Pastor Mwangi’s sermon was unusually long on this day. Understandably he got carried away as he had not before addressed a large multitude such as was gathered this day. The story had spread far and wide and as it was, everybody sympathized.
The black Volvo that pulled a cloud of dust a distance away distracted Ndumbi’s eyes from the small wooden white coffin placed at a table before him and Nikki. Nikki held on to his arm for comfort. She would sometimes break into tears and Ndumbi would hold her in his arms but all through the service he kept his eyes to the coffin.
The blazing sun could be felt through the polythene covering set for the family of the dead child as well as to be used as the podium for the funeral service.
Occasionally, a breeze blew by, easing the torment especially to those who sat on the grass enduring the heat and the lengthy sermon. The Volvo made its way closer slowing down perhaps not to torment the mourners with dust. Ndubi gazed at it with all his pain.
His mind went back and forth, to the past, to the future and back this day, again and again and again until the Volvo had vanished into its cloud of dust. This flared his anger even more and he could not stop thinking furiously about Ron from that moment on.
A few days later after pleading with God to avenge his adversary with no result, he made up his mind he was going to do justice himself.
For two weeks Ndumbi spent most, if not all of his time, in his workshop working. Nikki was concerned that her husband had greatly been psychologically affected by the tragedy. Anytime she tried to find out what was going on in his mind but she couldn’t get anything.
So worried was she that she tried to have the Pastor talking to him…
Mr. Ron was half asleep when he heard the loud barking of his dogs outside. Alarmed, he slipped off his bed leaving his wife under the covers. Sliding into his slippers he started towards the window.
Just before he touched the curtain, the barking suddenly stopped. The night was quite again. He moved the curtain just enough for one eye. The night was well lit by the full moon.
He did not see anything apart from the usual coffee plantation that stretched out behind his backyard. The view was great especially from this up-stairs window. Then he moved from that window to the other that faced the front side towards the gate.
The night guard was resting in his usual booth, unalarmed. Ron wondered a little about that but then thought he was being paranoid.
He admittedly had become somewhat paranoid in the last couple of days, often getting the urge to look over his shoulder. But then nothing seemed unusual this night save for the fiercely barking dogs.
The clock read 1:32 am.
After shifting from between the two windows severally he assured himself all was well and finally got back to the warmth of his bed. He had hardly dozed off when he jerked up and jumped out of bed.
He was sure he had heard the door to his Volvo lock back. He rushed to the window towards the backyard and peeped through below where his car was. He couldn’t see much of it. He balanced on the tips of his toes to try and see more but the view only improved by an inch.
He waited to see any movement but five minutes later, there was still nothing. His wife had woken up by then, “What is it honey? Come back to bed. Nothing’s happening.” The night guard was still resting peacefully in his booth.
“The pastor invited us over for supper today at his place,” said Nikki to her husband immediately he woke up in the morning. “When did he?” He asked throwing a towel over his shoulder.
“He and the wife were here last evening….where did you go?” she asked. “You came in so late I was worried.”
“I was having a few drinks with my friends, I didn’t notice the time, besides I wasn’t all that late now was I?” he answered.
“2:00 am is very late, it’s not like you, and I hope you were happy though?” she inquired searching his face for answers.
“I’ll never be that late again, take my word…,” he walked to the bathroom, but before closing the door he said to her, “I must admit, talking to my friends did me better than the workshop…thanks.”
After they had had breakfast, Ndumbi dressed up and was ready to leave. Getting his wallet, he bumped into Danny’s shoes which Danny himself had picked from the shelf in the shoe shop barely a month before.
It stirred up a flare of memories which he tried to shake away with a shrug but they stuck. Tears rolled down his cheeks and he wiped them off with his handkerchief. Nikki walked from behind him and holding him by his shoulders wept. He gave in; they held each other for a while and cried like babies.
“Am going to Ron’s,” he said in the midst of tears.
“Why, what do you want to do?” she asked suspiciously
“Nothing…,” But the look on her face was clear; she did not trust the visit.
“Seriously, I am just going there to let him know that I blame him…I am not crazy.” He wiped his face with the wet handkerchief in his hands, placed it in his pocket and held Nikki by her waist, “…trust me Nikki, am not going there to start a fight.”
“Are you going for the money then, I thought you said you …..”
“Yes, I wouldn’t touch it. I am not going for the money. Trust me.”
The guard at Ron’s gate was alarmed to see Ndumbi walking towards him.
“I just want to talk to him,” he said as he got to the guard. The guard went for Mr. Ron. He too was alarmed to hear who was calling for him.
“Is he carrying anything in his hand?” he asked.
“No, he has nothing sir,” answered the guard. Ron thought a little while scratching his chin, “Let him in,” he decided, “Just let him in. I don’t think he’s up to no good.”
Mr. Ron stood behind the locked metal door waiting for his guest to walk in, he was not sure what to expect. The man walked down as soon as the guard let him; his eyes aimed straight at Ron’s.
The dogs did not attack or even bark at him this time. They also stared. He walked past the dogs and stood face to face with Ron. It was a moment suspended in time for the two men.
Ndumbi’s eyes said a lot, but his language was not familiar to Ron. They badly haunted their victim. The man on the outside of this door said nothing to the surprise of the man inside, the silence was killing.
“I got your money,” said the man inside. The man outside said nothing but his eyes screamed a lot.
“I’ll go get your money now,” said Ron, walking back inside into his house and then reappearing shortly after with an envelope.
“I got a riddle for you,” Ndumbi finally said.
“Okay,” responded Ron.
“On the tarmac road that runs steeply toward the bridge, three butterflies flew away,” he started narrating.
“It beats me.”
Ndubi reaches deep into his pocket for his handkerchief and raised it to Ron through the bars.
“Here’s a clue. Touch it.”
“Come on. It won’t bite.”
“Okay now, just take your money and leave. I don’t like this game,” Ron said raising his voice to draw the guard’s attention.
“Ok, you don’t touch my tear-drenched handkerchief but I’ll help you with the riddle.”
Ndumbi squeezes the handkerchief and tears ran his hands. “See that?” he said. “These are tears from my heart and soul. All my life’s tears collectively would never add up to the tears that have run down my eyes the past one month,” he said looking up to meet Ron’s terrified gaze. “My wife uses a towel.”
His voice was a mixture of thunder and whisper, it was clear that he was trying to keep his emotions from getting the best of him. He had looked forward to this moment and the emotions were not going to ruin it for him.
(To be Continued)