(Continued from The Green-Eyed Monster III)
Judith and Janet join the rest of the family for breakfast. Everyone is in a good mood, and the two try to keep up the cheer. But their smiles are plastic, and they hope that nobody notices. Fortunately, with so many people in the dining room, nobody pays any special attention to them, although Judith can see Moreen stealing glances at her.
Thirty minutes later, Janet slips out of the room. She walks out to the lawn and calls Barasa.
“What is going on Barasa? Joe hasn’t come back?”
“No he hasn’t. Has he called Doreen?”
“I have no idea. I don’t want to ask because that will alarm her. Do you think he has run away?”
“That has crossed my mind, but I think we should give him more time. Maybe he is just walking around the estate clearing his mind. If you heard your daughter correctly, then Joe has some tough decisions to make.”
“You are right. How much time should we give him?”
“We were supposed to leave our home at twelve so that we can be at yours at one. I think we should give him until eleven. If he hasn’t appeared by then, I will call you so that we can chart a way forward. If he comes before then, I will call you immediately I talk to him.”
After talking to Barasa, Janet walks back to the house and signals her husband to follow her. Bruce sits quietly as he listens to his wife.
“What should we do?” Janet asks her husband after she is through with her narration.
“Preparations will go on as planned. At eleven we will hear what Barasa has to say. If Joe is still missing, then we will call off the event so that they can look for their son without pressure. But we will break the news gently to Doreen first before telling everyone else. I suspect that that boy has run away, but we can’t tell Doreen that.”
At ten minutes past eleven, a smiling Doreen enters her father’s study. But the smile vanishes when she sees her parents’ facial expressions.
“Papa you called me. Is there a problem?”
“Yes honey, we have a problem. Joe has disappeared.”
“What do you mean ‘disappeared’?”
“According to his father, he walked out of the compound at about 8 am and said he was going to the shopping centre to buy airtime to call you. He was still in his pajamas. He hasn’t been seen or heard from, since that time. His uncles have checked the shopping centre. Apparently he was seen in a café but he didn’t buy anything there. He left in a hurry shortly afterwards.”
“He has run away papa. He was toying with me all this time. Imagine the way I trusted him!”
“We don’t know that honey. Maybe something happened to him. I am sure there is an explanation for all this.”
Doreen dials Joe’s number. He doesn’t pick. She calls again; still, no answer.
“Joe has stood me up papa. There is no other explanation,” she says, tears rolling down her cheeks. “First, we talked at around 7.30 am and weren’t planning to talk again until later in the day. Second, Joe doesn’t need to buy airtime. That was a lie because he uses a postpaid bundle, and he renewed his monthly subscription just three days ago. I was actually with him when he renewed it. In any case, even if he needed airtime, which he didn’t, MPESA is a convenient way to purchase it. That airtime story is fictional. He is hiding.”
“But why would he do that?” Janet asks, trying to sound innocent.
“I don’t know mother, and that is why this hurts so much.”
As Janet tries to calm down her daughter, Bruce goes to convene an urgent family meeting. Besides his parents, siblings, his siblings-in-law and the whole lot of nephews and nieces, several other people have gathered in the compound. Their pastor, Revered Anthony Mbuya is there with his wife. Some friends from the church are present, although others chose to team up with the Barasas. Quite a number of neighbors are also present, as are Bruce’s colleagues at the University as well as many employees of the publishing firm. Older folks are gathered in the tents chatting, while the younger people are all over the compound taking photos because the Mwantega’s compound is truly scenic.
Snacks were served at 10 AM, but they are available for those who are still arriving, or those who want a second helping. It was part of the agreement that Janet had with the catering company, because she knows that there is nothing that keeps people entertained more than food. There is a buffet of tea, fruit juice, boiled arrow roots and sweet potatoes, sausages, samosas, mandazi and roasted Irish potatoes. Bruce worried that the people would be unable to eat lunch if they took too many snacks, but Janet brushed those concerns aside. She knows that people tend to overeat in ceremonies.
Bruce considers talking to immediate family first before addressing the whole group but decides against it. All the people present are people close to them, so why should he do double work? He gathers everyone under one tent. It is hardly enough, so the younger people have to stand.
“Friends, we have some unfortunate news,” Bruce begins. That silences those who were still murmuring. “I have just received news from our in-laws that our groom is missing.”
The murmuring begins again, and everyone seems to be talking at once. Bruce raises his hand and silence is restored.
“According to the young man’s father, Joe stepped out of the house at around 8 am to go and buy airtime at the shopping centre near their home. He was still in his pajamas. After that nobody has seen or heard from him. His phone is going answered. All his friends don’t know where he could be. We are just praying that he is safe. His family has already mounted a search party in their estate and neighboring estates for clues as to where he could be. They have also sought the help of the DCI to try and locate him through his phone.”
Bruce knows that Doreen has correctly assessed the situation even though she doesn’t know the whole truth. That boy has run away. There is no other explanation. But he has decided not to say that because it will raise more questions than he is prepared to give answers for. That is why he has carefully used the word “missing”. So many people are reported missing these days, many of whom are often found dead days later. He knows that that is what is going on in the minds of everyone listening to him, and he feels bad for misleading them.
He feels like giving Moreen a thorough beating. Why would she do that to her sister? But at the same time he is also grateful that she exposed Joe. Bruce is convinced that if Joe could sleep with his fiancée’s sister, then he could sleep with other women as well. In fact, he was probably doing that. In a twisted way, therefore, Moreen saved her sister from marital misery.
“Under these circumstances, we will obviously not have the dowry negotiations. Even if that boy is found right now, that family is already too disoriented to join us for a celebration. I think that it is only fair that we postpone. But there is plenty of food, so please do not leave us with the food. It is already paid for, so even if the day has turned out to be a sad one, we should at least clear the food.
I also think we should hold a mini-service, perhaps have a few praise and worship songs, then we can pray and later on pastor can share the word. I don’t know if that is in order pastor?”
“That is perfectly in order,” Pastor Anthony, an elderly man, probably in his seventies, says. He steps forward from his seat and stands next to Bruce. “You know scripture instructs us to give thanks in all situations. It doesn’t say that we should give thanks only in joyful situations. It says in all situations.”
Realizing that the pastor is getting into his preaching mode, Bruce steps away and goes back to the house to check on his daughter.
As the pastor drones on, Moreen can barely contain her excitement. She cannot believe that she actually stopped Doreen’s traditional wedding. She knows that nothing bad has happened to Joe. He has just chosen the cowardly path and escaped, just like she suspected he would.
With Doreen’s marriage plans scuttled, she (Moreen) is now the dominant twin. Romance was the only thing that was working for Doreen, so now she will sink into oblivion while Moreen’s star continues to shine. Moreen is relishing the success of her plan when another idea strikes her. She can twist the knife in her sister’s back by talking about the whole incident on her YouTube channel. Of course she will make it appear like she is criticizing “spineless men like my sister’s fiancé who vanished on the day of their bride price ceremony” but by so doing, she will humiliate her sister by letting everyone know that she was ghosted on her big day.
(This is the last free sub-chapter of this story. To read the rest of the story and find out what happens to Doreen, Moreen and Joe, kindly follow the instructions below and acquire your copy of the novella for only Kshs. 100).
Image by Gabriele M. Reinhardt from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/black-red-gold-still-life-elegant-3316874/
To purchase any of the books in our e-bookstore (including the latest one, The Green-Eyed Monster, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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 email@example.com or send a WhatsApp message to 0105571156 if you have a query or feedback.
The next story begins on Tuesday. See you all then.