(Continued from Unwanted III)
Pamela listens quietly as her daughter explains why she has chosen to go back to her husband. Agnes seems to be nervous, as though she does not believe what she is saying.
“You are making a mistake, my dear,” Pamela says quietly. “I don’t think Donald has changed. He is just putting on a show so that he can avoid going to jail.”
“You don’t know him the way I do, Mother. Donald has truly changed. He is sorry about what he did. He even shed tears. Listen mom, I know you are a champion against domestic violence, but believe me it won’t happen in my household again.”
“I have seen men like Donald before, Agnes. Very few of them change. Most of them can cry a river of crocodile tears when it suits them, but it means nothing. I think you should reconsider your decision.”
“Donald is one of those few who change. Listen mom, I know your ex-husband beat you, but not all men are like that. Some men actually acknowledge their mistakes like Donald did.”
“I am glad you brought that up. My first husband was exactly like your Donald. He was a charming man, beloved of the community. He was a respected elder in the church, and even the white missionaries adored him. People used to describe him as warm, gentle and affable. But inside the house he was a monster. He used to beat me almost every day. But whenever I spoke about it, nobody believed me. They thought I was making it all up.”
“Didn’t I hear you once say on TV that there was a time he hurt you so badly that you had to go to hospital?”
“Oh he did, three or four times. He was actually responsible for my miscarriages. After the first miscarriage I ran away and went to my parent’s house crying. I had been admitted in the hospital so when they released me I just walked to my parent’s house without waiting for him to come and pick me.”
“Let me guess: your parents sent you back.”
“Yes they did. And the beatings increased. I got pregnant again but one night he beat me up so badly that I started bleeding: I had miscarried my second baby. That is when I finally decided to leave his house and go to Nairobi. I didn’t want to go back to my parent’s house because I knew they would send me back to that monster.”
“Where did you get the money to go to Nairobi?”
“I stole from him. And that gave him a story to spread around the village. He said that I was a stubborn girl with thieving tendencies and that he regretted paying my dowry. To placate him, my parents offered him my sister as compensation.”
“The one who died?”
“Yes. That monster killed her, even after she gave him two children. My sister would write me letters telling me how terribly the man was treating her. I urged her to leave him, but she did not have the guts. One day he beat her so badly-apparently because his food was not warm enough-that she ended up admitted in hospital. The cover story was that she had been attacked by thugs. She died two days later. You should have seen that fool at her funeral. He was crying like a toddler, and when he rose to speak, he said that he would miss her terribly because she was his anchor in life, his best friend, blah blah blah. I felt like slapping him.”
“So you went for the funeral?”
“Of course I did. It was my sister’s funeral. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. But I went with my husband, your father, just in case my parents got any funny ideas.”
“Did dad pay your dowry?”
“Yes, but much later. Anyway, the point is, men like Donald don’t change. He might cry or do whatever but mark my words: he will beat you again in future. It is just how narcissists like him are.”
“Your sister’s story is sad mom, but I know Don. He has changed, believe me. I have lived with him for fourteen years, and I know him like the back of my hand. This time he has really changed.”
Pamela sighs wearily. In the course of her advocacy work, she has met women who were just as stubborn as her daughter is becoming. You respond to their plea for help and rescue them from domestic violence only for them to reconcile with their tormentors and later treat you like the enemy. It hurts Pamela that her own daughter is in this category, but experience has taught her that there is nothing she can do about it. She used to get very angry in her younger days, but not anymore. If a woman wants to follow a monster, then it is her choice.
“You are an adult, Agnes. You can make your own decisions. I have given you advice as your mother and friend, but ultimately the decision is yours. But I also want you to know that if things don’t work out the way you are anticipating, you are welcome back here. Don’t feel embarrassed about coming back to your mother’s house.”
“Thank you mother, but I don’t think that will be necessary. My marriage to Donald will work out.”
“Amen,” Pamela says without conviction. She fights back tears as she watches Agnes loading her daughter and their belongings to the car. Joy did not put up a fight, but Pamela knows that Mark will. She also knows that she will open her doors to her grandchildren if they run away from their home. Agnes might not like it, but Pamela knows she cannot turn away her grandchildren.
Agnes sighs with relief as she drives out of the compound. One thing she has learnt throughout this entire period is that her mother has really mellowed. When it comes to domestic violence, the image of Pamela that Agnes has in her mind is one of a fiery activist and a fierce defender. She had expected fireworks over Donald’s behavior and over her decision to go back to her home, but none came. Maybe age is finally slowing Pamela down. She is, after all, approaching seventy years old.
Agnes and her daughter do not talk to each other as they drive down to their home. When they get there, they find that Donald has cooked pilau. Before today, Agnes had no idea that her husband could step into the kitchen, much less cook. He has always been the absolute and traditional African man when it comes to house chores.
“Hello baby girl,” he tells his daughter while lifting her in his massive arms. “I have really missed you.”
Agnes can see that Joy is both surprised and embarrassed. She is not used to this kind of treatment from her father. Her father doesn’t even call her “Joy”; he prefers the full name, Joyce. When he is feeling affectionate, he calls her ‘mother’ because she is named after his late mother, who was also called Joyce.
Donald also notices her discomfort and places her down.
“Listen my dear,” he says gently. “I know I have not been the best father to you, but I promise I am going to change, okay?”
Joy nods without saying a word.
“Do you forgive me?”
Joy hesitates, and then nods again, this time more slowly.
As they eat, Agnes and Donald chat about this and that laughing like teenagers in love. Joy does not utter a single word. In fact, the last words that came from her mouth were ‘bye grandma’ that were said with a lot of sadness.
After the meal they all get into Donald’s double cabin pick up and drive towards the hospital.
Marion smiles as she towels herself. Her plan should work. She is being methodical about it, so that she is not detected, but the plan has started to unfold. Ever since she started sleeping with Donald, she has been obsessed with the idea of being his wife. His separation from his wife, however brief, has showed that that that marriage can be broken. That is why she is determined not to allow him to reconcile with his wife Agnes.
He told her about his planned reconciliation yesterday. They met at a hotel, as they have always done, from around six in the evening to nine pm. They meet about three times a week, although they talk on phone almost every day.
“If there wasn’t a case hanging over my head,” he told her. “I would have told you to come to my house and be my wife. But I need to woo her and her son so that they can drop the charges.”
Marion did not tell him that the magistrate handling his case is her ex-lover, and that she could get him to drop the charges on a whim. No, she didn’t tell him because she does not want him to think she is a harlot. She wants to be his wife. She will get the case dropped, but she also needs to remove Agnes from the picture.
Part one of her plan entailed sending nude photos of Donald and another woman to his son. Donald is a he-goat, and Marion knows that. But she loves him all the same; or rather she loves his money. Donald has photos of himself having sex with young girls in their twenties in his phone. Marion doesn’t understand why he keeps them. His phone is protected my multiple passwords, but she hacked all of them a long time ago.
After having sex, Donald usually dozes off for about thirty minutes. Marion took advantage of that time to send a number of those photos to Mark using Donald’s phone. She found the teenager’s phone number in Donald’s phonebook. She was careful to send photos of only one girl though; the girl called Chantelle, who Donald is currently seeing. Marion knows each and every woman Donald sleeps with. She wanted to make it appear as though Donald was sending the photos to Chantelle and made a mistake with the number. She even added a message:
These are the photos you asked for babe, and make sure your phone is password protected. We don’t want them in the wrong hands. Why don’t you come over tonight? My wife left me, although she might come back tomorrow. We have tonight to ourselves.
She switched off the data in his phone and activated the wifi receptor, so that the messages would be sent once he got to a place with wifi: his house. Marion knows from Donald’s text conversation with Chantelle that he will pick her up at about nine fifteen so that they can spend the night at his house. That girl will be blamed for sending the messages to Mark, and that is also a good thing in Marion’s quest to keep Donald to herself.
Marion dresses in casual clothes. Today is Saturday, and she wants to go shopping for household items. Donald and Agnes have left, hand-in-hand like new lovers, without knowing that a storm is waiting for them at the hospital. If things go according to plan, Mark will show his mother the photos, and Agnes will go back to her parent’s house. And then tonight part two of the plan will kick in. Donald will be waylaid by thugs. He will be seriously beaten, but not enough to kill him. Marion is working on a plan to implicate Agnes for the attack, so by tomorrow Agnes should be in police cells.
And she, Marion, will be the one to nurse Donald back to health.
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