By Kemboi Victor
The rain that had kept me in bed for hours stopped and alternated with the warm rays of the chrome shaped yellow sun that beamed proudly from the East.
It was almost 10am this Saturday morning when I finally left the bed. Since I had nowhere to go, I decided to bask at the balcony of my second floor apartment as I took tea, while enjoying the sweet rays as I flipped through an old copy of newspaper.
I was about to get my blue plastic chair and bring it to the balcony, when I noticed a TOYOTA Lexus parked outside Harriet’s house again, and a wave of jealousy and hatred ran up my spine.
Not that I was envious of Harriet’s rich boyfriend, whoever he was, but I had never brought myself to forgive her for how she had treated me after I visited her sometime ago.
I found my mind reeling backwards to relive that dreadful day.
Harriet had the knack of making people angry and despise her. She had in fact rubbed all the ten tenants of this block the wrong way, including myself.
In my case it had started with simple admiration. Once or twice I would bump into her on the ground floor as she went to her flat and I ascended to my flat on the second floor.
Despite gossiping neighbors who had spoken negative things about her, I decided to try my luck on her, by visiting her apartment, hoping we would strike a friendship that would lead to romance.
One evening, I eventually appeared at her doorstep and knocked on the door.
“Yes, how may I help you?” she had asked peeking out and stretching her hand to greet me as we had done previously.
My eyes landed on her luscious body. She was dressed scantily with almost the entirety of her fleshy thighs exposed, just as was her flat tummy that had nothing covering it. A tiny piece of clothing covered her breasts and shoulders.
Call me Harriet,” she smiled before letting me in.
I quickly cleared my throat twice, then spoke, although I could tell from the look on her face that she was a bit uncomfortable.
“I know you’ve never known my name yet we’ve been meeting here almost daily in the past two weeks and passing each other without saying a word. This is not good for neighbours. I felt it would be good to know one another more and make friendship,” I started, putting a little smile on my face, my eyes transfixed on hers and waiting for her to say welcome. “Won’t you even welcome me in so we can talk?” I added.
“Okay, welcome. Call me Harriet,” she smiled before letting me in.
“And I am Daniel Kiptoo,” I said and entered her house, a room that made my mouth agape with instance, and continued for some several seconds as I tried to believe what I was seeing inside, the glamorous furniture and hi-fi electronic equipment in the room. Mutisya had initially told me that Harriet was a student at the University of Eldoret and I had believed him. But from what I was seeing, it was unlikely. Maybe she was a manager or a great business woman, or a governor’s daughter.
In no way, a university student which Mutisya had said Harriet was; could not rhyme with that stately look in the room. Nearly half a million shillings in the sitting room alone! How then could I believe she was a student? Never! I doubted Mutisya had lied to me.
As I sat down I shifted my eyes on her blooming beautiful body. She also sat down on the other side and since she had worn an extremely short dress, a red panty got visible between her legs for some few seconds while she placed her left leg on her right lap, which awakened my feelings to burn in me. And she continued to take her wine which she was drinking before I had knocked on the door. Just looking at her, I found myself struggling with lust.
“What will you take, wine or juice?” she asked after having her sip.
You might find yourself in the wrong hands if you stay
“Juice,” I said without thinking. From the comfort of her seat she stretched her hand to her fridge and retrieved some mango juice. She served me with a glass of it and continued to enjoy her wine. I took my first sip, placed my glass on the table and started to speak to her wondering why people never visited her, yet she was so nice, beautiful and kind hearted.
“Now why did you decide to visit me at this god forsaken hour?” She asked.
What god forsaken hour, I thought. It was only few minutes to 7:30pm. But before I said anything else she had added.
“You might find yourself in the wrong hands if you stay here for a little longer. My boyfriend is on his way here, and he wouldn’t like you,” she added.
I became a bit uncomfortable trying to explain something, instead my mouth stammered until she spoke;
“Okay, I think I am getting you,” she said. “I want to assume that you came here to ask me to love you. Is that right?” she asked with little scorn. I almost nodded.
“I know men, especially your type. But kindly, for your information, you are not my league dude…Okay, just because we’ve been greeting one another doesn’t mean I like you or I like your stories. First look at yourself…look at yourself,” she said, and looked at me from top to bottom to elaborate her mockery. I realized that apart from the sandals that were waiting for me at the doorstep, I was in white side-pocket jeans short and a black t-shirt.
She laughed scornfully. “…the best thing you can afford to be in my house is a shamba boy, though I don’t even have that farm for you to till. So kindly finish your juice quickly and close the door behind you as you leave.” And she stood up holding her glass before making another sip, and looking at me sharply feeling antsy. I was shaking with shame on my side. Or was she speaking under influence?
Then Harriet realized I was still
As those words sank deep into my heart she left, saying she was heading to the gate to bring her boyfriend and that I should have vanished by the time they arrived. Well, I had heard. But I felt like seeing this boyfriend who was better than me for Harriet’s sake, and so I continued to ‘enjoy’ myself.
About three minutes later a man with a distended potbelly entered in, followed by Harriet holding a shopping bag. The man, without even offering a handshake with me headed to where I guessed was bedroom.
Then Harriet realized I was still around. Yuck, she demanded to know what I was still doing after she had told me to vanish. She shouted at me to leave but the ‘boyfriend’, possibly the age of her father and older than her by a decade and half interrupted and asked her to allow me to only finish the juice, as he changed himself at the bedroom. How I felt stupid!
Harriet was then so infuriated and she heaved angrily and sat down looking at me unblinkingly. There I knew why people hated her. In the mix the man reentered now in a pair of short and a vest and sat next to her kissing her. Then turning to me, and realizing that my gaze was on them he asked, “What are you still waiting for? Disappear.”
I have never lost my appetite for mango juice but I put the half empty glass on the table and left saying ‘thanks’. I felt like a razor had entered deep into my skin. And now as I left I remembered Mutisya warning me that Harriet was the woman I never wanted to be with. That she was as hot as the furnace and everyone in the apartment feared her for her pride and bad big mouth.
“I even doubt she would open the door for you,” he had added with the confidence of a true friend. Now, as I walked upstairs I had confirmed his words as a true reflection of Harriet, and I should have listened to him.
I shook those memories off my head
From then I never had a word with Harriet and neither did I ever want to think about that night in her house again. Even the many times that Mutisya had broached that conversation I would lie to him that I had lost all my interest on Harriet the moment he had told me about her. He often wondered how we would pass one another like strangers whenever I met with Harriet but I had resolved to never tell him about the embarrassment.
I shook those memories off my head, then I realized that I was yet to take the chair and sit at the balcony.
I entered the sitting room carrying it and placed it on the balcony, and sat facing the gate. About an hour later, a loud knock which could awaken the dead interrupted my thoughts. I couldn’t see the knocker, except the roof of a black saloon car outside the gate due to the high perimeter wall and the black metallic gate.
The moment Mutisya, the gateman opened the gate, a damsel, in official regalia like someone working in a bank or a high ranking office in town, probably in her late twenties or early thirties violently pushed him away, and heaving heavily, started walking towards the apartment building. She even didn’t mind driving her car out of the way as she walked briskly.
A flustered Mutisya followed her, asking her to remove her car since she was blocking other users like Mrs. Rono who had just started her car to drive towards the gate. However, the woman angrily held her waist with her left hand and with the right, retrieved a bubble gum from her mouth and threw it at Mutisya angrily, before poking him on his forehead, telling him to push the car out of the way.
As I wondered how uncouth she was, I suddenly remembered where I first met her.
“Fungua hii mlango ama niingie nayo”
I first met Miriam two days earlier outside the gates of our Mosco Apartments when she approached me, asking where the apartments were.
She told me she was looking for a vacant house, and someone had referred her there suggesting there were a few good vacant houses to host a family.
Since I had a bus to catch I directed her to Mutisya. Little then did I know that two days later she would be coming here, with violence and demeaning Mutisya.
I now watched in disdain as she approached Harriet’s room on the ground floor. Shortly she was banging on the door with her knuckles, and as angry as a bear with a wound, as she shouted, “Fungua hii mlango ama niingie nayo.”
If it was Harriet that had angered her, then it was all about her bad relationship with people. But what had she done this time round?
I knew her well. She was a tiny young woman; with a lousy sharp tongue that could leave one in chills whenever she spoke. One word from her mouth could make ones nerves boil with fury.
She opened the door seconds later and as usual, when someone had offended her she retorted, “You bitch from hell, nini mbaya na wewe unashinda ukigonga mlango yangu hivo?”
“Toa mzee wangu hapa ndani. Joshua, my husband is here. And it is the third time I am following you with him,” Miriam shouted and tried to push her way inside although Harriet blocked her. Perhaps, I thought, she had stalked her husband the day I first met her.
It was true that Harriet was with someone in her house anyway. The white Toyota Lexus that was already parked outside her house was a proof enough. I had seen that car parked outside Harriet’s house severally.
I so much wanted to be part of this drama
Harriet giggled mockingly before spitting out her venom. “Stupid prostitute, for your information he is also my husband, so kuja pole pole tuelewane sistee.”
That statement fueled Miriam’s anger. And feeling the intensity of the mockery she smiled and stepped back a bit like someone preparing for high jump.
It now seemed like she had at last tampered with a live wire. She had made away with Miriam’s husband. I could feel some drama which was not likely to end without injuries ensuing. Such dramas involving older men who had abandoned their wives for young girls especially those in university or for someone’s wife and vice-versa, had become common in the town. And this morning it was Harriet making news with Miriam’s husband, the man I concluded was the one I had seen in my previous visit to her house.
I so much wanted to be part of this drama, not as an active member but just as a passive member or an eye witness to find a story to write or share with friends during those off peak hours after job and at maybe the bar so I made my way downstairs to catch up.
Both women were trying to argue against each other. Harriet was still propped by the door while Miriam was fuming with fury that I opted to keep my distance away from them. If Mutisya, the watchman had done that despite him being the security officer here, who was I to intervene? People say foolish people tread where angels fear and I never wanted to be that fool that people said. And so I only watched with Mutisya and Mrs. Rono who had come out of her car to catch up too.
To some extent I felt for Miriam; but maybe because I had never liked Harriet since that night. I almost wished to support her and be on her side. Even if it meant in my mind and not physically. There was no way I could support Harriet after the shame she had put me in, even if I found her being the right one. I wished Miriam taught her today. She was now heaving with anger and I got certain that she was about to redesign her face and perhaps her mouth too, as she held her waist with both her hands and daring her to try her.
War knows no shame!
Like I had assumed she suddenly made one sweeping push which left Harriet tripping on the floor inside and breaking glasses on the door pane. And in no time Miriam was inside growling like a hungry lioness, trying to find Joshua.
We found ourselves peering via the door which was now ajar. And alas, the same man that I had found the previous time inside Harriet’s room was the one I was seeing again today in a pair of boxers without a vest. He was holding a bar of soap and a towel as if he was heading to the bathroom before this puzzle came along; I think now wondering how his wife would have found her way here.
As for Harriet, she was trying to fetch herself from the scene of the fractured glasses. And from that glance, I realized that she was in the same pair of red pair of panties which I guessed I must have seen her with the other time; and bra after the towel which she had wrapped herself with fell down the moment she was knocked by Miriam. What baffled me now is that I could not tell whether they were preparing to go to the bathroom together, or they had just come out from that moment of ‘ecstasy’ between couples, or they were preparing for that moment…or…I could not tell. War knows no shame!
“Joshua, so this is the conference you had attended?” she asked, as Harriet collected herself up. She looked at her hand that now had injuries of the cuts from the pieces of glass and anger seemed to fire her up. She jumped on Miriam angrily biting her on the shoulder but in the process Miriam took another swift push and poked on Harriet’s eyes, which saw her on top of broken glasses again, that pricked her more. She also took a bottle of wine that was on the table and hit her on the head with it. I had foreseen this, I thought. The struggle continued.
It amazed me that Joshua, or rather the ‘medal’, which Harriet and Miriam were fighting for was only watching the ‘match’ instead of calming his ‘games’. He just took no action to separate them and he stood there holding his mouth. I guessed he was wondering who to support or what to do. It seemed he was in dilemma. If he had a chance he would have left the way some men would do but then his ‘wives’ were fighting by the door and we were peeping from there, our eyes on his naked body with a funny belly that hung in front of him like a sack of grains.
What we saw next was Miriam holding a kitchen knife
“This thing between these young women’s legs is surely killing these old men in this town,” Mutisya now spoke for the first time. At that moment Mrs. Rono who had also come to see for herself was holding her car keys and looking into the room disbelievingly, as well as laughing at Mutisya’s statement.
I knew it could be difficult for anyone to intervene and separate them for in this place, when people, especially women are fighting for ‘their rights’ you sit at the fence and just watch. You only become the ‘actor’ or the ‘audience’ depending on circumstances. And today we were the audience.
In a short while, there was a sharp shrill like someone was in grueling pain. What we saw next was Miriam holding a kitchen knife, with blood on it meaning she had cut or stabbed Harriet. However, she let it down on Harriet’s belly stabbing her. Where she got the knife, we did not understand. But I guessed she had taken it from under the table that had some fruits in a plate. We had not seen it properly having been too busy with the fight to notice it but we only saw her pulling it out of Harriet’s belly and returning it again and again. She stabbed her severally, maybe to ensure her husband’s snatcher was completely gone, completely dead. There were no screams some seconds later.
“Miriam, stop it. You will kill her,” Joshua shouted and hurried to grab her as if he had been awakened from a dream. But instead, Miriam turned and gave him his fair share too. She stabbed him on the throat and pushed the knife deeper twisting it towards the sharp end. The cut deeply penetrated into Joshua’s throat and I almost thought she had completely separated it. As she pulled out the knife I could tell that Joshua’s throat was severely cut. He instantly collapsed on the floor. Harriet at that moment, I guess was repenting her sins and communicating with her gods to find her a good place in heaven.
Time to intervene; we entered in. Although she was more than hostile, she made no effort of attacking any of us but warned us to stay away from her, pointing the knife full of blood at us as she headed to the door. We stood aside, gazing at her painstakingly but shaking in fright of what she might do as she approached the door. The moment she was out we rushed in to where the victims were. Harriet was badly hurt than Joshua. In fact, there was no sign of breath in her. The white upholstered seats were now full of blood and on the floor the victims lay motionless.
“The only help we can offer them is calling an ambulance,” Mrs. Rono muttered.
“And what about the car outside, we can use it. Aren’t these the keys?” Mutisya suggested picking the car keys on the seat. But sadly, Harriet died as we put her into the Toyota Lexus outside her house. And before we could do much Joshua too was dead.
Now we put them on the ground next to one another and covered them with blankets as we contemplated on what to do. The car at the gate and Miriam had gone. A few other people had joined us one after the other until the whole apartment became full with sad looking people. It had started as a ‘match’, a normal fight between lovers, and ended gravely with a loss of lives.
©Kemboi Victor 20/3/2019