Last night, I was unfortunate enough to board a matatu tuned to Classic 105, one of Kenya’s leading stations. The have a breakfast show from about 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. or later and they serve up sex for the whole family. From women who can brag about having had sex with over 200 men, men who claim to have married prostitutes, guys who say they have had sex with minors, high school kids who call in to get hooked up with wealthy men, incestuous relationships, cheaters getting set up and busted, school boys using the blue pill… The list is long.
Forgetting all the kids and married/engaged couples and religious persons who have put up with the raunchy call-ins, I think some topics should receive more airtime – how to fight malaria in the coast region, the jigger menace in central Kenya, the rise in HIV/AIDS infections in marriages, increased sexual assault and child molestation all around the country, the growing insecurity in the country, unemployment concerns among young people, the role of art and culture in moulding upright citizens. Anything really. Even green energy and global warming.
Last night, I heard the host of the show, Maina Kageni, ask men why they do not wear their wedding bands. He said that he’d even noticed that our president doesn’t wear his and he goes around with his wife. A caller starts complaining about how Maina has now put men on the spot and that his wife will be sure to check whether he has his ring on when he gets home – the chap has no idea where he put it, by the way. I start fishing for my earphones, humming to keep me from paying attention, but I manage to hear the caller say that he is anything but crazy. He still loves his wife and children, but sometimes she’s in a mood and the ring gets in the way of his flirting with colleagues and lady friends for whom he can “do favours”. The ladies he works with know that he’s married, anyway. I felt a surge of fury run through me. Not just because the maniac was getting time to endorse his stupidity in the hearing of the nation, other wives, children and other families, but especially because it has become an acceptable trend to cheat and also talk about it as if it is something which we must accept. And I’m speaking as a woman.
There was a public outcry some time this year when the ministry of Public Health released an ad where one woman was warning her friend about the affair she was having with some guy who was having sexual relations with other women. When the ad was pulled and another put up where it was a man discussing his affair of several years with a male friend, nothing happened. A young man, in response to the issue of cheating in relationships, once told me “Hey, I’m a guy.” It’s something other men have told me when I ask them whether they expect their wives to remain faithful while they chase skirts at work. Some insist that they will marry a virgin – even though they have been “the first” with three other girls. Still makes me sick. I think a true show of masculinity is beating down the voice in your head telling you to get a quick fix and run. But what do I know?
I’ve been in long distance relationship for 4 years and it sucks. You will meet someone who has qualities that your man lacks completely or has in tiny doses, but I know that when a woman loves a man and decides to be faithful then that’s it. She just needs to decide. Today, I have male friends and family members who have been faithful to women who went out of their way to hurt them so badly they’ve come close to ceasing to believe in love. I think love is more than a fuzzy feeling. No, I don’t think. I know. It’s that longing to see the person you care about doing well and doing whatever you can to be a big part of their well-being. Because when they are happy, so are you. You spend time thinking about all the things you can do to help them get through a tough time, a loss, an episode of self doubt. You want to fix their pain. And you try to do it when you can, and even when you can’t fix it you try.
When someone loves you you are certain of the fact. They include you in the little trips that make up the journey of their life – the good and bad. They want to hear your voice in the morning, poke your cheek so you will make a silly face, let you cry on their shoulder, work things out with you when they let you down, make up for lost time, sit quietly and work knowing you’re somewhere close by. And even when you’re both upset – even furious – with each other, your worst fear is still losing them forever.
If I could find him, I would tell that man that I may not be married, but I have encountered love and it does not act so selfishly. Because the focus of true love was never self. And it’s definition leans closer to absolute friendship than anything else. I’d also tell him that I worked in a small community hospital where a woman with three grown children tested positive for HIV and for the life of her she did not know how it could have happened. One look at her husband and I could see that he was avoiding eye contact and fidgeting restlessly. Months later, he too would come for his test – he did not test positive at first. All she kept crying about was her children. She didn’t want to die and leave them without a mother. Yet she had been betrayed by the very man who had fathered those children; her once upon a time closest friend.