My heart is in Belgium



She leans closer and plants a wet kiss on his cheek. Her pouty lips linger on his skin, and I almost want to walk over there and ask if she could give me one of those, wrapped in her matte lipstick.

They’re a playful couple. They crack jokes. They sit by the window, one row ahead of me. The sky outside is turning a lovely shade of scarlet. He has a Rasta-colored shambala. She whips her braids over to the other side of her face with one swift head motion. Love smells.

The student’s lounge is springing to life. There’s lunch time chatter at every corner. Students balance plastic plates on their hands. One lonely boy hides under massive headphones in a corner. Two girls giggle together. The room is a blur of overlapping voices, smells of ketchup and steamed rice, clanking dishes and light gossip.

I’m at the back of the room, lumbering through Meja Mwangi’s ‘Going Down River Road’. But the dialogue feels a bit off. It’s tiring to read construction workers who talk like Cambridge University scholars. So I’d rather stare at the lovely couple.

My usual response to PDA is to look away, mostly out of shame, partly out of solidarity. Why? I wouldn’t want people gawking at me while I sneak a hand under my lady’s shirt.

This particular couple catches my attention, though, because they’re young. The relationship couldn’t have clocked more than six months. They look too happy. They have too much to talk about. The silences in between are too tiny. You could sniff the romance all the way from Kaplong.

(I later asked them how long they’ve been together. They hooked up in June. Before he answered me the girl made a face as if to say, “Oh, here we go again”. Like they get asked that question every godamn day.)

They’re treading on ice, these two.

Dating a schoolmate is a horrid idea. I know this because I’ve done it, and you’ve probably done it, too. My girl and I were together every minute. We didn’t have many friends. We existed as a unit. We shared classes. We did assignments together. We had a favorite spot at the cafeteria. The relationship defined me. I was no longer Mike. I was ‘nanii’s boyfriend’. And ever since that storo died I still hear whispers behind my back, “Si he was the one dating nanii?”

That sort of thing spoils your market price. You become a ‘used’ product. Slowly, even the girls I thought I had a chance with crawled back into the woodwork.

Anyway, looking at the couple makes me feel a bit lonely. Especially after the guy went out and came back with a plate of fries. Before he sat back down again the girl said, “Can I feel your fries?”

Ha! I loved that.

And it made me think, Must be nice, to have someone to feel your fries.


I whisper your name under my breath. I savor the taste of it. I inhale it. You fill up my lungs.

I’m 19 years old.

My body is built for hunger pangs and thin mattresses. My metal box smells like Kiwi shoe shine and Flamingo bar soap. During prep I pencil your name at the back of my books. I’m holding on to a noble promise; that once I’m done with school, I’ll find you waiting for me.

High school feels like incarceration. I’m doing time for love.

Nights I like to stare at the stars, and think about you – on the outside – and I wonder if you’re looking up as well, standing barefoot on your balcony.

I’m getting intimate with Geography. Math and Chemistry leave a bad taste in my mouth. Sauti Sol’s ‘Nishike’ is the soundtrack behind my many push-ups. All I want to do is lift you up and wrap your legs around my waist, the way Savara does in the video. Heck, I don’t even know he’s called Savara. He’s, ‘ule msee anaimba verse ya pili.’

During Christmas, at a family gathering, I get so hammered I fall into a puddle of mud, much to the delight of my cousins. It’s a horrid sight, really. But the future, for all I care, is sunny and combed like strands of hemp.

I feel ready for the world. I’ve succumbed to Android fever. The move from a Nokia E72 to a white Samsung Galaxy is both frustrating and amusing.

I don’t see myself going to campus. I experiment with Adobe Photoshop. I replace my head with Lil Wayne’s. I photoshop myself next to Wale and Rick Ross. Uhunye has been president for one year. Noble promises of laptops and improved health care are burning bright. I assume after high school I’ll get a gig as a graphic designer, and then I’d make a shitload of money and move to Italy with you, my girl, and then we’d live out the rest of our days driving red MINI Coopers and eating pasta doused with marinara sauce.


The volume knob on my radio lights up in blue. It’s a tiny light, but at 2 a.m. it burns bright and ferocious, licking the furthest corners of my room, illuminating the mess. The speakers bop to ‘Rescue Me’, by Thirty Seconds to Mars. I don’t want to think about the general disarray of the room – sock balled up under the bed, hairy-toothed comb, pile of unwashed clothes in the corner, old carpet smells, a half-eaten apple sits on the nightstand, the innards already turning brown. I just want to sit here, and think about Belgium.

I’m 23.

And I’m replaying the past day’s events, bits and moments whir in my head, colors and voices spool for my attention, stealing the sleep right from under my nose. A full moon hangs outside my bedroom window. I wonder if it’s a full moon in Belgium, too.

In some ways, I’m glad you didn’t want me back. It would have been a disaster if you did. I’d have been completely shattered by the news that you were heading to Belgium. And then I’d put on a brave face and lie that I’m happy for you.

I met your sister in tao, outside Pizza Inn. After some small talk, I said, “OK. Now to the most important question of all…”

“I know what you want to ask,” she said.

Then she told me about Belgium.

She feels sorry for me, your sister. Her eyes grew tender with each question I asked afterwards: What is she doing in Belgium? When does she come back? Is she happy?

More and more questions wandered into my head as the day wore on.

6 p.m., in a Wamasaa matatu: Is she showering in Belgian chocolate?

8 p.m., pinching a piece of ugali: Did she carry all her black pants?

11:30 p.m., twirling a Rubik’s cube: Has she seen Lukaku?

At 2 a.m. I’m wondering what went through your head during takeoff. What were you thinking about as the earth gave way to the clouds? It makes me sad, really, that you went away.

But this was always the story. You’d go off to some place far away. You’d further your studies. And I’d remain here. I’d struggle with my art, rocking up sentences and barely making rent. And on moonlit nights, when sleep becomes elusive, I’d think about you, all the way out there, touring timeless ruins and walking through medieval towns, feeling someone else’s fries.

I switch off the radio and the blue light fades to black.
Follow Mike on Instagram: mikemuthaka

Playing House
The Pursuit of Beauty

Comments (9)

  1. Muchai

    Has she seen Lukaku ? She should tell us Man-u fans where he was on sato
    Always a great read man !!

  2. Valerie

    This is one lovely read. The dating a schoolmate part was hilarious 😂😂.

  3. Wairimu

    A lovely read. So nais.

  4. Lamoy

    I love! I think this last paragragh is very nice. I love it, no I’m falling in love with it.

  5. Antony

    This is such a good read, so good. You had some big dreams though 😊

  6. Nalo

    Has she seen Lukaku ? Brilliant

Leave a Reply

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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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