…to have and to hold from this day forward, to love and to cherish, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.
Daniel remembers these words as though he and Cecilia said them yesterday. But they actually said them thirty one years ago, when they stood at PCEA Kathigiri Church and exchanged their vows. At the time, they were both 24-year-old lovebirds, staring at the future with optimism. Thirty one years later, they have to a large extent fulfilled their dreams. They have gotten to the very top of their teaching careers, becoming school principals, and Cecilia is now a nominated Senator. They have brought up three wonderful children. They are both respected members of the community, and they are both church elders at PCEA Kathigiri church.
Even though Cecilia is a Senator and is widely known nationally, it is Daniel who more revered in their local community. Since taking the reins at Kagere Secondary School, he has transformed the school from a below-average boys’ secondary school to a regional giant in both academics and sports. Kagere High’s football, rugby and basketball teams are simply unbeatable in the region, and the school has consistently produced academic stars for the last seven or so years.
In fact, it was because of Daniel’s support that Cecilia nearly clinched the (elective) senatorial seat. Daniel did not support her publicly in terms of going out and speaking in public rallies. He is a publicity shy man, so most of the work he did was in the background. He drummed up support for her amongst other teachers, and he used his own money to oil her campaign. Most of her campaign volunteers were young people who Daniel mobilized and facilitated to go throughout the villages in the county spreading Cecilia’s campaign message.
Cecilia was an unknown candidate and even though she was vying on the ruling party’s ticket, the party did not avail its resources and machinery to her because she was expected to lose by a wide margin to the County’s veteran Senator. But she put up a strong showing, and lost narrowly to the sitting Senator. The county has long been considered an opposition zone and her strong showing was noticed by the ruling party and the President, and that is why she was nominated to the Senate.
Now she is considered the front runner in next year’s gubernatorial election. The Senator, who was widely expected to vie, has bowed out of the gubernatorial race and announced that he will instead defend his seat in the Senate. In the last four years Cecilia has become a household name in the country, owing to her outspoken nature and her solid support for the President. Some have even suggested that the President might drop the current Deputy President and pick her as his running mate for the second term. It is not a secret that the President and his Deputy do not get along.
Daniel would have been happy to continue supporting Cecilia in the background, but their marriage has deteriorated in the last four years, and he has been thinking about divorce. Ever since Cecilia got nominated to the Senate, she has been treating him like trash. Daniel thinks they should part ways quietly and amicably, even though it hurts him, but it seems that Cecilia will not leave him quietly. She is determined to destroy him completely. She told him so herself shortly before she got him arrested.
Daniel and Cecilia met at the university and were pleasantly surprised to learn that they were from the same area. The conversation started from there and ultimately led them to the altar. By some stroke of luck, they were both posted to Kagere Secondary School.
There were only four fully fledged universities then-the University of Nairobi, Moi University, Kenyatta University and the new kid on the block, Egerton. Being a University student was therefore a big deal. In fact, when Daniel and Cecilia landed at Kagere Secondary School, they were the first graduate teachers to teach there in the history of the school. They were also the first university graduates of the three neighboring villages of Kathigiri (where Daniel comes from and where their matrimonial home stands), Kagere (where the school they first taught, and which Daniel now heads, is) and Magijo (where Cecilia was born and brought up).
Theirs was therefore a wedding of elites, and it was celebrated across the three villages.
For twenty seven years, everything was okay and their marriage flourished. Daniel is a traditional type of husband who believes that taking care of his family’s financial needs is his sole responsibility. Ever since they got married, Daniel has never asked Cecilia to chip in financially. In fact, he has never asked her what she does with her salary. Between his salary and his farming activities, he was making enough to sustain his family without asking Cecilia to contribute anything. In turn, he expected her to take care of the household; but when she said that she was not meant to cook and wash, Daniel hired a house manager to avoid an unnecessary fight.
By the time they got married, Daniel had already constructed a four bedroom house in Kathigiri using a loan from a farmers Sacco his father had introduced him to. Daniel had been saving in the Sacco since he turned eighteen, when his father gave him three acres of their ancestral land as his inheritance. On one of those acres, he has a small tea plantation, and KTDA pays him through the Sacco. He also had four dairy cows, and he was saving proceeds from the milk in the Sacco. The number of cows has since risen to eleven, and he still saves his proceeds in the Sacco. Daniel uses the rest of the farm to grow food crops such as maize, beans, arrow roots, cassava, sweet potatoes and bananas.
It is his father who used to manage the farm on his behalf when he was away at University, but he used to pop in every so often to check on things. He had two young men working at the farm, ensuring that the food crops were well tended and the cows fed and milked. The tea leaves were plucked by a team of casuals. His farming activities succeeded, and so it wasn’t difficult for him to get a loan to build his house five years later, at the age of twenty three. His father and his two brothers, successful farmers in their own right, were his guarantors for the loan. They are not as educated as he is, but they are also financially stable.
Daniel graduated when he was 24, and a couple of months later he married Cecilia. They got three children in quick succession: twin boys and a girl. Daniel paid school fees for them, bought their school materials and gave them pocket money from the day they started schooling till they completed their studies. All the three children studied at Kline Cottage School, an elite private primary school in the area. The boys proceeded to Mang’u High School and the girl to Alliance Girls High School.
All the three children are grown up now. The twins, Julius and Julian, got scholarships to study at the University of Southern California in the US and decided to settle there after graduation. The girl, Joyce, went to Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia. Upon graduation she was hired by the University, so she stayed on. Daniel and Cecilia have been empty nesters for almost decade now.
Problems in Daniel’s marriage started four years ago when Cecilia decided to join politics. Both of them were already school principals. Cecilia was the principal of Kagwaci Girls High School while Daniel was and still is the head of Kagere High School, the school where they both began their teaching careers. Both Daniel and Cecilia taught at Kagere for nine years, and they got promoted at the same time. Cecilia became the Deputy Principal of Kagwaci Girls, where she was later promoted to be the principal after the legendary and long serving principal, Mrs. Makau, retired. Daniel joined Kambaki Secondary School as the Deputy Principal, before returning to Kagere as the Principal fifteen years ago.
Daniel is turning fifty five next month, and he has been thinking about taking early retirement from his teaching job so that he can focus on his farms and businesses. He has been looking forward to a quiet retirement after spending fifteen eventful years as the Principal of Kagere High School. But a quiet retirement seems unlikely now, if Cecilia is to be taken seriously.
One of the sore points in their marriage has been her drinking. Ever since she became a Senator she has become a party animal and started drinking heavily. Their first bitter disagreement occurred four years ago when she came home drunk. Daniel told her that he did not approve of her new lifestyle, and she accused him of trying to control her. Their marriage went downhill from there, and now she rarely comes home, preferring to stay at the house she rented in Nairobi.
But last night she appeared at their rural home while tipsy. It was obvious that she was spoiling for a fight. She told Daniel that the President wanted to know if they could they could count on him in the upcoming election.
“Of course not, Cecilia. I don’t support political causes, and I don’t even like your President. I supported you in the last election because I thought you would bring change. You are my wife and I thought I knew you. But I was obviously wrong. So tell your President that I said he should count me out.”
“You are going to regret this, Daniel. You don’t know who you are messing with.”
It is that point that she started screaming. Her bodyguards came and arrested him, and he was quickly whisked away to the police station. Yesterday was Friday, so that means he will remain in the cells till he is taken to court on Monday.
A friendly cop has shown him a copy of one of the leading newspapers. Cecilia is on the front page, standing outside a hospital with a swollen and badly bruised face. The caption on the photo is: “Senator Battered by Husband after she asks him for Divorce over Infidelity.”
The story is on page four of the newspaper, but the cop did not allow him to read. He was afraid of getting caught by his bosses. The cop told Daniel that most people know he is innocent, but they also know that powerful people are out to get him, so nobody wants to get into trouble.
Daniel doesn’t know what Cecilia did to her face because he didn’t touch her. What he knows is that he faces rough days ahead.
Image by Whitfiedink from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/man-paris-traffic-france-people-2379025/
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