The last time they had made close contact he had been overcome by joy. He had grinned, smiled and even held back a tear. Actually, he had rushed outside pretending to pick up a call and wiped it away. A strange feeling had seized him, so powerful that he had felt his heart swell.
They had conversed, talked of the weather like people who had met for the first time. And as they spoke politics, they had been sensitive. They cautiously made remarks that pointed at rampant corruption in the nation with cabinet secretaries looting in the name of flawed tenders and stolen passwords. They ran through these topics shallowly and dryly.
Then they came to personal experiences. She poured out her most inner feelings; of her troublesome boyfriend, of her empty existence, of her studies, of her mother who had always warned her against thinking of him and of her misses. Her voice was subdued as she spoke about their relationship. Tears lingered at the corners of her eyes but she held them back.
He felt for her. He even took the trouble to pretend that her mother was right. As he restrained his temper on the heartless man, his breath came out in gasps. He clenched his fist and thumped his feet on the floor restlessly. The sight of the hiding tears melted his heart.
In her he saw a precious gem, one that could not be picked off the streets. He failed to understand why people could get so blind. However, he consoled her. In a tight embrace, his shoulder got wet from the dripping face. He took out his handkerchief to wipe her tears as he battled back his. His memory took him to the times when he could protect her, those days when he could read her a story with a happy ending. It greatly troubled him how they had eventually ended.
Despite the weight of mixed feelings pressing in his heart, he looked for words that would settle her heart and soul. He quoted great books that quenched thirst as he spoke softly like a movie star in a romantic scene. All this happened while he held her hands between his palms.
He listened to her as she spoke delicately. He watched her soft lips move around like a magical incarnation. His head nodded where he was supposed to. He filled certain obvious gaps and raised concerns where he saw wanting.
One would observe him and assume that he was deep in pretense. But all his trilogy of human endowment; mind, body and soul, as referred to by Robin S. Sharmah, was present. He would do anything, both possible and otherwise, to protect her.
They sat side by side, savoring the calm of the evening and the smell of coffee in their steaming cups. In the background, news headlines were being read out ahead of four o’clock bulletin. EACC TO INVESTIGATE TWO CABINET SECRETARIES FOR FOULLY DEALINGS IN TENDER AWARDS, DEADBEAT KENYA FATHERS BUSTED, SCHOOL CLOSED DUE TO TRIBALISM AMONG STUDENTS.
He looked through her and his face glimmered. In her he saw an inspiration, a power even in the darkest of hours. He saw a woman with purpose and course. In her he saw a path. Those sparkling eyes carried promise of pleasant surprises. Her voice was a bearer of youth striving for a place in a wild world. Her skin glowed in strange radiance that infected him with pride. In her beauty he saw a beauty entrenched deep within.
Then they had to part. His heart had sunk to the depth of his fears. He could not fight the drops this time and so he let them flow like a stream of magical water that washes away the pain of having to say goodbye. She had looked away, perhaps hiding the rain in her eyes, perhaps holding herself from breaking.
She had promised to keep in touch. He had implored her to do so. They would each create a secret Facebook account where they would share the love. No one would know of this link that could not be broken once again. He knew she needed him dearly. She was fragile.
As he sat staring at his computer screen, he hung on the desire to write her. He felt the need to come as close as he could to the poor girl who had been kept away from him for a long time. The shadows would hide him from them. The children’s court would fine him heavily if he was seen around her. No one cared that she was his daughter; the love of his life. John wiped his eyes with the back of his hands.
The veins on his temples pulsed forcefully. His palms were wet and his heart pounded. He yearned for his pretty girl, Betty. He hated himself for having lost his job to tribalism. Otherwise, he would still be a married man with a pretty daughter to show for it.