A Donkey’s Gratitude III-By Edward Maroncha

(Continued from A Donkey’s Gratitude II)

Natalie leans back on the passenger seat of her car and continues chatting on her phone. At 45 years of age, she has seen it all and done it all. This current ‘project’, where she is helping her newfound lover defraud his lawyer and wife, is inconsequential considering the things she has done in the past. After all, being the COO, even of a small company, is not a joke. Especially if you do not have legitimate papers to support your “credentials”.

Natalie joined Gutonya Insurance Company limited twenty-five years ago as a cleaner. She had completed her KCSE examination and scored a C plus, but had not managed to further her education. Her goal was to get a job to enable her pay for her post-high school education. After a year as a cleaner at Gutonya, she registered for a diploma in Insurance. When she graduated, she was promoted to be a claims assistant. The plan thereafter was to start doing CPA, and also register for a B.Com degree. She wanted to switch from claims department to finance.

But then she met Njiru.

Njiru was running a cyber-café in Nairobi’s CBD. While his shop was small, he was doing very well financially. He lived in a good neighborhood and had a relatively new Toyota Premio. When they met, Njiru was following up on a claim. His car had been involved in a minor accident, and he wanted it repaired because he was comprehensively insured by Gutonya. As it happened, Natalie is the one who processed the claim, and in the process, she shared her phone number with him.

He started flirting with her almost immediately. She liked him. He was good-looking and rather polished. His demeanor was polite and as she got to know him, she realized that he was witty too.  Within two months, they were dating. By that time his claim had already been settled. Natalie moved into his house barely one month after they started dating.

One of the things she quickly learned about her new sweetheart was that he made his money through forgery. He could forge almost every document and had a regular stream of clients. Once she got to know this, her desire to study died. Why bother when your boyfriend can forge documents for you?

Njiru forged a degree certificate for her; she became the holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce (Insurance option) from an Indian University overnight. She submitted a copy of this certificate to the HR department at Gutonya Insurance with the hope of getting a promotion. But the HR manager got suspicious and forwarded the certificate to the CEO, Mark Mshenzi, indicating that it may be a forgery since there was no indication that Natalie had ever been outside the country. Mshenzi indicated that he knew people who could investigate and establish the truth.

Two days later, Mshenzi called Natalie to his office and told her that he had established that she had submitted a fake certificate to the company. Natalie was stunned. Since the HR officer had not said anything to her, she had assumed that her little fraudulent act had gone unnoticed. She was certain that she would be fired or worse, arrested. She was literally shaking.

But Mshenzi had other ideas. He told her that they could make the problem go away if she agreed to be his girlfriend. That presented a small dilemma for Natalie. Being Mshenzi’s girlfriend would mean cheating on Njiru. She was in love with Njiru, but the conflict only lasted two seconds in her head. Given the chance to avoid prison, she said yes without hesitation. The weekend that followed she went with him to Mombasa, and their affair officially began. She told Njiru that she was attending a work-related workshop.

After that first weekend that they spent together, Mshenzi sent the company’s HR Manager a version of the investigation report that indicated that Natalie’s degree was genuine, only that she had been studying through an online program. It happened that Njiru had known about the university’s online degree program when he gave her the certificate.

Mshenzi promoted Natalie from a claims assistant to be his Executive PA & Office Administrator. This saw her pay increase threefold, and it also ensured that she would always be travelling with him without questions being raised. In the course of the affair, Mshenzi also informed her that he was interested in getting a Master’s degree. She connected him to Njiru, and after paying the price, he got a Master’s degree certificate.

Using her position as the office administrator and her close association with Mshenzi, Natalie consolidated power in the office. She became more powerful than almost all senior managers, except the COO. Eventually, she wiggled her way from being an Executive PA to being an operations manager, a position that Mshenzi created for her. This undermined the office of the COO, and he resigned in protest. Mshenzi gave Natalie the position. Several years later, Mshenzi got another job at Mauntu Insurance in the same capacity. He took Natalie with him as his COO.

This time he needed her, not for sexual satisfaction, but because he had realized that just like him, she had a cunning streak that helped in scamming the companies they worked for. He wanted her because he trusted her, and he wanted her to help him steal from Mauntu Insurance the same way they had been stealing from Gutonya Insurance. Mauntu, being a small company, did not have the position of COO. The former CEO had been running the company alone, directly dealing with the departmental heads. Mshenzi created the position for Natalie-after convincing the board it was necessary-because he needed a partner crime.

Over the years, the friendship and alliance between Natalie and Mshenzi has deepened, but it has also become less sexual. Once in a while they do sleep together, but sex is no longer an essential part of their relationship. Mshenzi has a new personal secretary, a hot young girl that he hired after doing sham interviews, and she is his current girlfriend. Natalie, on the other hand, has had a string of short-term relationships with other men. Njiru died in a road accident about seven years ago, and they did not have any children.

Natalie is wealthy. Using her connections and ability to scheme, she inherited Njiru’s wealth and managed to exclude his relatives, even though she and Njiru were never legally married. Njiru’s parents were poor, and their attempts to go to court got them nowhere. Natalie bribed her way through. Njiru had managed to build a house in Ruai, which is where Natalie lives to date. But he also owned other  pieces of land, which Natalie acquired through backdated transfers. She forged Njiru’s signature so that it seems he transferred the properties to her before he died. She appropriated all the money he had in his bank accounts.

But she has also created wealth of her own. She has been earning a fat salary ever since she became a senior manager at Gutonya Insurance, and she also benefited greatly from her fraudulent schemes with Mshenzi. Now she owns apartments around the city as well as rental houses in the outskirts. She has money in Money Market funds, fixed deposit accounts and she has also invested in treasury bonds. She also owns a bar and restaurant in Ruai.

She has money, but she is lonely.

She has been longing for a long-term relationship with someone. She desires something akin to what she had with Njiru. Their relationship was not perfect in the traditional sense. They both had affairs, but they never fought about it. Theirs was an open relationship, although they did not openly acknowledge that.

That is why she was intrigued by the good-looking man she found at the reception one morning a few weeks ago. She invited him to her office and sought to find out what problem had brought him to the company’s offices. At first he was cagey, but after some time admitted that he was following up on a claim and that he wanted to cut off his lawyer. That intrigued Natalie, because she is inherently attracted to schemers.

The man’s name is Jeremy.

Natalie realized at once that she had found a bird of a feather. She agreed to help him, and within no time she ensured that his claim was paid directly to him. But during this time, she also managed to weave herself into a relationship with him. They have been romping around in hotels until earlier this week when he moved in with her at her house in Ruai.


Right now, Natalie and Jeremy are going shopping in Natalie’s car, but Jeremy is driving. She wants to massage his ego by making him feel like the dominant partner in the relationship. She wants to get him new clothes and a car-using his money. She has learned a thing or two about relationships since Njiru died. She knows that if she wants to keep Jeremy, she has to find a way of controlling him without him feeling controlled. She will help him spend the insurance money until is gone. Then he will be dependent on her, even though she will continue to be nice to him.

Yesterday she took him to his former employer, where she helped him to scam his lawyer once more. Natalie knows the CEO of that company, and she intends to use her influence to ensure that that money does not pass through the lawyer. But she has also made plans to ensure that the money doesn’t get to Jeremy either. He is smart-but not street-smart. She will con him and he will have no idea what hit him.

She has already promised to give him a job as the manager of her investments. He will get an office and a salary, but he will be just a caretaker. Natalie is too smart to hand over the control of her business empire to anyone. All these actions will ensure that she is always in control of their relationship.

(As usual, I intend to complete this story on Saturday. So come prepared to grab your copy for only Kshs. 100.)


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