(Continued from A Donkey’s Gratitude I)
At 31 years old, Felicity is a young lawyer. She has been practicing as an advocate for four years. She was employed as an Associate Advocate in a mid-table law firm, Kigoko & Kigwaci LLP, for three of those four years. After that she ventured out to open her own practice. It was an audacious move, but Felicity was confident that she could hack it. One year has gone by, and while she has struggled here and there, she is still on her feet and her bills have been paid.
Felicity’s practice is still small. She is the only lawyer in her firm, but she has a secretary and a clerk. She is a bright and very hardworking lawyer, and people are beginning to take note. Client traffic is increasing in her office. The biggest challenge for her is getting them to pay.
This morning she is in her office, drafting documents. She doesn’t have any court sessions to attend today, so she intends to spend the day in the office doing paperwork. She is deeply engrossed in her work when the phone rings. She picks it quickly when she realizes that it is the Legal Officer of Pest Maliza Ltd.
When she decided to sue Pest Maliza on behalf of Jeremy, she had no idea that her ex-boyfriend and college sweetheart, Robert was working there. Her relationship with Robert did not end badly. They just drifted apart after graduating. Robert went to the Kenya School of Law, while Felicity flew to the US after getting a scholarship to pursue her Master’s degree at Stanford University. The distance, plus the conflicting time zones, put pressure on the relationship and after a couple of months, they amicably agreed to end things.
Felicity completed her Master’s degree in a year and returned to the country. She did not look for Robert because she had seen on social media that he had started dating another girl. She did not have any hard feelings about that either, even though she may reluctantly admit that she was jealous. Robert is a fine gentleman.
She joined Kigoko & Kigwaci Advocates LLP as an intern, and the little money she earned helped her survive as she went through KSL. The firm paid her KSL fee, on condition that she would be bonded to the firm for two years after admission. The hours were brutal. While the firm allowed her to take afternoons off to attend KSL, she got the same workload as everyone else, meaning she often had to return to work after school to complete her work. And she still had to prepare for exams.
But Felicity is a hardworking girl and she managed to both satisfy her employer and pass her Bar exams. She did her pupillage at the same firm, and when she was admitted as an Advocate of the High Court, she was retained as an Associate. She worked for the firm for three years, and easily became the star employee. But she was getting uncomfortable because she felt that the work she was putting in was not getting appreciated by way of remuneration. The firm was raking in millions in legal fees, but she was earning a paltry sixty thousand shillings. That is when she made a decision to quit and start her own law practice.
When she sued Pest Maliza, Robert reached out to her. It was awkward at first, given their history. But since they are both very professional, that first contact was cordial and respectful. They agreed to open discussions to settle the matter. But they soon came to learn that neither of them was in a relationship, and their romance started brewing again. Robert disclosed his conflict to his boss, and withdrew from the negotiation, leaving his boss, the Senior Legal Officer called Anne to handle it. He and Felicity haven’t officially started dating again yet, but they have been having frequent coffee dates and it seems to be just a question of when.
“Hi Rob,” she says as she answers his call. Yesterday he suggested they have dinner tonight, and she suspects that he wants to formally ask her to be his girlfriend again. She is nervous about this call though, because it could be that something has happened and he is calling to cancel the dinner.
“Hi City.” Robert has always called her “City” as a short form for her name, and “Cirry” when he is feeling mischievous. “I have just been informed by Anne that your clients want to play you dirty.”
“Apparently they have come to the office and asked to see her. That is normal-clients sometimes want to follow up on their payments even when they have lawyers. But the thing is, Anne tells me that Jeremy told her to channel the payments directly to him and promised to “buy her some tea” He told her he doesn’t want you to touch the money because you are a thief.”
“That is interesting. What did Anne tell him?”
“She told him she will see into it because she did not want him to start looking for our bosses. But then after he left, she alerted me. I think Jeremy miscalculated because there was a time, just before he got an accident, that he started flirting with her and it became obvious that she also liked him. He probably thought he could build on that and manipulate her into paying him directly.”
“Were they dating?”
“No, it didn’t get that far. Just when he started making moves on her, you know, taking her out for coffee and all, he got involved in an accident.”
“She didn’t know he was married?”
“Nobody knew that here in the office; not even me. After he got involved in the accident, one of his best friends at the office, a fellow marketer called Elias, was the first to go and see him at the hospital. Elias met his wife and kids there, and came back and told us. Even he had no idea that his best friend was married until then.
Anne was obvious furious and heartbroken. She never went to visit him because she didn’t want to see him, dying as he was, plus she would have been humiliated seeing his wife fussing over him. But the guy is audacious. Apparently today he was accompanied by his wife to the office. That is the other reason Anne is so pissed off. She could not believe his audacity.”
“She still has feelings for him?”
“No, she is actually married to another man now. But after what he did to her, and then he comes with his wife to convince her to con you, you have to agree it was pretty audacious.”
“Wait, you said he came with his wife to the office?”
“Yes. Anne told me that his wife was there the whole time as they talked and was even urging her to save them from “the greedy lawyer.” They are saying that they have paid you but they suspect you want to steal from them.”
“People are so wicked. You cannot imagine the way I have fought for that couple. So, what is going to happen now?”
“Anne is pushing for the cheque to be written today, in your name. You are, after all, their lawyer on record. They have not fired you in writing. But cross your fingers. Jeremy has contacts here, and if he manages to get to his buddies in finance, Anne might get frustrated.”
“Okay, thanks Rob for the update. And thank Anne for me. Are we still on tonight?”
“Of course, we are. See you then.”
After hanging up. Felicity gazes outside her window. She can feel anger boiling within her. Then another thought crosses her. If they were in Pest Maliza, they probably went to the insurance company as well. She takes her phone and calls her contact at the company.
“Hi Gerald,” she greets the Legal Officer. “Any progress on my matter?”
“Hi counsel. Let me check and call you back.”
He calls back after ten minutes.
“This matter has already been settled, counsel.”
“How? I have not seen any cheque.”
“We were served with a notice of change of Advocates. I can see it here on the file. Kwiya & Wamba Advocates are the lawyers now on record. Those are the lawyers who were paid.”
“Why didn’t you alert me?”
“I honestly did not know, Felicity. This matter was handled directly by my boss.”
“Oh okay. Thanks Gerald.”
She hangs up and calls Fridah.
“Seriously Fridah, how could you and your husband do this to me?”
“Don’t pretend with me. You and Jeremy went and collected the insurance money behind my back. And as if that is not enough, you went to Pest Maliza and told them that you have paid me but that I am planning to steal from you. You want to collect that money behind my back too? Is this what I get for fighting so hard for you?”
“I honestly don’t know anything about any of this, Wakili.”
“Stop lying to me, Fridah. The people at Pest Maliza said that you were there with your husband this morning. You were actually the one who was saying that I am being greedy and want to steal from your husband.”
“I don’t even know where that company is. You have to believe me. And I don’t even know where Jeremy is as we speak. He walked out on me and said he wants to nothing to do with me anymore. Believe me.”
“It’s true, Wakili. The fool is healed now and he has money. He doesn’t need me. Maybe he has another woman…wait, did the Pest Maliza people say I, Fridah, was there with Jeremy?”
“No, they just said Jeremy was there with his wife.”
“That fool!” Fridah curses loudly. “After everything I have done for him, he picks another woman to eat the money with. I am even servicing a loan that I took to pay his hospital bills and for his therapy.”
She breaks down and starts crying, and Felicity’s heart softens. She believes Fridah, and she suddenly feels pity for her. At least she, Felicity, has other clients, so she can cut her losses and move on. But Fridah has one husband, who has now abandoned her with three children, and left her in debt.
“I am so sorry Fridah,” she says softly. “We will figure out a way.”
(To be continued on Wednesday.)
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