A brother is like a dog. They never really tell you out loud how much they love you. They just do. And when life has piled a shitload of lemons on your salad, they will know. You do not even have to say anything. They can just tell. Even if they are eight thousand miles away in Atlanta, Georgia. Salim Katana is such a brother. A single phone call to Natasha Baraza was enough for him to know that his sister was troubled. Her voice was muffled and dry, like that of someone suffering from tonsilitis. Her choice of words was obscure. The stutters and periodic pauses in between their conversation told of someone whose mind was fighting a losing battle with their heart. At his insistence, Natasha had gotten it all off her chest. And he had listened. The same way he had listened to her little teenage girl problems years ago as they were growing up back in Kwale. Of course, he reprimanded her and called her all kinds of names. But that was right before heroically turning the lemons into lemonade and making a tasty cocktail out of it.
Three days after their conversation, Salim had somehow managed to pull some strings and miraculously secured a VISA for Josephine to fly to the free world. He had also organised a cashier’s job for her at a local fast food joint. She would stay at the studio room right behind the kitchen. She was an excellent experienced cashier. That is what she used to do at LC Waikiki anyway, back when she was just an ordinary law-abiding citizen minding her own business. Now she was a criminal. She had stabbed a man. An Attempted Manslaughter charge would earn her a minimum of ten years in a Kenyan High Court. And if Sam did not make it out of the Intensive Care Unit where he was recuperating, the charge would be escalated to Manslaughter which would attract a life sentence. The offer Natasha and her brother were offering seemed like a good deal. Her Silence for her freedom. In any case, this was a win-win scenario. Mwaura and the gang that killed her mother would never know her whereabouts. Staying in an unfurnished studio behind a fast-food kitchen in a foreign land would not be ideally comfortable, but it sure beats wearing striped pyjamas and sleeping in a double-decker bed in a squeezed stinking cell. Or being dead.
Josephine could still not wrap her head around how Sam had survived despite losing that much blood. She shuddered when she remembered how it had splattered onto her fingers after she had pulled out the knife. Natasha had stepped out of her tearful shower to find a horrific image on her inbox from Sam’s phone. It had taken her white Jeep Wrangler a record seven minutes to get to Sam’s place and twice as much time to get him to medical attention. Her patient admission statement stated that Sam, who was unconscious at the time, had been a victim of a street robbery. The hospital had only three of the five pints of B + blood required to resuscitate Sam. Natasha, a universal donor, quickly offered her arm and they drew out half a litre of her blood. She did not care that she was pregnant and that the blood loss would affect her unborn baby. After all, this was its father’s life on the line. Daddy cannot die on you, child, she prayed as she paced the hospital lobby, waiting for the doctors’ feedback. He has to survive and tell us which son of a bitch did this to him. Your daddy is such a noble and virtuous soul who is liked by everyone. Who would want to hurt him? And why? Oh, please, daddy. You have to live. For the sake of your unborn child. Our child cannot grow up without a daddy. Oh, please, daddy. You can do this.
It was at this moment of anguish that Natasha realised she had already subconsciously made up her mind with regards to the baby. She would keep it. Salim Katana would be happy to know that in about thirty weeks, he would be an uncle.
Corporate Medical Cover is a bed of roses. You get your own ward, spacious and warmly lit. It has its own toilet and a separate bathroom with a bath in it. There is a 55 inch TV right next to the two-door fridge filled with all kinds of vitamin – laden food. They give you an iPad that is connected to the internet for you to stay ‘updated’. A beautiful nurse changes your sheets twice a day and later adjusts the springs on your recliner bed to your comfort. The doctor remembers your name and spends a considerable amount of time checking up on you every two or three hours. He brings chocolate every time. He says it helps with blood regeneration and circulation. All this at no cost since the bill will be sent straight to Symbiotic PR Limited. This will clearly raise some eyebrows on the folks from Human Resources. It will be the second time in a month that they are receiving a medical cover bill in your name. Well, last time was clearly an accident. This time? You don’t even know what to call it.
It is your third day of recuperating and the events that unfolded before you got stabbed keep spooking you. The dreaded conversation keeps replaying in your head. That bitch! It disconcerts you that you were too dumb to know you were being worked. By a woman! It unsettles you that you are a worthless pawn that was being used to tailor the power politics of the country’s second-most populous county. It flusters you that another set of eyes saw you naked, with a married woman, and that you are one video leak away from your life crumbling down. What would you tell your mother? What would her friends at the Church Women’s Guild say? Your younger cousins back in the village who look up to you? Your colleagues back at Symbiotic PR Limited? And as if that was not fazing enough, Natasha had some bemusing news for you.
‘I am really sorry about all this. I should have known Josephine was trapping me and..’ you say as soon as you two are by yourselves in your five star rated ward. Nobody else knows you are here.
‘It’s not the time to feel sorry, Sam. It’s time to make some lemonade,’ she responds, curtly.
‘Lemonade? What do you mean?’
‘Josephine has been taken care of. She will never open her mouth to say a word to anyone,’
‘What did you do? Please don’t tell me you…’
‘Oh, No! Sam, I would not kill anyone. Well, let’s say she is kind of disappearing. To the United States,’
Natasha nods as she takes a long loud gulp from her smoothie. Pregnant women need vitamins too. Especially after they have siphoned out half a litre of their blood.
‘What about the videos? What if she had shared them with someone already? What if…’
‘I am certain that she will take that secret to the grave,’ Natasha is adamant.
‘How sure are you?’
‘Because the moment she opens her mouth, she goes to jail for attempted murder’
Sam stares at Natasha as if he is seeing her for the first time.
‘So you blackmailed her into…’
Sam is stunned. He leers at Natasha. Her face is stone cold. What had become of the beautiful immaculate woman who had smiled at him in the elevator the day they had met? The alluring and empathetic personality that had drawn him into her arms that night in Diani? The demure and delightful querida she had had some excellent times with for the past three months?
‘There’s one more thing, Sam,’ Natasha breaks Sam’s train of thought.
Natasha strode close to Sam’s recliner bed and patted her lower belly, smiling sardonically at him. Sam’s jaw dropped. His eyes widened. His brow became wet and a strand of sweat dropped down his left temple.
‘Is it…Is it…’ Sam stutters
‘Yours?’ Natasha interjects.
‘What do you think, Sam?’ she asks scoffingly.
‘How old?’ he asks after a moment.
‘Will you…Are you going to…’
‘What do you think, Sam?’
Your wife is still giving you the cold treatment. Ever since the night of the debate, she has not really been herself. Well, your confession on your infertility was not the best thing to ever happen to your marriage but certainly wasn’t the worst either. Wait, what could be worse than publicly embarrassing your self – accomplished wife?
‘Baraza, we need to talk,’ she says as soon as you get home.
‘Can it wait? Tonight is not the best time,’ you retort.
She eyes you and clicks her tongue.
‘Look. I know you are still mad at me, but I will need you to accompany me tomorrow. At least for the sake of the cameras,’
She nods, uninterested.
‘Nina should also come. She can wear her black trouser suit,’
She nods again.
You brush your teeth and go to bed. You do not have the time to engage in a ‘We need to talk’ conversation. No, you cannot open that can of worms. Not tonight. Tonight, you need a good night’s sleep. You have a great day tomorrow. Tomorrow, tomorrow is Election Day.
END OF EPISODE 9
Episode 10 (Season Finale): Friday, 19th June, 2020