(Continued from The Green-Eyed Monster II)
As instructed by his father, Joe walks out of his parent’s compound calmly.
“I hear that you are getting married today,” the watchman at the gate tells him by way of greeting.
“Yes, man. Today I will get married the African way. But I will still do a church wedding later.”
Like his father, Joe makes friends easily, and he does not discriminate. More than that, his father taught him the virtue of respecting lower cadre staff the same way he respects senior executives. His father’s lessons were probably unnecessary; Joe naturally knows how to charm his way through life, and that includes being sweet to everyone including security guards, janitors and other junior employees of any organisation. It has served him well. There was a time he was late in submitting an assignment while he was studying at the University of Liverpool. He managed to convince a janitor to take his paper with her and mix it with the others when she went to clean the professor’s office. In another incident, his car was detained in Nairobi because he had not paid the parking fee. But he charmed the traffic Marshall he found nearby, and she interceded on his behalf and got the car released. His charm works best on women, but he is able to easily cultivate a connection with men as well.
“Good luck man, and welcome to the married side of the world.”
“Thanks man. Let me get to the shopping centre. I want to buy airtime to call the girl to find out if she is as excited as I am.”
He gives the guard a thumbs up and steps out of the gate. The shopping centre is about a kilometer away, but he strolls leisurely. When he gets there, he enters the only café at the shopping centre and finds a vacant table. A waiter comes to serve him, but he tells him to give him a few minutes to make up his mind. He has no intention of taking breakfast here though, although he is starving. He needs to get away as quickly as possible. He opens the Uber app on his phone and places a request for a taxi. His ride takes only four minutes to arrive, but he steps out of the café and tells the driver to wait for him high up on the road. He does not want anybody to see him getting into the car. He strolls along the road in no apparent hurry and when he finally gets to the Uber, he directs the driver to take him to Sarit Centre in Westlands.
At Sarit, he finds an eatery and settles down to have breakfast. While eating, he checks the available flights from JKIA to Heathrow Airport in London. There is no flight available until early tomorrow morning, but he finds an Egyptair flight from Nairobi to Edinburgh through Cairo. It will be leaving at 2 pm and it has only one seat remaining. He quickly books it. That flight works for him even though it will be a very long journey with a three hour layover in Cairo. If he can’t leave for England, he might as well go to Scotland. That is better than having to spend the night in Kampala or Dar. From Edinburgh he will take a short flight to Glasgow to visit his sister. He will take advantage of the chance to pick a petty fight with her for not travelling home for his ruracio; the ruracio that he himself has skipped.
Still at Sarit, he finds a clothing store and buys a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, boxer shorts, sunglasses, loafers and a backpack. He walks into a bookstore and purchases a novel. Failing to find any John Grisham or Michael Palmer novel, he chooses Michael Connelly’s Blood Work. He walks out of Sarit and finds a small hotel along Parklands Road. He checks in, takes a shower and changes into his newly acquired clothes. He throws the clothes he had been wearing into his new backpack.
He settles in the room and starts to read the novel. At 12.00 pm, he goes down to the hotel’s restaurant and takes lunch. As he eats, he checks his phone and sees that he has missed twenty five calls from friends and relatives. Before he left the house, he made sure that he put his phone on silent mode, so he did not hear the calls coming in. He also has numerous text and WhatsApp messages asking where he is. He smiles as he checks out of the hotel, ignoring the receptionist who is giving him a curious look. She must wonder what kind of weirdo checks into a hotel at 10 am and checks out at 12.30 pm the same day. But it is his money and he can spend it however he wishes.
He gets into an Uber and cruises to the airport. At 2.15 pm, he is in the sky, aboard an Egyptian plane. Joe feels bad for what he is making Doreen and his mother go through, but this was the best way. He has already told his sister that he is on his way to Glasgow and has asked her to relay that same message to their mother after four hours, so that the gentle lady’s mind can be at peace.
“Hello, Janet. I am told that Joe has gone to the shopping centre. The guard at the gate tells me that he said he wants to get airtime to call Doreen. I will talk to him when he gets back, then I will call you.”
“Okay, that is fine.”
Barasa hangs up, and is about to turn and head back to the house when he realizes that his wife is standing behind him.
“Is there a problem darling? Why are you and Janet discussing Joe? And what do you need to talk to him about?”
“Yes we have a problem, sweetheart. Janet called me a few minutes ago to tell me that she has overheard her daughter talking to Joe…”
“But there is nothing wrong with that. They are probably planning a surprise for Doreen,” Faith cuts in, without waiting for him to finish what he was saying.
“It appears that they already have a surprise for her. Apparently, Joe has impregnated Moreen, and according to Janet, Moreen was blackmailing him on phone. She told him that if he shows up today then she will tell everyone about her pregnancy. Moreen is determined to make Joe marry her, instead of her sister Doreen.”
“Oh my God! What are we going to do now?”
“I need to talk to Joe first before planning anything. But I couldn’t find him in his room or anywhere in the house. So I came to talk to Jonathan here at the gate. Jonathan tells me that Joe has stepped out a few minutes ago and said he has gone to the shopping centre to get airtime so that he can call Doreen.”
“Do you think he has run away?”
“I don’t think so. Jonathan tells me that he has walked out in a loose short and T-shirt, the kind that he sleeps in. And on his feet he was wearing crocs. You know how particular Joe is about his appearance. I doubt he would run away without putting on something decent.”
“But why would he walk all the way to the shopping centre to purchase airtime when he could have done it in his room via MPESA?”
“I don’t know. But if you were in his shoes, don’t you think you would need a walk to clear your head?”
“You are right. Oh Barasa, what is this boy getting us into? What will the Mwantegas think of us?”
“Fortunately, their daughter is in the mix too. We are in this scam together, so we can’t shoulder the blame alone. But either way it is embarrassing for both families.”
“You are right. I would never have thought Joe is capable of anything like this. These children of ours are breaking my heart, Barasa. Haven’t we taught them the ways of the Lord? Why are they turning out like this? I thought Joe was on the right path, seeing how committed to church he was. But now I get to hear that he has impregnated his would-be sister-in-law. Look at Chantelle. She doesn’t even go to church anymore. She smokes cigarettes; drinks alcohol and sleeps with married men and doesn’t even pretend to feel guilty about it. Haven’t I been a good role model, sweetheart? Where did I fail as a mother?” Faith asks, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“You were the best mother those kids could have sweetheart. And you have always been a good role model,” Barasa says, hugging her. But even as he says that, he knows exactly what the problem is. The woman his wife has described as Chantelle is actually Annie Caxton. Their daughter took up the character of his ex-lover. If Joe knows about Annie, then it is very likely that Chantelle knows too; they probably found out about his affair with Annie when he was still sleeping with her. Barasa is certain that his relationship with Annie Caxton is the reason his children turned out to be the messed up adults they are now. But he cannot admit it to his wife without wrecking his marriage.
“We taught them the ways of the Lord sweetheart, so I am sure they will find the right path soon,” he says softly. “Because the Bible is clear: teach your children the way of the Lord, and when they are grown, they will not depart from it.”
Image by Jackson David from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/hands-hand-together-prayer-5216585/
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