When 23-year-old Karen Mirichu heard that her sister was keen on introducing her to one of her friend’s brother, she grew exasperated. She was not interested in getting into a relationship. Little did she know that her indignation of 31-year-old film and events producer, Kiama Kariuki, would blossom into a love that would survive all odds.
“I had just come out of a serious relationship. I neither wanted nor needed help finding love and I certainly did not approve of dreadlocks as a hairstyle option for men. I was not going to have anything to do with him.” Not the most glowing tribute to one’s spouse, yet this was Karen Mirichu’s lingering sentiment when even the notion of meeting her now husband, Kiama Kariuki, was proposed by her sister in July 2011.
“My sister was travelling to the United States. Afraid I would be lonely, she made it her mission to find me someone,” says Karen. Despite Karen’s pleas, her sister went ahead and introduced the two.
However, according to Kiama, the only thing the introduction proved was that the two were not going to hit it off. “My first impression of her was that she was a beautiful snob. She kept giving curt answers to my questions and I decided not to pursue anything further,” adds Kiama.
Four months later, out of the blue, Kiama called Karen. That call was to materialise into a list of memorable dates and eventually courtship. “He gave me an apple on our first date. I remember thinking, who gives out an apple on a first date? It was small gestures like these that despite my resistance, won me over,” chuckles Karen.
Another time Kiama walked all the way from his house in Nairobi West to Karen’s office in Nairobi’s central business district to find her sorting out files. Kiama quickly got to work helping her sort out the pile. As he recalls, at this point his focus was to win her over. And win her he did as eventually Karen professed her love to him.
Facing the resistance…
As the two steadily fell in love, it became clear that they would face serious obstacles. Karen’s family was not so keen on the two courting. Given their eight-year age difference, and with Karen still studying for her law degree while interning at two law firms, they felt she had more than enough on her plate.
It was partly for this reason that Karen did not tell her father that she was expecting a child until well into her sixth month in November 2013. He didn’t take the news too well and they stopped communicating that entire month. They did smooth things over eventually. The elephant in the room now was whether Kiama and Karen’s love would survive the pregnancy issue. Kiama had made it clear that he was not taking dowry to Karen’s home until they were engaged and Karen was not about to ‘trap’ Kiama into a marriage held together by a baby. While it seemed obvious what the next move was, by January 2014, Karen was eight months pregnant and dejected that Kiama was never going to propose. But she was in for a surprise.
“A day before my birthday in January, my friend Carol called me inviting me to dinner the next day,” says Karen. Not thinking much about it, Karen arrived at Carol’s place the next evening. A few minutes later, Kiama arrived with a birthday cake in tow.
“I thought it was a simple celebration given that Kiama and I had just fought 24 hours earlier. So you can imagine my shock when after Carol had sent me to close a door, I turned around only to find Kiama on one knee holding a ring,” recounts Karen.
Three weeks later, the two were married in a simple ceremony at their church, Pathway To Life Church Ministries. And as they say, the rest is history… They are now proud parents of a beautiful baby girl, Shanaya Jasmine Kiama.
Published in December 2014