Marru sat down at a cheap café close to a beach in Malindi at seven in the morning, where he worked. He ordered the usual – a cold Guinness. He had a casual relationship with his liquor. At the bottom of the beer was where he had always felt accepted, unjudged, and worthy. Alcohol had given him counsel when he never knew he needed it. It was always in his beer, and his thoughts where all the wrong and right decisions stemmed. Alcohol had been that grain of frustration for his family and a deep stupor in all his relationships.
On mornings like these, he would be thinking of Gachui. It had been a full moon night. In those eerie nights, she never left his mind, even if he tried. He found himself clasping at his bottle like his sanity depended on it. He wondered if she’d pick up his call if he called him. If it would be her voice on the other side of the line. Then maybe, even to prove, that what he had heard on the stereo that morning was a fallacy. It would have been better to imagine her in the arms of another man than to imagine her gone. He remembered how perfectly she fit into his arms. How soft her caramel skin was. How the freckles on her face relayed her Kikuyu roots against a perfect brown canvas. How her kinky rasta hair propped on her head like a proper African crown.
Gachui was a zen-spirited rasta girl who was never fazed, but whatever opinions the world had of her she didn’t lightly. That was what he had dearly loved about her in the first place. She had been an enigma for his frail outgoing philosophical mind. She had introduced him to meditation and yoga, and he had introduced her to hiking and backpacking. Both of which she had turned out to be a pro at. She was the queen of the trails. He introduced her to his home, and she set camp. But she had fallen in love with this charming Meru man, and that alone gave him joy. Though the two had dated for just a couple of months, they had known each other for years. He had met her when Njoka, one of his close friends from campus, had asked their group of friends to escort him to meet Gachui’s family in Meru. His hometown.
Had he known what would transpire between them seven years later, he would never have agreed to it. But how would he? He was dating Wanja. A tall, beautiful woman he had met on campus. They had been an anomaly together. They had this strange relationship, wild. They were conjoined at the hip. They did everything together. Friends and family were convinced that they were forever. Marru thought they were forever. So when Njoka had tagged them along to Gachui’s home, he would never have imagined that anything would transpire between them. Not once did he think that a couple of years down the line, she would storm into his life and be the reason his friendship with Njoka ended. Not once did it cross his mind that he and Wanja would walk separate paths. Not once did he imagine that their engagement would turn out to be sheer gravel.
He had believed they were forever when he went jewelry shopping, albeit weddings and marriage not being in his books. He had believed with all his heart that she was worth the risk when he got that ruby diamond ring and got down on one knee. He had lived with her long enough to know that it would work. But Wanza wanted more than he was willing to offer, a family. Maybe that was the reason she had considered this other guy at her workplace. Compared to Marru, he showed promise of being a family man and a saved one at that. She was innocently weighing her future options when she mistakenly forwarded an email to Marru that was meant for the other guy. His heart crushed. More and more when he realized that it was all façade. More and more when he decided to leave their house in the middle of the night, without a single item, vowing never to get back again.
More and more when he fell back to his liquor, night after night, to get past the heartache. He had made the mistake of drawing faith from his parent’s marriage. He had made the mistake of assuming that he would be so lucky to have such a union with her. He had been a firstborn of three boys, and he had been a good brother. Their parents had made sure that they knew the importance of being there for one another. He always appreciated that his family had remained intact all his life. Their parents had prided themselves in instilling godly values in them, so whenever he and his brother sneaked out of every family gathering to go drinking, they had wondered where they got that from. None of their parents partook in the vice, but the boys had found refuge in the art of wild nights. What had been amiss? Maybe it was a generational outcome; the boys’ lives were different from what their parents had back in their day. The economy has changed much since. Vice was an in-thing and not a thing to be frowned upon like it had been for his parents in their youth. And that’s why he never associated his drinking with his family’s giving or misgiving.
His father had made sure that education was taken seriously in their home. He had passed his KCSE, got called into one of the most prestigious national boy schools in the country – Mangu Boys. Here he passed his KCSE and was admitted to Kenyatta University to partake in a course dear to his heart – Programming. Coding had been a guilty pleasure. It was here that he got enrolled into the finer aspects of life. It was here where party life was the outcome of everything good and bad about campus life. It was here where drinking became a close ally to his tough units and campus woes. Drugs had been a trusted confidant when he had started questioning everything his parents and teachers had taught him. When the many theories he had devoured all his school life had ceased to make any sense. So when his engagement had come to an end, the club became a source of therapy. Like a wormhole, he sank deeper. He sank even deeper when he found out that she was pregnant and soon wedded to the fellow. Everywhere on social media, news of her blooming success flooded his feed.
Feeling short-changed by life, he had quit his 9-5 job. He had moved in with his brother and decided to start his own company and capitalize on his free time and programming skills. Living with a code-wired brother made life easier and more bearable for him. He had helped keep his demons away. Marru had enjoyed the company of women more so during this period as it helped him survive cold, lonely nights alone. The random rendezvous nights made of weekend parties and wild sex worked to his favor. Unfortunately, women stuck to him like ticks. He had a way with women. Even when he wasn’t trying, women wanted him around. They wanted him to commit, to stick with them, but life had thrown him a hard bone to chew, and he had decided to retract from commitment and be an outright bachelor. Every so often, when he would hit on women or vice versa, he would make it clear to them that he was there only for the good times. However, the same way women were attracted to his luminous presence, they had willed to change him, make him conform, but he would leave before the association even got room to mature into something worthwhile.
It wasn’t until the eve of 2019 that Marru swore to will more texture into his affairs. Like every Kenyan, the eve was the perfect time to make resolutions that would never amount to anything. Although this time, he had been conscious about it. He had been through an enlightenment transformation that had somewhat made him aware of his present moments more than he dwelled in his past. He was more intentional with his life. He willed better. He was going to do better. So that night, when they had landed in Meru for their family get-together, it had not been his intention to bump into Gachui. He never once thought their paths would cross so closely. After Gachui had broken up with Njoka, they had brushed shoulders one or two times but always in public setups like the malls and once in a matatu.
She had been standing there on the road, ready to cross safely when she spotted him and his brother. Her heart sank. There he was, the man she had actively avoided. There he was, just an arm-length away from her. She wanted to laugh because this felt like a crude joke the universe was trying to play at her. They smiled at her, and she sweetly smiled back. She was too nervous to formulate complete sentences or think about her responses, so she agreed to join them for a New Year’s Party in Nanyuki when they asked her if she could join them. She had left the house that afternoon to take a walk to her favorite forest in the village. The intention was to be in nature for at least two hours, meditate, journal, and see what new resolutions she would make for the coming year. She had been through so much, which had turned her into a loner. She had come to appreciate that she enjoyed her company more than the company of others. She had gotten to a point in her life where she didn’t feel like an outcast anymore because she wasn’t trying to fit in anymore. But when it came to Marru, she was weak.
She was at his mercies. And he never quite knew this. She had learned from Njoka that his engagement to Wanja had ended. She has also learned that he hadn’t handled the fallout well, but there was nothing she could do for him at the time. He was simply part of the conversations she and Njoka seldomly had. She never once told Njoka that she had had feelings for Marru since the first time she met him. It couldn’t be accounted to a conversation they had or a special moment, he had popped into her life so randomly, and her heart had taken note. She had promised to never act on them. To never let anyone know. For though she may not have had strong emotions for Njoka, she never wanted to hurt him like that. She was well aware that he wouldn’t take such a betrayal lightly. And besides, she figured Marru never saw her in that light. It was her little secret.
At the family gathering, Marru wondered what had been the odds that Gachui just happened to be by the roadside while they had just arrived from Nairobi. The universe was playing tricks at him again, and he didn’t like it. He had avoided her like the plague. He didn’t trust himself around her, and it wasn’t in the way he didn’t trust himself around other women. This was different. Whenever he was near her, he’d have an outward body experience where he wanted her in ways he couldn’t experience. He was a secret admirer in awe of her beauty. He always enjoyed conversations with her and her way of thinking every time he had had the slightest chance to strike a conversation with her. He couldn’t figure her out. He found her zen-rasta demeanor very sexy and alluring. Being near her was somewhat healing. She had this clean energy that engulfed her that was so hard not to notice. Though she appeared distraught and sad sometimes, there was something about her that impressed him. And here he was wondering why he gave that invite in the first place. He knew he couldn’t trust himself around her, and here he was, ready to walk into his trap.
It had been a full moon night. He knew because she kept pointing out how beautiful the moon was that night. She had gone on and on about different phases of the moon and all the constellations she could spot in the sky. A few minutes before it was the New Year, she felt his eyes devour her. She felt this spark of energy boiling inside of her. She wanted to keep her calm. She tried to kiss him, but she also knew that the best thing was to refrain. But she felt the moon push her to be bold. She felt this weird synergy, and before she knew it, the two were engulfed in a passionate kiss.
Everything was silent. Nothing else mattered at that moment. Just two souls, under one moon, bringing all the feelings they had of each other to life. There was no secret left to hide. The moon had left them bare and ready to push forth. This they would never come back from. This was beyond reproach. A line had been crossed, and restitution was to be accorded, but at that moment, none of that mattered. Mother Luna had watched these two souls merge after seven years of fighting what was beyond their control. It was a night of silent promises. Nothing needed to be said. All was felt. They spent all night celebrating the New Year, and in the morning, they all drove back to Nairobi hangover but in one peace. She slept throughout the trip so she wouldn’t need to look at him from the rearview mirror. She understood how her mind worked, so she understood that this would keep her up for a couple of nights. There was no going back from this. Dues were to be paid. The moon energized synchronicity, and they both knew there was no going back. But what they didn’t realize is that every full moon, whether they were together or not, the exact synergy would rule them.
They had made a bold decision to be together that night despite knowing all too well that Njoka would be their undoing. They had known that this Njoka would not forgive, but the moon had decided for them, and they were willing to ride it out. Marru was never one to be bothered by public opinion. Gachui was. But only because she knew Njoka better than anyone ever did. She knew all his tactics. He may have wooed people on his side but never her. She always saw through him, and she knew that he would sabotage whatever future they had together the minute he found out about them.
They had had a few blissful months before all hell broke loose. They had shared a bit of their souls in depth neither had ever shared before. They had given themselves to each other without restriction. They had explored each other than they had ever with previous partners. She had introduced him to vegan life, meditation, yoga, and reading, while he had taken her on hiking and backpacking trips. He had shown her how to be confident and a badass in dealing with people. It had almost felt too good to be true. But it wasn’t. When Njoka found out, the inevitable happened. He trolled their association as an immense betrayal to the point of breaking them.
They had surpassed it but only to a point. They had to go their separate ways. But the moon always came, and it always shone brightly. Many nights, many moons, even in the arms of others, they always felt the synergy. They were tied to each other whether they liked it or not. Unable to bear the weight of their breakup, Marru moved to Malindi, and she got posted to work elsewhere. They needed to move on with their lives; it just wasn’t as easy as they had hoped it would be. He hoped that the ocean would keep him oblivious. He wished that the waves would leave him be. But when he had heard the news of her demise, he wondered if that had been the reason why the moon had been extraordinarily bright that night.
She had been found dead in her apartment. She had been found dead- That’s all that lingered through his mind. Here he was, in this cheap café, clasping at his cold Guinness, unable to comprehend what was going on. He removed his phone to reread the text she had sent him the previous night: “One Moon, Two Souls, Always and Forever.” He stared at it and smiled, looking up to the moon that night. He smiled because that text had proved that they had been looking up to the moon at the same time. Same sky, same moon, different location, two souls. He took a sip of his cold beer and broke down into tears.