(Continued from Deadbeat Father III)
Purity opens her eyes slowly. She has not yet exited the land of the living, and she is not experiencing any pain. That is surprising. She stares down at her stomach: there is no wound. She realises that Jacob is crying, and has dropped the knife.
“I hate you,” he says bitterly. “And I want to avenge my mother. But I am not a murderer.”
“Believe me sir when I say that I did not know that your father was married. I would never have gone near him. But Boniface showed me your mother’s grave. It is right there behind the house we have been living in. He showed me photos of your mother and sisters, although to be honest he never showed me yours. I didn’t know he had a son…”
Jacob suddenly stops crying and stares at Purity.
“He showed you photos of Naomi and Maureen?”
Purity is confused.
“No, he told me they are called Cherry and Charlotte. He told me they live and work in the UK. They both studied at Oxford University. Inside the house all those photos, including photos of him and your mother, are all over the walls. He wanted to remove them after I moved in but I stopped him. I told him that I had not come to replace them, and that they would always be part of him. I have added a few of our photos, but I did not remove your mother’s and your sisters’. But why would he lie to me about the names of your sisters? And why aren’t you in any of the photos?”
Jacob’s face falls as realization hits him.
“What is the name on the grave that he showed you?”
“Sophia Waridi. Isn’t that your mother’s name?”
“No. My mother’s name is Priscilla Achieng. When did you marry my father?”
“Two years ago, but we started seeing each other three years ago.”
“Then he obviously had another wife before you. Those photos are not photos of my sisters. Okay, they are my sisters I guess, but they are not my mother’s daughters. Boniface hasn’t seen Naomi and Maureen ever since he dumped us in the village. I was in High School, but my sisters were in primary school then.”
“What happened to your mother? Why did you blame me for her death?”
“My mother died only two months ago from a heart disease. She needed surgery but we had no money. We tried doing fundraisers but our village is poor. Finally, I decided to come and look for our father. I first went to Kayole where we had been living but he had moved. A few of our neighbors were still in the area, and they told me that he moved out shortly after he took us to the village. It took me a whole four months to find him.”
“How did you eventually find him?”
“Post Office. I had tried calling him on the telephone years ago. His secretary confirmed that indeed I had reached his office. She told me to hold on so that she could connect me to him. And then she suddenly hang up. I tried again and I kept getting disconnected. When I tried the following day I was told that the number was no longer in service. I concluded that he didn’t want to talk to me, so I never tried again.
But this time I was desperate.
When I was told that he had left Kayole, the only other place I knew I could get him was the Post Office in Kayole. Fortunately, our box was on the outside, so I could see it from across the road. I decided that I would watch it until he came to collect his mail. Then I would reach out to him. I waited for four months before someone opened that box. And it wasn’t him.”
“Where were you staying all this time?”
“One of the neighbors I have told you about is the one who hosted me. I had my motorcycle so was carrying people here and there while watching the post office, and I would give my host whatever remained after I fueled the bike. That is probably the reason I stayed for so long before I saw someone open that box: I wasn’t at the post office full time. But then I didn’t want to be a burden to my host.”
“So who opened the box?”
“His employee I think. He was riding a motorcycle, but it was not a boda boda. It was a company motorcycle with a logo on a small box that was at the back of the bike. The name on the logo was the same name my father has been using for his insurance firm. The name then was BonPri Insurance Agents while the name on the logo was BonPri Group Limited. BonPri was of course coined from his name Boniface and my mother’s, Priscilla. The man took a bunch of letters from the box, put them in the small box at the back of the motorcycle and rode away. I followed him until he stopped outside Anniversary Towers. I followed him all the way in. I didn’t know what excuse I would use to see my father, because I knew the secretary might stop me. And I couldn’t force my way through because I didn’t know where his office was. Fortunately, I got in when he was getting out and we met at the reception.”
“Was he happy to see you?”
“Not at all. He threw me out of his office and told me he never wants to see me again.”
“In the presence of his staff?”
“Only the receptionist and the rider were present at the reception, but other employees could probably hear us from their cubicles. I was so furious. At first I thought I should kill him. I would go to jail but at least my sisters would inherit his wealth, and if my mother stayed alive for a few more months, she could use the inheritance money for her surgery. But then it occurred to me that a man like him would have another wife who would inherit that wealth, so I would go to jail or nothing. So I stalked him until I found his home. Then I found out about you and I laid out a plan to kill you and then later kill him as well. I scouted this place until I found this house and completed plans to kill you.
Ever since he threw me out of his office I have been living with deep hatred for you and for him. And then my mother died and my hatred doubled. I wanted to avenge her death. I so very much wanted to kill you and Boniface.”
“What stopped you from killing me?” Purity asks cautiously.
Jacob sighs. Tears start rolling down his cheeks once again.
“My mother. I heard her voice in my head telling me that if I killed you I would have become worse than Boniface. She reminded me that vengeance belongs to the Lord. Mother was a good woman. She brought me up and my sisters in the ways of the Lord. At that very last moment I could not bring myself to let her down by committing murder.”
“So what now?”
“I will take you back to Juja. You can take me to the police if you want. But I don’t want to harm you anymore. You are not to blame for what happened to my mother, my siblings and I. It is all on Boniface, but I won’t harm him either. I will leave it all to God. Mother is dead and she is not coming back no matter what I do. But as she always told us, vengeance belongs to the Lord.”
You are a good person, Jacob. I will not take you to the station. In fact, I want to help you. Did you say you dropped out of school?”
“Yes. I dropped out in form three, Naomi in class seven and Maureen in class five.”
“Would you like to go back?”
“Of course! Life is hard out here. If I got educated I think I would have a better chance of securing my children’s future.”
“If Boniface threw you out, I don’t think he will want to help you. But don’t worry, I will somehow get money from him and take you back to school; all the three of you. I will make sure you all get education up to university.”
“Can you do that?”
“Of course I can, and I will. You have said he took you to the village. Was it your mother’s village?”
“No, his own. We actually live on his ancestral land.”
“But he told me he is an orphan and grew up in a children’s home here in Nairobi. He said he didn’t know anything about his roots. Even the people he brought to our home when he came to pay dowry were his friends and church mates.”
“He is a liar. Both his mother and father are still alive, even though they are old now. They have been very good to us ever since he dumped us there. His brothers and sisters also live there, although we are all very poor.”
“Boniface has always been very kind to me, and I have always thought he is the nicest man on earth. I had no idea he could be this cruel.”
“He is a monster. Come on, let’s get out of here.”
Suddenly, just as they are rising, the wooden door bursts open, and before they can make sense of what is happening, someone starts shooting at them.
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