The church doors swing open and you walk in gracefully with your older brother by your side, your hand in his. It would have been your father in that position but you never met him, you wonder if he would have been happy with your choices, with the life you lived. You say a silent prayer for him. God rest his soul. You hold on tight to Akiik’s hand for comfort, it was moist. You wonder what he is so nervous about. It's you who is getting married after all. Bach’s Ave Maria is playing on the speakers. Your pick. Well, the priest’s pick. You wanted Marry You by Bruno Mars but he refused, claiming it was worldly and wouldn't let it be played in God’s home. You laughed so hard at this. Do you remember? No? Anyway, the priest threw you an unapproving look and suggested the orthodox wedding tune but you refused, you'd rather the wedding didn't hold than play such a plain and boring song at your wedding. And it almost didn't. You ask what happened, that's funny. I’ll get to that later.

You look to the guests who are now standing and smiling at you. All of them adorned in gold pieces of jewelry, complimenting the red attires that drape their bodies, save for one. Your mother whose dress matches yours clasps her shaking hands around your mother-in-law's with tears in her eyes. You roll your eyes at her dramatics and blow her a kiss. It's her wedding as much as it's yours. You smile in satisfaction at the pleasing scene. You admire your bridesmaids at the corner of the alter, their slip dresses hanging on their bodies lustfully, another thing the priest showed distaste in. Your brother drops you in front of the altar and kisses you on your cheek. “Go well, my sweet sissy”. Jabari stretches his hand and you take it. Even with everyone’s disapproval, he still wore his skull rings. He just cannot do without them. He catches you staring and smiles because he knows just what you’re thinking.

“You look beautiful, baby.”

“Why thank you.” You beamed. “You don’t look so bad yourself.” Both of you laugh and the priest cleared his throat to show his disapproval.

“Sorry father.” You chorus

“Shall we begin?” He asks no one in particular and starts his sermon.

We gather here today in the sight of a sovereign God, whom the Bible describes as……

You tune out of the priest’s preaching and lock eyes with Jabari, you speak to one another, not with your lips of course, but your face. It's something that belonged to just you two. No one else could understand it, the way you could have conversations without words. You think back to the time you were caught kissing in the garden behind the school library. The way Jabari gently placed you against the wall and kissed you softly made you lose control over your other senses you did not hear when Mr. Raki, the security guard walked in.

“What is going on here?” The deep voice returned every single sense to your body with a slam.

“I’m helping her look for her books.” Jabari straightened his shirt

“In between her lips eh?” he frowned but a smirk played on his lips

“Yes. well no. Umm..”

This made Raki smile, you had played right into his hands. “As the CSO, it is my duty to hand your case over to the school principal”.

You looked at each other.

“CSO??” Jabari’s eyes widened “He is the only guard we have.”

You pursed your lips “Even if he wasn't, he wouldn't make that post with that lazy attitude of his.”

Jabari laughed and so did you. A wordless language had been birthed.

“You don’t believe me? Raki pointed his flash at both of you “Just wait till the principal calls you to his office tomorrow”.

This caught your attention. Even though you knew Raki was too lazy to walk all the way to the Executive staff quarters, that night or ever, you did not want to put it past him. Especially if he was feeling especially motivated. As if Jabari read your mind -or maybe it was your face- he made a move.

“Raki Raki, my guy. Why are you being so uptight like you don’t know me again?” he reached into his pocket and squeezed 1000 shillings in Raki’s palm “why don’t we put this” He gestured to the wall he had you pinned against only a couple of minutes ago “behind us eh?”

To love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy law, and this is my solemn vow.

Jabari concluding his vows brings you back to the present. You squeeze his hands and let out a breath. It was finally time.

“I, Akilah, take you, Jabari, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for…”

I object

You turn to the crowd, where the sound came from and you see a lady, probably in her mid-twenties and dark-skinned, just like you, just like the others. You can’t make out her face clearly but you know she is someone you’ve never met. You turn to Jabari to see his reaction. Nothing. If he knew this lady, he didn’t show it. Your heart and mind begin to race. He promised he’d never do it again and you foolishly believed. Jabari’s best man and Akiiki rushed to the door to take the stranger out of the church but she wouldn’t leave without causing a ruckus.

“Let me go, let me go and meet him. I need him to see me eye to eye. Leave me alone dammit” she tries to squeeze out of Akiiki’s hold but he and Jabari’s friend lift her off the ground.

“You promised, you promised we’d be together” the lady cries out. Already irritated, the priest begins to pack his things, muttering under his breath, something about sodomites and how they manage to bring their sins into the church. Your mother runs to the altar and begs him to continue. What will the people think she asks the priest. You stare at her in shock. That was her concern, what the people would think. Not you who was slowly falling apart.

“The girl must be an ex-girlfriend, father.” She urges “Isn’t that right Jabari?” He says nothing. You’re standing still, feeling betrayed. Jabari finally calls your name but you can’t find the courage to meet his eyes, you look above his head, to the chorister section. It's empty but you imagine them standing side by side in their white gowns lined with gold thread, the lead singer way in front, ready to take the spotlight while the others follow the lead. What song will they sing to commemorate yet another disgrace, the final straw, the murder of your heart? The priest aggress to complete the ceremony. You don’t realize the commotion has been contained and Abdallah, the best man has returned to Jabari’s side till he hands the rings to the priest who in turn, blesses the rings and hands it to each of you to place on the other’s finger.

“Go in peace with Christ.” he says to the congregation and hurries away from his podium not caring if he gets a reply or not.

“Thanks be to God.”

You feel everyone watching you carefully, anticipating your reaction but you’re better than they think, you raise your dress and walk down the steps, you don’t forget to smile at the guests and thank them for coming. Jabari already gave them something to talk about, you might as well save yourself in the story.

The first time you found out Jabari was cheating was 3 years ago when you were completing your MBA in Kabwe. At the time, Jabari was working at a construction site. When the call came in, you were on your yoga mat, trying to perfect the bakasana position. The person on the other end of the phone skipped pleasantries and went down to it.

“Jabari cheated on you” the speaker paused “I have pictures and videos if you don’t believe me.”

You let out a breath after moments passed “Why are you telling me this?”

“Because he promised he would leave you for me but he didn’t. If I can’t have him, you can’t”. The voice hung up.

Afterward, you got pictures and videos from the same number to confirm what she was saying. It was Jabari alright, the girl had blurred her face so you couldn't tell who she was. You tried calling the number back but it was unavailable. It so happened that Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine was playing. You got down to your knees to pray. Not for strength, you’re not that type of woman. But for the building he was working on, to collapse, killing him in the process.

When he got back home you confronted him and he broke down in tears, he held on to you and begged you to forgive him, he claimed it was a brief moment of weakness but you knew it wasn’t a moment but several, the dates on the videos told you that much but you ran your hand through his hair and smiled through your tears, you said you'd need time and he thanked you, crying some more. You thought that would be the end of it. Silly you.

Jabari broke the news himself the second time, just a few months after the first. He had gotten this one pregnant and she decided to keep it.

“She said she is two months along. That is when we met.” he started crying again “I don’t know what to do Alika, I’m not ready for a kid.” You just looked down at him crying at your feet. This behavior of yours got you in so much trouble as a child. You were always able to detach yourself from bad things. Your mum called you mchawi several times. What she didn’t know is that you take a long time processing terrible events. It didn't make you a witch but she wouldn’t agree (she ended up taking you to a pastor for deliverance but this is another story). You left Jabari that night and cut him off. You heard from your brother months later that the woman was never pregnant and just wanted to trap Jabari. For some reason, you were so happy you ended up calling him that night. Again, silly you. You never learn Alika.

“Hello, stranger.”

“I didn’t think I’d hear from you again, you never picked my calls.” His voice shakes and melts your heart.

“Well, Jabari, what did you expect me to do? You got another woman pregnant.” The other end of the line was silent for a while you thought he had dropped the call.

He finally spoke. “I know you've heard this before, but I am sorry. I promise to be better this time. I’m leaving this lifestyle behind.” Another pause “These past couple of months have been so difficult. I can’t live without you Alika. Please come back home.” You did and you made love to each other, with tears in both your eyes, whispering sweet nothings and promises until you slept wrapped in each other’s arms.

Jabari begged you the entire ride home. The church ceremony was over and everyone had gone home. Some came to congratulate you on the start of your new home, some wished you and your husband the fruit of the womb, and some asked you to forgive Jabari. They all called the woman degrading things as if Jabari was sleepwalking when he met her.

She probably bewitched him

You know girls these days are looking for someone’s husband to snatch



You’re in the kitchen and you whip something up to eat, Jabari can settle himself.

“Alika, come on. Do you really believe I slept with that woman? I swear I don't know her, I've never seen her before. I kept my promise, please let's put this behind us and enjoy our new chapter.”

“New chapter.” You scoff and walk to the dining room. He comes to kneel in front of you, you notice he’s starting to tear up so you look away.

“I’m sorry I cheated on you multiple times in the past.” He crawls to where you're seated. “What’s happening now is all my fault. I know it. If I stayed faithful then, you would have no reason to doubt me now but I swear to you baby.” He moves your chin so you meet his eyes “I don’t know that woman and I haven't been with anyone else but you.” He buries his head in between your thighs and you absentmindedly caress his hair but you’re looking away, beyond the room walls, beyond the gates, beyond.

“Why did you do it?” you whisper “All these years I’ve asked myself again and again but I haven’t found an answer so I’m asking you why Jabari Kipkorir Maina. Why did you promise another woman you’d leave me so you can be with her, why did you impregnate that Luhya woman?” He opens his mouth to speak. “Almost impregnate. You lied about having a contract in Kigali but spent the entire time with Abdallah’s girlfriend, you even bought expensive lingerie for a university student. Disgusting.” You scrunch up your face. “Did you really think you were being discreet, that I wouldn’t find out?” His face falls and you smile.

“I want you out of the house by tomorrow, you can stay in the guest room tonight.” You raise his head from your thighs and head to your bedroom, ignoring Jabari’s dejected face.

She paces the room and tries the same number for the 10th time that night.

“Zawadi, what is it? Can’t you tell the time? I am tired.”

“You really tried me this time, Wawuda. You gave me the wrong address. Did you think that would stop me? I will find him and break up that useless marriage of his.” She yelled

“You keep taking Kioko’s side like you don’t know what he did to me. Why does he get to discard me and have a beautiful life while I rot and watch from the sidelines?”

“It’s late, we can do this tomorrow. I’m sorry for lying to you, I just did not want you to disrupt the ceremony, it would have broken their hearts.”

“And that makes it okay for you to break someone else’s? Someone not involved in this mess. You should have seen the look on that bride’s face. She looked so devastated. I hope you can live with that for the rest of your life.”

“Wait. What?”

“You’re dead to me.” She cuts the call and drops to the floor crying.