It was the late 1990s, a man was dying. His name was Marupe.
Mr Marupe lay bedridden for the last five months of his life, with an unknown disease. A disease that made him weep often, holding a red scarf to his chest. He cried day and night for a woman who was not his wife. A woman who had taken everything he owned from him, his heart, his money and his dreams.
Years back, Marupe had left his family in the village for a job in the city. It was a job a rich relative had connected him to. He was excited to make better his family; a better house, better schools for his children and better life for his wife. He would visit every weekend for ten years bearing presents for all the family members.
Then he started to claim that travelling every weekend was costing him a lot. He would be sending money and letters and then visit monthly henceforth but he kept his promise only for a few months.
The letters stopped coming, the money started to reduce. The big stone house that they were building in the village supervised by Mrs Marupe was kept on halt. It now stood unfinished, next to the small wooden house that they lived in.
Mr Marupe was outrageously impolite to his wife when she called him through the rich neighbour’s home landline. He claimed he was too busy at work. He was working day and night and she should never call him again. And Mrs Marupe went back home in wonderment that a clerk in a government office would work day and night as if he had become a doctor on call.
Dreams for pursuing further education ended for the two children who had completed secondary school. She had to start working menial jobs for her daughter’s school fees in high school. She washed clothes for her neighbours, tilled their lands and even fed their livestock for a fee. But what hurt most was the hollow feeling she felt in her heart, the kind of feeling a bereaved person feels when they lose a loved one to death. It was clear her husband’s heart had been stolen by someone else.
For years they never heard from him except when some land surveyors came to inspect a piece of land they lived on. Mrs Marupe found out that her husband had sold a part of the land to a neighbour without even bothering to consult her.
Years later, he came home. He had been fired for being drunk and disorderly at work. The Marupes were shocked. Their father had become a shadow of his old self. His eyes were red and sunken, his clothes worn out and faded and the fat belly he used to proudly flaunt had vanished and instead was a skinny malnourished man whose breath exhaled the stench of alcohol. He was tattered with emotions.
With a red scarf tied around his neck, he carried no clothes bag, only a briefcase . The Marupes knew the case held his professional documents. He always carried them with him.
But Mr Marupe did not get better even after getting back at home. He stayed in bed most of the time and when he got out, he spoke to no one when he sat at the corner seat of the sofa. He even hid when the villagers came to welcome him back. Sometimes at night, Mrs Marupe would calm him down as he shouted “No Caroline, please don’t leave me!”
Jude, Laban and Peris watched as their mother tried to cheer him up, that’s what the doctor had suggested, but his eyes were open but closed to all efforts to appease him. He wore away to death. His heart just stopped one peaceful night and the last name he called was Caroline. It hurts deeply when the person you love, loves you not but loves another.
Mrs Marupe’s grown up children watched the heartache their mother was going through even as she tried to be strong as she threw the last handful of dust on her husband’s grave.
Jude was the first born. He was the most assertive of them all. The following day after the burial, when the other two siblings had taken their mother for a walk to get her mind from all the gloom, he went to his parent’s bedroom. Out of curiosity, he thought of breaking into his late father’s brief case. He took it from under the bed.
When he managed to break it open, he saw not a neatly arranged pile of papers as he expected, but a worn out curriculum vitae and the rest, letters, love letters. Not love letters between his parents but between his father and a Caroline. His hair rose as he read through romantic promises made to each other and shares of undying love.
…With you by my side I feel like I am as young as twenty one just like you...
…I love you daddy because you loved me first…
Say what you want from me and it shall be yours forever…
Thank you daddy for proofs of love to me. Every gift to me shows me that you love me more.
Jude laughed in disgust at how the campus girl had manipulated their father to satisfying her material needs. Nevertheless, what annoyed him most was that this Caroline was too young to have any romantic relationship with their father. He himself was slightly older than she was.
To prove his love for her, the letters showed how he had showered her with money, bought her land and built her a house in her name. But the letters showed that she wanted more but he would reply he was trying, really trying to get more money to make her feel special but to no avail.
She stopped replying to his letters. He continued to beg for her love but she had spit him out already, possibly to the next half-wit old jerk. For the last one year, all the letters his father wrote to her were returned to sender. How could their father be so gullible?
Rage fired in Jude. He sympathised with his mother for whom he had profound love for. He felt a strong abhorrence for his father but a more intense one for this Caroline who had broken their home without a care in the world.
That evening when their mother went to sleep, he revealed to his siblings what he had found out, his hands clenched into fists with anger and his face contorted like a wrestler ready to get to the ring.
The other two were shocked that, that had been their father’s behaviour in the city. He had promised to make life better for them in the village but instead, he had gone to chase after young girls not knowing that they knew the game better. No wonder he never let them visit over.
“Calm down Jude, what’s done is done. Let’s focus on moving on.” His twenty year old brother, Laban urged him.
Jude stared at his brother in disbelief.
“Hm…Jude, leave this docile cat alone. Something must be done. What’s your plan?” Peris, their nineteen year old sister said, with a daring look on her face.
Jude smiled at the support. “Oh sister, I have the perfect plan for this revenge. I will serve it cold and sweet, just how it should be.” He said, in a menacing slow tone, staring and squinting his eyes at nothing, his mind miles away.
“Ok. Ok. Guys, I hope there will be no bloodshed!” Laban said frantically.
“No small bro. No blood. Just an eye for an eye. Tooth for tooth. By the time I am done with this revenge mission, the culprits will be wishing I had chosen the bloodshed route!” He said in the same dangerous tone.
He laid out the plan for revenge to his siblings. Laban gave in finally. He gave the go ahead for the mission. “For mum’s sake!” He said as they drank glasses of milk to that. Jude and Peris, happy that their brother had come on board, grinned at each other psyched up to commence on the mission.
The three agreed that Laban, would be left with their mother while Jude and Peris would go to the city.
“Laban, its now time to do it, everything is meticulously planned out. You have too much good in you brother but you know, not all sins should be forgiven and even though some things can be forgiven, some people just don’t forgive, like Jude. However, don’t worry, I will watch him.” Peris said assuringly as she said her goodbye to her brother.
To their mother, they told her they had gone to search greener pastures. And the two siblings left for the city.
TO BE CONTINUED.