The Villainous Neighbor

It was less than two years after three children lost their daddy to a car crash.  The rawness of such a loss still fresh in their minds, the world seemed like a battlefield with every step.  Strangers turned to friends, while friends they had known left, not able to withstand the sense of grief clouding around the three children and their little mother.  It was a hard time for the small family of four.

Now, their home was a farm at the end of a stretch of land with a very muddy access road.  On very rainy days, a lake of sorts would form in the middle of the access road.  The mother of these three children would then have to find a way to get them across daily in order to get them to school.  There were two pairs of shoes to be worn.  Gumboots and rain coats to get through the massive swamp and school shoes to wear when the three children got to the bus stop.  The family that owned the property closest to the main road was kind and allowed a small path at the driest part inside their own farm away from the access road.  But even this little path would sometimes get hard to pass through.

In any case, the little family survived the best they could through the very rainy season and the massive swamp lake that formed in the middle of their access road.

One day, the neighbors who owned property opposite the little family’s farm opened a small gate on to their access road.  They wanted a second exit they said.  One that would allow them to have two gates.  One gate on their main road on the other side of their property, and the little one on the muddy access road with the swamp in the middle.

The mother of the children had no problem with this development.  In fact, she thought it would be a blessing.  Perhaps the kids would have an easier time going to school now.  They might use that small access to get to the drier road on the other side, and their path would be easier to school. 

In the dry season, this little gate never came to play for the little family.  Their access road was fine, and they went about their lives as usual.

Then the swamp in the middle of the road returned after a particularly rainy day.  It was holiday time, and the three children did not need to go to school.  However, their mother did want to send them to the shop, so she handed the three money and asked them to get a kilo of sugar from the shop.  They had seen others using the small gate made by the neighbors to escape the swamp, so they thought, ‘Oh, we can also try this gate.  It will be easier to escape mud and swampy water.’

They were nervous about it, after all this was a new route, but they thought they would try it and see if they could get to the other dry road.  After all, the owners also use their access road in the dry season.  All would surely be well.

They were wrong.

A panga is a Machette, very popular farming tool in Kenya

They barely made it to the opposite gate of the quiet property to the other road when a man came out swinging a panga from his house.  The panga was sharp, his words sharper and he chased them as one would chase thieves.  He screamed insults at them, and threatened to cut them to pieces, fear grew and the three children screamed running back home at the speed of light.  They forgot why they had ventured outside their home and went to find their mother.

When the three children ran home, their little mother was in shock at their crying faces.  She asked if they had been robbed off the money she gave for sugar, and tried to soothe them, wiping away their tears.  In minutes, she discovered their story and a burning anger fueled her to confront this villainous man who would dare threaten to cut her children with a sharp panga.

When she got to his gate, she asked him why he would do this, and he threatened the little mother, telling her to shut up or he’ll kill her.  This mother was not one to take insults quietly.  She screamed for help and the neighbors came.  As she was calling for help, this villainous man wrapped his hands around her neck and tried his best to rob her off breath.

It took three men to pull this villainous man off the little mother.  Her voice was hoarse from the assault. Her neck damaged. The three children were in shock.  Not less than two years ago, they had all buried their father after a car accident, now here was a man doing his best to turn them into orphans. Sinister yet, he was not sorry about it. 

It became clear that a path to the dry road on the other side was not worth this hefty price of death.

In any case, the courts became involved.  The villainous man was tried with attempted murder and the illegal path into the muddy access road was closed by a judge.

Life continued, as it often does.

Three little children grew up and in a blink twenty years passed.

Their little mother still struggles with neck problems, as a result of the assault on her neck.  Some nights she has to sleep with a neck collar.  The children often make sure it is new and available even when she travels. This was a price they paid for daring to think that all neighbors are made equal.

They all learned that the kindness of one family cannot be carried to the next family.  Their access road still gets terrible in the rain, but they endure and find ways to pass through it without complaint.  Muddy shoes are a much easier price to pay than death from murder by a villainous neighbor.

A few years ago, the villainous man’s family opened a path to the muddy access road again.  They use it unstopped by the little mother and the three children.  No pangas raised against them or hands wrapped around their throats in a grotesque picture of murderous intent. None of the villainous man’s family help fix the muddy road, after all they still have the other side to use during the rainy seasons.  This lesson is that the nature of a family’s values remains and does not change.

Recently, the little mother was helping one of her daughters transplant a tree from their gate into their farm.  She saw a woman pass their gate heading for the now illegal path at the end of their access road and said, “Ah, that’s that villainous man’s daughter. You should know her in case she comes to yell over electricity poles near their fence.”

Yes, the spectacle of a woman screaming over electricity poles has happened to the little mother, but that is a story for another day.

The little mother’s daughter spared the woman in question no glance.  After all that woman’s daddy almost cost her a mother.

“It’s better not to know or interact with them,” the daughter said. “Nothing good can come from it.”

“True, ” the little mother said, touching her neck.

In the end, the little family lives on, but the question still remains, what makes people so unreasonable as to want to murder over a small moment?

Can you forgive someone who tries his best to choke you to death because you asked a question about your children, who tried to pass a path this person’s opened, that others have used unstopped, but your children had to face a machette on the first attempt?  What would you do with this reality?

Life continues, as it always does.

Zuri Kabinda: Sweet & Lemon/ Big Numbers and Li’l Sisters – 2

“We have a two-day conference to be held at the St. John Riruta hall.  We’ve invited a hundred people to participate from the surrounding area.  I have to handle the program from the office.  I need you to help me handle venue logistics, food, and everything else.”

A hundred people, Zuri smiled.  She loved big numbers.

“I’m happy to help out, Mr. Khali.”

She got a brochure from a drawer to her right and handed it to him.

“These are our prices.”

When he took the elegant paper, she continued.

“We have a package for corporate events.  The price is reasonable and I assure you that my staff and I handle everything from day one to the last.”

Mr. Khali read the prices carefully.  She wondered if he always looked so serious.  Relief flooded her when he nodded in approval.

“Great.  Shall we get started?” she asked, picking up a pen and a diary from the corner of her desk.  “Let’s start with what the conference is about?”

Mr. Khali gave her his first genuine smile ready to relinquish control to her.

****

An hour later, Zuri walked along the path to the St. John Riruta Hall with Anjik and Lily.  She jotted notes in her diary while Lily and Anjik talked about the coming event.  Mr. Khali had written a check to pay the booking fee and a deposit of his estimate.

Zuri stopped at the entrance into the hall.  She’d introduced herself to the church secretary, and gotten permission to scout the hall.

“Can I work this event?” Lily asked, coming to lean on the fence beside her.  “Please?”

“I suppose that means I have to pay you?” Zuri asked with a slight grin.

“Money sounds good,” Lily said.  “I need to get my hair done, sis.  Weaves don’t come cheap.”

“Yeah sure, you can work the gig.  But, it sounds like a big wigs kind of thing.  So—”

“I know the drill,” Lily said happily.  “Be cordial and smart, no hitting on cute executives in perfect suits.  Jeez, Zuri, when do you let loose?”

“When my bank account is chubby,” Zuri answered.

Lily laughed then teased, “That’s like never, you hustler.”

“See what I mean?” Zuri said.  “Come on, we have to check the chairs in there and find out how many more we need.  Then we can go find out about food.”

“Yes, mistress,” Lily said, following her to the hall doors.

****

Have you read all about Zuri Kabinda? Catch up on all Zuri Kabinda’s Snippets below:

1. The Birthday Party Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

2. Sweet & Lemon Part 1 ,

Zuri Kabinda is a story about a young woman in her late twenties, living in Nairobi and struggling to make her Event Planning Business work.  Follow her as she works through the various challenges young entrepreneurs face, especially in a city like Nairobi.

Zuri is joined by her two best friends, Sonnie and Airi.  They’re the people she relies on, especially when she’s down on her luck and the world is imploding.

Life on the Fast Track – 14

Track 14 – My past, your present…we just  need to understand each other

After Danny left, Jasmine gave up on working.  She took a shower, and crawled into her breakfastlarge bed ready for sleep.  Yet, her eyes remained wide open.  Her thoughts on her relationship with Tyler Anderson.

Tyler had made her smile.  Had made her think she could give up on Danny, and maybe live a happy life.  Tyler cared, he was easy to be around, and had accepted all her flaws.  Since her dream with Danny seemed impossible, she had thought being with Tyler would work.

Jasmine sat up and gave up on sleep.  Arranging her pillows behind her back, she reached for her diary on the bedside table.  Opening it, she touched the silver chain with a ring hanging on the end.  Tyler’s last gift.

The proposal that turned to dust when Anderson rolled into her house and told Tyler he didn’t want trash like Jasmine in their family.  Tyler had not defended her.  Instead, he’d said sorry and simply walked out of her house.

She kept the ring to remind herself not to be fooled again.  Love was easy, but it faded in the face of misconceptions, expectations and perceptions.

Closing her diary, she sighed.

Now there was Danny, insisting he wanted to protect her, cared about her.  Yet, he was neck deep in trouble.  The races might be clean as far as Danny was concerned, but Adrian was a thug.  If he was part of Danny’s life, she didn’t want the reminders of a hurtful love, or the idea that Danny might be involved in crime.

Putting her diary on the bedside table, Jasmine stretched out on her bed, burrowing her face under her pillows.  Min jumped up and settled near her head, purring loudly, trying to offer comfort.

Jasmine closed her eyes and might have fallen asleep.  When she opened her eyes again, it was to the steady sound of pounding.  For a moment, she wondered if her landlord was fixing the fence again.  He liked doing shit like that at odd times.  She’d learned to ignore it, but this sounded way too close.

Sitting up on her bed, she felt panic fill her when she realized the pounding was actually in her house.

Who was thinking of robbing her?

Oh damn it, why was Danny always right?

Jasmine got off the bed, looking around her bedroom for a weapon.  She came up short.  Her cell phone was by her computer in the living room.  She cursed under her breath and hurried to her closet, searching the corners for anything heavy.

Lucky there was a hockey stick from her high school days in the back.  Taking it up, she braced herself and quietly got out of her room.  Better to be sure, and then try to find an escape route.  The banging was deliberate.  Jasmine ran through her list of possessions and wondered what anyone would want her ordinary furniture, and clothes.  She owned no expensive jewelry and was paranoid about cash, so never kept it in her house, it was all in the bank.

Walking the short hallway to the living room, she paused at the end of the wall, breathed in and out for courage and peeped into the hallway leading to the front door.

A hot wave of relief flooded her at the sight of Danny and Jimmy kneeling at her front door with tools around them.  Stepping out in the open in surprise, she gripped the hockey stick at a loss for words.

“Hey Jazz, what’s with the hockey stick?” Jimmy waved at her.

Danny didn’t stop working, holding a power drill to her door.

“What are you doing to my door?” Jasmine asked.  “Who gave you permission to change locks?”

“Jazz, don’t come closer if you don’t want to fight,” Danny warned.  “Will you pass me that screw, Jimmy?”

“Jimmy do not give it to him,” Jasmine moved closer, still holding the hockey stick.

“Danny, she’s armed,” Jimmy said, his gaze on Jasmine.

“I know,” Danny said.  “Jazz, if you hit me with that, I’ll come back to haunt you.”

“You’re a pain the ass,” Jasmine said.

“So are you,” Danny said, taking the screw from Jimmy and getting on with his work.

Jasmine scowled at his back, and propped the hockey stick on the wall.

“Jimmy, you want a drink?  You shouldn’t have to deal with this mess,” Jasmine asked, going into the kitchen.

“Sure,” Jimmy grinned.

“Oh treat him like the saint,” Danny scoffed.  “I’m the one doing all the work.”

“No one asked you to,” Jasmine said, coming over to give Jimmy a bottle of juice.  She ignored Danny, went to take her phone from her desk and returned to her bedroom.

***

“She’s pissed,” Jimmy said, an hour later when they finished changing the lock.

“I know,” Danny said, watching the door lock automatically.  Shaking the keys at Jimmy, he grinned.  “But she’s safe enough.  I can deal with the anger.”

“I don’t envy you,” Jimmy said, turning the lock and opening the door.  “I’m heading home, see you tomorrow dude.”

“Thanks, man,” Danny said, with a short nod, letting the door close.  A satisfied look coming on his face at the sound of the automatic lock engaging.  Placing the keys on the a small table right at the door, Danny picked up the hockey stick leaning on the wall and made his way to Jasmine’s room.

***

To be continued….Thanks for reading ^_^

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