THE HEADMASTER AND HIS SUNFLOWER (A Short Story)


Story by:

Jones Wafula Lukorito

Even though it was only 10 am, the sun shone so vigorously that the prison van was Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. At the driver’s compartment sat two corporals who had introduced themselves to the jail-birds as Tiriongo and Kamande. Smoke from the cigarettes that they puffed like chimneys wafted in grey wisps to the back of the van, further fouling an already putrid compartment.

“It smells like ten thousand dead cigars in here,” Karanja, one of the prisoners, had remarked shortly after a guard had festooned their arms with chains and locked the van’s door a while back at the Kodiaga Remand Centre. They were now being transported to Kisumu Courts where their cases were being heard.

Despite the fact that setting eyes upon the prison van could in itself send even the heartiest passers-by into depression, Mabosa was surprised that all the other six prisoners in it were talking and behaving gaily. They laughed like hyenas at stuff that Mabosa didn’t even find funny. Listening to their hearty and rambunctious banter, one would almost be forgiven for thinking that the grueling stay at the remand centre and the possibility of lengthy jail terms after the conclusion of their cases had not broken their spirits.

But Mabosa knew that the laughing faces were all but a facade. He knew that deep down; their hearts were thudding with cold fear. He had been at the remand centre long enough to know that once these very prisoners are placed in front of the judge; a knot of fear will grip their stomachs, race down their intestines and nest impatiently in their rectums with the ballooning urgency of explosive diarrhea.

Normally, Mabosa would be the one entertaining the other prisoners with tales from Kimilili, his hometown. His charming charisma rarely failed to capture the attention and genuine admiration of his listeners. It was this quality that had made him quite a popular teacher who was not only loved dearly by his pupils but also called upon to speak in education seminars all over Bungoma County. His gift of gab made him so successful that just 15 years into his career, he had already risen through the ranks to become the Headmaster of Kimilili DEB Mixed Day and Boarding Primary School.

Today, however, his comport and temperament did little to hide the fact that his entire being was in anguish. He couldn’t manage a smile even if he tried. Instead, like a terrified snail, he withdrew inside his own shell at the corner of the van. His eyes were red with sleeplessness; his lips loose under the heat of his present depression. His head was bent down, like the head of a withering flower, or like someone expecting a nose-bleed.

Today, the day of his sentencing, would be his final appearance in court. For the first time, he was certain, really certain, that this charade, which had begun nine months ago, was going all the way through to the end. This wasn’t one of his pupils’ plays that he directed where he could easily yell “Cut!” when stuff goes awry. No, it wasn’t a boxing game where the referee could easily stop the game in the tenth round. Neither was it one of those complicated soap operas which his wife Janet used to watch copiously that, upon reaching a tense scene, would pause for a word from the sponsors.  This was real life, and the cookie had already crumbled. Today he wouldn’t be driven back to the remand centre. Tonight he was going to sleep in prison.

Mabosa’s case had been going on for nine months now, and this was the sixth time he was being driven to court. On every trip, he would meet with new prisoners inside the insanitary prison vehicle and on the trip back, the number would always be less—some of them would have been convicted. For the two-hour-long rides to the courts, he was now thoroughly familiar with the patterns that the conversations took, and was not surprised when shortly after, the chat drifted to the men explaining how they landed in jail.

Mutiso, a scraggy dreadlocked fellow with last week’s miraa still on his teeth, had snatched a handbag from a lady in the CBD. He would be facing less than five years, were it not for the fact that just as he snatched the purse, the lady tripped and injured herself on the forehead. Because of the fall, his charges had now been trumped up to robbery with violence, and he was facing the hangman’s noose. Mwangi, a procurement officer with some government organisation, was in for falsifying financial records and though his case was just on its second mentioning stage, he was confident he’d walk out a free man today. Karanja, the most loquacious of the lot, had already been convicted for vehicular manslaughter and was also heading to court for sentencing. His wife had knocked down a man on a motorbike during a ride from upcountry and Karanja had decided to take the fall for her. Also in for manslaughter was Christopher, a former cop who had fired into a crowd during a demonstration. Daniel and Wanjala were supermarket managers whom it was established that they had worked as inside informers in a raid that saw the supermarket lose 15 million shillings. Tangy was just an irredeemable drunk who had stolen and sold petty household goods to irrigate his throat. All common stories behind prison walls, Mabosa thought. No case was as bizarre as his.

At this point, Mabosa realised that every occupant in the heavily secured cabin had given their story and that they were still thirty minutes away from the courts. He knew that after the drunk finished telling his tale, the crew would perfunctorily turn to him and request him to narrate his. In such moments he always told people that he was in for misappropriating funds belonging to a school in which he was the headmaster. It was the truth, though only partially.

After committing his crime, he had run off to Kisumu where he had been arrested. Luckily, Susan, the public defender assigned to him by the court, had worked hard enough to convince the judge to hold the trial in Kisumu rather than in his hometown of Kimilili. Back home, court sessions would have been packed to the brim with the entire village wanting to find out the intricate details of the curious case involving the Headmaster and his Ugandan concubine.

“And you boss? What are you in for?” Karanja brought Mabosa’s thoughts to the present.

Alafu uchangamke kiasi bwana! You don’t fear them, do you?” Tangy asked, pointing at the drivers’ cabin where they knew that the corporals were eavesdropping on their conversation. “Even if you admit to raping their mothers here, they cannot testify against you in court!” He added, speaking a decibel or two higher so as to bring his statement to the attention of the corporals.

“Silence!” Shouted corporal Tiriongo, although he knew too well that the prisoners would not heed his instructions. “You noisy fellows better hope you’re getting convicted today. Otherwise, if we return to the remand centre together I’ll clobber all of you senseless,” warned Tiriongo’s colleague, albeit in a dramatic tone that was laced with more mirth than caution.  The prisoners broke into hearty laughter in reply, even Mabosa managed a smile. He decided that since he won’t be escorted back to the remand centre by the same corporals, he’d better use this chance to lighten up and annoy them as much as possible.

“I hear he’s in because he stole money from his primary school and wasn’t smart enough to cover it up. He’s some headmaster from Kimilili,” shouted the Christopher, the ex-policeman. He had shared a ride or two to the courts with Mabosa before.

“Which school?” Wanjala asked. “I come from Kimilili too!”

“I was the headmaster of Kimilili DEB Mixed Day and Boarding Primary School.”

Wanjala’s eyes widened, “You’re the famous Mr. Mabosa?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call myself famous…”

“I’ve heard so much about you! There was that time when the parents were complaining that you were not canning their children enough,” said Wanjala.

“I actually banned canning in my school. I don’t believe in it,” Mabosa replied.

“Well,” Wanjala said, “Neither did I believe in our justice system when I was working at the supermarket but here it is, sending me to jail all the same.”

“Tell us,” said Tangy said as he coughed raucously from alcohol withdrawal symptoms, “how much did you steal?”

“Five hundred thousand. I didn’t steal it per se, I meant to pay the money back. I’d never steal from my school, I really meant well.”

“We all mean well,” Karanja chimed in. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

“I don’t always mean well,” interjected Mutiso. “Sometimes I nick wallets just for the thrill of it.  You seem like a good guy though. Why did you steal the money though? For the kids? The wife was sick?”

“No, it wasn’t for the kids or my wife,” answered Mabosa. “It’s a long story.”

“Don’t even bother asking him any more questions. He always says it’s a long story. As though his story is any more interesting or special than ours,” Christopher sneered.

Mabosa decided that he would tell his story to the group nonetheless. After all, he won’t be back to the remand centre with them so they wouldn’t get a chance to taunt him for his bizarre experience.

“It all started with this girl…” Mabosa started.

“All good stories start with a girl,” Corporal Tiriongo shouted from the front of the van. The cops were listening too!

Part 2

Though he loved catching up with his fellow teachers and peers at the bar, Ephantus Mabosa rarely drunk alcohol. If he did, he took a maximum of two drinks. Kimilili was a small town which rarely experienced anything exciting; news that Mwalimu Mabosa has been spotted staggering home would provide sufficient fodder for village gossipers to feed on for more than a week.

As he nursed what he hoped would be his first and last bottle of beer for the evening, his phone rung in a ringtone that he had dedicated only to Janet, his wife.

“Hi babe,” He answered.

“Hello Baba Mildred,” Janet replied. “Why aren’t you home yet? Mildred is doing her homework; she’s asking for your help.”

“I passed by the bar today. I’m at Santora Pub, I’m meeting the District Education Officer here in a few minutes.”

“You’re meeting Michael?”

“Yes, honey,” Mabosa replied, rather languorously.

“When will you be home then?” Janet quizzed. She knew that a meeting with Michael could quickly turn into a party that would only end with daybreak. “You know I’m not smart enough to help Mildred with her homework. Besides, I get very tired now that you made me pregnant again!”

“Tomorrow’s Saturday, homework can wait! Tell Janet I’ll be home by 9 pm,” Mabosa said rather curtly, eager to end the conversation.

“And don’t come here reeking of alcohol!” His wife warned, before adding, “Bring us bread, a litre of kerosene and…”

“I have to go dear,” Mabosa interrupted. His phone was beeping incessantly. Another call from Michael, the District Education Officer, was coming through. He disconnected his wife’s call while she was still going through a list of what he should bring home.

“Hello Michael!” He answered the other call with so much enthusiasm that his voice briefly drowned the Ohangla music blaring from the pub’s speakers. Mabosa and Michael had been friends since their teenage days when they met at Matili High School. After high school, the two boys had gone to Kibabii Teachers Training College where, despite their stark differences in personalities, they somehow managed to remain close friends. Mabosa was a reserved college student who took his studies too seriously to even get a girlfriend during his entire 3-year stay at the college. Michael, on the other hand, was rambunctious, drunk like a fish, and, it was rumoured, had slept with every girl in their class—all 135 of them. How Michael ever managed to graduate was forever a mystery to Mabosa.

After college, Mabosa took to his teaching assignments with enthusiasm, rising through the ranks to the position of Headmaster just 15 years later. Michael, on the other hand, had a habit of reporting to school late every day while smelling as though he had been soaked in ethanol overnight. Michael’s career as a teacher was short. When he discovered he was about to be fired because of his alcoholism, he tendered in his resignation letter after just three years on the job. Luckily for him, he was able to find work with the Ministry of Education where he was his own boss. He got a wife who bore him three children in five years, and this slowed down the pace of his partying lifestyle considerably. He had done well for himself and now held the position of District Education Officer, effectively becoming the immediate boss to Mabosa and 600 other head teachers and principals in Bungoma District.

Mabosa owed a lot to Michael. Although he was more than qualified to become a headmaster, it took some of Michael’s influence to secure the post. It was Michael that had introduced him to his current wife. Michael was convinced that left to his own devices, Mabosa would die like a eunuch with no children to continue the Mabosa bloodline. So, one day, Michael just showed up with a girl at the staffroom of the school where Mabosa was teaching then and declared that the girl was Mabosa’s wife. Mabosa had never laid eyes on the girl before, but Michael was so insistent that he left the girl at Mabosa’s house when he drove away that evening. Mabosa, feeling pity for the girl, decided to house her just for the night. Later that year, the girl, Janet, gave birth to Mabosa’s daughter, Mildred.

Today, Mabosa wanted to request for another favour from Michael over drinks. A lot of girls at Kimilili DEB Mixed Day and Boarding Primary School had been missing school for several days in a month due to lack of sanitary pads. Mabosa wanted to placate Michael with so many drinks that night that he would acquiesce to signing up his school to the government’s free sanitary pads programme.

“Hello, Mabosa!” Michael shouted with equal enthusiasm at the other end of the call.

“I’m good. Listen, I’m already at Santora Pub. Where are you?”

“I’m sorry I have to cancel, Mabosa,” Michael said, his voice dropping a few decibels lower than the music at the pub. Mabosa rose and moved to a quieter corridor.

“What did you say?” He asked.

“I’m not coming today, I am sorry. We’re currently auditing schools and the Minister for Education is on our necks, there is too much work here at the office.”

“It’s okay,” Mabosa replied, trying his best to prevent the disappointment from showing through his voice. “It’s fine, you handle your work. We can meet some other day.”

“Sure you’re okay?” Michael enquired, his voice portraying genuine concern.

“I’m good, trust me. Besides, I have to head home early. Janet’s pregnancy, you know.”

“Oh, yeah. How many months along now?”

“Doctor says she might give birth next month. Did I tell you it’s a boy?”

“Yes, a hundred times already! Listen, I have to go now, but give my regards to Janet. Tell Mildred I’ll bring her that bike she’s been asking for next month.”

“You’re too generous with Mildred. Okay, see you in…” Michael disconnected the call before Mabosa could get the rest of his sentence in.

Mabosa made his way back to his table to find his opened beer and half-full glass as they were before he had left a minute ago. However, he didn’t trust that his drink had been untouched, so he pushed it aside and summoned the waiter.

“Another beer, sir?” The waiter asked.

“No. Take these away and bring me a bottle of water,” he said as he pointed to the beer on his table.

As the waiter cleared his table, Mabosa thought of moving to another table and looked around the pub. That is when he saw her. Perched on the table directly behind his, she looked like she had been waxed out of ivory and bright yellow sunflower leaves. Her skin, glowing with vive, radiated a warmth that Mabosa could swear was warming him up. And her face wasn’t all powder and paint either. With red inviting lips and eyes that shone like a galaxy, hers was a face made to perfection.

When his eyes moved a bit lower, Mabosa spied, beneath a bright-yellow blouse, a bosom that could host a public rally. Just below it, barely covered by an animal-print miniskirt, was a pair of thighs that could make a grown men cry.

“Can I help you?” The girl’s voice interrupted Mabosa’s eye festival.

“No… No… No ma’am…” Mabosa stuttered as he realised that he had just been caught staring.

“Are you sure?” The lady pressed, her voice laced with more mirth than scorn.

“Believe me, I’m perfectly fine,” He said while forcing himself to focus on the waiter who was bringing his bottle of water. As he sipped the water moments later, Mabosa’s mind was a beehive. He had never before seen such a beautiful woman, and he convinced himself that he was certain about it since he was not drunk. She must be a visitor to Kimilili; Mabosa had never seen her before. Questions ran across his mind. Why is she alone in the bar though? Is she waiting for someone? Should I invite her to share my table with me? What if she’s a prostitute?

Then it hit him. Yeah, this lady must definitely be soliciting for sex. Although Mabosa would never pay for something which he considers God-given and free, he was seriously tempted to make an offer to the lady seated behind him. He noticed, as he raised his glass to take a giant gulp of water, that his hands were shaking. His body was compelling him to take off his coat, despite the cold winds that wafted into the bar through its open windows. Is this how love, at first sight, felt like? Or lust, he didn’t care either way.

Mabosa could not take it anymore and decided to steal another glance at the temptress behind his back. Little did he know that the girl had been studying him keenly too. When their eyes met, Mabosa released the glass he was holding as he felt strength drain from his body. A curious sensation of terror came over him, and his mind responded as it would when it came face to face with disaster. Fight or flight. He chose the flight and he jerked up from his seat, threw a crumpled note on the table, and skedaddled out of the bar. It was nearly comical, and he was sure the girl had laughed at him as he exited.

When his heavily pregnant wife snored loud enough to wake the dead that night, Mabosa did not move to the living room sofa as he had often done. That night, he was so deep in slumber that not even an elephant tearing through their bedroom would cause him to get up.

In his dream, he was sitting at Santori Pub and upon glancing behind him, he saw her in her animal print skirt and yellow blouse—the lady made out of ivory and sunflower. His sunflower. He moved closer to the woman and this time, she rose to her feet and took his hand, leading him to the lodgings upstairs. They found a room and after locking it behind them, the lady opened up to Mabosa like the sunflower that she was. But then, just as he was about to touch her intimate parts, the sunflower lady turned into millions of grains which faded into the air, leaving Mabosa standing alone in the room. Shocked, Mabosa tried to scream but instead of a voice coming out from his throat, he was being chocked. It was then that Mabosa woke up with a start, gasping for air. The clock on the bedroom wall had both its hands pointing to 4. Time to get ready for school, he thought as he pushed himself out of bed. By the time he remembered that it was a Saturday, he had already showered, dressed up, and was just about to wake up Janet so they could make breakfast.

Mabosa was relieved when Monday finally came around. Images of the temptress in a yellow blouse and animal print skirt had haunted him all weekend long. The tiring demands of his job as a headmaster, he hoped, would take his mind off evil thoughts. It worked—until 4 pm that evening.

He had just conducted the school’s closing assembly and was getting ready to leave for home when his phone rung. It was Chausiku, his 70-year-old secretary. When he became the headmaster, he had gone out of his way to ensure that he employed a secretary who wouldn’t cause him to fall into temptation.

“There’s a lady at the office, she’s asking for you.”

“Is she a parent?”

“I don’t know. She refuses to speak to me, but insists its urgent.”

At the office, Mabosa was taken aback to see the lady from Santori Pub, the sunflower that had been commandeering his mind all weekend, waiting for him at the reception. He did well to hide his surprise and mumbled a nonchalant ‘hello’ to the lady. Though she had dressed formally this evening, her red dress and high heels still had sin printed all over them. Mabosa took a folder from the secretary’s desk and gestured for the lady to follow him inside to his office.

When she took a seat at the opposite end of the desk with a “Headmaster” name holder on it, Mabosa imagined his entire office soaking in her beauty, and him drowning in it. He tried, successfully, to portray a professional demeanour and collected himself as calmly as possible. “How can I be of help to you, ma’am?” He asked, his voice deeper and slower than usual.

“You know… when we met before, I couldn’t tell that you were the headmaster!” She said jocularly, her statement followed by a mild chuckle.

Seeing the lady smile ignited a few embers within Mabosa’s nervous system. “I’m sorry, have we met before?” He lied.

“On Friday, yeah! At that bar in the shopping centre. I’m sure you remember me! Come on, I’m I that forgettable?”

Forgettable? Mabosa had only thought about the girl when his heart was beating. “Ooh! You were the lady in a yellow blouse?” He feigned surprise.

“So you even recall what I was wearing!” She shrieked triumphantly. “How are you Mr. Headmaster?” She asked playfully, pointing at the name holder on his desk.

“I’m good, ma’am. How can I help you?” He repeated, eager for the encounter to come to an end as soon as possible.

“My name is Margaret Tumuusime. I’m from Uganda, but I’m planning to relocate permanently to Kimilili. Ever been to Uganda, Mr. Headmaster?”

“No,” Mabosa replied with an intonation that betrayed his thinning patience. Realising he might be offending his guest, he added, “Which part of Uganda?”

“Mbarara,” She replied. Her smile was yet to leave her face, and it was doing uncomfortable things to Mabosa. “I’m sure you’ve heard of it.” He had never heard of it before, but he nodded as he made up his mind that Mbarara was now his favourite town in the entire world.

“And what brings you Kimilili DEB, Mrs. Tuum… Tuuum…” He struggled to recall her name.

“Tumuusime. But you can call me Marge. My son, Edward, is ten. I want him to join this school when the school year begins.”

So she has a family, Mabosa thought to himself. She was already spoken for, just like him. But that did not make her effect upon him any less severe.

“The school year is not until several months from now. Why the hurry?”

“I’ve been told that this is the best school around, thanks to you, Mr. Mabosa.” She lifted her eyebrows with much effort and gazed at him as she slowly pronounced his name. “I just wanted to make sure that I book a place for my son early to beat out any competition.”

“Thanks for the compliment, ma’am. Your son can study here as long as he passes the placement exam. We will need his birth certificate and his East African passport.”

“That’s fine. Can I bring the documents tomorrow, same time?”

“It’s okay. If you don’t find me, you can just leave the documents with my secretary.”

In an instant, Marge’s aura soured and she instantly sat back as still a pupil waiting to be rewarded for good behaviour. When she spoke, her voice was tremulous. “No disrespect to your secretary, sir, but I’d rather deal with you personally.”

“Why’s that, Mrs. Tumuusime?” It surprised him that he had gotten her name right.

“My husband… you see, he’s a violent man, that’s why I’m leaving him. If he finds out that I’ve taken my son from him, he’ll make every effort to track us down. He’s a senior policeman and might even kill… “

“It’s okay,” Mabosa interrupted when he noticed that his visitor was about to burst into tears. “There’s no need for you to go into the details, I’ll handle the transfer personally.”

Marge lit up like a Christmas tree. “Thank you! Thank You!” She shouted ecstatically. Then she rose from her sit and went over to Mabosa and hugged him. “Thank you Mr. Mabosa! This means so much to me!” She said as she planted a kiss on his cheeks.

“It’s okay, ma’am. Really, it isn’t such a big deal,” The headmaster said as he tried to respectfully shove her away. He could not put his head around why this lady was acting in such a weird and obviously exaggerated manner. Perhaps magnifying emotions was just Ugandan in nature, he thought.

“I’m sorry Mr. Mabosa,” She apologised as she pulled herself away. “But I’m so happy! See you tomorrow!”

When Marge had walked out of his office, Mabosa pushed back his chair and put his feet on his desk. What just happened? Her perfume was still in the air, and her mellifluous voice was still singing in his ear. Her bosom still pierced his chest just as she had hugged him, and his cheeks were still warm from her sensuous lips. It occurred to him that he had just met a lady whose mere beauty and personality was so fascinating that, if allowed to do so, she would absorb his whole nature, his entire soul, his very manhood itself. As he wiped the lipstick off his cheek, Mabosa knew there and then that he would have sexual congress with the Ugandan lady. It was then that it occurred to him why the people of Bungoma County often say that when a good Bukusu man dies, he goes to Uganda.

The first time they had sexual congress was the very next day. Marge had arrived at the office at five when most students and staff had retired for the day. She had come ostensibly to explain that she needed more time to gather her son’s papers, but Mabosa did not let her get that far.

The secretary had already left, and so Mabosa watched as Marge, in a tight white mini-skirt, ushered herself in. She sashayed into the office with her waist swaying as a plant sways in water. When she got to Mabosa’s desk, she extended a hand to greet him but he went for a hug instead. Then he held her tightly by the shoulder and gazed fiercely upon her face. In her eyes, there was a look pregnant with a longing that Mabosa had never seen on any woman before. Their lips moved towards each other. They kissed. As they exchanged saliva, Mabosa could feel lightening form in his mouth and run down all the way to his toes. It seemed to him like all his life had been melted down to that one perfect point of electrifying joy. He put his arms around her bottom and she trembled and shook like a chameleon on a feeble twig.

Taking the lead, Marge disentangled herself from the embrace and pushed him down on the table. For the next two hours, she rode him like a creature from a universe made of abnormal sexual desires. She was warm and sugary and sweet, and purred like a kitten. All the things that Mabosa had dreamed about, and more. He did not object to anything she wanted to do—and she wanted to do everything. Although he had not been with more than three women in his life, Mabosa was certain that Marge was the sweetest in the whole world.

They did it again the following day. And the day after that. And every day thereafter for the next two weeks. To Mabosa, having sex with Marge was like trying to quench a thirst with salty water; the more he drunk, the thirstier he felt. At first, they only did it at the office where Marge, a certified nymphomaniac according to Mabosa, would show up at any time of the day, even dragging him out of the classroom sometimes. The lady, Mabosa thought, had more balls than a tennis court. Then, in order to try more exotic positions that couldn’t be accommodated in the headmaster’s office, they switched to a room above Santori Pub which they rented for two hours every evening.

People started talking, and word got to Janet that his husband was sleeping with the Ugandan lady that had a body like a mortar. She confronted her husband who denied all the allegations as unsubstantiated rumours. “That lady is not my concubine!” Mabosa roared. “She’s a quality assurance officer who has been sent by the Ministry to audit our school, and I have to work closely with her every day. The people spreading those rumours just want me out of the Headmaster’s seat,” he lied.

“Oh, so she has been sent by Michael?” A visibly unbelieving Janet quizzed.

“No, Michael doesn’t even know about her. She has been sent directly from Nairobi!”

“Why isn’t she auditing other schools then? Why only your school?” Janet was adamant.

“Woman!” Mabosa raised his voice. “I am not going to sit here and explain my work matters to you! If you don’t believe me, then that’s your problem. So, if you would excuse me, I am tired and I need to sleep!”

That night, guilt pressed upon Mabosa like an extra quilt. Surely, his wife did not deserve this. But then again, he rationalised, Marge had provided him with more excitement in two weeks than Janet could ever muster in a lifetime. Still, he knew, it was not an excuse. He thought of Mildred, his daughter, and the guilt grew tenfold.

“Janet, are you awake?” He called out through the darkness.

“Yes,” she answered in a tremulous voice.

“I’ll end it. I’ll end it tomorrow.”

“Thank you,” She replied. She knew everything.

The following day, he called Marge and asked her to meet him in his office at four in the evening. He wanted to end things in person.

“Why are your clothes still on?” Marge asked as soon as she burst into the office. His mind urged him to end things there and then, but his body violently opposed his common sense. His hot-blooded Bukusu body won. ‘Just this one last time,’ he convinced himself as he pounded her furiously on his desk.

Something snapped. Her vagina was broken. Out of the blue, something, a bone or a cartilage, clamped on his penis. He tried withdrawing reflexively, but all he got was a sharp pain as his manhood stretched. “Ouch!” He winced in horror.

“What’s wrong?” Asked Marge, who was lying stark naked with her back on the headmaster’s desk, her legs spread out to make room for Mabosa between them.

“Something’s wrong,” Mabosa said in a tremulous voice. “Hebu please put your legs apart. Open them wider.  I think I’m stuck!”

“Stuck? What do you mean?” She said with a puzzled tone and look on her face. She hissed and tried to sit up, but was surprised when Mabosa cried out in pain as she pulled him on top of her.

“Woman! You’ll kill me, idiot!” He yelped.

“Why don’t you pull out?” She asked.

“I’m stuck! Don’t you have ears? Open up and let me pull my penis out!”

Marge gently put her back flat on the table and parted her legs as wide as they could allow, but the clamp on Mabosa’s manhood did not relent.

“I… I can’t! I can’t get it out!” He muttered as he tried extricating himself in vain.

“What do you mean that you cannot get out? Just pull it out!”

“There’s something in your vagina that is holding my penis on a chokehold. Like your pelvic bone or something. Can you loosen it?”

“I don’t know!” Then she adjusted her waist. “Can it come out now?”

“No, it’s still stuck!” A rivulet of sweat was now trickling from the face onto Mabosa’s bare chest. He could feel his temples pulsating. The lady was not sitting pretty either.

“Maybe if I put my legs around your back you’ll be able to pull out,” she suggested. They tried. It didn’t work.

“H-has this ever happened before?” His voice broke as he asked.

“Never! Has it happened to you?”

“No. Let’s try removing it again.”

They tried again. And Again. They shifted positions, poured in saliva, Vaseline and even water. They hobbled, they rolled around on the dirty floor like kids playing a really awful game. They cursed and blamed each other. They prayed to God and spoke in tongues. Nothing worked. An hour later, they were still bonded to each other.

After all else had failed, they decided to call for help. While holding onto Marge on his belly like a kangaroo holding onto its newborn, he skipped from the floor towards his desk where he picked up the phone and dialed the gateman’s number.

Hello, is it Andrew? Are you alone at the gate? I’ve got a little bit of a problem in my office, I want you to come here right now and assist me. No, please come alone. Yes, just leave the gate as it is. Thank you, hurry!

“Who was that?” Marge enquired after he hung up.

“It’s Andrew, the school’s gateman. He’s the only person around here at this time of the day.” Then, as if reading her thoughts, he added, “Don’t worry. I trust him. He knows that if he says a word about this to anybody, I’ll fire him.”

With her sitting on his lap, they stared at each other as they waited for Andrew. They were now covered by dust from head to toe, from all the rolling around. Marge’s eyes were the banks of a full river that was trying hard not to burst.

“If we get out of this mess I never want to see you again, understood?” He said.

“Don’t worry. I’ll go back to Uganda.” This time around, the river that was her eyes burst its banks and she started weeping uncontrollably. Mabosa did not make an effort to comfort her.

“Mwalimu!” A voice shouted from outside the office. “Mwalimu!”

“Andrew!” Mabosa replied as he moved towards the office door, still carrying Marge on his stomach and trying his best not to hurt his manhood once more.

“Yes, Mwalimu!”

“Are you alone?”

“Yes, Mwalimu, but there are people coming!”

“Who’s coming?”

“A group, about six of them. They are chanting and blowing horns. I could have stopped them but then you asked me to leave the gate unattended.”

Mabosa was very puzzled by this revelation. He carefully lowered his conjoined lover so she stood on the ground and opened the door. Andrew, in his worn out security guard regalia, looked at them like they were a pair of Siamese aliens from Uranus. The couple, covered with dust, stark naked and pinned to each to each other, was a sight that struck the watchman dumb. He made like he was struggling to either scream or break into a chant, but it was evident that he was having a hard time pulling his jaw back up.

“Yeah… As you can see, we were having sex and now we’re stuck. I was hoping you could help us out here,” Mabosa quickly explained.

The gateman did not reply. In the eerie silence, one could make out strange whistling sounds and a pata pata noise that feet make when they hit the ground. A stampede was approaching.

“Hurry!” Mabosa implored. “Hurry and get us out before they get here!”

Andrew had never defied his boss before. On that day, however, he was so dumbfounded that he remained rooted to the ground, staring at the strange spectacle.

“Mabosa!” A voice, as ferocious as that of a person with a lion trapped inside him, boomed. “Mabosa!”

“This is bad!” Marge gasped. “That’s my husband’s voice!”

“I though your husband was in Uganda!” Mabosa said.

“He must have tracked me down. Quick, we need to hide, otherwise, he’ll kill both of us.”

Mabosa had many questions in his head, but now was not the time for gathering answers. “Tell them we’re not around,” he said to his now-paralyzed gateman as he locked the door in haste. The commotion moved closer and Mabosa could hear his gateman run for his dear life. ‘If I survive this I’m going to fire that coward bastard’, he thought to himself.

The voice was now spewing obscenities louder and more threateningly. “You call yourself headmaster and yet you sleep with people’s wives. You cocksucker! I’m gonna chop off your balls and use them to play bano!”

The group of death was now outside Mabosa’s office. “I know you’re in there Mabosa! I know you’ve been chewing my wife! Open up! Open up right now or I’m going to roast your balls over hot charcoal and feed them to you! Nobody steals my wife from me! Nobody!”

“What should we do?” A shaken Mabosa whispered to Marge.

“This must be Ugandan juju!” Marge said as though she had just been hit by a big revelation. “My husband must have gone to a juju man to make us stick!”

Thud! Thud! Thud! They were trying to break the door.

“Open up, you wife-chewing bastard! Open up! Tumuusime! Tumuusime!”

“He’ll kill us if you open that door! He’ll kill both of us!” Marge was beside herself.

It dawned on Mabosa that there was no running for him. No retreat; no surrender. The longer he delayed, the more he risked that the fracas outside would attract a crowd. The only way out of this mess was through it.

“I’m opening the door! Hold on a moment!” Then he turned the key and six men, five of them brandishing either a machete or a club, burst inside his office.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Please forgive me! Forgive me!” Mabosa shouted with his arms raised as the men surrounded him and his illicit lover. “Ouch!” He cried out as Marge tried to jerk away from him, injuring his manhood.

“Msiniue! Don’t kill me! Don’t kill me! Have mercy!”

Among the six men, Marge’s husband did not need an introduction. Wearing a blue shirt that stuck to his tout muscles because of sweat, he was visibly the angriest of the group. Pallid with rage, he clenched his hands as his body trembled all over. When he gave a stern look at the stuck couple, Mabosa noticed that his eyes were disks of black African fire.

“Why are you sleeping with my wife?” He shouted in his thick Ugandan accent.

“I’m sorry,” Mabosa replied meekly.

“So you thought that since I live in Uganda I would never know. Eh?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know she was married,” Mabosa lied.

At his answer, Marge’s husband erupted in a maniacal laugh that unsettled Mabosa and caused him to shiver. “Oooh… you didn’t know! Well, that doesn’t matter to me. Now your penis is stuck inside my wife and only I have the power to remove it! You see, I don’t know whether Tumuusime has told you this, but I am a very powerful policeman!”

He pulled out a pistol from his trousers’ pocket and brandished it on Mabosa’s face before continuing with his soliloquy. “After she ran away, of course, I tracked her across the border. I know she doesn’t love me. I know she wants to take my son away from me. But I love her, and she belongs to me, whether she wants it or not! So I decided to teach her a lesson I know she will never forget. Now, the power of Ugandan Jujumen is for all to see!”

The men surrounding the conjoined duo grunted approvals in unison. The man with the gun waved for them to tone it down.

“Now, there are several scenarios how this can go down. I could shoot you, just like that,” He placed the muzzle of his gun on Mabosa’s head for a few seconds before lowering it down. “But I know if I do that, I may never return to Uganda. I don’t fancy rotting in a Kenyan jail.” Mabosa let out a heavy sigh.

“I could also cause a racket. Attract your colleagues, your students. Parade you naked in front of the entire Kimilili town… But I won’t. As I’ve said, I love my wife. It is also my hope that we resolve this issue amicably.”

“That’s right, sir,” Mabosa managed to utter.

“I am leaving Kenya tonight. And I want to go back with my wife. But I am a man whose pride has been wounded. I have spent a lot of money in order to teach my wife here a lesson. So I expect that you’ll make me whole again. Do you follow?”

“Yes, sir. I’ll do anything. Anything,” Mabosa replied in a submissive and spiritless voice.

“Five hundred. Five hundred thousand Kenyan shillings. It won’t heal my wounded pride, but it will cater for the costs that I have incurred. Can you get me that money? Tonight?”

Part 3

“I don’t even know whether to laugh at you or empathize with you,” said Mutiso, the pickpocket.

“Man, you were so unlucky! To think that the school inspectors came to audit the accounts just a day after you had used nearly all the money to pay off those Ugandans!” Christopher chipped in.

“But why did you run away to Kisumu though? Couldn’t you just face the inspectors like a man? Running and abandoning your school made you look really guilty!” Wanjala proffered.

“Well,” Mabosa started. “The school inspectors were not just coming to snoop around. Someone had already tipped them off, it wasn’t just a routine visit. They came to take me away to prison! I couldn’t let that happen.”

“But you said the District Education Officer was your friend!” said Tangy, the drunk.

“Yeah. Michael was the one who warned me of my impending arrest. He advised me to flee. Besides, that stupid gateman, Andrew, had shouted from all the rooftops of Kimilili, narrating how the headmaster had gotten stuck while chewing another husband’s wife. The embarrassment was just too much for me to stay around!” Mabosa replied.

“So, your brilliant plan was to run away to Kisumu and leave behind your pregnant wife and daughter?” Tangy pressed.

“Well, I just wanted to be away from the police then I’d make plans along the way.  I really messed up, big time! I haven’t seen my son yet and he’s almost a year old,” He said with his head drooped like a sheep that has been rained on.

“Well, at least you have that Susan lady as your public defender. I hear she kicks ass in the courtroom.” Christopher, the ex-cop, chimed in.

“She’s a pretty good lawyer for a woman,” Mutiso added.

“She’s a pretty good lawyer, period!” Mabosa interjected strongly. “And besides, there’s nothing much that can be done, I already pleaded guilty.”

“Man, you are so screwed! We’re all screwed!” said Wanjala as the prison van pulled inside the Kisumu Courts ground.

Inside the courts’ holding cell, Mabosa was beside himself with anxiety. How many years was he going to receive? Will Janet bring Mildred and Samson, his son, to visit?  Or will Samson just grow up without ever laying his eyes upon his father? His agonising train of thought was cut short when a guard announced, “Ephantus Mabosa! Come out, your lawyer is here!”

“I want you to fill in these forms,” Susan said as she pushed a stack of papers to him when they settled on a bench.

“What are these for?” He enquired, looking suspiciously at the papers.

“They’re nolo contondere,” Susan said before proceeding to explain after noticing the puzzled look on her client’s face. “It means that I want us to withdraw your guilty plea and try this case afresh.”

“Afresh?” Mabosa was now made of questions.

“Yes, I’ve come across new evidence just today, I believe it will set you free,” Susan said with an uneasy smile.

“What evidence?”

“Police in Mombasa are on their way to arrest Peninah Ngure, aka Margaret Tumuusime, alongside her husband. You see, that lady that you got stuck with is a con woman, the police have been on her trail for some time now. She’s not even Ugandan, she’s Kenyan,”

Mabosa dropped the forms he was holding to the ground, and sunk his head into his arms. “What?”

“Yes. That witchcraft wasn’t even real. They say she was born with the ability to clamp down a penis inside her vagina. Think of it as a superpower. But she decided to use it for evil. She travels across different counties where she seduces men, gets stuck with them, and then her husband shows up and demands a ransom to lift the juju,” the lawyer explained.

As the revelation sunk in, Mabosa felt as though a sledgehammer had just hit him in the abdomen, wrecking all his insides. His breath shortened and he was certain he was going to have a heart attack.

“How’s that going to get me out of prison?” He managed to ask after he had controlled his breathing.

“There’s more,” Susan said, pausing in such a manner as though the words she was holding back were hurting her physically.

“Just tell me!” Mabosa shouted as he wiped the beads of sweat that had settled on his forehead. “Say it!”

“Your friend at the Ministry of Education set you up,” Susan said in as calm a tone as she could muster.

“Michael?”

“Yes, the District Education Officer. I pressed the police to trace the money and they found that a large chunk of it ended up in his account.”

The world was now spinning under Mabosa’s feet. He could feel his heart tighten as his face aged a decade. The beads of sweat turned into streams that ran down his face like glycerine, clinging upon his unshaved beard.

“Why would Michael do this? He’s my best friend!”

“Your wife will also be arrested by the end of the day. The police believe she was in on the scheme too,” Susan rattled.

“Janet? For Christ’s sake! What has my wife done now? Liar! You’re a liar!” Even though he intended to shout at the top of his voice, he barely whispered as he accused his lawyer. His voice was just a quiver—a guitar string about to snap.

“We don’t know yet,” the lawyer said, her own voice laden with melancholy. “But we will after the police question her, hopefully, today. All we know is that she’s been having an affair with your friend, Michael. The police believe that both Mildred and your other baby, Samson, were fathered by Michael.”

Mabosa could not take it anymore. He tried to speak but in place of words, he was panting like a dog from hunting. His heart, threatening to leap out of his chest, clenched into a fist of steal. He clasped his hands onto his chest and fell onto the floor with a thud.

“Guard! Guard! We need a doctor here! Call a doctor!” Susan shouted.

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Lukorito Jones

Lukorito Jones is a columnist and correspondent with Kenya's leading newspaper, Daily Nation. He also dabbles in fiction works at times, hoping to be the next Stephen King. Sometimes he takes time out from writing to perfect his deer-dancing and goat-screaming skills.

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