Roses and Lies
©2016 Dora Achieng’ Okeyo
Allan knew two things as he lay on the bed; he had sinned and he was not the only one. He could see the headlines at dawn. He could see his colleagues lining up to praise him. He could also see his constituents sneer at the heaps of praises he received. There was a time he could read his wife’s expressions, how she smiled or frowned when she wanted to dispute something he said. She would be seated wearing sunglasses to hide her tears. He would wonder if she missed him, but his children would. Henry was only ten and yet he knew more about what was right and less about what was wrong. Jacinter was eight, named after his mother, the first woman to look him in the eye and say she couldn’t recognize him beneath all his skin of lies. He had wept that day. Mercy was only five and even then he knew she was the sun that lit his world. He was always Daddy to Mercy. She would jump on his lap and fill his face with kisses whenever he came home. She would use her mother’s phone to call and say how much she missed him. She lived in a world he once believed in. He would take a bow as ‘Mheshimiwa,’ but even then he knew in reality, there was nothing honorable or respectable about his life. The best thing he had done was to ensure his family never lacked for anything. Mercy would be the Nurse she wanted to be, without his wife-Pamela, worrying about a single cent, but even then, he took from everyone to provide for them. If that was not a curse, then he would surely be sipping red wine in Heaven.
You could see tiny yellow lights in every home in Micheni that night. He walked from one home to another to visit and wish them well; after all he was their son. They saw him attend Micheni Primary School. They contributed to his fee when he was called to The Maseno School. He received their letters and warnings with equal measure. Their ‘work hard,’ phrases accompanied him to every prep session for four years until he finally graduated. When the K.C.S.E results were announced and he had made it among the top ten in his school, every hand that could shake his or pat him on the back in Micheni did not hesitate. He would be an Engineer. He would be the first of many Engineers that Micheni had produced; finally, Mzee Kizito’s son had done them proud. “I always knew that boy would make it, did I not tell you? Now, see, eh, he is in the newspaper. See, Allan Mwetu.”
“Now, we should tell our children to work hard, if little Allan could do it, why not them?”
“We need big people! Doctors, Nurses, Lawyers to fight for our land! Look, look at all these names in the paper, have you ever appeared in the paper?”
“You! Leave those goats alone, and go to school. Go and read and go to Maseno like Allan.”
His name rolled off the tongues of his people like the saliva they needed to utter words. He received a full scholarship to study at The University of Nairobi, only if he would take up Law. “What about Engineering? You were supposed to build a road leading to Micheni!” His Father fumed and cursed the education system, but his mother did not flinch. Every time her husband cursed the system, she would roll her eyes and say, “how would you know what’s best when you cannot even finish saying your a-ba-cha-da?”
Her husband would shout, “Woman! Have you slept hungry since you came to my house? Have you lacked clothes? Now, be quiet and let me speak!”
“My husband, I know you have always provided for us. Allan is a good boy and he will study and make us proud, do you remember what happened to your friend down the valley? What was his name?”
“The one who planted pineapples the size of two heads combined.”
“Morris! Ei, alcohol does not kill a man; it is another man who does…ei! And why do you speak of him, ei! What they did to Morris, only God knows!”
“Morris did not have anyone to defend him, but if Allan works hard, he may be there for any of us in the future. Let him go to Nairobi, and ‘Boyi!’ (Allan would finally look into his Mother’s eyes and see what he knew would always guide him-her support) when you go to the city, do not get into bad things like drinking and going to the disco. Do not break girls’ hearts and forget your books. I think you are the best my Son, so go and work hard and do what is right and let God reward you as He Punishes those who go against him. Eh?”
“Yes, Mama.” His Father would only say, “Be a better man than this one talking to you.” His first day in Nairobi was received by stares and giggles as he made his way to his dorm room. He was wearing the pair of trousers Mama Luka gave him and sandals his Father had bought. He had three shirts, a piece of cloth to dry himself and a bar of Toyo. It was the biggest piece of soap he had ever owned, but it was nothing compared to the five blue biro pens his Uncle had given him and books. He found his cubicle and set his leather bag on it and sat on the bed. His Father had managed to sell their brown cow, Ida, to raise his pocket money for the year and also buy two goats. Everyone in Micheni escorted him to the bus and they sang and clapped running alongside the road wishing their son all the best in Nairobi. He saw the children run even long after the Driver increased speed and leave behind a pile of red dust enough to consume a village. They believed in him and he had to believe in himself. He wanted to live in a brick house like Father Dominic did. He wanted his Father to drive a Peugeot or a Datsun. He had dreams, but mostly he wanted people to rise in awe when he walked into a room. He wanted his Sisters to wear new clothes and for Tabitha to never miss school every month when the ghost of women visited.
His dreams haunted his every move until his graduation. The Chief of Micheni made it to his graduation and presented him with his first bicycle, a black Mamba. His Father looked at him and wept, his shoulders shook and mucus flowed from nostrils as he finally saw him. Unlike his father, his mother danced and sang praises of her first born son. The first fruit of her womb had made it and would soon be addressed as a Lawyer. They sat on the lesso his sisters had spread and ate the food their mother had prepared. The beef stew was warm but it was full of the love he knew flowed from his mother. Everyone had questions about his stay in the city except his Father. Once in a while he would catch him staring at him. He would also cough in between bites and this unnerved him, but no one would talk about it. Their Father spoke with his body, while their mother would use an endless stream of words to drive a point home. They ate and danced and talked way into the evening. They spent the night at his Uncle’s house in Kayole. His parents and sisters returned home that afternoon wishing him well in the hands of his Uncle. He attended the Kenya School of Law immediately after his internship at Gakuo & Sons Law Firm and thus cemented his credibility and expertise as an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya. The people of Micheni followed his life like they followed The Bold and the Beautiful. He took his first paycheck to the Chief and made sure each home received some sugar and Kimbo from the money. They sang praises of him all night and more boys were urged to work hard like Boyi! Their Boyi was now an Advocate and he could even get people to like big Criminals like Mulwa who killed his wife’s lover. Otieno who stole from the Central Bank of Kenya and Patel who invested that money in big hotels and secondary schools in Nairobi. He spoke on behalf of these people on TV. They saw him and would marvel at how the boy who wore no shoes and shirt would later on speak before a nation and be heard.
A year into his practice, Allan built his parents the brick house he had always dreamed of and installed electricity. He made sure that Kenya Power supplied electricity to the small area that was Micheni and even constructed water tanks for the community. He built his home soon after and waited for the right time to introduce his wife to his family. She was a Legal Secretary at one of the law firms in Nairobi. A beautiful black woman with slender waist, a surplus of hips and lips that reminded him of God’s promise in Genesis 2:24. She held her ground when she spoke. In her voice you could discern wrath or submission, but all he heard was the call to make her his own. He now had a Toyota and a good reputation along the corridors of court. He was a member of the Nairobi Club and the Railways Golf Club. He never missed a Church service and some women who sprung and blossomed the city life past 7pm could attest to his prowess as a man. Her name was Pamela Akinyi, a beautiful lady from the lakeside with an attitude that made men wonder whether she pissed while standing. He heard of her before he met her and so the bets were on. His colleagues told him to get a chit. He needed someone tall and light skinned who could look good beside him. He was the man. She would look at him and spit him like he was the devil. They laughed but he took his time and talked to his mother about her. She would call from the callbox at home and ask how much progress he had made and he would spill his guts like she was the priest and he the confessor. One day his mother told him, “go and get her before someone else does,” and so he approached her that afternoon. She was wearing a white blouse and grey skirt and pumps that made no noise when her feet hit the floor. He always hated those shoes. They announced whoever was coming to his office and it distracted him, but even as he saw her, he could not tell why her shoes never elicited that obnoxious sound. “Hello Pamela, how are you today?”
“I am fine Allan; would you like to see anyone in the firm today? I am sorry I do not have your name on my appointment list.”
“I would like to see you.”
“Well, here I am. You have seen me, so?”
“Would you like to go out to lunch with me today? In the next one hour?”
“I would like to take you out to lunch Pamela. Before you dismiss me, just know that I am doing this because I would like to know you better. You are beautiful and intelligent and I am hoping that you will give me the chance to date you, so you can also know me better. Now, would you like to have lunch with me today?”
“What if I have plans?”
“Please cancel them. I drove all the way from the High Court to spend at least half an hour with you, it would be quite sad if I drove back without meeting my goal.”
“So, going out to lunch with me is some kind of goal that you strike off your list.”
“Yes, but only so that I get onto having dinner and then a movie and then lunch and a kiss and way up the ladder is probably being your husband!”
“You are insane.”
“All lawyers are insane or else we would not survive the defense strategy we take.”
“Okay, but you will have to come back in an hour. I am working.”
“No, I can wait; if you do not mind me sitting in the waiting area then I can wait for you.”
“One hour is too long, you might get bored.”
“Trust me; waiting for verdicts in courts take longer than this and besides, you just said you will have lunch with me, I believe I can wait.” They had lunch and extended it to dinner and soon every learned fellow along the corridors of justice knew that Allan and Pamela were dating. She smiled more often and he walked like a man out of prison. His colleagues paid up their bets saddened to have lost to this man from Micheni, but somewhere in between Telkom lines and walls of city buildings, people who mattered were already looking at him.
The first time he talked to Pamela about marriage was in his car as they were driving to Micheni. She was from a different tribe and her customs on such a union were strict. He had longed for more than kissing and holding her but Pamela stood her ground. She had a brain and a conviction. There were little things like how she folded his shirts that annoyed him, but he loved her cooking. His Mother had told him that he had to jump over walls to meet his beloved. She brushed her teeth too loudly and hated Aquafresh. She used Promise, but he could not stand that bitter thing. Why endure something bitter only to spit it? She wore red lipstick that made kissing her an endless search for the heavenly taste that was her lips. They had passed by a Total filling station to get some water when he asked her what she thought of marriage. Pamela was wearing a yellow sundress with green flowers and a wide hat. She turned to him and smiled then kept her mouth shut. They got back into the car and once he had started driving, she turned to him and smiled again.
“I asked you a question Pamela but you have not answered me.”
“Is that what you think?”
“Please do not start arguing with me, you know we can do this the whole year. Tell me, honestly what do you think?”
“Are you ready to settle down Allan?”
“Yes, I am what about you?”
“I can be persuaded to change my mind Allan. If you want to get married we have to do it the right way. You will approach my parents and ask for my hand in marriage and then the process of paying for dowry will begin and after that we can have a wedding, now does that answer your question?”
“No, would you love being married to me?”
“I love you Allan and if you are serious about us getting married then do something about it, but please understand that I have dreams. I would like to do things like spend time with my friends or travel, so when we are married do not expect me to quit my job or forget my dreams to please you, because I have worked so hard to get here and you will not spoil it for me. Is that clear Allan?” He hit the brakes, opened his door and walked over to her side and gently guided her out of the car and kissed her with all the love he had. Years later when Pamela would accuse him of cheating, he would look at her and see the passion he saw when he kissed her that sunny day on their way to Micheni. His hands travelled the soft curves that marked her hips and settled on her firm and soft buttocks and squeezed holding onto her as he kissed her lips all the way to her soul. When he stepped back, she was breathless and he could hardly move his legs but he smiled and said, “As clear as the day is my love.” He never got down on one knee or proposed in some wild bush, but he knew she would be his strength and even when he would come to close his eyes, it was her smile and touch that reminded him of what he had lived for. There were girls and then there was Pamela. He could accept their kisses and caresses but he only yearned for Pamela’s touch. When he worked on a case, he would give her a case scenario and together they would work on it. She would say, “You are so good at this sweetheart, why do you even need my opinion?” He would laugh and wink at her sometimes, but the truth was he valued her opinion and there would be no other woman who would take her place. So, they drove to Micheni to meet his parents. Once a village, Micheni now had a police post, two bars, a supermarket, three hotels, a disco and a murram road opening the small area to traders and the world. His parents welcomed them. His Father’s cough had gotten worse and he swayed with every motion like a ball bouncing on the ground. They would pause and wait for him to compose himself and then continue. He looked at Pamela and said, “you are welcome my daughter.” His mother did not speak for all that mattered had already been spoken by her husband. His mother excused herself and reached out to her husband before guiding him out of the sitting room into the verandah. Pamela tapped Allan’s shoulder, “How long has he been coughing?”
“For years and when we took him to the doctor they found he had Bronchitis and he was treated. I thought he was better, but now, I am not so sure, why?”
“Does he smoke?”
“This is Micheni everyone his age smokes! We worked in the tobacco plantations down the valley, and he worked there from the moment he could grasp things.”
“We need to take him to Kenyatta, immediately.”
“We just got here Pamela. It is a long drive back to the city, can’t we go tomorrow?”
“Listen, I know you are tired sweetheart, but we can get him some medicine from the dispensary so he can calm down, but we need to have a specialist look at him, please.”
“You think he has cancer.”
“He looks like he has lost half his weight sweetheart, please let us do what is right and make sure he has the best doctors. My friend works in Kenyatta; I can call her to get a doctor’s number.” They drove back to the city that night to see Dr. Suraya who confirmed that his father did have lung cancer but it was too far gone to be treated. They could relieve him of his pain but that was all they could do. It was 4:00am when Allan finally walked into the room where his Father lay and wept. He cried and called out to God and the angels to make his Father better but all he could hear was his Father’s voice, “You have done me proud my son. You learned more than a-ba-cha-da.” Mzee Kizito took his last breath three days later and none except his wife was brave enough to smile and thank the Lord for having granted her such a loving husband. So, it would be that Pamela’s people met Allan’s people at his Father’s funeral in Micheni. His mother urged him to go ahead with the marriage proposal and present Pamela’s people with the dowry. They were married at the St. Peter’s Church in Micheni six months later. Pamela wore her white gown and walked down the aisle accompanied by her Father and Mother. No matter how hard he tried, Allan could never express how much he loved Pamela, he remembered being tired and nervous when she first walked into his room and let that bathrobe slip down her shoulders and onto the floor. He could give a detailed account of every curve, mark, dimple and mound that crowned Pamela but no one was bold enough to ask him, not that he would ever tell.
Allan walked around Micheni two days after his Father’s burial. He went to the Micheni Primary School to visit his friend Anna who had been posted there after completing her Diploma in Basic education. He was welcomed by the stench of urine from the gate as he made his way to the administration block. It was a semi-permanent building with the words:
Micheni Primary School
Motto: Knowledge is Power
Mission: To the best of the best
Right below the words was an arrow pointing towards the school gate. His feet met with pieces of paper, mostly scripts that had been previously marked and graded that now served as wrapping paper for the mandazi Mama Rosy sold. It was ten o’clock, and his presence was acknowledged with shouts of praise and laughter by his Mathematics teacher “Mr. Equals,” and his colleagues sitting around the table. He joined them taking the seat at the far end and accepting the metal cup he was given. Mama Rosy poured him black tea and asked, “So, will you have mandazi or chapati?”
“Give him two chapatis, that’s my son right there!” echoed in Mr. Equals his left hand slightly shaking as he reached out to take a bite of the mandazi he was eating. Allan accepted everything he was offered as he took in the staffroom. Most teachers had bicycles and the ones who could not afford them relied heavily on their feet. Their questions about life in the city came at him like rainfall. They asked and he answered, sometimes he would look them in the eye, sometimes he would be too embarrassed to do so. A loud metal sound hit them and he saw the teachers get up and walk to the wall each armed with pieces of chalk and books. All but Mr. Equals left the room. The table tipped to one side and he reached out hoping to hold it in place, but his hands were not fast enough and soon his knees found the floor to collect the books, papers and cups.
“How long has it been like this Mwalimu?”
“I remember the first time you came to school. You had orange shorts and no shoes and you told us that you could add things up in your head. It was funny; a child who could not write but could add things up in your head, so we asked you, five mangoes and ten oranges comes to what? You said, they are just that five mangoes and ten oranges, but if they were five mangoes and ten mangoes then they would be fifteen mangoes. It was known to you as Math, but it was Algebra to me and I told your Father to let you study. Your old man was an ox. He paid on time and would visit me every Saturday with some tobacco to ask how you were doing at school. When you were punished he never intervened. He trusted us to mould you, but looking back at the times my boy, nothing has changed. We have more pupils but no books. We have some paper and children who can hold pens but no pens. The government places new teachers here but they leave as soon as they can. This is the only school in the district that had the best boy go to a national school. Yes, my boy, we have pupils who pass but they go to Provincial schools, none has ever beat your record, but look at us…we are here by six and we leave at six. I am a Teacher and knowing that some of these children will sleep under iron sheet roofs and never go hungry because of what I taught them is enough to keep me here. Now, what did you ask me?”
“How about the CDF?”
“CDF is money politician spend in hotels and bars. A few women, a few drinks and waiters who say, ‘yes, sir,’ that is what CDF is.”
“Micheni has grown, there are businesses here that never were and we have a good road and a dispensary and a police post.”
“Businesses are for profit, the road leads our children away from home, and the dispensary stinks of spirit but if you want Panadol, you have to pay for it and our young mothers die before they bring forth life. The best one is the police post, how can you arrest a hungry man?”
“You live in the city and you have just found a woman to call your wife, look around Micheni and tell me would you like your children to grow up here?”
Allan looked at his hands. His old Teacher’s cough filled the room and he did not have to look up to know that the old man was looking at his grave. “Have you been to the Doctor Mwalimu?”
“I have been to Doctors and I am yet to join my wife, but I cannot stop coming to school. So, will you walk with me as we wait for Anna’s double lesson to come to an end?”
“Yes, Sir,” and he got to his feet and followed the teacher around the school looking at the classes and compound. There were three classes spread out in the field under the trees. It may have been the sight of the school or the working conditions for the teachers at Micheni that ignited the fire in Allan, but he could never be sure. He returned home and when the time was right, he drove back to Nairobi with his wife and so many questions for their area MP.
He took half of his salary the next month and bought building materials for the school. He asked the community to offer laborers who would construct a new administration block and in three months, the school had a new look. The teachers had desks and a stable table. He asked his colleagues to contribute towards the project and by the end of the year, Micheni Primary looked like that new academy past Langa’ta; new buildings, clean water, clean toilets, a gate and most of all happy parents and children. The enrollment doubled and the teachers were pleased for they had enough books and writing materials to go around. Whenever Pamela asked him why he was giving away most of his earnings to his people, Allan would tell her that the same people gave away their earnings to send him to school. He gave and she frowned. Allan knew two things: he could share what he had and he could also save for his children.
One Sunday afternoon while they were talking to their Pastor, a man in a green suit approached them. Pamela found it odd that such a tall and very black man would wear green, but Allan saw the man’s eyes and posture and knew he was a messenger. The man led him to a Mercedes Benz parked three meters away from the church’s main entrance. The back door was opened and he was asked to step in for a brief meeting. He adjusted his tie and stepped in.
“It is good to give thanks Wakili, and how is your wife?”
“She is fine Mheshimiwa.”
“Your first child is it?”
“Yes, my wife was as big as a cow and she kept saying things and changing them every second. She wanted chapatti and Coke baridi, sometimes chicken, like one time I lost it! I was in a meeting in Parliament and she calls me to say that she wanted yoghurt and deep fried chicken. I snapped and told her to send the maid but see, that was my mistake, I could have said I was going to get it and not answer the phone, but when I told her to get the maid, and she never talked to me until she delivered.”
“They are crazy but how can I be of service Mheshimiwa?”
“I like you Wakili. You do not walk around the house when you can knock on the door. So, I hear you are from Micheni. It is a small village. The road is like a hunter’s path. Do you know your member of parliament?”
“Yes, but you are doing what he should be doing, have you ever thought of representing your people?”
“I already do enough Sir, besides they did not choose me.”
“You did not ask them to, but still, you can always do more once you join Parliament.”
“No thanks, I love the law.”
“I also love the law Wakili, nothing is as sure yet obsolete as the law here in Kenya, but that is between you and me. For is it not intriguing how the law can change in favor of the one who has many papers bearing the picture of Jomo?”
“I still love practicing.”
“Of course you do, but listen; here is my number we can keep talking about this because if there is one thing I know it is that people never stop demanding. You can feed the hungry today but not forever. You give and they still ask you for more, and as a representative you can do that without digging into your own pocket. You have a wife and child to think about, Wakili, so, enjoy your Sunday and please do bring your wife to some of the parties I host. She is too beautiful to stay at home.”
“Thank you Sir.”
Allan stepped out of the car and walked back to the church where Pamela was waiting for him. He took her hand and led her out of the church towards their car. “Who was it sweetheart?”
“It was the Minister for Finance.”
“You mean the Minister wanted to talk to you? What did he do now? Does he want you to defend him?”
“He invited us to parties he would be hosting in the future, apparently he likes what I have done for Micheni.”
“How does he know about that?”
“I do not know, but with these people word always goes around, let’s get something to eat.” Allan would think about the Minister’s offer for a year before his own people asked him to represent them. He thought about it for another year. Pamela had little to say on the matter for it was not known to her. They had a baby and she was caught between dealing with his tantrums and struggling to button her skirts. When Henry turned five, Allan approached Pamela with the details. She kept his eyes on him as he talked about the people in Micheni and the projects that he had done. He told her about the boundaries of every village; the type of soil, climate, and the number of deaths as births as though it was a strategic plan that needed her approval. When he talked about the children in Micheni his eyes strayed from her and went to the ground before staring right through her. He talked of running from home to school bare-feet to get a serving of porridge and running back to school only to realize that he was hungry when he arrived at the gate. He shared a pencil with Godfrey, Jane, Mwila and Thomas and the teacher would give each one a word and wait for them to pass over the pencil like a baton. Micheni had rains, but he hated the rains because when God opened the clouds they could not make it to school. They would stay home during the month of June because of the rains. The words flowed out of his mouth and into Pamela’s heart and when he was done; she looked at him and said, “I will support you, as long as you stay true to your people.”
When Election Day arrived everyone in Micheni went to vote knowing their son was to join bunge. He would speak for them.
Forty thousand votes and Allan was sworn in as a Member of Parliament representing Micheni. He was the youngest member and his pictures graced the daily newspapers and glossy magazines in the country. His learned friends called him Moses. His marriage to Pamela and ascension to power were feats they believed he’d not accomplish.
Pamela attended events and parties with Allan for the first year he was in parliament. In the second year, she decided against it. He insisted that she should accompany him, but Pamela held her ground. She never told him her fears because if there was one thing she was taught by her mother was to never show her weakness. They were at the State party when she saw the girls cling onto her husband. They giggled, held onto his hand and kissed him on the cheeks. She knew it would happen because she heard the rumors along the corridors of justice. Lawyers were believed to be liars but they never kept their mouth shut. If there was no such thing as lawyer’s fee then their confidentiality could always cost them. It was ironical that their loud mouths got them into trouble just as fast as it got them out. She knew of his quick affair with Molly at the registrar’s office. She also knew of his late meetings with a socialite in the city. He visited her twice a month because he was her lawyer and she could never be seen with him in public. Her clients were the honorable men of the country who ensured that she had the two houses in Runda, shares in the Tea and Coffee industry, stake in the Import and Export business in Kenya and a youthful waist. She knew all this and still bid her time. Allan was like an ant. He carried ten times his weight but never fell, and sometimes she loved him for it, but at other times she desired to end his life for the sake of some peace of mind.
The call she would get five years later while heading out to church would remind her of this. Everyone would look at her expecting a breakdown and endless wailing but she would have none of it. Days later after his burial she would tell her mother that she stopped caring when their second child was born. It had to do with test results three months after the baby.
“He loved you my daughter, he gave you a good life.”
“Yes mother, he loved me. If by love it meant a sexually transmitted disease, then he truly loved me.
He brought me a rose for every lie. I would count them just to shield my heart from the pain of his betrayal, but even then the newspapers and media made it easier. I knew wherever he was just by going out and getting a newspaper.”
“A man who does not forget his children is worth forgiving my child. You need to let go and be strong for your children.”
“Mother, I have been strong for them for ten years. I will not stop now that their father is dead.”
“Go get some rest. School starts tomorrow.”
The people of Micheni did two things: they demanded Allan to provide for them and stopped working. He would often stay in his office and wonder why his people became housewives. He knew Daisy Mitau who was a housewife, but she had brains and used them to advance her husband’s career. She could dress up and get a contractor to give her husband the tender by having dinner with them. He was brutal while she was welcoming. She was an educated woman. She knew the fine lines in contracts and could spot a demerit just by touching the piece of paper. Her husband let her reign in that domain and still respected her for taking care of their children. He would never tell a soul, but she was the most responsive woman he had ever held in his arms. It had been a mistake and they had forgotten about it. The people of Micheni on the other hand expected him to do everything for them. They wanted national schools, white collar jobs, better healthcare, cars, and hotels. When it rained heavily, they would cry out to him to make the rains stop. When it was too dry they would cry out to him to quench their thirst and farm their land. He listened, until one day; a local man visited his office at seven o’clock.
The man refused to sit down. His eyes travelled every inch of the walls in his office and then settled back on him. “You have grown fat and you are eating what does not belong to you. I want my son to become a Doctor. He should go to the University of Nairobi.”
“I have grown fat by eating my own money and you can thank my wife for that. Now, tell me what did your son score in his K.C.S.E?”
“Yes, he scored a C but the school of Medicine has room only for an A, so how do you expect him to get a chance?”
“You will get him a chance. I voted for you! You promised that you would make sure our children got the best and what about my son?”
“The pupils who did well got a scholarship. Your son has not done well enough to join the school of medicine, if you would want him to join then he must sit those exams again and score an A, then I will pay for his school fees.”
“What am I to do with him then? Listen…”
“No, you listen; I did not sit the exams for your son. He used his brains and scored that C. Now, he has to go back to school and study hard to pass if he wants to study medicine, but what surprises me is that you came here to insult me without cause. Am I your son’s brain? Am I some god who grants wishes for everyone? If he wants to do anything he has to work hard for it. I built two schools. I asked for more well trained teachers and Micheni got them. The new theatre and maternity ward was built under my supervision. Your children get to go to school for the first five years without paying a cent and you still come here to insult me. Mzee, I will not listen to you anymore and you had better pray that your son passes, because if he fails again, I will not help him. Leave my office!”
Mzee was the first.
He received more complaints in the next year and the year after that. He stopped visiting his people and relocated his office. He hired a new Assistant and returned to the corridors of justice by taking up cases to represent his fellow honorable men.
Pamela had just delivered their third born child. He would be home once a week or twice a month to get her opinion on some of the cases he was handling and leave at dawn after placing a cheque on the dining table. Pamela would wake up look at the cheque and start by cleaning the house and getting the children ready for school. Their driver, Kaunda, would drop off Henry and Jacinter and return to receive his assignment of the day from Pamela. Pamela would go to the bank and deposit the cheque in their children’s trust fund and return home.
When he walked into the Statehouse that Monday evening, Allan knew that he would never walk out. He also knew that to receive such a call meant that there was more he was expected to either be silent about or to lie about. He had just signed the papers for that new two bedroom apartment in South C for Angela and their baby. She had lips that kissed away his frowns and he promised he would never abandon his child. His mother had upon learning of this asked him, “Have you told your wife?”
“No, I have not been home in three years.”
“How many women have you kept you away from her?”
“None mother. I would never do that to Pamela, you know me.”
“Ai, I used to know you Boyi but you have just told me some other woman has given birth to your child. In all these years, Pamela never said anything ill about you. She was here for Easter and she never said anything, what would her people say if they knew of this? How would you feel if your sisters’ husbands treated them the same way? My son, we raised you better than this! Your Father would be disappointed, where did I go wrong Boyi?”
He did walk out of Statehouse with a file.
He was simply asked by the Secretary of Defense to look at it and do the right thing. In the file were directions and contacts of witnesses that he could talk to, but nothing about the murders or any information about whoever sanctioned the orders.
He took the files and drove to Oak hotel. He stated his name at the reception and he was led to his room. The lady smiled at him and said, “Have a lovely stay at the Oak.” She walked away swinging her well formed hips and he smiled at this before locking the door.
At ten o’clock he dialed for his supper to be delivered to his room together with a bottle of red wine. The meal was delivered in ten minutes and he set aside the file and sat down to eat. He thought of calling Pamela and telling her everything, but they would be listening and watching him, so he took a bite of grilled chicken and opened the bottle of wine.
He finished his meal and got into bed.
The room attendant screamed when she passed by room 402 and saw blood. There was a man and two women on the bed and blood all over the floor. When the police came, they told the Manager to make sure that no one spoke of this or else they would face the wrath of the state.
One of them was overheard saying, ‘this is bad, call the Minister.’
They waited for five days before approaching Pamela to break the news. She was told he was driving home when armed robbers attacked him. When she followed them she saw his car three meters from their gate and Pamela knelt on the ground wondering why she never heard the gunshots or why he never called her. She thought of the last bouquet of roses she had received from him and rushed back into the house. She had thrown them in the dustbin in the kitchen together with the card. She emptied the bin on the kitchen floor and reached out for the card. He’d written: “I love you Pamela. Here, keep this: 123412340089. You’re beautiful honey.”
She slipped the card in her wallet and walked back to the sitting room to dismiss the policemen. They told her the state would organize everything and Allan would be given a befitting burial.
As they lay his body to rest days later, Pamela would look at the people of Micheni and smile. Her husband had given them all he could and they were not grateful. She would not make the same mistake. Allan’s intelligence and the fear of going hungry made him who he was. When she walked to the bank and presented the card to the manager, he took her to a secret room and presented her with files and papers of everything he’d left behind including money that would see her settled into her retirement. She thanked the manager and walked out.
Kaunda was waiting outside with the door of the car open. She stepped in and wore her seatbelt.
“Where shall we go to next Madam?”
“Take me home Kaunda. It has been a long day.”
“Madam, he was a good man. I know nobody believes so anymore, but sometimes you do things that destroy the people you love only to protect them.”
“I know Kaunda. Thank you.”
“You will be fine Madam, now let us go home.”
As Kaunda drove all Pamela could think of were the roses. She had held onto each card and thrown the roses. Allan had given her a rose for every lie, but a card for every truth and suddenly it dawned on her what she’d held onto and why she’d done it.
Dora is the author of The Currents Series. She lives in Kisumu and spends her time writing and traveling. Visit her blog:
Allan is an advocate in Nairobi. He finds himself in a world where the truth is hidden along the corridors of justice. As years go by, he rises the leadership ranks and is admired by his constituents. However, his wife, Pamela knows one thing about him: he gives her a rose for every lie. Question is, who is counting? Roses and lies is tale of mystery with a twinge of passion set in Nairobi and the small town of Micheni.