(Continued from Severe Insecurities I)
Raphael sits in his office, brooding. Yesterday was Liam’s birthday, the first one he did not attend ever since the boy was born. Liam is Linet’s son. Even when Samara was very sick, Raphael always made time to attend the boy’s birthdays, especially because the father, Micah, never bothered. Samara would actually tell him that she didn’t want him near the hospital on the day of “our nephew’s birthday”. Last year was a unique celebration. Micah had already left Linet, and Samara had passed on. So Linet and Raphael devoted all their attention to Liam on his big day. The boy was turning four years old, and Raphael got him a bicycle. Micah, his father, has been even less interested in his son ever since he parted ways with Linet. Raphael has heard that he has already fathered three children with two other women but he is still a classical womanizer and dead-beat father. He is a currently living with a socialite who is rumored to be both moneyed and very pregnant.
So Raphael has been Liam’s father-figure. But this year he could not make it to the boy’s birthday because Annette would hear none of it. Instead, he spent his Sunday afternoon in some exotic restaurant listening to Annette talking about some movie that is coming to the theatres this week, and which they absolutely must watch. But his thoughts were on Liam, the boy he has come to consider his own son…and on the boy’s mother, who he misses very much. He couldn’t even buy a gift, because Annette has been stalking him every minute he is awake. But he sent Linet some cash and told her to buy something nice for him. Later last night she sent him some photos of the event, which made him even more sad about missing it.
At only 34, Raphael has done well for himself. He has an impressive career that has propelled him to the upper echelons of a marketing giant, Shea and Jeur LLP (S & J LLP). He joined the company as an intern while a fourth year at campus, when he connected with the company’s CEO Jeur Kimani at an event organized by the University of Nairobi Marketing Student’s Association. Raphael was the chairman of the association, and he had invited Jeur, through another alumni, as the chief guest of the event. Jeur was impressed by the young man, and hired him as a part time intern.
He was only 24 years old when he joined, and he impressed both Jeur and his partner Shea so much that they hired him permanently when he completed his studies six months later. Now, ten years later, he is the operations manager, and third in rank after Jeur and Shea. Jeur is still the Managing Partner and CEO, while Shea Jadelia is the Senior Partner and Head of Finance. Raphael has earned the trust of his bosses, and that is why they kept him on the job when his wife was ailing, even though they were growing impatient with his absences.
Raphael graduated with a first-class degree in Commerce, marketing major. The University gave him a scholarship to pursue a Master of Science degree in Marketing, which he completed in a year, with distinction. He also qualified as a Certified Public Accountant of Kenya. In the years that have followed, he has added an Executive MBA to his list of qualifications as well as a list of short-term courses and workshops on management. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in Business Development. He has been earning good money at J & S LLP, and even though his wife’s illness drained his savings and left him in debt, he has recovered sufficiently and is now in a relatively good position. Or rather he was, before he met Annette.
Samara, his late wife, was a solid woman with a career and financial plans of her own. She and Raphael helped each other with ideas on how to grow. In the three years that they dated, and the one year they were married before disease struck, they were able to grow their wealth impressively. They spent money on each other, but never extravagantly. Linet is the one who had been lagging behind during her years in marriage, largely because of her irresponsible husband.
But after her separation from Micah, and after Samara’s death, Linet she teamed up with Raphael, who was also recovering from the financial drain of his wife’s illness. Through their friendship, they encouraged each other to save and invest and by the time Annette came into the picture, Raphael was relatively sound financially, once again.
But Annette is an extravagant woman who lives way beyond her means. The financial demands she makes on him, from clothes, weekends out, salon money and cash loans are leaving Raphael feeling financially drained. Yet they are not yet married. Annette says she is an influencer, but none of her social media accounts has more than five thousand people.
Raphael has already made up his mind to end things with her. He just doesn’t have the courage to do it, because he knows she will cause a lot of drama. Annette is not the kind of woman who leaves quietly. Raphael cannot help thinking that he is at the same position Linet had been with Micah. A bad, draining marriage, which was not apparent from the outside. He is sure that when people see the many smiling photos of him and Annette online, which Annette posts daily and tags him, they think he has the perfect relationship.
He remembers that he had the same impression of Linet and Micah. He had no idea that they were having problems. So much so that when he heard that Micah had kicked her out of their matrimonial home, his first thought was that he had chased her because of her close involvement in Samara’s treatment. He even felt guilty about it.
To be fair, he had asked her many times whether husband was okay with her close involvement in Samara’s affairs. Linet had assured him that all was well. So when he heard that she had been replaced, he was shattered. But she assured him that it was not his fault.
“Listen to me, Ralph. I made a mistake marrying Micah. He is not the man I thought he was. For instance, that man has always refused to be accountable of his time and money. I settle most of the bills in that house. He comes home at whatever time he wants, smelling alcohol and feminine perfumes. I didn’t even know he drinks when we were dating. I was marrying a Christian man. Micah doesn’t even go to church anymore. He comes home whenever he wants, and sometimes he stays out the whole night.
Whenever I ask him where he was, he accuses me of being controlling and beats me up ‘to teach me my place’.”
“And you are sure it is not because you don’t give him enough attention because of Samara’s illness?”
“Ralph? Let’s suppose for a moment that tables were turned and it is me who is unwell and not Samara. Would you beat up Samara for being by my side?”
“I guess not.”
“There you go. These are character issues and have nothing to do with Samara’s illness. And they started way before Samara fell ill. I have never told you this but I can tell you now. Micah tried to stop me from participating in your wedding. He always said he didn’t understand why I was spending so much money and expense planning for a wedding that was not mine. He seemed to forget that just a year before, you and Samara had done the same for us.
That is not all. I realized that he drinks just two months after our wedding. He came home smelling alcohol and when I asked him, he told to stop nagging him. He didn’t beat me up that day. The beatings started about six months later. But by that time, I already knew he was seeing other women because of the lipstick that I noticed occasionally on the collar of his shirts and the perfumes in his clothes. He was staying out late and sometimes even out for whole weekends. Since we got married Micah never contributed anything to that house; not food, not rent, not nothing. To be fair, when we got married he had lost his job and that is why I took on all these responsibilities. But he got a senior position about a month after we got married. I never tasted even a single coin from him.”
“Did Samara know all this?”
“Yes, I told her everything, but I made her swear not to tell you.”
“I was embarrassed, I guess. I didn’t want you to see me in a bad way.”
“Being treated badly by a spouse is not your fault, Linet. It is not something to be embarrassed about.”
“I know, but I was embarrassed all the same.”
“So, what did Samara say when you told her?”
“She always begged me to leave the fool. She would sometimes get so annoyed with me you would think it was her that Micah was mistreating.”
“So why didn’t you leave him?”
Linet paused and looked outside the door.
“My family has a history of broken marriages. I don’t know if it is a curse or what. My mother is a single mother. My father made her pregnant and ran to the hills. She never got married, and doesn’t have any other children. All my aunts-four of them-have broken homes. My grandmother was sent away by grandfather with her nine kids and she really struggled to bring them up.
I didn’t want to be part of that statistic. That is why I struggled so hard to make my marriage work. I persevered even when Micah beat me. I gave him sex whenever he demanded it, because it was the Biblical thing to do, even though he was not treating me too well. I fed him, I housed him. I did not complain about anything. I only drew the line when he tried to stop me from helping my ailing friend.
I clinged to the hope that he would change. I wanted the man I dated-the gentle, loving man who had been my friend for a year before we tied the knot-to re-emerge and fulfil my childhood fantasies of a happy marriage. But it was never to be, and with every passing day Micah became worse. I am actually relieved that the nightmare has ended. I will pick up the pieces for my sake and for the sake of my daughter. At least for the first time that fool will take care of himself with the money he makes.
But I don’t want you to blame yourself over this. Even if I had stayed at home and not helped you and Samara, Micah would have dumped me anyway. But I would never have done that. Samara is like a sister to me.”
Raphael feels as though that is where he is with Annette: a bad match that he is clinging on to, even though he knows it is a mistake. But there is one significant difference between his situation with Annette and Linet’s with Micah: he is not married to Annette, and so he can walk away, theoretically at least.
Raphael is still lost in thought when the Human Resource Officer knocks and enters his office.
“Excuse me sir. If I can I have just a moment of your time, I just want to introduce to you the newest member of our staff. Ms. Waweru is our new Communications Officer and will be reporting to the advertising manager.”
For a moment, Raphael’s mind refuses to register what is going on. And when it finally registers his entire body goes numb. The Ms. Waweru in question is none other than Annette. She has somehow managed to get herself a slot in his company, without his knowledge. He didn’t even know there was such a vacancy in the firm. Now she has almost complete control of his life, the only thing remaining is moving in with him. This new development also means that breaking up with her will be almost impossible, unless he is prepared to handle drama in the office.
He sighs and forces a smile.
“Welcome to J & S LLP, Ms. Waweru.”
“Thank you, sir,” Annette replies with a coy smile.
(To be continued on Wednesday.)
Image by Dorothe from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/gothic-dark-woman-fantasy-2097966/
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