Job is in a good mood. It is a fine Tuesday evening. He is already done with the day’s work, so he logs in to Facebook to see what the world has been about.
“Hawa madktari wako na ujinga sana. Wafungwe kabisa. Lazima Korti ziheshimiwe,” he says to no one in particular.
Lorna, seated on her desk next to his, looks up briefly but goes on with her work without a word. Peter, sitting across from them replies without looking up.
“Serikali ilipe madaktari. Hii Jubilee tunapeleka nyumbani August”
“Wewe na nani?”
“Sisi kama Wakenya. Tumechoka na hawa wezi wa Jubilee”
“Approval rating ya Uhuru ni 67% so sijui unazungumzia Wakenya wagani”
“Juu Uhuru amelipa Ipsos wamdanganye? August tarehe nane Uhuruto wanaenda nyumbani. Vile mnaenda kuchapwa na PSG leo.”
Job laughs again, sarcastically. He is an ardent supporter of Jubilee, Barcelona and Manchester United. Peter is an ODM and Arsenal fan. He doesn’t care much about Spanish football, but due to his rivalry with Job, he is inclined towards Real Madrid. The two often have long, spirited arguments over football and politics.
“You wish. Nyinyi kesho ndo mnaenda kucharazwa na Bayern” Job replies.
“Just shut up you two,” Lorna snaps.
“Waambie Lorna. Some of us want to work,” Samuel, seated at the corner, adds.
Job concentrates on his computer. He scrolls down Facebook, liking all posts that support Jubilee, and writing angry comments on any post criticizing Jubilee or the President. Finally he writes his own post:
“What has Raila done for Kenya? What is his development record? Hapa ni mudomo tu. Jubilee tuko pamoja. We will win first round by 70%”
Then he likes the post. His own post.
He clears the desk and quickly leaves the office, leaving Lorna, Samuel and Peter. He is feeling good about himself. Jubilee must win, he tells himself. There is no way Uhuruto can lose. The clowns at NASA have not yet even found a presidential candidate. Ah, he should have included that part in his post, he thinks. But there are more important things tonight. He must witness PSG being decimated. They must face the wrath of Messi. He is so sure about this win that he placed a Kshs. 50,000 Sportpesa bet on it. That is a sizeable portion of his savings, but he is sure to recover it with profit. Barcelona is a machine. And PSG do not even have Zlatan to give them a consolation goal.
Job rushes home. Traffic is nasty, and he gets home at 8pm. His wife is in the kitchen, preparing dinner.
“Happy Valentine babe” she says sweetly, leaving the kitchen to meet him at the sitting room.
“Valentine imeisha Tabitha. Chakula kiko tayari?”
Tabitha is hurt, but she does her best to mask it. Job was very romantic when he was wooing her. But after the wedding all that changed gradually. And that was only two years ago. Not that she can complain much though. Job is a good husband. He caters for their needs. He pays rent, he ensures there is food. He even gives her pocket money to supplement her income from the salon where she works. And he has promised to take her to school to do a degree. She is happy. But still, some romance is not too much for a girl to ask, is it?
“Kidogo tu, wacha niwarm mboga”
Job goes to the bathroom and showers. He wears a pair of jeans and a Manchester United T-shirt. Then he steps into the sitting room, where the dining table is set at a corner. Tabitha has placed Ugali, beef and sukuma wiki on the table. She is pregnant, and her baby bump is beginning to show. She washes his hands then serves the food. They eat in silence.
When they are done, Tabitha goes to the kitchen to clean utensils while Job settles on the couch to watch the 9pm news. She joins him when she is done, and tries to engage in small talk. But he only grunts in reply. He is only excited about politics and football. So during commercial breaks she engages him on whatever had been said in the news, careful not to say anything that might sound offensive to the government.
When the bulletin is over, Job stands to leave. In a sudden display of affection, he pecks Tabitha on the cheek and tells her not to wait for him, as the football match would end late. Then he leaves the house to go to the estate pub to watch the game. Peter is already there, dressed in jeans and an Arsenal T-shirt.
The game begins on a high tempo. But not the way Job expected. 18 minutes in, PSG score. This would not particularly have worried Job on any other night, but today Messi looks far from being the animal he usually is. And there is 50k at stake. Still, he convinces himself that Barca will shake off the setback and overturn the result. They have done it before. But just before half-time, PSG score again.
“Hehehe! Job, si nilikuambia?” Peter taunts him. “Hivi ndio Jubilee pia watafanywa August.”
Peter is tipsy. Being a bachelor, he grabbed a meal at Ronalo in the CBD then went home, enduring the traffic, took a shower and went straight to the pub. He even watched the 9 O’clock news from the pub, taking beer. And by now, alcohol is getting into his head.
“Jubilee will win massively,” Job replies, getting angry.
“Hivyo ndivyo ulisema kuhusu Barca kabla game ianze”
“Tuko half time. Game bado ni changa”
Soon, the players enter the pitch for the second half. Job really hopes Barcelona will find themselves. But five minutes in, PSG score again. And later, they make it 4-0, which turns out to be the final score line. Barcelona has been humiliated. And Job has lost Kshs. 50,000/-.
“Jubilee must fall like Barcelona…Jubilee must fall like Barcelona…” Peter sings drunkenly, in some uncoordinated tune. He is now totally drunk. He keeps rubbing Job’s shoulders as he sings his newly composed tune.
“Hii ni game tu. Jubilee will win massively” Job says furiously. He is very angry. Angry that Barcelona has lost. Angry that he has lost his money. Angry at Peter for taunting Jubilee.
“Job, nikuulize? Ati Jubilee ndio walikuwa wanapeana tender za mabao Barcelona?”
Job cannot take it anymore. He punches Peter in the face. Then he grabs three bottles from the table and smashes them on Peter’s head in quick succession. There is commotion in the pub. Two men grab Job and pull him away from Peter. Other’s carry Peter to a car and rush him to hospital. And someone calls the police.
Peter is received by nurses and clinical officers at the hospital. They try to do emergency procedures on him but he does not respond. And there are no doctors on call. They are all on strike. Eventually, an hour later, Peter dies.
Meanwhile, the police have picked up Job. He is dazed. All what has happened is like a dream. He is in a trance even as he is ushered into the cells. He has no idea yet that Peter is dead, but he feels horrible anyway. Eventually tears start rolling down his cheeks onto the dirty floor of the police cell.
*** *** *** *** *** ***
Tabitha receives the news in shock. How could Job do that? How is she and her unborn child supposed to survive if he is imprisoned? She does not even have the energy to call Job’s father to tell him. But she knows she will have to.
Margaret, Peter’s mother, faints when the call comes through. Her son cannot be dead. He was the breadwinner of the family. He was supporting his two siblings in school. One in college and another in high school. And providing for the family. The boy was not even married yet!
Meanwhile, in Paris, Messi and his teammates sit dejected in the dressing room. But they will eventually get on a plane back to Spain where their wives and girlfriends will be waiting. Their hefty salaries are still intact despite the loss. And they have absolutely no idea that their loss has made a man kill his friend. Not that they would care much even if they knew.
At Statehouse, the President is probably asleep. He will probably not know that his supporter has killed a man in a bar brawl over his party and re-election. The news of a man killing another in a bar brawl is not exactly the type that deserve presidential attention.
Raila Odinga is also possibly asleep. He will also probably not know that he has lost one voter in a bar. It might be reported in a small column in the newspaper, which may not get much attention. Even if he sees it, he will probably not give it much thought.
And as Ronald Karauri reports the profits of the year, he will probably not be aware that Kshs. 50, 000 of the millions came at the cost of a man’s life. Or maybe he will. But those are just statistics to him.
Champions League will go on. NASA and Jubilee will continue trading barbs. In fact, life will go on normally for everyone except the two families. One will be mourning a dead son. Another will lose a son to prison. And for what? Football? Politicians?