(Continued from A Game of Traitors)
Hellen is popularly known in the village as Mrs. Kioko because, well, a teacher must either be Mr., Mrs. or Miss. She overcomes the shock of seeing her husband on top of a teenager quickly. She has always known that Kioko, despite being a church elder, is a womanizer. She knows a few young women that he sleeps with. One even has a child that is a spitting image of her husband. Earlier in their marriage, she had confronted him but he had calmly told her to do her worst.
She had seethed for a while before concluding that he was right: there was little she could do to him. If she packed and left, she had little doubt that one of his mistresses would move into their matrimonial home without hesitation. And she wasn’t about to leave the home she had built for over the years to a pretty empty head whose sole interest was getting paid to give her husband a heart attack in bed. No way.
Women in this generation may believe in standing up to cheating men by walking away and demanding a share of the property, but not her. Her mother Rakeli taught her that a woman defends what is hers from the inside. Besides, she did not want to put her children through a divorce. Can she even afford a lawyer? Her primary school teacher’s salary certainly won’t allow her, unless she takes a loan. But take a loan to pay a lawyer? No sir.
So she stays on to fight for her marriage, which really means fighting the women Kioko sleeps with, or rather scaring them so that they do not get too comfortable. There is one particular one that had grown horns and had started even visiting the Kioko homestead when she (Hellen) was not there. When Hellen got wind of it, she went to the salon where the girl was working and beat her to a pulp. That was the last day of the affair. But a week later Kioko was seeing a customer attendant at a local bookshop.
His womanizing is well known, but the church chooses to look the other way because of his deep pockets. Not even an admonition comes his way. As a matter of fact, Hellen has caught several female church leaders, married and unmarried, flirting with him.
But raping a child? This is a new low.
She walks in and stands within inches of her husband. They stare at each other for a few minutes.
“You know what you are doing can land you in jail, right?” she says finally.
“Who is going to report me? Is it you or this destitute girl? And you think any policeman in this area will arrest me?” Kioko responds, laughing sarcastically.
He rises from the bed and dresses, then leaves. He hadn’t intended for his wife to find out, because in spite of everything he still has some respect for her. Sleeping with another woman under their matrimonial roof is something he has avoided until now. But now that she has found out, what can she do? Absolutely nothing.
Hellen is furious. The disrespect that this man has been showing her is infuriating. But he is right. She is not about to do anything that might hurt the image of her marriage. They are a respected couple, which is why she has been fighting so hard to keep the marriage intact. True, everyone knows he cheats, but still, she is his wife. The wife of the village tycoon. She can hardly be compared to those lowlifes that he likes chasing.
But what do you do when it is a child involved?
Never in her dreams would she have imagined that her husband would fancy a child. She has always been wondering where he goes every night, but since she usually does not hear the main door being opened, she doesn’t bother too much. Maybe he is unable to sleep and has decided to do some reading. Or maybe he is chatting on WhatsApp with one of those twerps he is currently fooling around with. As long as he is inside the house, she is not worried.
For some reason, however, she decided to follow him today. She left their room and tiptoed after him. Amazingly, he did not look back. He was walking carefully so as not to make noise, but he did not look like a man in fear.
What or who was there to fear anyway? Certainly not his wife.
Rhoda is only sixteen years. If this comes out her husband could go to jail, not to mention that the image she has fought so hard to maintain will be lost. So what should she do?
“How long has this been going on?” Hellen asks Rhoda.
Rhoda continues to sob softly. Hellen strokes her gently.
“It’s okay, Rhoda. It is okay.”
“How can it be okay? Your husband rapes me and there is nothing I can do about it,” Rhoda wails.
“Ssshh! Speak softly. You don’t have to announce to the world,”
Rhoda does not respond. She has stopped sobbing but she is still doing the after-crying sniffing.
“Don’t you worry, I am here now. I will protect you,”
Hellen sighs. Is this girl that naïve?
“I have some female condoms that you can wear before he comes. They will protect you from diseases and stop you from getting pregnant.”
Rhoda bolts up suddenly as if she has been stung.
“Is that what you call protecting me? Handing me over to your husband to be raped is what you call protecting me?”
Hellen’s face hardens and the gentlewoman swiftly disappears. She resists the urge to lash out at Rhoda. She knows if she does they will start yelling at each other, and that is the last thing she wants.
“So what do you want me to do? You heard him. There is nothing I can do to stop him. I did not bring him here. In fact, how do I know you have not been seducing him behind my back?”
“I did not! He has been raping me!”
“Of course that is what you say after I have caught you red-handed shamelessly giving yourself to my husband. Don’t you have shame; after all, we have done to you? How can you stoop so low as to start seducing an old man in his own home? Tomorrow I want you gone. Pack your things and leave first thing in the morning.”
“I will. And my first stop will be at the police station.”
“Yea, good luck with that,” Hellen says, rising. “My husband owns all the cops in this area. There is nothing you can do,”
She starts to leave. As she approaches the door, Rhoda blurts out:
“I am pregnant.”
Hellen whirls around.
“I said I am pregnant for your husband.”
“You are going to flush out that baby,”
“I thought you Christians are against abortion?”
Hellen walks back to the edge of the bed.
“Tomorrow I am going to call the principal of your school and tell him you are unwell and that you are in hospital. My husband’s driver will take you to a clinic in Machakos where they are going to flush out that brat, and nobody will ever know,”
“And if I don’t?”
“Let us just say Kioko has people whose job is to deal with people like you. These men will pick you up and you will never be seen again. Do you think my husband is rough? These men will do things to you that will make you wish you were never born. And when they are tired of you they will kill you and burn your body to ashes.”
Hellen’s face is now contorted into a cold snarl that sends a chill down Rhoda’s spine. She knows it is the truth because last year a local hair stylist who was rumored to be pregnant for Kioko disappeared one evening on her way home from the salon. She is yet to be found, a year later.
“So, do I tell Erastus to prepare to take you Machakos?”
“Yes,” Rhoda says, scared. Why is life so unfair?
Hellen smiles and starts to walk away. Then she stops and looks back.
“In fact, I have a better idea. No need to kill your brat. You are right. As a Christian killing doesn’t sit well with my heart. You are going to say that the baby belongs to Mutua. You will say he has been defiling you every evening when you took him food, and you were too scared to speak up. Until today,”
“No, please don’t make me do that! What has Mutua done to you? Please spare him. I will abort the baby as you wished before.”
“I don’t want to you to kill the baby okay? I have a bone to chew with that boy Mutua, and you will help me. He needs to be taught a lesson. I am going to call the police now. When they come, please co-operate. Remember my husband owns them. And he also owns some other very bad people who can hurt you seriously.”
Mutua is fast asleep when the police cars come into the compound, sirens wailing. It is only when he is yanked out of bed by a huge pair of hands that he wakes up.