By John Okoth
She was married to a lovely husband and two kids. She was a jobless P1 graduate. The husband was and is still an office messenger in a nearby county headquarters. The latter had taken a loan to take her to the University to study. He literally took care of kids while she was always in school.
When she got to the university, her marriage was concealed. She became a small girl also seeking the thin fresh air of freedom. Nobody except her best friend and I knew she is a wife and mother. She hated me every time I brought up the subject.
There is this classmate of hers, a born 1998, her being born 1987 who was there to give her notes, do her assignments. The mode of payment…the usual. Around and with her were these three hopeless university goons who had given up in academia and only seeking relevance in student’s politics and beauty contests.
This did not bother me till news reached me that Laura, not her real name, was not graduating into a flesh monger. She stopped going home over weekends. She started ignoring her husband’s calls. If she picked, she would lie. She would ask for money to buy pamphlets but use it to entertain these desperados. She had hinted to her friend that her hubby was not romantic and good in bed and that she would elope with Edu, one of the three goons, not his real name. I could not fathom this!
I chose the unpopular route. Mose, not the husband’s real name, had to know this. So on this fateful Friday, she had gone for a sleepover in one of the goon’s house, leaving her best friend in the house. The husband called. She picked and said she was sick and indoors. The husband wanted to come visit her but she vehemently refused. Kisumu, where Mose lives, and Maseno is a stone throw away.
I picked my phone and called Mose. He dismissed me as a jealous man who never liked the wife. He told me with finality,
“Johnnie, Laura has been with me for 9 years. I know her. Keep your lies to yourself. If you want her, just use other means.”
“Mose, Laura as well as you, are my good friends. It pains me to say this but I have to. If you want to know how faithful and honest Laura is, please come to Maseno right now,” I told him half guilty, half convicted.
Within no time, he was at my place. We went to Laura’s house. She was not there! Meanwhile she was sick and indoors. When the friend saw us, she almost fainted. She quickly reached for her phone. Most likely to tell Laura, who may be or was now in “ICU.” I snatched the phone and ordered her to stay calm. While with the phone, Laura’s WhatsApp message came in. It read in part,
“Ile Mbio Napelekwa, I Doubt Kama Kesho Nitatembea 😜😜😜😜.”
A photo of her kissing the “doctor” handling her in her “sick bed” followed.
My blood froze. I became stiff. My eyes widened. The lenses of my spectacles temporarily lost sharpness.
“Mose, you need to be calm and gentle. Promise me that even after this, you will be there for Laura,” I begged him.
He looked at me with a blank face and gave a satisfactory promise. I showed him the message and the picture. We never went away. He kept chatting Laura using the friend’s phone.
At a quarter(¼) to 2am, we forced the friend to take us to this “Referral Hospital” where Laura was. Hesitantly, we were led. The noise from the music and the giggles from thither made the invasion inevitable. The friend knocked. The two lowered the volume and opened the door. We quickly rushed in. The goon in a towel sweating, Laura wrapped in a “leso” bleeding sweat. You know ICU is a place of life and death. Such sweat is permissible.
All Mose asked was, “Why this Laura?” Tears cascading down his face. I held him tight. The goon, scared stiff, never uttered a word. A man of six pack was coiled like a man of six in one pack. Laura dressed up and off we went to my place. All the while I never allowed Mose to talk. In a bid to fight her guilt, Laura barked at me, “I hate you. I hope now you are happy. All you wanted was to see us break with Mose. You can now celebrate!”
What she didn’t know was that she was safe and able to jabber all this shit courtesy of my efforts to restrain Mose and the agreement of non-violence we signed. After a long moment of blames and reconciliation, Mose took Laura away to Kisumu, promising to end her studies and marry. Deep in me I prayed that the following day could not start with news of mortality. I called Mose virtually every 10 minutes to assure him of a better tomorrow.
He heeded to my advice. Laura returned to school as a day scholar, hated me but confessed to friends how I saved her life, marriage, studies and future. Their marriage blossomed and a third kid was conceived and born.
Someone tell me, what was my mistake in this incident.
(John Okoth is a teacher of English at Nyang’ori High)
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