Continued from Step Mother III
Irene wakes up feeling refreshed. For the first time since Krystal fired Marion, she did not sleep late doing house chores. She did not have utensils to wash, clothes to iron or shoes to polish. She just took dinner at the restaurant and came straight to bed. And she switched off her alarm because again, she did not have any chores to perform in the morning. She does not have a house to mop or breakfast to prepare. Ordinarily, she wakes up at 5 am to ensure that her father is ready for work on time, since he usually leaves at 6 am. But today she gets an extra two hours of sleep and wakes up at 7 am. She takes a shower, dresses and goes down to the restaurant for breakfast. After breakfast she checks out of the hotel and takes a motorcycle back to the town center, where she takes a matatu headed to Nairobi and asks the driver to drop her off at Ruiru.
The matatu does not get into Ruiru town, but drops her off at the highway. But she does not mind. She could have opted to take a Thika bound matatu instead, and then taken a Ruiru matatu at Thika, but that would have wasted her time and she would still have needed to take a motorcycle from the Ruiru town matatu stage to her aunt’s house. She takes the motorcycle at the highway and gives the rider directions. He charges her fifty shillings, which is what she expected.
Mary lives just outside Ruiru town, on a house that sits on five acres of land. This is her matrimonial home, although none of her husband’s relatives live in the area anymore. They all sold out to the strangers who were scrambling for a piece of real estate in the growing town and moved to Gatundu. Mary’s father-in-law Joseph, who is now deceased, owned twenty acres of land in this area and he also had fifteen acres of ancestral land in Gatundu. He had bought the Ruiru land in the early seventies and relocated there with his family. But he still farmed in Gatundu, and he kept a residence there because that is where the rest of his extended family lived. Whenever schools closed his wife would take the children there so that they could get to know their uncles, aunties and cousins.
When Joseph started ailing, he subdivided his land and gave each of his six children-four sons and two daughters-an equal share of his property. He gave each of them three acres of the Ruiru land and retained two acres for himself and his wife. He also gave each of them two acres in Gatundu and retained three. He added his wife’s name to the acreage he retained in both Ruiru and Gatundu, so that when he died she would be left as the sole owner.
When the scramble for land in Ruiru began, the girls, Mary’s sisters-in-law, were the first to sell. They subdivided their land into plots and sold. Mary’s brothers-in-law, seeing that their sisters had made good money, also sold their land in Ruiru and relocated to Gatundu. When the old man Joseph died, Mary’s husband Henry shrewdly asked his mother to sell her share of land to him. She sold the two acres in Ruiru and the three in Gatundu to him at a discounted price, and he on the other hand agreed to take care of her till her death, which is exactly what he did. She did not touch the money he paid her for the land, and it was eventually inherited by Henry’s siblings when the old lady died. That is how Henry ended up owning five acres in Ruiru and five in Gatundu. He bought his mother’s land together with the two houses, one in Ruiru and the other in Gatundu. He rented out both houses. Later on he convinced his sisters to sell their Gatundu land to him because it was obvious they did not want it, and so he grew his Gatundu acreage to nine acres.
Mary is a retired teacher, and her husband was a veterinary officer. They started commercial farming on their two pieces of land, keeping dairy cows on their land in Gatundu and growing fruits in greenhouses on their land in Ruiru. Both ventures became so profitable that Henry quit his job to practice full time farming. Mary kept her job, and she retired as the principal of a girls’ secondary school in Witeithie. When Henry died, it is their first born son Mark who took over the farming operation. His two sisters have shown little interest in farming.
During the succession process after the death of Henry, Mark got the Gatundu land and that is where he lives with his wife and one-year-old son. He lives in the house his grandfather had built, which had been rented out. He gave notice to the tenant to leave, renovated the house and moved in. He also vacated the tenant in his grandfather’s house in Ruiru, renovated it and converted it into his company’s offices. He holds the Ruiru land jointly with his mother, and the understanding is that he will own the land when she passes on. No one wants to think, leave alone talk, about a situation where he dies before her.
Mark’s sisters, Dinah and Leah, got one commercial plot each in Ruiru town. These are plots that Henry and Mary acquired and developed later as their farming enterprise prospered. The plots have office blocks constructed on them. Mary retained one plot in Ruiru town which has residential houses, and the rent from those houses, her income from the baking operation she has with Eric plus her pension is what constitutes her income. Leah is a writer and survives on blogging and writing articles in newspapers and social media. She is a single mother and lives in south B with her two sons. Dinah is a nutritionist and she works at a private hospital in the city. She lives in Syokimau with her husband Bradley and their three children.
Mary’s house has a colonial look, but it is well maintained. The flowerbeds and vegetable gardens are neat and weeded. The lawn is well mowed. Irene finds her brother, her aunt and her cousin Mark taking tea in the gazebo and they all hug her warmly.
“Finally,” Mary says beaming. “Welcome home my child.”
“Thank you,” Irene says as she takes a seat. “It is good to see all of you.”
Mary’s house assistant, Ruth, comes with a fresh pot of tea and a clean cup. She serves Irene a cup and refills the others’ cups. Mary asks her to take Irene’s bag to the guest room. Mary’s house has five bedrooms: the master bedroom, one guest bedroom and a bedroom for each of her children. Eric moved into Mark’s bedroom since the latter hardly ever uses it any more.
“I have just been told about your troubles, cousin,” Mark tells Irene. “I am still shocked that uncle is doing all this to you.”
“Me too cousin,” Irene replies. “I don’t recognize that man anymore.”
“What are you planning to do now?”
“I honestly don’t know. I don’t have money to take up my position at Penn State, so I was thinking I might finish up my CPAs. I don’t have enough money to complete them at KCA though, so I guess I will just study privately and pay for exams. Then maybe I can help aunty and Eric with the cakes so that I can also be useful. I don’t know how to bake but I have a driving license so I can do deliveries when I am not studying.”
“I have a proposal for you if you don’t mind.”
“Let’s hear it.”
“You said you have done some CPAs?”
“Yes. I have completed up to section 3.”
“I can hire you at my company as an assistant to my accountant Ambrose. You can continue to stay with mother and work from her home office. Father had a desk there so I guess you can work from there. Is that okay mother?”
“Of course son. But I have a question. I know how busy Ambrose is. If Irene comes to work for you, will she get time to study?”
“Sure. When she comes in it will take some pressure off Ambrose, so both of them will have some free time. Irene can work the accounts of the fruit farm here while Ambrose focuses on the dairy farm accounts. They will figure out how to be making a joint accounts report and how to share out the rest of the work such as payroll and so forth. As long as she is meeting her work targets, I won’t tie her to a regular work schedule so she will know how to balance her studies and her work. Will that work for you, Irene?”
“Sure! Thank you so much cousin.”
“I know it’s a lot of work…”
“Work has never been a problem, cousin. You don’t want to know the things I was doing for that woman Krystal in the last one year. Everyday my back threated to break, yet I was not getting paid. Even Marion, our former house assistant was amazed that I was surviving. Do you know that that woman made me do laundry manually because apparently the washing machine was consuming too much electricity? You would think that she pays for that electricity. She made me mop that house every single day; Marion used to do it thrice a week. And we haven’t men ioned running errands to the market multiple times a day. If she needs an apple, I get sent to the market. If she wants a melon an hour later, off I am. That woman is a slave driver. If I survived that, you think I can’t handle office work?”
“You are a tough girl Irene,” Mark says. “Aunt Esther must be turning in her grave seeing the things uncle is letting you go through.”
Krystal wakes up at 8 am. She slept late because she was watching a movie series. Wilson tried to seduce her to bed but she brushed him off and continued watching her movie, and she ended up going to bed at 2 am when he was fast asleep. She goes to the kitchen and is irritated to find that Wilson did not prepare breakfast. Life has been so smooth since she got married; in this house she is the queen. But now with both Marion and Irene gone, things are going to be tough. She has to find a house help. That cannot be too hard because Wilson is able to pay well, if the exorbitant amount he used to pay Marion is anything to go by. Krystal cannot help but wonder why anyone in their right mind would pay a house help twenty thousand shillings. As if that is not enough, Marion was not expected to work on Saturdays and Sundays. She was also allowed to carry part of the food she cooked to her family, because as Wilson explained, since she left their house late, she wouldn’t get time to cook for her family. Krystal found that arrangement to be ridiculous, and thought Wilson and his late wife had pampered the worker too much. That is part of the reason she fired Marion, the other of course being that she did not understand why they were paying someone to do what Irene could do.
But Irene is gone now, so she will have to hire someone. But she will slash that salary to ten thousand, and the new employee will have to work full time from Monday to Sunday. The new worker will be living in the house so the only food she will be entitled to is the one she will carry in her stomach. As she is still thinking about this, Krystal remembers that she has a cousin called Audrey who will be willing to work for seven thousand; she is currently earning five thousand in the home where is currently working. Krystal takes her phone and calls her. Audrey is excited at the offer and promises to come later in the day.
Her domestic chores problem is sorted, but she is still not happy that Irene got off so easily. That girl vexes Krystal very deeply. She may not admit it, but Irene makes her insecure; that is why she did everything to push her down. Already, Krystal has decided that everything Wilson owns will be inherited by her and her children. Esther’s children will get nothing.
Still, she wants to see Irene and her brother suffer. Having them enjoy a luxurious life at their aunt’s house is an insult. Besides, Krystal is worried that with Irene gone, Wilson might have a change of heart and start reconciling with his daughter. That is why she has to make a move. She has to permanently tarnish Irene’s name in Wilson’s eyes, and if possible, have her jailed. She has to drive a permanent wedge between Irene and her father. When she is done with Irene, she will turn to Eric.
She has a plan: a simple but very effective plan. She will call Irene and ask her to come for her clothes. Knowing how much that girl likes to save, she will gladly jump at the idea of saving on the cost of new clothes. By the time Irene arrives, Krystal will have hidden some of her jewelry in the lining of her bags. When Irene leaves, Krystal will follow and cause a scene. A couple of police officers, who she will have paid, will “happen” to be patrolling nearby. They will arrest her and drag her to the cells.
It is actually a story borrowed from the Bible, which Krystal remembers from Sunday school. Joseph son of Jacob hid a golden cup in his youngest brother’s sack and then sent his servants pursue his brothers. That story ended with reconciliation of brothers. This one will end with Irene in jail. Krystal will do everything to make sure that happens, even if it means bribing or even sleeping with the prosecutor and the magistrate.
Satisfied with her plan, she finds a packet of milk and prepares herself a cup of tea using a tea bag. Then she fries two eggs and takes two slices of bread. She walks to the sitting room with her breakfast and switches on the television. She wants to complete the series she was watching last night she drives to the police station to find hungry cops who will agree to her deal.
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