TUSSLE PART 1 OF 4

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Bottomline: The compensation ran in millions but I haven’t seen even a single cent for a child I carried in my womb for 9 months after which I single handedly raised for the better part of his life as the dad passed away when he was still in lower primary.

Waiting for the lift to reach the ground floor, the lift wasn’t forthcoming. Some of the citizenry were impatient enough to take the staircase in a bid to test their fitness levels.

There was no way I was taking the staircase to the 11th floor let me just wait for the lift. I can’t  soak myself in sweat thanks to the staircase on my way to an officially unofficial appointment,furthermore, am fit enough thanks to the regular morning runs, let the middle aged french fries eating adults get rid of the excess body fats in their bodies through the staircase exercise. I was in no hurry whatsoever compared to most of them who were running errands for their respective organizations.

The disgruntled members of the public who were seemingly angered by the lift delay left one by one with the usual nothing in this country ever works properly anyway look written all over their faces. Only two of us from the crowd were left staring at the lift on the ground floor.

“Nowadays government buildings don’t have waiting lobbies at the ground floor where we could be seated waiting for the lift, during our days there used to be lobbies at the ground floor in every government building, it seems systemic corruption has ‘eaten’ all that away.” She said.

Which floor are you headed to she asked, “11th floor I replied to see my uncle who is a civil servant attached at the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs.” softly I replied.

Ooh those are the guys who oversaw the massive looting christened NYS season one and two I hope you are not going there to orchestrate and mastermind season three she jokingly remarked.

I smiled as I told her my uncle had just been brought in from the Ministry of Mining to clear the mess that had soiled the reputation of the once noble entity that offered a lifeline with lifetime technical skills to many youths but was now turned to a cash cow with bureaucrats and bourgeoisies milking it at will thanks to the vulnerability of the integrated financial management system (IFMIS).

She was pretty informed for a lady in her late 60’s armed with the day’s newspaper which she was reading as we were waiting for the lift. Now that she had known what brought me to the building I also ask her the same question,so politely I asked,” Mum what brings you to the city.”

Most women her age only visit the city to seek ‘medical intervention’. Their grandchildren always visit them once or twice a year mostly during the prolonged 3rd term holiday which begins somewhere in October all through to December.

“I am here to see my nephew,he too is a civil servant in the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services on the 14th floor.”she remarked. Is it about your retirement benefits or your husband benefits. Her reply is what shocked me most…..

“What’s your name?” she asked

I replied Sospeter,

“Sospeter who…..”

Sospeter Shiundu

She smiled, you are from our side of the rift valley, at this point I knew my second name was the determinant whether she would continue to open up or our brief ‘friendship’ we had built in the last 10 minutes would end prematurely. Though we were from different ethnic groups, I could tell from her Swahili accent ,you all know how this coastal language brings out our various dialects thanks to pronunciations “Matamshi’.

There is this lady my son married; shocked by this description of her ‘daughter in law’ I keenly listened to her reasons for visiting the city which initially didn’t seem that serious to me until that description of her daughter in law.

She met this lady in the city they hurriedly moved in together the way this fast food generation of yours operates nowadays no courtship period. Children began flowing cementing their relationship with my grandchildren thus I began accepting her slowly as I developed a softer spot towards her thanks to my grandchildren.

Initially I never liked the lady but my son stood by her hence I began building some sort of relationship with her over time. Accepting her as part of my family by embracing her as my daughter in law was tough but I swallowed the bitter pill considering she was from a community I had very bad experiences with when I was living in the city.

Intermarriages in this country work sometimes but most times they don’t considering the differences in our diverse cultural backgrounds. I come from the other side of the Rift Valley thus I would have preferred  if my son would have married from our side of the Rift Valley.

However, he married from the other side of the Rift Valley thanks to the current urban upbringing that enables you to meet people from diverse ethnic backgrounds.During our days intermarriages were very rare mostly if it involved a member of a community from the other side of the Rift Valley, we were warned upfront during our upbringing not to bring a potential suitor from the other side of the valley.

If you go against the grain, you are on your own thus being deemed an outcast. To us the Rift Valley was not only a natural geographic trench it was also a warning.

Back to my son, he lost his life in the battle of Kulbiyow on 27th January 2017 may his soul rest in peace. He hadn’t worked for even 10 years, with tearful eyes she pulls out her handkerchief from her handbag as she wipes off tears about to flood her face. The government did well to give us compensation which was part of his benevolence fund set aside in case he lost his life on active duty.This is where the problem began and her true colors came out…

The compensation was to be divided between the wife and the kin’s immediate family in a ratio to be agreed upon by both sides. Since his father also went to join the Lord a long time ago, I was the immediate family member apart from his siblings who could step in to append my signature on the compensation form.

I was so overwhelmed by his death since we were very close to the extent I could not think about compensation. My mind was fully occupied with how I was going to give him a befitting send off and life after his departure being my favorite son.

We agreed to divide the compensation on an 80% -20% arrangement, she was to take the 80% so that she may use it to take care of their children. The compensation ran in millions but I haven’t seen even a single cent for a child I carried in my womb for 9 months after which I raised him alone for the better part of his life as the dad passed away when he was still in lower primary.

She took advantage of the situation my susceptibility circumnavigating the agreement shortchanging me and my children ripping us off the compensation before disappearing in the wind.

Like a bird she flew away changing  phone numbers every time I got her new number. I have no need for the money it was her husbands benefits all I want to have a relationship with my grandchildren she can get married to another person for all I care.

My nephew knows his brother, they are longtime friends since they attended the same high school and university. I came to see him so that he can assist me in tracking down my grandchildren whom I haven’t seen for more than two years. The last time I saw them was during the burial of my son, their father. His son takes after him thus always bringing back memories of our time together.

The lift finally came down we went in,I alighted on the 11th floor we exchanged pleasantries as she warned me against marrying women fro the other side of the rift valley more so if I met them in the city. I bid her goodbye wishing her all the best  she hopes to get her slice of the loaf…

Part two will focus on a widow’s perspective…..

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