DO I?

DO I?

“Mike!”

It is then that I snap out of my reverie.

“Do you know how many times I’ve called you?” Eric asks with his big brown eyes looking searchingly into mine.

I don’t respond. I don’t know the answer to that.

“Do you even have any idea how long I’ve been standing here?” Eric continues. “Are you okay? I know this can be difficult. It’s a huge change in your life and you should feel nervous.”

That is the thing though: Am I okay? Is this the right next step for my life? Oddly enough, I can’t place my finger on what exactly I am feeling. My emotions are all over the place. Excitement. Nervousness. Fear. Even confusion. Is ‘Happy’ in the mix? I don’t know. I am not sure. It should be though, right? At least, it was when Maxwell proposed, and I said yes.

“Sweetie, is it Max–” Eric starts to say.

“No!” I stop him before he can finish. “It’s not. I love the man and you know it.”

Why will he even think that if anything was wrong, it’d be because of Maxwell? He knows Maxwell means the world to me. We’d been together for over seven years now and I hadn’t been happier my entire life.

Maxie, as I normally call him – because I like the sound of it and because it always seems to irritate him – came into my life and laid all my insecurities to rest. He showed me the kind of love you only saw in movies. It sometimes feels too good to be true, and as you can imagine, I used to overthink it, wondering about how it wouldn’t last long. Maxwell had technically lost his entire family because of me. He had only ever dated girls before he met me, and his family could not reconcile themselves with the fact that he now loved a man – especially when he made it clear that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with that man. They disowned him, and now, I am all the family he has. That admittedly adds to the pressure of the expectation that I would spend the rest of my life with him.

Eric is seated next to me, his hand placed with concern on my thigh and his eyes still maintaining contact with mine as if he is trying to read my thoughts. We remain silent for a couple more minutes and I can tell he wants to say something, but because of my previous reaction, he must feel like he is walking on eggshells.

“Just spit it out already,” I say a bit wearily, as I put my elbows on my knees and bend forward so my head can rest on my palms.

“I know we’ve invested so much in this wedding,” he begins slowly, “especially you and Maxwell.” I turn my face to him, watching him as he continues speaking. “What if this is not the right time for the wedding? What if we call it off and wait until you are fully ready?”

Even though cancelling the wedding is out of the question, it doesn’t stop me from pondering on it for a moment. How many people are so lucky to spend their lives with their soul mates? I don’t believe that there is a chronological way that things should be done in our lives, I never have, but marrying Maxie just feels like the right next step.

The bill decriminalizing same-sex relations was finally passed not too long ago. It took us long enough! I want to believe with all my heart that as a country, we are finally there. But the truth is, we still have a long way to go. There is a very big difference between tolerance and acceptance. Most Kenyans fall in the former category. And the righteous ones are still gathering signatures to petition the ruling. To them, two people who love each other, as long as they are of the same sex, should rot in prison alongside murderers, child molesters, rapists and robbers. Personally, I don’t think that what anyone does in the privacy of their bedroom is any of my business, but clearly, that is because I am part of that group of “anyone.”

Maxwell proposed on the night of the ruling. I was in the kitchen, preparing our dinner, and he was in the parlour, eyes glued to the TV screen since noon, only leaving the couch to visit the john. The guy can be very optimistic. I, on the other hand, had been up and about the whole house. I had lost hope on the ruling a few months prior, after the court kept postponing the hearing date. It was as if they considered the topic too obscene to even stand a chance to be heard in court. Maxwell thought I was being pessimistic, when, quite frankly, I just felt like I was the only one being realistic here.

“Babe! Babe!” he yelled.

“What?” I called back.

“Come! Quick!” he said.

Ugh! I knew enough not to get my hopes up too high. With these cases, there was always a next time.

“Come! Where are you?” There was determination in his voice, and I started for the parlour so I could be over and done with this and go back to finishing up in the kitchen.

When I entered the living room, he turned to me and then pointed at the television. I moved closer, midway between him and the set so now, he was seated behind me. I could not believe what I was seeing. The headline crawling across the bottom of the screen felt like a mirage. I had to blink to be sure I was seeing what I was seeing. We had actually won. We could love freely and without punishment. No more mob justice. No more deaths. No more fourteen-year imprisonments. None of that!

“Babe,” Maxie said with a very tender voice, and I turned to see him on one knee. “Will you marry me?” he asked, his voice shaking.

I found myself choking on the swell of emotion that surged inside me and I started bawling. I couldn’t tell if it was from him wanting to spend the rest of his life with me or because I would finally be treated equal in my country, whoever I chose to love.

“Yes!” I managed the word. “YES!” I said it louder. “Yes, yes, yes!” I was chanting the word as he went ahead and put a ring on it.

There is a knock at the door, and this brings me back to reality a second time. My groomsmen file into the room, all looking dapper. They stand in front of me in a single file, as if expecting my approval, and after a short silence, I nod, giving it.

Smiles break out all about the room.

“Ready when you are,” Brian says with a smirk. There is no question that they think only positive things about today, and their energy surges from them through me. I stand up and pick up the bouquet of flowers placed at my bedside drawer, and after them, I walk down the stairs to the front yard where the well-decorated luxury cars are waiting for us.

A forty-five-minute drive later, we are at the venue. We had settled for a garden wedding. When I arrive, it is to behold more people than I’d anticipated. There is a brilliance of white everywhere, as everyone is dressed in various shades of the colour. Upon sighting me, they all stand as if on cue.

My Maxie is at the front, looking more handsome than ever, waiting for me.

“All that is mine. Mine,” I say more to myself than to anyone else.

The melody that heralds my approach to the aisle is slow, getting me in my feels. My sister steps forward to take my arm, as she is the one who will walk me down the aisle. I’d wished it would be my mother next to me on my big day. But that is not to be so. Ever since I came out, the bond between us had somewhat weakened. Oftentimes, our conversations end with her saying to me, “Nakuombea na najua siku moja utachange.”

I always pray for you and I know one day, you’ll change.

Her absence from my wedding tells me everything I need to know, painful as it is. But that pain is for another time. Right now, I am focused on the journey to the man I love.

The walk down the aisle is finally over, and I am here, looking right at my man and he at me. Damn! He smells like a million bucks.

“You look stunning,” he mouths at me, and I beam a smile at him in response, before mouthing back at him, “So do you.”

After the preliminary formalities, it is finally time for the vows. Maxie takes a ring from his best man and holds my hand up. At this point, sweat is trickling down my forehead. My hands are shaking.

And he begins, repeating after the minister standing between us: “Michael Kariuki, do you take me, Maxwell Omanga, to be your husband according to the law, to love and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, till death do us part?”

Written by Kieha

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5 Comments

  1. Saucebutton
    March 07, 08:09 Reply

    The end was sudden. Should one prep for bad news?
    Beautifully written ❤❤❤

  2. Delle
    March 07, 09:00 Reply

    This is what I deserve!😩

    Except that I won’t be in the kitchen and he will be glued to the TV screen since NOON!!!

    HIAN!

  3. Mandy
    March 07, 17:51 Reply

    I love love love this. I love such determined hope. I mean, things may not have gotten to this point for us Africans, but we hope and stay optimistic that a day will come when we will be free to love, wed and be with those we’ve chosen to love without fear of victimization.

    Thank you, Kieha, for this reminder to stay hopeful.

  4. Gicheru
    March 08, 05:10 Reply

    I love love it.
    Kieha this is so beautifully written and I feel like I can connect with you from your writing.
    Can’t wait to read more of your work. ❤️❤️

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