Wife Speak: Before you pass judgement…

Nairobi and life, in general, has now taught me to seek to know people, talk to them, and hear their story, before judging them. 

What you need to know:

  • We tend to look at the outward and either dismiss, judge or warm up to people based on their appearance and demeanour
  • The shock on you when choosing a life partner based on these superficial elements.
  • Rethink before you dismiss or settle for a spouse just because of their appearance or demeanour.

A friend recommended a taxi hire when I enquired about airport pick up from Kisumu to Kakamega for a work assignment. On the D-day, Paul, a big guy with a hearty laugh, picked me up. He treated me like royalty, something that does not happen in the service industry in Kenya. He offered wet wipes for my hands, opened doors, handled my luggage and asked for my preferred music. He also gave me a brief of the trip to Kakamega.

“It will be an hour ride to the green jewel.” He said and clarified when he noticed my puzzled look, “County 037, Kakamega.”

“Ha.”

I had requested Paul to drive me to the city for breakfast before we left. “I don’t know why they don’t market Kisumu as a tourist destination,” I sighed, realising I had spoken out my thoughts as I glimpsed a shimmery outline of Lake Victoria. This comment was the icebreaker Paul needed to know that his client was in the mood for a chat. We shared our opinions about performing counties and what the government should or should not be doing, typical Kenyan discussions. Paul was a gifted storyteller. It turned out that he had worked in Nairobi for many years as a taxi driver, but when the devolved government became a reality, he saw the potential of Kisumu city and packed his family back to his homeland. He however, was still nostalgic for Nairobi.

“Does Florida still kick?”

“I’m not sure…I was never a CBD person.”

“Galileos?”

“Wah! Last I was in the club scene was decades ago.”

It was during our chit chat that he mentioned Mama Kevo.

“She was…; I don’t know what she was. I thought her a Christian, as far as I could tell,” he said. He concluded all this from her demeanour.

What was it about her demeanour?

“She insisted only on gospel music, for a start. Plus, she was calm and decent.” She had booked him every Thursday at exactly 3 pm to drop and pick her at exactly 6 pm. This was before Uber technology. For close to two years, Paul concluded that Mama Kevo was attending chama or Bible Study meetings. He would drop her at some quiet apartments in Westlands. Occasionally, Paul would also drive her husband, mostly to the airport.

Shocker

Then one evening, he got the shock of his life. He had parked as usual but for some reason did not doze off like was his norm while waiting. It was then that he saw a dreadlocked man come out of the apartment, followed by Mama Kevo. They hugged then kissed.

“Haiya! That kiss was not a brethren kind of kiss.” Paul said that he stared, with his mouth open, only remembering to pretend to be in deep slumber just before she got to the car. From that day henceforth, Paul was a disturbed man. He felt guilty driving Baba Kevo and accepting the pay and tips. He tried to act normal with Mama Kevo on Thursdays when she reminded him to play her gospel music. He continued to earn his keep from the family.

“But I realised I was facilitating an affair and being paid for it.” Cognitive dissonance is real. Paul had never imagined Mama Kevo could even use a curse word, leave alone carry on an affair, with a dreadlocked man, for effect.

“Then I had another regular customer, Stacy, a young lady who lived in some hostels.” Paul often picked and dropped Stacy in a private residence owned by an elderly foreigner. Paul had all assumed that some immoral shenanigans were going on between this young woman and the elderly white man. “To make matters worse, she informed me that she was paid by the hour.” He was disgusted, but one day, while dealing with the shock of Mama Kevo’s discovery, Paul point-blank asked Stacey what it was that she did with the old man. “I am a physiotherapist. Intern. He is one of my first patients.”

Paul was officially chastised. “Nairobi and life, in general, has now taught me to seek to know people, talk to them, and hear their story, before judging them.”

We tend to look at the outward and either dismiss, judge or warm up to people based on their appearance and demeanour—the shock on you when choosing a life partner based on these superficial elements. Rethink before you dismiss or settle for a spouse just because of their appearance or demeanour.

Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. [email protected]


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