(Continued from Troubled Castle III)
Janis is furious. How could he? How could Elijah talk to the General behind her back?
“I did not go to him Janis. He called me,”
“You could have told me about the call before you went!”
“I am sorry about that. The General asked me not to tell you about it before I met him but I should have told you. I am sorry about that. But I think the General has a point. We can slow things down until after the election. I am not going anywhere; I will still be here for you,”
“So you are saying that we should sacrifice our love for political expediency? What even makes you think I want to be Deputy President?”
Elijah takes a deep breath.
“It is just a few months sweetheart. Your divorce will not even be finalized by the time we go to the polls. And the General is not asking us to call off our relationship. All he is asking is that we don’t appear in public together.”
“We have wasted 11 years my love. I don’t like the idea of wasting any more time.”
Elijah has a sudden urge to remind her that those 11 years were wasted because she chose to marry another man. But he restrains himself. It will be a cheap shot that will serve no other purpose other than straining their relationship.
“We are not wasting time baby. We will continue seeing each other, only that it will be in private.”
She sighs and leans on his shoulder. “And why did the General approach you and not me?”
“He thought it would be easier for me as a man to see things as he sees them and that it would be easier for me as your boyfriend to convince you than if he tried to himself. He is desperate to have you on his ticket, my love.”
“Isn’t there any other way to go about this?”
”I don’t see any other way.”
The Senator of Mombasa, General (Rtd) Adan Mahmoud, believes he has found the perfect running mate. Ironically, she has been thrust into the limelight by the dramatic downfall of his fiercest rival: her very own husband Cyrus.
The General viewed Cyrus contemptuously: he knew Cyrus was a crooked politician. He just could not prove it. Cyrus was young, articulate and charismatic. He had the entire of Mount Kenya region solidly behind him and split the other regions with the General. Cyrus appeared to have done wonderful things for Tharaka Nithi although it has now been revealed that he stole more money than he spent on projects. Simply put, with Cyrus in the race, the General had little chance.
The last opinion poll showed Cyrus leading with 60%, the Senator following with 35% and Deputy President Abraham Moseti a distant third with 4%. There is a group of inconsequential politicians sharing the remaining one percent. The Deputy President is seen as a weak politician and has also been caught up in the antipathy the public has for the government of President Eliezer Kazungu. This government is seen as the worst since Independence, with rampant corruption, the collapse of state institutions, insecurity, and a weak presidency. Both President Kazungu and the Deputy President look helpless and only got re-elected because the corrupt forces propping them up, mainly wealthy and influential businessmen, rigged the last election. But even those forces know the DP is a lost cause and had rallied behind Cyrus.
Even the Deputy President himself knows he will not be elected. Not even with a rigged poll.
The dramatic fall of Cyrus therefore puts General Mahmoud is a pole position. He intends to consolidate his position before the dark forces find another candidate to prop. And Janis is the perfect way to start. She is a daughter of Mount Kenya because her father is Meru and her mother is Kikuyu, and she can speak both languages fluently. This means she is the perfect person to inherit her husband’s vote block in the region. She has attracted nationwide appeal meaning she can inherit her husband’s vote block in the rest of the country.
In addition, she is a woman and she is young. While the General is a 66-year-old male, she is a 37-year-old female. The perfect balance. As a lawyer, she is intelligent and articulate, and like her husband, very charismatic. Then she is a Christian, which will counter the negative vibes arising from some radical Christians over the fact that the General is a Muslim. As if that is not enough, she is not a politician. The public is generally tired with political rhetoric after suffering through ten years of President Kazungu’s reign of political bickering. She will be a breath of fresh air. Besides, it is unlikely she will find her political feet fast enough to challenge the General’s re-election bid in five years if they are elected.
To General Mahmoud, Janis is a gift from Allah.
But her love life is proving to be a thorn in the flesh. She is determined to push through with her romance with an old flame. And that is threatening to ruin the whole plan. She has even threatened not to accept to be his running mate if he keeps insisting that she goes slow with her romance.
Her father has offered to help, but the General is not keen on enlisting Marangu’s help. He knows Marangu was behind the fall of Cyrus. Marangu is a member of the clique of wealthy politicians who move in the shadows pulling strings and blackmailing politicians.
The General knows how people like Marangu work. If he accepts Marangu’s offer, Marangu will do something dirty to make his daughter toe the line, but he will use the General’s name and not his own. That will give him leverage over him when he becomes President. Add a few other “favours” over the course of the campaign and he will have the General eating from his palm. General Mahmoud wants nothing to do with political wheeler-dealers. He is determined to win the Presidency with as little political baggage as possible.
His campaign manager, Frank Wamalwa, is the one who came up with a simple yet brilliant plan. He advised the General to reach out directly to Elijah and have an honest man-to-man chat with him. The General called Elijah to his office in Nairobi and they reached a gentleman’s agreement. Elijah would slow down the pace of the romance over the coming months until after the election. The General promised not to meddle with their love life once he is elected President.
But both men know that Janis is not a fool. She will see right through the scheme, so Elijah needs to find a way to bring her aboard.
The idea came from Sharon, Janis’ best friend and lawyer. They were having coffee at a restaurant in Chuka town as Janis filled in Sharon with the latest developments in her life. Of course Sharon knew all about Elijah from their campus days but wanted to be filled in with details of the rekindled romance and the rising popularity of her friend.
“My father has even threatened to get rid of Elijah. Can you imagine?!”
“Have you told Elijah?”
“Of course not! What good would it do?”
“I think you should do a TV interview,”
“A TV interview. I can get you a friendly journalist. Talk about your life. Talk about your first love Elijah. Make sure it is clear that he came before Cyrus. Then talk about the mistake you made marrying Cyrus and how deeply you regret it. You can throw in some deep philosophical things you have learned about love from your failed marriage. Hint vaguely that you wondered how different life would have been if you had married Elijah, especially during the low moments when Cyrus was out with his women. But vaguely hint that you lost contact with him after you married Cyrus. The journalist will ask if you would give him a chance if he reached out. And your answer will be “If he is single, then maybe. But he is unlikely to be single all these years.” After that even if word leaks about your romance, everyone will assume Elijah reached out after the interview. And of course everyone will support the romance because everyone loves a happy ending.”
The interview was a hit. Not even Sharon could have predicted it. Social media flooded with messages of support. Many were saying that they hoped that Elijah was still single and that he would at some point forgive Janis and give her a second chance.
The General watched the interview with a big smile on his face. He called her after it ended to congratulate her.
“That was a brilliant idea Janis. We will actually win this election, even if the other side tries to rig. I can already smell a landslide,”
“I can’t wait to call you Mr. President, General,”
The General laughs.
“How did you think of the idea of an interview?”
“It wasn’t mine. A lawyer friend of mine suggested it. She is good at such kind of things, I guess”
“Why don’t you bring her to my office tomorrow? We need brains like that to win this election. We need her on the campaign team,”
(2 years later)
“Say what Governor, are you missing your wife?” a burly man says, sitting next to the former governor in the small office, where Cyrus is watching TV. The tiny TV screen is showing the live coverage of the wedding of Deputy President Janis Muthoni and her fiancé Elijah Gitau.
The burly man is a former high school principal serving a 21-year sentence for having sex with a fourteen-year-old form two student at the mixed school he was heading. He has already been in for 7 years and is the principal teacher at Chuka Prison School. Teaching other inmates comes with a few privileges such as using the small shared office with three other teaching inmates and not having to do manual labor or learn a craft. Cyrus applied to teach other inmates at the prison school immediately he was sentenced to fifteen years for abuse of office and misuse of public funds. His attempted murder case is still in court. The prison warden gave him the teaching position perhaps out of pity.
“She is beautiful. You messed up big time governor.”
“Yea I did. Now she is the Deputy President while I am a broke convict,”
“Broke? What happened to your money and property?”
“The State wiped me clean man. They took almost everything to recover what I allegedly stole. Part of what was left was taken by Janis in the divorce and the left-overs were stolen by that thief Phanis who I gather is now pregnant for a local barber,”
The principal bursts out laughing and in spite of himself, Cyrus laughs too.
“The only good thing that has happened to me during this whole period was the death of my former father-in-law.”
“That accident was too tragic man,”
Just before the election, Marangu was involved in a fatal road crash when his SUV lost control and plunged down into Nithi River, killing him on the spot.
“Tragic? That old crook deserved it. He was more corrupt than I ever was but was too clever to be caught. Nature made him pay for his sins. Anyway, you, what were you thinking doing it with a child?”
“I don’t know what got into me man. I lost everything because of it. Even my own children do not want to see me or have anything to do with me. That is more painful than the 21 years I am serving here. But I guess I deserve it,” the principal says.
They watch the TV in silence. Cyrus’ children are on the front row in suits, sitting next to President Mahmoud.
“And now, you may kiss the bride,” the pastor says.
Elijah cups his hands on Janis’ face and draws her closer to himself. Cyrus switches off the TV. It is too painful to watch.
Today we are breaking the Friday routine because, as I mentioned last Friday, this coming Friday I have a special treat for you. As I mentioned, Friday’s story will be an excerpt from my novella.
I am releasing the ebook this coming Friday and all you have to do to access the whole book is buy me coffee. So this Friday come armed with 100 bob in your MPESA. I will share instructions of how you will access the book on that day.
The next free weekly series starts on Friday next week.
See you all in three days time, and thank you for your support.