Faith, Lifestyle

The Angel of Darkness II-By Edward Maroncha

(Continued from The Angel of Darkness I)

Sarah enjoys a warm relationship with her in-laws. In the twelve years Sarah has been married to Robert, she has never had any negative incident with them. They have always treated each other with affectionate respect. Sarah has talked to her mother-in-law previously about Robert’s behavior, and she promised to talk to her son. Whether she did it or not, Sarah wouldn’t know. She didn’t ask because she did not want to appear to be pressuring her mother-in-law. But after Robert threatens to kick her out of her matrimonial home, Sarah decides that the only option she has is to go back to her parents-in-law.

Joseph & Isabella Njiru are both university lecturers. But they are also retired high school teachers. By the time they retired from TSC, both of them were school principals. But they decided early that they would not be sixty-year-old sit-at-home retirees, and they made advance preparations to avoid that eventuality. Both of them were advancing their education while working as secondary school teachers. By the time the reached 55 years, which is the time TSC allows for voluntary retirement, they already had Masters’ degrees and were working on their doctorates. They applied for early retirement from TSC so as to secure their pension even as they eased into university-level teaching. They completed their doctorates and now, in their mid-sixties, they are both associate professors in their respective universities. Joseph is an associate professor at the University of Embu’s Department of Education, while his wife is also an associate professor in the Faculty of Education and Resources Development at Chuka University.

Both of them are elders at the local Presbyterian Church and are engaged members of the community. They have a modern home, larger in size than their son’s.  All their three children are grown up, with Robert being the last born. Robert’s eldest sister, Christine, is a lawyer and lives and works in Nairobi. The second born, Rose, also pursued a bachelor’s degree in education, but followed her parents’ path into academia. After graduating top of her class at Kenyatta University, she immediately enrolled for a Masters’ degree at the same institution. She has since completed her doctorate and is now a senior  lecturer at Murang’a University of Technology.

Robert and Sarah’s home is separated from Joseph & Isabella’s by a live fence, but there is an adjoining gate with a pavement cutting across from the front door of one house to the other, crossing the well-manicured lawn on both sides of the fence. The gate is usually left unlocked. Sarah hurries across the fence to her in-law’s houses and finds them at the breakfast table. The PCEA church has only one service, which does not begin until 10.30 AM. As church elders, the Njirus are expected to arrive earlier because they will meet with other elders in the vestry to prepare for the service, but they are still not expected in the church until 10.00 AM. So there is still time.

Sarah is welcomed to the house by their house manager Wanja. Wanja has been working for Joseph and Isabella for as long as Sarah can remember. She ushers Sarah to the dining room, which is set on the ground floor of the house, next to the kitchen. The sitting room is on the first floor.

“Welcome, my daughter,” Mr. Njiru says warmly. “Welcome to breakfast.”

“Thank you father, but I have already taken breakfast.”

“Is there a problem? It is unusual for you to visit us on a Sunday morning.”

“Yes Father, there is a problem.”

Sarah explains to them what had transpired the day before, which culminated in the slap, and the ultimatum she has been given this morning.

“Don’t worry daughter,” Joseph says kindly. “This is your home. You are going nowhere.”

“You have no authority to say that,” Isabella says coldly. “That is Robert’s home, not yours. You cannot make decisions for your son. He is an adult.”

Isabella has been acting aloof ever since Sarah arrived, but Sarah did not think much about it at first. She thought that perhaps her mother-in-law was having a personal problem, or maybe she had argued with her husband. Every healthy relationship has friction here and there. But the outburst has made it obvious that the person she has problem with is not her husband but Sarah.

“That is not entirely true,” Joseph answers his wife calmly. “Robert himself admitted to us that Sarah here contributed the larger chunk of money when they were building that house. So that home is as much hers as it is his.”

“So what are you going to do? Drive out your own son so that this selfish and wicked woman can stay?”

“Isabella, how can you say that? Sarah has been with us for what, over a decade? We have never had any issues with her. In fact, you are the one who sings her praises.”

“We don’t live in the same house with her. It is the wearer who knows where the shoe pinches. Robert is the one who lives with this hypocrite and is the one who knows the kind of monster she is. It is so bad that my son has lost his faith in God and even started taking alcohol because of stress. I think Robert is right. She should leave.”

“What are you talking about mother?”

Both Sarah and her father-in-law are shocked at Isabella’s outbursts.

“My son has told me that you are always shouting at him. He told me that ever since you got your Masters’ degree you no longer respect him and that you don’t even offer him food or sex. You see him as a piece of trash. That is why he doesn’t like staying in that house.”

 “But surely Isabella,” Njiru cuts in. “That house is just across the fence. If there was any shouting going on we would hear it.”

“And who told you that I have never heard it?”

“That is not true mother,” Sarah pleads. “I have never shouted at Robert, and it is not true that I no longer respect him. I got my Masters’ degree four years ago and we never had issues until now. Robert always finds his food ready. Even when he stays out late, I always wake up and warm his food for him. Yesterday he did not beat me because there was no food, it was because he wanted chapati and I had cooked ugali.”

“Are you calling me a liar?”

“No mother, it is just that…”

“If you knew Robert was having with his wife,” Joseph cuts in. “Why I haven’t you ever told me?”

“Because I knew that this is the way you would react. You always treat this woman better than your own son. Did she tell you that she is having an affair with that boy Gerald, Ndegwa’s son?”

“What? Mother, I would never do that! I have never cheated on my husband. I love him so much. And besides, Gerald’s wife Faith is my friend. I would never do that to her.”

“Isabella, do you have any proof of any of the things you are saying or you just believed allegations Robert threw around?”

“My son would never lie to me,” Isabella snaps. “And if you love this woman better than my son and I, then just say so. I can leave this house to the two of you.”

“That is not necessary,” Sarah says quickly. Tears are rolling down her cheeks.  “Please do not fight on my account. I will just pack my bags and leave.”

“My daughter,” Joseph begins, but Sarah cuts her off and tries to smile.

“I will be okay Father. Thank you for believing in me. May God bless you.”

She quickly leaves the house and hurries across the fence to her own. She finds that the children have showered and are now ready for church. The house manager, Fridah is the one in the shower. Sarah goes to her son’s bedroom and helps him pack all his clothes, shoes and school books into suit cases. She does the same with her daughter. She takes all the suit cases to her car. She is glad that she bought a Toyota Rumion and not a Premio; the boot space of the former is larger. She goes back to the house and instructs her house help to pack her stuff; then she goes to her bedroom and starts packing her own stuff.

When she is done, she finds the house manager waiting for her at the car. Some of Fridah’s stuff have gotten space in the car, but not all. Meaning Sarah’s own stuff will not find space. While she is thinking of a solution, Robert’s car rolls into the compound through the gate that he left open earlier. 

“What are you still doing here?” he snaps as he jumps out of the car. “I said I should find you gone.” As he is talking, a woman steps out of the car and watches from a distance. She is young, probably in her early to mid-twenties. She is chewing gum while frowning and rolling her eyes at Sarah.

“I am leaving, Robert. But I have to ask, is this the woman you are replacing me with?”

“That is none of your business but yes, Ivy is now the queen of my life.”

“Is this what it has come to? Have you forgotten all what we have been through?”

“Go way Sarah before I lose my temper and slap sense into your thick head.”

“You are making a big mistake, Robert,” Joseph says. He and his wife have come across the fence when they heard the commotion. “You will regret what you are doing. Many men have gone through this path, and it always leads to misery.”

“Stay out of this Father, and go back to your house,” Robert snaps.

“It is okay Father,” Sarah says. “I have just finished packing my things. The children’s things are already in the car…”

“The children? My children are going nowhere. You are going alone,” Robert thunders.

“I am going with mother,” Esther, their first born says.

“Me too,” her brother David replies.

Robert eyes them for a second, while his new flame rolls her eyes even more.

“Then get out of my sight you ungrateful brats!”

He moves to slap his son but both children run towards their grandfather for help. Sarah takes her suit case and motions Fridah to follow her with hers. She walks out of the gate, with Fridah behind her, and places her suitcases outside the gate. She tells Fridah to watch over them. She walks back to the compound, tells her children to get in the car and drives out. She parks on the side of the road and goes to close the gate. As she is closing the gate, she sees her mother-in-law talking to and smiling at the young woman who has just come with her son, while Joseph looks on in disbelief.

Sarah quickly closes the gate and hurries towards her car. Tears are threatening to break loose again, but she is determined not to cry in front of the children.

(Continued Here)

Image by Myriam Dreamer from Pixabay:


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