And so…We’ll meet again….
Saturday morning dawned with bright sunshine streaming into the Dhal mansion. Charlie came down the stairs in a cheerful mood, a spring in every step he took. No one could burst his happy bubble, he thought as he jumped down the last step. Today was the day he would get to see her again. He felt as though he were busting at the seams with excitement.
Charlie walked through the elegant living room, and entered the dining room with a wide smile.
An older lady in a pink apron was setting up breakfast at the side table. He walked up to her and hugged her in greeting.
“Morning, Mama Nora.”
“Morning Charlie,” she said looking at him with a narrowed gaze. “You are about to burst in glee. Did something good happen this morning?”
“Can’t a guy be happy?” Charlie asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee. He put two spoons of sugar and stirred with rushed impatience. Taking the cup, he took it with him to the chair at the head of the dining table.
“When are you going to wear a proper suit for work? I think abroad has spoiled you, son,” Mama Nora asked with a small shake of her head.
She had been a part of the Dhali household for ages. Charlie could remember her chasing after him to wear his underwear when he was six years old. Those days, she’d been younger and quicker than him. Now, she was heavier, and the years had slowed her down. Time surely moved fast. Glancing at the white t-shirt and the navy blue jeans he wore, he grinned at her.
“It’s Saturday. Today is playtime; my minions are working for me instead.”
“What your father would say, Charlie,” Mama Nora said.
“I doubt am a concern at the moment. He’s at the coast trying to catch pirates for fun,” Charlie teased. Not that he knew what his father was up to. Isaac Dhali was a mysterious man.
Mama Nora laughed and brought him a plate of toast and scrambled eggs. She brought a glass of orange juice as well, and he sipped coffee as she stepped back to the side table.
“When are you going to get married so that I can fuss on grandchildren?” she asked as he picked up a spoon to eat his eggs.
“You women, can’t a guy enjoy his bachelorhood? It’s good to enjoy life, have some fun, why add wives and children to the mix?”
“It’s the natural order of life, Charlie,” Mama Nora said, her tone matter of fact. “How else do you think the world goes on?”
“My refusing to get married hasn’t stopped the world from going on,” Charlie replied. “And don’t tell me about tradition, Mama Nora. That is a very lame excuse for things.”
“Are you telling me you don’t want a wife?” Mama Nora asked.
Charlie took a bite of his eggs, his gaze on his nanny. She probably thought he was strange for saying this. In her world, children married when they were old enough. She had two grandchildren from her daughter Nora. In his world, marriage felt like a huge commitment. One he wanted to make to only one woman in the world. Would Mama Nora understand that?
“I’m only saying that no one should marry for the sake of getting a wife. I want the right wife, the right woman so to speak.”
“You must have chosen then,” Mama Nora said with a smile. “Who is this right woman?”
Charlie smiled and shook his head. “She doesn’t know it yet. Stop digging for gossip now. I had better not hear about this when I get to the end of Ndwaru Road. Gossip mongers around here should work for intelligence.”
Nora laughed, covering the dishes at the side table.
“Where’s mum?” Charlie asked.
“You know her. She’s lazy waking up in the morning. I’ll get the paper for you.”
Mama Nora left the dining room.
Charlie was thinking about the gala to be held at the Riruta Catholic Church grounds when his mother walked in.
Ashley was in her dressing gown, her hair tied back with a bandanna. Her eyes were still bleary but her beauty shone through. Even in her late fifties, Ashley remained slight and held herself straight. She looked ten years younger than her actual fifty-six.
She let a delicate yawn escape and came toward him. She stopped by his chair, rubbing his head affectionately. She chose the chair to his right.
“You’re quite the woman, mum,” Charlie said in greeting. “Had enough sleep?”
“No, and don’t tease,” Ashley said. She picked up his coffee cup and took a sip. She made a face as she swallowed his coffee. “That much sugar in anything will kill you, darling.”
“It’s down by a spoon,” Charlie said. “You should congratulate me.”
“Only when it’s no spoon at all,” Ashley said. “You’re looking handsome. Where are you going?”
Charlie grinned. “On a hunt.”
Ashley gave him a comical expression she wouldn’t show anyone outside the house and he laughed.
“A hunt?” she asked.
“Yes,” Charlie replied. “Guess where.”
“Save me and tell me.”
“There’s a delightful thing called a PW Gala going on today at Riruta church. One Adele Kouga, wife of our county’s MP invited Dhal Corp. to attend. The foundation is courting sponsors.”
“Oh no,” Ashley widened her eyes. “I know you’re not going there out of the goodness of your heart, Charles Dhali. Tell your mother who you’re going to see.”
“Hey,” Charlie protested. He’d never tell her, but honestly, was it so obvious he was going to see someone?
“I’m an investor,” Charlie said. “PW is a good foundation. A bunch of women campaigning for equality and education, just imagine all those gorgeous independent women. I thought you said you want to see me married?”
“To a nice girl,” Ashley said, still sipping his coffee.
Mama Nora walked in then carrying a newspaper. She placed it at Charlie’s left elbow and moved to pour Ashley coffee.
“Mama Nora, my son is going to hunt for women.”
Nora burst out in a laugh. “He just said he’s not getting married.”
“I think he’s going out to eat nyama choma and have drinks with the guys. Meanwhile, he’s putting his mother on.”
Charlie pushed his plate away and gulped down his orange juice. He stood up and took the newspaper.
“Mum, you know I love you.” He leaned to kiss her cool cheek.
“Yes,” Ashley said. “I love you too, but you’re still a player, Charlie. I pity the woman who marries you dear.”
Tents were up, and seats arranged in neat rows. The stage was set up, and the DJ was setting up his equipment. Ushers were in place, the decorations and Power to Women banners were also in the right places.
Koya ticked her list with a satisfied nod and headed for the buffet tents. Guests were already arriving; they mingled in the cool tents, dressed in fine summer wear.
Koya was glad she’d decided to go shopping the evening before. She’d found a pretty emerald dress that flowed in silky yards to her feet. A pair of comfortable, matching green kitten heels made sure that her dress didn’t sweep the ground. She’d let her braids down and chosen a green beaded necklace with a carved amulet for jewelry.
Koya pushed up her sunglasses and looked around the sunny green field in search of her friends. A frown danced on her forehead and she was just about to start making calls when she spotted them.
“I’m glad you guys made it,” she said in playful sarcasm when they reached her.
“It’s Saturday,” Ashi complained. “Have you seen traffic on Ngong Road, and then there is Kawangware. I thought we’d never get here. Those PSVs are really trying, be glad we made it at all.”
“So dramatic, alright, you’re forgiven,” Koya said as she hugged Ashi. “You could have slept over my place.”
“Nic couldn’t, he had to work,” Ashi explained.
Koya turned to the handsome man standing beside Ashi. “Hey Nic, good to see you.”
She accepted his hug and then Hana’s. When it came to Kim, she ignored him and instead listened to Nic.
“The place looks amazing,” Nic complimented.
“Thanks Nic, you’re such a gentleman. Ashi you’d better take care, I might steal him,” Koya teased.
Nic grinned and wrapped an arm around Ashi’s shoulders.
“I’d better take Hana and Ashi to get something to drink,” Nic said.
“Sure, sure, you’ll love the buffet tables. “Hana, Wahu is performing, you should make it over to the entertainment tent.”
Hana nodded as she followed Nic and Ashi.
Koya suspected they were running away so that she and Kim could talk. She hadn’t seen Kim since he’d told her about Charlie.
As if he was reading her mind, he said, “You’re not going to be angry with me your whole life.”
“I can try,” Koya said, turning to head to the walkway that led to the podium where the speeches would be held.
She made a show of arranging the flowers that were already set in pots.
Kim followed her. “Talk to me, Koya. What are you really angry about?”
Koya couldn’t understand how Kim knew her so well. It was as if he had insight into her darkest parts. Of course, she wasn’t angry with Kim. Sighing, she shook her head and stared at the lilies before her.
“I’m angry with myself,” she said.
“Because,” Koya shook her head and turned to look at Kim. “I can’t believe how scared I am right now.”
Kim placed a hand on her bare shoulder. “Why are you scared?”
Koya met his gaze.
“Don’t ask that when you know. You saw how I reacted on Tuesday. I wanted to scream bloody murder when you told me Charlie is back. People aren’t allowed to do that. They can’t leave chaos behind and come right back years later. They should give warning to the people they left behind. Do you see what I am saying, Kim?”
“Who said you have to see him?” Kim asked. “You can stay in your corner of the world and pretend he’s not here.”
“That will only work so far,” Koya said.
Koya stared down her feet.
“It doesn’t matter where he is or what he is doing in the city. I can’t help wondering what he’s thinking. What he’s planning, why did he do that? It’s annoying because he’s so close and I’m tempted to drive by his house on the hill, call him…I’m pathetic and stupid.
“Hey,” Kim said, reaching out, he lifted her chin up with a finger. “Stop that. Don’t hate on Koya Kalahari. I’ll have you know she’s a great woman, strong, independent and very beautiful.”
Koya chuckled. “Wow, you’re a loyal friend. Where is this Koya Kalahari? I’d like to meet her.”
“Well,” Kim made a show of looking around the field. “She was around here a minute ago. Where did she go—?
Koya punched Kim lightly on his chest. “Ouch, so violent…Alright, Miss Koya Kalahari, chin up. It’s okay to be a little worried. Point is, you don’t have to suffer alone. I’m here, so is Ashi, Hana and even Nic. Hmm…so smile.”
Koya sighed and hugged him for the encouragement. Feeling a little lighter, she pulled back and took his hand as they walked to the closest tent. She leaned on one of the tables.
“I should be over him by now.”
Kim leaned on the table beside her.
“To tell you the truth, I think you won’t have the answer to that until you meet him face to face. Meanwhile, don’t think about it.”
Koya filed away that comment and leaned on Kim’s right arm. He was a rock she didn’t think she’d ever let go of. “You’re a good friend, Kim. I owe you a lot.”
“Just your friendship, nothing else,” Kim replied.
Standing across the field at the registration tent, Charlie felt bile rise up his throat at the sight of the couple leaning on the table. Did they have to stand so close? And what was with Koya mooning into that bastard’s eyes? Clenching his hands into tight fists, Charlie fought the urge to stalk across the field and separate them.
She was his, damn it, no one else could have her.
A woman in an elaborate Kitenge ensemble walked up to him, blocking his view. Her head dress momentarily distracting him from the annoying scene ahead. He wondered how it stayed on the woman’s head. A bird could nest in it quite comfortably, but who was he to comment.
“Mr. Dhali, how nice of you to grace our gala,” the woman said in greeting. “We are very honored you came personally. My name is Adele Kouga, at your service.”
Charlie nodded, his gaze straying back to the couple still leaning on the table.
“It’s a wonderful foundation, of course I had to come and show my support,” he said in a distracted tone.
Adele turned to follow his gaze and gave a knowing smile. He groaned inward at what she must be thinking but he was beyond controlling his jealousies.
“Ah,” Adele said. “Come, I must introduce you to the foundation’s Chair. She’ll be pleased to meet you, Mr. Dhali. Your corporation has done so much for us. I’m sure she’ll want to thank you personally.”
Charlie’s eyes widened at the realization that the woman meant Koya. Could it be this easy…he smiled. The gods were on his side today. This woman didn’t deserve the bird on her head dress, he adjusted. Taking her hand, he smiled with charm and calculation.
“Please, let’s meet this Chairwoman,” Charlie said. “Though, I’m sure she won’t be as charming as you’ve been, Mrs. Kouga.”
Adele glowed. “You flatter an old woman.”
Charlie grinned as they walked toward Koya. “Hardly old, Mrs. Kouga. You’re absolutely lovely today.”
“My, it is true,” Adele said, her tone light. “You are charming, Mr. Dhali. Promise that you will come to dinner one of these days. My home is five minutes away, and my family would be delighted to meet you.”
“I’m sure, Mrs. Kouga,” Charlie said, without committing.
He knew what it meant to commit to Mrs. Kouga. His mother was living proof of such commitments. He doubted Ashley saw it. The numerous favors and liaisons for friends in high places, Charlie shuddered to think how deep it had gotten with his mother. He pushed thoughts of his troubles away and concentrated on the present. He’d been waiting ages to talk to Koya Kalahari.
**Nyama Choma – Barbecue
To be continued….Thank you for reading ^_^!