By Gaylord Gitau, Ajabu Africa News, posted September 11, 2010
“It is good to be merry and wise,
It is good to be honest and true,
It is best to be off with the old love,
Before you are on with the new”.
This verse from an English song that Kaniaru had learnt in his high school days during the oral literature lessons had kept reverberating and swinging like a pendulum in his mind one week prior to his wedding.
This song had besieged his mind like mice in a trap and a bird in a cage.
Before then, a weird dream had taken him captive for an hour. In the dream, he had seen a bevy of maids trooping like a mob of kangaroos and was as busy as bees throwing mud and sand at his grey wedding suit to the detriment of his best man.
In an effort to save the scenario, Kaniaru and his best man were beaten to a pulp by the maids and recoiled like cowardice of curs to their cage. He woke up in a hastiness of cooks and was fully drenched in perspiration. He breathed a sign of relief and looked at the grandfather clock on the wall only to realise it was two in the morning.
He remembered Ciiku, the latest kid on the blocks who was only one week from becoming his bona fide wife. And having lived and worked at the coast for two years as an accountant with a local firm, it was normal for him to perspire and sweat like a pig. Therefore to remedy the situation, he would take a cold shower and bury himself in the blankets again.
But on this occasion, he felt lonely and fear gripped him in the process tearing his expectations into ribbons. “What was the meaning of the song and the nerve-breaking dream?” He asked himself. “Was it a precursor to the life ahead or was it an Armageddon-in-the –offing?” He continued to wonder.
Realising that it takes good men to do nothing for evil to prevail, Kaniaru did what he knew best.
He prayed like a praying mantis; bound every stray demon and cursed the forces from hell that were militating against his well-intended marital bliss, drank a glass of passion juice and slept off in a heap till morning.
Kaniaru had betrothed Ciiku for two years and had certified her ‘correct’. She was medium in height, plump and of a dark complexion. Her smile coupled with dimples was so infectious that it had driven Kaniaru crazy with love. She had a good job with an international company as a secretary and her commitment was unmatched.
She was very innovative and had a knack for creativity for in two years she had built her parents a beautiful timber house that was the talk of the village. This milestone by a lady was a challenge to men of her village, Kabata and she was, thus, shunned like plague by them.
Her meeting with Kaniaru was more of a miracle than design. It was during the professionals’ seminar in a city hotel that they had eyed one another. Due to their prowess in their fields of assignments, they had been sponsored by their respective companies to hone their skills in the seminar. And as they climaxed the seminar they were not only equipped professionally but gone a notch higher in their love and two years down the line a new era was beckoning in the horizon.
Ciiku had passed Kaniaru’s arduous and unique pre-wedding tests with a marvel, and thanks, there was no looking back. Therefore the mystic events in the dream and the sarcastic intuition of an old and a new love in the song fizzled out of Kaniaru’s mind like the morning dew at the emergence of the sun.
Having been brought up in a christian family, there was no provision for Kaniaru succumbing to blackmail or ending up in an anticlimax through an orchestration by the devil incarnate. His mother was a prayer warrior, his father a staunch christian and a respected elder in their Beyond the Horizon Sanctuary. His first encounter in the marital arena had flopped without the benefit of a cushion. A girl by the name Leah had managed to hoodwink him into a love affair.
She had lied to him about her age and her marital status. She had sworn by the gods that she was only twenty-five and had never been married while from her physique she looked as old as Methuselah. Kaniaru would have been her fifth husband reminiscent of the Samaritan woman from the writing of the holy writ. It took a quick reflex by Kaniaru’s friend to discern the truth, for he knew about the lady – schemer having previously fallen prey to her marital gymnastics.
Hence Kaniaru was saved in the nick of time. He cursed her as the Jezebel of the latter days for having masqueraded as a saint while in essence she was a demon. Without any fanfare he dispatched her into oblivion never to return.
At twenty-five, Kaniaru was a man of class, courage, brains and handsome. He had a foresight and was deadly committed to his cause. He quickly paid a dowry of forty thousand shillings to Mr Onesmus, Ciiku’s father to prove he was a man of solid deeds and not mere rhetoric. He wanted to show the world that he would not end up as a marital Lilliputian.
True to his expectation, things had moved at wind-assisted speed for even at his workplace a one month leave had been granted and a token of thirty thousand fronted to him. The mood generated by this wedding had reached fever pitch for even his workmates were going to attend it. To crown it all, Kaniaru had the company bus at his disposal to ferry people to Kabata village in Central Kenya.
One week prior to the wedding, the plans had been finalized. The maid’s dresses and the bride’s gown were ready by Sarah the outfitter. Opundo, the enigmatic tailor, had done the groom and men’s suits. Mama Lydia had been chosen by proxy as the matron on honour. Transportation was under Jotham ‘the great’ and the master of ceremony was to be Kabesha the comedian.
The venue for the wedding had been unanimously slotted for Beyond the Horizon Church and the reception at the same place. The kitchen docket had fallen in the hands of Suzzana who was a chef in a city hotel. True to his billing, Kaniaru had the nitty-gritty details of the programme at his fingertips.
At Kabogo, the village of Kaniaru, his father Kamweru had mobilised friends and enemies, alike to come and grace the occasion. Kaniaru’s age mates were also coming. Travelling by bus on a Tuesday was a tedious undertaking for Kaniaru. He had criss-crossed byways and highways as he envisaged the wedding of the century.
Sleep had been relegated into the backyard of his mind. He couldn’t afford a lapse like Nero who had fiddled while Rome burned and was thus in the centre of things, spirit, soul and body. All he saw, heard and thought of was Ciiku – his fiancée. He alighted from a coast bus. Picked his best man at a café and booked a taxi to Kabata, on Friday morning. In one and a half hours they arrived at Kabata where they received a hero’s welcome.
Kaniaru was in a hurry; tomorrow all his concerted efforts would reach at a crescendo. With a tongue of the learned, he rolled our Saturday’s programme at a terrific speed only to be stopped in his tracks by his mother in-law-to-be. Mama Ciiku began by appreciating Kaniaru as a young man with foresight and insight.
He praised Kaniaru’s heroics which went like a well-oiled machine to the applause and jubilation of the next of kin in the house. All this time Kaniaru’s eyes were glued to Ciiku like a magnet knowing the tedious toilings were hours away from renumeration. But in a flash of a second the smooth, loud voice of Mama Ciiku toned down and in a hushed voice she asked everybody to close their eyes for a word of prayer.
“Lord you are the king of old working salvation on earth, Forgive us our abominations even us we forgive our detractors, Allow Kaniaru to embrace Ciiku as a blessing. Give him the grace to adapt to the irrevocable changes, for without change man remains in chains. In the Lord’s name we pray – Amen”
No sooner had the prayer subsided than Pauline, Ciiku’s younger sister was told to get the ‘package’ from the bedroom. Kaniaru‘s mind raced with a speed of microsoft precision at the turn of events. He became mesmerized and perplexed at what was in the offing. Before him was his darling and there was no provision for a ‘package’.
He started smelling a rat as some eerie thoughts dominated his emotions. Time was not on his side for Pauline shot from the bedroom like an arrow in the hand of a mighty man with a girl on her right hand. She resembled Ciiku, though tender and oblivious of the proceedings. Kaniaru’s legs became wobbly, and he was out of touch with reality.
He couldn’t believe his eyes for it had turned out to be a marital comedy. He stared at Ciiku and tears betrayed her. His trusted mother-in-law-to-be had broken his dream eternally and destroyed his vision perpetually by arm-twisting him. Indeed it was a curse-of-sorts coupled with a spine –chilling experience which was unforgivable in heaven and on earth. The song and the dream he had in the night prior to this day was indeed a real intricate web of deception.
His good intentions had ended in a cul-de-sac as mama Ciiku had finally driven a nail into Kaniaru’s marital coffin. It was a coup without guns.
The silence that gripped the room was of a church on a weekday. Kaniaru was tongue tied although he feigned some smile and nodded like a lizard in affirmation not to betray his emotions. And like a hapless sheep to the slaughterhouse, he had been duped. Ciiku had had a child outside wedlock and she never revealed this to Kaniaru.
He had been kept in the dark all these days. Kaniaru quickly coined a fake excuse saying there were some final arrangements to be made in the city and he would be back the following morning. He got into the taxi and headed to the city. As the car pulled up at a packing bay, he excused himself for a short call, paid the taxi driver and went to the coast bus terminus. He booked a bus and sat bemoaning is misfortunes and forgot the best man and the wedding.
Back at Kabata, it was celebration galore. Mama Ciiku was all over the place bragging of how she had killed two birds with one stone. It was song and dance as the cooking went on overnight with people yearning for daybreak. In the meantime Kaniaru had sobbed in the bus and would intermittently stop to gasp for breath. He had looked at reality through the narrowest of prisms and found himself between a rock and a hard place.
Ciiku’s name had now symbolized pessimism, evil, mockery and disappointment, all at once. His dream had come a cropper and the rest was history. He didn’t give a damn for he had thrown caution to the wind. Later he got the news from his workmates of how the situation on that Saturday at Kabata had degenerated into the modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. After eight hours in the bus, Kaniaru alighted from the bus at city, sat on a bench at a park. Looking at the undulating waves of the suspect horizon, he saw the injustice in humanity.
“Why me and a second time?” he asked. He was sad for the ugly monster had reared its ugly head again and scattered his plans into smithereens. “Truly”, he said to himself, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned or was it a man this time?”
This is a story based on a true incident. The names of the people, places and the church have been changed to conceal their identities.
By Gaylord Njui Gitau who is the author of “The Rough Affair and Other Stories” and works at UNDP Kenya. He can be reached by email at : firstname.lastname@example.org