(This is the last free subchapter of this story. After reading it, you can purchase your copy of the novella so that you can finish reading the story. As you know, there two main methods of purchasing. The digital methods allow you to purchase directly from the bookstore, download instantly and also automatically get a copy on your email. The manual methods allow you to pay the Kshs. 100 to the till number and get your copy on email or WhatsApp. A step by step guide to purchasing is at the bottom of this post.
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(Continued from The Barber’s Bride I)
Yohana is a University graduate. He graduated from Kenyatta University with a degree in Economics six years ago, but to date he has failed to secure a formal job. He stayed with friends in Nairobi for two years, but after realizing that getting a job would be difficult, he packed his belongings and went home. He stayed with his parents in Zolote village in Shava County for three years, helping them with the farm. It was humiliating. Many of his former primary school classmates mocked him behind his back. Many of them did not go to secondary school and are now casual laborers in the village.
Yohana was the star pupil at Zolote Primary School; he topped his class from class one to class eight, earning a spot at Shava High School in the process. He continued with his good academic performance in Shava High, and scored A- in KCSE. He was admitted to Kenyatta University to study Economics. He continued to work hard while at the University and he graduated with a second class upper division. That is when the trajectory of his life became derailed.
He had hoped that he would become a leading economist in the country. Perhaps even work with the IMF, the World Bank or the World Trade Organization. But after years of joblessness, he gave up on that dream.
After three years in the village, it is his brother Lawrence who encouraged him to come to Shava and find a job. Lawrence is a chef, and works at Hotel Shava. He started out as a cook but was trained by the hotel’s head chef until he earned his current title of ‘assistant chef’. He is the one person who has always been firmly in his younger brother’s corner. Even as their other siblings joined other people in backbiting Yohana, and even as their parents despaired over the prospect of their son getting a well-paying job, Lawrence has remained his younger brother’s cheerleader. Lawrence talked to one of the members of his church, and managed to get Yohana a spot as a trainee barber in one of the larger barbershops in town. Yohana worked there for six months before opening this barbershop.
Lawrence’s wife is a primary school teacher, and they live in a two bedroom apartment on the other side of town. They have two daughters, so Yohana used to sleep on the couch. Yohana stayed with them for a month before he got his first salary. They actually wanted him to stay longer, but he declined; he preferred to rent a single room and start sustaining himself. Lawrence and his wife are devout Christians, and are the ones who introduced Yohana to Full Gospel Church, Shava.
When Yohana shared with his brother and his wife his desire to start his own barbershop, Lawrence’s wife Hilda went to her SACCO and took a loan. She gave Yohana the whole amount without conditions. Yohana has since repaid the entire amount, totaling to Kshs. 100,000.
Yohana is a very hard working man, which would explain why his business has grown so fast. He is also very particular about hygiene; his towels and face towels are pure white. He cleans and dusts the shop whenever there is a gap between customers, which is multiple times in a day. He negotiated with his landlord to allow him to have a sink inside the shop, and that is where he washes the heads of his customers. His fair price and cleanliness is what makes him popular amongst students, including the well to do ones like Julia.
But beyond his hard working nature and his cleanliness, the other reason that attracts customers to his shop is his pleasant nature. Yohana always has a kind word for everyone and often entertains his customers with his rib-cracking jokes.
But this evening, no jokes are forthcoming. Yohana is visibly crushed. He is on the verge to tears.
“I am sorry Yohana,” Julia tells him. “I can come back tomorrow. Just go home and rest.”
“Thank you Julia.”
“And don’t worry. That so called Zach is a jerk. Your girlfriend will realize that soon enough and come back to you.”
“I hope so.”
Rhoda is as excited as a teenage girl as the car heads towards Hotel Shava. Zach has suggested that they take dinner before they head to the movie theatre. She cannot believe that she, a poor girl from the village, will finally be eating at Shava County’s finest hotel. She will take hundreds of selfies both at the hotel and at Imax, to flood her social media pages. Her girlfriends will die with jealousy.
The CR-V hums to a stop at Hotel Shava’s entrance. Zach steps out of the car and opens the passenger door for Rhoda. Then he holds her hand as she climbs down. She feels like a princess.
A young man in uniform sits behind the wheel of Zach’s car and drives away, while another uniformed young person guides them to the hotel’s main restaurant.
“Why did that guy take your car?” Rhoda asks suspiciously. She has heard instances of men borrowing cars to impress girls.
“He went to park it. He is called a parking valet. He is paid by the hotel to help customers with parking. What do you want to eat?”
Rhoda studies the menu carefully; she decides to play it safe; she orders pilau and beef stew. Zach orders ugali and mutton. They eat slowly as they talk. Or rather, Zach talks as they eat. He informs her that he is an entrepreneur and that he owns multiple businesses. He is also a part-time lecturer at the University of Shava.
“Oh, that is nice. I thought you are a student.”
“Oh, I am. I am doing my third degree. I am pursuing a doctorate in finance. As a businessman I need to be very keen on money matters.”
By the time they leave the hotel at 7pm, Rhoda feels as though she knows Zach inside out. Zach suggests that since the IMAX movie theatre is just a few blocks from the hotel, they should just walk. He holds her hand as they walk through the streets.
“Do you love the barber?” he asks.
Rhoda hesitates. She has begun liking Zach, and doesn’t want to say anything that might annoy him.
“He is a nice guy.”
“Yea, maybe he is. But he is never going to treat you the way a queen deserves to be treated. If he can’t sacrifice a little money to take you out to a movie that you really want to watch, what kind of boyfriend is he?”
Rhoda does not respond. She knows that Yohana strives to give her the best. But Zach is right. If Yohana’s best is not enough, then perhaps she deserves better.
After the movie, Zach suggests that they should go back to the hotel and grab something else to eat.
“But we have already eaten,” Rhoda protests.
“Yea, but we did not take desert. Don’t you like cake?”
“I do, but it is getting late…”
“I will drop you at home. I have a car, remember?”
Rhoda reluctantly agrees, so they walk back to the hotel while still holding hands. Rhoda finds herself wondering how it would feel to be married to a man like Zach. She would probably have her own car. They would be going to the theatre regularly, and he would open a business for her so that she wouldn’t have to suffer under that arrogant woman who calls herself her employer.
When they get back to the hotel, Zach orders cake, fruits and red wine.
“I am a Christian, I don’t take alcohol,” Rhoda says weakly.
“I am also a born again Christian. This is not alcohol. It is just wine,” Zach replies smoothly. “Just like the one we take during holy communion. Besides, the Bible doesn’t say we shouldn’t drink. It says we should not get drunk. Even Paul told Timothy that a glass of wine is good for his stomach. Come on, try it. A glass or two is fine.”
Zach pours the wine into two glasses. Rhoda lifts her glass to her lips and takes a sip. It actually doesn’t taste that bad. It can’t be very different from Krest or Stoney.
Lawrence is leaving the hotel at the end of his shift when he notices Rhoda. He steps back just to make sure that his eyes are not playing games on him. But upon taking a second look, he is convinced that he is right. His brother’s fiancée is wining and dining with a different man.
Lawrence’s first instinct is to call his brother. But he decides to hold that thought. Instead, he hides behind a staircase and takes photos. He is just about to leave when Rhoda and the man stand up. Rhoda appears drunk; she is staggering and is giggling at everything the man says. But the man is not showing any signs of alcohol influence.
As they step away from the table, the man pulls Rhoda closer to himself and kisses her on the lips. Then he holds her by the waist and leads her upstairs. They pass very close to Lawrence’s hideout but they do not notice him. He follows at a distance until the man opens one of the doors on the second floor and guides Rhoda inside.
((End of the free part of the story. To find out what happens to Yohana and Rhoda, follow the instructions below to purchase your copy of The Barber’s Bride.)
Image by Zoltan Kalmar from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/wedding-bride-dress-ornament-3400129/
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The next story begins on Tuesday. See you all then.