Dave and Noelle 3:20 am, Nairobi.
Noelle is mesmerised by how absorbed Dave is with what he is doing on that computer. His energy radiates an intensity that she had forgotten he could have. And I am intrigued by the two of them. Her, trying to slow down the ongoing internal war between guilty confession and guilty penance. Him, sweating to the bone; fumbling around with words in his letter. Anything to avoid spitting the bitter truth out. It is poetic. Their struggle to become good people who follow all the rules. You know, it is hard not to empathise with both of these millennial souls. After all, the middle class parents of the 60s, 70s, and 80s barely prepared their Kenyan offspring to exist in
these times of repeat elections, a country divided by greed and tribalism and a world in which Donald Trump runs America.
Dave pauses mid sentence to scratch his head. His movement startles Noelle, whose heart almost leaps right out of her chest. She places a steadying hand against the corridor wall. Her knees feel
like boarding school porridge. She retreats further into the corridor, away from the security light glow. Her fear is unfounded though. Dave is far too absorbed in his letter.
I used to be so psyched for date night Noelle. Do you remember that? How we laughed about that saying, “routine in a relationship is just recipe for disaster…” We couldn’t image a world in which our special night would be one that caused boredom-the first chink in our armour.
Between our busy schedules, starting a family, all that? We still found time to have date night twice a month! It’s one of the most important traditions I value when it comes to spending quality time with you. I can never thank you enough for always making those special evenings worthwhile. From the unwinding and easy talk, sharing our dreams and ambitions, how we could talk about anything and everything without any effort, from movies, entertainment, office and estate gossip, politics, family, cartoons, heck, even when we shared our favourite porn genres…you amazed me at how easily you made it to talk to you…
Dave’s throat feels clogged now. Noelle is asking herself what work project is this that has such a physical impact on her husband. A part of her wants to hug him. The other part is worried that if she were to touch him with her adulterous hands, his skin would surely incinerate. Then she would be a murderer and a harlot. Dramatic mind, Noelle’s.
I’ve been thinking about the various places we’ve explored, staying in late till we got kicked out, our inappropriate jokes and conversations that would sometimes make waiters uncomfortable, our truth or dare sessions in traffic or at the restaurant, our different offices, the park. There’s absolutely no one I would rather have shared those moments with and if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything differently. Funny how you never let me pick truth, does that mean you have your ways of getting truths out of me? Somehow I’m always looking forward to the next crazy dare you have lined up in your amazing noggin during date night. As cliché as it sounds, you still are the Yin to my Yang.
I know I sound like a broken record right now, trying to make you understand that I didn’t set out to hurt you with this, it’s not like I was even looking for a little fun on the side, neither was I taken advantage of. It’s just a mistake. A costly and stupid mistake.
Like I had said earlier, our growing apart really got me thinking and questioning myself. Was it something you were going through away from us? Was it something to do with us? Was I trying too hard? Had our routine sizzled out our flame? Was I losing you? Could it have been someone else in your life? Was this the beginning of the end? Watching you every morning as you went about your morning routine as if everything was ok between us would tear me to shreds. Our conversations were similar, yet something was lacking.
The sparkle in your eye was no longer there when you came home every night. Your hug and kiss felt animated. Mechanical even. First thing out of the window was our love making. Yes, there were moments when you felt like a total stranger. My Noelle was just a shell of her former lively self.
I needed to talk to someone and she had always been a constant voice from even before we got married. I needed a different point of view. What was I doing wrong? How could I win back the love of my life?
It’s Dave’s turn to almost lose his mind. He instinctively jumps back and slams the laptop shut at the same time. They freeze for a second, searching across the room for something in each other’s eyes. Yet the only thing that each of them sees is the pain that they are about to cause.