I have never been big on occasions. I have even forgotten my birthday a couple of times, with Facebook coming to the rescue with those colorful notifications and ‘hellos’ from friends you’ve never seen in decades. I guess this is why I ended up with a woman who marks every occasion. A kind of practical joke from the universe.
Given the chance, Pendo would have us celebrate the first time we ate together, the first time we went out, heck, even the first time we fought.
It was in the middle of February 2020, on a day that was somehow converted from one that celebrated a Christian Martyr, to a day of love and romance. This was not the first time I had completely forgotten to remember the good old St Valentine, but it was the first time I had done it with Pendo as ‘my rib’.
I thought her calling me to come over after work was just her being her. Boy was I wrong. She had gone hard to make the day special for us. From red confetti to flowers, to her outfit, everything was crimson red. Except for me.
There I was dumbstruck in the doorway with my khaki pants, light blue shirt and black coat. I stood out like a sore thumb. The folded newspaper in my hand only made things worse. I knew I was in trouble the moment I walked in.
Just to make her point, she handed me a small box that was wrapped in red gift paper. Her face was now red as well as after giving me a proper lecture on how big big days were for her. Anyway, inside the small box I found this wristwatch. A time-telling device so lavished with artistic intention, that it made my spirit soar.
How she knew I had been yearning after this particular time-piece for over a year still beats me, I guess it’s just one of her superpowers.
I tried to lighten the mood throughout the evening but it turned out to be an exercise in futility. I made a promise to myself right there and then that St Valentine’s day was going to be as big as Christmas for us moving forward.
As I do with any kind of plan, I started out by carrying out detailed research and budgeting. You’d be surprised at what you’d find when looking for places to visit in Nairobi on a budget.
Flash-forward to February 2021 and a lot had changed, to put it mildly. I had been saving up (Ksh3,000 per month) for a year, but the restriction of movement meant I had to change up a few things.
I started by having a mega-sized bouquet of roses sent to her hospital. My rider charged me Ksh300 for the service. As for the flowers, for anyone interested, I got them along Moktar Daddah Street in the City Market area. The ladies there struck a hard bargain but I managed to get a fancy looking carnation that was as big as Pendo’s entire upper torso for Ksh3,500.
‘Nakuuzia hivi tu ju wewe ni kijana yangu’ was what my new favorite florist said as she tended to the flowers with the dexterity of a surgeon.
By the time I went to pick her from her shift, I knew all my planning had paid off. I got one of those hugs that lets you know that she’s yours to the very end. We then went back to my place for candle-lit dinner and gifts.
I read in some magazine that you can never go wrong with perfume or shoes so I got her both, which set me back Ksh11,500. I really appreciated the convenience of planning ahead, coz if I would have had to cough this up on the spot….Let’s just say I would not have been in a loving mood.
Setting aside something little aside every month came through for me in a big way. In some quarters this may be tagged as ‘simping’ but I guess it just boils down to what you value.
Pendo has been with me through some really dark days. From getting me through my ‘sports betting rehab’ to moving out of the city to try and save on costs, to just being there as a listener.
This is why I increased my ‘St Valentine’s savings from 3K to 4K over the last year. I have a surprise short holiday lined up.
A quick google search led me to a gem in Malindi where I secured a 2 bedroom beach house at Ksh3,500 a night. I booked it for 3 nights starting on the Saturday leading up to Pendo’s favorite day of the year.
With her leave days starting just 2 days prior, it means I don’t have to reveal my grand plan at all. I will simply show up and ask her to get in the car. I could have gone for the cheaper bus or train option but I have access to a Suzuki Swift and this could end up as one of those till death do us part holidays.
Budgeting For Leisure
With a 20km/litre consumption rate that could fluctuate depending on how I drove, I know that Ksh10,000 worth of fuel is enough for the round trip. I added Ksh2,000 to the fuel budget, just in case. This leaves me with about 25K to play with.
It may sound cliché but there’s a lot of personal satisfaction one gets when plans come together, especially those of the financial kind. It makes things so much easier is what I have come to learn.
I am still not big on occasions, and I still don’t think St Valentine’s Day was meant for romance, but I know that life is meant for love and if you are lucky enough to find this, you should treasure it.
After the year we’ve had, I’m sure she’d be happy and content with a night in and some good wine and food, but seeing her battling in the frontlines everyday for the last 2 years, I think a break is just what she needs.
Anyway, wish me luck. You should also try saving up for something you love, trust me, the feeling you get when it all comes together is priceless.