He’s No Romeo…

Posted: February 19, 2009 in Fiction

 

          MaryCelia was very fond of Mbuthia. You see he was the first man that ever paid attention to her and she promised herself to never forget the day they met.

            It was a cool evening in the middle of November when MaryCelia decided to visit the local pub just to see if Wambo and Atis made good their word to attend ladies’ night. She was curious about what happens in these places where people come out staggering and talking nonsense. She peered through the soot-covered lace curtain at the door and saw her two friends Wambo and Atis dancing to the tune of Maish, the local one man guitar. As she made her way to them, past the squeezed tables she took care not to knock anybody’s bottle down. The three friends exchanged high fives and Wambo grabbed MaryCelia, dragged her to the dancing floor and swirled around her in obvious enjoyment. But for MaryCelia, this was simply very new to her. Yes she had seen her father take her mother by the hand and make her twirl as he sang incoherently to a song he had heard over the radio. Her mother would however yank her hand away and storm to the kitchen in embarrassment.

            MaryCelia had never tasted alcohol. She grabbed a seat and shoved the half-empty bottles away from her wiping her hand with the edge of her green cotton skirt. The music is good, she mused as she let her eyes wander across the room bobbing her head as if to convince herself she blended in. And there he was. Before she could look away, he got up, started walking towards her and her heart stopped. She fidgeted and squirmed, frantically straightened her blouse collar and evened her wiry hair with the palm of her hand.

            Mbuthia was a shy man but he tried his best. They talked. MaryCelia giggled. Mbuthia teased. MaryCelia laughed some more and it was time to go home. They met the next day, and then everyday until MaryCelia became Mrs Mbuthia. Wambo and Atis were jealous. They reminded MaryCelia how lucky she was that she had a very romantic husband. She didn’t think so but she had no complaints.

            MaryCelia’s husband was no Romeo. The day they met, he had been brought to the pub by his friend Deno from the village across the river. Deno felt Mbuthia had no charm and had dared him to go and talk to MaryCelia. He never combed his hair neither did he iron his shirt. He didn’t care much for poetry and thought flowers were a waste of time. MaryCelia didn’t mind, though she secretly wished she could get flowers like the ones Atis got from her suitor. Mbuthia drank too much and when he came home he got into bed with his muddy shoes on. He would reach over and grab his wife by the hand, struggle to look at her in the eye, make as if to say something and then collapse into sleep. When he woke up he would find deliciously cooked beef stew and Mukimo and he would dig in, occasionally glancing at MaryCelia, stifling a smile. She would look away, her heart warm with content knowing he liked it, knowing he loved her.

            Mbuthia was a man of few words. He did not brag about his wife to his friends. He liked it that his wife was a good cook, that she never quarrelled him, that she took off his muddy shoes, that she warmed his bath water every morning, that she prayed for him every night, that she never told the neighbours he sometimes slapped her, and that he always found her home when he returned. That’s why he decided to stay sober on Valentine’s Day. He had heard about Valentine’s Day on the radio at Maiko’s shop and his friend Deno had explained it to him. As he was walking home, he saw a beautiful shiny green headscarf. He thought it would look good on MaryCelia and he bought it.

            His wife found the scarf among her clothes and screamed with joy. She prepared ugali and sukuma and they ate in silence. He looked at her, reached over and added some food onto her plate. She looked at him, adjusted the green scarf on her head and giggled. She understood what he was saying. That was her Mbuthia.

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