Romance

A Wealthy Widow in Kangema-By Edward Maroncha

Judith is driving along the nearly deserted Kangema-Murang’a Road when he calls. It is evening, at about 6 pm. She looks at the phone and sneers. What exactly is this man’s problem? She is grateful that he was there for her when her husband died. But he is now becoming a nag. If he continues like this she might have to leave his church.

His name is Reverend Samuel Gitau, the pastor of the local church she attends. He is slightly older than she is, perhaps forty-five. He is well regarded in Kangema as a solid clergyman of unquestionable integrity. He really helped to calm things down around the time Job was getting buried three years ago. Job’s family was kicking a storm over his burial place. They wanted him buried in Nyeri but she wanted him buried in Kangema. Samuel managed to convince them that Job himself had wanted to be buried in Kangema when he exited the earth. They respect him because he was Job’s closest and childhood friend.  Over the last few months, he has taken a romantic interest in her, but she is not interested partly because she is seeing another man. A man in her class. No offense to the pastor, but she is the biggest contributor in his church. She is practically feeding him, and that is not the kind of man she wants for a husband. She wants either a provider or, considering she is already very wealthy, an equal or almost equal partner.

She and her husband Job built their wealth around the 20 acres of land in Kangema that Job inherited from his father Stanley. The old man Stanley did well for himself in the fifty-eight years he walked on earth before succumbing to cancer. He acquired property in various places. He had inherited five acres of ancestral land in Tetu, Nyeri County. That is where his widow, two other sons, and one unmarried daughter live. The other daughter is married and lives with her husband in his ancestral home in Gatanga. Stanley had bought 20 acres of land in Kangema, Muranga; 25 acres in Gatundu, Kiambu; 42 acres in Mathira, Nyeri and 20 acres in Imenti, Meru. He also acquired two buildings in Nyeri town.

When he died, his widow and children divided the property without drama. Job took the 20 acres in Kangema. His brother Gikonyo got the 25 acres in Gatundu. His other brother Githu got 22 acres in Mathira while the other 20 acres went to his married sister Njeri. His unmarried sister Wambui was the given one of the buildings in Nyeri town alongside an acre of ancestral land. The other building and the 20 acres in Meru remained with their mother.

Job actually received the least acreage, discounting his sister who got a commercial building in town, but that did not bother him. He wanted the Kangema property because it fit in his plans. He and his wife Judith poured their souls into the farm, transforming it into a modern, commercial enterprise. Judith was working at the Ministry of Trade while Job was working in an NGO. They both took loans to develop the property and in their early years, they could barely afford any luxuries. Two major losses nearly broke them, but they eventually turned the farm around into a profitable commercial entity. Through the profits from the farm, they were able to purchase more land around Murang’a County and grow the farming enterprise. They constructed an office block in Murang’a town which hosts their restaurant, Job Judy Palace, on the ground floor. They also acquired substantial shareholding in leading companies in the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Job eventually resigned from his NGO job to manage the farm and the restaurant full time. Judith followed suit two years later.

But then Job died three years ago and his family ganged up against Judith. They claimed that she was just a gold digger and did not deserve even an inch of their brother’s property. They refused to acknowledge her efforts in growing the wealth of their kin, Job.

Two men came through for her during that trying time: Reverend Samuel and Alex, the lawyer. Alex has been their lawyer for so long that he became their friend.  He was introduced to Job years ago by a mutual friend and has worked on many of their business transactions over the years. Sadly, his wife Peninah died four years ago from meningitis.

The pastor was an old friend of Job. They grew up together in Nyeri, went to Tetu Primary and Nyeri High School before their paths diverged. Samuel went to St. Paul’s University to study theology while Job went to Kenyatta University to do a Bachelor of Arts in Education. It was a surprise when they found themselves in Nyeri. Samuel was a Presbyterian Minister before resigning to found his own ministry. His wife Susan died ten years ago while giving birth. The child, who would have been their first after years of childlessness, did not survive either.

Now both men are vying for Judith’s attention. Samuel is a lot like Job; warm, compassionate and a perfect gentleman. Alex is a macho man. He is primitive in his thinking, a chauvinist. For some reason Judith finds that appealing, so she has been going his way. They have already made love several times, although Judith has yet to agree to officially be his girlfriend. He has been asking over and over again, and she knows sooner or later she will say yes.

Unlike the pastor who lives a simple life, Alex lives large. He drives a big car and stays in a huge rented apartment in Kilimani. He is always talking about buying a house either in Karen or in Kitsuru, but that has not happened yet. He says he is not in a hurry because he likes his apartment anyway. He is not exactly a brilliant lawyer, and Job always admitted as much, but he always got the job done. He has his own crude ways of getting things done, including bribing officials. That is how he was able to win the succession battles between Judith and her in-laws.

Right now she is heading to his house, where she will be spending the night. Alex does not like the pastor, and perhaps that is part of the reason she is finding him (the pastor) annoying too. He is probably after her money. After all, which poor pastor wouldn’t want to land a wealthy widow? She picks the call nevertheless.

“Hi pastor?”

“Hi Judith, how are you?”

“I am fine, pastor. Look, I am driving. Can we talk later?”

“I will be quick. Are you headed home? I would like to take you out to dinner,”

“No, pastor. I have a date. I am actually running late. Perhaps another day?” she replies, trying to sound pleasant.

“Tomorrow then?”

“I am not so sure about tomorrow. I will call you later so that we can agree on a date.”

She hangs up without waiting for a reply. Sometimes she feels bad about the way she treats the pastor but what is she supposed to do? Of course she cannot tell him that she will spend the night at Alex’s house. He is, after all, still her pastor.

                                                                     ***

Alex’s apartment appears large, but not to Judy. Her farmhouse in Kangema is even larger. It took Job and her three years to complete building. Alex is watching a movie when she arrives. After greetings, she takes a shower then wears one of his T-shirts. She goes to the kitchen and makes two cups of tea. She is already feeling like a wife.

She serves him and snuggles closer to him.

“What do you want to eat for supper?” she asks.

“No, no. Today I am going to cook for you,”

“You cook?” she asks, surprised. Alex is a very traditional man and hardly steps into the kitchen. His late wife Peninah always marveled whenever she visited the farm and Job went to cook for them while they gossiped.

“Yes. Today I want you to sit here, relax while I cook for you,”

“What are you cooking?”

“It is a surprise. In fact, let me get started,” he says. He pauses the movie and heads to the kitchen.

A few seconds later a text message lands on his phone, which he left on the table. She absent-mindedly peeps at it.

It’s just that I can’t bear the thought that will be spending the whole weekend with that slut babe. But I understand it is for our good.

Judith’s heart skips a beat. She watches as Alex closes the door of the kitchen, flashing her a smile. She smiles back, hoping he will not remember his phone. As soon as he closes the door, she takes the phone and goes through the chat.

Alex has a girlfriend. In fact, she is his partner at the law firm, and they are engaged in a con game. They are apparently in love, but they sleep with other people for commercial gain. She targets wealthy men and he targets wealthy women. Suddenly it becomes clear to Judith why the law firm largely deals with succession and divorce. It is not for the fees: most of the divorcees and widow(er)s are eventually robbed of their settlements through romantic overtures of the partners. Some are killed, and Judith realizes she is one of the unfortunate ones who might lose her life. Because she has been involved in the farm business from the word go, she did not need a lawyer’s advice to run it after Job’s death. And that makes it hard for Alex and his girlfriend to con her.

His plan in this case, which is evident in the chat, is simple: he will kill her then forge a will where he leaves three-quarters of her wealth to himself and the other quarter to her only child, fourteen-year-old Veronica. He will also appoint himself Veronica’s guardian, effectively putting her share under his care. To sidestep the issue of conflict of interest, the Will will ostensibly be drawn by another law firm, a bunch of shady lawyers that Alex and his partner will pay for the purpose. Judith has actually met them once. They drafted an agreement for her at a time that Alex said he was overwhelmed by a big court case and referred her to them. After her death, it will be easy. Alex knows the judges to bribe in order to get the grant confirmed and make him wealthier.

The food he is ostensibly preparing has in fact been ordered from an online company and is hidden somewhere in the kitchen. What he is doing is warming and poisoning it. His plate will have a little poison, enough to make him sick but not kill him. His girlfriend has paid a few other people living in different places in the city to order food from the same company and lace it with poison.

With several people falling sick at the same time after eating food from the company, everyone will blame the company for poisoned food. Nobody will suspect that the only person to die from the epidemic will actually have been murdered by the man she loved, the man who would be groaning in pain in the same hospital that declared her dead. Except that he will be discharged the following day and get ready to inherit incredible wealth from the dead woman.

Judith thinks about bolting from the house and driving out before he leaves the kitchen. Maybe she can make it past the gate before he asks the gateman not to let her out. She is now very afraid. She doesn’t intend to eat the food, but isn’t this man capable of strangling her if his other plan fails? Nobody knows she is here. He would only need to drop her body and car in a river elsewhere and make it look like an accident. He has the ability to bribe cops to kill an investigation before it gets anywhere. She wishes she had told Reverend Samuel who her date was.

Just as she is grabbing her car keys, the kitchen door opens and Alex appears, holding two plates of food.

“Are you going somewhere?” he asks, looking at her suspiciously. Then he notices his phone on the table and his face darkens.

(Continued here)

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/africa-woman-people-african-black-811866/

                                           ***

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See you all next Friday for the next part of the series we have started today.

Warmly,

Edward.

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