Continued from The Dethroned Caesar of Murang’a I
Samuel lies in bed, awake but only semi-alert. This is the first time he is sleeping on a proper bed in many years. He has taken a long refreshing shower, washing away layers of dirt that had become embedded on his skin over the years. Bruce gave him a pair of clean pajamas. They are oversize, but they are clean, and that is the most important part. He has also brushed his teeth, and since he is on a full stomach for the first time in many years, he is sleepy. But his mind is still active as he reflects on his life.
This bed with his comfortable mattress and soft covers reminds him of his glory days, those days when he was spending nights in fine hotels with fine girls after taking fine whisky. Of course many hard years in the streets have taught him that it was all folly, and that had he been more modest and wise, he would never have gone broke.
But he cannot undo what is done. At 72, he knows that there is little to salvage in his life; but he knows that he can do some good with that little. The first thing he can do is to ensure that his granddaughter does not slide into the same path of self-destruction that he did. And he has seen enough this evening to be worried. While Njeri was not drunk, she had clearly been drinking. She and her boyfriend seemed to handle alcohol well, but the fact remains that they had been drinking. What more, their friends were dead drunk. Samuel knows only too well how much friends can influence the trajectory of someone’s life.
In his younger days, Samuel had been a staunch Christian. He was a fiery missionary aligned with the East Africa Revival Fellowship (Tukutendereza Fellowship) and an active member of the Presbyterian Church. He traversed the country with his colleagues and brethren, spreading the good news of the Kingdom. He attended almost every conference that was organized by the fellowship. He was the de-facto leader of his local fellowship, even though he was one of the younger members. He was also the youth chairman in his church, parish and presbytery. He was a well-educated young man, as well as passionate about God.
He met his wife Eva in the Revival Fellowship. Actually, the first time he met her, they were in a conference in Nyahururu. He was impressed by her beauty and her enthusiasm for God. He knew right away that he wanted her to be his wife. She was from Meru, and member of the Methodist Church. Those were the days before mobile phones, and under other circumstances he would have lost contact with her after that conference…at least until the next conference, which she would most likely attend.
But Samuel was a decisive man, and he wasn’t taking his chances. He approached the older members of the fellowship from Meru and expressed his interest in ‘their daughter’. The relationship was approved even before Eva was informed. The older ladies approached her and told her about Samuel’s interest. By the time the conference ended, Samuel and Eva were engaged the Tukutendereza way. They got married six months later.
When Samuel married Eva, they were strangers to each other. But the marriage turned out to be successful, or would have turned out to be successful had he not be tempted into ‘the ways of the world’. The first ten years were glorious. They were a youthful couple, passionate about God, deeply in love with each other and were envied and admired by many. Samuel was a teacher, while Eva was a housewife…or rather she was the manager of the household and their farm. They prospered. Under Eva’s watch, the farm produced enough for them to eat and surplus for sale. They also had cash crops that supplemented Samuel’s salary.
Within those ten years, they built an impressive stone house-the very first stone house in their village. Most of the other villagers lived in mud huts; the more prosperous one had wooden houses. Samuel himself had started in a mud hut, graduated to a timber house when he got married before finally building his stone house. He bought a motorcycle, which cemented his position as the wealthiest person in the impoverished village. Then he was appointed as an Education Officer and the future was suddenly looking very bright.
Unfortunately, his downward slide came not long afterwards.
The first time he slid from the straight and narrow path in which he had been brought up was during a work seminar in Nairobi. The Ministry organized an orientation seminar for newly appointed education officers to orient them to their new responsibilities. It was in that seminar that he met Keziah, the beautiful Education Officer from Kisumu. She sat next to him on the first day of the seminar, and she engaged him in conversation during breaks. She was flirting in a subtle way on the first day.
At first he was cautious. He was married and was a staunch Christian. He was uncomfortable with close association with members of the opposite sex. Both the church and the Fellowship had taught him to keep a ‘respectable distance’ from all women other than his wife. And even with Eva, he was not allowed to display affection in public. In fact, he often called her ‘Sister Eva’. But Keziah was no ‘Sister’. She was a ‘worldly’ woman who freely called him ‘sweetheart’, ‘darling’ and ‘honey’ and who liked to touch his shoulders and hands as they spoke. By the second day, she was openly flirting with him.
On the second night of the seminar, Samuel heard a gentle knock on his hotel room. The Ministry had rented hotel rooms for them. Samuel knew that the person who was knocking was Keziah. He knew he should send her away; he wanted to send her away. But he had been thinking about her since the previous day, and his fantasies were far from righteous.
By the time he opened that door, he knew he had already fallen in sin. What he didn’t appreciate was how much that single decision would change the course of his life.
Keziah was experienced in the ways of the world, and that night she showed the innocent servant of the Lord a side of the world he had never experienced. By morning of the third day, he couldn’t have enough of her body. He was following her through-out the day like a faithful dog. He was hooked. That evening she introduced him to another worldly delight: alcohol. She convinced him to take wine by quoting scripture. But it was not Biblical verses about Timothy taking a little wine for his stomach that convinced him to take the first glass; it was his lust for her body. He was so obsessed with sleeping with her that he would have done anything she asked.
Samuel was convinced that the woman he should have married was Keziah. And he was determined to have her as his second wife. But a heartbreak was waiting for him around the corner. On the morning of the sixth day, the last day of the seminar, they took a shower together and dressed. She thanked him for the fun they had had and wished him all the best in his life.
“I love you Keziah,” he blurted out. “I want you to be my wife.”
She laughed so hard that Samuel was left confused.
“But you are a married man, Samuel,” she said when she finally calmed down.
“Yes, but that was a mistake. I wish I had met you before I met Eva. You are the woman I love. You are the one I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
That provoked another round of laughter.
“Samuel, I am a married woman. And unlike you, I love my husband. Here I was just having a good time. If we ever meet again in an event like this, maybe we will have some more naughty fun. But now I am going back to my husband, and I suggest you go back to your wife.”
Going back to his wife was easier said than done. Out of the blue, he suddenly found Eva to be boring and irritating. Keziah had awoken a beast in him that he had not existed before. Or maybe it was there but had been dormant. Shortly after the seminar, he was posted to Kiambu. He rented a house in the town, where he would be staying from Monday to Friday, and would go home to Eva and the children over the weekend. It is in Kiambu that he met Rose, a young teacher at Kiambu High. Like Keziah, she was wise in the ways of the world. Unlike Keziah though, she was unmarried.
Within a short time, he was sleeping with Rose. She moved into his rented house and became his de-facto second wife. At the urging of Rose, Samuel became a regular at local pubs and started drinking quite openly. Rose herself liked alcohol, so she was not a traditional or conservative wife like Eva. But Samuel loved her because of the worldly pleasures that she brought to his life-in bed and out of it. He got a pay rise when he became an Education Officer, but that is also the time he stopped giving his family any money. He spent his entire salary on Rose and alcohol.
To his credit, though, he did not touch the the money that came into the joint account from coffee harvests; at least not initially. Eva had access to that account and that is the money she used to educate their children. Eva also sold milk and eggs from the farm to supplement her income and ensure that the family was well taken care of. She did not complain. She did not even ask him where his salary was going. she treated him warmly when he came over the weekend, washed his clothes and ironed them before neatly packing them his suitcase. On Sunday they would go to church, go back home for lunch and as Eva went back for the East African Revival Fellowship meetings, Samuel would be going back to Kiambu to fellowship with his other woman.
Samuel is now an old man, and he knows it was all vanity. If he could reverse the time, he would remain faithful to Eva. Women like Rose were fun to be with, but they destroyed his life. He spent his money on them, but he meant nothing to him. Yes, they offered their bodies to him, but he now knows it was not worth it.
Now, as he lies on the bed in his granddaughter’s spare bedroom, he ponders over how much times have changed. In the olden days, it was men who spent money on women. The pride of every man was being able to take care of his woman…or women.
But today Samuel noticed that it was her granddaughter who was spending, and not her boyfriend. On the way from Maragua they stopped at a fueling station, and Samuel noticed that although it was Bruce who was driving, it was Njeri who paid. When they went to eat, it was again Njeri who paid. Samuel suspects that Njeri is the one who paid for the alcohol that they all took. Bruce was kind and respectful throughout, but Samuel couldn’t help feeling that the young man is a leech.
Samuel’s sixth sense tells him that Bruce is using Njeri, just like Rose and all the women he (Samuel) entertained back in the day. This young man is taking advantage of Njeri’s naivety and generosity. He will milk her dry and then move on to another unsuspecting woman. Or marry the woman he truly loves, using Njeri’s money.
As he drifts off to sleep, he is thinking of ways in which he can help his granddaughter avoid making the same mistakes he made. Unknown to him, the young man in question his planning his death at that very moment.
To be continued on Wednesday
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