(Continued from Cecilia III)
Sharon has not lived with her mother ever since the attack on their home. She stayed with their pastor and his family for a brief period, until she resumed school after Maxwell paid the insurance money. The pastors, Reverend Levi and his wife Mariam, have been very kind to Sharon and her mother. Since returning to school, Sharon hops from one relative to another every time the school closes or when they go for midterm break. She avoids being in one place for too long to avoid setting up a pattern that Maxwell and his goons can use to plan another attack. She is now in her final term and is preparing to sit for her KCSE in about a month. She is working hard to get into university. The insurance money gave them some reprieve from the biting effects of poverty, but Sharon is determined to break those chains permanently through education.
When they got paid by Maxwell, the first thing that Sharon’s mother, Dorothy, did was to clear her fees arrears. Then she used part of the money to buy a washing machine and set up a dry-cleaning business. This idea was given to her by Reverend Levi and his wife. Before the money came, one of the many things that she did to feed herself and her daughter was washing clothes in people’s homes. Reverend Levi and Mariam were her customers, and she always went to their house twice a week to wash their clothes and do general cleaning.
After settling on the business idea, Mariam helped her find a suitable location and helped her navigate the licensing red tape. Reverend Levi, who is more knowledgeable about electronics, went with her when she went to shop for a washing machine. Mariam helped her set the prices and even helped her learn how to operate the machine from YouTube. They mentored her into the business, as they are both experienced businesspeople. Mariam operates a clothes store as well as a hair salon. Her husband, in addition to leading the church, operates a wholesale shop. They understand the principles of business in general and have been very instrumental in helping Dorothy get her footing as a businesswoman. Mariam and Levi were her first customers at the shop, and to date, they bring their suits to her. They also encouraged their friends and church members to support the business. In the space of less than a year, Dorothy’s laundry shop is the most popular in town.
That is not the only support that they gave her. Maxwell paid Dorothy the full Kshs. 700, 000 and did not deduct anything. As a staunch Christian, Dorothy took Kshs. 70, 000 to her pastor as tithe. Reverend Levi accepted the tithe, but two days later he “gifted” her Kshs. 77, 000. Dorothy protested, saying she did not want her tithe back, because she wanted to unlock her blessings. Levi told her that the Kshs. 77, 000 was a gift to her from his own resources and not a refund of her tithe. That is why, he explained, he did not give her Kshs. 70,000. Dorothy accepted, but the following Sunday she gave Kshs. 7, 700 to the church as a tithe.
The actions of the pastor ensured that while she complied with her religious duties, she got to keep her money. Dorothy understood what the pastor had done for her and she appreciated it. That is not all. Mariam also helped her to manage her finances and taught her to pay herself a salary and showed her how to manage the operating costs of her new business. She helped her to open a bank account for the business. This has ensured that even though Dorothy is not highly educated, she runs her business professionally.
Dorothy’s life is comfortable, and she is not worried about Sharon’s university fees. The girl has been performing well in school and will most likely get government sponsorship.
After the court session, Dorothy takes her daughter out for lunch, after which Sharon will go back to school. They eat as they chat about Sharon’s KCSE exam as well as her future. After her experience with Maxwell, Sharon has decided that she wants to be a lawyer. She told her mother that she wanted to be like a lawyer Cherry so that she could help people. She also wants to save people from crooks like Maxwell. The one thing they don’t talk about is the experience she underwent. After Dorothy learned what had happened, she and her daughter talked at length and cried for a whole night. Reverend Levi and his wife Mariam recommended a therapist, and they paid for the services. Sharon still sees the therapist whenever schools close. Dorothy and Sharon never talk about what happened, but the mother can see that the therapist is doing a good job. Slowly by slowly, Sharon has returned to her old inspired self.
After their meal, Dorothy walks his daughter to the matatu stage. Sharon will board a matatu to the school from there. The one thing that gives Dorothy comfort is that the school is on a road so the matatu will drop her right at the school gate. Nothing can happen to her. They are just walking and talking when a car stops and the driver rolls down the window. He is a middle-aged man in a suit, and next to him is a schoolgirl wearing a uniform similar to Sharon’s.
“Are you going to St. Angela’s Girls’?” the man asks.
“Yes, we are,” Dorothy says hesitantly. She knows that the man might offer her daughter a ride, and she is wondering how to politely turn him down. She doesn’t want her daughter to go with a stranger, even though he is obviously a parent at the school where Sharon schools.
“I can drop you there. Please get in.”
“We don’t want to be a bother…”
“It’s not a bother at all. I am heading there anyway, and I am coming right back. We can drop the children and then I can bring you back, in case you are worried about the safety of your daughter in the hands of strangers. As a parent, I do understand your concern. But I mean no harm. Besides, my daughter is new at the school, so she might benefit by making a new friend.”
That calms Dorothy somewhat. This is indeed just a concerned parent. And since he has promised to bring her back, she can take advantage and take her daughter to school this once. She tries to open the back door but it does not open. The schoolgirl steps out of the car to open the doors for them.
“Come and sit at the front, madam. You can talk old people stuff with dad,” the girl says sweetly. Dorothy smiles and slides into the front seat. The girl opens the back door and allows Sharon to enter first. Once they enter, the door clicks shut, and the car starts moving.
“My name is Anita, what is yours?”
“Sharon. What class are you in? I haven’t seen you around the school.”
“Oh, that is because I am new. I only joined this term. I am in 3 West.”
“That is awesome. You and your father are so kind.”
“He is not my father.”
“He is not?”
“No, of course not. Douglas is my brother.”
“It must be cool to have a big brother. I always wished I could have siblings.”
“Why don’t you?”
“I guess you need a father for that. My dad died when I was little so it has always been me and mum.”
“That is so sad. But don’t worry, you will be reunited with him soon.”
“Yeah, of course, we will all die someday. I am sure I will meet Father in heaven. Mother tells me that he was such a kind man.”
“Don’t worry darling. You and your mother will see him soon. My brother and I will make sure of that.”
Dorothy turns sharply and looks at the girl.
“What is she talking about?” she asks the driver, who is ostensibly her brother. Before answering, the driver takes a diversion and leaves the highway that leads to St. Angela’s Girls. They are now on a dirt road, and both Dorothy and Sharon have no idea where they are going. This is becoming freaking now.
“Anita and I are Maxwell’s children,” the driver says quietly with a cold voice. “Anita is actually older than me, it’s only that she has a small body and a pretty face and so looks good in a school uniform. We did that to catch you. You have made our father suffer a lot these last few weeks, so we made it our business to make sure you pay for that. You will have to die.”
Sharon tries to open the door so that she can jump out but it is locked. She turns to the other girl and sees the pistol for the first time. She starts screaming.
“Just shut up!” Anita hisses. “Nobody is going to help you in this place. And if you piss us off, we will ensure that you die a very slow and painful death. You know we can decide to pluck your nails one by one…then go your teeth…then start cutting off your fingers…”
Dorothy starts sobbing softly.
“I am sorry my daughter. I failed you today. I should not have accepted this ride.”
Dorothy’s tears touch a nerve in her daughter, and the younger woman stops screaming.
“None of this is your fault, Mother,” Sharon says with a surprising sense of calm. She is now staring at Anita with eyes full of hatred. “If we die today, we will die with honor. As these criminals said, we will join Dad in heaven, and they can remain with their criminal of a father on this wretched earth.”
Anita hits her on the head with the butt of the gun.
“You are not going to talk ill of my father, you fool. I will not let you!”
“Then make me!” Sharon shouts back. “I will talk about him the way I want. He is a rapist, a criminal…”
Anita hits her again.
“Calm down Anita. Don’t let her get under your skin.”
“You don’t know how much I hate these fools, bro,” she replies. She is quite literally shaking with anger. “Have you seen how harassed-looking dad has been of late? He doesn’t even have an appetite. He is now diabetic; his blood pressure is always over the roof…”
“It’s probably just HIV killing him, Anita,” Sharon says calmly. “Or maybe some of the women he has raped cursed him. Or is it the many people whose money he has stolen?”
“Shut up!” Anita screams. “If you don’t shut your beak right now, I will kill you right here in this car.”
“It really doesn’t matter where you kill me from, Anita. I will just as dead if you shoot me here as I will be when you kill me elsewhere. So, let’s get done with it. Kill us and drop our bodies on the road. Then you and your brother can go and celebrate by sleeping with each other. After all, you are products of sexual immorality. Your father taught you the basics of incest, didn’t he?”
Anita cannot take it anymore, in spite of her brother’s pleas. She corks her pistol, aims it at Sharon’s head, and fires twice in quick succession.
(This is the last free chapter of this story. To find out what became of Cecilia and Sharon, kindly follow the instructions below to grab your copy of the novella for only Kshs. 100.)
Image from Chrystal Elizabeth from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/teacher-bookworm-glasses-professor-359311/
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