(Continued from The Tango of Love III)
Nicholas wakes up with a hollow feeling in his heart. He cannot believe that his five-year relationship has ended with that one brutal phone call. He is surprised and hurt, but he is not shocked. The signs have been there. Jean has been acting strange for a few months. She is no longer the bubbly girl who was always eager to tell him stories about her work. He knew right from the beginning that something was bothering her, but whenever he asked, he would be told that it is ‘nothing.’
He racked his brains for a whole month and could not come up with a solution. That is when he decided to confide in his friend Bartholomew. Nicholas and Bartholomew have been friends since their days at Kapsabet High School. They went to the University of Nairobi together and were stationed at the main campus. Nicholas was pursuing Actuarial Science, Bartholomew was studying Civil Engineering. They served at the Main Campus Christian Union together, and when they graduated, they joined the same church.
Bartholomew works in a construction company. He has been married for three years now. His wife Susan bonded well with Jean and they became quite close. Besides the fact that they are close friends, Nicholas also confided in his friend hoping that Jean had said something to Susan that would help him understand what the problem was. But Bartholomew had no useful information to offer.
“I don’t think she told my wife anything, mate. Susan would have told me,” Bartholomew said at the time.
“I really don’t know what the problem is.”
“I don’t want to pressure you buddy, but I think you should consider getting married. Maybe Jean is getting impatient.”
“But we have already talked about that. She knows that I will marry her as soon as I graduate from Bible School.”
“I know man, but women are special. Younger women are getting married almost every weekend. She must be feeling left behind. Think about it this way: when she meets Susan, my wife’s obsession right now is our baby. That is probably what they will discuss. But Jean doesn’t have a baby, so she has no stories to share. She will simply be listening to Susan gushing about baby Kyle. It is probably the same case with several of her other friends. That might exert some pressure on her. She will not discuss it with you because like you have said, you have already talked and set timelines. She wouldn’t want to appear to be pressuring you. But that doesn’t mean she is not feeling the pressure within her.”
That made a lot of sense to Nicholas. He had been holding off marriage because he thought that between his job and school, he wouldn’t have enough time to spare for his wife. He thought that getting married after completing his studies would help him start his marriage on the right foot. But he took Bartholomew’s advice and formally proposed marriage to Jean. He had meant to surprise her, but the surprise was on him. He expected her to accept the proposal with excitement, but when he took the ring out she looked at him as though he was asking her to eat a raw frog. She did not say no, but her eyes did. Yet Nicholas gave her time, hoping she would remember all the good times they had shared over five years and accept his proposal. That hope was crushed when she dumped him on phone.
Being dumped has direct implications on Nicholas’ job. All pastors and deacons at Glory & Praise Ministries International, where Nicholas ministers, are expected to be married. This includes the youth pastor. The church is very strict about that. Nicholas is the first unmarried pastor in the church. This issue was raised during the interviews for the job of pastoral intern, but consideration was given to the fact that Nicholas was in a stable relationship that was expected to lead to marriage. Jean was even called in to confirm that she was willing and ready to marry him.
The church leadership demanded timelines, and Nicholas managed to convince them that it would be best if he got married after he was through with Bible School. Fortunately for him, the Senior Pastor understood his point of view. Apparently he had done the same as a young man; he proposed to Samantha before he went to Bible School and married her after graduating. They have been pastoring together since. Now that Nicholas’ story with Jean has failed to fit into that narrative, what is Nicholas going to tell the Senior Pastor and the church board? Is he supposed to resign?
The first person he decides to call is Bartholomew. It is early in the morning but he knows that both Bartholomew and Susan are early risers. Bartholomew and his wife were classmates, but they work for different construction companies. They have been mauling over the idea of quitting and starting their own company, but the idea is yet to materialize.
“You will not believe this my friend,” Bartholomew tells his friend when he picks the call. “You have called seconds after Susan asked me whether I called you. I had purposed to call yesterday but I got a bit too busy. Work was overwhelming yesterday.”
“Why? What’s up?”
“Can we talk face to face? I would like to discuss this personally. Perhaps we should meet for lunch.”
“You are scaring me.”
“Relax brother. The news I have for you is certainly unpleasant, but nobody has died. What do you say about lunch?”
“Lunch is okay. Can we meet at that café opposite the church?”
“Sure. I will be there at around 1.15 pm. Anyway, you must have had a reason to call me this early.”
“Yeah, man. It seems I am surrounded by bad news.”
“Why, what happened?”
“Jean dumped me last night.”
Bartholomew does not respond immediately, and Nicholas checks his phone to see if connection has been disrupted. It hasn’t.
“Bro, are you there?”
“I am man, I am sorry. I guess what I wanted to tell you has been overtaken by events. I should have called you yesterday.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The thing is, the night before last, Susan and I were having dinner at Rhino hotel. Jean entered with another man. We didn’t think much of it, because it could easily have been a client. She didn’t see us. The first thing that caught our attention was the fact that she and the other man kept feeding each other…you know, like lovers. They left before us, and we watched them through the window. Just before they got into the man’s Mercedes, he pulled her close and kissed her. She did not resist. In fact, she wrapped her hands around his neck and kissed him back. Then they hopped into that man’s car and drove away. All along we have been wondering what is wrong with Jean; the answer is simply that she has been cheating on you.”
Nicholas sighs deeply but that does not relieve the tension he is feeling within him. One word that has caught his attention is “Mercedes.” Bartholomew probably did not notice as he said it, but the implication is that Jean’s lover is wealthier than he is.
“Niko, are you there?”
“I am here bro.”
“I am so sorry man.”
Nicholas showers, takes breakfast and heads to the office. As he waits for the matatu to fill up, he is acutely aware of the fact that at this very moment Jean’s new boyfriend is probably driving his Mercedes to work. Yet he, Nicholas will probably be fired when he gets to the office.
He had hoped Jean would come to her senses and apologize. But now he knows she will not. The information Bartholomew has given explains so many things, including their bizarre break up last night. When he gets to the office, the first person he will go to see is the Senior Pastor. He will explain the situation to him. Reverend Benedict is a good man, but he is principled, and he rarely deviates from his principles. Nicholas therefore knows what will happen when he informs the pastor about his predicament. The pastor will sympathize, but he will go ahead and explain why he has to fire him.
Nicholas is worried about his career. He has really been enjoying his pastoral work. But if he is fired today, which other church will hire him? Probably none; many churches prefer getting pastors from within their own ranks. He may have to offer his services as a volunteer in another church before getting a paid pastoral job. Losing his job will mean losing his Bible School scholarship, so even if he volunteers he will not be a real pastor. Besides, what will he be eating while volunteering? How will he be paying rent? All his friends are now married, so he cannot stay with any of them like he did with Bartholomew immediately after campus.
He is also worried about the loan he took to help Jean start her business. He still has two years left before he repays it in full. Because of that loan, he does not have any savings. He is not bitter. Given a chance, he still would do it again, because he did it out of love. And the way Jean has treated him does not change the fact that he loved her when he gave her the money. He is just worried about his financial situation. It is the first day of the month, so he has paid his bills. He will survive until the end of the month. After that he will be officially destitute unless God intervenes in a mighty way.
(This is the end of the free part of the story. To read the other six chapters and find out what becomes of Nicholas and Jean, kindly follow the instructions below to purchase your copy of the novella for only Kshs. 100)
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