I know something about you. Maybe not in detail but I know something; inside you there’s a secret, a truth that you’ve never told. It’s kept away from the person who needs to hear it the most. You’re afraid that if one day they came to learn of it, things would change. Hell and all its wicked demons would break loose. Rejection, loss, shame, guilt, and utter contempt at yourself would follow. So what do you do? You justify it. You convince yourself that it’s better off them not knowing, besides, what’s the point of ruffling the boat if the waters are still? In your defense you say, ‘its better they don’t know, it’s safer that way. In any case, I’m protecting them from hurting.’
But deep inside, you eat away like a cancer on an outbreak. You are not at peace with yourself and you know it.
Haven’t we all been there before? Isn’t it a familiar place? Or maybe it’s a current reality you cringe at when you remember of its existence inside of you.
Well, perhaps there is freedom in sharing the truth.
And Martin needs it too.
I’m seated in this hideout restaurant on Kimathi Street next to Nation Media. Its Somali owned. One thing I love about Somalis is their food; it comes in variety and its tasty. I’m taking masala tea and mahamri on a plate lying next to the cup. My eyes are part preoccupied reading from my laptop. I’m here to meet Martin – we go way back – we’ve been brothers for the longest time. Since we transitioned from been boys, now we talk as men though not much (you know how it is with men; less talk, more action). Once in a while when both our ‘busy’ schedules allow us, we engage on a FIFA – PS or XBOX – game battle. I guess it’s the boyish things we find hard to shake off in our manhood. Often times, I win then he wins and it’s a never ending song. Boys will always be boys, eh?
Martin had texted me a few days ago, hey bro, how’s the going? I need to talk to you. Soon!
When a brother texts you such a message, you know it too well as a sign of eminent trouble. It could mean he has money problems, a woman problem, or both. I replied back and suggested a meet up at City Star Hotel after work hours. As I shifted eyes from the laptop towards the mahamri for a bite, I see Martin walking my direction to the corner table I’d booked for us in anticipation for our man talk. I stood up to give him a brotherly hug and we sat down. Martin then ordered something to eat.
After the usual catching up questions, I said, ‘you said you wanted to talk to me about something…’
‘Yes, yes, I need your advice on a situation I’m facing…..’ the waiter interrupted a bit as he placed Martin’s order on the table. For the longest time, I know him to be a coffee junkie. In campus he’d take four to five cups at night. Martin continued, stirring sugar in his cup, ‘the thing is, I messed up man…..I, I, cheated on Sylvia and I don’t know how to tell her about it. It’s bothering me so much and I know the only way to find peace and move on is if I let this off my chest and tell her.’
‘Woah!’ I exclaimed. All this time I was keenly listening to him. Shocked, not at the fact that he cheated (that’s stuff men do; no justifications though) but I was shocked at the fact that he cheated on Sylvia. If anyone asked me of an ideal couple, they came to mind first. They were exceptional, our circle of friends admire these two love birds. I sipped the tea that was slowly getting cold and continued, ‘what happened? Are you seeing someone else or what?’
Martin explained, ‘That day, Sylvia and I had had a fight in the morning, she wasn’t talking to me. That’s her way of making me pay for my mistakes, she goes mute. Anyway, we’d been having some issues. I was feeling stressed out, so I went for a drink.’
‘Don’t tell me you went to that joint man!’ I rudely interrupted him.
‘Yes, I know I’d promised to never go back but I made the mistake of going there after a long while…(some coded language of course, two ladies were seated on the next table)…and I had one too many, then there was this chick, (he went silent for a moment), I paid her and we got with it.’
‘I don’t mean to judge you bro but why? God! You know Sylvia loves you like crazy.’
I’d met Sylvia before on several occasions. She’s a keeper; I knew Martin had settled when he chose her. I was genuinely happy for him. He’s messing days were over. No more stupid mistakes, no more hookers and no more drunken escapades, guess I was wrong. In any case, who was I to judge? We all got demons right? Martin was currently dealing his.
Martin responded, ‘yeah, I know that. I love her too and that’s why I’m really struggling to tell her about it. It’s been one month already, I’ve been holding it in, I’m not at peace with myself.’
‘I don’t know man, this is hard. Have you thought of what it could do to your relationship? And your engagement?’
‘I know she will get really hurt, I think she might leave me.’ (Silence).
‘Me too, I hope she stays. Please tell her. Find the right time to do it and do it soon. I know it’s hard for you and you are scared she might leave, but you know what?’
‘She’ll respect you for it. That’s part of being a man, admitting to your faults when you’re wrong.’
‘Sawa?’ I asked affirmatively.
‘OK, I’ll do that.’
‘All the best man.’
It had taken a lot of guts for Martin to share that. I knew it, I could tell from how he was fidgeting as we talked plus the sulking pale look on his face. I managed to see it through his spectacles. He was more aware of the mistake he’d made. He wanted a second chance.
I paid the bill and we walked out of the restaurant. Martin’s phone rang as we stood outside the building, he checked the screen to see who was calling; it was Sylvia.
‘It’s Sylvia, I’m meeting her shortly, I need to rush. We’ll talk,’ Martin said in a rapid tone.
‘Cool, we’ll talk, say hi to her.’
He picked up the call and gestured a thumbs up to me as he walked away. ‘Hey Babe…….’
I stood there for a minute longer in thought, watching him as he meandered his way between the other folks on the street. Something felt right about our meet up and conversation. I was proud of him. He was a man who’d fallen on his path in the journey but he was picking himself up. He wanted to be a better man no doubt. I could feel it.