Head of the Household II-By Edward Maroncha

(Continued from Head of the Household I)

Beatrice is paralyzed for a moment, not knowing what to do. Should she go after them and cause a scene? But they have already locked themselves in the bedroom, and she will be banging the door like a fool. Should she just take her phone and join her colleagues in the van like nothing happened? But she is sure she cannot concentrate on the seminar. And if she does that, what will happen when she gets back? Will she continue with life as though nothing happened? Will she now have to accept that her house help Nessy is now her co-wife? But that is unacceptable. Everything in this home is hers, except the land on which the house stands. She took a loan to build the house, and she furnished it herself. Even the crops growing on the one acre farm that Ronald’s parents gave to him, she is the one who grows them. She pays someone to till, plant, weed and harvest. She mostly grows maize and beans, but she also has bananas on the farm. She also has a few chicken-seven hens and one cock. Ronald is like a tourist in his own home, never spending even a coin on the household. He just comes to eat, have sex and sleep.


Beatrice is a hardworking and ambitious woman. She has crawled from the very bottom to where she is. Her father Leonard M’Thaara is a self-trained welder who runs a small welding workshop at Mugwaci shopping centre. His wife Anne Kagendo was a janitor at Mugwaci Health Centre before she retired, and now she is a housewife.  With eight children to support, Leonard and Anne were always financially constrained; but they did their best to give the children the best of life. Beatrice was able to complete her high school studies, unlike some of her siblings. She had huge fee arrears, but she was bright and so the school principal usually allowed her to stay in school while the others were sent home for fees.

The principal of Mugwaci Secondary School was a pleasant man called Maxwell Kinyua. He often told her that he could see that she had it in her to make it big in life, and he wanted to help her to get there. Beatrice always told him that she wouldn’t betray his confidence in her. She kept her word: she was the best in her class from form one to form four, and she topped her class in KSCE with a B plain of 65 points. No student had ever scored a B plain at Mugwaci secondary school before. The previous record was held by a girl who had cleared six years earlier, and she had scored a C+ of 58 points.

Everyone was proud of Beatrice, including the principal. But there was a problem: she did not make it to the university as a government sponsored student. That year the cut off was a B+ of 69 points for boys and 67 points for girls. But as fate would have it, the school’s accounts clerk unfortunately passed away the same month KCSE results were announced. Principal Maxwell approached Beatrice and asked her whether she wanted the job.

“I know you do not have any accounting experience or qualifications, but I know you are bright,” he told her. “You scored a B plain in Mathematics and a straight A in Business Studies. I think if you work with Charles (the school bursar) you will get a hang of the job. And you can always do your CPAs while working here. What do you think?”

“I will remain eternally grateful to you sir. I don’t know how I will ever repay your kindness.”

“One day you will be in a position to help someone who needs it. Helping such a person is the only way you can repay me. Come on Monday prepared to start working.”

Beatrice threw herself at her job. Under the guidance of the school bursar, she learned everything that had to be learned. And she did study accounts. She could not afford to take classes, but she enrolled for KASNEB’s CPA exams and studied as a private student. She was getting paid ten thousand shillings per month. Maxwell had written off her school fees arrears so she did not have to pay anything to the school.

Every month when she got paid she would give her father six thousand shillings to go to the expenses of the house since her parents were still housing and feeding her. She would keep the remaining four thousand shillings to herself. She used part of that four thousand shillings for her personal effects such as lotions, hair salon expenses, airtime etc. She saved what was left. It is from her savings that she paid for her KASNEB exams. She studied hard and was confident that she would pass, and she did. She took one section a year, and by the time she left Mugwaci Secondary School, she had cleared CPA 6.

It is shortly after getting her CPA 6 results that she saw an advertisement from Faulu Microfinance Bank and she knew instantly that she wanted to apply. Grateful for what he had done for her, Beatrice approached Principal Maxwell and explained to him that she wanted to advance in her career and therefore she wanted to apply. As usual, Maxwell, who was retiring later that year, urged her on. He not only gave her his blessings, but he also wrote a glowing recommendation letter for her to attach to her application documents. The Bank had stated in the advertisement that they wanted someone with a Bachelor’s degree, but Beatrice applied anyway. She had read somewhere that CPA 6 was an equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree. She put in her papers, and to her surprise, she was hired. The better part of the deal was that she was sent to Gantaraki Branch, which is a ten minute matatu ride from Mugwaci. That meant she could commute from home on a daily basis.

By the time she left Mugwaci Secondary School, the school had doubled her salary from ten thousand to twenty thousand shillings her month. She was already married, and it was Ronald who was controlling her salary. Faulu Microfinance gave her a net starting salary of fifty thousand shillings a month, but she told her husband that she was getting twenty five. That five thousand was enough to justify her move to him, and he never got to know that she was keeping twenty five thousand to herself. That first month after she got her new job, she would have to beg twenty shillings from him every morning for matatu fare: ten shillings for the trip to Gantaraki and ten for the trip back.

Vanzatu Sacco poached her three years after she joined Faulu and hired her as an auditor. The Sacco gave her a net starting salary of a hundred and ten thousand shillings. Just as she had done while at Faulu, she told her husband that her pay was fifty five thousand shillings. She has risen through the ranks over the years, and now she leads the Sacco’s audit team. Her current net salary is two hundred and fifty thousand shillings, but Ronald knows it is one hundred and twenty five.

Whenever she buys furniture, or electronics, she would tell him that she had gotten the money from her chama, to which she contributes weekly from her per diems. The per diem story was not false at the beginning. As an auditor, Beatrice often travelled to the Sacco’s branches just to ensure that their books were in order. Most of the branches are not far, and she could go and come back the same day and still get the out of office per diem. The only deception was that the per diem story masked the fact that she kept half of her salary to herself. Now though, Beatrice is in management as the Chief Internal Auditor, and she doesn’t travel to the branches any more. It is the auditors in her team who do that, while she remains at the headquarters in Gantaraki. But Ronald has no way of knowing that.

Immediately she got hired by Vanzatu Sacco, Beatrice enrolled for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Chuka University, and she graduated four years later, top of her class. The Sacco paid her tuition fees as part of staff development. She got the same offer when she enrolled for a Master’s degree, which she cleared within a year. Ronald raised hell during those five years, and even accused her of cheating because she was attending classes in the evening from five pm to seven pm. Chuka is a thirty minute drive from Mugwaci. To fend off the cheating allegations, she gave him her class time table and told him to be coming to check on her.

“I will actually be very happy to get a ride home instead of scrambling for matatus at night.”

He never showed up at the university, but he also stopped talking about cheating.


Beatrice leaves the house and walks across the fence to her parents-in-law’s house.

“Mother, father, please come,” she calls out as she knocks the door.

“What is it child?” her father-in-law asks. Aphaxard and his wife Margaret are both retired teachers, and they are still in their house. “Have you been crying?”

“Please come with me. There is something I need to show you.”

She leads them back to her house.

“Mother, Father, I cannot take this kind of humiliation anymore,” she tells them when they get inside the house.

“What are you talking about my daughter?” her mother-in-law asks.

“The last door down this corridor leads to my house help’s bedroom. Inside there, Ronald and Nessy are having sex. I found them on this couch here, and they did not even stop when I came in. Ronald simply carried her to her bedroom, both of them naked. You can see their clothes on the floor here.”

“Stop crying Beatrice,” her mother in law says, her tone becoming sharper than before. “If Ronald is sleeping with the house help, you should be asking yourself where you are failing as a wife. What drove him into the arms of another woman? Have you been treating him well? Have you been giving him sex? I think the real problem here is that you have become so absorbed in your work that you have abandoned the needs of your husband.”

Beatrice is too stunned to speak.

(To be continued on Tuesday)


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