She is sitting at her office, on the eighth floor of Fire Centre along Ngong Road, Nairobi. She is facing away from the desk, absent mindedly looking through the window at the road below. It is 5.30 pm, and people are leaving for the day. From her desk, she has a view the road, although there is nothing pretty to look at because of the road construction that is going on. Her office betrays an expensive taste. Her seat is a leather recliner chair behind a massive mahogany desk.
A large portrait of her husband, Bishop Dr. Timothy W. Kahale is hanging on the wall opposite her desk. He looks sharp in a black three piece suit, white shirt and purple tie, smiling at her desk with a mischievous grin on his face. The smile that had no doubt helped to build the massive Fire Ministry. There is another portrait where he is standing behind her, his hands around her waist. Then another that has their three children: Josh, 17; Priscilla, 15 and Seth, 12.
A knock and the door opens.
“Is she here yet?” the Reverend Asenath Kahale asks without turning.
Everyone in the church calls her Mum, but she insists that Joseph call her Pastor. She decided early on, when she started sleeping with him, that she did not want her lover calling her mum. The irony of her lover calling her Pastor is completely lost on her. Privately though, he is allowed to call her babe. Never sweetheart, because that is what the Bishop calls her. Just babe. Officially, Joseph is her personal assistant.
She controls the eighth floor, where the offices of the church hospitality department are, as well as the offices of the Fire Ministry Foundation, which she heads. Her husband, other pastors, the deacons and the rest of the church administrators are on tenth floor, the topmost floor. The church hall is on ninth floor, and so are the offices of the worship leaders and the sound team. The Fire Restaurant is on the rooftop. The other floors are leased out. There is no doubt that the Kahales have built an impressive church empire.
“Send her in,”
Pastor Asenath watches the 24 year old girl enter the room. She is pretty, with a round face and shapely figure. Her red skirt reaches just above the knee, and the black top tightly covers her cleavage. Decent wear, but enough to make men drool. My husband has a nice taste, the pastor admits to herself.
“Praise the Lord Sister Jane,” she says with a smile.
“Amen mum,” the girl replies.
Jane is an assistant legal officer at the Fire Ministry Foundation. She has finished her degree at the University of Nairobi School of Law and is just about to join the Kenya School of Law.
“Please, let us go to the conference room. Whatever we need to discuss needs privacy.”
The Pastor stands and opens a side door, which leads to a tiny, but well furnished conference room. Jane follows, and the pastor locks the door. Jane instantly knows why Mum wants her in the conference room. The room is soundproof. She also knows that the bookshelf to the left of the conference room is hiding a door leading to a private bedroom, also sound proof. She knows because there is a similar conference room and bedroom on tenth floor, next to the Bishop’s office, and it is there that he has raped her on several occasions. Very few people know about the bedrooms, because those who have been there are threatened to silence.
But Jane wonders why Mum would need a private bedroom.
Once the door is locked, Mum drops the smile and gives the girl a hard look.
“My husband tells me you have been threatening him with a lawsuit,”
Jane is shocked. She did not think that Mum knew. Mum is a sweet, trusting woman. And whereas many of the church know, or at least suspect, that the Bishop cannot keep his zipper closed, they all agree that Mum is sweetly oblivious of his wandering ways. And they pity her.
“I am not naïve Jane,” Mum is saying, as though reading her mind. “I know each and every girl that seduces my husband into sleeping with her. Including you,”
“I did not sed…”
“Just shut up and listen to me. This is what is going to happen. You are going to resign from your job here. You will say that you cannot handle school and work. We will pay your school fees out of our benevolence. After all, we are a church organization. Then you will get a gift of fifty thousand shillings and you will disappear and never mention the Bishop again. Am I getting myself understood?”
“He raped me!”
“No he did not, you whore! Take the money Jane, and disappear from our lives.”
Mum’s face is now bubbling with the violence that is just below the surface.
“I am pregnant,” Jane blurts out.
“F****!” the pastor curses, catching Jane by surprise.
Who is this woman? How does she manage to act docile and harmless deceiving so many? It is now obvious that she is used to cleaning up her husband’s mess.
“There is a doctor in Karen. He runs a private clinic at his home. Joseph will take you, and you will flush out the brat. His fees will be catered for, don’t you worry,”
“I want to keep the baby. Abortion is a sin. That is what you and your husband preach Mum,”
“I am not your mother. Don’t test my patience Jane. You are a sharp girl. Defy me, and I will personally destroy you. That will not be too hard, considering the poverty you come from,”
Jane can feel tears stinging her eyes, but she is determined not to cry.
“Get me out of here”
“I will. But remember my words. Joseph will be waiting for you at Galleria tomorrow at 10. Resign today before you leave.”
With that, Asenath opens the door and Jane stumbles out. Asenath locks it again and goes to the bedroom. Why can’t her idiot of a husband handle his own mess without involving her? She pours a glass of Vodka and calls Joseph. She needs to release the anger that is choking her. And Joseph has creative ways of doing that.
She has been sleeping with Joseph for four years now without any major problems. She bankrolled his wedding and gave his wife a job as a chef at Fire Restaurant. She gave him a car and often pays him bonuses on top of his salary. His wife adores the generous Mum. She has no idea that Asenath selected her and orchestrated their marriage because she was the least likely to nose around and cause problems. That arrangement has worked perfectly so far. Asenath can’t remember the last time she slept with her husband, the Bishop. Their marriage only works for appearances. Okay, and to keep the spiritual empire together. And for the children, perhaps.
The problem is that her husband, unlike her, cannot keep one loyal lover. He likes to sleep with every woman in sight. From staff members to worship team members. Even married women. She has warned him several times that one day his raunchy ways might bring their church business tumbling down. But he laughs it off. He thinks he is invincible. Besides, he has a ferocious wife to clear the mess.
Asenath has a bad feeling about this girl Jane. This one has a spine and may not go away easily. She will cause problems. The pastor starts undressing as she hears Joseph unlock the door of the conference room.
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