Celebrating East African Writing!
Soon they were in the upmarket leafy Fedha suburb and at Makena’s palatial home that had been bequeathed to her by her late father. He stared as her slim fingers stroked the Roland keyboard.
Snatched me from the brink of death…
Nudged me back to life…
Kissed me back to life…
HIV and AIDS ain’t death…
Virusi na Ukimwi sio kifo…
Ukanibusu, maisha mapya ukanipa…
A new lease on lifeeeeee…maishaaaaaa…
Magnificent. Heart-wrenching. Soulful.
Kuria leant back on the black leather sofa as Makena’s soprano voice rose and fell. She hit the high notes perfectly. Excellent diction not withstanding, each note and nuance was awesome. The end product was amazing.
“Excellent! I never knew you could play the piano and sing so well!’’
“How could you? You were busy having an affair!’’
“I was busy creating Tito Kuria Inc.!’’
“Tito! What sacrilege! You betrayed our sacred marriage vows made before God. I believed in the sanctity of marriage, but you made short shrift of my trust in you!’’
“Look, you’re perfect for my movie, but if we can’t resolve this, how are we going to work together? I can’t deal with your insinuations and unforgiving nature!’’
“How do you expect me to feel? We were married three years. I’d placed you on a paragon-like pedestal of virtue. The epitome of a quintessential marriage. Yet you were having an affair behind my back…’’
“Honey, that’s not true.’’ Tito interrupted “Nkatha and I slept together only once and you caught us!’’
“You expect me to fall for that old line?’’
“I gain nothing by lying to you!’’
“Nonsense! Nkatha said you’d been planning our divorce so you could marry her, that’s why she got pregnant!’’
Tito sighed “She was always an incorrigible liar. And you know that more than I do!’’
Tito rehashed the past in his mind…
“That night was the worst mistake of my life! Her pregnancy never brought us any joy only a living hell. It was a relief when she miscarried.’’
“My heart bleeds for you.’’ Makena said sarcastically.
“You don’t understand…’’ Tito said desperately.
“Don’t give me empty rhetoric! And what part don’t I understand? Re-enact the scenario in Shaggy’s song please. The wasn’t me part of the tableau I stumbled on…What if the shoe was on the other foot? You come back at night from the airport due to misplaced passport hassles. You find your wife in your matrimonial home in your marital bed with another man. There are scattered wine and whiskey bottles all over. And no used condom sachets. Your reaction? And a month later, your wife tells you that she is carrying the other man’s child!’’
“I don’t know…’’ Tito answered “I admit I’m glad it’s a purely hypothetical question. But I guess after I’ve gotten over the initial anger, I’d like to hear an explanation from my wife. Perhaps there are mitigating circumstances.’’
A sharp peal of sarcastic laughter burst past Makena’s lips.
“Is that your law degree talking Tito? Mitigating indeed! Ha! Like what?’’
“Like we were drunk? You could at least give me a chance to explain what transpired that night.’’
Makena sighed listlessly and sat down. “Don’t play reverse psychology with me, but okay. Get it off your chest.’’
Tito stared into space.
“You know our marriage was having problems Makena. We’d been married three years. We barely had time together. You were all over the country attending scriptwriting workshops or on singing gigs and tutoring contracts. When you were around I was off on business trips. It was a vicious cycle. I admit the breaking point came when I suggested you slow down your career to accommodate our marriage and maybe have at least one child.’’
Makena interrupted “And when I refused, you took it as some sort of rejection…’’
“I guess I didn’t want you working so hard because of some misplaced masculine pride I harboured. I wanted to be the provider just because I’m ten years older. When I realised how independent you were, it was too late and your career became a hurdle.’’
“I didn’t think you’d notice my absence Tito. You were obsessed with business.’’
“It wasn’t that bad Makena. I felt that I had to protect and maintain you in the affluence that your late parents had accustomed you to.’’
“Tito, I admit my parents raised us in palace-like citadels, but didn’t it occur to you that we could make a success of our marriage despite two very good combined incomes?’’
Tito continued. “I acknowledge my mistakes in hindsight. Nkatha called me that night. I was surprised that she was back in the country as I hadn’t seen her in the three years I’d been married to you as you very well know she had moved to Uganda on a job transfer. I let her come over to share a bottle of wine I’d bought for you that evening, only to find you gone on some harebrained trip! The fact that I’d taken a week off work didn’t matter to you. I poured out my frustrations to her. You know she and I dated in high school, though we never slept together then. She gave me a shoulder to cry on. I guess I took too much whisky. We found ourselves in bed. The rest as they say is history. The ball is in your court. It’s your call whether you’ll forgive me or not. I’ll wait for you outside.’’
“Just a minute, Tito. There’s someone I want you to meet.’’
She went to the foot of the stairway leading to the bedrooms and called out. “Kerron!’’
The small boy who came and stood at the landing on the stairs took Tito’s breath away. Tito was rooted to the spot! Not so much at the shock of seeing an exact replica of himself at around the same age from what he’d seen from old black and white family photos, but the arousal of an almost primordial, paternal stirring instinct within him. No need of DNA! He knew it before she could say it.
He had to find out though. When the boy got to the foot of the stairs, Tito got to his knees. “Kerron, how old are you?’’
“Why? Four and a half going onto five. Mom, who is this stranger?’’
“Kerron this is your dad. Remember you’ve been asking about him?”
* * * * *
Months later while in the recording studio brainstorming with Njeri and Kerubo over the score and in the middle of a conversation between Tito and Makena, Njeri interrupted, staring at Makena “Hey girl! That’s the first time I’ve heard you mention Nkatha without your blood pressure shooting to high heavens!’’
Makena smiled dreamily, “Nkatha. With her rich sense of humour and great personality.’’
It was Kerubo’s turn to stare. “You seem to have known her quite well despite what she did to you.’’
All of a sudden Makena looked dazed. “Of course I knew her well. She was my older sister!” And promptly burst into tears, truly grieving her sister for the first time. Tito moved nearer and held her in his arms.
It marked the beginning of healing…
* * * * *
A week later three figures stood at the Langata cemetery. Father, mother and son. Makena lovingly caressed her sister’s epitaph. Rehashing in her mind how puzzled she had been when she had announced her engagement to Tito and Nkatha had suddenly upped and left for Uganda. It was only later that Makena had come to understand that Nkatha had never gotten over her high school crush on Tito when she caught then in bed. She had never forgiven her sister but today she had. She silently said a prayer for her sister’s soul wishing her God speed.
Kerron Kuria placed flowers on the grave of an aunt he never got to know. Tito thanked God for giving him a second chance to be a dad and said a prayer for Nkatha and the other child he had lost.
© Moraa Gitaa – July 2010 This story is a continuation from another published last week. Read part one of Second Chance Dad.
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