Forbidden Affairs By Matano Lipuka (Kenya)
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By Matano Lipuka (Kenya)
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James Mulunzi walked into his private office on the fifth floor of Canon towers, which was located along Moi Avenue. He pulled up the blinders to let the sunlight in and adjusted the air conditioner to minimum temperature.
He took off his decorated military jacket and beret and threw them on the leather couch and switched on the quiescent wall video screen flanked on one side by the flags of Kenya and on the other by the flag bearing the army’s coat of arms and settled himself with a slump on the bentwood chair.
He then flipped through the channels, ‘a guard of honour to be inspected by the president on the 14th of May, his visit to the coastal town of Mombasa" the presenter was saying. It was the same news everywhere and he switched it off and went and picked up the Rothmans cigarette which sat lifeless next to the Silver coated ashtray and just as he was about to light it the phone rang and he moved swiftly to it. "Yes!" He growled into the receiver.
"Someone’s on the line… a lady, sir." replied his personal secretary.
"Put her through."
"I saw you on TV today…" a mellow voice spoke. "…I tried reaching you on your cell phone but it’s always on "mteja hapatikani"—’
"Hey Hilda… I haven’t seen you for a while." He chuckled warmly. "What’s up?"
"Um… I just wanted to confirm if we were still on this afternoon."
"Of course we are. I’d never miss our date for the world. 1500hrs it was, right?"
"Heey… you don’t have to go military on me," she joked.
"Sorry dear." And he gave out a quick laugh. "Can’t wait to see you…"
"And I wish I were with you now," she replied wistfully. "I’m running out of credit. I’ll call you later, 3oclock, bye." the line went dead.
He stared at the receiver with a puzzled look on his face, had he heard someone call Hilda’s name? He brushed the thought away and smiled as he picked up the car keys from the table and stepped out of the office in a swagger. He waved a cheery hand to his secretary and announced to her that she could take the afternoon off.
"Thank you sir…" she replied gleefully as he disappeared down the corridor.
He drove up Moi Avenue and turned onto Digo Road, heading for Mwembe Tayari. Once there he picked up some groceries and made one last stop at Rawaaz Wines and Spirits, purchasing two bottles of Baccardi and one Cinzano spirit and headed home to freshen up.
By quarter to three he was at the entrance of Bamburi nature trail. He bought a pair of tickets and returned to his car, brought out the picnic basket from the trunk, lowered it onto the ground and sat on top of the trunk.
A while later he glanced at his watch. Its pointers read 3:42; he stood up and headed for his car door. Just then he saw a well endowed lady dressed in a brown ‘spaghetti’ strapped top wearing a pair of washed out jeans. He recognized the gaiety walk. It was Hilda. His face formed a smile, but when she approached him, he screwed it up so that the creases formed in his forehead.
"You are late," he muttered.
"Traffic…" she responded, her voice sounding apologetic as she hugged him and added, "…but I’m here now…" while whispering in his ear, which to him felt like a million angels singing a happy tune.
"…Shall we go in?" she urged as she picked up the basket and walked briskly in front of him.
"After you…" he drawled as he followed her through the wooden gates and into the bougainvillea flowers and the palm trees bisected by a pathway. Only the distant traffic noise penetrated the cacophony of birdsongs.
He plucked an amaryllis flower and handed it to her and she leaned tenderly on his broad shoulders.
They settled on the stone benches between the low-lying clumps of ivy and olive trees and pulled out various items from the basket – a napkin and some paper plates and two glasses. He placed the pancakes and the kebabs on tops of the plates and began to eat.
All the while James was smiling, his oaken gaze smouldering over her luscious lips and her bountiful breasts and he licked his lips. He then picked up a bar of chocolate, unwrapped it and raised it to her and said.
"Darling, my one and true mission is to be true to you, and like this chocolate which is about to enter your mouth, I too want to enter into your life, giving your every pleasure imaginable. I vow to love you unconditionally, and as I fall on my knees, I am once again asking you for your hand in marriage."
She gazed into his brown irises and tears danced at the corners of her eyes and she held his cleanly shaved cheeks then spoke softly. "I love you… from the bottom of my heart… and… if I could… I would do anything to be with you… but… unfortunately… I can’t… Sorry…"
She then stood up and stared at the sky which had now began to change its shades to grey with only some slight orange streaks which threatened to destroy its endlessness and then turned back to him. His head was bent to the ground and she touched him softly. "As I told you before… I’m not ready for marriage yet… I still have my career to think of… my life…" and she moved away from him.
James sat slouched, speechless and then stared at her in frustration and growing anger. "Is that all you can think of? A bank job…! An empty life…!" He thundered. "…it’s always about you… YOU!!!" and then he said softly. "…What about me… about us? We’ve been together for eight months now, and this is the fourth time you have rejected my proposal. If you love me, what’s holding you back?"
Hilda was taken aback. She had never seen him throw a tantrum before and now tears flowed freely from her eyes. "I think we better go," she announced as she started to repack the picnic basket.
James sat back in a slump and held his head in the palm of his hands. I won’t give up on you yet, is what he wanted to say, but what came out was, "It’s late anyway," he mumbled as he shuffled behind her with his head hung low, following her down the gravelled path. He did not notice the man who was holding a digital camera and hiding in the thickets to his right.
They drove without much talk and he later dropped her off at the junction of Tudor creek and Nyali Bridge then headed for his home in Kizingo.
Going through the wrought iron gates of his house felt like entering a prison. The armed guards on stand-by accentuated the effect as he wondered. What makes a man? Is it the job? Is it the wealth? Is it the status in the society? What? And he felt that there was no use having all that if there was no one to share it with; no one to welcome you home; give you warmth whenever you need it and share in your joys and sorrows. He paused at his doorstep, wondering whether to go in or turn back; but where to? And he stepped inside the house.
He walked swiftly across the green Moroccan rug and into the mini-bar, opened the cooler and poured himself Smirnoff vodka into a glass then swigged at it, distorted his face, and banged the glass on the counter and began to drink directly from the bottle.
His cell phone rang and he threw it and it hit one of the two lamps which sat next to the piano and it exploded into small sparks. He then headed for the leather couch and sank deeper into it as the effects of the alcohol increased.
He did not hear the door being opened and he only felt a human presence; a tall and well built form and with a cowboy hat on his head. He immediately recognised him as his dad. He was now staring down at him as he spoke.
"Look at you… shameless brat." His father said as he picked up the almost empty bottle from the couch.
"B-B-Baba. What are you doing here?" He stuttered.
"I came to tell you to stop seeing her."
"W-W-Who… w-w-what… what are you talking about?" And James jolted up.
"HILDA! I’m talking about Hilda!" His father rumbled and James now faced him squarely.
"Did I get you right?" He said as he moved across the room and stood next to the bookcase to his right.
"What reason do you have now? Not rich enough? Too young for me? WHAT!?" He roared and banged on the reading table with clenched fists, upsetting the books there.
"I will not be challenged on this—"
"Damnit!" James answered abruptly as anger increased and he moved to his father’s side. "Baba, must I always succumb to your every demand? Twice you have destroyed my chances at happiness, but this time you’ll not succeed. At thirty-four I should be able to make my own decisions."
"Not at the expense of my family you don’t—"
"Family! Family! Ours was dead when mother…"
"I will not have you talk about your mother!"
James now held his burning cheek from the slap and felt a pressure mounting from within him. It was better to end this now, he felt and he pressed on. "I know she left you for another man…"
He was now sweating, his chest heaving as if with laboured breathing, his low grunts becoming the only sounds and he held both his cheeks in his palms.
Just then Hilda stepped in and she froze on site of the two men. Her knees bunched and she leaned on one of the two life-sized bronze lion heads mounted on pedestals to take the form of herms which stood next to the door.
Her heart pounded with turbulent emotions as she felt the two pairs of eyes bore into her soul. But what was Tom Mwaluka doing here? She wondered then heard the now composed voice of James call her but she did not move.
James then went to her and hugged her but she still stood, stunned, and then said softly. "He’s the reason I can’t marry you."
"I know… and I won’t let him."
"I’m sorry you had to find out this way." His father was now saying and James moved away from her.
"Find out what!"
"We are engaged." His father concluded and James felt as if a huge sword had been dipped into his mouth and he chocked on his words as he said,
"Y-Y-You and dad!? WHY!"
He felt his head spin and a cold rage seethed through him. He moved away from them and then, slowly, removed the gun from his waist and aimed at them, wondering whom to shoot first and, BANG! The magnum .45 barked a shot and his father fell in a heap on the floor.
Hilda was now screaming, convulsing, and he pointed the gun at her. How could she do this? Hadn’t they promised each other unending love? He thought as he aimed and BANG!
Blood was now trickling from the back of her head as she fell in a whisper. He then moved over to her and sat down and cradled her head and said softly, ‘together forever.’ And he pulled the trigger.
Click! Nothing happened.
Sirens and running boots soon started to fill the room and he lay sprawled on the floor beside her and closed his eyes.