(Continued from Stakeholders’ Wedding III)
“What is it babe? Where are you going?” Doreen asks when she finds Jediel in his car, on the side of the road, with the engine running.
“I am going home Doreen. I just wanted to let you know.”
“But why? We are not yet done here. The elders have not yet announced a breakthrough and we haven’t even cut the cake.”
“Oh there is a cake? Will I be asked to pay for it too?”
“What are you talking about? Why are you being like this?”
“Your elders asked me to pay for the food that we ate, as well the MC.”
“I guess that is the way it should be. This is your event, even though we hosted it.”
“Come on Doreen. We are Ameru, not Akamba. The practice in our culture is for you to host us. But even the Kamba allow the groom’s people decide what to cook and how to cook it. If I was going to pay for the food and the MC, I should at least have been consulted before the choice of the catering service and the MC was made. At the very least, I should have been warned that I would be expected to pay for those things so that I could be mentally prepared.”
“But why are you whining Jediel? You know sometimes I wonder whether you even love me. You spend a little money on me and you whine as if the world is ending. I am even beginning to feel like getting married to you is not a good idea.”
“I am glad you feel that way, because that is precisely what I feel.”
“Look, Doreen. I am not a wealthy man, and you of all people know that. I am just a young man trying to create a future for myself. I will not, and I repeat, I will not allow you and your parents sabotage my future.”
“Oh so now my parents and I are devils, right?”
“No, you are not. I am simply not the kind of husband you want, or the kind of son-in-law your parents want. Your parents want a million today, and almost three million shillings later. I don’t have that kind of money Doreen, and you know it.”
“If you really loved me, you would make it work.”
“How exactly would I make it work?”
“I don’t know. Talk to your friends. Or take a loan. If you took a three million shilling loan we would comfortably be able to do the wedding. We would use a million on the dowry and two million on the wedding and then we would be okay.”
Jediel sighs deeply.
“I like the fact that you are saying “we”. So this is what I think. I will take the loan…”
“Oh really babe? Will you do that for me?”
“Of course babe, I will do anything for you. We are in this together, right?”
“Yes of course. Marriage is a partnership. I will always be here for you.”
“So this is what we are going to do. I will take a two million shilling loan. I will use a million to pay dowry as your parents are demanding, and the other million to reduce the deficit on our wedding budget. And because we are partners and you have a salary, you will take a one million shilling loan and take care of the rest of the wedding budget and the honeymoon. Is that a deal?”
Jediel watches as Doreen’s face darkens.
“I knew you would never sacrifice anything for me. What kind of man are you anyway? If you cannot even pay dowry without whining, how can I be sure that you will take care of me when we get married?”
“I took care of you when you were jobless.”
“So now I will never know peace because you rented a cheap flat for me for less than a year? You know what, this conversation is over. You are giving me a headache.”
“I am sorry, Doreen. I promise that I will never ever give you a headache again.”
“Just go away, Jediel.”
“That is precisely what I am telling you, Doreen. I am going away, and you will never hear from me again because whatever there was between us is over.”
“I am releasing you so that you can find and wealthy and generous son-in-law who will meet your parents’ demands without flinching. As for me, I am taking my miserly ways back to Ruaka.”
“What are you trying to say, Jediel?”
“That I cannot afford you, Doreen, and therefore it is over between us. Have a good evening.”
Jediel puts the car on the drive gear and drives away, leaving a stunned Doreen at the side of the road.
“You will pay for this humiliation, I swear!” she shouts suddenly, just before Jediel disappears around the corner.
Yusufu knows that he has a delicate task ahead of him. He completely understands why Jediel is furious. These people are being unreasonable in their demands. He has attended numerous dowry negotiations, and led delegations in many of them. But this is the first time he is seeing people who look hell bent to frustrate their daughter’s wedding. Nobody in their right mind would expect a twenty-six-year old son of a peasant farmer to cough a million shillings as dowry in one sitting.
Still, he would have wished that Jediel had waited so that they could leave together. It would have helped both families save face. He can already see the surprised faces when he gets back into the house alone.
He sits down and clears his throat.
“Fellow elders, after consultation with our son, we feel that we are not in a financial situation to meet your demands right now…”
“How much did you have?” Kingi demands.
“One hundred thousand.”
“What! That is an insult! Is that how cheaply your son regards our daughter?”
“It is not that our son does not value your daughter. It is just that that is the amount he can afford.”
“We will not allow our daughter to be insulted this way. So you came all this way to waste our time?”
Yusufu is getting irritated, and he can see that the other elders in his delegation are furious too. Jediel’s parents actually look like they might explode any moment from now. Yusufu knows that this meeting needs to end urgently. He removes money from his pocket and after counting, hands over ninety thousand to Kingi.
“That is ninety thousand shillings. Our son has instructed me to pay you the money you demanded for the food and for the MC. And with that, I think we are done here. My people, let’s go.”
Yusufu leads his delegation outside, where the rest of the people are waiting. He calls the people that come with him, including Jediel’s friends from the city, and tells them to meet the delegation of elders outside the gate. Once everyone is gathered, Yusufu briefs them on what had transpired and then tells them that it is time to go home.
Everyone looks subdued as they board the vehicles. This is not how this was supposed to go.
The total collections for the day are Kshs. 180, 000: 40, 000 lateness fee; 50, 000 collected for warming the food and Kshs. 90,000 for the food and the MC. Kingi proposes that the first 40, 000 be shared out among the elders, the next 50, 000 be given to Doreen’s parents and the 90, 000 be used for the intended purpose. Kingi is the one who got the catering service and the MC, and so he is the one who will pay them. He knows he will make a decent profit from the transaction.
The mood in the room is tense, because everyone had expected much more than that. Based on what Doreen’s parents had told them, the young man was making serious money in the city, and was desperately in love with their daughter and therefore would pay whatever was asked of him.
“I think the women should be given something too,” Doreen’s mother says. “After all, they are the ones who negotiated the first ninety thousand.”
The elders shift uncomfortably, but before Kingi can respond, Doreen bursts into the room.
“All you care about is money. Don’t you care about me? I have been humiliated and all you can think about is sharing peanuts?”
“We are sorry Doreen,” Kingi says smoothly. “But these people will be back. They will find the money and come back. That boy loves you.”
“No they won’t, uncle. Jediel has broken up with me.”
“What?” everyone in the room asks in unison.
“Yeah, that jerk dumped me and then he drove away. Uncle, can’t you do something?”
Kingi gazes outside the window. He is the only man of means in the family. Like Doreen’s father and their two other brothers, Kingi did not go to secondary school. Unlike his brothers though, Kingi has managed to amass some wealth. Nobody knows exactly what he does for a living, but there is no doubt that he has money. He has built a mansion on his portion of the ancestral land, and he drives a double cabin pick up. He has another mansion in Kitengela, and that is where he lives with his family. There is a suspicion that whatever business he conducts is not legal, but nobody has any proof.
“So what exactly do you want?”
“Jediel has broken up with me on the day of my traditional wedding. What am I supposed to tell my friends? He has humiliated me. He has used me for five years now…”
“Have you been sleeping with him?” her mother asks sharply, forgetting that there are other people in the room.
“No, mama. He wanted it but I refused, and I am glad I did. But I invested my emotions in him and see what has happened to me. Uncle, what I want is revenge. I want to see him suffer.”
“Okay, we will see what happens.”
It is around midnight when Jediel finally decided to go to bed. After arriving, the first thing he did was to take his phone and refund the people who had given twenty thousand towards the wedding. Then he went to the wedding committee WhatsApp group, announced that the wedding had been cancelled and shut down the group. People started calling immediately but he ignored the calls, before finally switching off the phone.
You will pay for this humiliation, I swear!
Doreen’s shrill voice has been ringing in his head since he left their house. But he is convinced that he did the right thing. He took a shower and then prepared a meal. He actually felt free.
And now, as he prepares to go to sleep, he receives a call on his Equitel line. The Equitel line is on a separate phone, and very few people have this number. He primarily uses it to transact on his Equity Bank account. The caller is one of them. It is Lisbeth, Jediel’s assistant at the restaurant. She was the one in charge of the restaurant today, but he did not call her when he arrived. He wanted to rest without being stressed about work, and figured that he could handle whatever needed to be handled in the morning. Why would she be calling him at midnight though? He picks the call.
“Boss man, where are you? I have been trying to reach you. Are you still in Meru?”
“No, I am back. I am in my house here in Ruaka.”
“Please come to the restaurant. It is on fire. I am here with the watchman and a few other people. We have already called the police and the fire people, but we need you down here.”
(This is the last free subchapter of the story. To find out what became of Jediel, kindly follow the instructions below to grab your copy of the novella for only Kshs. 100).
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