I stopped, sighed, looked at her and made a futile effort at offering a goofy smile. For one reason or the other, my heart beat faster than usual. I could swear my sweat pores were beginning to let loose and I felt hazy. This wasn’t good.
“Fair enough. Let’s hear it Stella”
“Alright. I was 18 at the time…”
“How old are you now?”
“I turn 23 in August”
“Having been brought up in a particularly staunch Christian background, Church was my life. We had just moved back into the City from North Rift where my Dad had been posted on duty. My Mom knew someone from the Church of the Living God so we started worshipping there. Before long I was involved in various Church activities, spending more and more time at the Church”
“So far so good”
“Anyway, I was working closely with Brother Chrispin. He was studying to become a Pastor and was in charge of all Youth Activities at the Church. We grew close. He was nice to me, and honestly I liked and respected him. He knew the Bible back and forth, and had the best advice especially for a girl as young as I was. Quite often we would work late into the evening and he would walk me to the bus stop. I felt quite safe for as long as I was with him”.
The pause that came after this, plus her face turning grim told me that the part I dreaded was about to begin.
“One Saturday, we had just finished going through some documents in the Church office when he asked if he could make us some tea at the main house.”
“He lived in the Church compound?”
“Yes. I didn’t think twice about it.”
“He had a servant, and when guest Pastors visited they would also stay there. On this particular day though, the servant was on leave and there were no guest Pastors around.”
“I’m not one to Judge but it sounds to me like you two were putting yourselves into temptation.”
“Will you let me finish?”
“So we went to the main house. He went in and fixed the tea while I sampled some CDs in the Living room. A few moments later he brought the tea and served. We sat and started drinking while discussing the week’s activities.”
“Let me guess. That’s the last thing you remember until you woke up later not knowing what had happened, with a heavy head and your tender areas feeling strange?”
“I wish. That would have been a million times better.”
“Let me spare you the details Lawrence. One moment we were sitting there enjoying some tea, next moment he was on me, his eyes bloodshot and his face so scary I was more scared for my life than anything else. After a moment’s struggle he found his way with me, and the rest is history.”
“Damn. I..I’m not sure what to say.” I truly did not.
“He didn’t have to warn me not to say anything to anyone. The mere thought of people knowing what had happened scared Baby Jesus out of me. It would kill my mum instantly.”
“Are you allowed to say ‘Scared Baby Jesus out of me’?”
“You are such a bad listener Lawrence!”
“Ok ok, mouth shut.”
“It crushed me on the inside. Telling someone was out of the question, but holding it inside and bearing it all on my own took its toll on me. What was even worse was what it did to my faith. I questioned God, his Power, his will for my Life, his Church…”
Her voice trailed off. She wasn’t telling a story anymore. She was reliving the past in her mind, and it wasn’t doing justice to her otherwise pretty face.
“Stella, I’m going to fast forward this. The person I have known for the past two months is obviously stronger and more avid in her faith. Life is fuc…uhm…life is harsh sometimes…”
“Harsh doesn’t begin to explain it. For the next three years I turned into someone else. Absorbed in my own wretched world, I found solace in places and things I wouldn’t have thought of before. I lost my self worth and immersed myself into a dark world. I simply rebelled. No one knew why. Again, I will spare you the details.”
“That I appreciate.”
“You think you are a Bad Boy Lawrence? I’ll tell you what you are. You are just a boy, too scared of the realities of life to face them. You choose to play and act like the world is one big playground.”
“That’s a little below the belt don’t you think?”
“I’m sorry. I’m just saying until life properly slaps you in the face, then all you have is a fantasy world.”
“So what took you back to Church?”
“My mom. The one you met.”
“That’s your mom?? Why does she look so frail?”
“That’s a story for another day. For three years she watched me rebel against everything we believed in and all she offered was open arms whenever I needed them. She was hurting more than I was and after a while I couldn’t take it any more.”
“Meanwhile Brother Chrispin had permanently relocated to the UK on Missionary mission. That also helped my resolve to go back to Church since I wouldn’t have to see his face again.”
“Does your Mom know about this now?”
“Yes. I eventually told her about it. But she is too weak now to raise hell about it. And I made her promise me she wouldn’t pursue it any further.”
“Have you dated anyone? Since the Chrispin guy that is.”
“No. I haven’t. Until recently men had only been mere tools to me. I couldn’t stand them unless I had…you know, needs.”
“So what made you…I mean…why the hell…why did you…”
“You are not a Church Boy. You have an interesting outlook towards life and you are too silly to take life seriously. I find that refreshing.”
“I know that should make me feel good, but I feel like a tool.”
“You are. It’s obvious to me that you are not looking for a serious relationship Lawrence. You simply wanted to conquer this territory so that you could brag to your friends. If you think about it, you are also using me.”
As far as slaps go, this was a super good slap in my face. My pride was hurt and I felt like a little boy caught pants down with sugar crumbs all over his face. I was not about to, I couldn’t, deny the fact that she was too darn painfully right.
“Let me get this straight. You don’t want to be in a relationship with me…”
“Not you. I don’t want to be in a relationship. Period!”
“So what are we doing here exactly?” Oh God, I couldn’t believe I had just asked the one question reserved for girls.
“You tell me. You are the guy here.” Slap!
“Do I still have the option of walking out?”
“Yes, but I would rather you don’t.”
“And why is that?”
“I like your company Lawrence. Your easy going attitude is…”
“Enough about my easy going attitude. Look Stella…”
“Hmmm…the caged Lion is coming out finally!” She chided coyly. For a Church Girl, Stella was too witty and I dare say too impish too. I found that irresistibly hot. It was a welcome breather though as we both laughed it off though a tad bit awkwardly.
“Listen. The world I live in is interesting, it is fun and it is adventurous. In my world we don’t judge people. And when we meet girls with back sides that are designed for Hollywood, well…”
“You have some fun with them too, I know.”
“Exactly. You are a grown girl Stella, so I’m sure you know what you are up to. Where our paths meet, there only 3 rules: Have Fun, Have some Adventure and don’t Judge. If you can live with that, I’m here to stay.”
“I’m ready when you are ready.”
“It will never happen Lawrence.”
“Never say Never!”
And the smile I had seen that first time was back again.
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Lawrence is the guy next door; A young, aspirational Kenyan gentleman; But most of all, a romantic soul in search of true love.