Francis Mwaura is the typical middle-aged Kikuyu man. He wears chequered short-sleeved shirts that are a size larger. Soft bright and faded khaki pants with extremely long flies, with black (sometimes brown) leather shoes. A baseball hat hides his receding hairline. He drives an old white Toyota Fielder. Uses a Dual SIM Tecno phone. Loves his nyama choma with a warm Whitecap to go with it, listening to some old Rhumba music. What better place to have this combination than Walkabout along Kiambu Road? Papa Lolo by the legendary Mose Se Sengo is warbling softly from the overhead speakers across the compound. Mwaura is singing along, a soft rib in his left hand and a piece of ugali in the other.
Ah na leli mama ah, Na leli papa ah
Na leli mama ah, Na leli papa ah
Papa Lolo eh, Ba bwaki yo wapi eh
Papa Lolo eh, Ba bwaki yo wapi eh
Josephine Wagura is seated across him. She is sipping a glass of Kingfisher at Mwaura’s insistence. There is a plate of french fries on her side of the nyama choma platter. They have been here for slightly over an hour. Mwaura had called her back and asked to see her. There was something in her voice that had told him she was genuine. Of course, in his line of work, Mwaura had met several con artists out for a quick buck. They came with fake screenshots purporting to be from conversations between Baraza and his courtesan(s). Others came with edited photos. One even came with a fake DNA Report claiming Baraza had impregnated her and later denied ever meeting her. Clearly, the political game was all about disarming your enemy by portraying them negatively and making a lot of noise about it. At whatever cost.
However, Baraza was painstakingly heedful. He had been in the circles for a while and had learned how to cover his tracks. Mwaura and the team could not find any tangible dirt on him. They almost had resulted in setting him up. But this was a risky move. If Baraza could succeed in calling out their bluff, they would come off as cheap and dirty. With less than ten weeks remaining to the vote, it was the make or break period. They needed a bone to throw to the press, who would then set tongues wagging and dent Baraza’s growing credibility. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
‘So, Josephine, what do you have for me?’ Mwaura asks, dipping a toothpick in between his discoloured front teeth.
‘I need the money upfront,’ Josephine insists.
‘Tough girl, huh?’
‘Just business, mheshimiwa’
Mwaura staggers to his Toyota Fielder and comes out with a small leather bag. He walks back to his table and takes the seat right next to Josephine. She smells good. She is also looking quite beckoning in a short black dress that shows off her fleshy light thighs. Mwaura extends his hand to reach out for her left hip and his hand is held firmly and swung away like a boomerang. She has quite a firm grip for a girl with such beautiful thighs.
‘I am not here to play games, Sir!’ Josephine shouts, standing up and grabbing her bag, ‘you pay me now or I leave,’
Josephine’s hue and cry draws the attention of a few revellers which makes Mwaura a bit flustered.
‘Alright! Alright!’ he says, dumping the leather bag on the table.
‘Here is 50,000. You get the balance once I verify that the information you give me is true,’
‘That was not the arrangement,’ Josephine protests, agitated.
‘It is now,’ Mwaura affirms.
Josephine stares at the bag for a while before opening it up and zipping it hurriedly. She seems to understand that this is a battle she will not win.
‘I won’t count it,’ Josephine says, taking the bag, ‘It better be the full 50,000 as you have said. And I want the balance by tomorrow, ‘
‘Well, that depends a lot on whether your information is true,’ Mwaura objects.
‘It is, trust me,’
‘I have heard that before,’
‘Not from me though,’
Josephine then narrates to Mwaura how Natasha Baraza walked into the clothing store a week ago and shopped for about an hour and a half. She produced a photo of the receipt that had the items Natasha bought clearly listed. One Givenchy handbag; Three Medium Sized kid dresses. Four Large Sized adult dresses. Five adult chiffon tops. One size 48 maroon Kaunda suit. Five Size 32 khaki pants and ten Polo T-Shirts.
‘This does not prove anything!’ Mwaura says, feeling swindled.
Josephine then narrates her theory. The size 48 maroon Kaunda suit belongs to the husband, Baraza. He is a big fan of Kaunda suits. She even has pictures of Baraza wearing Kaunda suits to back her claim. The Givenchy handbag, the five adult chiffon tops and the four large-sized adult dresses belong to Natasha herself. (Quite selfless of her). The three medium-sized kid dresses belong to Natasha’s five – year old daughter. (The one people claim is adopted). That leaves the five size 32 khaki pants and ten Polo T-Shirts. They amounted to Ksh 27,200. Josephine does not think a woman Natasha’s age would spend that much money buying clothes for someone unless they really liked them. She is also convinced that the fitting of these clothes is of someone not very well – built. Someone younger, probably in their mid-twenties. She produces a piece of the size 32 khaki pants and a sample of the Polo shirt and places them on the table.
Mwaura is intrigued.
‘What about a nephew? Could they belong to a nephew of hers?’ he asks.
‘Natasha’s eldest nephew is ten years old. And he is in the United States with his parents,’
‘You mean Salim Katana’s son?’
‘Wow. You have clearly done your homework, huh?’
‘Actually, I know them from way back. We come from the same area. I grew up in Kinarini. My mother is a teacher at Kinarini Primary School,’
‘That is in Kwale, right?’
Mwaura looks at the khaki pants and the Polo shirt on the table. They are the exact replica of what his son wears. His twenty-three-year-old son taking a Business course at Mount Kenya University. It kind of makes sense to him but again he still has second thoughts.
‘How sure are you that that was Natasha?’
‘Her name is right here on the receipt. She paid by card,’
‘What if someone sent her to buy the cloths for them? Or maybe it’s just a friend of hers…I mean, is that a possibility?’
‘Let me tell you something about women. We do not spend money on people we do not love. Whoever those cloths belong to, is more than a friend to Natasha. My job is to give you the information which I have done. Your job is to find out who this person is,’
‘Why are you doing this?’
‘For the money. And I want my balance ASAP,’
Mwaura took out his phone and snapped pictures of the cloths on the table. He then dialled a number and started talking excitedly. Josephine packed up the shirt and pants into her bag, grabbed the leather bag containing her easily – acquired money and strode out. Sina Makosa by Les Wanyika played on.
She has not been answering your calls for the last two days. You have no idea what you did (or said) wrong. All you know is that she came over for a sleepover on her day off. You woke up early to go to work, leaving her asleep. When you came back in the evening, she was gone. No goodbye. No see you later. Nothing. Just a tonne of alluding quotes on her WhatsApp stories insinuating that she was not in her best spirits. Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option. Sometimes you need to give up on people not because you don’t care but because they don’t. Someone who values you wouldn’t ever put themselves in a position to lose you. That is the modern-day girlfriend for you. And to think she would live up to her name!
You and Joy had been friends for the last five years but had only officially been dating for two years. You met while you were both in high school, at the National Science Congress competitions. You were too shy to even ask for her number back then. Just a clueless form 4 student focused on his science project. She gave you her school’s address and you exchanged letters and grew fond of each other. You admitted to liking her and she asked you to take it slow. You both finished high school and you forgot about her. Until you met during admission at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, but it was a tad too late. She was already dating her childhood friend. She friend-zoned you. For two years, you stalked her praying and hoping it would end with this childhood friend of hers. It finally did. And there you were. Comforting the damsel in distress. A shoulder to lean on became a chest to lie on.
She had been a great girlfriend. She had supported you when you had nothing. When you were just a broke impoverished student with just big dreams and a laptop. She had ignored other well – off men just to be with you. Sometimes she even fed you and bought you little presents with her pocket money. You were extremely grateful for this. This made you fall in love with her even more. She was a gem and you knew it. Attractive. Smart. Loyal. Non – materialistic. You did everything you could to make her happy. You bought her earrings and bracelets when you could afford it. You took her to the cheap college entertainment joints every once in a while. You taught her how to swim. You made love to her every time you had the chance. It had been a blissful two years.
Since you got the job at Symbiotic PR Limited, you two had always been at odds. She accused you of neglect. She said you no longer cared about her and that you no longer valued the relationship. She claimed she did not feel the connection with you anymore and even while making love, she was not as aroused as she used to be before. She felt that she was no longer a priority in your life and that you were only focused on pleasing your boss and your workmates. She alleged that you do not listen to her and that she felt as lonely as she did when she was single. She became distant and aloof. She became bitter and angry.
You wondered where all this was coming from. At some point, you even began to think she was jealous of you. She had not been so lucky, jobwise, despite graduating with a Bachelors degree in Actuarial Science. She had resulted in selling insurance after months of futile job searching. Of course, you supported her. Paid her rent when her sales were down. Upgraded her cellphone to the latest model. Took her to the spa once a while and had her nails and hair done. Bought her much better-looking earrings and loaded her phone with airtime quite often. Yet she claimed you did not love her anymore. It just did not add up.
‘Babe, what is the matter?’ you text her.
‘Did I do anything wrong?’
‘Are you okay? Talk to me…?’
Three hours later, a response comes in. ‘Go ask Lilian. Leave me alone!’
Now it made sense. She must have somehow connected the dots and found out about you and Lilian. But how? You were always very wary and cleared all possible traces of her finding out. You would always archive or clear all conversations that were not girlfriend – friendly every time you two were scheduled to meet up. You would not answer Lilian’s calls in her presence. You made sure not to go home smelling of any perfume that was not yours, or hers for that matter. You had even posted a picture of her on your WhatsApp and Instagram stories on her birthday! The caption had had something to do with love. You are confused. How much does she know? Do I deny it or do I just ask for her forgiveness and promise to change? Would she forgive me? Should I tell Lilian?
As you ask yourself all these questions, you thank God that she knows nothing about you and Natasha.
Josephine’s phone rings.
‘Hi Josephine. It’s Mwaura here,’
‘It’s about time, mheshimiwa,’
‘Are you able to meet tomorrow?’
‘Will you be having my balance?’
‘Okay. Same place as last time?’
‘OK. See you tomorrow,’
Walkabout is not that busy on Tuesday evenings. The parking lot is half empty and the patrons are scattered like sheep with no shepherd. Even the DJ has looped some jams on the decks and disappeared. Josephine arrives and goes straight to the VIP area she met Mwaura at last time. She finds Mwaura in the company of two men, dressed in cheap suits and dusty shoes. They are all enjoying the last pieces of what must have been some very delicious nyama choma.
‘Sit down,’ Mwaura asks Josephine, ‘Would you care for a drink?’ he adds.
‘No. Not really. I am in some kind of a rush,’ Josephine responds.
‘Unfortunately, you are not going anywhere. These two gentlemen will see to that,’
‘What do you mean?’ Josephine asks, alarmed.
‘We have not formally introduced ourselves,’ one of the gentlemen says, offering his hand. Josephine ignores it and clutches at her handbag tightly.
‘My name is James. James Mbaru. I am from the Criminal Investigations Unit,’ he continues. Josephine is spooked. He glances at Mwaura who smiles at her wryly.
‘There has been an influx of fake currency in this part of the county and our good friend Mheshimiwa has been kind to lead us to you as one of the prime suspects. May I see what is in your bag, please?’ James asks.
‘You have got to be kidding me!’ Josephine yelps, staring down at Mwaura, her eyes bloodshot, like a wounded beast.
‘Please lower your voice, madam,’ the other gentleman says, walking over and takes the seat next to Josephine. He extends his arm to reach for her bag but she protests, pulling it back. They struggle for a while and Josephine surrenders. The gentleman unzips the pockets in the bag pulling out its contents as he places them on the table. Then he pulls out a wad of cash and hands it over to James. James grabs a torch that emits some blue infra – lighting and focuses it on one of the notes.
‘This is fake currency, madam. I’m afraid you will have to accompany us to the station,’
‘But he is the one that gave me this money,’ Josephine bellows, pointing at Mwaura.
‘You will tell that to the judge,’ James says, pulling out a pair of handcuffs from his back pocket.
Josephine is astounded. She knew politicians to be quite conniving but this was way below the belt. She had to think fast. She is of no use to them while in prison. This is just a sideshow. There is a reason why Mwaura called her back. He wants something from her.
‘Okay. Okay. Wait. What do you want?’ she asks?
‘Smart girl! I like that,’ Mwaura finally speaks. He signals James to put away the cuffs.
‘You were right. Natasha is playing around. I just do not know with who. I want you to find out who the guy is and get me tangible evidence. Then you can have your real 100,000,’ Mwaura says.
‘Wait…you want me to..’ Josephine is confused. She stares at Mwaura.
‘I want a name and pictures,’ Mwaura says.
‘Also,’ he adds, ‘I need whatever is left of the 50,000. We do not want fake currency spreading around, do we?’
The two gentlemen stand up to leave.
‘If you try any games, remember your mother is a teacher at Kinarini Primary School,’ James says as they walk away.
Josephine is so shaken that her teeth begin to chatter.
‘Maybe you should have that drink,’ Mwaura suggests.
Nyama Choma by Samba Mapangala plays in the background.
END OF EPISODE 3
Episode 4: Friday, 8th May, 2020