There was a new man in town. His name was Jacob. Jacob was working in the local bank. He was a replacement of Mr. Dalu who had retired after many years of serving as a cashier.
Dalu had not told his clients of his upcoming retirement. Jacob was left to answer all the questions from Dalu’s anxious clients.
“Where is Mr Dalu today?”
“He retired already?”
“He should have told me of all people!”
Such, were what Jacob had to bear with, but most came from the oldies, the ones Dalu had build a friendship with. The young did not really mind. The female gender, especially, were excited by the new replacement, for such men were rare in this local town.
He was handsome, they whispered, no ring in his finger and even attended church, religiously! Alone! He would make such a great husband, they sighed.
So, the race begun. The race to please and attract the eligible bachelor.
They studied his routine. If he wasn’t working at the bank, he was in The Plaza Hotel mealing and if he wasn’t in either of the places, he was in church.
The race was hard, especially for the ladies who loved a drink or two. It was said that Jacob hated the brown bottle. In one of the sermons he had shared with fellow congregants (for he had developed a closeness with the pastor) he had expressed his deep abhorrence to insobriety citing the unpleasant effects of alcohol.
Following the sermon , some determined women resolved to stop frequenting the local bar. If the pious banker hated drunks, then they would stop the habit.
Jacob slowly became a man to reckon with. The manager at the bank adored him for his loyalty and affability to customers. When Jacob worked, he gave his all. His ability to woo new customers to the bank from the under-the-mattress savings sacco pleased the manager immensely.
At church, the pastors had an easy time. His sermons touched the congregants so much that the testimonies tempted those that had left the Lord to come back like the prodigal son.
Therefore, being single, one would understand the compulsion to get the man a wife. Some parents announced to their daughters that they would not mind if they found them with Jacob. He would make a very good son-in-law.
Yet Jacob did not seem to notice the hullabaloo he caused in this new town. He attended the dinners invited and seemed to miss all the signs flung at him to grab the daughters of the house. He would dish unsolicited for advice on how they needed to stay chaste for their would-be husbands.
You are the husband we want for her.
Dummy! It’s you she is chaste for.
This guy is just so green to notice what we want from him
Such were thoughts running in their mind as they smiled and nodded their heads to every word Jacob spoke.
“So Jacob what plans do you have for your future?” Kristen, a brave aunty of Teresa asked Jacob in a dinner fit for a king specially made for him.
Jacob cleared his throat and looked at Kristen in the eye.
“I have a dream to change the world and make it a better place for all mankind.” He said and then swallowed a spoonful of rice and beef.
Kristen threw a glance at her niece who was muffling a laugh at the odd answer by Jacob. But Aunty Kristen, the inquistive one she was hadn’t had enough answers.
She shot back the same look.
“Jacob, I mean, your biological clock is ticking, don’t you plan to settle down one day, have your own children…you know…your own family?”
He didn’t maintain the eye contact this time, there was hint of shy. He turned to his food, smiled sheepishly and then said,
“Aunty Kristen, I don’t know. No one wants me.” Then he laughed, even more sheepishly. “Everyone my age is married but I…I just don’t know. Maybe some day when I find favour in a woman’s eyes.” He said and dug his fork on his rice with the same bashfulness.
“Mmm…” Kristen sighed eyeing him pitifully then as if in a whisper she continued, “It’s such a shame that such a good man like you has no idea how women are breaking their legs for…” Teresa stepped on her aunty’s toes forcefully stopping her from speaking.
“What did you say aunty?” Jacob asked.
Kristen stared at his niece who quickly shook her head.
“Nothing, aunty can speak too much sometimes.” She said smiling at Jacob. He did not see the smile that said not what it said aloud but one that communicated, ‘take me, I am all yours.’
He announced his need to leave, stating he had a busy day at the bank the next day, thanking them for their magnanimity.
He left niece and aunty, both smitten to pieces for Jacob had that effect even on a fourty year old single woman like Kristen who had vowed never to be betrothed to any man because to her, they were all the same, selfish liars.
But not Jacob. Kristen who had only heard about Jacob but not met him also got swallowed in the euphoria of Jacobmania. She knew he wouldn’t give her a second look so she pushed away the evil thoughts. But she would urge her niece on, to get him to like her and possibly even tie the knot with her.
When a woman falls in love she doesn’t give up. So like Teresa, her competitors did not throw in the towel. They pressed on, permitting the best girl to win.
As the girls (and some older women too) cracked their knees for Jacob’s attention, he himself was having the time of his life.
He had gained full trust from his boss. He had been entrusted to every secret of the bank. The church too could give him the key to heaven if they had it. He laughed at how well things were going.
It was two days to his grand plan. Everything was set. He laughed at his success in deception.
Two days later, Jacob was gone, vanished into thin air.
Efforts to search for him were futile. Nobody had known anything about him. Yet he knew everything about everyone. He hadn’t even allowed anyone into his house where he had lived. Just as he came, so did he disappear.
Apprehensive was a light defintion for what the manager of the bank felt. The safe was empty. The guards couldn’t explain how they let Jacob out carrying a suspicious bag. The price for all would would be very hefty on them.
The church leaders could do nothing but curse omens to befall Jacob for impoverishing them. They had nothing left to their name. Even the land the church rested on had been sold.
That was nothing compared to eighteen girls who carried pregnancies for Jacob. They had fallen hook line and sinker into Jacob’s ploys.
He had coerced them to keeping the affairs mum until he had announced officially of their relationship and then he would make an honest woman out of them. He used the same script , different cast.
But it was worse for Kristen. She and her niece were expectant, for the same man. She stayed on her couch silent as she heard her niece lament about how she had been deceived by Holy Jacob and now he was nowhere to be seen.
Her (Kristen) mind painfully drifted back to the many rendezvous they had with Jacob.
“I am in love with you and I know I will be slandered for loving an older woman but the heart wants what it wants.”
“So, when are we telling the world? I know my niece will be devastated!”
“When the time is right my love, people will know and I will be holding your hand unashamed and proud for my choice. For now, let’s enjoy what we have.”
“Promise you will not leave me.”
He would say and then proceed to take her in wild passion oblivious of the loud rustle of maize bushes they were causing like two animals in a mating ritual.
The recollection caused a deep ache in her heart. So deep was it that it cut through her heart, sipping the life out of her and consequently, the growing life inside her womb.
“Aunty? Are you even listening to me? Aunty? Aunty? Aunty?” Teresa screamt at the lack of life in her aunt.
Tears were flowing from her eyes, a deep sadness still visible in her unmoving eyes. Teresa shut them, feeling horrible that she had been the cause of her aunt’s death.
They buried her amidst the shock of the disappearance of Holy Jacob. They blamed the death of Kristen on him for shaming her niece, her only family. Little did they know how much more he was the cause of her death.