Purity sits at the dressing mirror and starts applying makeup. The dressing mirror is part of the giant wardrobe that occupies one wall of her bedroom. It has been a few years now, and she still cannot believe that this is her life. But it is, thanks to the man who is sleeping on the bed snoring softly. Today is Saturday, and he is not going to work early. He sleeps in on Saturdays and goes to the office later in the day. He also leaves his office early on Saturdays and picks her at the salon so that they can go out. If they have an event to attend, say a wedding, both of them don’t go to work. They are self-employed so they control their schedules. But today they do not have events to attend, so Purity wants to go to the salon-her salon-so that she can ensure that the early morning customers are attended to. Saturday is the day most women in Juja come to have their hair and nails made. Some come early in the morning, especially those attending functions such as weddings, ruracios, etc. Pury Beauty Parlor has become one of the best beauty parlors in Juja. Women come from as far as Thika and Ruiru, some even from Kasarani and Roysambu, just to come and get attended to there.
Some of Purity’s customers are her former classmates at KU Ruiru campus. Purity came to Nairobi to study. KU Ruiru campus is in Kiambu County, and her current home in Juja is also in Kiambu County, but according to folks back at home, she lives in Nairobi. They could be right. After all, both Ruiru and Juja are in the Nairobi Metropolitan Area.
Her family is poor. Her father was a hopeless drunk who hopped from one club to another, squandering whatever coin he gets. He used to do causal jobs in construction sites, but not for long. Foremen stopped giving him work due to alcoholism when Purity was in class six. Nancy, Purity’s mother, was therefore the sole breadwinner of the family. She did anything and everything to put food on the table. She washed clothes of wealthier families, plucked tea from other people’s farms and tilled other people’s farms. In her lifetime, she has been employed as a house help, a waitress in one of the tiny cafes in their local market and there was a time she was hawking fruits. There is nothing she did not do to earn a coin.
But with seven children, her income was hardly enough, and they all struggled to get the basic necessities of life. But they all had food to eat thanks to Nancy’s efforts, even though they were never assured of the next meal. And they all went to school because other than working hard, their mother knew how to knock doors. All the seven of them got bursaries from CDF, because Nancy was a pain to the three MPs who served their area during the time Purity and her siblings were in school. Of all her siblings, however, Purity is the only one who made it to the university.
She was admitted to Kenyatta University, Ruiru Campus to pursue a degree in economics. Her mother ensured she got a bursary, but it was only ten thousand shillings for that first semester. Nancy also did a fundraiser at home, and after deducting the expenses they had incurred, they netted fifteen thousand shillings. But then she applied for HELB and got it. That was enough to get her admitted to KU.
Money was tight though. After settling her school fees and the hostel fees, she barely had enough to eat. Fortunately, the hostel was offering supper and breakfast, and those were the only meals she was getting. The food was not delicious-more often than not it was ugali and badly cooked cabbage or rice with boiled beans. Breakfast was very thin tea and two small mandazis. Nancy’s food was way better, but Purity did not complain. She was here to get an education, not to get fat; that education is what would help her and her family get out of poverty.
The first and second years were a struggle. There were no fundraisers after the first one that was done to get her in, and she stopped getting bursaries from CDF when she was in second year. An election was conducted when she was in first year, and the new MP of the area, who is still in office, was and still is as corrupt as they come. The only way she could get bursary was by becoming his concubine. Having been brought up as a strict Christian, she refused. So throughout her second year she was surviving on her HELB loan alone. It was tough. She barely had enough to pay for her tuition and hostel accommodation.
And then when she was just starting her third year in campus, her father fell sick. His years of drinking finally led to a liver disease. Nancy had NHIF cover that included him, but it was not enough for his treatment. She organized a fundraiser but the money was not enough. When Purity got her HELB loan, she sent all the money to her mother for his treatment. That left her exposed, because part of her tuition fee was unpaid, she was facing eviction from the hostel and her father was still untreated. She prayed and cried, but no solution was forthcoming.
One Sunday, when she could not take it anymore, she stood in front of the Christian Union congregation and opened up to them. She begged them to pray for her. The preacher who had been invited by the CU committee that day was a man called Boniface. In his introduction, he said he was a businessman, a widower, and the father of three grown children. He gave an earnest sermon on “The Heart of Gratitude.”
After the service, he called Purity and promised to help her. He took her out to lunch. They talked about themselves. He told her that his wife died from breast cancer when their three children were still teenagers, but that the children were now all grown up university graduates. She told him about her family and the struggles her mother gone through to take her through school. They spent the whole afternoon at the restaurant just talking. In the evening he bought her dinner and then dropped her at the hostel. He promised to call her the following day so that he could sort out her financial woes.
He kept his word. The following day he took her to his bank and cleared her tuition fees for the whole year and also settled her hostel fees. He also called her mother, introduced himself and they talked about her father’s medical bill, which he promised to clear. After that day he started calling her every day. Every Sunday he would take her out for dinner. At first she saw him as a father figure, but with time, especially when he started using endearing names on her, she started to fall in love.
By the time he kissed her three months after they first met, she was deeply in love. He opened the beauty parlor for her when she was in fourth year and then allowed her to move in with him in his house near the Kenyatta Road junction in Juja. He even visited her village and paid dowry, making her his wife. He was accompanied by his relatives. His children did not attend though, and he explained that they had been very fond of their mother and would take time to get used to the fact that he now has another wife.
Purity considers herself blessed. Boniface is old enough to be her father, but he is a honorable and who has always treated her with love, dignity and respect. She couldn’t have asked for better.
Jacob watches as she leaves the house. He admits to himself that she is a beautiful woman, but he does not feel any affection for her. If anything, he loathes her. It took him almost a month to track her down and to put in plan to avenge his mother.
Today is the day he will implement that plan.
His first thought had been to kill his father. But then it occurred to him that if the man died first, this woman would take all his wealth. No, she has to die first. Jacob dropped out of form three due to lack of school fees. His two younger sisters did not even make it that far. They did not go to High School. They all live in poverty in the village, yet their father is a successful business man here in the city.
It hasn’t always been this way. When they were young, Boniface was a dotting and attentive husband and father. They all lived here in the city. But then Boniface shipped them to the village, citing economic hardship. Jacob was in form two, his sister Naomi in class seven and the other sister Maureen in class five. Boniface paid their fees in local primary schools for one more year and then stopped. He never came back to the village.
Jacob became a boda boda rider while his two sisters work as house helps. Jacob started looking for their father when their mother fell ill. She was diagnosed with a heart disease, and needed a heart surgery. With no money for medication, Jacob watched helplessly as his mother wasted away. Then it occurred to him that he could save her if he found his father, her husband. He tracked his father down; it took him four months to find his office. Boniface had moved from the tiny, cluttered office he had in Imenti House and is now working from a posh office in Anniversary Towers. Over the years he has become extremely wealthy. But when they met, Boniface was not excited to see his son. He threw Jacob out of the office and told him he didn’t care whether ‘that witch’ lived or died.
That is when Jacob thought about killing him. But it occurred to him that his father must have another woman. His father no longer lived in Kayole, where they had lived as a family, but Jacob was able to find his home in Juja. That is when he found out about this woman. He has been operating his boda boda here for three weeks, and has used that time to study her routine. He has even carried her to her hair salon several times. He knows her name is Purity, and according to him, she is the real witch. She is the one who has been eating his father’s money while they suffered in the village. She is responsible for his mother’s death.
Today she will pay. He will kill her slowly and painfully.
He starts his motorbike and approaches the gate ahead of his colleagues and when she emerges, he is ready. She hops at the back after greeting him warmly, and they start moving. When they get to the main road, instead of moving towards Juja, Jacob steers the motorcycle towards Gatundu. By the time she realises what is happening, they have left the populated area at Thika Road/Kenyatta Road Junction.
She is screaming as they exit the main Kenyatta Road and hit a dirt road, but there is no one around to help. She is now at his mercy, but he will show her no mercy.
Image by Ronald Plett from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/wheeler-motorcycle-water-nature-3154449/
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