(Continued from Turbulence I)
It doesn’t take long for the entire family to know what has happened. Brenda has talked to her grandmother, and the old lady has furiously stormed into her daughter’s house. But by the time she gets there, two of her daughters-in-law, the wives of Philip and Johnson, are already in the house, having been informed of what has happened by Alice. They have tried to wake Geoffrey and Florence up, but their efforts have so far been in vain.
“Let them be,” Agnetta says when she arrives. “They are too drunk to wake up so let them sleep off the alcohol for a few hours.”
“How do you know they are drunk,” Leah, one of her daughters-in-law asks. “I cannot smell alcohol.”
“I am an old woman, Leah. And I have been married to a drunkard all my life. I can tell someone who is drunk by just looking at him or her.”
Word has spread about the scandal that is cooking, and villagers are gathering in the compound. Agnetta orders everyone to leave. She instructs Johnson’s wife, Edith, and her two daughters Lydia and Michelle to go and keep Brenda company. She tells Philip’s wife Leah to stay with her in Florence’s house, but instructs Leah’s daughter Kathleen to go with Alice to their house. She instructs her grandsons, Wilfred, Perminus, Jediel and Lukas to ensure the villagers have all left the compound. She also instructs them to go and find their fathers. Wilfred, Perminus and Jediel are Philip’s sons while Lukas is Johnson’s son.
Wilfred, Lydia, Kathleen and Lukas are university students but they are at home for the December break. Perminus has just completed his KCSE exam and is awaiting results. Michelle and Jediel are high school students. Agnetta has other grandchildren, the children of Anthony and Rose, but they are not here today. Anthony is a parish minister in Kiambu County and that is where he and his family live. Rose and her family live in Nairobi.
Once the house has cleared, Agnetta and Leah comb through the house looking for alcohol. They find it in the kitchen, stored in the fridge. But there are two empty cans in the trash can and two under the table in the sitting room. Agnetta’s first instinct is to throw all the alcohol that is in the fridge out, but she changes her mind and lets it be. Pouring the alcohol will give Florence a reason to rant and sidestep the main issue at hand, which is that she has committed a great moral sin by sleeping with her son in law. As Leah reaches under the table to pull out the beer cans, her fingers touch a phone.
“One of them dropped a phone,” she tells her mother-in-law.
“I am not surprised,” Agnetta replies. “In the condition they are in they have lost even their own souls.”
“I am not surprised at Florence’s behavior,” Leah tells her mother-in-law. “But I am genuinely shocked that Geoffrey would do something like this. He has always struck me like a very nice young man.”
“Me too. I am thinking that probably Florence did something to that young man. Maybe she gave him something, probably even put beer in his tea or whatever it is that she served him.”
“This is not beer mama, it is wine. But I agree with you. That is very likely. Florence is capable of anything.”
“The only problem I have with that theory is one: what was Geoffrey doing here? It is not customary for the bridegroom to visit his mother-in-law alone one week to the wedding. What were they discussing without Brenda? Brenda did not even know that her fiancé was here.”
“Maybe she told him she wanted to discuss something urgently with him…”
“But why didn’t he call Brenda to inform her?”
“I don’t know mother,” Leah replies. She is often surprised at how sharp her mother-in-law is, even though she is a woman of limited education. She did study up to class eight, under the colonial system, just like her husband. And just like Leonard, she probably would have gone to a teacher’s training college except that she was already married and pregnant when the letter came. In those days, one could go to college at that level, without having to go to secondary school. In fact, Leonard sat for his “O” level examinations in the same year as his first born son Philip, after teaching in a primary school for many years. Agnetta did not go to college, but she kept her mind active over the years by reading novels and story books whenever she got a chance. Her daughter Rose always ensured that she had a regular supply. Agnetta can speak English quite fluently.
“We will find out when they wake up. I hope your husband and brother-in-law will have arrived.
Brenda has stopped crying. Her shock has worn off and it has been replaced by smoldering anger. She is angry at her fiancé and she is angry at her mother. She is even angry at her sister because she knows that Alice is delighting in her misfortune. She wants to cancel the wedding, but Edith and her daughters are doing their best to calm her down.
“But what is the point auntie?” she asks time and again. “Let him marry my mother if that is what he wants.”
“Don’t make such a decision when you are angry, child. That is the primary rule of life. Let the anger wear off and your mind will clear. Maybe there is an explanation to all this.”
“What explanation auntie? My fiancé is in bed with my own mother. I honestly cannot unsee what I saw. That image is stuck in my head. I don’t care what explanation there is to all this, the fact is that I will never see Geoffrey the same way again.”
“I understand my dear,” Edith says calmly. “But you need to calm down so that if we are cancelling the wedding we can go about it with clear heads. We don’t want to start shouting at service providers who have done nothing wrong, do we?”
There is a reason Agnetta decided that Edith would be the one to stay with Brenda. Edith, unlike Leah, is a very composed woman who is able to deal with any crisis without breaking. Leah, on the other hand, is very fragile emotionally. If she was the one handling Brenda right now, they both would be weeping, having already called off the wedding. When she considers her sons and their wives, Agnetta often muses that God is the perfect match maker. Paul is the calm, sober-minded man who balances out Leah’s fluid emotions. Johnson, on the other hand, is the more emotional one, and very prone to rash, ill-thought decisions. Edith provides the much needed balance in that house.
Edith orders her daughters to prepare tea which they take as they listen to Brenda rant against her mother and fiancé. Edith lets her talk. She knows that it is part of therapy. Like her husband, Edith is a secondary school teacher. She is the guidance and counselling mistress at the school, and she has actually done a masters in the subject. She is preparing to start her doctorate on the subject soon. They talk for hours, until darkness covers them. Michelle draws the curtains and switches on the light. She and her sister go to their grandmother’s kitchen to start preparing dinner as their mother continues listening to their cousin.
Alice is fuming. She doesn’t like the fact that she has been cut out from the center of the action. She wanted to be there to see the confrontation first hand. She knows that this is going to be nasty. Even by the very low standards that everyone has set for her mother, she knows that this is a new low. Most importantly, she wanted to be there to see what explanation they both would give for the scenario.
Alice is the one who set this whole thing up. She hates the fact that her sister’s life has been going so smoothly. She hates the fact that Brenda is seen as the role model for all the cousins. She hates the fact that Brenda is everyone’s favorite. She has never hidden her disdain for her sister, who she sees as proud and arrogant. When Florence was kicked out of Agnetta’s house, and Brenda decided to stay, she officially became the traitor in the eyes of Florence and Alice.
Alice has always been looking for an opportunity to bring her sister down. When they were children living in Agnetta’s house, Alice would always hide Brenda’s shoes or books so as to make her get punished. But that hardly ever worked, because even school teachers always seemed to believe Brenda’s explanations. Brenda was a favorite at home and at school.
But this time Alice’s plan has worked to perfection. She has been working on it for months. It all started as a joke. Florence came home drunk one evening, and Alice used her phone to send Geoffrey a sexually suggestive text. Geoffrey did not respond, and Brenda did not bring it up. The following day Alice did it again, and it became a habit. Whenever Florence came home drunk, Alice used her phone to send Geoffrey sexual texts. Alice was banking on the fact that Geoffrey is a gentleman and would never confront his mother-in-law. He never replied; not even once. At the time Alice did not have a concrete plan in mind. She was just hoping that Brenda would see the texts on Geoffrey’s phone and get furious.
The plan got a sense of direction and a massive boost when Alice found an elderly drunk called Geoffrey Kithinji one day as she was prowling night clubs. That is also the name of Brenda’s fiancé. She seduced the drunk, allowed him to take her to his home and slept with him. And then she stole his ID. She did not steal anything else from him because then he would notice the theft. The following day she bought a line and registered it using that ID, convincing the MPESA attendant that she is underage and that Geoffrey is her father. She bought a basic phone and inserted the line there.
She saved that line on her mother’s phone as “Geoffrey babe” and that is where she started sending sexts using her mother’s phone. She would reply to those messages with raunchy messages of her own. Florence has never discovered those messages because Alice always ensures that they are “read” before her mother recovers from her drunken stupor. Alice knows that Alice would bever go reading old messages. The plan was to “uncover” the affair between Geoffrey and Florence at a date close enough to the wedding to derail it. The plan was to do it next week, but this week a better idea occurred to Alice. She has been attending her sister’s wedding committee meetings, and she knows from the happenings that Geoffrey was in charge of transport. She also knows that they do not have enough vehicles for the bridal convoy. So she sought and got two vehicles-both Toyota Prados- from a couple of her boyfriends.
This morning she called Geoffrey and informed him about the vehicles. She asked him whether he could pass by the house and pick her up so that they could go and talk to her friends about the the cars. She knew he wouldn’t say no. At the same time, she ensured that her mother remained in the house.
When Geoffrey arrived, Alice served him with fruit juice and cake. She knew her mother would want a serving as well, and she obliged her. But the juice was laced with both wine and Viagra. And the cake was “weed cake”. It was baked using bhang. It didn’t take long for the chemicals to take effect. Before long, Florence and Geoffrey were chatting and touching each other like teenagers. Geoffrey, who is naturally reserved, and who usually is extra-cautious around Florence and Alice, probably because of what Brenda told her, loosened up and started fondling his mother-in-law. Alice recorded all this with her phone, and intended to share it with her sister if the next part of the plan did not work.
But it did. When Alice asked Brenda to come home immediately, she knew her sister might refuse. But Brenda came, and she found her fiancé in bed with her mother. It is a scandal, and Alice loves it. She particularly loved seeing Brenda crying. Alice dropped the phone that she has been using to text her mother with under the table where Geoffrey and Florence had been seated so that it can be “found”. This plan is so well thought that Geoffrey and Florence cannot deny that they have been seeing each other behind Brenda’s back.
The only part that is going awry the part where she will not get to see the work of her hands. She wants to come up with a plan to get back to the house because she needs to be there when Geoffrey and Florence wake up. She has to be there to add fuel to the fire that is already raging. That old woman Agnetta is the one making life difficult by insisting that she should stay at her aunt’s place until the matter is resolved.
When she sees her son Albert dozing, she knows that that is her ticket back to the house. She will insist that Albert will have to sleep on the bed she shares with him and that she is not going to leave him all alone. Once she gets inside that house she is not leaving until the charges against Geoffrey are “proven” if they haven’t already.
She has to make sure that Brenda’s wedding on Saturday won’t take place.
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