IN THE SHADOWS


Pexel images

There is something about the breeze. The insanely cool breeze from the ocean on a Saturday afternoon. There is a chill it brings every time it caresses your cheeks and brings about an appealing chilling sensation that persistently battles the heat trying so hard to build up inside you as a result of the scorching sun. On such days, you just want to be alone. It’s not because you are miserable or lonely, well maybe just a little bit miserable. However, you just want to feel the warmth of the sun against your skin and be reminded that there is beauty with a touch of nature and not necessarily the warm hands of a frustratingly sexy masculine figure. These are the days when your heart is allowed to desire and your mind permitted to dream and wonder about possibilities.
I loved the view that beheld my eyes from the office rooftop. The sight of the waves and water was so clear it reflected the blue sky. The presence of people running around and playing on the warm sand while others lay lazily basking under the sun thinking about nothing in particular but the pinacolada in their hands. Seeing such moments made me wish I was at the beach dressed in one of those flowery summer dresses and sunglasses walking around the shores of the ocean. I would want to feel the warm sand on my bare feet as I get a whim of water beneath them from time to time. I would want to feel the breeze seductively caressing my cheeks as it blows my hair away.

Since childhood, I had always dreamed of having a beautiful apartment with a breathtaking view of the beach and the sunset altogether but my crappy apartment is nothing close to what I had imagined. My shosho used to say that sometimes dreams take a little too long to be fulfilled, maybe my dream was still in the process of being fulfilled or maybe it just took a different form, and the only time I was ever going to get a good view is at the rooftop of my office building.
Some nights especially Saturday nights, I’d sneak into the office building at quarter to six am with a whisky in one hand and my heels on another. I would stagger through the gate with a big smile on my face handing the security guy some two hundred shillings.
“For your troubles,” I’d say.
He would then smile at me and nod before giving me his usual warning.
“Careful not to fall. We still need your pretty face around.”
This was always after a crazy nightlife of hopping in between clubs after either being chased out of the last one or leaving due to their incredibly boring taste in music. Maybe that was not the case, just a little excuse. If I walked into a club and got no attention from a gentleman that’s to my liking, I wouldn’t last a minute longer.

I know what you are thinking and yes you are right it’s a cheesy way to land a guy but a girl has to try especially with the kind of pressure my mum has recently been putting on me.


African mums, can't a daughter breathe for one minute without you reminding her that the thirtieth floor is around the corner and no ring on a finger let alone a toddler roaming around causing havoc on your neatly tendered flower garden?


On such days I’d stumble to go watch the sunrise and be reminded of the beauty of life. Those were better days. Other nights I’d go there to cry my heart out and reminisce on my sins of the previous night and unending disappointments in life. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot to be grateful for.
Oops! Forgive me, I just realized we haven’t been properly introduced and yet I have been busy washing out my dirty linens in front of you. Let’s get on to it, shall we?
My name is Joy Naliaka the first daughter of Eve and James and an elder sister to little miss perfect; Hope. As per tradition, I should be the apple of my father’s eye and the lead in everything good that comes my way.
Up until now, I have done everything right, gotten the best grades, gone to church on Sundays, won debating awards, gone into law school, graduated, and got employed by one of the top law firms in Kenya. After a few years of serving as a paralegal, I sat for the bar exams and passed. I have been practicing law for four years now and I think am ready to be made junior partner and move into my dream apartment. The only thing I have ever done wrong is chose the wrong kind of men.
I have either met the ones that want me as their trophy girlfriend or the ones that barely want to stick around and disappear after a week or a night out, the ones that treat you like a princess and still cheat like ladies won’t exist tomorrow, or the ones that charm you with sweet words and compliments and turn out to be the complete opposite of everything they presented themselves to be. But I had a feeling that was going to soon change.
On this fateful afternoon, I sat down on the rooftop dreaming of nothing but possibilities. I was clouded by feelings about what the third floor of life was going to bring for me. I needed more. I craved more. I wanted more. I wanted success, happiness, recognition, junior partnership, love, my dream apartment, and most importantly a ring on my finger. I wanted to say yes to the right guy.
My thoughts were then disrupted by the vibrating sound of my phone.
I sat up properly and took a look.
I had six missed calls from my mum and a text from Freddy♥️.

"Stay pretty darling,"


I couldn’t help but smile.
As I said, my luck in love might finally be changing.
My sister hope had persuaded me to join tinder after she claimed that’s where she had met her prince charming. As a model and event organizer, she probably cared the least about having such a profile. On the other hand, I had an image to protect and a reputation to uphold. However, after much persuasion, I gave in and added a few pictures from my younger years.
I remember the first time I came across Freddy’s profile, he had pictures of him swimming, camping, zip lining, and fishing. He seemed daring and adventurous. I liked that. He didn’t seem like the other guys I had met with pictures of themselves half naked trying to expose the body they had created from the gym. His was different. I liked different.


He had a quote on his profile that said ; Am not complicated, am only flawless and awesome, so come be flawsome with me.


As soon as I saw that, I felt intrigued and quickly liked the profile. Two days passed and we matched.

From then on it was like a spaceship had set off never to land again in thousands of years.
We spent days texting each other and sending cute little cat memes every eight minutes. He had an incredible sense of humor and had a way with words. Conversations with him had been so easy that I probably fell for him way before we went out on a date.
He made my days lighter when the stress and workload was overwhelming. We had gotten used to spending hours and hours and more hours on voice calls talking about the things we had in common and the different life experiences we had growing up. With him, I was reminded of what it felt like to have a love so pure, so free and so true.

I remember when he offered to take me out on a date. Finally, I was going to meet him.
I thought we would have dinner, so I showed up in a red flawless dress that simply spelled out the word flawsome.


By the time I caught sight of him, he stood a few meters away from me. He looked at me and smiled. He was dressed in pair of blue jeans and a white shirt that hugged his body tightly. The first three buttons of the shirt were undone giving a glimpse of his broad shoulders that were anything but an indication that he spent adequate time in the gym and somehow it was doing more than just paying off. He was sexier in person.

For a second, I felt overdressed.

Never have I ever gone ice skating in a red maxi dress. I will drink to that.


The evening was beautiful. We went from ice skating to getting some hotdogs and chicken wings at my favorite fast food. We walked around the streets of Mombasa, cracking jokes and getting to know each other to the point where my feet could no longer accommodate the pressure that came with the six-inch heels I had on.
He had me sit at a maindi choma joint as he went to get his car so he can drop me off. I remember feeling like a princess waiting for her prince charming to come riding in a golden chariot and rescue her from the clutches of the cold breeze that relentlessly showed no mercy on her.
That evening alone was not what imagined. It was better, way better than some boring fancy dinner at a five-star restaurant.
My phone buzzed again and my thoughts were brought back to reality.
It was a text from my boss.


My office. Now.


That’s one of the many reasons I hate my job. I barely have peaceful weekends but at least it pays the bill.
I stood up and wiped the dirt off my dress as I headed back to the office. Being a Saturday, it wasn’t quite full. The only people present were those of us who mostly overworked ourselves. Most of us either had miserable lives outside work or were too ambitious and wanted to climb up the ropes pretty fast. Some had to get to work, make a few phone calls, and pull a few strings to get their friends out of jail while others were interns assigned to very demanding senior partners.
I remember walking to my desk and debating whether or not to gloss my lips with some red lipstick or maroon. I finally settled on red. ( Not that it mattered anyway. )
I took one last look at the mirror and knew I was ready.
“May I come in?” I said while knocking on the door of his office.
He stood by the broad glass window on the left side of his office staring out the window onto the ocean. At the sound of my voice, he turned around for a second to usher me in.
“Close the door behind you”
I gently held the knob and quietly closed the door. There was an awkward silence in the room with nothing else to be heard other than the song Jolene playing softly in the background. I stood in the middle of the office waiting for him to at least say something. For a few minutes, he stayed silent.

My boss wasn’t the ordinary guy you would have for a boss. He barely said a word to most people not unless it was necessary. He barely smiled at anyone not unless he was really impressed with them. Most people hustled and bustled trying to impress him and get his approval.
He was the kind of guy that would walk into a black tie event in a pair of jeans and still turn out to be the most outstanding person in the room. He always looked way too young and fit for his age. I wish I knew the secret. God knows I would so want to look 29 even when sixty. He wasn’t the kind to fancy a chat with just anyone and rarely said much but in the right company, he had the most interesting stories to tell and always cracked people up.
His life outside work remained a mystery as not most people knew anything about it.
He soon turned around, looked at me for a while as though deliberating on what to say and just smiled.
He then walked over and stood inches away from me. He had his hands in his pockets and his eyes steady interlocked with mine. I could almost feel his breath on my face. He had dark brown eyes with pretty long eyelashes that complimented his face. For a minute, I was lost admiring the features he had on his face from his incredibly sexy dark tone to the beard, to the thick eyebrows on his face onto his pink kissable lips. I could slowly feel my fingers begin to itch and burn with desire. Deep down I wished I could feel his face and ascertain whether or not he was real let alone human. He finally broke the silence.
“The oil acquisition report with Total, was it all you?” he inquired.
“Yes, it’s all me,”
” I’ m impressed. I love the strategies you came up with. Tell you what, why don’t you sit in on the meeting on Wednesday morning,”
” It will be a pleasure,” I responded in a cheerful voice.
He moved a bit closer and placed his hand on my arm, “These are the kind of brains I need for my next junior partner,” he added.
I smiled and began to walk towards the door.
“Oh and Joy,”
“Yes,”
“I prefer maroon. It complements your skin tone better. “
I could feel a thrill of excitement building up inside me. My face instantly lit up with a smile. I wasn’t sure whether it was because he was proud of my work or if its because he just complimented me.
Oh, my days!!
Now did he just call me Joy?
He never calls me joy, it’s always Miss Naliaka.


What was happening to me?
Why was I so happy ?
Why was I smiling so hard my jaws hurt?

I got back to my desk just in time to find my phone ringing. It was my mama again.
Way to kill the mood mama.
Perhaps it was time to pick up and spare her the need to call me a million times.
“Where have you been, I’ve been calling you for a while now?” She inquired harshly I could tell she was already bubbling with rage.
“Sorry mama, I was in a meeting,”
” Are you still coming to dinner? Your sister is finally bringing home that guy that got her pregnant. We need to resolve this matter amicably and you need to be here before seven.” The conversation quickly moved from an inquiry into a mandate.
” I will be there. “
I quickly hang up and grabbed my bag and keys ready to head home and change.



After an hour of battling through traffic and yelling at rude, reckless matatu and tuk-tuk drivers, I finally made it home. My parents had done their fair share of working hard and bought a decent house in Vipingo. We always had a beautiful lawn. My mum was very particular with the details and how it needed to look. She had invested a lot of her time and effort in her flower garden in front of the house and it was paying off. Her rose garden had blossomed.
I picked up the lavender flowers and fruit basket I had brought for my younger sister and headed to the door. I could hear several voices coming from inside the house. A part of me didn’t want to be there, but I needed to be supportive of my younger sister.

I took deep breaths to relax my nerves before ringing the bell. I needed to stay calm, composed and most of all to keep an open mind.
I glanced at my wristwatch. It was half past six. I was early. For once.
I stood patiently as I waited for someone, anyone to get the door.
Finally, I heard the keys jingle from the inside and the door slid wide open.
” Freddy!” I shouted in shock.
“Joy!”
There was an awkward moment of shock and confusion between us.
“What are you doing here?” We both inquired at the same time but no one seemed to have an answer quite yet.
“Oh, there you are,” Hope said as she opened the door wide open ushering me in.
“Don’t just stand there confused, come on in, mum has been waiting for you,”
She picks up the gift basket and flowers in my hands and hands them over to Freddy.
” I see you’ve met my baby daddy already isn’t he cute?”

"Baby daddy!! " 

I had a feeling this dinner might just take a tiny bit longer than a mere Mississippi minute.


AUTHORS NOTE

Hello there, lovely having you here. I hope you had a great read. I imagine you are craving for more. This time around I have decided to do a multiple-part series that will be posted on a weekly basis. This is the first part of the story. I hope you are excited about what comes next. Feel free to leave a comment below, they make the best part of my day. In addition, share with me your ideas of what you think will happen next or rather what would you do if you were Joy. You never know, you might just inspire something in me.


5 responses to “IN THE SHADOWS”

  1. This so amazing Soita,I’m left hanging🙈but this is what spices up a story😊…
    Well,if i could be Joy maybe not to ruin my sister’s day,i could try to behave though it’s so heartbreaking but atleast i could console myself with the boss’s earlier reaction that maybe he had an eye for me😂but i’m just imagining the arkward moments in that house,the evening must have been a long one…i can’t wait for part two

  2. Wow!! A great read. He he waiting for the next read. Wonderful toto.Great imagination and too much creativity.

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