Wanjiku and I grew up together in a village adorned by the hills of Gitugi. The terrain was so steep that if you set your jerrican down to rest after coming from the river, it would roll right back into the water. Wanjiku lived two farms down from our house, so occasionally, my parents sent me to her house to buy Kienyeji eggs, and she visited ours to purchase milk. We attended the same school, shared the same class, and walked to and from school together. Opting to go barefoot, our feet became cracked and calloused, and occasionally infested with jiggers. However, such inconveniences were of little concern to us; our dreams of a better life took precedence.

We centred our aspirations on Nairobi. We longed to become secretaries and build our lives in the bustling city. Mlango Kubwa appeared to be the place where everything was happening, according to older girls from our village who wore bright red lipstick. Each day, on our way home from school, we envisioned ourselves as working-class girls, donning trendy suits from downtown Nairobi, 2-inch pumps, lipstick, and synthetic weaves, heading to our respective government offices.

Our discussions about Nairobi continued as we walked to the river to fetch water, always culminating in plans to save money for the journey. We also spoke about boys, especially the charming ones at our school, sometimes even imagining them in our envisioned lives in Nairobi. Wanjiku envisioned a future with Njuguna, while I pictured myself with Njoroge, both of us remaining neighbours, raising two children attending private schools. Our dreams always felt within reach.

As time passed, I found myself growing fond of Wanjiku, developing confusing feelings for her. Although my heart melted every time we met, I was hesitant to risk our perfect friendship by acting on my emotions. Whenever we spoke about Nairobi, I deliberately emphasised my growing affection for Njoroge, when, in reality, I was speaking about her.

“I am so in love with Njoroge—the way he looks at me, his kindness, his 'handsomeness,' his focus and determination. I know he will be successful,” I would express, mirroring Wanjiku's sentiments about Njuguna.

Occasionally, while at the river, we would find a secluded spot and bathe together. I tried not to gaze at her, but from the corner of my eye, I noticed her blossoming breasts and defined curves. In a reality where two women could never openly embrace, I yearned to touch and kiss her.

One day, as we were fetching water, she playfully splashed water on me, and I reciprocated. Running around, splashing water and being carefree, we played like wild children, our laughter echoing for miles. This playfulness culminated in her wrapping herself around my arms, and it was at that moment our lips met, sending electric currents down my spine. We kissed fervently and passionately.

What ensued after that kiss was a whirlwind romance, akin to a Mills and Boon novel. We lay on the grass near the river, sharing intimate moments, laughing, discussing our fears, hopes, and dreams. We made love discreetly in the Napier grass, undressing each other, running our hands down each other’s bodies, feeling the warmth, kissing, and expressing our love.

Despite being concealed, our relationship blossomed. By the time we graduated from high school, we had saved some money from menial jobs. Determined to move to Nairobi, we secured a small flat in Mlango Kubwa and enrolled in secretarial studies at the prestigious Kenya College of Certified Studies. Eventually, we found jobs and moved to a larger house in Buru Buru.

Today, we live together as partners, with many still assuming we are close friends. Periodically, our parents inquire about our plans to settle down with men. We respond by stating we are still searching for suitable suitors, citing the challenges of finding commitment in Nairobi. They pray for us, hoping that God will open doors for us to find suitable partners. Understanding that our relationship would not be approved, we accept the necessity of concealing the truth.

Tonight, my plan is to propose to Wanjiku and officially make her my wife. If she says yes, I intend to take us to South Africa to officially seal the knot.
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