Every so often, I meet with a friend of mine and in the spirit of catching up, we exchange notes and views on all manner of subjects- the United States presidential trail, how campus life as freshmen is coming up, new projects and somehow, the conversation never ends without my dear friend mentioning his purported ‘girlfriend ‘. I gladly listen to what’s new about ‘her’ and how ‘she’s’ been since their last date.
Here is my friend, a campus freshman, who lives under his parents roof, or at least still depends on his folks for pocket money, upkeep money, hostel rent, tuition fee, food money and even money for credit. No job, no side hustle yet, probably not even planning to get one any time soon. Yet it is he who still manages to take ‘her’ out on dates and buy her expensive gifts and send her credit every so often.
What bothers me isn’t that he has a girlfriend who he is, so far, able to sustain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not jealous and in fact, I wish them all the best and pray hard that they do marry and live Happily forever after. But here’s the thing, for my friend to sustain his expenses plus his girlfriend’s, he sure does go through a lot.
This being the Kenya we live in, no typical Kenyan child would ever ask for money to take his girlfriend or her boyfriend out. Instead, one must live under his nose to sustain this. And here’s how my friend does it, of the money he’s given, he must deny himself at least two meals a day, which would otherwise have cost him around sh. 100.00, he must walk from his hostel to his campus where he’d have instead used a matatu for sh. 20.00. Even the one meal he would eat would probably be one boiled egg and a mug of strong tea. He has to use his bonga points for credit just so that he can send his ‘bae ‘ airtime. That’s just sacrifice sufficient to enable him to take his girlfriend out to Chicken Inn for a decent meal of French Fries, Chicken and a soft drink. And since he’s expected home on Fridays yet he’s meant to take boo out for a dinner date, he must use all weird manner of excuses – we have a makeup class on Friday night, the matatus striked, my pocket money was stolen etc etc. Then after the date nights, he has to escort the girlfriend back to her bus stop and if it’s too cold yet bae didn’t carry any coat, he must sacrifice the only modest coat he has just so that she doesn’t feel cold.
But the struggles aren’t his alone. My girlfriends, on the other side, have lots of impressing to do. Because ‘bae’ has to slay for him, she will go to all weird extents to get good-looking outfits. Start with borrowing heels which she hardly can walk a mile in. Then because the dress must be a body -hugging one, yet there’s none in her possession, she must borrow from each one of her friends and get the best suit. Once the right fit is found, it must be washed in fabric freshners, ironed out and hanged days before. And since all there is to smell good is roll-on deodorant, Cologne must be borrowed as well. Make up must be done well, super-well. I need not mention drawing on eye brows which had been plucked off ( I have never understood this concept).
For those who are lucky enough to live in a bed-sitter, at least bae can skive sleeping in the hostel for the weekend. After all, you’ll take her for dinner on Friday, buy meat for Saturday lunch and milk for breakfast.
All this, just for a meal at the local eatery since my friend has only seen the fancy places like the Kempinski and Sarova while passing close by. And the cycle continues. Gets harder when you have to cater for her birthdays (gifts, cake, food for everyone invited, birthday outfit) which luckily comes just once a year. When all is done, you have to go back to square one – a meal a day and trekking to and fro school.
All in the name of love, which sadly ends after a couple of months or if luck prevails, a year or two. Maybe things don’t work out anymore, the magic died or you finished school and moved on to find a job elsewhere and since this is your hard-earned money, you don’t want to waste a single bit of it on girls.
But at the end of the day, what’s all this worth?! What’s all the struggle worth for a girl who you won’t marry or a boy who’ll never marry you?! Maybe it doesn’t hurt because after all it’s your parents’ money going to waste, but how would you feel if it were yours?! If you’d be the one giving your child money and bidding him off every semester and bragging to your workmates how your boy is in campus studying Biotechnology, yet it all goes to waste on a girl who’ll never become your daughter-in-law?!
Have you thought of how good a life you’d have if you ate all your meals for each day and still kept your only good-looking coat? Or if you invested all that money on yourself?! Do you ever stop to think of the consequences that would follow if you impregnate the girl during one of your sleepovers?! Is it worth it in the end?!
Nonetheless, not all hope is lost. For those of you who have seen light At the end of the tunnel, keep on going, sometimes you learn, sometimes you win-who knows, you might just be one of the romantic childhood lovers-the kind whose love fantasy strolls way back to high school or freshman years! I wish you nothing but the very best in your relationships. Please keep at it and invite me for all the weddings, I’d love to buy my own outfit and come dance my feet off. Invite me for the baby shower and baptism and graduations as well, for I shall be there! Say a big hello to ‘bae’ for me. Girlfriend, please remember to return my dress afteryour date night out. My perfumes and jewelry as well. And since he’s become the provider of your needs, just tell him they’re borrowed and he’ll buy you your own immediately. After all, is he not your Dear Future Husband?!
Oh well, Maybe in the end it shouldn’t bother me. Why should it be of concern to me though?! Not my circus, not my monkeys. ✌
“We often spend money we don’t have,
To impress people we don’t like”