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Effervescence

Episode 10 – We Need To Talk

Sometimes when your life turns out to be a mishmash, you just need to talk to somebody. Anybody. It doesn’t matter if they will actually listen or not. It doesn’t matter if they will offer a solution to your muddle or laugh it out. You just need to open your mouth and let it out of your system. Cough it up or it will choke you. But who do you talk to? Your girlfriend left you and is now in a thriving relationship. She was your muse. She used to get you. She knew you so well that she would understand even the words you hadn’t spoken. She would listen to and decode your silence. She would push you to make the right decision whenever you were at crossroads. She knew what buttons to press to bring you back to life whenever you felt down. Yet, you let her go. Lilian, your other close friend wants nothing to do with you. Silas too. You are one lonely mofo. There is nobody in your life close enough for you to trust with whatever is burdening you. It is at such times that you try to reconnect with the only family you have got. Your mother.

Jane, your mother, was really never that close to you growing up as she spent nearly all her time working. After your father left her while she was pregnant with you and married another woman, your mother took it personally. She vowed to rub it on him that she could make it on her own. She swore on her unborn child that you (the unborn child), would never lack anything. A nurse at the local district hospital, she would work double shifts in a bid to secure some extra paper. As the smart and financially disciplined woman she was, she put together some savings and opened up a pharmacy when you were three years old. Every day, she would leave the hospital and pass by the pharmacy where she would spend the better part of the evening balancing the books and taking stock of the drugs. You would be home, watching cartoons under the watch of one of your many nannies.

As a result, you really never experienced any maternal connection. You only saw your mother in the mornings, as she left for work. Sometimes you would go days without setting your eyes on her if she had the night shifts since you would be at school all day. She burst her ass to make sure you got everything you needed. True to her word, you had it all. You went to the most expensive schools. You wore the cleanest and newest uniform. The sleekiest shoes. You read the best books. You played the best video games. You had the best toys. Everything a budding young boy would dream of. Except for her time and attention. Her motherly nurture and love. No wonder you had naturally warmed your way around an older woman. Thirty-three year old Natasha Baraza. It was no surprise that she reminded you of your mother. You felt comfortable around her. You clamoured for her approval. Her direction. Her reprimand. You cared deeply about what she thought of you. You adored how she would be proud of you whenever you achieved something. All this time, you were seeking to fill a deep void from your childhood. Someone to share your good news with first. Someone to go back to when you failed, knowing very well she would never judge you. Someone to do better for. All this time, you were seeking to find a mother in her. The one you never had.

But now you could not talk to Natasha about Natasha.

So you call your mother.

‘Hi, mom?’

‘Hi dear, I am in a surgery session. Let me call you back shortly,’ she says and hangs up.

She always does this. Busy woman. She calls back half an hour later.

‘Sam, how’s it going?’

‘I am fine, mum. How was the surgery?’

‘Oh, it went well. We were removing an appendix of some guy. He is lucky he survived after all the drinking he does. You see I always tell you not to drink because you will end up…’

‘Mum, can I talk to you about something?’

‘Yeah, sure darling. What is it?’

You try to bring yourself to say it but the words just do not come out.

‘Sam? Are you there?’

‘Uuh. Yes…’

‘What do you want to talk about?’

Silence.

‘Sam? What is it…?’ she pesters.

‘Oh. Uhh. My…my medical insurance card expired. Please talk to your guy to help me re – apply,’ you come up with something.

‘Are you okay, Sam?’

‘Yes, mum. I am fine,’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Positive, mum. I gotta go. Talk to you later,’

You hang up. You could not do it. You could not tell her. No. In as much as the whole issue with the pregnancy and the leaked footage is heavily weighing your heart, and there is no one else you would talk to, you cannot bring yourself to breaking her heart like that. Not after all she has done to make sure you get the best out of life.

***

One thing about being a husband is that you can run from your wife’s ‘We need to talk’ conversation, but you can never hide. If your wife wants to ‘talk’, you better get it over with because she will not let it go. She will bring it up anywhere, everywhere. At the mall. In the shower. Even during sex. And the fact it is election day and you are on the ballot paper won’t stop her. The fact that your five – year old adopted daughter is listening does not bother her either. The fact that it is seven o’clock on the morning of the biggest day of your political career is not any concern of hers.

‘Look, Baraza. I know you said it is not a good time to talk but I feel that this is quite important,’ she starts.

‘Really, now? I have not even had my first bite of breakfast. Can’t this wait? What is this that is so…’ you begin to protest.

‘I want a divorce,’

The statement drops like a bolt of lightning, muzzling your well-rehearsed comeback. It feels like you have just been electrocuted. The melodious chirping of birds becomes a discord of irritating noises. The soft sound of Nina chewing her eggs becomes a loud infuriating grinding of teeth. The beautiful smile on the breakfast show anchor’s face on the TV turns into a hideous scowl, as if mocking you. You feel hot. The dining room becomes dark. The coffee in your mouth suddenly becomes cold and bitter. You stare at what used to be your wife’s beautiful face, now replaced with a menacing frown.

‘What?’

‘You heard me,’

‘Of all days, you chose today to tell me this? The biggest day of my political…’

‘It is not always about you, Baraza,’

‘Are you even listening to yourself?’

‘Loud and clear’

‘You want a divorce? Why?’

‘You know why’

‘I know why? Are you kidding me?’

‘Do I look like I am kidding?’

‘You are crazy!’

‘Here are the papers. Sign them now and we…’

‘I am not signing anything! Why do you want to sabotage…’

‘It’s not always about you!’

‘Well, maybe it should be!’ you retort and storm out of the house. You get into your grey Landrover Discovery and signal your chauffer to drive off. Screw the grand entrance you were going to make at the polling station as a family. Screw the beautiful photos you were going to take as a family, casting your ballots together. What on God’s earth has gotten into her, you wonder? A simple confession about your infertility and she is acting as if you killed her mother! I knew she really never cared about politics and being the FLOTCOK, but this? This was strange. Or maybe she is working with Stephen Kinyanjui? But no, she would not do that. Well, whatever it is, we shall deal with it later. Let us first win this goddamn election. But wait, what if this is an omen of what to expect at the ballot later today? Oh, shit! These thoughts might just drive you crazy.

You need something to distract your mind.

‘Pull over!’ you instruct your chauffeur. You open the back – left door and walk around towards the driver’s seat. You open the door and let him out. He understands. He steps out without asking any questions. You get into the car and speed off, leaving him coughing up in a cloud of dust.

***

Election Day for the Returning Officer for a county with as high stakes as those of Kiambu is a nightmare. Simoene Wanjala’s eyes are rubicund from lack of enough sleep. His leg muscles are all cramped up from pacing around the tallying station. His phone is buzzing every three minutes. The junior officers who report to him keep bothering him with all sorts of emerging issues. His bladder is constantly full from all the dozens of energy drinks he is gulping down. And he has run out of cigarettes. It is a nerve-racking job in a high-pressure environment. But the reward is great. A six-figure salary. Occasional allowances. Connections to the elite strongmen of the county. And that board member position for Bourbon Regency Group of Hotels waiting for you. All he has to do is bite the bullet and make sure Stephen Kinyanjui wins. The preliminary results are not at all promising.

Isak Baraza is leading in five of the seven constituencies that form the county. His supporters have already started celebrating. Placards have started being raised. Mock swearing-in ceremonies have started being conducted in his name. Surprisingly, Baraza is not so thrilled about it. He is just calm and collected, sitting at a corner of the tallying centre by himself, his face resting on the palm of his right hand. It is either he is very anxious or has something grotesque boggling his mind. After a short while, the final results from the remaining two constituencies have arrived. They are tallied and the results are entered. It is now time to announce the final results.

‘Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to this briefing. I hereby present to you the final tallied results of the gubernatorial election of the County of Kiambu,’ Wanjala’s voice echoes across the hall.

The Mount Kenya University Auditorium is hushed, save for the stealthy tiptoe of the members of the press and the clicking of their cameras. Isak Baraza’s supporters are on side of the hall with their placards and white shirts inscribed with the words The Future Is Now. Stephen Kinyanjui is standing at the front of the hall with his supporters behind him. They are donning red shirts with the slogan Maendeleo Mashinani shouting on their backs. After a brief background on the total numbers, Wanjala proceeds to make the big announcement.

‘Mr. Stephen Kinyanjui, of the Maendeleo Mashinani Party, garnered three hundred thousand, four hundred and sixty one votes.’

‘Ms. Christine Karanja, of the Pamoja Party, garnered two thousand, three hundred and six votes,’ the show goes on.

‘Mr. Isak Baraza, of the Future Is Now Party, garnered three hundred thousand, one hundred and two votes,’

Soft murmurs arise from Isak Baraza’s end of the hall. They are doing some quick maths. Wanjala needs to wrap this up before it explodes right in his face.

‘Therefore, by the powers vested upon me as the Returning Officer, I hereby declare Mr. Stephen Kinyanjui the governor-elect of the great county of Kiambu,’

Your voice is swallowed by a rowdy ululation on one side of the hall and a tumultuous uproar and protest from the other. A huge commotion ensues. Baraza’s supporters ferociously approach the stage, complaining of foul play while Kinyanjui’s supporters block them, accusing Baraza’s supporters of not accepting defeat. This will be nasty. Wanjala cannot sit and wait to get caught in the middle of it. He sneaks through the back door and disappears into a waiting convoy of cars that drops him at the Bourbon Regency Group of Hotels. This will be a long night.

***

END OF SEASON ONE

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Pre – Order ”EFFERVESCENCE” below for SEASON TWO

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