She always had a policy about dating people from the office. Simply put, NEVER entertain advances from a colleague. It was the law, it was her truth, it was what mama instilled in her. Why date a colleague in the first place? That’s like settling for the lowest hanging fruit. It’s the epitome of laziness. She was everything else but lazy! “There are many eligible bachelors out here!” She always thought. She could have an office boyfriend for shits and giggles but fall in love with a colleague, NEVER EVER! Not even in a thousand lives.

You can imagine the sneer on her face when the new graphics guy decided to shoot his shot. “I am not boarding!” She thought to herself. Mitchell was her name and she worked for a top research firm. She was in charge of a long running research project that was not only time consuming but also drained her energy and locked her out of all the possibilities of having a vibrant social life. Before this new addition to the team she was struggling to create a balance between ensuring the graphics were in order and doing the write up of the project.

Mitchell had a lot in her plate with a novel of a JD in her contract. Her academic accolades and sea of work experience made her qualified for the daunting task but like a number of women in corporate Kenya, hers was a story of people pleasing which landed her in deep shit. It was a tale of the corporate dungeon that pushed her to clutch onto the first straw of hope thrown her way. A story of how the turbid waters of the corporate world and Nairobi’s bills drove her into a sea of unhappiness. Maybe one day she will tell of the scam that the corporate scene. The sadness that became her life story. The days of relying on alcohol for support because what else could she do during her little free time? Maybe she will tell her story about the days of being a clingy girlfriend because she was so miserable with the woman she had become. “Get a degree and earn your own money! Life will get easier!” They said. But it was a lie. A big fat bloody lie!

The fact that the client was a pain in the ass who kept bellowing demands and throwing unnecessary tantrums like a two-year-old didn’t help either. So, one Monday morning she put down her foot down and demanded for a graphics assistant to ease the burden of this tumultuous project. Luckily her cry for help was answered after a few months of bureaucracy and human resource politics. The assistant was to handle graphics side of matters while she focused on getting the actual research and report done.

She still remembers HR introducing him to her. “How could God give all that height to one person?” She wondered “Meet Daniel, the new Graphics Designer.” The HR officer said, awakening her from her envy filled inquisitive reverie. She stretched her hand to greet him and replied, “Hello, I am Mitchell. Like Mitchell Obama” She added amid a chuckle hoping to break the ice of first time introductions.

Daniel was tall, the kind of height that you can’t fail to notice. His face hosted a pair of massive, brown eyes. He looked like a man of few words. Lakini mgeni siku ya kwanza hahaha! She must have looked away after a futile attempt to maintain eye contact as his gaze was piercing. The greeting was brief but felt like an eternity. It was like everything was going in slow motion. The HR went on to introduce him to everyone else.

That afternoon, Mitchell oriented her new team mate through his departmental duties. Now a brother man was ready to start working. They consulted a lot on work matters considering as the project was graphics intensive and she was sort of a perfectionist. Their interactions were always filled with Mitchell’s yapping as Daniel spoke very little. Once in a while, he would laugh at her silly jokes which was a major boost to her ego. Due to Daniel’s stinginess with words, he had an air of mystery around him and that triggered Mitchell’s curiosity. After all, they say that mystery is attractive. They went for lunch together a number of times with their other colleagues. They also talked a lot on WhatsApp as he was quite the texter. Their conversations were mostly about work and general topics but one day things took an unexpected turn.

One day, while chatting on WhatsApp, Daniel mentioned that he had something to get off his chest. Mitchell had always been cautious of colleagues who opened up to her because sometimes issa trap. Her quest to chase away poverty had shown her things. She had seen drama enough to make 1,001 episodes for the next big telenovela and Netflix series. Despite that, she encouraged him to open up.

“This job is so damn stressful!” He wrote. “How have you survived working here for all these years?” He continued to ask

“That is very simple sir, I quit my job every morning, but every time I remember my bills and fear of poverty and failure, I come to work. Plus you are barely two month old here kijana.” She thought to herself.

“What exactly is stressing you up about work?” Mitchell texted back.

“A lot. Can we please have this discussion over coffee? Away from the office? Just the two of us? I will pay the bill.” He replied.

“Hobeee! Kwani this idiot thinks I was born yesterday? I know how sly these men can get. Kwanza who told him I want coffee? Nani amesema siwezi lipia kahawa? Ati I will pay? Ati please? Watu wapambane na shida zao! Like seriously ati coffee? You can do better kijana.” She thought to herself. “But what if he really needs to speak about work? What if I could help? Plus you haven’t been the best co-worker Mitchell. You baptized the guy by fire…… in a way. This is your chance to set the record straight. To let him know that your stinct at the graphics side of things was filled with episodes of shooting in the dark. That if you were handing over something that you were conversant with, you would have done a better job. What would you lose by going for this date… Sorry meeting? Plus when was the last time you went out on a date? Yes your ex proved to you beyond doubt that men are trash when he ghosted your clingy ass but can’t you just hear this dude out? Don’t be an ass hole Mitchell, mama raised you better.” Her inner voice prodded.

“Yeah. Sure…..when?” She managed to text back.

“Next week on Monday after work.” Daniel replied almost immediately before she could change her mind.

“Sure that will do.” She texted back.

For some weird reason, Mitchell went to bed trying to figure out what to wear on Monday. She felt a strong urge to dress well for this meeting. Not overdo it, but she wanted to at least look pretty for this meeting. It was a need she couldn’t explain. It was just coffee with a colleague…. Damn! Stupid girl.

They say it’s better to love than never love at all