Stacy. But that is over now; the wife found out about us and threatened to have my hand chopped off. That man was definitely not worth me losing a hand.
I have been on fifteen other dates since Lenana. These days I feel like a lioness, carefully picking out prey, stalking, undetected, until it is the right time to pounce. I love going to fancy places, like the date I had at that place where visitors have breakfast with giraffes. Those animals are beautiful, with their long necks and eyelashes to kill for. I, however, cannot bestow the same praise on my companion that day. He was a white man. I graduated to white men after my tenth date with a Subaru Boy. This white man was tall, his height only surpassed by his arrogance. He talked to me slowly, the way you talk to a child learning a language. He also enjoyed correcting my pronunciation, and I learned to curse him under my breath, with a wide smile on my face. This one time we were talking about zebras for some reason. My white man was apparently bothered by my pronunciation of the name “zebra”. For him, the ‘E’ is pronounced as an ‘I’. Every time he corrected me, I wanted to slap him across the face. He understood what I was saying, he just wanted to hear me say it “right”, and I said it how he wanted to hear it because I preferred the giraffe place to lunch at that chips and chicken place my last Subaru Boy took me. Needless to say, my pride got the better of me soon after our zebra conversation and I blocked the white man. I imagine he is with some other tall self-loathing girl, being condescending and teaching her to pronounce the “right” way. I shared my white man encounter with Mark a few weeks later, while sipping a mojito, after hours, in an empty bar. I like Mark. I think I might love him, but I prefer to like him. It’s less scary. Mark understands me, and I understand him. I love to laugh, and Mark makes me laugh so hard. The other day Mark asked me to take him seriously because it was getting too difficult to listen to all those stories about the other men in my life. I’m also getting tired of looking away each time he stares deep into my eyes, tired of ever thinking about him when one of my rich men touch me. I like Mark, but do you know who will not like Mark? Mother. Mother will hate him. After all, Mark is just a bartender.
Wednesday. I have another date at Mark’s joint today, twenty-three dates down the line, seventeen men later. Mark is not working today, it’s Wednesday, his off day. As usual, I’m sipping a mojito and Mark just ordered a cold Tusker beer. I choose him. I choose Mark. He said “Hi Njeri” when he came in.