(Continued from Thin Blood I)
“Babe, why don’t we start a farming venture?” Marion asks. William looks at her to see if she is joking, but she is not. She seems not to understand the fact that he has no money. His salary is depressed by loans.
For years now, William stays in school until late at night to avoid going home to Hellen. Last year he started an affair with his colleague Marion, who lives in the school’s staff quarters. That is where he is right now. He will still go home, but that will be past 11 p.m. after Hellen has gone to bed. He will leave the house before she wakes up, but he doesn’t go to Marion’s house because he doesn’t want to ignite too many rumors.
William doesn’t understand how life works anymore. He has always worked hard, right from his days as a student. But somehow life has not been kind to him the way it has been to his brothers. That illiterate boy Donald has somehow managed to become wealthy, and William firmly believes that he has made sacrifices to the devil. There is no way to explain his success other than that. Hellen is the one who came up with that idea, and William believes her.
But Hellen is a problem herself, and she is the reason why William dreads going home. William regrets marrying her. She has never really loved him, and she only married him because she thought he was a better prospect than his brother Donald. To be fair, he also did not love her in the strict sense of the word, but he was flattered by her attention. She was and still is a very beautiful woman, and sleeping with her was a thrilling experience.
And then she became pregnant.
She made it clear to him then that she had never slept with Donald, and that he was the only man she had had carnal knowledge of. It therefore followed that the pregnancy was his. At the time, William was the youth chairman at their church, and he did not want to have his name soiled by a pregnancy. A wedding was quickly organized. By that time, William had managed to get a staff house, and that is where he and Hellen moved.
There were murmurs, of course. Everyone had always known that Hellen was Donald’s girlfriend, and so some people were uncomfortable with the arrangement. But William was the role model in their village, the bright boy who had made it to the university. Parents encouraged their children to be like him. He could do no wrong. It helped matters when Donald started drinking heavily. The story became that Donald had lost a good woman because of his alcoholism; and that Hellen had been wise in choosing the more responsible brother.
But William now knows that it is Donald who is fortunate.
Hellen is lazy, and she is a spendthrift. Because she did a tailoring and dressmaking course, William took a loan and opened a tailoring shop for her. But his money sank and the shop collapsed. Hellen wanted a big shop where she would be making designer clothes, and in her mind, she would become a celebrity tailor. After William finished paying his construction loan, he took another and set up a large shop for her. He sank almost two million shillings renting a large floor space for her, buying imported fabric, buying sewing machines, and paying salaries.
Hellen did not want to do the actual work of making clothes. She called herself “CEO and Lead Designer” and even printed fancy business cards to that effect. She carved an office for herself at the shop and bought expensive furniture. She told him that she was nothing like “that prostitute Mary” who was dirtying her hands working with her employees to feed and slaughter chicken and to collect eggs. Hellen was a woman of class. Her tailors did all the work while she just barked orders.
Two problems emerged. First, every few people in their local neighborhood could afford the clothes she was selling. William encouraged her to move out of her comfort zone and start marketing her products. She tried Facebook and Instagram, and the few reviews she got were negative, with people complaining about the poor design of the displayed clothes. Hellen said that they lacked taste, and they were poor and could not afford them anyway. She decided to sell the clothes to her friends on credit, arguing that they would market the shop for her in their circles. Most of the so-called friends never paid for the clothes, and the shop, quite unsurprisingly, went belly up.
Meanwhile, the so-called “prostitute” was dirtying her hands at her farm alongside her employees. In the afternoons she would shower, put on a cheap but decent dress and Ngoma rubber shoes, and go to talk to restaurant owners about buying her eggs and poultry meat. Before long, she was supplying all the restaurants in the area.
People badmouthed her, saying that restaurateurs were taking her products because she was sleeping with them, but that tired line ignored the fact that a majority of the restaurants in the area were either owned or managed by women. The rumors were spread by Hellen, who was growing extremely jealous of Mary’s increasing success.
Her failed business and Mary’s increasing success made Hellen very irritable and rocked the already failing marriage even further. Hellen couldn’t stop talking about how “the wicked cannot prosper in the long term”. William soon got tired of her whining and that is when he started to go home late. At first, he just used to stay at school reading or preparing lesson plans. Last year Marion was transferred to the school, and she also started working late.
William and Marion soon became an item, especially after Marion got a staff house. These days Marion doesn’t stay in school after hours. She goes home with the others. William stays behind until darkness comes, and then sneaks into her house, which is within the school compound. He takes his meals in her house and satisfies the lusts of his flesh before heading home, usually past 11 p.m. This has of course increased tensions in his house, even though Hellen seems to be unaware that he is seeing another woman. The main contention is the lack of money. The fact that William is spending money on Marion means there is less available for Hellen and the children. The situation is set to become worse because Marion is pregnant, and while he does not intend to publicly acknowledge the baby, he has promised Marion that he will take care of it.
William is frustrated by the fact that while he was the one who showed the greatest promise when they were younger, his brothers have both overtaken him in terms of wealth creation. Donald is of course the family tycoon, but Richard has also done well. He and his wife Doris, who is also a primary school teacher, took loans, bought a piece of land, and built rental houses. All the units are always occupied, and vacancy in any of the houses never lasts more than two months. Richard and Doris also bought another piece of land on which they planted tea bushes, which they are now harvesting. Doris started a pig project at their farm. Her sister-in-law Mary gave her an interest-free loan to use as the initial capital. Mary’s poultry project was already doing well, while Doris’ finances were depressed by the loan she and her husband had taken to finance their rental houses project. The pig project has taken off well, and Doris has already paid off the loan Mary advanced to her.
The success of his brothers both in marriage and wealth creation makes William feel very inadequate. He used to be the star, while his brothers stayed in his shadow, but now they have both overtaken him. Other than the house he built when he was newly married, he has nothing to show for all these years he has been employed. He is still repaying the loan that took to finance Hellen’s disastrous venture.
William rolls a piece of ugali in his fingers, adds a little Sukuma wiki, a piece of meat, and a piece of avocado, and puts it into his mouth. If there is something Marion does well, it is cooking. Ever since he started eating at her house, he has no desire to touch anything that is cooked at his house. Hellen doesn’t cook. She is not formally employed or in business but she insisted that he has to hire a house help to assist her with house chores. William agreed, and every month he forks out five thousand shillings for that purpose. Five thousand is a huge slice on his pay slip.
He would have preferred to spend that money on Marion, who is an uncomplicated woman. But the thing is, while Marion is not complicated in the sense that she is not a drama kind of a woman, she represents a complication in his life. He is a married man and a member of the Presbyterian Church Men Fellowship (PCMF) (which his younger brother Richard is currently chairing). William has three children: Luke, who was born shortly after his wedding to Hellen, is in form two. Lisbeth is in grade seven, while Tracy is in grade five. William is no longer in love with Hellen, but he is proud of his family as a unit. It is the only thing that makes him feel manly.
But Marion represents a fresh start. She is an intelligent woman. She is hardworking and might be the piece missing in his life, for him to be as successful as his siblings. On top of that, she is already pregnant with his baby, so he can start another family. Maybe he should kick out Hellen from their matrimonial home and officially marry Marion.
But he knows that Hellen will not go without a fight, and so it will turn out to be a huge scandal. Hellen might even lay a claim on the house as her “matrimonial home”, egged on by her “enlightened” friends. William decides that he doesn’t have the energy to pick a fight with her. Maybe a better plan would be to move in with Marion right here in the staff quarters. But that might cause problems because the school is sponsored by the church. There are rumors about their affair, and that is largely not a problem as long as it is not officially recognized. But the school principal, who is a church elder, would never allow them to officially live together in the staff quarters, even though he is a he-goat himself.
“I don’t have money, babe. I told you. I took a loan to help Hellen start a business and she squandered it. I am still paying that loan.”
“The project will not require a lot of money.”
“Of course it will. We cannot do it on my land because that will cause problems with Hellen. That means we will have to buy a piece of land and have some capital for the project itself.”
“I have the land. I inherited it from my father. I took a loan and I am already dropping construction materials at the site…”
“You are? I didn’t know that…”
“I want you to join me. You have told me that you love me, not Hellen. Why don’t you help me build and farm?”
William sighs. This relationship was going on so well. But now these demands for money will make it impossible for William to continue seeing Marion.
“As I told you, babe, I don’t have money.”
“I am not talking about money, babe. As I told you, I already took a loan. I have money to complete the house and to start the farming project. By the way, I want to grow various types of fruits. All I need is for you to stand by my side as my husband. Be there with me at the construction site and the farm, and when the house is complete, move in with me. I want our family to have a complete family. I know you have another family and I have no problem with that. But I don’t want my child to be a hidden child without the official recognition of its father.”
William is lost for words. On the one hand, he desperately wants to escape from Hellen and her negativity, and being with Marion is the best alternative. She is a good woman. She respects him, she is hardworking and he ranks her up there with his two sisters-in-law. But if he agrees to her proposal, he will be a “kept man”, moving to a woman’s home. He will be a butt of jokes and his pride will take a further beating.
For a moment, he is lost for words.
To purchase any of the books in our e-bookstore (including the latest one, The Photographer), 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 Wednesday.