In the middle of all the storm with Frank and the women from the office, and Chris going suddenly silent, and all the pressure from my new position, I am in dire need of a weekend off. And so, on Friday afternoon, I call Jo.
“Listen, I have a wild idea,” I tell her. “Why don’t the four of us go to Naivasha this weekend and spend the night camping and talking by the lake, then we drive back on Sunday? I could really use the time off. And I have missed you all so much,” I tell her.
“Yes!” she yelps. Jo has always been a bit of a tomboy – erecting tents and lighting three-stone fires is her forte. “I’ll just ask Johann to watch over Baby Fat and then we’re on – but he’s so good with her that I won’t even need to leave him any instructions.”
“Ah yes, how is she?” I ask. It’s been a long time since I have spent any time with my god daughter. I must correct that.
“She’s great. She’s learning to talk now. We’re sending her to play school next year.” Of course – she should be heading into her third year on earth. Wow, how time flies!
When we’re done, I dial Mariam’s number next. “Girl, you have no idea how much I have been saying I must meet with all of you,” she says. “I’m in.”
“And what about your new boyfriend?” I giggle. “Please leave him at home – this is girls only.” Thankfully, Mariam does not react adversely.
“Sure, sure,” she says, leaving me to finally call Fatma.
“Will Jo be there?” she asks testily.
“Is this a problem?”
“You know she’s been helping that girl…” ‘That girl’ refers to Louise.
“Oh, you mean the one who will be taking over marketing activities here and who you will have to work with?” I hear Fatma suck her teeth in distress, but she doesn’t say anything to protest.
“Look, you can’t let this get in the way of your friendship with Jo. You’ve been friends for decades – since we met in high school. We’ve seen bigger fights than this. And Louise was suffering such severe post-partum depression that it was hard not to help her. You see?”
Fatma takes a deep breath. “Ok, I suppose I can do this one weekend with her. But I will not be working with Louise. You can take that to the bank.”
“Ok, fine,” I say as I hang up. I chew my lip for a few seconds, wondering how I am going to navigate the complicated personal dynamics between Fatma, her ex Steve, and my incoming acting marketing manager Louise, who is Steve’s current girlfriend. Why, oh why does my tiny world have to be complicated?
But I put those thoughts to the side as I occupy myself organising a group WhatsApp chat to decide how we will travel the next day, and that’s how the four of us finally find ourselves united once more – this time in Jo’s luxurious SUV, with a huge tent in the back and enough kit and gear to cook our own meals and throw a little evening party with drinks later on.
“So how’s Chris?” Jo asks as we drive through Limuru. It’s typically foggy, as it is most mornings, and I shiver slightly as we head into the escarpment. I am sitting shotgun while Mariam and Fatma sit in the back, engaged in their own discussion.
“Truth be told, I don’t know,” I say morosely. “He left for the UK rather abruptly, left everything in my hands and I haven’t heard a word from him in two weeks.” I am holding back tears; I am determined not to fall apart.
As I am speaking, I hear the ‘ping’ of an email entering my phone and I pick it up to glance at it in case it is work-related. “Oh dear,” I say, my face going pale.
“What is it?!?” Jo looks at me and something about the way I look makes her worry.
“It’s an email from Chris,” I tell her. And I have a feeling that if I open it right now, it will ruin what should be a great weekend.