Chapter Nine: Maureen

There were things that haunted Mesh: Lies, truths, black heels, four-in-one leather handbags, Nivea body lotion and men who cheated on their partners. It is the last of these that prompted her to go see Belinda the next day. She knew that Belinda’s husband was still seeing Michelle. The Facebook updates and whatsapp chats with mutual friends informed her courage. If her man was cheating on her, she would love to know. She held her bag closer to her chest as she approached Okwan’s restaurant. She greeted Okwan and asked if Belinda had reported.

“Belinda told me that you helped her collect money from your colleagues at work when she delivered lunch, is this true?”

“If she said so, then it is. Why do you ask? Don’t you trust her?”

“You ask too many questions in one breath. Belinda has gone to make some deliveries. She should be back any time soon.”

“Sure, I’ll wait for her then. Can I have a soda to drink while I wait?”

“Which brand will you have?”

“Coke please.”

“Have a seat.”

“Thanks, and listen, can I ask you a question?”

“About what?”

“About who? I would like to know how Belinda is doing. Is she happy here or does she seem like she is miles away when she is at work.”

“Oh, I see, so he sent you!”

“Who sent me?” asked Maureen.

“The husband! Look, this is not Telemundo! This is a restaurant. I make food and people pay to enjoy that food. Sitting and eating is what people do here and occasionally the broke ones like you drink soda, so go and tell that silly husband to keep his drama away from this place.”

“Have you met her husband? What does he look like?”

“Are you trying to tell me that you do not know how your employer looks like? What are you smoking you skinny thing?”

“First, let’s get something straight, I do not know her husband. Second, I am not working for anyone when it comes to Belinda’s well being. Third, the only thing I chase and grind for is a clear note the largest value in print being one followed by three neat zeros!”

“I like you! So, what do you want to do about Belinda because she clearly has a lot going on, and from what I gathered yesterday, she left their home.”

“What? Already? Maybe she knows.”

“She knows what?”

“Her husband is cheating on her and that’s why I came to talk to her.”

“I see, and you know this because?”

“It so happens that the girl her husband is seeing is a friend of my close friend.”

“She is someone you know.”

“No, she is someone I have seen and heard about, but I don’t really know her.”

“You came here to tell Belinda about this and also maybe show her who the other woman is.”

“Yes, I came here to let her know.”

“If you just arrived and were quick to tell a stranger like me about this affair, do you think you are in a position to share this news with Belinda?”

“What? I told you because I feel as though you care for her. Stop trying to twist the situation to ease the guilt within you, besides everyone at Winmart knows you are jealous because she has hips to die for!”

“You are still too young to understand what life is. How old are you?”

“None of your business!”

“Less than twenty four I see. Look, Mesh or whatever you call yourself, don’t go around starting little fires that you cannot put out. It is Belinda’s life and marriage. She has been sleeping beside the man for more years than you could ever stay with a man. Before you break any news ask yourself whether it is worth breaking.”

“What if seeing her makes me feel guilty?”

“Guilt is a good reminder that we need to mind our own business. Let Belinda sort out her problems. If she comes to you for help, give it, don’t think about it, just give it and let everything take its course. Are you married?”

“What? No way.”

“Exactly, you have to be in the sea to know exactly where the sharks swim.”

“Okwan, what happened to your marriage?”

“I left it all behind at midnight. The things I had on me were my Identification card, five hundred shillings, the clothes on my body and one red slipper on my feet. I washed off the blood and saw to the bruises at my cousin’s place.”

“I’m sorry, but didn’t you go to the police?”

“He was the police. Now, enough of this, would you like some food as you wait for Belinda?”

“Sure, how about some chapati and beef stew?”

“So, you had money but were busy coating your tongue with soda just so you could pester me with endless questions!”

“I like you too, Okwan.”

“I like your money better.”


Chapter Six: Belinda

Iman and Hakeem jumped into her embrace as soon as they got off the bus. Once in the house, she helped them change into their play clothes and watched as they started chatting up their grandmother. She served them juice as their clothes were soaking in the bathroom.

Half an hour into the cleaning and dusting of the room, their bedroom door was flung open and Jeff said, “You’ll not work there anymore. If it is money you want, I’ll give it to you, but you are not going back there.”

She sat on the bed and looked up at him, “why?”

“Why? Did you just ask me that? You work in a kibanda! It is a small thing pretending to be a restaurant and do you know how it makes me look to have you working there? It’s just so wrong.”

“So, it is about how you look and not that I work.”

“If you want to work, send your CV to some places, apply for jobs and get called into an interview, just not there and it is not fair that you leave Mother here the whole day just so you can make loose change. Besh, you are a graduate for crying out loud! How can you sit on all that potential and instead waste it working for peanuts at some kibanda?”

“Are you asking me to babysit your mother?”

“Whatever! For as long as you live with me, you will not work there.”

“Thank you, Jeff. You should have said that in the very beginning. I’ll leave first thing tomorrow morning.”

“Belinda, wait, Belinda…be serious, and where would you go? Look, I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Stop talking to me Jeff, I am tired and I need to start preparing supper.”

“Is having that job more important than me and the kids?”

“Jeff, since we got married, I have done everything just for you and the kids. Now, sometimes I sit down and ask what have you done for me? I am not talking about taking responsibility for the kids or ensuring that there is food and supplies in the house and bills are paid. What have you ever done for me? I am tired Jeff, I am sick and tired of everything and now, I want to simply do what you always expect from me which is prepare your food and serve it to you and the kids. I’ll be sure to leave very early in the morning so you can go with the house keys.”

“Belinda…this is not the way we sort out this issue.”

“It is because you said so and frankly speaking I am glad that I finally get to see the real you Jeff, besides your mother is around and things will be okay, won’t they?”

“Leave my mother out of this!”

“You should take your own advice because she has more understanding and love than you and it hurts me that no matter how hard she tries to tell you to support me, you constantly put me down. I am done, Jeff.”

She walked into the kitchen and switched on the burner then placed the sufuria on it with some water for making the ugali. She was reaching out for the maize flour when someone reached for her hand. Her Mother-in-law was smiling and she took out the floor and switched off the burner.

“Mama, how are you? Can I make you some tea?”

“No, sit down.”

“What’s the matter, Mama?”

“Sit down and listen to me Belinda. Your Mother would be very proud of you if she could see the woman you are today. I could not help but listen to what you told my son and if there is one thing that I have always known is that, a woman never leaves her home. You just told your husband that you’ll be leaving tomorrow morning, is that true?”

“I have to.”

“Well, if you really needed to leave, you would have left two years ago my daughter. I know what it means to be fed up. Do not say something you cannot do.”

“Mama, are you saying that I cannot leave this house tomorrow?”

“Yes, however, I know you need time to think things through and that’s why I’ll stay. You can do as you feel you ought to but make time for your children. You have to see them when you can and reassure them that you’ll always care for them because they are not the reason for your misunderstanding with your husband, and even if they are, they do not deserve the same punishment as him.”

“Thank you, Mama.”

“Now, go and check on your children and let me help you out today. I will call you when supper is ready.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I just asked you to let me do my part Belinda, are we going to argue over that too?”

“No, Mama.” She walked into her mother-in-law’s embrace and for a few minutes it felt as though the world was finally smiling down on her, but that was before she heard the engine. Jeff was doing what he knew best and for once his outburst did not bother her. It was this final admission that enveloped Belinda into a sadness she could never share with the woman who was holding her at that moment.

Chapter Five: Jeff

He was making his way to the New Victoria Hotel when his phone beeped. He reached for it and put it on speaker, “Jatelo, tell me what do you need?”

“Do I always call you when I need something?”

“Yes, you do. I am driving can I call you later?”

“Boss, I didn’t know that Madam works in town. I just missed her and she looks great.”

“Wait, what do you mean?”

“You didn’t know that Belinda has been working at the kibanda near WinMart where we used to get our lunch? You remember the matumbo fry and ugali we used to dig into? She works for the mama there.”

“Where are you?”

“I am parked outside Denno’s base at WinMart.”

“I am getting into town now, how about I get you one or two and we can talk about this hallucination you have.”

Ati hallucination! I will wait then.”

Sawa thanks.” He sent Michelle a text saying he would delay by ten minutes. His phone lit up immediately, “Take your time.”

PS: Happy Writing Wrimos! I’ve got only two hundred words down today, but I’ll keep posting the Ushanga series as I participate in #NanoWrimo.

Chapter Four: Maureen

Two things were true about Maureen: She loved fashion and talking. For as long as she could remember, her parents had often told her that her voice entered any room before her skinny body did. It was no surprise meeting Belinda in fact she could not miss the opportunity for she’d met her once at Barcadia. Her friend Michelle had left her in the company of this handsome devil she knew was married but enjoyed spending time with. His phone lit up and Belinda was smiling right at her, back then she’d asked “Is that your wife?”

“Yes, that’s Belinda.”

“She is beautiful.”

“Yes, she is a great woman.” Michelle had walked in right then with their drinks and she’d excused herself for the night and probably for the short life span of their friendship ever since. Later that evening, she walked to Okwan’s restaurant and was pleased that Belinda was ready to leave too.

“Do you need to place an order for tomorrow Mesh?”

“No, I actually wanted to see you again and apologize for coming on too strong. I talk too much and some people take it the wrong way.”

“It’s alright. I am just heading on home.”

“Sure, okay, where do you live?”

“It’s not far. I’ll take a boda-boda.”

“Do you have kids?”

“Yes, two actually and I am rushing home because their bus will be dropping them soon. Why do you ask? Do you know them?”

“Um…no, it’s just a bit early so I guessed that maybe you have kids that’s why Okwan let you leave early.”

“Okwan is a good person. See you around Mesh.”

“Yeah, sure thing, see you tomorrow then and say hi to your kids.”

If there was a moment when Maureen felt guilty, it was knowing that Belinda had two kids and a cheat for a husband. She pulled out her phone from her bag and scrolled down her contact list. She did not find Michelle’s number but she could comb through her Facebook profile for updates on her social life.

She was still going through her phone when someone tapped on her shoulder. She looked up and said “yes, what is it?”

“I am sorry for disturbing you, but are you good friends with the lady you were with?”

“Who’s asking?”

“I am. Well, she looks like someone I know and I was driving so I couldn’t shout out her name, but if so, I’d really love to see her.”

“You just saw a beautiful lady and came up with a story. Look, if you want to see her, visit Okwan’s restaurant tomorrow. She works there. If she is the one you say then you can talk to her then but I am not giving you her number.”

“It’s alright. I appreciate it but how about your number then?”

“Really? Do I look like ugali sauce?”

The man smiled and walked back to his car leaving Maureen with thoughts she knew could stew some soup.


Jeremy scheduled a meeting after lunch. I asked him to meet with me at Java for an introduction and his response was a swift ‘okay,’ and then ending the call I’d made.

It was no surprise that he was not there when I arrived at Java. So, I walked into WoolWorths to feast my eyes on their latest collection and jewelry that I yearned for in my dreams. He joined me later on, a tall, slightly built dark man in need of both a scrub and shave. I kept my eyes on the aquamarine earrings on display whispering my desire to steal them.

“You know what they say about a thief right? Well, each thief has forty days and when their time is up they are caught. I would be careful with what I steal Marjorie because the truth is, your punishment will depend on what you’ve been caught stealing.”

“I am not a thief, but you have to admit that those earrings are beautiful. Like have you ever seen something in Woolworths that you wished you could buy, but after tax, your rent, food, shoes and money to the parents, you could not afford it?”

“I’m a guy. We buy expensive things all the time, like you can get shoes at a hundred bob, well; I cannot even get good bathroom slippers at that price!”

“Bata has those blue and red slippers that guesthouses remodel so you cannot steal them, like seriously why do they always cut a v shape at the tip making them look like fish motifs? Who would want to steal cheap ugly bathroom slippers and leave the cussons soap?”

“I recall you stating that you were not a thief.”

“I recall history and womenfolk believing that men don’t listen.”

“I am not going to win this, am I?”


“Okay, so what are you doing this Friday?”

“I will be at work from eight in the morning to five in the evening. Why do you ask?”

“Would you have coffee with me then at say six after work?”


“Yes, with me.”


“Right here.”

“Java, okay, but how about we have something to drink now so I can drown my sorrows for not having enough money to get those earrings?”

“I have to get back to the office, but I promise that we can talk more about your sorrows on Friday, raincheck?”