The side piece. 

Purity: Open this door, Jamaal! Fungua!! You think you can hide that little slut from me? Eh? You think that I am stupid. I know she is in there.
Jamaal: You need to calm down. It’s late, you will wake the neighbors.

Purity: Fuck the neighbors (glass shatters). Open this damn door!!

That is how you know the weekend is around the corner. The sound of glass breaking at your local pub or, in this case, neighbor’s window. It was 11 pm on a Thursday night. 11 pm is late for the working-class folks but for those of us struggling to find a job, it’s relatively early. One of my neighbors was having a spat with his girlfriend/wife – I am not sure which title she lays claim over. They are older, the age where it is assumed that when you live together you are married. She lives with him. At least I think she does. I see her every day going in and out of the house. 

A few nosy neighbors took it upon themselves to intervene. It was none of their business but in a flat, we all have those neighbors who make your business their business. I call them the ‘long-nosed neighbors’. They are often women but men too are known to possess this quality. They begged and pleaded (quite loudly) but Jamaal wasn’t opening the door. Purity had cut herself badly. I don’t understand why someone would inflict physical pain on themselves to hurt another person. If you are trying to hurt me by hurting yourself, I have got news for you. You are only hurting yourself. Stop. Blood was dripping all around her. How do I know this? I know because those long-nosed neighbors were shouting asking if anyone had Spirit to treat Purity’s wound. Being a first aider, I was compelled to throw my hat in the ring. While I was at it, I peeped through the broken window into Jamaal’s house. Unless this slut decided to jump from the third floor, I can tell you she was nothing more than a figment of Purity’s imagination. 

The side piece A.K.A ‘Mpango wa Kando’ (read those words slowly while nodding your head). We have all heard of this somewhat mythical creature that resides alongside the conventional institution that is marriage. As well as many budding relationships. They are, however, not to be confused with the one-night stand aka ‘funga’. That would be insulting to all self-respecting side baes. Whether you agree with me or not, they are a lynchpin in many marriages. Being such important figures in society, as society is made of unions, they have become a necessary evil. Funny thing is you might have been one at some point, yes you. Don’t make that face. Think about it. How often does the side piece know that they play a peripheral role in another person fucked up relationship? They are often an escape and as such they get to see the better part of their significant other, oblivious to his/her reality.

 We live in an age of gender equality so I must state that the side piece is a unisex term. There are plenty of men side baes out there. In short, women cheat too, with great skill, I should add. Men get a lot of stick in regards to loyalty and faithfulness. All men are dogs is a phrase I have heard said severally. #MenAreTrash was trending recently. Backed by guess who? Women. Meaning that men are vile, despicable creatures. Ones that do terrible things and simply cannot be satisfied with one woman. That would make women bitches, otherwise this whole breeding thing wouldn’t work. We must be of the same species, remember? That is how you apply high school biology (stands and applauds himself). 

The truth is: women are better cheaters, and men are less paranoid. I know I never have and never will check the messages on a girl’s phone, especially if I’m dating her. I am not mentally prepared for what I might see. That isn’t the same for women; they will crack your complex screen lock and read your messages. Men beware! What I am saying is, if you are a woman and your man catches you cheating, you need to work on your skills. My old man once told me that only the woman knows the real father of her children. Food for thought. It might have been an absolute fact in their day but thankfully science came up with the paternity test, which in essence is still flawed. If my brother or, God forbid, my father was to impregnate my hypothetical wife, the results would still be a high positive, 98% or more. My father has just called me. I think he knows I’m talking about him so I will stop. 

  Often the ‘Mpango wa Kando’ is shown more affection. They provide comfort and solace in turbulent times and have even been attributed to the longevity of some relationships. Ladies and gentlemen, are you with me? That was function number 1. To provide solace and comfort. Treat this like an article that you will be tested on. Clandestine affairs have always been a part of society. They are mostly associated with men and single women but the nature of clandestine relationships is dynamic. Married women and men cheat on their spouses with other people’s spouses. Some even neighbors. 

Wife: (calling her neighbor’s husband) Baba John ametoka, you can come say hi quickly.

Neighbour’s husband: Mama John had asked to check on her clogged pipes when I was free. I think it’s the best time now. I will only be a minute.

Neighbours wife: Okay. Say hi to mama John, she had promised me a cake. If you can tell her to bake it now and bring it over. 

The neighbor’s husband leaves to fix mama John’s plumbing. For the sake of this simulation let’s pretend he is a plumber by profession.

Neighbour’s wife: (calling baba John) Baba Paul ametoka. You can come say hi now before he comes back.

Baba John: I am on my way.

And they all lived happily ever after. When the Bible said love your neighbors, I don’t think this is what it had in mind.

As children, we shudder to think of our parents being anything other than faithful to each other. We put them up on pedestals and look at them as infallible, but they are just people who have flaws. They are the model relationship for most of us as we grow up. If you catch either one of your parents cheating, or if you are unlucky, both, it’s best to just stay out of it. I am not most children. I grew up in a polygamous set up so I really am not bothered by much of the fuss that comes with extramarital affairs. Back in the era of polygamy, men used to wife their ‘clandes’ so they were not really referred to as side chics. Times have changed and monogamy is treated as the societal standard for relationships. As a result, we now have sponsors. Men who fund the lifestyles of the infamous and inglorious ‘campus diva,’ ‘light skin’ and some ‘slay queens’ as they have been so fondly named. There are male versions of their female counterparts. Mirror images if you would. Sadly, they have not been named or categorized. Feel free to do so. All those categories of gold diggers have unique characteristics but they have one thing in common, they love a good broken marriage. It’s their way in.

 “I want a man that will love me the way my father loves my mother because I know I’m the type of woman who will love my husband the way my mom loves my dad,” most women say.

 I have been a victim, if you can call it that, of an overly friendly family friend. My mom’s friend to be precise. She had a daughter, Kylie. We were friendly with each other, as friendly as an 8-year-old could be with a 17-year-old. She was a good kid. Her husband seemed nice enough. Caring even. That didn’t seem to register when she made her move. She knew what she was doing and so did I. To quote the chorus the famous 2010 Yo Gotti song “Women lie, men lie, and they all lie about it”

Recently, I was in matatu heading to town in the morning for an interview that did not go as I had planned. Unemployment is real my people. Pray for me. Anyway, the driver was listening to classic 105. So that meant that we all had to listen to classic 105. It must be a Nairobi thing, everybody listens to that show in the a.m. I can guarantee you it’s not for the music. They play the same damn songs every day. Maina and King’an’gi’s in the morning is a show with plenty of controversial topics. Hence the listeners. I was sitting next to a plump middle-aged woman who decided to chat me up. I don’t know why people in matatus like talking to me. I don’t have a sign on my forehead that reads “It’s okay to share your life history and problems with me,” do I?

On the show, they were talking about extramarital affairs. One woman called in and proudly announced that she is a side chic. I like how people can take pride in their positions even if they are crappy. This woman was no ordinary side chic. She told the presenters that she was a present and visible figure in the life of her man. Let’s call him Bob, like Mugabe, and the woman will become Eve, the mama who led us to this very predicament. Eve told the presenters of how Bob and herself had started a business together and they were partners while Bob’s wife was a stay at home wife who took care of the kids. She insisted that she visits Bob’s kids and buys them presents and they love her. She mentioned that Bob and herself holiday together, they go to the gym and work out while the wife sits and eats at home (that was a subliminal diss), posting pictures on Instagram and other social sights where Bob’s wife can see them. I can imagine Bob’s wife liking the pictures while in bed with her toy boy. Karma is a bitch, Bob. What really stole the show is when she said that she had bought Bob’s wife a car. The whole matatu went dead silent for a moment. A guy in the back with a heavy Kikuyu accent said 

“Si huyo jamaa angenioa tu basi afanye mambo yake na mipango za kando, wacha huyo mpango moja”

 I chuckled. I shared his sentiment though, I wouldn’t have minded that situation. I stay home, you go work with my husband and do your thing but at the end of the day, I am fed and my car is fueled. Where do I sign up?

The side piece was more of a wife to the cheating husband than his legal wife. She was proud too. She spoke with authority and confidence. Eve even declared that she would not leave Bob because she loved him and he loved her too. This made me think of the institution of marriage. Is it just a piece of paper or a commitment? Bob was legally married to his wife but he was committed to Eve.


12 thoughts on “The side piece. 

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