(Continued from In Sickness and in Health I)
Kenneth and Fancy cry silently for almost half an hour, before Fancy finally falls asleep in Kenneth’s arms. Kenneth cannot find sleep. Why would God do this to him? Surely He cannot take Fancy away when she is so young. Their lives are just beginning; don’t they say that life begins at 40? Fancy is just 41, and Kenneth himself is 42. They have three children: Robert is in form four, Cecilia in form two and Stella in class eight.
Kenneth stays awake for hours, listening to Fancy’s soft snores and thinking about how his life has changed for the better in the past seventeen years. Until now.
Kenneth and Fancy’s love story started with a hurried sexual encounter, fueled by naïve excitement but mostly driven by the fear of getting caught. The first time Fancy saw Kenneth, she was working as a house manager, or house help, as they were called then. The owner of the home was renovating the house, and he invited Kenneth to fix kitchen cabinets and wardrobes. Kenneth had been recommended to him by a friend.
Kenneth is generally a jovial and charming man, and he kept her entertained as he worked. For the most part, they would be alone in the house. During the day, the owner of the house and his wife would both be away at work, and the children would be in school, leaving Fancy in charge of the house. Kenneth worked on the kitchen cabinets and wardrobes for three days. He spent the first two days flirting with Fancy, until she started falling in love with him.
On the third day, while he was finalizing on the wardrobe in the master bedroom, Fancy brought him tea at about three in the afternoon. He jokingly mentioned how comfortable the bed in the master bedroom seemed. It was a king size bed.
“No wonder your bosses have so many children,” Kenneth said. “You can’t help making babies when you have this kind of bed.”
“Three children are not many, Kenneth,” Fancy had replied while laughing. “And the last one is in class two so they have slept on this bed for at least seven years without making any babies.”
“Maybe the man lost his power. There is no way a full blooded African man can fail to make babies in this kind of environment.”
“You don’t know what you are talking about. Your problem is that you talk too much.”
“I can prove what I am saying.”
Fancy did not know how he planned to prove it, so she was surprised when he pulled her closer to himself and kissed her on the lips. Up until that point she was a virgin and a good Christian, so she resisted for at least a millisecond. But her body rebelled and she found herself consumed by carnal desire. She cannot remember taking off her clothes, but she remembers being naked on her bosses’ bed, with Kenneth making love to her. She had been told that the first time would be painful, but she did not experience any pain. The fear of her bosses coming home early and busting them added adrenaline to the experience, making it even more memorable.
When they were done, Kenneth found a roll of tissue in the master bedroom’s bathroom, wiped both of them and then they dressed and went back to work. Fancy was too embarrassed to talk about what happened, so she fled the room and went to the kitchen to do dishes. It is only later that night that she remembered that the whole thing had started with a conversation about making babies, and that Kenneth had been proving that he could make babies on the king size bed.
That realization filled Fancy with dread. What if she was pregnant? She did not know anything about Kenneth, except his name and the fact that he was a carpenter. She did not know where he lived or whether he was married. She did not have his cellphone number: he had begged her to give him her number but she had refused. She did not even know his second name. If she was pregnant, then she would be on her own. Both her parents would be furious, for different reasons. Her mother would be furious because a pregnancy would embarrass her. She was, and still is very religious, and she expected her daughters to get married “properly”. Getting married properly in her books would entail getting married to a Christian man in a church wedding. Her father, who has not stepped into church for as long as Fancy can remember, would have been more concerned about dowry. In his world, getting pregnant by an unknown man would make Fancy less likely to get married, and therefore would deny him dowry.
She did not fret for long. Two days later, on a Saturday evening, Kenneth called her.
“How did you get my number?” she asked.
“That was easy. I took your phone and called mine.”
“And where did you get my phone?”
“After we made love you left it on the floor of the master bedroom. It must have fallen off your pockets.”
“But I found it on the dining table.”
“That is because I put it there when I brought the cup that I had used to take tea.”
“Why did you take my number without my permission?” she asked, trying to sound angry. As a matter of fact, she was thrilled that he had called.
“I thought your priorities were upside down,” Kenneth replied, sounding more like a father than a lover. “You denied me your phone number but you gave me your body.”
“Anyway, I was calling to find out if you would love to go to church with me tomorrow.”
“Wait a minute, are you saying that you go to church?”
“Yes. Why do you sound surprised? I actually lead worship there.”
“So you are some sort of hypocrite? You lead worship on Sunday and take advantage of women over the week?”
Kenneth was silent for a minute, and Fancy could sense that he was hurt. She was just about to start apologizing when he spoke up.
“I did not intend to take advantage of you, Fancy, and I am sorry if you feel that way. I know sex before marriage is a sin, but I love you and I want to marry you,” he said quietly.
Fancy agreed to go with him to his church the following day. Sunday was her off day, so she accompanied him to Golgotha Worship Centre, a small Pentecostal congregation where he was the keyboard player and the worship leader. Later that afternoon he took her to his rented house and cooked a meal for her. He did not try to touch her, and seemed almost as embarrasses as she was about what had happened before. As he escorted her to her workplace in the evening, he told her again that he wanted to marry her.
“I have only known you for four days. But I feel like I have known you forever. I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” he told her. “Will you marry me?”
“Yes,” she replied.
The following Sunday he took her to his parents’ home in a nearby village and introduced her to them as his fiancée. A month later, Kenneth took his family to Fancy’s home for introductions, in a ceremony that was also attended by Fancy’s employers. Two months later a traditional wedding ceremony was held and dowry settled. Kenneth and Fancy officially got married in a small church wedding ceremony six months later. The wedding was fully sponsored by Fancy’s employers, for whom she had worked for five years.
They have remained committed to each other and to their Christian faith for the past seventeen years, even though their marital life began with a sexual sin. Kenneth silently wonders whether Fancy’s sickness is God’s way of punishing him for that sin.
When he cannot find sleep, Kenneth gently eases away from his sleeping wife, dresses and walks down to the restaurant. The place is almost empty. There is a couple on one corner chatting animatedly. A lone man is drinking while watching a recorded football match on TV. A lone woman is taking tea while reading a novel, which strikes Kenneth as a weird thing to do at midnight. Not the reading itself, but reading in the restaurant. She could have done that from her room, and tea could have been delivered by room service. But perhaps she has fought with her husband and wants to be alone.
Kenneth finds a table near a window and sits down. There is a gentle breeze coming from the waterfall.
He is just about to call a waiter and order tea when he recognizes the woman with the novel. Her name is Geraldine, and she has caused him considerable headache and embarrassment ever since she declared that she was in love with him several weeks ago. It all started as a joke on her YouTube Channel after he sold her house furniture.
But then she started stalking him in every corner, from social media to his workshop, bringing him gifts and sending him inappropriate messages. She says she is a better match for him than his “illiterate” wife. Twice, he has had to have her forcibly removed from his workshop. Kenneth reported the harassment to the police; she was arrested and released hours later. She is obsessed with him, and he just doesn’t know how to shake her off. Some say she is mentally ill and needs psychiatric help, while others say she is just an attention seeker looking for social media clout.
Whatever the case, this is the worst possible time for him to have come down. He doesn’t need drama right now, and Fancy certainly doesn’t need it. Unfortunately, just when he is just rising to leave, she turns and smiles at him.
“Hello sweetheart. I knew this day would come, when you and I would finally share a hotel room. Come to me baby.”
Before Kenneth can react, Geraldine crosses over to him, cups his face in her hands and kisses him on the lips.
“Ken!” Fancy’s voice startles both of them.
Kenneth pushes Geraldine away and races after his wife, who is going up the stairs, weeping. But Fancy gets to their hotel room first and locks herself in. He pleads with her to open so that he can explain, but she stays locked in, crying softly.
Image by 1388843 from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/people-emotion-dramatic-female-1492052/
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