(Continued from Love of the Rocks II)
Donald and Sophia watch silently as the two young men load debes of ballast into sacks. Sophia is counting silently, as well as watching to ensure that the debes are full. But Donald is less bothered. He trusts Sophia.
“By the way Sophia, do you intend to go ahead with your studies?”
“Of course I do.”
“What career do you wish to pursue?”
“I wish I could be an architect. But you sort of need a KCSE certificate to go to University.”
Donald stares vacantly into space for a while, obviously in deep thought.
“I want to help you. I will take you back to school.”
Sophia does not say anything immediately, and that surprises Donald. He had assumed that she would be excited at the idea of going back to school.
“Is anything the matter? Did I say anything wrong? Aren’t you excited about going back to school?”
“I would really love to go back to school, Donald. But I do not want to lie to you. If you take me back to school there might be an expectation between us that I will marry you. Do not get me wrong. I really like you and if the circumstances were different, I would marry you without batting an eyelid. But I already told you why I turned down your proposal.”
Donald places his hand on her shoulder.
“I know how relationships work, Sophia. I have dated three girls and things did not work out. So I know sometimes relationships work, sometimes they don’t. Of course I wish I could get into a relationship with you and eventually marry you, but I respect your decision. I am doing this as a friend. I would do this even if you told me you have a boyfriend as we speak. I wouldn’t want to see you live like this forever when I am in a position to help.”
Tears well in Sophia’s eyes, and she bites her tongue to stop herself from crying. Donald is such a nice man and she obviously likes him. The fact that he is willing to take her to school knowing too well that she might marry someone else proves that he is a true Christian, unlike many brothers that she has seen in the past.
“Thank you Donald. You don’t know what this means to me. When can I start?”
“When do you want to start?”
“We are in September, so I don’t think there is any point in going back now. I could go back in January. I will find my old notes and refresh my memory. I had almost completed form two, it is just the exam that I had not done. So I will try and get to form three. But if they insist I go back to form two that is fine as well.”
“We will go to St. Mary’s next week and ask the principal to allow you to sit for the form two exam with her students. If you pass, then I am sure she will allow you to go to form three. If you don’t, then you will have to repeat form two.”
“Yea, I thought they would be easier to convince to take you even after all these years because it is your old school. But if you don’t want to go there we can try another school. Chogoria Girls? Kyeni Girls? Materi Girls?”
Sophia can no longer stop herself from crying, so she lets the tears flow. Donald gives her his handkerchief to blow her nose.
“I assumed you want to take me to a day school or at most my former school Kieganguru Girls, which is a small school.”
“You only went to Kieganguru because your father could not afford St. Mary’s fees. I can afford it, so why shouldn’t you go there?”
“I don’t know how to express my gratitude.”
“You don’t have to. It is my pleasure.”
“Who is building your house?”
“I had thought you would do it but I don’t think it is a good idea anymore.”
“Why? Because I am a woman?”
“I knew you were a woman when thought you should build it.”
“I am sorry. I am just so used to being turned down because I am a woman.”
“I think you can do it. I just don’t think you should do it now that you are going back to school. You need to prepare.”
“Even if I don’t build it, don’t assume I will stay in the house reading. I will be going to the quarry every day and doing house chores. I will actually have more time on my hands if I am doing construction work.”
“Okay. But we will have to draw a revision timetable and I will make sure you adhere to it.”
“Okay. You will pay my assistants but I will not allow you to pay me. It is my way of saying thank you to you.”
“If you work for me I will have to pay you.”
“The amount of money you will use to pay for my school fees at St. Mary’s for two years is way more than what I will earn building your four bedroom house.”
They watch in silence as the young men start transporting the ballast. It has totaled to two hundred debes, so there is three hundred to go. Donald’s farm is about a kilometer down the road, and the young men are transporting the ballast on their shoulders. Each of them is hauling two debes at a time.
When they disappear around the corner, Donald walks to the sacks of ballast and tries to lift one. He quickly drops it before it can even get to his waist level. Sophia bursts out laughing.
“These boys are making this seem so easy,” he says, laughing as well.
“It needs you to get used to it,” she replies. She lifts one of the sacks and places it on her back easily. Donald looks at her, amazed.
“I would have thought I am stronger than you.”
“Trust me doc, the work I do on a daily basis builds physical strength and endurance faster than pricking people with needles.”
Marangu and his wife are taking coffee while winding down when their daughter Rehab starts yelling on the phone. Through her yelling, they are able to glean the gist of the conversation.
Rehab is talking to a man called Rasta. She is apparently ordering him to kill Sophia. The screaming started when Rasta refused saying that the amount she was offering for the job, two hundred thousand shillings, is too low for the job.
She calls him a spoilt brat and an ingrate and throws many unprintable insults his way. Then she finally offers to sleep with him if he does the job. They can’t hear what Rasta is saying but apparently an agreement has been made because Rehab stops cursing. Her last sentence is worrying:
“Alright, if you finish the job tonight I will see you tomorrow…no, you must do it tonight. Alright, see you tomorrow.”
Marangu and his wife stare at each other for a few minutes. Then Marangu rises and goes to his study. He knows Rasta very well. He was his client even before Rehab joined law school. Rasta is one of the clients that Marangu handed to his daughter when she joined the firm.
Rasta smiles when Rehab terminates the call. Unlike most criminals, Rasta is wealthy because he is also an astute businessman. He has a poultry farm, a fruit farm and a string of restaurants all founded with the proceeds of crime.
He stopped robbing several years ago because it was ‘high risk low return’ job. According to what he told Marangu, banks have become very difficult to rob these days because of heightened security. You need someone on the inside to complete a heist. But the insider could easily be a snitch, and you walk right into a police trap.
And what for? His businesses are doing well. And he gets steady income from his profession as a murderer. Everyone in the region knows he is a murderer, but no one can prove it. He hadn’t realized how lucrative killing can be until he got into the business. There are so many jilted lovers out there who are willing to pay premium to have their former sweethearts eliminated. Sometimes it is married people who want their spouses done away with so that they inherit property. Other times it is business rivals who want to eliminate each other. In short, business is booming. Sometimes someone is killed and he (Rasta) gets suspected. That is where Marangu and his daughter get in. They are his lawyers, and they always manage to get him off the hook. They are expensive, but they know their job.
Two hundred thousand would have been enough for such a low risk job. But Rasta has always wanted to sleep with his lawyer. He has tried to seduce Rehab several times, but she has always turned him down. When she called him asking for a favor, he knew it was his chance, and perhaps his only chance. The peasant girl will be dead tonight, and tomorrow he will be in the arms of his ‘crazy’ lawyer. He has always thought that Rehab is slightly crazy, and that is what really turns him on.
He is just about to leave the house when the call comes. It is the girl’s father.
“Listen Rasta. I know about your agreement with my daughter. Don’t do it.”
“My daughter is not okay, alright? She is sick in the head. So don’t do it.”
“I am sorry wakili, but I have been given a job, and I will do it.”
“I am freezing all her accounts, so she will not have money to pay you.”
“It is not about the money.”
“I know you want to sleep with her. But by tomorrow she will be gone. You will not see her, leave alone sleep with her.”
“I will take my chances. Good night wakili. I have to run. I have a job to do.”
Marangu sighs deeply. Rasta knows that Rehab is difficult to control, so taking her away will be difficult. That is why he is willing to take his chances. Imagining his daughter in the arms of that thug is sickening to Marangu. But there is a more fundamental problem.
He suspects that his daughter has a mental disorder. He has noticed that sometimes her thinking is quite irrational. But she is still a sharp and lawyer, and she functions normally most of the time, so it takes a keen eye to notice. But of late her irrationality is becoming more evident. The most glaring evidence of her delusional thinking is her obsession with that boy Donald.
Just like his wife, Marangu would be delighted if the handsome young doctor would marry his daughter. Rehab believes that Donald loves her and is just being confused by the peasant girl Sophia. Her mother believes her, but Marangu knows it is delusional thinking.
Marangu’s own grandmother ‘went mad’ before she died. Marangu has done some light research around mental health, and believes that his grandmother was schizophrenic. The worrying part is that he discovered genetics is a risk factor for the condition. The condition has no cure, but it can be managed with medication. But when he suggested to his wife that they should take Rehab to a psychiatrist for diagnosis and treatment, she fought him bitterly.
“Just because your grandmother was crazy doesn’t mean my daughter is crazy. You are the one who is crazy for even having such thoughts,” she screamed over and over again. Marangu was surprised because his wife is a nurse, and he thought she would understand mental health issues.
He shared his thoughts with Rehab once, but her mother convinced her that she is fine. For two weeks, they did not speak to him, and Rehab did not report to work. Eventually, Marangu dropped his quest to have her examined.
Now she is just about to get someone killed.
Image by ArtTower from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/woman-female-african-girl-fashion-4533085/
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