(Continued from Daddy’s Flame II)
Peninah is dead. After leaning on her car window to rest, she did not wake up. Tess rushed to her grandfather’s compound to get help, but when she and her grandfather Geoffrey finally got Peninah to hospital, she was declared dead on arrival. Geoffrey is inconsolable, and Tess has started fearing that she might lose her grandfather too. His blood pressure and blood sugars have gone up, and he had had to be admitted in hospital. Peninah was his only child, and ever since the death of his wife Rachel, she was also his closest friend.
Tess is devastated, but she knows that she has to be strong for her family. She is taking charge of the funeral preparations, and she has already confronted her father a couple of times over Patricia. She had made it clear that she doesn’t want to see his lover in the meetings or in the funeral.
“You hurt and humiliated mother on her last day on earth. In fact, you are probably the reason she died so suddenly,” she shouted at him when she heard him talking to Patricia on phone. “I will not allow you to humiliate her in death. If that woman shows up in this house I will beat her senseless.”
“Shut up Teresia. You are going to respect me as your father.”
“Or what daddy? Or what? You will beat me again? Okay, beat me! You can flog me all you want, but mark my words, if I see that woman anywhere where people are meeting to honor my mother, she will leave the place bleeding.”
Tess is the complete opposite of her late mother. While Peninah was a nice and pleasant lady who avoided confrontations, Tess is a fireball. She is stubborn and radical, with a very short temper. Ironically, she is also very compassionate and goes out of her way to help people who are in trouble. She is a nice person, until she is provoked. That is when sparks start to fly.
Peninah took after her father Geoffrey, who is a gentleman in every respect. But ever since Tess was a little girl, both Peninah and Geoffrey agreed that she had taken after her late grandmother Rachel. Rachel and Geoffrey had been the classic example of “opposites attract”: a calm, pleasant man married to a stubborn, defiant woman. But they were an adorable couple who complemented each other for close to twenty years, until a horrible road accident took Rachel away.
Peninah’s death throws Karanga into mourning, and her funeral is overflowing with mourners. She was an iconic figure within the township and the surrounding villages. She founded Karanga Sacco as a self-help group, and spearheaded its growth to its current status of a reputable microfinance institution. She was the chairlady of the group when it was founded and until her death was the Chief Executive Officer of the Sacco. Beyond the normal Sacco services of taking savings of members and giving loans, Karanga Sacco now has other banking products such as current accounts, junior accounts, fixed deposit accounts and corporate accounts.
The Sacco is popular with farmers and business people in Karanga. They see it as their very own bank. It started as a self-help group of women poultry farmers in Karanga. As Peninah’s poultry business flourished, so did the requests for help she would get from locals. Many of these were women who were struggling to feed their families as their husbands downed their miseries in local pubs.
Peninah knew she would not be able to help all these women financially, so she decided to form a self-help group for them. She started with a group of fifteen women. Since they did not have any money, she started them off by buying them chicks and feeds and then showed them how to take care of them in their homesteads. Peninah split her time between managing her farm and helping other women grow theirs. When the chicken matured, she marketed the eggs and meat alongside her own.
Under her mentorship, the fifteen women grew into business ladies in their own right within a couple of years. Some abandoned poultry farming and branched out to other businesses but still retained their membership in the group. Peninah felt it was time to take in another group of women but she chose to do it differently. She and the fifteen women she had mentored registered themselves as Karanga Women Self- Help Group. The fifteen elected her as the Chairperson and elected other officials from amongst themselves. The officials opened an account at Cooperative Bank, Karanga.
The sixteen members of Karanga Women Self-Help Group took it upon themselves to mentor other women. As the numbers swelled, and as the women became more successful in their small enterprises, Peninah knew it was time to move the group to a new level. She sold the idea of turning the group into a Sacco to the other fifteen women, and since the women always believed in her, they agreed to follow her vision.
The Sacco has since opened up its membership to any interested adult, men included. Each member is expected to save Kshs. 100 every day with the Sacco. One can save daily, weekly (Kshs. 700) or monthly (Kshs. 2800). The money is used to give loans to members at low-interest rates. As the Sacco grew, Peninah went back to school and did an MBA, in addition to attending numerous business workshops. Her efforts bore fruits, and Karanga Sacco was awarded as the best managed Sacco in 2017. Members have been earning dividends since 2015.
The people of Karanga see her as the savior of the local economy. Most of Karanga’s small businesses have been flourishing with the support of Karanga Sacco. That is why thousands are braving the sun at Karanga Secondary School’s field where the funeral service is being held. They have closed their businesses in honor of a woman who supported those businesses for years.
Tess can feel bile rising up her throat when she sees Patricia walk to the tent. She can see her father watching her closely, so she resists the urge to go and beat up the woman. There are three tents set up to accommodate family, colleagues and close associates, which politicians interpret to include themselves. Patricia chooses to go and sit in the middle one. Since the front row is occupied immediate family and the County Governor, Patricia plants herself on the second row, directly behind Martin and next to the area MP.
Tess ignores her even though her heart is brewing with hate. She has another plan cooking up her sleeves. After the sermon, tributes start flowing. Her grandfather, who has been discharged from hospital, gives the first tribute. It is an emotional moment for the old man, and he breaks down several times. Martin gives the second tribute, and he smoothly recites remarks about his marital life that he has given before in his motivational speeches.
Tess manipulated the MC into allowing her to give the final tribute, after her father and her grandfather. She starts off by sweetly recounting the sacrifices her mother made for her children, husband, father and community at large. She builds up slowly to the climax she has planned for days.
“My mother was a selfless woman. The day she died also happened to be my father’s birthday. Although she was in pain, she insisted that that day she would be the one to make dinner for our father. I tried to dissuade her, but she told me and I quote: “ever since I met your father at the University twenty seven years ago, I have always made a special dinner for him on his birthday. I have done that twenty six times, and cancer will not stop me from doing it the twenty seventh time.”
I figured that if cancer couldn’t stop her, I wouldn’t succeed in stopping her either. So I let her. By eight in the evening, my father had not come home, so my mother said that we should take dinner to his office.
“That man works too hard,” she said.
My brother Phil was spending time with grandpa, and Tony was in school. So Mom and I drove alone all the way to Karanga Hospital. But we did not enjoy that dinner because when we got to dad’s office, we found him having sex with a young woman about my age.”
The crowd gasps collectively. Tess has decided that saying they caught them having sex will have a greater shock effect on the crowd than saying they were kissing and petting. Martin rises and tries to wrestle the microphone from her but the crowd boos him and two young men manhandle him back to his seat. When everything quietens down, Tess continues.
“My mother was heartbroken. Catching him with another woman was hard, but it was not even the worst thing. The worst part was hearing him tell that woman that ‘My wife is dying. After she dies, you and I will be together forever.”
I was so incensed that I slapped the woman. My dad beat me up until my frail mother moved to defend me. You have all seen him a few seconds ago trying to get violent with me just because I mentioned his woman. Anyway, my mother and I drove back home with the dinner that she had so lovingly prepared. It was never to be eaten, because mother died less than an hour after we left my father’s office. Perhaps the pain would have been less if the matter had ended there. But even in death, my father continues to disrespect mom, because he has brought his shameless lover to this event. She is the woman seated directly behind him. She is here to congratulate him for successfully burying his wife, and tonight she will definitely give him passionate sex as a reward. How gross can human beings get?”
All eyes are now trained on Patricia, and the crowd is murmuring loudly. Patricia defiantly stares straight ahead. Martin rises again but the crowd boos him again and he quickly retreats to his seat. The Governor and the area MP advise Martin and Patricia to leave, because the crowd is getting worked up and they fear that there might be violence.
As Patricia and Martin are led away by the Governor’s security detail, Patricia narrows her eyes and stares at Tess for a brief but intense period. The message is clear: the war has just begun.
Image by David Shaw from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/vectors/black-girl-head-wavy-hair-1897400/
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