About Valentine’s Day


“What are you giving up for Lent?”


“Wait. Are you Catholic?”

I look up to see how the girl would respond. I’m eavesdropping. I’m seated in a booth by the window, they’re seated at the next table. I fancy they’re on a date; it’s Valentine’s Day after all. They both wear specs. He has the thicker frame.

The girl is sporting a black silk scarf. A silver cross shoots out from underneath, hanging around her neck and falling to her breasts.

The boy stares at it and says, “Or that’s not a rosary?”

She reaches for the accessory and runs a hand through it. “No, this is the one for the Lion of Judah.”

“Lion of Judah?”

“Yeah, the Lion of Judah carries a cross like this one.”

The boy is clearly impressed. He has that you-learn-something-new-everyday look on his face.

“I told you, I’m a Rasta,” she says with a swift warm smile, a smile of self-encouragement, like a victory over her fears. He looks dumbfounded.

I try to look away but her presence is like a magnet and my poles are attracted. I’ve pushed her up the hierarchy of my mind, and then downwards, an erratic counterweight that makes me think of lamps, old flames, and lost loves.

I’m struck by a clinically sharp flash of memory: A girl with a black dress and a golden necklace; soft hands. And then another flash. She has a cigarette between her lips. Her thumb is pressing down on my lighter. Big beautiful eyes. The one that got away. Smoldering end.

I decide I’ll send her a text. I start to mentally craft my message: Hi, Victoria, been a while…can I take you out? No, no, too direct.

I miss you…do you miss me? Ugh, too desperate.

How’s school?  Too colourless.

Can I kiss you some time? Just the tip. Too risqué.

Then I’m back at the restaurant. The one at the next table has highlights on her hair – straight and yellow, verging on the raven. She looks like a flower.

Her eyes look sleepy. And it excites me to think maybe she had stayed up late watching the clash between Tottenham and Juventus. (Go Juve!)

The boy has a black cap that covered his entire forehead. Did he watch football too? And what team did he support? Did the couple ever launch into football banter after sex? He looked like a Man-U fan. I imagine they’d be lying in a post-coital haze – her hands playing on his sweaty chest, hearts slowing down, one hour to kick-off.

She’d say, “At least you can still score.”

He’d know what she’s getting at; he’d chuckle and say, “Shida yetu ni midfield.”

“Ha! Shida yenyu ni Pogba.”

The restaurant is almost empty – soft utensil tinkles and sparse conversations. It’s a few minutes to 4PM. The pudgy-faced waitress has sauntered back into the kitchen with my order. Fries and a bottle of Sprite.

I turn away and look out the window: at the long low buildings, at the cars in the parking lot simmering in the afternoon heat. I still have one ear cocked towards the next table, now they’re quietly flipping through the menu.

And soon my thoughts go off entirely – to be discovered addressing subversive matters like my life-long fantasy of ferrying Victoria off into the sunset on a bike, and the faulty light bulb in my room.

The thing needs replacing. It only blinks when you switch it on. It’s been that way for all of two months. It powers up with a groan that rattles the ceiling. I can’t stand it. I get by with the lamp on my nightstand – I can put off replacing the bulb for eons.

But on that Valentine’s morning I realized I can’t, not on Wednesdays anyway.

Turns out the new semester has rolled in with an 8AM class, which means, for me to get to class no later than 10 – for me to beat Mombasa Road traffic and preferably get a mat that doesn’t play Maina Kageni – I should wake up at crickey o’clock, get to Kitengela bus stage and set sail, all before the first band of daylight peeks into the horizon.

It was 4:30AM when I hit the lamp switch. The room was immediately soaked with that yellow lamp light, but at that hour the light felt choked. I hadn’t woken up that early since my first year of campus.

My mornings usually start with blue skies and rustling leaves. Gentle sunlight. I swing the windows open whilst still naked. Then I fold up the mosquito net, put on some clothes, take a piss, and go out to feed the chicken.

It’s become a steady routine. The motions, the things I do in the morning before sitting down to write. Or go to school.

But now the sky was black and nothing. I could hear the dawn whispering outside, cold and slow and coming. Never had my bed been so inviting – cuddling and egging me to skip school, if only for the soft warmth underneath.

Even the very act of opening my windows seemed sacrilegious.

Then it occurred to me that this was the second year in a row that I had no mate on Valentine’s Day. And that all the girls I’ve dated have never been big on Valentine’s. Or so they said. I didn’t have any romantic expectations to play to when I was with them. And as I wrapped a towel around my waist, heading into the shower, I thought, Michael, you’re such a lucky sod.

My optimism was thwarted the minute I got to the bus stage, though. I hadn’t carried a sweater. My hands were cold. An icy liquid slapped my face. It was drizzling. I had a flask of coffee in my bag, of which I found to have spilled when I boarded the mat. My books were not soaked much, but I wasn’t sure if my earphones had survived the onslaught.

I was driven to think the day had already gone to the dogs. I felt sad and alone and sleepy and confused. The perfect remedy would obviously be to have a nice meal at a lonely restaurant and to spite the spirit of St. Valentine’s.

But the flower at the next table revived me. The way she clamped down my rough morning and tossed it out the window with her yellow highlights. At some point she let out a squeak of choked laughter, like a naughty school girl – cupping her hands over her mouth. Kwani what had the boy said that was so funny?

There was something about her body frame that made me think of my lamp.

Then I saw the boy had taken his mug off the table. He had it on his lap. He pulled a bottle out of nowhere and emptied colourless liquid into the mug. That’s when I noticed the odd teasing smell of vodka.

The couple had ordered tea and had kept sipping from their mugs the whole time. Was the yellow flower spiking her tea as well?

Once in a while she’d dissolve into hoots of laughter, and I really wanted to know what was so funny, but I couldn’t make out what the boy was saying any more.

He had lolled back on the seat, with something loose in the flatness of his voice. Her gaze was steadied on him. He stared back. And there wouldn’t have been the creak of a chair or the clearing of a throat that would tear them away from each other. Their hearts seemed to be fumbling along the same narrow path. Seeking and finding and clasping.

St. Valentine’s was clearly winning here.

By and by I started to long for the familiar imprisonment of my bedroom. The dim lights of the city were coming over the long dusk. I ached for a mate, preferably the yellow flower at the next table. Instead I had to endure watching their dreamy stares and whispers. Their faces were goofy and too close together. Her hair bristled and he continued to charm her. A seller of snake oil.

There was a moment when the light went off and I realized there really was nothing for me here. The waitress had long cleared my table. I wanted to be in the presence of my lamp – the splendid yellow light that hangs on my walls, the one that doesn’t have a funny boyfriend, or spike its tea with vodka.

So I tapped out, sliding out of the booth and into the cold beckoning night.
Follow Mike on Instagram: Mike Muthaka

Cables and Kings
Take this bread, Son

Comments (2)

  1. Mike

    They sound like a beautiful couple…

    • Mike

      They really were, Mike. You should have seen them :)

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Florence Bett-Kinyatti


Columnist Saturday Nation Writer Craft It Author of best-selling ‘SHOULD I?’ and ‘HOW MUCH?’ ~ Guiding word: Overdrive Subscribe to our Newsletter👇🏾 eepurl.com/igmN8P
  • Dear God, 
It’s me again.

I don’t pray as often as I need to, You know that. I don’t kneel by my bed in child-like humility, as Muna does. I don’t whisper a prayer in the morning. Or at noon. Perhaps just in the evening. 

This going-to-church habit is a constant false start. So is reading the Word. 

I’m often guilty but I also know: You and I have a language only we can understand. 

I speak to You through this gift You bestowed upon my Kale shoulders, this gift to write in colour. It’s a gift that sometimes feels like a curse, a burden I have no choice but to pursue. 

Yet other times – most times, actually – it’s the very breath of my essence. Everyday I sit to write, when the words flow from my head and heart through my fingers to the page, I feel You next to me. 

You are here, Lord. Hovering. Lingering. Swooshing about in Your regal robes, like a character from Bridgerton.

Sometimes You get so close I can feel You breathing on my neck and I’m like, ‘Err, God, do You mind, personal space?’

And You chuckle uncomfortably. ‘He-he, of course. Of course.’

I’m here to tell You, Thanks!

I hosted my first in-person event last March, Lord, thank You to all the lovely ladies who granted me their time and full attention. 

I’ve carried them in my heart since and every day, my prayer is that You bring them closer to the life of abundance they each seek. To their own version of wealth. 

I always call them by their name: Becky. Purity. Lindsay. Wangui. Naomi. Shiqow. Mercy. Liz. Winnie. Polly. Nduta. Lynet. 

And Mike. 

Dear Lord, I’m prepping for my next in-person event in June, Inshallah. 

Walk with me as I get there. 

Love always,

  • Highlights from our first-ever in person event hosted by Craft It and @financialfitbit 
Thanks to all the lovely ladies — and gent, hehe — who honoured us with the privilege of their time and attention. And colourful energy. It’s been weeks since and it’s only now that I’m coming down from the high. 

Thank YOU!

🎥 @mikemuthaka 

#craftit #author #MakeYourMoneyMatter #personalfinance #money
  • I am a woman.

I’m strong. I’m brilliant. I’m like a comet shooting across the sky, I’m so bright you have to put on shades to see me.

I’m almost 40, I’m almost fully realising myself as a woman and the power of womanhood I possess.

I’m so powerful that if KPLC connected me to the national grid, I’d power up this country and we’d never have another blackout.

Ho! Ho! Ho!


To recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day today, I’d like to recognize and celebrate eight women.

I have eight things to give away to each of these women:
a) Two tickets to my upcoming event on March 18 with @financialfitbit Theme is ‘Make your money matter’
b) Three autographed copies of my book ‘Should I?’
c) Three autographed copies of my other book ‘How Much?’

To participate:
1. Like this post
2. Tag women who deserve a win of either event ticket or book (tag as many women as you like)
3. Tell us what you’d like her to win and why she deserves the win
4. Make sure your tagged women follow @_craftit and @financialfitbit 

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
— One woman, one win
— Winners will be contacted via DM
— Giveaway closes at the end of this week, Inshallah, on Sunday 12 March
— Only open to people living in Kenya

All the best!

(Swipe right to see the women I’m celebrating.)

#craftit #internationalwomensday
  • My 2022 word of the year was Wholesome. 

Wholesome meant engaging in moderation and in pursuits that didn’t leave me feeling yucky.

An example: there’re weekend nights I’d go out then have too much to drink. On the drive home, I’d tell GB to stop the car every half mile so I could throw up on the side of the road. Then I’d take three working days recovering. 


No more of that nonsense.

Now I have only two doubles of Singleton whiskey and chase it with water. I eat less food and I eat better. I take my supplements. I treat myself to an early bedtime and arise with my body clock, no alarm.

I spend a lot more time hanging with my kids, Muna and Njeeh. 

I buy fewer things. 

I play the piano. 

I created a disciplined routine for my work and take Thursdays off. 

You catch my drift…

Wholesome has become my lifestyle. 

(By the way, I was asked, ‘Where does this word-of-the-year come from, Bett?’ I don’t know about other people but for me, the words present themselves when I’m journaling. My spirit tells me what it needs; I must be still enough to listen and brave enough to obey.)

My word for 2023 is Overdrive.

My two books have unlocked new opportunities for me as a writer and creative. As an urban brand. I’d honestly not foreseen them. 

I know that if I adjust my sails to where the wind is blowing, these opportunities will translate to wealth.

Last Friday, I listed all the work I’m already doing and all the new opportunities – potential and realised – knocking at my door.

I asked myself, ‘What am I taking up here and what am I dropping?’

The response, ‘None – we go into overdrive and smartly pursue them all.’

#craftit #urbanguide
  • Years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Bett, we’re almost 40 – forget makeup, let’s take care of our skin instead.’

I had to laugh because this was coming from Terry. Terry my Kisii pal, this fine gyal with skin the colour of honey, the only practising SDA in my circle. 

Terry had spent her 20s and early 30s sleek with Arimis. That’s right, the milking jelly with a lactating cow on its logo. 

Arimis addressed all her skin pickles back then. It was her problem fixer. Her Olivia Pope. It’s the one thing that always said, It’s handled.

Now here she was preaching to us about a consistent skincare regimen in the AM and PM.


It wasn’t until Terry shared her selfies on our girls WhatsApp group that I stopped laughing. It wasn’t until we stood next her – and took these selfies – that I reeally stopped laughing: Terry’s skin was youthful and toned, plump. Hydrated. Moistured but not shiny. 

It looked like it had been kissed by the Greek goddess of radiance. 

So we gathered around her feet and said, ‘Forgive us, master. We are ready now. Teach us everything you know.’

She did. 

Terry and I now spend plenty of time before work and before bed squeezing out little portions of expensive skincare products from expensive tubes, we layer them on our face in a calculated measure.

This serum here is for the circles under my eyes and the fine lines around my mouth.

Turns out I’ve been giving away too much of my face: I’ve been looking too hard, laughing too easily.

I’ll have to spend the next year into my 40s with my eyes half shut and laughing little. I'll have a resting bitch face.

Don’t blame me, blame the retinol.

And age.

#craftit #urbanguide #urbangirl
  • I’m Bett. I’m the author of your favourite books about money. I’m hosting an in-person event in March, Inshallah: This is my personal invite to you.

#craftit #moneymaker #moneyinkenya
  • I am hosting my first money event this March, Inhsallah. It’s the first of quarterly events I have planned for the year. 

(Give me a moment here so I pull myself together long enough to write this. I’m smiling very hard right now, ha-ha, I look like a donkey.)


The event will be in-person. On a Saturday morning, a loose three hours which, I am certain, you’d have burned on some other pursuit you couldn’t account for later. (I’d probably be oiling the hinges of a squeaky door or decluttering my sock drawer.)

My guest host for this edition is Lynet Kyalo. 

Lynet is a personal finance coach under her brand @financialfitbit She also hosts @getyourbagrightpodcast 

Buy your tickets from our Market.

Early bird tickets are discounted until the end of this month.

Limited slots available. 

#craftit #millenialmoney #moneyevent #moneymaker
  • Sometimes I sit down and read my own book. 

Odd, huh?

Reading my own stories is like an out-of-body experience. Or getting introduced to myself again. An outward journey inward.

It’s fascinating.

I also read because I need to improve my writing for my next project.

We call them the Elements of Craft: things like sentence structure and punctuation, word placement, story length etc, they all inform your reading experience.

This is what makes the book easy to read, and has you turning the pages.

Cop your autographed copy and #betteryourmoney 

#craftit #howmuch #millenialmoney #moneymaker

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