(Continued from the Angel of Darkness II)
Sarah tells Esther to sit at the front with her with David and Fridah sitting at the back. That frees up one of the back seats, and so her stuff and Fridah’s can be squeezed into the car. The back seat is foldable to increase boot space, and that is what Sarah does. She is still arranging the boot trying to squeeze in everything when her father-in-law approaches her.
“Where are you going?” Joseph asks.
“I will go back to my parents’ house as I figure out my next move.”
Joseph ponders that for a little while.
“I can’t let you do that. The moment we came to your parents’ home and paid dowry, you became my daughter as much as Robert is my son. I am not going to let you go back to your father. That will be too shameful for me.”
“I don’t have an alternative, Father. I wish I did. But Robert has a new bride, as you have seen. I don’t want to remain homeless as I wait for him to change his mind. And I don’t have the energy to fight him either. Besides, even if he changes his mind, I don’t think I am willing to go back to a philanderer who is also violent. This man is not the one I married. Besides, and I am sorry to say this, after everything mother said about me this morning, I don’t think our relationship will ever be the same again. I cannot in all honesty be her neighbor.”
“I totally understand you but I am going to ask you, as a Christian, to forgive both my wife and my son. But I wouldn’t ask you to put up with them. You just forgive them for your own peace of mind and move on with your life.”
“That is what I am trying to do Father. That is why I want to go back to my father’s house.”
“I am your father, and I am going to give you another option.”
“I have some houses that I have just completed building in Runyenjes town. Several of them have been taken but I still have a few that are vacant. They are nice, three bedroom houses. That is where I want you to go.”
“Thank you Father. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but even if I move there, I still have a problem, at least for tonight. We don’t have anything except clothes. And today is Sunday, so shopping will be a hustle. I need my children to settle before they prepare for school tomorrow. That is why I still think that my father’s house is still the best bet in the current circumstances. I can take up your offer next weekend. That will give me time to buy a few things for the house.”
“I have a friend with a shop in Embu that can sort out all your problems. Let’s go to the house. You can leave your belongings there and proceed to church. After church you can take the children out. Come back to that house at four. You will find the place ready for you.”
“I can’t go to church because I have not taken a shower father. All this caught me by surprise.”
“The showers in your new house are functional. You can shower there.”
“Are you sure about this father? I don’t want mother to come and kick me out in the middle of the night.”
“She has her property and I have mine. Those houses are mine alone. She has no say over what I do with them.”
“I thought you hold everything together? Isn’t that what mother is always saying to me? She told me that I can’t have property apart from my husband and expect the household to last. She told me that you own everything jointly and that is one of the reasons why her household is still standing. That was after she discovered that I bought this car and put it in my own name.”
“I don’t know why she would lie to you. We don’t have even a single joint property. I do my stuff, she does hers. As the man I foot the bills, including school fees when the kids were in school. But I don’t ask her what she does with her money. Anyway, we will have more time to talk later. Do you want to accept my proposal or not?”
“I accept, and thank you so much father.”
“You are welcome. Let me get my car. I will show you the way.”
The houses are not high rise apartments as Sarah expected. They are stand-alone bungalows about a kilometer from the Embu-Chuka highway, and about two kilometres away from Runyenjes town on your way to Embu. It is a gated community of sorts with about six houses. Each home has its own compound with a stone wall around it, and a gate. The estate is surrounded by another stone wall, but there is no gate at the main entrance.
“Putting an outer gate would mean that the residents would probably have to hire someone to man it, which always brings issues. Common areas are sometimes an issue even in rental estates, so I avoided that. That is why as you can see, the only common area for this community is the drive way that circles the estate, and I made it permanent so it will be a long time before it requires maintenance. That is also the reason I went for stone walls. Live fence would probably have been prettier, but they would require a lot of regular maintenance.”
“It must have cost you billions to put up this place.”
Joseph laughs. They have entered into one of the compounds of one and are actually inside the house. Sarah has been blown away by the beauty of the homestead.
“These houses are almost the same size as the one you and Robert built. Did it cost you a billion to build it?”
“No,” Sarah says thoughtfully. “I think it cost us about two and a half a million shillings in total. I remember because I took a loan of a million and a half to put up the skeleton. I estimate that over the years we have spent another million on improvements and finishing. But that was over ten years ago. Surely the prices of things must have shot up. And the finishing of these houses is superior to ours.”
“Prices of materials have gone up a bit, but I also had an advantage. Because I was building multiple houses at once, I could afford to get things in bulk and so I got discounts. The entire place cost me twenty million to construct. I bought the entire land for two hundred thousand shillings over thirty years ago.”
“Father, how much do you rent these houses? For you to recover twenty million the rent must be high. I doubt I can afford it.”
“They are not rentals. I subdivided the land so that each house has its own title. That outer driveway is now a public road. I am selling the houses.”
“How much are you selling each house?”
“I am selling each at six million. There are six of them so I figure I will get thirty six million. Sixteen million in profit from an investment of twenty million is not bad. I have sold three of them so I have almost recovered my initial investment.”
“I don’t think I can afford six million even if I take a loan.”
“I am not selling to you, my daughter. That would beat common sense. I am your father.”
“What? You will let me live here for free? Oh father, that is so kind of you.”
“I am doing more than that. I am gifting you this house. You already built a house with Robert. You shouldn’t start from scratch. This house is yours. I will start the legal processes to get you a title tomorrow.”
Before she can stop herself, Sarah runs and hugs her father-in-law.
“I sorry father,” she says as she quickly pulls away from him. “I don’t know what came over me. I am so embarrassed. Please forgive me.”
“It is okay child. Don’t sweat it. You are just excited, and really there is nothing wrong with hugging your father. Christine and Rose hug me all the time. Anyway, you can empty the car and put your things in one room, take a shower and go to church. Let me go to Embu to handle furniture and everything else.”
“You don’t have to, Father. You have done more than enough already. I can use my own resources to buy furniture and other stuff. I will get the basic things we need after church and rest later.”
“You are my child and I want you and my grandchildren to be comfortable. So I insist. Why do I make money anyway if I cannot help my own children? Here, have one key for the house and one for the gate. I will take the others with me because I will need access when I come back with the furniture. See you in the evening.”
Tears are rolling down Sarah’s eyes as she watches her father-in-law pull away from the driveway. But they are tears of joy and gratitude.
Fridah stares at the photo and doesn’t know whether to be excited or not. She got the perfect shot, just when Sarah was hugging the old man Joseph. If the man was anybody else other than Joseph, Isabella would have loved it. For more than a year, Isabella has been trying to destroy Robert and Sarah’s marriage. Maybe she had the desire for longer, but just didn’t get the chance.
But the chance came about a year ago.
Isabella walked to her son’s house one Tuesday mid-morning to talk to him about one thing or the other. She did not have any class that day, so she had decided to work from home. She knew Robert was in the house because his car was in the compound. She also knew that Sarah was not in because her car was not in the compound, so she did not bother knocking. She just walked in.
Sarah and the children had left for their respective schools. Robert usually left later. Since he is a partner at his firm, he goes in and out of the office as he pleases, without having to report to anybody.
When Isabella walked into Sarah and Robert’s house that morning, she found Robert and Fridah making love on the couch. They were surprised when she opened the door, but she smiled, gave a half-hearted apology and left the house. She came back later, after Robert had left, and interrogated Fridah. Fridah told her that Robert had approached her one morning, three months earlier, as she was cleaning utensils and started fondling her. Then he carried her to bed and raped her.
“Did you scream?”
“No. He warned me not to.”
“If you didn’t scream then you cannot say it is rape. You enjoyed it as much as he did. So after that the two of you have been doing it regularly?”
“Good,” Isabella said, to Fridah’s surprise. She had always thought that Isabella liked her daughter-in-law and had expected to be castigated. “Robert likes you, and I think you will bea good wife to him.”
“But what about Sarah?”
“She is probably not satisfying him as a wife, otherwise he would not look at you. You know the problem with these educated women is that they are selfish. All she cares about is her work. And now I hear she wants to do a Ph.D. Instead of being a submissive wife, she wants to outshine him. I am going to convince my son to leave her and marry you so that you can take care of this home as a woman should, okay?”
Fridah agreed, and for a year, she has been living in the fantasy of being Robert’s wife. It didn’t occur to her that the woman who was castigating Sarah for being “an educated woman” was herself a professor. Fridah’s hopes soared when Robert himself promised to marry her, but asked for time to kick out Sarah. They have been having sex regularly since then. When Robert finally kicked out Sarah did it this morning, Fridah was excited. She expected to be announced as the new queen of the household. But then Robert came back with another woman, and now Fridah feels betrayed.
Fridah looks at the photo she took. Sarah is in the shower and the children are gawking at the new house so nobody is paying any attention to her. She decides to send the photo to Isabella with a simple message.
“You and your son betrayed me. But God is fighting for me. Sarah has taken your husband Joseph.”
Image by Joseph Kebbie from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/african-hairstyle-ghana-young-2726208/
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