ICED TEA………

ICEEEE

SHORT STORY BY GLORIA MWANIGA

She was 17, naïve and just out of high school. In her free time, she volunteered to work with the younger children at the orphanage run by the Catholic Church. He was the regional coordinator for the Africa exchange scholarships. That is where they met.
That evening, she had gone to pick the final signed copy of the scholarship letter and thank him. He had promised to send her off to Australia and he kept his promise. She hadn’t even told her parents about it. She would tell them that day. She smiled, imagining the surprised look on their faces.
They say that every dog has its day; this particular one saw his coming. He watched as the girl walked into his bungalow and smiled to himself. She had long, graceful strides. But her naivety irritated him. She was so trusting, so believing yet she was a slum girl. They were supposed to be tougher. Damn it! He poured her Del-Monte juice and proceeded to get the signed scholarship letters out of his room.
He couldn’t remember what came over him but before he could get out the forms, he was back to the living room, by her side. Desire, like fire eating him up.
He tried to touch her, gently at first. She shrugged him off, smiling in her innocent way. He took this as a yes and proceeded to tear off her clothes.
She knew there was no use screaming. The compound was big and there was no one in the vicinity. She closed her eyes as she felt him sink his big, chubby self into her small frame.
***********************************************************
He was found strewn on his bathroom floor. Fully clothed. It was in his apartment on Dennis Pritt drive, off Ngong road. On a cold Thursday morning, of November 11, 2011.
His friends had been trying to call for three days but his phone went unanswered. Most of them, drinking buddies, didn’t bother calling after Saturday night.
He didn’t leave a note. He didn’t even say goodbye, he just disappeared into thin air.
It was his fiancée Lenah who found him there, three days later.
The decomposing body had turned ash grey. It was also emitting a rotten smell. She screamed, dialed the only number on top of her head and fainted.
They gathered at Garden Square to pay their last respects to a man who had died so young. Most of them ordered his favourite drink. Some out of guilt, others due to fond memories. She asked for iced tea, served cold. His truly best drink. But that was her secret, no one else knew. She let them indulge. She couldn’t disagree; he was a very charismatic man.
A preacher from the Pentecostal church he attended gave a twenty minute sermon. Then the fundraiser began. Not that they needed the money, Johns’ friends had decided to give their friend a respectable send off. They sent contributions by M-pesa, wrote cheques and gave cash.
She sat at the far end, watching all the chatter and fake pleasantries that was a daily part of the upper middle class lifestyle. She looked at the pretty uptown girls that filled the room and wondered how many had been his lovers. ‘Poor them’ she thought. She would live with the satisfaction that he was always, only, truly her.
Her hand slightly trembled as she remembered how hard it had been for her to fit into this social class.
Her mind went back to that evening, years back.
************************************************************
At first, she stared at him with blank eyes, but they quickly turned to realization then hatred for him as he eroded her innocence. She started crying but the pain was soon numbed by the hate she felt inside. She hated her life. She hated the tiny pigeon hole she lived in with the strangers she was supposed to call family. She hated the smelly paraffin stove and the food it cooked because it had choked little Zawadi. And right now, she hated this man for shattering the only dream she ever had.
He came back with the forms and threw them on the floor, next to her crumpled body. She should be grateful, the bitch.
She never again touched the scholarship forms. Broken dreams couldn’t be mended
Later she ran away from home. No one knew where she had gone. Or why. She started off as a housemaid for an Asian family then later got a secretarial job at a publishing house in the city center.
*************************************************************
The meeting was almost over. She pushed back her thoughts and stared at the emcee.
“So far, we have collected two million, six hundred and seventy four, but you know me, I hate un-round figures and so did our late friend John. So we will have to round it off to the nearest thousand…….’’
*************************************************************
She got the news a couple of year after she ran away. He had been found, in the bushes near the bungalow where he had raped her. His hands and ears chopped off. He died a few hours afterwards from excessive bleeding.
*************************************************************
The money was counted. It was three million shillings. The emcee thanked the friends and called those close to the deceased to speak.
She was the last one to be called. Before her turn to speak, she took one last gulp of her iced tea. She thought of the letter Hamisi had brought her from the slum she had never gone back to. It had his scowling handwriting and she held her breath as she read it the previous night.
‘Dear Hellene, Please forgive me. Before I came to your parish, I had a vasectomy that left me incapacitated. When I met you, something stirred and all that changed. I am sorry I hurt you……’
It hit her then… a week too late; what she had believed all these years was wrong! John was not that bastards’ son. He was not the forbidden fruit she had believed him to be.
The satisfaction she had felt as she watched him crumble on the bathroom floor faded. Just like it had when she had given up all her life savings so that he could pay for killing her dreams. They had executed the job well. Even if they cut out his limbs instead of his manhood.
The dead man they celebrated today was the fruit of her love. Yet she had spent years resenting him. She would be more positive from now henceforth. At least the zeros in her Barclays bank account had increased significantly.
She walked to the podium, picked the microphone and turned to the crowd to give her last respects to her son.
She was grateful that dead men didn’t tell tales.

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