Wounds of a Man
By Agufa Kivuya (Kenya)
At Junior’s home, grand preparation for his grand homecoming party was in top gear a year before his premature release. The incessant chaos and squabbles did not deter the Makali family from the preparations. Mary was the chairperson of the committee with Alice as the treasurer; others were only tipped of their decisions. Alice and Mary had to sell Junior’s entire estate in the
City, ostensibly to finance the homecoming party, a thing that drove Agoi mad. That was the only source of income for Junior’s family and the fact that Alice had convinced Junior’s wife to assent to it remained an enigma to Mary. Alice’s silver tongue was responsible. Agoi had to protest against this.
“Mama this is not fair,” Agoi said. “Why did you sell the apartment?’ “It is to bankroll the homecoming party, “Mary replied.
“How much will the homecoming party cost? “The shocked Agoi asked. “A hundred million.”
“A hundred million.” Agoi echoed back. “All that money for what?”
“The money is to cater for expenses and you well know inflation has really affected the prices of commodities a great deal.”
“Do you have a budget?’ “Yes.”
“How much have you budgeted for?’
“In fact, we are running less than fifty million as Alice said yesterday and we are thinking of selling part of this land of ours.
“This is outrageously ridiculous,” Agoi shouted back. “Let me have a look at the budget.”
Mary summoned Alice and told her to come with the budget. As Alice entered and took a seat next to Mary her flashy expensive look could not evade Agoi’s eyes. Arrogantly she fished the budget paper out of her handbag and gave it to Mary, who handed it over to Agoi despite Alice’s futile effort to snatch it back.
Agoi had never seen such a budget in his entire life. Ten cows were allocated twenty million, a thing that could only happen on Pluto. Agoi knew very well the most expensive bull went for fifty thousand. It was pure embezzlement. Another twenty million were for entertainment, a thing Alice fervently defended, claiming she had invited high profile musicians from the country and beyond. The next fifty million were to cater for sitting allowances and the remaining ten million that Alice was unable to account for were referred to as “miscellaneous” expenses.
Agoi almost cried as Alice explained that fifty million more was needed to buy food staff and suggested that half of their land had to be sold. Agoi had known men to have the audacity to steal such amounts of money but had never encountered a woman who would try that. Alice was hell bent on empowering the Makali family.
“Mama, I will take charge of the homecoming finances and I assure you it will cost less than a million shillings?”
Mary wanted to say something but Alice preempted him in defense of the budget. “Mama, this homecoming party will meet international standards as dignitaries from all over the world will be attending. The Makali family deserves a historical party unlike the mediocre parties we see around. After all, Junior is a hardworking man who will easily redeem his wealth. He is not like the lazy gluttons in this village. Agoi, you have no right to talk about these as you have not contributed anything and Mama has been told that Agoi is against this party.”
Agoi looked on helplessly as his ego was being pricked for no reason. Alice had done a lot to secretly incite Mary against him and now she had gone as far as doing it before his ears. Being a man who always avoided fights, he chose to diplomatically air his defense. He loved Junior much more than Alice but he was still against the party. Controlling his temper, he waited for an opportunity to defend his objections to the budget in an amiable way. However, Alice, being a chatterbox, never gave him the chance.
“Mama don’t you want this to be unprecedented? “Alice “Yes. I want it to shake the whole nation,” Mary replied.
“Exactly. That is why it has to be expensive. Or do you want to cook porridge and invite the fifty drunkards to come and entertain sophisticated guests from all over the world? Mama, Agoi is against the party. He keeps on complaining to his drunkard friends that we don’t regard him as the first, and claims we favor Junior over him. If am lying, let him confess so. He even prays that Junior’s term in prison be extended. Do you remember what he said yesterday when he was drunk? Mockingly he asked us “Where is your God, Junior? It irks me that my own brother is suffering in prison, yet this filthy drunkard sits here enjoying life. Mama, he even prays Junior would die.”
Mary had heard enough. She had heard Agoi mockingly ask the question. Kumbe all the way -Agoi was for Junior’s incarceration. “God forbid,” Mary shouted. “Agoi, it’s you to die, not Junior. You are of no significance to this family. How I wish you were the one imprisoned. You did it to your brother so that you could take his wife. Don’t deny it. You are not my son, Agoi, you henpecked man. Get out of here.”
Agoi walked out of the house resisting the urge to pounce on Alice, who reciprocated his wicked wink. Alice had succeeded in poisoning his mother’s mind against him. Agoi went straight to the she been but, as fate would have it, distress was never to leave him. In the shebeen people hurled insults at him with names, and some reprobate youths even impertinently dared to slap him. Sometimes he could respond with his self-control, as he knew discretion was the better part of velour. He didn’t want anything to do with the court. The world had repudiated him and, having nowhere else to go, he persevered the ignoring everything in the shebeen. If only pastor Atwoli would be in the village he would have been a solace to him. Unfortunately, the pastor had travelled to the city.
At an hour to midnight Agoi was forced out of the shebeen. The shebeen man had grown impatient of waiting for him to leave, so he just frog-marched him out and closed the door behind him. Agoi had no option but to stagger back home. Hatred for him seemed to never abate. He could have swallowed the spite had it emanated from somewhere else, but not at home.
The door of his house wasn’t shut, so Agoi pushed it wide open and staggered in, still singing a dirge he enjoyed. Twenty minutes ticked away but Agoi’s wife, seated at the other side of the sitting room, seemed too intrigued with her hair to notice him. It irked Agoi so much; he was famished and needed food. So, he was forced to ask, “Mama where is my food?”
“Nincompoop, foolish man,” she blurted “you’re not even ashamed of yourself. Where is my food? Stupid man. People eat where they work, so just go where you spent the day and ask for your food.”
Rejection had pursued him even to his own house. The words of his father surfaced in his mind: “My son, sometimes trouble may seem nowhere in your life equation but, like a tsunami, it will ambush and drown you if possible. He had done so much to be disdained be his wife. The only one he leaned on for support was again turning against him. His heart burned with indignation. Why him? What wrong had he done to deserve this? Was he the worst sinner on earth?
Agoi would have successfully suppressed his bitterness and anger if only his wife would sit still. But Agoi’s wife rose to her feet, obviously angry because of Agoi’s silence, with hate written all over her face. She walked towards Agoi and, with her index finger, prodded his head as she scolded him. It was the worst sweltering provocation that he had ever gotten from his wife. So Agoi just jerked out of his seat and head butted her wife’s nose, eliciting a scream of terror. Agoi’s wife could not wait for a slap that was on the way. Holding her profusely bleeding nose, she ran out of the house. Agoi shut the door behind her and went straight to sleep
The following morning, he spent almost half of the day apologizing to his beloved wife, insisting that he was just too drunk so he was thus unable to hold his head firm in position and thus had accidentally landed on her nose. He never meant it. It was an infinitesimal coincidence that was unavoidable. Agoi’s wife remained silent as Agoi pleaded with her as Alice giggled. Thinking he had done enough to dissuade his wife from any malicious action, Agoi left to the she been.
Agoi wrestled with a strong urge to gulp more until he left at sunset. He didn’t want anything to injure his wife. He wanted to spend more time with his wife to get over last night’s disagreement. He loved his wife too much to let her off his life. She had become an integral part of his life. When Agoi reached home, his house was repulsively desolate. His lovely wife had vacated with almost everything in the house, even the old mattress.
Agoi had never intended to chase her away or separate from her, but was only responding to her insurmountable provocations. Agoi cried. His love for his wife consumed him. He thought of pursuing her back but the other thought of endangering his manhood in the house held him back. It was not the first time for him to elope. He held his hopes high that she would be back in a few days. After two weeks of waiting for his wife to return, Agoi became worried. A friend who sympathized with him gave him a video tape that he didn’t disclose more about.
Agoi could not stop watching the video tape, even though he wanted to. Agoi thought of his friend to be an enemy in sheep’s skin. How could he give him such a video tape, for he knew how much Agoi loved his wife? Tears often hindered his sight but that was not enough to comfort him. His half-drunk state didn’t help either. Things were moving fast for him. In utter disbelief, Agoi cloudlessly watched as his wife wedded her principal in a traditional invite-only ceremony. The principle had taken her as his third wife. It was too really for him to doubt it.
Early in the morning, Agoi woke up, took a shower and then headed to the school where his wife taught. On the way, he successfully tried his best to evade the numerous temptations of a drink that were littered all the way to the school. His wife disliked booze and knew it. Agoi could not restrain his growing love for his wife in her absence. For the few days away he had realized how significant she was in his life.
After the signing in at the gate, Agoi went straight to her wife’s HOD office. Lucky enough, she was in there alone. Agoi was not quite romantic but he tried his best to be so.
“Mum, please forgive me,” he said apologetically. “Darling, please give me another chance. I will not drink again. You know you are like an oasis in the desert where I live. Please come back to me.”
Agoi’s wife still confused how Agoi made it to her office she would take none of his entreaties. “I have moved on so you too continue with your life. Before me you were living and without me life must continue.” And, as if to torture his heart, she said, flaunting her wedding ring, “I m now happily married to a handsome and responsible man who treats me with much dignity.”
Agoi fell on his knees and, bowing his head down, he made a touching plea. “Please mama don’t talk like that. Have you forgotten where we came from? How I paid your high school fees and took you to that prestigious private university to further your education? Mama please, I still love you; have mercy on me. You know very well what happened to us as a family and it has greatly affected me. Please understand that soon our fortunes will be back.
The more Agoi talked the more her heart swelled with great dislike for him. Agoi was a nagging nuisance and there was an urgent need to get rid of him. She reached out her hand and phoned the principal who immediately rushed into the office with two security guards.
“Darling, what it is?” the principal inquired.
“This foolish village drunkard has spoiled my day,” she replied, angrily pointing at Agoi who was still on his knees.
The principal, with his left hand, embraced the teary wife comfortingly as he slapped hard against Agoi face with his right hand before the security guards man handled him out of the compound. The principal had just embraced her in front of his eyes. It was pure malice.
The president had to look for another doctor. His health was deteriorating and his personal physician had disappeared without a word. The president was forced to hire a competent physician from across the ocean. And the moment the doctor examined him, he told him a devastating reality; he was on earth for only a few more days. The slow poison had penetrated all the parts of his body to be erased. The president cried. There was no other way. All hope was gone. And he made a resolution that, before he died, all the people responsible would die a very brutal death. He phoned Adisa and told her to tell the village pastor to pray for him
When the investigations went to the president’s brother, they didn’t hesitate to interrogate him as the president’s deadline was beckoning
“We have done thorough investigations and Akinyi has to tell us something about the slow poison.”
“My friends, I don’t know what you are talking about,” Sam said with much arrogance. “Mr. Sam this is not a trivial matter as you think,”
“So, tell me what you want from me?’
“You tell us your role in the slow poisoning of the president.” “I played no role. What next? Are you satisfied?”
“Mr. Sam, were you with the doctor? What were you talking about?”
“Am I not supposed to speak to friends? The doctor is my friend and we talked as friends.” “The millions you gave him was for what?’
“Is it wrong if I buy or give a friend whichever sum of money I feel like?”
It was at this point the investigators realized they had underestimated Sam. Sam was not as freaky as they expected. And he was not willing to accept anything more from them. Sam looked at them and then with disdain said, “It’s a big disgrace for this country that experienced investigators like you can do such a shoddy investigation inconceivably and erroneously linking the president’s daughter and brother to the president’s murder. Does that really make sense? You need to sit with me always so that I can be applying fertilizer to your retarded brains. The last trace of the president’s physician was in pastor Atwoli’s house, and you know very well Agoi Juniors’ brother is pastor Atwoli’s best friend. With all this information you still defend the veracity of the physician’s as though he is telling you the truth? The slow poison is the retaliatory efforts of the Makali family against us. They must pay for it.”
The investigators thought themselves foolish for believing every word the doctor had told them. Perhaps they also had to investigate the Makali family.