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A twisted web

Dennis and Crystal are both married; to each other and to two other people.

Yes, I understand your confusion. I was equally confused when Dennis explained this to me. For a moment I thought the blunt I had seen him light up moments ago at the parking lot outside 1824 had messed up his head a little – BTW is that a parking lot or you Langata peeps just like parking on the road?

It’s interesting the things people will tell you at a bar when they are high. Even when you are total strangers. Stories often take a personal direction after a few pints (and puffs).

Remember the old Tusker slogan, “makes us equal, has no equal?” well, alcohol truly has a way of making people loosen up to strangers they feel are their equals or have equally interesting lives as long as they are drinking under the same roof (or on the same cabro).

If you want to prove this, imagine you were having an argument with a group of friends and someone says “juzi tukikunywa na Uhuru…

You clearly know this guy is not in Uhunye‘s league but you also know Uhunye loves his whiskey. Naturally, you will pause to listen to what important state secrets Uhunye divulged in the presence of this guy, because under that roof (or on that cabro), whether real or imaginary Uhunye was “equals” with this guy.

We had been sitting here for three hours now. We had talked about retirement and how people need to plan for it lest they get a rude shock when it happens. We had shared stories about our now retired parents and what they were now up to. I had told him how mine spends most of their sunset years going door to door preaching the JW way. My mum had been so looking forward to it.

We talked about water hyacinth choking the life out of Lake Victoria and of course the mega-corruption in this country. If you want to start a conversation with random peeps at a bar in Kenya today just talk mention an article you read in the recent past about a major corruption deal. On this Tuesday it was the famous multi-billion dam scam. We also talked about the weather – it was a hot and windy afternoon. For some reason, Dennis still had his jacket on. The necktie was just slightly loosened around his white shirt. The breast pockets had the initials ‘D.N’ – I guess they were initials for his name and not Daily Nation. I asked him if he knew Stanley Ogejo. He is the only other lawyer I know who wears white shirts with his initials ‘I.S. Ogejo’ on his breast pocket.

Dennis had seen me stare into the direction of a girl who was singing in the band area. It was karaoke night here and Nairobi peeps take their karaoke a little too seriously. Some people were here by two o’clock. I came in at around four o’clock. Dennis joined a few minutes later.

He asked me if I liked her. I smiled and said I just liked how she sang. She was doing Afro by Les Wanyika backed up by the band. I explained to him that I am married. He looked at my hands. I wasn’t wearing a ring. So I smiled and took a sip of my room temperature Tusker.

“She is married too, but you do know you can be married to two people,” he said. Then smiled. He leaned over as if to tell me a story. I instinctively leaned towards him to hear what he had to say. As a writer, you never run away from an opportunity for good gossip. Might be the subject for your next bestseller.

“Be careful what you tell a writer, it might end up in a story,” I had warned him.

“As long as you don’t identify me in your stories,” he replied. I smiled again and took another sip.

Deno (let’s call him that because Dennis is now a mouthful) looks like one of those cool guys who seem to have it all together. Works at a top Nairobi law firm handling several corporate accounts. He hates litigation, he says “that’s for lawyers who want to die poor.” Married for six years with one child who is now four. Just after she was born, their hitherto perfect family life took a different turn.

Out of the blues, their once peaceful home had become the last place he wanted to go to after a long day in the office.

Imagine after a day at work dealing with clients who think they know more than you do but have never seen the inside of a law class to coming home to deal with a woman who is louder than Omega One and Soul Sound put together.

If you were born after 1990 you would not know who/what Omega One, Soul Sound or DS Njoroge were.

These were the days of the ASK show. I don’t know about how it happened in Nairobi so I will describe from what I know best – the Kisumu ASK Show. Popularly just referred to as “Kisumu Show.”

Kisumu Show was an event people looked forward to for 12 whole months. It was bigger than Christmas and lasted four to five straight days. If your boyfriend did not take you to Kisumu Show, you would dump him for a guy who could. You would dance to Dj Ogweno’s Omega One all night, occasionally playing hide and seek with flying bottles as ‘Jo Obunga‘ fought with ‘Jo Nyalenda‘ over Anyango. Anyango would be a girl who was brought to the disco but decided to change allegiances midstream. That ‘act of treason’ would cause inter-estate wars.

Kisumu show was so important that if a Luo man wanted to tell you that you were beautiful he would just say “Iromo tero e show” (you are worth taking to Kisumu show).

Omega One was loud. So loud you would be standing outside Homeboyz Disco and all you would be listening to is music playing from Omega One.

Deno says whenever he got home his wife would be as loud as Omega One and Soul Sound combined.

They would fight about the calls Deno got. Fight about how Deno talked. Fight about how Deno threw his socks all over. Fight about texts from Njoki the intern, Sylvia the colleague and a string of other female friends in Deno’s life.

Sadly though these fights moved from words to physical fights. Deno is one of those dudes who was brought up in a ‘good Christian family.” Taught not to drink, not to smoke and never to hit a woman.

The latter lesson was from his father. He might have ignored his mother’s lesson but his father’s he did not. After all, he is his father – he carries his name ( I would have added and DNA but we can never be too sure of that these days).

The wife knew Deno would never get violent. He would cheat, drink and come home late but would never lift a finger to hit her. Maybe just hold her down or push her to a corner to restrain her.

So she fought….and fought hard. Hit him in his sleep.

Have you ever woken up feeling pain all over your body after a night of drinking and wondered if someone hit you in your sleep? For Deno, this was real. Not imaginary. He would be woken up by blows when drunk. At times whopped properly – I mean when you are thoroughly drunk how do you even restrain your attacker or defend yourself?

There is nothing as bad as your neighbors knowing your wife beats you. You ninjas remember the memes when Weta reported to a police station that he was assaulted by the wife?

It does not matter how cleaned up or important you are at work or whatever car you drive when your neighbors know you are whopped in the house by the “Mrs” you are finished.

You can’t drink at the local. You will be there ordering a beer at 8.30 PM and your neighbors are like “si uende tu home Baba Nanii, hatutaki drama na bibi yako.” You will leave in shame and they will stay drinking and making jokes about you.

Add on to that being publicly humiliated at times at your place of work or at a club in town when the wife decides to push her craziness a notch higher.

Deno became depressed. There is nothing as having problems and not being able to drown them in whiskey. His life became miserable.

That was until Deno met Crystal. He says they met at work.

Not sure what work was this that brought together a lawyer and a career marketer neither are the details important for this story.

He says he worked with Crystal on a project. Exchanged a ton of formal emails and a few phone calls. One day he decided to DM Crystal on Whatsapp when she was on her leave.

That DM conversation would change their relationship forever.

It started as a simple “I wish we could exchange places” text.

Deno was in the office dealing with clients who think they know better but were never at Moi University’s School of Law with him and his “Omega One” in the house while Crystal was lying by the pool at a  beachfront hotel in Ukunda reading The Art of The Pitch by Peter Coughter.

Crystal predictably replied “be careful what you wish for.”

They exchanged a number of texts that afternoon. Deno got to know more about her. She was married to an engineer who worked in Turkana. She had three kids, all girls.

She also got to know more about Deno. That he was married. That the wife had a business she ran from the house. About their girl, about the things Deno loved about his work and, of course, the things he hated. Still, he was glad to have the job. He knew so many of his peers who would wish they had his job.

Crystal had noticed Deno. Yes noticed. How could she not? He was a guy who was smart, handsome and really good at what he does.

On her part, she was equally good at what she does. Was respected in her company which is a multinational beverage manufacturer. In some of these companies, it’s very difficult for locals to gain respect – white guys with sh*t education are usually treated as better peeps just because of their skin color. Crystal though was respected.

Her husband is usually gone for months on end. He is working on an important project for the country – though not a government or state corporation employee. Works for an international firm. They own their Karen house, kids go to those Groups of Schools for Nairobi one percent – the elder two. The youngest one is still at home with the nanny.

Crystal is also one year older than Deno.

She had however not imagined that Deno would be interested in her. So they texted more often and talked about everything from the weather to traffic to politics over the next three months.

The first DM was sent in August, by November that year they were exchanging nudes and flirting all the time.

While there was nothing wrong with Crystal’s marriage other than the fact that her husband was away most of the time, she found comfort in Deno’s availability. They could talk about anything and everything. Deno was also a year younger meaning they were age mates compared to the husband who was 30 years older.

Crystal says she got married at 20 while still in campus. Her husband was the first guy she had had sex with. Deno would be the second (but maybe hapo alidanganywa).

Let’s go back a bit. This guy was 50 and a loaded engineer and fighting over campus chics with campus dudes. Karma is really a bitch. See how it served him 12 years later! Enyewe malipo ni hapa papa duniani.

What had happened in between is that Crystal and Deno got to know each other more, she sympathized and more importantly they connected more than they connected with their real spouses.

So I ask why they just can’t get a divorce and marry each other.

Deno says he can’t, he is so attached to his daughter. Crystal too can’t leave her husband because of the kids. Also because the husband has never hurt her in any way. She just connected differently with Deno.

Deno and Crystal treat each other as husband and wife. They have two joint businesses, run two bank accounts too. Every year they synchronize their leave days so that they can at least travel somewhere for a week together.

When he was finished I was in shock. I was not aware that such things happened in real life – looked like something off a movie script, but that was Dennis and Crystal’s twisted web.

Is someone else married to your spouse out there?  You just never know.

cover Image courtesy of



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