By Patrick Ngugi
Wilmina Mudeshi had had enough. She could not continue with these tribulations anymore. It was time to leave, she thought as she gripped the small bottle sleeping pills in her slender hand.
She was surprised that her mind was so calm and clear once she had decided to do this. She would end her life tonight; there was no need for her to continue living this life.
It was shortly after 5.30 pm and almost all her colleagues at the advertising agency had left. Only the general manager Madam Betty Gittony was still in her office. She always stayed behind as she waited for her husband to pick her.
Wilmina tried her best to look normal so that no one would suspect what was going through her mind. Before she left the office, she removed her purse from her handbag and opened it, and stared at her reflection in the small mirror.
She tried to smile and look normal, but she knew the image that was smiling back was pretending. The smile that met her was not all convincing. She tried harder, nothing doing. I have to do better than that, she thought as she closed the purse, returning it into her handbag.
‘’Hello Mrs Gittony, I’m off for the day, good evening, see you tomorrow,’’ she said, flashing her best smile, better than the one she had seen in the mirror.
Her boss looked up slightly startled, then she smiled, ‘’Good evening Wilmina, see you tomorrow,’’ she said.
As Wilmina walked towards the staircase to the ground floor, madam Gittony shook her head sadly as she watched her. ‘’Thank God, as least today she is smiling,’’ she said to herself.
Wilmina braved the chilly temperatures outside the building
Wilmina was one of her best sales executives if not the best. She always brought big business and was always a cheerful soul, but for but for the last two months something had been a miss.
She had been silent and moody, preferring to keep to herself, a big departure from the lively person she had known. Ms Gittony had tried to find out what was bothering her without success. Each time she had asked her, she would only smile, and say nothing serious.
She had given up; hoping that sooner or later, whatever was ailing Wilmina would come to pass. It looked like her patience had paid off since, today, after a long time, Wilmina was smiling, at least today she said goodbye with a smile, unlike the last few days when she would just disappear silently without telling anyone.
After Wilmina disappeared to take the flight of stairs downwards, Mrs Gittony went back to her work, and soon forgot about her.
Wilmina braved the chilly temperatures outside the building, as she stood at the entrance, and called a taxi to take her to her Hurlingham home. She observed the city as she waited for the taxi. The street lights had come on, and myriads of Nairobians were walking briskly this way and that to try catching their evening transport home.
Dismas Mwenda Njeru… The name echoed in her mind
The taxi arrived and she sat at the back, and after giving directions to her home, she sat back and let a flood of memories of the last six or so months invade her mind. She winced when she remembered Dismas Mwenda Njeru. The cause of her hell on earth.
She grabbed her handbag tightly and heaved a sigh of relief when she felt the bottle of precious pills in the bag.
Dismas Mwenda Njeru… The name echoed in her mind. How had she fallen for this drunken, violent, and cheating bastard? She had truly loved him too much, but this was the end. She could not tolerate this life anymore.
How could he lie to her about his past life, and so many other issues? She did not mind so much the psychological torture or the physical abuse he had subjected her to, but what hurt her most was the fact that she had trusted a big real life liar. It was all over.
She had met him six months earlier in the streets when he was a hopeless and homeless alcoholic, who had moved from bar to bar, in search of one more drink.
She met him one afternoon as she was leaving lunchtime service at THE LAST TRUMPET TEMPLE, also known as Pastor Kirui’s church which was not far from the office.
Wilmina had felt pity on him the moment she saw him. But it was more than pity, because something else had attracted her attention. Was it the face of determination that she saw beyond the rugged look, and the faded jeans he wore?
He had stopped her to ask whether the church could offer him something to eat since he was hungry and had not eaten for days. She was in a hurry, and did not want to waste time with this seemingly drunk person.
‘’Hey please madam, excuse me,’’ he said.
But something made her stop; she could not explain it, but despite his rugged looks he had charisma.
‘’I am not sure, the pastor has already left anyway,’’ she had explained, after all at this time the church only offered spiritual food, but not something that could be put in the stomach, despite it being lunchtime.
‘’Oh, then please, could you spare me some money for lunch, sister, I’m really starving,’’ the man had said.
Without hesitation she had pulled out a purse from her handbag, fished out a Sh200 note, which she gave to him.
His face brightened up and he offered loud gratitude and while clasping the note between his palms, he closed his eyes and raising his face upwards said a silent prayer.
Embarrassingly, Wilmina started walking away but the man caught up with her, and profusely thanked her again. She nodded but continued to walk on to the office, without giving the man another thought.
The next day as she walked out of the church he was there, much cleaner and appeared less drunk. She almost failed to recognize him, and would have passed by if he did not call her.
‘’Hey please madam, excuse me,’’ he said.
Wilmina looked at him and for a few seconds she couldn’t recognize him, then as he smiled, a warm charm oozed through his beard, yes. The drunk beggar she had helped yesterday, she thought.
Had he come for more cash? She wondered, a feeling of apprehension coming over her. ‘’You, hi, what can I do for you this time?’’ she asked forcing a smile and preparing to walk away immediately the man mentioned cash or food.
‘’Madam, I hope you remember me,’’ He said sheepishly.
’Madam, I came to thank you from the bottom of my heart’’.
‘’Yes, I do. We met here yesterday at around this time,’’ she said almost asking if he had been stalking her. Yesterday he was calling her sister, today he is calling her madam, was it because of the Sh200 she had given him yesterday?
‘’Yes,’’ he cut in.
‘’So, what is it this time?’’ she asked, preparing to tell him off.
But what he told her next not only shocked her, but also softened her somewhat.
‘’Madam, I came to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me so much yesterday. I don’t know how to show gratitude…. Thank you so much,’’
Wilmina was touched to the core. She had not expected that such a simple gesture would come to this. It was not the first time she had given money to beggars and such layabouts, just to get them out of her way, but it was the first time anyone had come back to thank her.
‘’No problem, welcome,’’ she said smiling, as she started walking away, but the man was not through.
‘’Madam, may I walk with you?’’ He asked, and Wilmina was somehow shocked, since she had not expected such an outlandish request.
‘’Why?’’ she asked forcing another smile, while her insides were burning with a mixture of curiosity, mistrust and fear.
‘’Well, why not, I have nowhere in particular that I’m going, so why not walk with you, if you don’t mind?’’ He asked with another of his charming smile.
This is when she learnt a great deal about Dismas Mwenda Njeru
She looked him over, he seemed decent. Probably the money I gave him helped freshen himself up, she thought. There was nothing to lose or fear if she allowed him to walk with her. She might learn one or two things about him, she thought.
‘’Why not, let’s go,’’ she told him.
He was hilarious, and lovable. In the short walk they had together she gathered quite a bit, without him telling her so much. He was lonely, and jobless.
After meeting her outside the church for two days, she invited him for the church service the next day. Though hesitant at first, he agreed after Wilmina used his own words to convince him to come, ‘’after all he had nowhere to go.’’
This became a routine for a week and Wilmina started developing some feelings towards him. He was not bad, all he needed was a chance and he would reform, she thought.
One day after she asked if they could meet for coffee that afternoon, so that they could get to know each other better, he accepted, and with a thumping heart, she arrived at venue, LowRands Café on Kaunda Street.
This is when she learnt a great deal about Dismas Mwenda Njeru, or what he would tell her.
His wife of two years had abandoned him as soon as he was retrenched by the Water Company where he had worked as a depot branch manager. She had run away with their three year old daughter and to make it worse, she was now living with another man in an exclusive gated community with high walls and tight security.
He had run out of his savings, their house on mortgage reclaimed by the bank, and could no longer afford decent home, ending up living in a slum.
And Dismas had not disappointed
He had tried suing his wife for custody of his daughter but without cash he could not go far. He had raked the city looking for jobs without success. Desperation had led him to drinking the little cash he could lay his hands on, until… until…..’’ he hesitated.
‘’Until what?’’ she asked waking up from melancholy.
He took his cup, holding it with both hands and stared at it passionately, his eyes glistering, then he lifted his gaze and looked into her eyes… ‘’Until I met you,’’ he said.
She almost chocked on her coffee, but regained her composure, smiled shyly and placed her cup on the table. “What do you mean?”
Then he told her how her generosity that first day they met had changed him. She was kind, considerate and beautiful. In her he had regained faith in womankind since his wife abandoned him.
At the end of the coffee date she promised to see how she could help him get a job, because, as she told him, all he needed was a second chance.
It wasn’t long before she convinced her father, Wilberfoce Mudeshi, a successful businessman to employ him in one of his several companies. Wilberforce, a widower, had long given up the dream of seeing his daughter get married and have a family of her own.
So he hoped that this Dismas guy would be the man in her daughter’s life, and if he proved himself, he would make him a director in the company he was going to employ him.
And Dismas had not disappointed. He now stayed sober and was good at his work, which impressed Wilmina’s father.
She tried again. This time he was mteja.
Due to disappointment from previous relationships, Wilmina had sought refuge in church, thus blocking any romantic ties with any man who had tried to date her for the past several years.
Until Dismas happened. But perhaps he had managed to win her heart because he had appeared to her as a helpless drunk beggar, who needed helping, and that is what she had done, but now…
Five months down the line they were living together and for Wilmina, this was her godsend man. She only waited for him to propose, so that she would happily announce to her dad that she was finally getting married.
Then the worst of her nightmares started. One day he came home late and though he explained he had been busy at work, he was stinking of alcohol. She was so hurt, that she did not think of asking him about it.
To her, this was a danger sign and she feared he might regress back to his old drinking habit, which could now be worse since he had the money.
The next morning she had brushed it aside and forgotten the incident as a one off happening, and silently prayed that it wouldn’t happen again, after all he must have met some friends and they had gone for a drink.
Then there was this business trip Dismas had to make a few days later to the coast. It was Friday afternoon when she escorted him to Wilson Airport where he would take the flight to Mombasa.
That evening she sat in front of the fireplace sipping drinking chocolate, reading posts on the social media, watching a soap opera and at the same time, and missing Dismas.
‘’I wanted to check if you arrived safely,’’
It was about two hours since the plane left, meaning he must be in his hotel room now. She decided to call him. With a thumping heart and bated breath she listened as the phone rang until it disconnected without getting an answer.
She tried again. This time he was mteja.
A bit disappointed, she tried to call again without success. Perhaps he was busy with registration process at the conference venue; she thought and put the phone away. Tried to drink the chocolate and watch the opera. They were not exciting. Then she remembered her dad, whom she called once in a while when she felt lonely.
Her mood rose again when her dad’s call went through. After a bit of chit chat, his dad asked, about Dismas.
‘’Oh, he has gone to Mombasa for the conference.’’
‘’Conference?’’ her dad asked, ‘’what conference?’’
‘’The one the company has sent him to represent,’’ She said, wondering whether her dad was losing memory.
There was a brief span of silence, then her father said, ‘’I don’t recall any conference we are attending, but then again, perhaps it’s something that escaped my mind, or something they will tell me later about,’’
‘’Yes, dad,’’ she said thoughtfully, and after a few more chit chat during which Wilmina forced herself to, they bid each other goodnight.
Wilmina quickly forgot about the incident
What did this mean, she asked herself. Dad was always in touch with what was happening in his companies, and something like this couldn’t have escaped him… unless… unless…She took the phone again somehow angrily, and dialed Dismas’ number.
It rang for some time and when she thought it was going to get disconnected, Dismas answered.
‘’Hallo, what is it dear?’’ he asked with a slight drawl. Was he drunk? She wondered. In the background she could hear noises of loud music and people’s voices.
‘’Hi, gosh I can hardly hear you, there is so much racket over there…’’ she found herself saying.
‘’Yes, I’m at the hotel where they threw a party for the delegates. What did you want to say?’’ he drawled.
‘’I wanted to check if you arrived safely,’’
‘’Yes, I did and I’m having a wonderful time here… the conference starts tomorrow. Anything else, I have to disconnect.’’
‘’No, it’s okay. We’ll talk tomorrow.’’ she said.
‘’Ok….’’ he said and just like that he disconnected.
He did not even say he missed her. He did not even say he loved her as he had told her so many times previously.
She stopped and waited for her
She had not been able to ask him how come her dad did not know about this conference, if it really existed.
Perhaps I’m thinking too much, she thought, and rose up, switched the TV off, took the cup to the kitchen and headed to the bedroom where she would wrestle with insomnia.
Wilmina quickly forgot about the incident, and did not question him when he came back on Monday morning, though she was full of suspicion, she had decided to give him the benefit of doubt. She did not want to lose him out of sheer jealousy and suspicion. And it paid off. About a fortnight later he proposed.
They continued to go for the lunchtime service once in a while, but would always attend the church service together whenever he was ‘’feeling like it,’’ that is if he did not have a hangover, as he had not stopped drinking completely.
One afternoon as she left the church, she saw a familiar woman walk towards her across the church hall. She had occasionally seen her at the church services but they had never spoken.
She was now coming towards her with a warm infectious smile across her face. Wilmina could not help but smile back. She stopped and waited for her.
‘’Hello,’’ Wilmina said, ‘’how are you?’’
‘’I’m fine thank you,’’ the lady said as they shook hands, and made their way out of the church hall.
‘’My name is Dorcas. Dorcas Kanini,’’ she said still smiling.
‘’And I’m Wilmina, Wilmina Mudeshi,’’
‘’Good, I’ve seen you here quite often, you seem to be a regular,’’
‘’Yes, I don’t miss lunchtime service. It helps pass time, as I get spiritual nourishment at the same time.’’
‘’That’s good,’’ Dorcas said, then added, ‘’I’d love to meet you later when you have the time, perhaps after work?’’
‘’Meet me, how come?’’ Wilmina asked curiously.
‘’I’d love to know you better, and also I need some advise, and I have no one else to talk to,’’ she said. Wilmina gave her a look over. She looked genuine, and thought why not.
They agreed to meet at 5.30 pm at Birds Of A Feather.
Get Part Two HERE