(Continued from Potiphar’s Wife I)
Bishop Nkanata’s private prayer room is a large, empty room with a thick, green carpet of oriental origin. The walls are bare, save for the portrait of his late wife Esther, his wife of 26 years who was ruthlessly grabbed from him by breast cancer. Esther fought the cancer bravely for two years. She always welcomed her visitors with a smile, even when the cancer was clearly winning the battle over her body. Although towards the end the smile was strained, it remained there. In fact, when she finally departed, she left with a faint smile on her face, defying the cancer that had ravaged her body and reduced it to a mere skeleton.
The emptiness that the Bishop felt when she died was overwhelming. He had fallen in love with her at the University of Nairobi’s School of Law and married her shortly after they were admitted to the Bar. She became his partner in every aspect of life for 26 years. When he decided not to practice law shortly after their wedding and instead start a church, she supported him and for a couple of years, they lived on her salary while the young church struggled to attract members. They raised three fine boys to adulthood and built the church from a congregation of five-themselves plus three neighbors-to the nine-thousand-member megachurch that she left when she died. By the time she died, the church had four branches in the city, with the mother church leading the pack with four thousand members.
Esther did not want them to use church funds to enrich themselves. When he appointed her to be administrator of the church, she fixed a salary for him right from the start. She adjusted it as the church grew, but always kept it modest. She refused to fix a salary for herself, insisting that although she had an office at the church, she was a part-time volunteer because she was formally employed. She was working at a midsized law firm but later founded her own law firm.
As the church expanded, Esther hired administrative and support staff for the church, and encouraged her husband to appoint a Board of Deacons and Associate Pastors to help him with his pastoral duties. Most importantly, she established a Fund registered under the Church’s name whose purpose was to help the poor. The surplus of the church collections, after salaries and other bills were paid, went to the Fund. The Trustees of the Fund used the money for charitable causes agreed upon by the church board. The Deacons and Fund Trustees did not draw allowances but did the work on a part-time voluntary basis. Esther was an administrator par excellence, which gave Bishop Nkanata the freedom to focus on the spiritual aspects of his job.
Dorothy has undone most of Esther’s work in six short years. She now pays herself an equal salary to her husband, and the church caters for all her expenses, including foreign travel and shopping. The Fund is now severely underfunded. Sometimes pastors and other staff go without salaries. There have been murmurs, but no one can confront Dorothy. The Bishop at first let Dorothy take over Esther’s role because he was smitten and because it was the logical thing to do at the time. But now he has lost control of her and has no idea how to rein her in. After twenty-six years of having Esther do the administrative work, the Bishop has no idea how to go about firing anyone, much less his own wife.
The mansion, Dorothy’s jewel, would have appalled Esther.
“Why do we need a mansion for a home John? Do you know how many orphans we can feed with the money you are spending on this construction?” she would have asked.
They had lived in a rented apartment for ten years, before buying a piece of land in the outskirts of Nairobi and constructing a modest three bedroom house. The Bishop still owns the house, but it is his first born son Joe who now lives there with his wife Judy. Joe is a lawyer and he took over his mother’s law firm when she started ailing.
But Dorothy’s extravagance is the least of the Bishop’s headaches. His second marriage is itself a major migraine. Dorothy started treating him icily almost as soon as he placed a ring on her finger. She hardly acknowledges his presence in private. She talks to him sharply, her tongue dripping with sarcasm. It is obvious she loathes him and only stays married to him for the attention, power, status and wealth. Because they are pastors, they have to put a show of marital health in public. They hold hands, they hug, and they peck and gush over each other on social media. They even conduct marriage counselling sessions. But it is all a façade.
The Bishop is frustrated, but he has no idea how to get rid of his wife without offending scripture or causing a spectacle. He feels old. He is turning fifty-eight in September; that makes him twenty-seven years older than his second wife. The Bishop stares at Esther’s portrait with tears dripping down his cheeks. It is a beautiful photo, taken on her fortieth birthday. Beautiful as ever, she is smiling down at him with those eyes that seem to dance mischievously even in a still photo.
He had a good marriage once. How did he get it so wrong with Dorothy?
Dorothy had been the leader of worship at the church. He cannot remember exactly how their romance began, but it was shortly after Esther’s death. The romance consumed them like a wildfire and before long, he was sleeping with her. This filled the Bishop with guilt. The guilt gnawed at his soul every time he stood at the pulpit. So he moved quickly to regularize the situation by marrying her.
Jane is disappointed. She was sure she was Mwangoye’s woman on this trip, but when she knocks on his door, she hears a woman’s voice laughing. The brute has managed to smuggle a woman into a holy man’s compound. Miffed, she turns to go back to her room.
But as she passes Peter’s door, a thought occurs to her. What if she ambushes him? What if he has forgotten to close the door, and she manages to get in and snuggle into bed with him? She has tried to seduce him many times, and so far he has resisted her. But any man can be seduced. If she catches him at the right moment, she can break his defenses with her feminine charm.
She laughs at her own ridiculous idea. Of course Peter has locked the door. The man is too careful, almost to the point of paranoia. But then again, what is the harm in trying?
She moves closer and tries the lock. The door yields and flings open. It takes her a moment to process what she is seeing.
Ho-ho! She almost yelps with excitement when it hits her. The Mr. Righteous who has resisted her advances for two years now is stark naked and passionately making love to their host, the Bishop’s wife.
Instinctively, she whips out her phone and takes photos. Peter jumps up and dashes towards her but she ducks out of the room and flees, knowing he wouldn’t chase her outside while naked. She locks herself in her room and within minutes, she is telling her girlfriends her discovery. She even shares the photos.
Less than an hour later social media is abuzz with nude and pornographic photos of celebrity pastor Reverend Dorothy Nkanata. Nobody knows where they came from, and nobody cares. Twitter is ungovernable. Facebook is ablaze. A country that thrives on celebrity scandals has just found a hot topic to discuss for the next several days.
“I am so sorry Ess,” the Bishop whispers, touching his late wife’s left cheek on the portrait.
A gentle knock on the door startles him to the present. Never before has anyone come to this room when he is praying. He turns to face the door, forgetting to wipe his tears.
Nancy peeps in, sees his tears and hesitates.
“You have seen it already, Bishop?”
Nancy whips out her phone and moves towards the Bishop.
“I know it is none of my business, but I thought you might want to see this immediately so that you can decide how to deal with it.”
Image by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/portrait-woman-lipstick-3991062/
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