I have recently been receiving emails and messages from some of you asking whether I still write. The thing is, Facebook uses complicated algorithms to determine who sees what. To be certain that you will be getting timely updates, kindly joint the Sanctuary Side WhatsApp group. One of you voiced a concern that she doesn’t want to get bugged with messages all day long. Have no fear. A conversation may arise about a story once in a while, but what you will mostly be getting in the group are my (story) posts on Tuesdays and Fridays. If you are interested, kindly text me or WhatsApp me at 0105571156 so that I can add you to the group.
PS. Do me one more favor. You see that friend of yours that likes reading? Why don’t you invite him/her to Sanctuary Side so that we can grow our little community? Thanks in advance-Edward.)
(Continued from Another Woman’s Husband II)
At first Edith does not realize where she is. She checks her surroundings and realizes that she is lying on a couch in an office. She recognizes the woman seated on the desk across from her: it is Equity Bank’s operations manager, Jane Aluoch. They attend the same church, so they know each other well. They are actually friends, although Jane is a decade younger. Edith rises from the couch and sits upright.
“What am I doing here? And where are we, Jane?” Edith asks. It is quite obvious that the tastefully furnished office is not Jane’s. All the offices at the Equity Bank branch where Jane works are practical and functional, with nothing lavish or luxurious. Not even the branch manager has an office like this one.
“You passed out at the bank. As you are aware, we do not have couches at the bank so there was nowhere we could put you to lie down. This office belongs to a friend of mine. She allowed me to borrow it until you regain your consciousness.”
Edith suddenly feels embarrassed. Slowly, the details of her conversation with the teller come to the fore of her mind and her embarrassment grows.
“I collapsed in the banking hall?”
“What really happened Edith? The teller told the branch manager and I that someone apparently hacked into your bank account and wiped out your savings.”
Jane has risen from the desk and is making two cups of coffee. On one corner of the office, there is an electric jug, a thermos flask, three cups, saucers and tea spoons, a bowl of sugar and tins of coffee, chocolate and milo. Edith has already decided that this is not a government office. Unless one is a senior official, government offices are often furnished cheaply. The owner of this office is a businessperson, and the business is doing well. Edith tries to think what business the owner of this office could be running, but her mind draws blanks. She has never really thought much about the other offices in the building that houses the bank. Most of them are in the upper floors, and she has never had reason to go up there. Her business in this building is usually with the bank, and the bank is on the ground floor.
She rises from the couch and walks to the window. The view suggests that they are on the first floor of the building; the distance to the ground is one someone can jump without risking serious injury. She turns around and surveys the office. There is nothing in the office to suggest the kind of business that the owner of the office would be engaged in.
“What does your friend do?”
“The owner of this office.”
“She is a real estate agent,” Jane replies, while handing her friend a cup of coffee. “Look Edith, I am not trying to pry into your affairs. But if there has been a breach in our systems, I need to know. Some things are not adding up.”
“When you passed out, we called your husband to report suspicious activity on the account and to inform him about your condition. He told us to give him a moment to verify things, and promised to call us back. Thirty minutes later, I am still waiting for his call. I tried calling him back about ten minutes ago but his phone is off.”
“How long have I been blacked out?”
“Thirty minutes or so.”
“Oh. You didn’t get freaked out that I was dead?”
“We were. But we called a doctor who runs a clinic on third floor. He said you are fine, so we relaxed.”
They stare at each other in silence for a moment, before Edith sighs.
“The account was not hacked, Jane. I lied to the teller.”
“Why would you do that?”
“I needed information. On Sunday evening, Caleb told me that he wants a divorce. He gave me until Friday to leave my matrimonial home. When I came here this morning, I wanted to take money from that account to buy myself a house. But it seems that Caleb beat me to it. So I wanted to know where he took the money. I was shocked to learn that part of the money went to his girlfriend. I think that is when it hit me that he doesn’t just want to leave me, he wants to leave me penniless. I don’t know why that realization made me pass out. May be I am just a weak being.”
“No, you are not. You are just processing too many things at once, and you cannot be faulted if you get overwhelmed. But why would Caleb do that? On Sunday you guys looked okay.”
“On Sunday everything was fine.”
“Have you ever suspected that he could be cheating?”
“Never. Caleb has always been the model husband. When he is not at work he spends the bulk of his time at home, either watching TV or working in his home office. If he needs to talk to the caretakers of our rental houses, they come to the home office. If there are repairs to be done, he organizes it from his home office. He goes to the sites every now and then, especially if we are constructing new houses, but he mostly prefers the solitude of his office-either his office at the water company or his home office. So when would he get the time to see another woman?”
“His routine has never changed? If he is cheating he must have somehow created time for another woman.”
“No, nothing changed. Okay, maybe it did. Last year he applied for a Master’s degree, which was surprising because he always said that he was done with formal education. He really struggled with his Bachelor’s degree. He attends classes on Saturdays.”
“Are you sure he registered for the degree?”
“Why would he lie to me?”
“Come on, Edith. It is not like he could tell you that he needs Saturdays off to see his girlfriend.”
Edith is silent for a while as she digests this new angle. She admits to herself that Jane could be right. For the past nine months, Caleb has been going away for the whole day on Saturday. He leaves the house at 7 am and does not come back until late in the evening. Edith has never thought much about it. Knowing how much he struggled to complete his undergraduate degree, Edith understood why he had to put so much effort in his studies. After all, Saturday is the only day he could fully devote to his studies.
“You are right. He probably did not register for the degree. And even if he did, he probably spends part of his day in school and the other part with his girlfriend.”
“I am so sorry, Edith. What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. I had hoped that we could part like civilized people; you know split the property because we both sacrificed for it and then part ways without drama. But it seems Caleb wants to freeze me out of the property.”
“Get a lawyer and fight for what is yours.”
“I don’t even have the money for a lawyer, Jane.”
“But you still have a salary, right? I have a lawyer friend. She can help out, and she is very flexible with payments, as long as you agree on a payment plan and you stick to it.”
“Let me think about this okay? This is all too much for me to process at once.”
“It is okay, I understand. If you need anything at all, do not hesitate to call me.”
After parting with her friend Jane, Edith calls Karen and asks for more time to get the money, explaining that she is having a problem with the bank. She does not specify what kind of problem, and Karen does not ask. After that she heads back home. She decides against going to see her pastor, and chooses to call him instead. She has also decided to call her children. But she will make all those calls from her house-the house she is about to lose.
When she gets home she opens her gate and parks her car on the grass in front of the house, without bothering to take it to the carport. She walks up to the porch, and as she digs into her handbag fishing for her house keys, she notices cartons on the porch. They are full, like someone has packed ready to move. She finds her keys before she makes sense of it, and tries to open the door. The key goes to the lock alright, but it does not turn. She pulls it out and studies it. It is the same key she has used to open this door for sixteen years. She tries again, but she has already noticed that the lock is new. Someone has changed it.
That is when it suddenly occurs to her that the boxes on the porch are full of her stuff. Caleb is throwing her out of the house. She suddenly becomes very furious. Why is he treating her like this? She calls him, but he refuses to pick up her calls.
Edith calls her children as she had planned. She starts with Johnson, but he does not pick up the phone. She remembers that it is night time in the US, and her son is probably asleep. She sends him a series of messages and a short video showing her things on the porch. Next she calls Liam. Madrid is only one hour behind the East African Time Zone, so he cannot be asleep. But he doesn’t pick up either, so she assumes he is training with his teammates. She sends him the same messages that she has sent his brother Johnson. Finally, she calls her daughter Grace. She hopes the girl is not in class, because she desperately needs to talk to one of them.
“Mom,” the girl answers coolly. Something is not right.
“Grace, are you okay?”
“Why would I not be?”
The response is bordering on rude.
“I don’t know, and that is why I am asking.”
“How do you expect me to be okay mom, after what you did?”
“What did I do?”
“Stop playing dumb mother. I just don’t know who you are any more.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Dad called us in the morning, before Johnson went to bed. He said that he is divorcing you because he found out that you have been cheating on him.”
“He said you have been sleeping with King, my ex. Like seriously mother, if you really had to cheat on dad, why did it have to be with my ex? King is what, thirty years younger than you? Don’t you have any shame mother?”
(I will wrap up this story on Friday, so come prepared to grab your copy of the novella for only Kshs. 100)
Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/woman-sad-portrait-crying-2048905/
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