(Hey folks, remember I am launching my first hard copy novel, The Preying Shepherds, on 23rd April, 2022. The event will be at Eton Hotel, Thika. Kindly grab your ticket by paying Kshs. 1500 to buy Goods Till Number 297264. I encourage you to register early to help me prepare for the event. Thank you for the continued support.)
(I first wrote this story in March 2019 and titled it The Devils You Know. I am rewriting it and expanding it into a novella).
Jesse stands up and stretches, and then he yawns and looks at his watch; where has the time gone? It is already evening and he did not notice. He wants to go and surprise his fiancé, so he needs to stop working right about now. Jesse and his fiancé Judith are getting married this coming Saturday, and Jesse can’t wait. Judith is a wonderful woman, and Jesse is deeply in love with her. He enjoys spending time with her, and whenever he is with her he somehow manages to forget about work. This past year has been fulfilling for him with Judy in his life, so it is only natural that they should make the situation permanent.
Jesse has not seriously dated anyone since he broke up with his college sweetheart Carol close to seven years ago. He has gone out for coffee with a few girls, but he did not get steady with anyone until he started dating Judith. Judith felt right from the moment he started dating her.
Jesse doesn’t admit it, but the word ‘workaholic’ could be used on him. But then the cliché is true: when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. When he joined Central Defence for Human Rights (CDHR) as a legal researcher eight years ago, Jesse only vaguely knew that he wanted to do something related to human rights. Eight years on, he is still working at CDHR but now he is an experienced litigator in the field of human rights law. He is more than convinced that he made the right career choice.
And he is good at what he does. He has bagged multiple awards over the years: Young Lawyer of the Year, Civil Society Advocate of the Year (twice), Advocate of the Year in Public Interest Litigation, amongst others. When he joined CDHR, he had just completed his degree in law from Moi University. He went to Kenya School of Law while working here, got admitted to the bar, and three years ago he went to South Africa for a year and came back with a Masters degree in Human Rights from the Centre for Human Rights which is based at the University of Pretoria.
That he is accomplished is not in doubt. Still, it came as a surprise to him when he was appointed Deputy Director last year, at the age of 31. No one could argue that he did not deserve it, because he did. The only downside of the appointment, according to him at least, is that he now has a lot of administrative work to do, which means he spends less time in court and in the field. That is a bit disappointing to him because the field (which includes protest marches on the streets) and courtrooms are the two playgrounds where he thrived the most. He loves his desk job though, because he understands that someone has to do the administrative work so that the foot soldiers can be effective on the field and in courtrooms. He finds joy in mentoring younger lawyers joining the institution. He also creates time every now and then to go to court, to visit clients in the field and to join his colleagues in protests. He likes to stay in touch with the core functions of his job.
For a man who was brought up in abject poverty in Marigat, Baringo County, he has done well for himself. Besides being the Deputy Director of an established NGO, he has a couple of investments: he has rental properties in Marigat town and a restaurant in Kikuyu town. But to get where he is, both in terms of career and investments, it has taken sacrifice. CDHR pays him well, but it has taken a lot of discipline and self-sacrifice to save and invest.
And that discipline cost him his first relationship.
Jesse was meant to get married seven years ago, at the age of twenty-five. The would-be bride was Carol, his college sweetheart. They had started dating while in their first year at Moi University and so one year after graduation seemed like a good time to tie the knot. They were in love, and they had landed good jobs. Why wait? Carol had landed a spot at the giant audit firm, KPMG.
But it is the wedding itself that brought the first cracks to their relationship. Carol wanted a huge wedding. In principle Jesse was not opposed to the idea, but they could not afford it. He refused to wipe away his growing Sacco savings to fund the wedding. And to him, taking a loan to fund a wedding would be outrageous. He also refused to convene a fundraising committee for the wedding. He loathes the idea of begging, especially for something like a wedding which he considers a luxury. To him, fundraising for medical bills and school fees is okay, but he finds it strange that people find it okay to beg others money for holding parties. To him, weddings are parties. The actual ‘getting married’ part costs only a token; the rest is a party.
Jesse gives generously to education and healthcare fundraisers, but never to weddings. He may give a token one thousand or two thousand shillings, and even buy a gift for newlyweds, but will never give substantial amount of money neither will he cancel his leisure plans to support a wedding.
He stood firm and resisted the idea of fundraising for the wedding, even as Carol pushed hard. Eventually, Carol stood down and they agreed to wait a little longer and save for the wedding. But the cracks had formed; these cracks would widen into enormous gulfs as Carol’s girlfriends started to get married. And they all seemed to get married at once. Carol started pressuring Jesse about the wedding again.
The situation was made worse by Jesse’s blatant refusal to contribute towards these weddings. He did give his usual token one thousand or two, but Carol was a member of these wedding committees and wanted to be seen to support her girlfriends. Jesse’s argument was simple: they were saving to fund their wedding and to secure a future for themselves after the wedding and therefore they could not afford to use the same money to fund other people’s weddings. Carol did not take it kindly.
The camel’s back broke during Grace’s wedding. Grace was the last of the girls in Carol’s circle to get married. She had a budget of 2 million shillings, but she and her boyfriend only had a hundred thousand shillings. The other girls in the clique and their husbands together pledged sums that totaled to a million. To belong, and to save face, Carol pledged a hundred thousand: forty thousand for herself and sixty for Jesse.
When she told him what she had done, he calmly told her that he wouldn’t pay. She hit the roof. Tears flowed. He was called names. An advisory committee of girlfriends was convened on WhatsApp and it reached the conclusion that Jesse was hopelessly stingy and should be dumped.
So the tightfisted son of the soil was dumped the same day.
Jesse smiles as he remembers this incident. Over the years his stingy nature has helped him to establish a healthy bank account and investments that he is proud of. He can now afford to afford to fund his 1.5 million wedding without help. His fiancé Judith is not contributing even a coin, because Jesse told her she doesn’t need to. He has enough to cover their budget. Of course they could do a larger wedding and have Judith contribute, but Jesse does not believe in unnecessary displays of opulence. And Judith agrees.
Jesse met Judith through his best friend Eric. Actually, he originally thought Erick and Judith were dating. But they both denied it whenever anyone mentioned it, insisting that they were just friends and colleagues at work. Jesse wasn’t the only one who was not persuaded.
So although he liked her, he kept away.
But Erick got married last year. He met a woman online, proposed to her within a month and married her three months later. Jesse thought it was a risky move, but even he has had to admit that Erick got it right. Zuhura is a lovely woman: warm, pleasant and very intelligent. And she is obviously madly in love with Erick, even a year later.
It is after Erick’s wedding that Jesse ventured to ask Judith out. One thing followed the other and they are now set to walk down the aisle this Saturday. Quite naturally, Erick and Zuhura are their best couple. Judith is a sanguine who has a knack for making every situation light. That is why he enjoys her company…
With this thought hanging, he puts on his coat and clears his desk. He should surprise her. He knows she is home because by now her routine is inked in his head. She insists on spending Monday evenings at her house alone reading. But it is a week to their wedding so he figures he can break the rule and surprise her.
He exits the office and walks to Text Book Centre where picks the three books she has been drooling over for the last couple of weeks. He then buys flowers and drives to her house. His biggest battle, he knows, will be to stop her from carrying these books to their honeymoon.
Is buying them a good idea in the first place?
The guard at the gate waves him in and directs him to a parking slot. He climbs the stairs to Judith’s first-floor apartment quietly. He has a key to the apartment and intends to surprise her while he is already inside.
He turns the key on the lock very gently and slides into the corridor. The design of the house is such that someone sitting in the sitting room cannot see the corridor. Jesse tiptoes across the corridor. He can hear murmurs and imagines she is on phone. She surprised him this way last month, in his house, and brought him the tie that is now his favorite…the one he is wearing today. Today is his day to revenge.
At the edge of the corridor, he peeps into the sitting room, ready to shout surprise! But then what he sees sends a chill down his spine, and his heart nearly stops. There on the couch is a naked Judith, and an equally naked Erick, right in the middle of a steamy, carnal session.
Is this why she has been insisting that “her Mondays are sacred”? Jesse’s mind is in turmoil, and he does not know what to do. Should he confront them or should he sneak out again and leave?
Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/rose-lisianthus-blossoms-still-life-4786074/
To purchase any of the books in our e-bookstore (including the latest one, Shaken Foundations), you can follow either one of two main ways:
- MPESA Automated Digital Payment Method. Log in to the bookstore- register if you are new-(https://www.maroncha.com/book-store ). Select the book. Add to cart, check out then pay by inserting your number on the space provided then clicking ‘confirm’. You will be able to download instantly from the bookstore. A copy will also be automatically sent to your email.
- Pay Via Till Number. Log in to the bookstore- register if you are new-(https://www.maroncha.com/book-store ). Select the book. Add to cart, check out then pay via the Buy Goods Till Number provided. Once you get the message from MPESA, insert the MPESA code on the space provided then click ‘Validate Code’. You will be able to download instantly from the bookstore. A copy will also be automatically sent to your email.
If you are completely unable to use the above two methods, you can still purchase your copy manually. The only disadvantage of this method is that you will have to wait for a few hours before you get your copy. But eventually it will come.
- Pay Kshs. 100 to Buy Goods Till Number 297264 and send an email to email@example.com (or DM Sanctuary Side on Facebook) stating your MPESA name. Use the name of the book as the subject of your email. If you send a DM to Sanctuary Side on Facebook, kindly also include your email address. I will send your copy once I verify your payment.
- Pay Kshs. 100 to Buy Goods Till Number 297264 and send an SMS/WhatsApp message to 0105571156 stating your MPESA name and the name of the book you wish to purchase. I will send your copy once I verify your payment.
Remember you can always DM Sanctuary Side on Facebook, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a WhatsApp message to 0105571156 if you have a query or feedback.
See you all on Friday.