(Continued from Severe Insecurities II)
In another office, Linet is also finding it difficult to concentrate. She misses Raphael, and she has often wondered in the last three months whether she made a mistake in letting him go. He was hers; he had even asked her to be his girlfriend. But she turned him down. Now every time she sees his photos with that woman Annette on Facebook and Instagram, she cannot help but feel jealous.
But today she is feeling it more because he missed her son’s birthday; it was the first one that he has missed since the boy was born. She had not realized how acutely she misses him in her life, until her son asked her this morning whether Raphael had abandoned them. She didn’t even know how to respond. How do you explain to a five-year-old boy that the man he had come to adore had no obligation to be in his life?
Liam has always loved Raphael more than his own father. But that is hardly surprising. Micah never spared time for his son, even when they were living together. Their interactions were almost always disciplinary in nature. Even when the boy had not really done anything wrong, Micah always found a reason to reprimand him. The result was that Liam was always afraid of his father. Raphael, on the other hand, has always been there for the boy. Whatever male affirmation that Liam got, he got it from Raphael.
Liam had been growing in confidence ever since he and his mother were kicked out of their home by Micah. For starters, with Micah being away from them, there was nobody to keep spanking and shouting at the boy over the slightest error. Second, Linet being a single woman meant that Raphael could visit them more frequently, and Raphael has always had a positive impact on Liam’s psyche and esteem.
But the boy is getting affected by Raphael’s sudden absence, and Linet is wondering whether it was a mistake to allow Raphael into Liam’s life. But the truth is that when Liam was born, Samara was still alive, and Raphael was only involved as an “uncle” the same way Samara was his “auntie”. Nobody knew that Samara would pass away, or that romance would complicate the relationship between Linet and Raphael.
Linet leans back on her seat and sighs deeply. It is nine in the morning, and Linet is alone in her office. She knows she should rise up and head to the laboratory, but she simply doesn’t have the energy. Her office is a small cubicle that was once a bedroom, probably a spare bedroom in the six-bedroom mansion that houses the organization she works for.
Linet is the Deputy Research Director at the Institute for Agro-Biological Sciences (IABS), a non-governmental organization that is dedicated to finding biological-as opposed to chemical-solutions to pest control. The institute is housed in what must have been someone’s home, a mansion that sits on half an acre of land. The institute erected two trailers in the compound, and that is where the research laboratories are.
What was a massive living room in the main house is now an open plan office where the majority of the Institute’s staff members sit. The six bedrooms are now offices. The master-bedroom, which is by far the largest of the five bedrooms, is now the boardroom. It is used mainly by the researchers to brainstorm, but the ED also uses to host meetings with the directors and partners. The second largest bedroom is now the Executive Director’s office. The Research Director takes up one of the other four, the Finance Director another, Donor & Partnerships Director takes the third and Linet takes the smallest of them. The porch was converted to a reception area.
The kitchen has retained its function. The Institute provides meals to its staff members. Breakfast is offered usually between 7 am and 8 am for the staff members who are able to get to work early. Linet never takes breakfast at the office because she prefers to take breakfast at home with Liam and his nanny. She usually gets to the office at 8.30, after dropping Liam off to school. Tea is usually served at 10 am and 4pm, and lunch at 1pm. She usually leaves the office at 6.00pm and is usually home by 6.30 pm. The Institute offices are located along Lower Kabete Road, just past Spring Valley; Linet rented a house further up the road in Wangige, and therefore she usually does not struggle with traffic snarl ups.
The story of the Institute is intertwined with Linet’s professional career. She joined the Institute when it was being established. She had just graduated from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She didn’t know much about the Institute, she just saw their website online and dropped her application as she was dropping many other applications. Of the many applications she made, the Institute is the only one which replied, offering her an internship position. She accepted because she did not have any other choice, even though she was informed that it would be an unpaid internship. At the time she was living with a female friend who had agreed to host her as she sought a paying job.
When she reported to work, Linet discovered that she would be one of only five employees of the Institute: the executive director, a research officer, an accountant, a receptionist and herself. The Executive Director is the founder of the Institute, having registered it as a company limited by guarantee alongside his wife. His wife does not work at the Institute; she is a medical doctor and runs a private hospital. There are three other directors who sit at the board, but they are non-executive directors and therefore do not work at the Institute full time.
At the end of her first month, she was given a cheque of thirty thousand shillings, which was a pleasant surprise because she had not expected anything. But she was informed that that was not payment, but rather a stipend to offset her expenses. She was overjoyed. She rented a bedsit and started life independently. The fortunes of the Institute grew in the following three months, as the Executive Director managed to bag two major donors to support his research objectives. Linet was given a contract as a Research Officer, and the existing Research Officer was promoted to Senior Research Officer. Today the Institute has a total of 19 staff members, including six research officers. The original research officer is the current Research Director, and Linet was promoted to be his deputy.
Linet is happy with her professional life. She believes in the work of the Institute, which has over the years provided several alternative methods of controlling pests without using chemical pesticides. The research focusses on identifying organisms which can be introduced into an agricultural ecosystem to ward off pests without having any adverse effects on the plants and the human population. Linet has already completed her Master of Science degree in Biology and is thinking about doing a doctorate. The Institute pays her well, so she is able to live a comfortable life with her son.
As she stares out of the window, she is thinking about the one part of her life that is a mess: her social life.
Micah was a mistake. Linet knows that now, but she did not know it then. He was her classmate in primary school, and they had been competitors. Throughout the eight years they were in school, Linet, Micah and another boy called Alfred were engaged in a fierce battle for the top spot. Linet emerged top in KCPE, Alfred second just one mark behind her, and Micah five marks behind in third. After primary school they went to different high schools and lost touch.
Linet met Micah at a friend’s wedding. They reconnected and started talking. Micah told her that he had scored an A- in KCSE and studied computer science. He was working in the IT department of a midsized law firm. She told him all about her work at the institute. By the time they parted ways that evening, they had exchanged contacts. Before long, the romance was brewing.
It became quite clear, early in the relationship, that Linet was doing better, financially and professionally, than Micah. She was already pursuing her Master’s degree and was a senior officer at the Institute. She was earning more than Micah was. But it did not bother her, neither did it seem to bother him. They often split bills whenever they went out, and Linet often paid the bigger share. He never got her any gifts, even though she often surprised him with little gifts every now and then. But she understood; he was earning way less than she was, and he needed to be prudent with his money for the sake of his future; their future. That is why, even when he lost his job, she had no problem taking up all the financial burdens of the relationship.
Micah was a charming, loving and very caring man. Linet was sure she had found her soulmate.
But she was wrong. Micah was a parasite. She now knows that while she was splitting bills with him, he had another girl on the side who he was providing for. His violence, she has come to learn, was because he was intimidated by her. Even after he got a well-paying job at a leading telco, she was still earning more than he was. When they were dating, he seemed to have no problem with that. But after they got married those insecurities flared up.
The fact that she was so obviously wrong about Micah is one of the reasons she hesitated when it came to dating Raphael. Raphael seems like a good man, but so did Micah before she married him. The other reason is that she was afraid of what people would say. Would she be accused of leaving her husband to run into the arms of her best friend’s husband?
But as she stares out of the window right now, she realizes that none of that is important. Raphael is a good man. He showed that with the way he stood by Samara when she was ill. And through out their friendship, even when it started becoming obvious that Samara would not make it, Raphael never made passes at her (Linet). He respected his ailing wife that much. And when he developed feelings for her after Samara’s death, he did not start flirting inappropriately; he came straight to her and told her what he felt. When she turned him down, he accepted it with grace and did not throw a tantrum like small boys do. She was stupid. She should have said yes when she had the chance, especially because she also has strong feelings for him. Now it might be too late. Or is it? Maybe she can snatch him back from that woman.
With a new sense of purpose, she turns around, takes her phone and dials his number.
“Listen to me woman,” a female voice says from the other side. “I am not going to repeat myself so listen to me carefully. I want you to stay away from my boyfriend. I don’t want you to call him, text him or whatever. If you bump into him in a shopping mall, cut a corner and flee. If you don’t, I will teach you a lesson you will never forget.”
Linet stares at her phone long after the call terminates. The number is Raphael’s; but it was Annette on the other side. What is Annette doing with Raphael’s phone when they both should be at work? Linet shudders. For the first time she realizes that she landed her friend in trouble. In stead agreeing to date him, she led him into the hands of a very insecure psycho.
This is the kind of person who stabs a partner on the slightest suspicion of unfaithfulness. And those suspicions are themselves fed by insecurity. Raphael is in deep trouble, and Linet feels guilty about it.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/people-woman-sad-shadow-glass-2588089/
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