(Continued from A Complete Family VII)
Karambu meets Hellen secretly. The meeting is brief, in a public toilet in Chuka. Within seconds, they have exchanged the bottle, and Hellen leaves while Karambu enters the toilet stall. Anybody who might have been watching would have thought they just greeted each other and that was that. The secrecy is Hellen’s idea actually. The latter has a bad reputation around Chuka, and while she generally doesn’t care what people say about her, she thought that her friend’s plans might backfire on her face if they are seen together.
Karambu had sent Hellen, through a phone call, to buy her a bottle of Salfanax. Hellen bought it in Nairobi and delivers it personally, and in secret so that there are no witnesses. The Salfanax was Hellen’s idea as well. Hellen is the only friend Karambu has left. Most of her friends abandoned her when she dumped Dave for George, a married man. Karambu sidelined her family a long time ago, because of their constant demands for money. She rarely goes home and doesn’t even call.
Hellen is herself married by an old man with adult grandchildren. She dumped her boyfriend for the rich old man with whom she has one child. She still sleeps with her ex regularly, though. The ex hopes that she will come back to him. Maybe the old man will get a heart attack. Or die of Viagra overdose. But the old man is going strong till now. He was a certified womanizer before he met Hellen, but Hellen “fixed him”. Now she is the only one who cheats in that marriage.
Within months of sleeping with her, the old man divorced his third wife, abandoned his other mistresses and married her. He even changed his will. Now Hellen keeps him on a tight leash, and even his children and grandchildren do not have access to him. Rumor has it that she uses juju on him.
Karambu has turned to her friend to help her get rid of her mother-in-law. Hellen is also the one who supplied the chemical that was used to lace George’s drink on the day Karambu “became pregnant”. Hellen has urged her to give George something stronger that will make him devoted to her, but Karambu has been hesitant. She has heard that love portions sometimes backfire and kill their recipients, and she doesn’t want George to die. At least not while he is still legally married to Rose. She will wait for the divorce to go through first.
Salfanax is a mild poison. When a small dose is taken, it upsets the stomach but clears on its own even without medical intervention. A heavy dosage will however kill within hours if the victim does not receive treatment.
For lunch, Karambu prepares rice and beef stew. She serves herself and leaves the rest in the sufuria, as she always does. If Jacinta wants to eat, she will serve herself. It is on her own plate that she adds a small dose of Salfanax. She places her food on the table, where Jacinta is busy knitting, and goes to the toilet. Then comes back and eats her meal while watching television. She is halfway through when her stomach starts rumbling. She calls George.
Her timing is very precise. She knows at that very hour George is usually very busy helping his staff serve the crowds that come for lunch. He usually leaves his phone at the office. She calls three times.
Then she walks to the road where a police van that is conveniently passing by picks her up and takes her to Chuka Level Five Hospital. As they approach the hospital, Karambu starts writhing in pain. The police officer who is driving the vehicle, a Somali named Ahmed, smiles. This woman is a good actor, and that is why he likes her. She is good in bed too, much better than his wife. They are friends with benefits. No strings attached, except for small favors here and there, like buying her a pair of shoes or using his uniform to bully her stalkers whenever she asks. This is the biggest favor she has ever asked of him. He had to bribe a sergeant to be allowed to leave the station with the vehicle. Once she gives birth she will have to pay dearly. Or can she pay in her condition? How does sleeping with a heavily pregnant woman feel like? His wife doesn’t allow it. She quotes a verse in the Quran that he can’t remember. Maybe he should marry a more adventurous wife.
At the hospital, Karambu is quickly processed through the emergency center and admitted to the ward. The nurses know she is the new wife of local tycoon George. Soon, the diagnosis is out: Salfanax poisoning. In fact, she is lucky to have reached the hospital so soon, otherwise either she or her baby would have suffered irreversible harm, or even died.
The police officer goes to George’s office and tells him what had happened. George wants to go to the hospital immediately, but the cop informs him that he suspects that his wife was poisoned.
“Was she alone in the house?” the cop asks, even though he already knows the answer to that question.
“No, she was with my mother,”
“Then I will need to talk to your mother, and I will need you to come with me to the station to record a statement.”
“Okay. Then we need to hurry,”
They drive to the police station and George is left there recording a statement. Ahmed gets two more police officers to accompany him to Kirege. One of them actually knows where George’s house is.
They find the food that Karambu was eating still on the table. They take it away as evidence. It will be taken to the government chemist for analysis. Then, as one of the cops questions Jacinta, Ahmed and the other cop search the house. They search for thirty minutes, even though all along Ahmed knows exactly where the bottle is. Finally, from the room that Jacinta identified as hers, Ahmed pulls out the bottle of Salfanax from a red suitcase.
They quickly arrest Jacinta and take her to the station.
Jacinta is terrified. She tries to explain to the officers that when Karambu left the house she was fine, but they are not listening. Apparently she was collected from the side of the road in great pain. She is now in hospital, and the doctors have said she was poisoned with Salfanax. The Salfanax that has been found in Jacinta’s suitcase.
Before today, Jacinta did not even know that such a chemical existed. But it was found in her suitcase. How? She knows without a doubt that Karambu framed her. But how can she prove it? The woman is in hospital, seriously ill. Doctors have confirmed that she was poisoned. There was only the two of them in the house when she was poisoned. And the poison has been found in her (Jacinta’s) belongings.
She was right when she said the woman was a dragon. That woman is evil. And she should have suspected that when Karambu came with that chemical to put in George’s water. But both of them were desperate to get George to impregnate Karambu that Jacinta didn’t ask herself where the “innocent virgin” got to know about such chemicals.
But now that is it is clear that the woman is not as innocent as she had seemed, Jacinta wonders whether she was a virgin in the first place, or more specifically, whether the baby she is carrying is George’s. But Karambu thwarted her attempt to uncover her and now she has gotten her arrested.
At the station, she is locked up in a filthy cell alongside a bunch of intoxicated women. It is nearly 4 pm and she knows she might spend the night in this filthy cell unless someone comes to her rescue. She knows there is such a thing as cash bail given at the police station, which is why she called her husband while in the police van.
She knows her husband Kathuni will come right away, but she doesn’t know if he can raise whatever amount they will ask for. He recently bought a shamba at Cheera, and as such all his income from his rental houses is tied up in a loan. Usually, she would have called George, but under the circumstances, she doesn’t think George will even want to see her.
George is furious. He knows his mother is not a nice person, but he had no idea that she was capable of murder. True, he was shocked at the venom in her voice the other night when she called Karambu a dragon, but this, this is a new low.
He has been sitting on the bed beside Karambu for half an hour now. She is sleeping peacefully. Doctors say the amount she ingested is not lethal and she should wake up any time now. He is still at the hospital when his father calls. Kathuni wants his son to bail out his mother so that she does not spend the night in jail. They need a cash bail of half a million shillings. Neither Kathuni nor his other sons has that kind of money. Only George can help.
“She tried to kill the mother of my unborn child, dad. Because of her, Karambu will spend the night in a hospital. And you are telling me to bail her out? Let her spend the night there as she thinks about her actions.”
Kathuni is wise enough not to push his son. And George is right, Jacinta has given her son a lot of grief in the last few months, and she deserves at least a night in jail to think about the consequences of her decisions.
When Kathuni tells Jacinta that she will be spending the night in jail, she bites her tongue to stop herself from releasing a litany of obscenities against Karambu, because that would only make her look even more guilty. Instead, she curses silently in her heart. Jacinta knows she grossly underestimated Karambu. But once she gets out of the cells tomorrow, and she is confident she will be released on bond, she will teach that girl Karambu a lesson she will never forget. The war is officially on.
We are finally coming to the end of this month’s series guys. I will post one more subchapter on Friday then release the novella to you so that you can read the whole story.
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