Wayward Eastlanders

EXTRACT:

9.00am Sunday, Parkview Apartments, Jogoo Road. Bosibori carefully counted her loot. 880,000 US dollars.

She called Otodo.

“Kulundeng’s dead.”

“I heard.”

“I suspect Atieno did it. Pastor, I have all this money here, it belongs to him.”

Eagerly, Otodo asked, “How much?”

“180,000 dollars. Pastor, you remember what you said? That my wealth will come from sinners? I have no guilt about robbing him. This house, this money, and the company— AMBA—all mine. All ours.”

“Don’t use any of that money until I cleanse it.” “I beg your pardon?” “Bring it here, here in church, all of it. Then I’ll pray for it. Then we shall plan. We need a bigger church. Praise the Lord.”

Bosibori bathed, made her face. She stepped into a red dress and struggled with the zip up the back of it. Then she hailed a cab and went to Maximum Miracles and Fires Church, walked around to the back room of the pulpit area. Otodo, in a white suit, was in the midst of a heated sermon. He saw her, excused himself, and walked to her.

“Did you bring the money?”

Bosibori gave him the bag. He took it, opened it, looked inside and laughed suavely. He kissed Bosibori’s cheek with an unexpected rush. Bosibori flushed. Returned the buss. She glanced at the congregation and saw wonder, joy, and horror writ large upon their countenances. She turned her head away.

“Grace under pressure,” Otodo murmured delightedly. “Perhaps I shall reread the Bible with greater attention.”

Bosibori wettened her lips with her tongue. She shrugged humorously, saying, “Cut that shit, Pastor, that’s 180,000 dollars. My contribution... not for the church, certainly not, my shares in the business, actually. You’re going to marry me in two weeks, in a colourful wedding. Then you’re going to appoint me as the codirector, sorry, co-pastor of Maximum Miracles and Fires Church. We are going to expand this church, add seats. We are going to open a branch in Dandora, in Kangemi... in the ghettos, sell hope to the poor, employ new pastors, buy sound equipment and open a TV station. I have done the math: if we can have a membership of ten thousand, we will make about five million per week in tithes and offerings.”

Otodo tensed. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Bosibori’s nostrils flared. “I’m fucking saying you have to marry me first. Then we do business.” She put her arm around his shoulder, took his gaze boldly, and added, “Halleluya.”

Otodo sneered. Marry this cold calculatingly manipulative bitch? Hakuna. Go into partnership with her? Out of question. He put on his best smile, kissed her and said, “Give me time to finish the sermon, then we shall have a talk. Go, sit with the congregants.”

But Bosibori had different feelings. For the first time in days, religion had no consequence and faith no longer mattered. She was happy, happy and free. It was unimaginable for the first time that she could not want to sit and listen to a sermon, she wanted to walk across the street, board a matatu for the very last time, go across town to the used cars yards in Upperhill, get a pricey car, bargain and pay in cash, and leave that place driving her own car. It felt as if everything was working perfectly. She had not given Pastor Otodo everything, she had stashed away a large portion of it inside her mattress. She had eight thousand dollars in her bag, enough for a good car—a BMW. She was a millionaire, and for the first time, she felt alive and important. She felt cool air on her face like a blessing and blood flowed in her veins for the first time. This was now her church, her new enterprise. Next one? AMBA. The real deal. Her dream.

She faced Otodo, a smoky gleam in her eyes. “I can’t for the life of me get a hang on what this life is. I’ve been very aggressive; I’ve ever had to be. I need to stop, take a break, go to Mombasa and relax by the beach. Look, now I just want to go to town, to a car bazaar, to choose a nice car for myself. Then I will go to a salon to make my hair. Call me when you’re done with your preaching.”

And she left him, walked out of the gates of the church. Where was Atieno now? Without capital, AMBA was a bubble about to burst, and she might have been transformed again into a high-class whore with her big Luo buttocks plying the streets with her high heels, walking into office, seducing businessmen.

Talking in her new Samsung smartphone, she put a call to Atieno while she walked across the road that cut through Jerusalem and Bahati, towards Jogoo Road. A Subaru with tinted windows drove into her at one hundred kilometres an hour. The impact knocked her over the car’s fender and sent her flying off to one side, where she landed with a solid thud on the tarmac. The driver of the Suzuki accelerated hysterically, and the car leaped forward and shot down the road like a bullet. A matatu was right behind the Subaru. The diver saw the woman thrown on the road, cursed and pumped his brakes and craned his head out through the window. The matatu slewed around on the tarmac, ran over the woman, and skidded to a stop at the side of the road. The wheels made an ugly swish on the tarmac and gouged furrows in Bosibori. A good Samaritan took off his jacket and ran to the scene, and when he reached the woman, he dropped down on one knee and tried to touch her throat. Bosibori gasped and blood sputtered from her mouth. She gasped, “Pesa yangu, nyumba yangu, kanisa langu, company yangu... AMBA...” and strung out her hands. Then she stopped moving. People rushed to the scene. A matatu roared past with a tail of fumes whirling along behind its exhaust pipe, then a frolicking crowd of boda boda riders, jua kali workers, Salem bums and derelicts, bored housewives, mama mbogas, chokoras, and roadside traders flourished and blocked the road.

Eastlands was hammered like scrap metal. The crowd, the houses stood silent under the salt-coloured sky. The steeple of Maximum Miracles and Fires Church gleamed in the sun between two shopping blocks and a thin shimmer of smoke rose above a clump of freaky trees on the horizon, on the banks of Nairobi River. On the other side of the road a Kisii man in a vegetable kibanda took out a battered kabambe phone and called a woman. “Aye! Mama, your daughter has been hit by a car. She is dead.” The air was hot and angry, a dirty gust swept dirt across the road, over Pastor Otodo as he squatted on his heels over his lover, mumbling, “May God have mercy on her soul,” his tie stained with blood, his heart glowing with gladness. On the road Bosibori lay still, not twitching, not nerve-jumping. A long trail of red blood ran across the black tarmac to end in a reddish-black mass of dirty blood on the roadside

 


 

Novel, 430 pages
Published by Oba Kunta Octopus