Even as we told ourselves that Valentine’s Day is a day like any other; a day like Thursday when it rains out of the blues, a hot Tuesday that makes the foundation on our faces shine like mirrors, or a random Saturday that we lounge in bed lazily; nonetheless, we waited with crossed fingers, legs and expectant hearts, shaky hearts at the possibility of being alone, grateful hearts, and armored hearts – if he does something for me, well and good. If he doesn’t, nobody will die.
On Valentine’s day, some of us found a hectare of flowers on our office desks. We gasped, beamed, flushed, giggled and rushed towards the lilacs or tulips or orchids or daisies or roses. We fumbled to trace the notes pouring emotions of love for us. They would die for us, they would support our dreams and ambitions, be the lovers we have always prayed for. We smelt the flowers and sucked in all the goodness, mediating on the beautiful words scribbled to us. We fell in love all over again. Our colleagues aahed and awwed and we melted with bliss, praised our God for not putting us to shame on this auspicious day in front of our colleagues and we blessed him for our loving partners. It did not matter that some of us reminded our men day and night about this day, coerced them, threatened since the beginning of February. The end justifies the means. Flowers we got.
Some of us found huge teddy bears sitting bossily on our desks, staring at us menacingly, no trace of love. The teddy bears had black eyes that seemed to accuse us of something. The black teddy bears spoilt our day and we wondered of all colours – red, pink, beige, white – why would our men choose black? We felt mocked and we stuffed the ugly black creatures in our bags. Some of the teddy bears were fragile, lovable. The beautiful teddy bears, we displayed for the world as evidence of our partner’s tender love, enviable love and we earned a spot among lucky women in love and now the office people respect us. We caressed the teddy bears, fantasized for an entire day about our men, and planned on what we would do to them at night. Some of us looked ridiculous walking around with teddy bears twice our size, knocking other sad women in the streets.
Some of us waited with scared hearts at the possibility of our men embarrassing us before the entire world. Before the eyes of our friends and family and neighbors and colleagues and our dogs and cats. But we carry good heads on our necks and think outside the damn boxes. We called the florists. It was something like this:
I’m I speaking to Yonder Flowers Company?
Yes. This is Yonder.
Good. I want to send flowers to someone.
That’s beautiful. Are you sending them to your boyfriend? (Such gross unprofessionalism. Companies need to invest in training their staff about customer service and key is closing their big mouths and stop asking headless, stupid questions. Must flowers be send to the opposite gender? Akh! Africans.)
Mr. Kinuthia, listen up. I want an urgent hand to write on the note: I am thinking of you beautiful. See you later during dinner. Love, William. Is that possible? How quick can the flowers arrive?
Mr Kinuthia sighs on call. See? Investment in customer service. He was judging us on the phone, but people like him don’t shake our dark hearts.
When the flowers arrived, we smiled shyly as the nosy Wambo scrambled from her seat and came to see and congratulate us. Ei, this William is not here to play. So, where are you guys going for dinner? she asks. He says it is a surprise, we reply. Even though there is no William in our loves, we want to scare people away and Wambo, trust her to spread the word about our romantic William.
Some of us did not know if we are actually single, divorced, widowed, pending, main chic, side chic 1, side chic 2 or an ex to our men. But we still hoped for clarity on this day. We asked God for signs concerning our position in the lives of our men. We hoped for a knock on the door that evening. We even bought wine and dressed in a red lingerie and douched our privates even though we know scientists warn us against this but we did it anyway. This life, we will not come out of it alive. And even we could avoid douching and subsequent death but we could chock on a bone fish or chock in bed or even slide on a banana peel and break the spine and die. So we douched our parts and bought red candles and burnt incense and changed bed sheets. And hoped. And they stood us up.
Some of us got text messages when we opened our eyes in the morning. You are a blessing. You are the best wife (out of how many wives? we wondered silently), I could never ask for a better mother to my kids, you are my world Shirleen. You are the sunshine in our lives. Me and the boys love you so much. We had a great Valentine’s because of that sweet message. At least they remembered! Even just a text!
Some of us overslept and woke up alone with heavy drool traversing our face and settling in our ears. We ran to work and arrived panting and having a running nose. We arrived with sweaty armpits and wet backs and wet buttocks. Only when we cooled down and checked Facebook over lunch hour did it hit us hard that it is actually Valentine’s Day. But we are above that nonsense for the last two years. Some us saw the day fade away and we knew that those who celebrate Valentine’s are just plain illuminati. We said to ourselves and to other perhaps, I love who I am becoming, the grace is sufficient, some people are not worth the tears, all this is vanity and we will all die, there is no way I will get broke coz of a man. Some of us diverted our love to children in orphanages and gave them flowers and sweets and toys.
Some of us got engaged on this day and screamed with joy as we shouted yes, even though we already had guessed they were going to propose. Some of us woke up with running stomachs and camped in the toilets and called in sick and our bosses did not believe us. How convenient Angela, they said coldly over the phone. Some of us celebrated it because it falls on the same day as our birthday. Some of us broke up, some of us hooked up on this day.
Some of us, even though we know our men well, still thought they would change overnight and bring us flowers and chocolate and teddy bears and send us a sweet message. Our men had no idea what was happening, what day it was, who Valentine is, for what purpose or they simply ignored and when asked, said, si it is just a day like any other?, si it is a white people’s thing Lilian?, as if the other 364 days they ever make us feel special. We sucked in and brooded and remembered fondly the men we rejected in our youth and wondered if they would have forgotten this day or got defensive.
Some of us, our exes came to our rescue and sent us gifts and messages that ticked us once more and even though we had sworn to never listen to their nonsense again, we listened and encouraged them. They, in return asked, can I come over? And we said yes. And we hugged them and cried and told them we still loved them and we miss them. And when our real boyfriends called us at ten pm to wish us a goodnight, as if they had done nothing wrong, we told them, good riddance, jerk. It is over.
Some of us received little notes of love from our children in the morning and broke down in tears. What greater love than this? We wailed and wailed with joy. We hugged them and told them we loved them and they are the definition of true love. We would face the world, together. And our day was beyond words. We cried the whole day, staring at the tender words. I love you mama, they said. The crayoned drawings of us looked like monsters, but beautiful monsters for our children.
Some of us trembled remembering how last year things went south on this day. We went to surprise our men even though they did not like us popping in anytime because their family loved coming over. We went loaded with aphrodisiac things and when we knocked, it was woman in his t-shirt that opened and he towered behind her and asked what we wanted. We went away with our pathetic wine and thongs and stupid things we carried for the night.
Some of us cling on men of other women. They also belonged to us, this is Africa and what is wrong with sharing? They preferred us, we told ourselves. That evening after work, they came over and switched off their phones. We rejoiced at this gesture. Even though we felt guilty, we knew life is not fair and nobody had ever fought for us. Our men told us, you see I love you more? But we later learnt on Instagram that they had paid for their wives a weekend getaway in Diani. And we felt it was unfair because these men ate our food, spread themselves on our couches, used our toilet paper badly, finished our toothpaste and dumped their tension inside us.
Some of us were taken for dinner in quintessential restaurants. Our men were in a flirty mood. They lusted after us and asked, whose baby is this? All this is mine? And we melted in our seats. We downed the wine. We internalized the intoxicating ballads and jazz playing in the background. We forked the steak. We smiled at them. We fell in love again, staring at their eyes and smile. We ended up in between sheets and since then we have been counting days. Were we ovulating? Some of us hope not to see blood for the next nine months because it will be a blessing, some of us are panicking hoping to see blood soon or we go crazy and the trips to the washroom to check if those things have arrived have become tiring. Some of us are focusing on BBI and will discover we are pregnant in May.
Some of us, our employers remembered us in our hour of need. They gifted us on Valentine’s and rescued us from severe heart break that would lead to comatose. They gave us flowers and chocolates and we filled social media with these evidences of love, that someone cared enough. Long live Safaricom. You save my face every day. You are a bad bad boy.
Some of our men were away on duty. We trembled over the phone as they wished they were there with us on this special day. They would make it up to us, they promised. They love us every day, they confessed. We cried on the phone, missing them immensely, craving for them and cursing careers and bread and butter shenanigans.
Some of us discovered we will not be arrested if we bought for our men presents and though as women, we know it is our day and not theirs, we made the rest of the women look evil. Some of us bought for them belts, socks, handkerchiefs, took them for a massage and the men were excited like little children. Some of us ignored the topic of gifting them and prepared a power point presentation in our defence because it is universally known and accepted that Valentine’s is special to us, that our birthdays are special to us, our men’s birthdays are special to us and gifting us is not a crime, Christmas is special to us, Easter is special to us, Jamhuri day special, Mashujaa day special, labour day special, Tuesday special, our children’s birthday special. Special means, we are treated and gifted and pampered. Such is life. Such is love.