- I stare at Mariam in the distance, phone in hand, and hope that everything will turn out okay for her.
“It’s an email from Chris,” I tell Jo. We’re driving to Naivasha with Fatma and Mariam, both seated in the back engaged in their own catch-up session, and not paying attention to me.
“Are you going to read it?” Jo asks me. I shake my head.
“I haven’t been able to reach him in a week. I don’t want to read it and ruin my weekend.”
“But what if he’s writing to explain why he’s been absent? To tell you he misses you?”
“What’s your point, Jo?” I sigh. “I haven’t heard from him for seven days. I have mailed, texted, called. He hasn’t replied. Isn’t it clear what’s about to happen here?”
“My point is, why are you so negative? Maybe he has a good reason for his silence.”
I bite my lip. Last he told me, he said he was going to the UK to see his daughters. He was also going to the UK where his estranged wife lives. I have an idea what may have happened in the time he’s been away…
“No,” I shake my head. “Please, Jo, let’s just drop this conversation, okay? I’ll let you know what he says when I do finally open the email.”
“Ok then,” she raises an eyebrow at me. Then she turns to the girls in the back. “How are we doing there? We’ll be at our destination in about 20 minutes. I hope you’re all ready to build our tent!”
We all laugh; we’ve done this before. Jo usually takes charge of the situation and because she’s such a perfectionist, ends up putting the tents up all by herself.
“Sure,” Mariam laughs. “By the way, when I told my boyfriend about this trip he insisted on coming. He says you girls are a riot and he would love to spend more time with you,” she laughs.
“And how is your young man?” I ask Mariam.
“He’s great. I left him at home. I hope he knows how to cook himself a good meal. You know he doesn’t eat anything but takeout when I am not around.”
“Wait, what? You left him in your house?” Jo nearly crashes the car into a fever tree on the side of the road and she whips her head around sternly to glare at Mariam.
“I mean… I do need someone to take care of things while I am away, you know? Plus, it’s not like he has anywhere else to go.”
“Why doesn’t he have somewhere else to go?” It’s my turn to frown. “Does he not have a house of his own?”
“Relax, ladies, he’s very helpful. Me and my daughter appreciate having him there. He really does get a lot done for us.”
“Hmm…” Even Fatma is looking sceptical, which is rare for her. But she doesn’t get a chance to say what’s on her mind because that is the moment at which we turn into the gate of our destination and drive over to the reception to check in and get situated.
“I’m just going to jump out and call my man real quick while you girls register,” Mariam says.
“And I need to use the loo, wah!” Fatma hops around on one leg, then the other. Jo and I watch as Fatma limps off towards the facilities while Mariam ambles towards the lake, phone in hand.
“You know, I don’t know about that young man of hers – what was his name again?”
“I can’t remember,” I shrug. “But what’s wrong with him?”
“He just… gave me the heebie jeebies when I first met him. And now that I find out their living situation, I feel even more apprehensive. I bet when we get back to Nairobi we’ll find out he was using her car and house to pick up girls.”
My eyes widen. “But what if…” I start.
“Nope,” Jo wags a finger sanctimoniously. “These young boys these days, they are all the same. Trust me on this. This relationship will turn out well.”
And then she turns around and walks into the reception office to start the process of registering us while I stare at Mariam in the distance, phone in hand, and hope that everything will turn out okay for her.