Wounds of a Man
By Agufa Kivuya (Kenya)
Junior wrestled hard to keep the affair top most secret. He had done everything within his reach to distance her wife from the vicinity of the estate, and had to keep all relatives unaware of where he stayed. This worked well until one day when he spotted Alice his sister and Faith coming out of Alice’s apartment. This drove him mad. Alice was just a ghost - only appearing where not needed, but Alice had without doubt spilled the beans. Hiding himself on a lorry that was packed a few meters from the apartment, he anxiously waited for a serious talk with Alice.
Alice was just an enigma. How she came to know Faith remained a mystery to Junior. Even if Alice took a long time in coming back, Junior impatiently waited for her with crossed fingers. He was a trained investigator but Alice proved she was an inborn investigator. Had she taken him back to zero? Had Alice spilled the beans? Junior couldn’t relax; he smelt trouble from a far.
When Alice returned, she found Junior seated down on the floor leaning against her room door, greatly perspiring. Alice was appalled at the sight. She stood at a good distance and took time to study Junior’s desperate posture. Junior was not the type to wait for anybody; a locked door was just enough to chase him away even without a second thought. There was indeed a pressing issue to discuss; his sweaty body at such low temperatures just frightened her. Was Mary their mother dead?
Alice, although filled with a burning desire to get the issue from him, chose to play blind. No sooner had he settled down on his chair than he broached up the case that was driving him berserk.
“Alice, please tell me the truth. What did you tell her?” Junior inquired.
Alice feigned a surprise look. “Who!” What are you talking about?”
“Sister, please don’t hide it from me. How did you come to know that lady you just escorted to the bus stop?”
Alice relaxed. Mary was still alive. Now she could play with her brother’s mind, so she flippantly replied, “Oh that one. I knew her before you saw her for the first time.”
Junior could not relax. “So what did she tell you? I mean is she married? Do you know her husband?” Junior asked but thought the answer was delaying.
“Of course yes, she is married.”
“Do you know her husband?” “Oh yes.”
“What is his name?”
“Name?” She echoed it back. She was indeed enjoying the torture. “I think the name is hard to pronounce. Maybe if you can assist me.”
“Do you think I know the husband?” Junior inquired, now quite offended.
“How can I know? I just know the husband is a married man with a wife back in a rural home.”
Junior looked up to her almost trembling, but trying hard to suppress his body. “Did you tell her I am married?”
“I am not sure if I did that. Can you guess a thousand million for a right guess? And if you don’t guess, let’s change the topic.” That was a serious threat so Junior had no option but to guess. “You told her am married.”
“You are wrong; I didn’t tell her anything as far as you are concerned. You can now breathe.
Junior relaxed a bit and belched-deeply. “Good,” he said and then added. “Now listen to me my sister. I am begging you lets no one learn about this. Let it be an all-time guarded secret between me and you. Let not mama and anyone else at home, even Agoi, get wind of this.”
Alice sat down, looked around as if thinking about something great and then suddenly said, “Why don’t you just marry her traditionally? She is a pretty girl that every man would drool for. I even don’t comprehend why you are wasting time covering this. You are a man Junior, aren’t you? Mama will be overjoyed at the news and I don’t think if there is anyone who will oppose your marriage. Maybe Tausi because of jealousy, but you being the man of the house your decision is final.”
“Sister you know very well am married to a lovely wife and I cannot exchange her for anything else.”
“Foolishness, “Alice shouted back. “That ill-mannered primitive tart of the village is the one you are calling your wife without feeling shame? Don’t behave like a school boy?”
Junior just swallowed the insults, knowing very well he had something to protect. “I don’t think that is possible?”
“Look, I can help in chasing her away. And even mama is for it.”
The statement stung Junior. So mama was aware of it already. Things were running too fast. He knew Alice had a big problem with bridling her tongue.
“Is mama aware of this?”
“No, she isn’t, but am in the process of informing her. You know very well that she doesn’t like your problematic Tausi and she can’t wait to see her off her compound. Junior, quickly file a divorce in court.”
Junior’s love for Tausi was unrivalled and could not be replaced. Divorcing her would only happen when pigs would fly. He could not afford to lose Tausi even if it meant leaving his mother. And neither was he going to let off Faith, whose company had become inevitable. So Junior decided to manage them both for a certain period of time before getting rid of Faith but not Tausi. The only thing he had to do was to preserve the secrecy, and so he was lucky enough her own sister was his accomplice in this, not a stranger.
“Alice do this, please I beg you keep your mouth sealed forever,” Junior begged her “I will sort this out but not now.”
Alice could not hide her anger. “So you are not going to divorce Tausi?”
“Yes.” his answer was firm.
“That woman has given you some magic concoction. You can’t think beyond her, I pity you my brother.”
“Sister, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Even if you don’t get along, my love for her grows day in day out.
“That aside. I agree to keep my leaps closed on conditions.” Alice said.
Junior’s response was positive. “I am ready to pay you as part of the bargain as long as the secret is kept.”
“Good. You know very well I stay here in the city and I don’t have a job. So from today you will be paying my rent, and on top of it I need two hundred thousand shillings for the job as a deposit and after three months, you will be paying me twenty thousand shillings per month for this tedious task of working for you.”
Junior could not hide his shock. “You are not serious with that, are you?
The price was fixed and Alice would not listen to anything else. “No compromise. It is either you accept this or I will spill the beans.”
Junior had to bargain. “Sister, you know I have a family, mama also depends on us and I have to take good care of Faith your friend. So I can’t afford that much. Sister just understands that I am your brother.”
“When it comes to business, there is neither sisterhood nor brotherhood. In fact, I’m economical with you, a million plus is always the price of a cover-up.”
Junior looked for an option. “Sister I will secure you a job in the city if you want.”
“No. No. No.” Alice shouted back with wicked specks in her eyes. “I don’t need a job because I already have the job of covering you up.”
Junior had blackmailed many, but never thought it would happen to him. According to the nature of his job he thought he was above blackmail. By the way, bearing in mind his occupation, who could dare blackmail him? He had craftily built his nest in the sun where nobody could reach. Now he realized that he was wrong as his own sister was giving him a run for his money. At the point he remembered the advice of his father; Junior when you reach a crossroads, close your eyes and take one of the routes rather than remain stranded at the junction. But where could he apply it in this case? Alice was adamant and so Junior was compelled to accept the demand as he continued thinking about a truce. He really needed time for countering Alice’s intrusion.
His fathers’ words tormenting him; son you may build your house in the sun where nobody can get access, but keep in mind that nobody will come for you there, yet the very person who is with you there will push you down from there.
Junior spent a whole week thinking of how best to combat Alice. Alice had underrated him to her own peril. If only she was not his sister, he could have done worse things. It was quite unfortunate her own sister he grew up with didn’t know him. So it was that, whenever Junior gave Alice cash money that she demanded, she always encountered an armed robber even though she never suspected anything.
When Junior gave Alice, the two hundred thousand deposits Alice referred to it, Alice phoned him later to inform him of a robbery at her place. A gun wielding young man had walked into her room and taken all the two hundred thousand she was recounting.
Junior swiftly responded but the gangster was too quick to be caught. He had just beaten Junior with a few strides. Junior consoled her sister, gave her two thousand shillings and left in pursuit of the robber.
Theft in the city had become a mundane act among city dwellers. That day, when Junior had withdrawn the two hundred thousand, cash, he had handed it to Alice before leaving the bank. Alice shuddered, feeling as if all eyes in the vicinity were revolving around her. She was suspecting every man whose eyes met with hers. When she saw the smartly dressed man, she referred to them as the modern robber, one who was always smart to throw away suspicion and when she saw a shabbily dressed man she linked their shabbiness to their criminal life. Junior had to escort her to the door of her room. She locked the door immediately after she entered.
The political temperatures were soaring day in day out. The country was a bee hive of activity as the campaigns entered their final stretch. The opposition had come together to form a formidable force to down Hamisi. But who was strong enough to oust Hamisi? Hamisi had grown into a colossal figure in the nation’s politics. Whom the youth cheered madly, the women danced and ululated for and men nodded in agreement that was simply too big to be downed by any alliance. Even the media was carried away by Hamisi’s spell. Media stations were awash with praise for Hamisi; a family man who never failed to deliver greetings from his family in campaigns and crusades, and a philanthropic leader who had transformed the nation’s politics. Who could resist the charm of Hamisi? He was indeed a paragon of a virtuous leadership.
On the other hand, the opposition remained optimistic despite the obvious signs of defeat. They held their hopes high. They kept the fighting spirit alive. They introduced many scandals but most failed to curtail Hamisi’s ever-growing popularity. They tried to poke holes in his family life, but it helped not. They talked about his wife’s’ death but the masses remained adamant about him. Everything the opposition said was swiftly dismissed by the masses as political propaganda, regardless of its veracity. All this was just the last kick of a dying horse that helped not. Religious leaders, political activists, celebrities and a good portion of the media overtly endorsed his re- election. Hamisi was re- elected as the country president with an overwhelming majority in pomp and glamour. This remained a puzzle to Hamisi. He easily won the presidency without much strain but was failing miserably in family matters where he strived with much energy. This was not logical to him even though knew not who to blame for the unfair marks.