Together forever

Bougainvillea

Finally, Pili gathered courage and approached her husband, Saad. “Oh darling husband, I’ve passed the interview,” she said calmly. Her husband, however, did not look up from his reading.

“I’ll be reporting for work in my new employment tomorrow,” she pressed on.

“Get out of my way,” he said threateningly.

“We shall now be better off.…”

“I said you get out of my sight,” he said, looking up for the first time.

“Darling, how can you be so unfair?”

“Don’t you hear?” he said rising from his seat.

“I assure you.”

“I don’t need to be assured. You can take your assurance elsewhere.”

“No darling. Don’t say that.”

“If you wish to avoid trouble with me, do keep your distance.”

“I think we’re not communicating.”

“Any more of this nonsense,” he said rising to go, “and I’ll break your nose.” He threw the paper violently at her and walked away.

The following day, Pili reported for work in her new job.

In the evening, Saad was raving mad. “You’re now puffed up with pride, eh,” he started. “With a car to visit your men, you now feel at the top of the roofs.

“Have I ever been insincere to you?”

“One day, I’ll teach them the lesson of their lifetime.”

“Come on,” Pili said sharply. “I’ve endured long enough with you.”

“Who gave you authority to talk to me like that?”

With time, Pili adjusted to her new job despite chaos at home. In one of her official meetings in the office with the boss of the company that employed her husband, she found an opportunity to address the simmering crisis in the family.

“My company,” her colleague said, “is in the process of down-sizing its labor force, starting with the redundant staff.”

“Do you know of a man called Saad who works with you?” she asked.

“Oh yes. He is among those to be retrenched. But if he undertakes an in-service training he would be retained. In that case he would be given one year unpaid leave. Otherwise, he leaves in grace.”

“Did you know he is my husband?”

“You can’t be serious.”

“He is.”

“I didn’t know. But are you not jiving?”

“No, he is my husband.”

“Oh, if only there was anything I could do!”

“There is,” she said leaning forward. “There is something I want to tell you in confidence.”

“You’ve my word.”

“He is terrible. Go ahead and declare him redundant.”

“I’m sorry. If only I could help.”

“Don’t mind. Just go ahead.”

For some time, Saad had been idling around the house after having been declared redundant by his company. Being a spendthrift, he had spent all his handshake moving about town and in rich living. Only after clearing the entire amount did he return home to face the landlord.

And the landlord showed up right on time with a group of burley men behind him. Going out through the back door, Saad escaped across the bougainvillea hedge leaving his family at the mercy of the unwelcome visitors.

“Get in and throw everything out,” said the landlord with his hands akimbo. “Only one hour for the job. No mercy. No nothing. Ok?”

But one hour was too long. In less than half an hour the house was emptied of everything and locked. The landlord, satisfied of a mission well-accomplished, congratulated his thugs and left immediately.

The following day, Pili visited her husband’s employer at his company offices.

“Welcome, Pili.”

“Thanks.”

“How are you getting on?”

“Yesterday we were evicted from our residence. Fortunately, I got another house.

“I’m sorry. But Saad got a handshake.”

“The hand-shake did not help him in any way. He got lost in town and remembered his family only after he had spent everything to the last penny. Anyhow, the purpose of coming to see you is to pay for his in-service training. But for one thing, please, do not tell him who sponsored him for the course.”

“As I told you, you have my word.”

Saad, now a vagabond received a letter out of the blue. On opening he started dancing, holding the letter high in joy for everybody to see. “Look! After all, things are not so bad,” he said giving the letter to his friends to read. They congratulated him profusely, hopeful one day he would remember them.

On the reporting day, a jubilant Saad went to see his employer.

“Congratulations Saad,” greeted his employer when he entered his office.

“Thanks so much. I’m so happy. I don’t know how to express my happiness. But tell me Sir, who is this magnanimous person who has sponsored me?”

“She is a lady and is not around at the moment. I’ll introduce you to her at the appropriate time and place.”

“Anyhow, pass my heartfelt regards to her. I’m so grateful. I would have liked to thank her personally.”

“I’ll try to get her someday. She is a very busy woman and she rarely comes around. I’ll remember you to her. No problem with that.”

After some few discussions Saad left feeling highly elated. He thought; who could this philanthropist be? She must be a terrific woman, no doubt; the best under the sky, perhaps. He went on singing praises to her in his heart until he arrived at the college where he was to spend the rest of the year.

Saad finished his course successfully. But during his graduation ceremony, he saw no sponsor as his employer had promised. As they moved about the crowd with him looking for her, they bumped into Pili who had all her children around her. Surprisingly, Saad did a quick about-turn and walked away almost running. His employer stopped abruptly and watched dumb-founded as the children ran in hot pursuit after their father who was now negotiating through the crowd at supersonic speed. In no time he had melted into the crowd.

“Did I not tell you?” Pili said. “Saad is a terrible man. Believe me.”

“But I never expected him to go this far,” his employer said, bewildered. “I now believe what you told me. Saad is an animal. Nonetheless, I hope you’ll attend the evening function.”

“I’ll surely attend,” said Pili.

In the evening, as usual, the invited guests started arriving. It was organised Pili and her children stay behind a curtain to conceal them from Saad. Unaware of the presence of his family, he entered the hall gallantly and took his seat at the high table. Pili had a rough time trying to hold back her children as they attempted to break free. The master of the ceremony then took the rostrum.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Saad for his successful completion of his studies. It’s an honor for me also, to introduce you to his sponsor who has made it possible for this function to take place. We’re greatly indebted to her. Before she comes, Mr. Saad do please come forward and greet your guests.”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Saad started. “I’m grateful to you all for having found time to attend this auspicious occasion. I’m particularly grateful to my sponsor and also my employer who have worked together tirelessly to see that I go through the whole course without a hitch. I don’t have much to say at this moment except that I’m very eager to see her. For the one year that I studied in this college she did not get any time to visit me, but since I’m told she is in attendance, I only hope to see her before the function is over. Thanks so much.”

As the master of the ceremonies took the rostrum once more, Saad’s heart migrated to his mouth. It pulsated with such force that it put him off balance as he tried desperately to maintain a forced calm. He studied the ladies present closely but could not make out who she was. Unable to maintain his composure, he begged to go out briefly but the master of the ceremonies motioned him to stay. And he sat back a resigned person.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the master of the ceremonies went on, “as we approach the end of our function, it is an honor for me to call the guest of honor who also is the sponsor of Saad to come forward. And do please stand up in her honor. She is none other than the Managing Director of the well-known International Manufacturing Company, Mrs. Pili Saad. Mrs. Saad, do please come forward and give your closing remarks.

As Pili came forward, her children raced before her to embrace their father who was by then frozen in his seat. He thought of running out of the hall at terrific speed, but his children had already milled around him and there was no way he could escape. He had no option but to stay. Then, when he looked up, he saw his wife bending forward to kiss him. “Together forever,” she whispered in his ear.

 

By Khamis Kabeu

 

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