Friday, 21 February 2014
It has been another unusual day for me. I could not sit back and watch my marriage stoop on the precipice of failure, owing to a strange gold ring. My husband, the Georgie I knew, who was full of wisdom and love, is no longer the one I see. The one I now see wanders back to the house from work, cold and shifty and unwilling to protect his marriage.
So today I took a private walk outside our street to see a pastor I was well-acquainted with at Kona-kayona Estate. Since it rained heavily in the morning, I knew the area would be filled with trenches of dirty water and so I wore my gamboots and put on my cardigan and a pair of gloves to keep warm. I also wore a bucket hat to conceal my face a bit since I was going to walk on foot.
I took a motorcycle to the area, then trekked sneakily past mud-walled houses and roadside stalls to a huddle of houses made of ironsheets. I walked up to one of the houses and knocked at the door. A low creaky voice came from within before an old man showed up at the door.
“Greetings, elder,” I greeted, extending my hand for a shake.
“Greetings, my child. Oh, come on inside,” he replied, shaking my hand and showing me in. He then looked at me again as if to read my facial features. “I saw you on TV last Sunday. You are the governor’s wife, aren’t you?”
“No, I’m not. People look alike, you know,” I replied quickly, looking over his shoulders into the house. It was a simple room with a curtain seperating the sitting section from the bedroom and kitchen section.
“It was in the news last Sunday that she fainted in church. Come inside.”
“Really? Oh, too bad, I suppose,” I said. “But I’m sorry I won’t come in. I need your help please.”
“Okay… what is it?”
“Do you know Pastor Anthony of Heaventide Church?”
“The short bald-headed drunkard?” he asked and broke into laughter.
“Drunkard?” I was utterly surprised.
“Yes. Don’t you know he went back to drinking? What was the last time you went to church, lady?”
“Oh, I… I was… I mean, I’ve been away for a while,” I fetched an answer.
“It’s been a year now. There… he stays over there in that crib,” he said, pointing at a skewed six-by-four cardboard hut. I shoved back in great dread and shock at the sight of such an abode. “His wife left with her two bastards,” he added ridiculously. “Can you imagine, the woman couldn’t bear him even a single baby. It was rumoured that he was sterile and… .”
“Thanks. Allow me to go now,” I said absentmindedly, cutting him off, and made my way to the pastor’s shed. I felt bitter and bespattered by the same thick mad of injustice, spiritual and material injustice that had befallen a man who made my life turn around.
There was that time, I remember, when Georgie would come back home and fall asleep on the sofa. He had thrown his hat in the ring and was campaigning, almost losing his fettle in the field trying to win votes. When I went to Pastor Anthony for a piece of advice, he told me to ‘resurrect’ my husband. When I asked him how, he showed me a bottle of massaging oil and explained to me how to do the job.
“Offer yourself for it, my daughter, and you will have back your husband. Don’t let him look for it outside in bars and lodgings when you are blessed with both hands and eyes. It is under such sweetness that you can explore the mind of a man,” I still remember his words. I took up his advice and brought myself into action. And like a magic philter, it turned my husband’s mind back to me. During those times, Georgie would open up to me about an endless list of things that were bothering him, and I did my best as a woman of gravitas (not that I am praising myself) to give him the advice I could. I am happy he won the ballot.
I had not even thought about coming to Pastor’s house until Tiger showed up and made a slight revelation about a secret sect. It was then that it occured to me that I needed someone spiritual and mature to help me unriddle my situation and give me answers.
I knocked at Pastor’s door thrice with no reply coming forth. Disappointed, I pushed open the loose board acting as the door and walked in. I was disturbed by what I saw, dear sister. The room resembled an animals’ kraal, squalid and foul-smelling. Dirty dishes and clothes lay scattered on the floor, water spilt on them. The floor looked muddy and a visible hole that allowed a streak of light into the hut appeared at the roof. Lying on a thin craptacular mattress on the floor was my anticipated source of help, a beer bottle in his hand, besotted and totally out of his mind.
“Pastor Anthony,” I called out, my voice shaking. A drop of tear escaped my eye and I quickly wiped it away with the helm of my shuka. The man lay quietly unconscious, not even stretching a single part of his body. I squatted and passed my hand through his chest to feel his pulse. His heart was beating slowly and abnormally. I hurriedly took out my phone and called the taxi-man who had carried me back home from the hospital on the day I passed out. I told him to come to the estate right away and help with a patient. I also assured him that I would pay whatever amount he quoted.
As I waited for him, I stood outside the hut and checked around cleverly just in case someone had followed me. The old man came out of his house again and looked in my direction inquisitively. He then came up to where I stood and asked with a wry sense of displeasure, “Haven’t you found your client, my daughter?”
“My client?” I wondered aloud.
“Yes. The drunken idiot,” he replied, and chortled a bit. I felt a strong revulsion towards his choice of words and unamusing sense of humour. I decided to keep quiet. “You like him?” he harped on. “Oh this world! What did that typical sot give to such a sinfully beautiful girl to fall in love with him?”
“Enough! I’m not a girl. I’m a married woman with two children and a hardworking husband,” I growled. He was getting under my skin and I had to stop him.
“Married? To the governor?”
“Yes. You’ve earned your answer. What are you going to do with it? Excuse me.” I saw his looks change and a sense of hypocritical humility suddenly came over him. “Oh, I’m sorry, your excellency. What are you looking for in such a Godforsaken place?” he asked in a humble tone.
“A grieving soul.”
“Okay. I’m sorry for troubling your highness. Please, won’t you come in. I will prepare something.”
“No need for that. You have to learn to treat people well regardless of their social status.” I got out my purse from the handbag I was carrying and pulled out five one-thousand-shilling notes. I handed the money to him. “Go help yourself with that, and spread love, not hate.”
“Holy catfish! Thank you. Thank you, my… thank you, your excellency.” He then bowed and walked back to the house. Just then, a vehicle beeped by the roadside. I went to check and found out that it was the taxi-man I had telephoned. As I helped him carry the helpless pastor into the cab, a group of thuggish looking men appeared from the bends around the houses. When they however saw us headed into the vehicle, they stood back. “Please hurry up. There’s a gang around,” I alerted the driver. We quickly pushed Pastor Anthony into the back space, entered the driver’s cabin and sped off.
“The people know you,” pointed out the taxi-man when we were safely off onto the road.
“It’s an old man I found there. Seems he turned me in after I told him who I was and even gave him some money.”
“Told him who you are? You should never trust these people, Mrs Argwins. In fact, you should never come out here all alone. Had I not come in time, they would have robbed and kidnapped you, even raped you. This is a slum and that’s the behaviour of the people here. They never appreciate any help wholeheartedly.”
“Really? I think it’s the behaviour of a few rook-heads tarnishing the image of these beautiful poverty-stricken souls.”
“I knew you’d say that, because you’re kind and caring. Who is this drunken man?”
“Was my pastor, helped my family stand on its feet. I came to see him today, only to find him in this sorry state.” I felt my eyes clogging with tears. I swallowed a ball of saliva to hold them back.
“I’m sorry, Mrs Argwins. He will be fine once he’s put on medication and rehabilitation.”
“I hope so. I can’t afford to lose him.”
When we arrived at Moderncare Private Hospital, my heart jumped and my memory got triggered. I remembered Tiger’s message: “… you should cease seeking medical attention at Moderncare Private Hospital.” His words tingled sharply in my mind. And as I witnessed the nurses remove Pastor Anthony and take him to the special care unit, I braced myself for any uncertain moment that might befall me. I signed a commitment form to take care of the pastor’s medical expenditure till he get back to his normal life, then I went back to the cab to be taken home.
I entered the driver’s cabin, sat on my seat and took a sigh of relief. “He will be fine. Take me home,” I said.
“Certainly he will,” answered a strange deep voice. I quickly turned and looked at the taxi-man. “Tiger!” I exclaimed in great astonishment. “What are… what are you doing here… and… and where’s the taxi driver?” I asked, fear nibbling my spine to pieces.
“I am here to take you home, Mrs Argwins. You’re safe.”
“And the taxi owner?”
“I am Tiger Kamilio,” he answered incoherently, looking at his watch, then he started the engine. I did not speak with him again till we reached home. He stopped the taxi by the gate and nodded an exit sign.
“Please don’t hurt him,” I pleaded, coming out of the vehicle, still hit by phobia. He nodded, turned the cab and sped off.
As I sit by my bed writing, dear sister, I am wondering whether I took myself into a trap and whether Tiger and the taxi driver are one and the same person.