Continued from Step Mother I
It is getting dark, but Irene doesn’t care. She doesn’t even know where she is going to spend the night. But she is still not thinking that far. Right now she is still thinking about her mother and how unfair God was for taking her away. Irene thinks about the man who caused her mother’s death. Where is he now? Does he have any remorse over his actions? According the police, investigations had revealed that Esther was in Ruiru when the accident happened. She was driving on the middle lane of the superhighway, headed towards Juja. The drunk driver, who was only identified as Pius, had been driving at top speed on the innermost lane. At Ruiru, a vehicle had stalled on that innermost lane. The natural thing for Pius to do would have been to slow down and then switch lanes safely. But the man instead forced his way and ended up ramming into Esther’s car. The impact caused Esther’s car to slide onto the next lane, where she was hit by a trailer.
It was the collision with the trailer that killed her, but the trailer driver was held blameless. The investigators concluded that there was nothing he could have done to prevent the accident from happening without endangering himself and other motorists. Instead, it was the driver of the pick-up double cabin that was held responsible for the accident. He had tried to escape from the scene but other motorists held on to him until the police arrived. The man was so drunk that he could hardly walk. The police arrested him and the next day he was charged with causing death by reckless driving.
But it turned out that the man is a wealthy businessman with connections from here to the moon. He was released on a bail of ten thousand shillings, which Irene thought was slap on the wrist. But that is not even the problem; the problem is that the case dragged on for months without any developments. Eventually, the prosecution withdrew it for ‘lack of evidence.’ Irene and her brother had been attending court regularly and were furious. But there was nothing they could do. Irene had begged her father to find a lawyer to protect their interests but he wouldn’t have been bothered. Nothing seems to matter to him anymore, other than Krystal and her needs.
Irene realizes that she was actually foolish to believe that her father would pay for her education in the United States. The man has completely refused to pay for Eric’s education simply because, as he always insists, Eric disrespected him. It had always been Eric’s dream to study at the Oxford University in the UK, where their mother had done her Masters. But even though he passed enough in KCSE to secure admission, he knew that his father would not pay for it. So he devised another way to go through university. Last month he took up his position at his mother’s other alma mater, JKUAT, and is following his mother’s steps by studying architecture. He had always wanted to be a lawyer, but he told his sister that he wants to keep his mother’s legacy of populating the city with breathtaking buildings alive.
Eric is still living with his aunt Mary, their mother’s elder sister. Mary’s children have all since left the nest, and have families of their own. Her husband died four years ago. To support his upkeep and to pay his school fees, Eric has teamed up with his aunt to set up a baking enterprises. His aunt is retired, with time on her hands. She had offered to support her nephew free of charge, but Eric would have none of it, and insisted that he would find a way to help her defray the costs of sustaining him. That is when he came up with the idea of baking. She provided the capital, and from her long list of friends, she has a regular clientele. Eric provides the skills. He bakes the cakes from his aunt’s kitchen. She bought an oven specifically for that purpose. They split the profits from the cake sales in half. Eric’s share has so far been enough to pay for his tuition fees, which is not much because he is a government sponsored student, and for his personal effects. His aunt advised him not to take HELB loan. He balances his time between baking and studies.
Aunt Mary has been asking Irene to join her at her home, instead of slaving under Krystal. She knows what has been happening because Irene has been talking on phone with her brother on a daily basis, and Eric updates their aunt. Mary, just like the rest of Esther’s family, is still shocked. She cannot believe that Wilson, who everybody had always seen as the perfect gentleman, would turn against his own children. But it is happening, and Mary has been determined to help her younger’s sister’s children.
Irene, however, has been naively hoping that her father will see her dedication and sponsor her education at Penn State, as the American university is fondly called. Now her eyes have been opened, and she knows that just like her brother, she will have to settle for a local university. Irene knows that her path to architecture may not be as smooth has her brother’s. She had also received an admission letter to JKUAT but she let that admission lapse because she was going to the US. So now it is unlikely she will get government sponsorship at JKUAT, and the fees for self-sponsored students is very high. Maybe she should just complete her CPA packages, some of which she may have to do as a private student because her savings are running low, and then settle for a career as an accountant.
“Where is dinner?” Wilson asks his wife. He has come back from work famished, because he did not get a chance to take lunch. He was involved in back to back meetings the whole day. He has found his wife watching a movie.
“I don’t know,” Krystal replies. “You may have to ask your daughter that question.”
“And where is she?”
“I don’t know the answer to that question either. She left at around lunch time and I haven’t seen her since. She did not even serve me lunch so I have spent the who day hungry. I can even hear the child in my womb crying in hunger.”
“And why didn’t you cook?”
“Me? You want me to start cooking in my condition as your daughter runs around with her boyfriend? Do you even care about me? Do you know how tough it is to carry a pregnancy?”
She starts to cry, and Wilson heart melts, as she knew it would.
“I am sorry darling, I did not intend to upset you,” he says tenderly holding her in his arms. “It is those clowns at the university who have put me in a foul mood today. I am sorry, please forgive me. I will go and make something quick for us and I will deal with Irene when she comes back. Her behavior is unacceptable.”
As Wilson retreats to the kitchen, Krystal nearly sneers. She doesn’t feel any attraction for the man. Wilson is a man of medium height, and he is skinny. She prefers tall muscular men like her boyfriend Johnny, who makes her feel safe when he holds her in his massive arms. There is nothing that impresses her about Wilson except his money. He is not as charming Johnny. He doesn’t even know how to make love to her properly, the way Johnny does. What is worse is the way Wilson falls over himself running to do her bidding, like he just did; Johnny would never do that. If she ever tried to blackmail him she would end up single. Johnny is charming and romantic, but he also had a male pride that Krystal finds so attractive. She has always known that as much as he loves her, there is nonsense he would not stomach. But Krystal knows that if right now she tells Wilson that she feels like eating meat roasted at a butchery in Kitengela, he will get in his car and drive through the night to get it for her.
Krystal has been seeing Johnny even though she is now married. She knows he has another girlfriend and that makes her so jealous. But she cannot say anything because she is the one who broke the exclusivity of their relationship in pursuit of Wilson’s money. She actually broke up with Johnny hoping she would teach herself to love Wilson. Johnny had been furious of course, especially because they had been planning to get married when she dumped him. He is a football player with one of the Kenyan Premier League teams and therefore earns a pittance. Early in their relationship, Krystal had been yearning for the day he would make a big money move to Europe and Asia. But by now she knows it won’t happen, which is why she decided to secure her future with Wilson immediately she learned about the death of his wife.
When she reached to Johnny about a month after her wedding to Wilson, he told her off. But she pleaded over the next week and one Friday he agreed to meet her at a hotel in Nairobi “to talk”. He was still single then. She drove there in the car Wilson bought for her using money he got from Esther’s insurance to replace the car she had died in, which had been written off. The so called talk led them to bed, and they have been lovers since. But Johnny made it clear on that day that since she was married, he was free to find a another girlfriend. At best, they could only be friends with benefits. And he did find a girlfriend, about six months ago. Krystal has continued to see Johnny about twice a week even after he got a girlfriend, and she often wonders whether the baby she is carrying is his.
She hopes the baby is Johnny’s. And she often wonders if there is a way she can get Wilson’s wealth but be married to Johnny. That would be the ideal world for her.
It is dark when Irene rises from her mother’s grave. There is a farm house on the farm, but it is only used to keep farm tools. She will have to get herself to Murang’a town, and when she gets there she will decide whether she will spend the night in a hotel or whether she will take a matatu to her aunt Mary’s house in Ruiru. But Murang’a town is far from the farm, so she will have to take a motorcycle. She walks to the marram road and flags one down. After negotiating the price, she hops on. It is dark but she is familiar with the road, having come here countless times with her father. So when the rider takes a turn, she knows something is not right. When she asks him, he says they are taking a short cut.
But it turns out that it was no shortcut. He stops in the middle of nowhere and stops the motorcycle.
“Why are we stopping?” she asks innocently. The rider does not respond. He hops out and then turns to face her. She cannot see his face clearly because of the dark, but there is no mistaking the object he is holding in his hand, even in the dark. It is a knife.
“Get off,” he says gruffly. Irene obeys. He then orders her to give him her phone and her purse, and once again she obeys.
Then he orders her to take off her clothes. Irene wants to scream, but she knows that that is the quickest way to get killed.
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