(Continued from Head of the Household II)
“Mother, how could you say that? I have given everything for Ronald…”
“Do you cook?” her mother in law asks, cutting her short. “Do you?”
“I cook over the weekends…”
“So you are a wife only over the weekends, isn’t?”
“But mother, I have to work…”
“That is what I am talking about.”
“But that is why I hired Nessy…”
“Nessy has been more of a wife to Ronald than you. She cooks for him, washes his clothes, irons them, takes care of his children…are you surprised that he now sees her as a wife? You brought her in as a co-wife so why are you complaining if she helps you satisfy your shared husband in bed?”
As they are talking, the door to the bedroom opens, and Nessy walks into the sitting room, wearing jeans and a T-shirt. She doesn’t even have a brassiere. She silently picks her clothes and Ronald’s and returns to the bedroom. A moment later, Ronald emerges, fully dressed.
“What is going on here?” he demands. “What is this conference all about?”
“You have quite some nerve to ask that, Ronald!” Beatrice says. “I called…”
“That is not the way you talk to your husband,” Ronald’s mother interrupts. “Don’t you ever learn? If this is how you have been disrespecting him, I am not surprised that he chose that girl over you.”
“Mother, what you are saying is true,” Ronald says. “You don’t want to know the suffering I have been enduring in this house. But now that Beatrice has decided to involve you in our affairs, please sit down and I will tell you what has been happening in this house. I have been suffering in silence.”
Aphaxard and his wife Margaret sit down on the sofas (that Beatrice bought), but Beatrice remains standing.
“You see mother,” Ronald says. “This is the kind of stubbornness I am talking about. This woman cannot even respect a simple instruction like asking her to sit down.”
“Please sit down, my child,” Aphaxard says, speaking for the first time. Out of respect for the old man, Beatrice sits down. Shortly afterwards, Nessy appears with three cups and a flask of tea. She pours tea into the cups, adds sugar and gives one each to Aphaxard, Margaret and Ronald.
“Aren’t you going to give Beatrice tea?” Aphaxard asks.
“Why should she?” Margaret shoots back. “Isn’t Beatrice a woman?”
“Nessy is still an employee of this house,” Aphaxard answers. “Ronald has not paid her dowry, so she is not a member of this family…”
“It is okay Father,” Beatrice says kindly, cutting her father-in-law short. “I don’t need tea anyway.”
Just then, someone clears her throat and Beatrice turns to see her boss standing on the doorway.
“I am sorry to interrupt, but Beatrice, we are still waiting for you.”
Beatrice rises and walks outside the house, taking Magdalene with her to the garden. Magdalene is the CEO of Vanzatu Sacco. She was riding with some of the Sacco staff in the 14 seater Sacco van. The rest of the staff already travelled in the Sacco bus.
“Beatrice, what is going on? You told us that you were just coming to pick your phone.”
“I am so sorry Magdalene, but I don’t think I will attend the seminar.”
“Why? Is everything okay in there?”
“You will not believe it, but when I came here, I found Ronald having sex with the house help on the couch. They weren’t even bothered by my presence. They simply went to the girl’s bedroom and carried on. I fetched my parents-in-law but now my mother-in-law is blaming me for her son’s infidelity. I am crushed Magdalene. I don’t even know what to do. But one thing I know, I am not going to make it to the seminar. Even if I come, I will not concentrate.”
“I understand. I will ask the others to go ahead. So what is your plan?”
“I don’t know. I guess I will go back and listen to Ronald lie to his parents.”
“And after that?”
“I haven’t thought that far.”
“Look, there is a café at Mugwaci Shopping Centre called Riffraff café. Once you are done here, you can find me there.”
“You are not going to the seminar?”
“I am 54 years old Beatrice, and I have been attending these things since I was 28. I will ask Michael (the Deputy CEO) to stand in for me. I might join them tomorrow. What is most important right now is that you are my friend, and you need me.”
“Thank you Magdalene.”
The two women hug and then go their separate ways. Magdalene heads to the gate, while Beatrice goes back to the house.
“What have you told that woman?” Ronald asks sharply when Beatrice gets back to the house. Beatrice is surprised to find Nessy seated on the couch next to Ronald.
“I told her that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the seminar.”
“And what reason did you give for your failure to attend?”
“I told her the truth. I found my husband making love to my house help and therefore I am not in the right mental state to go.”
“But why would you expose your husband to a stranger like that?” Margaret asks. “Don’t you know how to cover the nakedness of your husband?”
“Mother, Ronald willingly removed his clothes before this stranger here. He exposed his nakedness to her willingly. Why would he expect me to cover him? Besides the locked the door of the bedroom and therefore I couldn’t have covered him even if I wanted to.”
“That is not what I mean…”
“I know what you mean mother,” Beatrice says, cutting Margaret short. Her patience with her mother-in-law is wearing thin. “But my point is that I am not willing to lie to cover up for a man who has so blatantly and unapologetically disrespected me.”
“You talk about disrespect?” Ronald snaps. “What do you know about respect? The way you treat me as an afterthought, you call that respect?”
“How have I disrespected you Ronald?” Beatrice asks. “Is it by giving you my salary which I don’t even know what you do with? Is that what you call disrespect? Is it by feeding you and the children using the little per diems that I get from my work? Or is it by taking a loan to buy you a car…”
“That piece of junk is what you call a car?”
The Toyota Premio that Beatrice took a loan to buy is still functional, and although it is still in Ronald’s name, it is now driven by the church driver cum messenger. The church did a Harambee last year and bought Ronald a Toyota Harrier.
“…or is it by taking a loan to build this house?” Beatrice continues, ignoring her husband’s interruption. “Tell me Ronald, is that how I have disrespected you?”
“You talk as if I don’t contribute anything in this house.”
“Do you? Tell me the one thing that you contribute towards in this house. I buy food, I pay electricity bills, I pay water bills, I pay school fees. I even pay this cheap fornicator who is so willingly opening her thighs for you…”
“I warn you Beatrice, don’t talk to or about Nessy like that ever again.”
“Or what Ronald, or what? I am tired of your threats, blackmail and intimidation. I have done everything in my power to make you happy and comfortable. I speak highly of you wherever I go. But you keep humiliating me with every opportunity you get. I am tired Ronald, I am tired of being treated like garbage.”
“I am also tired of you Beatrice. I am tired of your disrespect and that is why I have chosen Nessy as my next wife. While you were out I told mother and father of my intention to divorce you. This house now belongs to Nessy and I.”
“You will regret this decision, Ronald,” Aphaxard says quietly but firmly.
“Whose side are you on, exactly, Aphaxard?” Margaret snarls as her husband. “You are not going to team up with this woman to humiliate my son. I forbid you.”
“You forbid me as who Margaret?” Aphaxard says, rising to his feet. “You are lecturing Beatrice about respect, and with the same mouth you are disrespecting me? Have you no shame? Give me a break. I repeat: you are making a big mistake son. You will regret losing a woman like Beatrice.”
He walks out of the house and across the fence to his own compound.
“What are you waiting for?” Ronald shouts at Beatrice. “You can follow your supporter. Maybe he will marry you.”
“I am not leaving this house, Ronald. I built it using my own money. I bought everything inside here with my money. If you want to divorce me, fine. But if there is anybody who will leave this house, then it is you and your comrade in fornication.”
Before she realises what is happening, Ronald slaps her hard across the face.
“I have warned you not to insult Nessy that way. Now get out of my house before I beat you senseless.”
He grabs her by the neck and drags her out of the house and all the way to the gate. Whenever she tries to resist he squeezes her neck, so she allows him to walk her out of the compound.
“Don’t ever come back here,” he warns her. “And remove from your mind any nonsense about you owning anything in this house. Everything is mine. Even the clothes you have been wearing will now be worn by Nessy. Thank God the two of you are the same size.”
He shuts the gate and then locks it from inside. As Beatrice stares at the closed gate, tears finally start rolling down her cheeks.
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