She looked around the house. It was different. There was no picture of her on the wall. She remembered decorating it with paintings and images of her, her husband and children. They were now replaced by Tatiana’s images all over. Now here she was, a guest in her own house, a house she had built with every drip of her sweat.
As Tatiana served the two ladies some juice, they noticed she had a baby bump. Ruth wondered how many more kids they had made in her bed.
“So, Isabel, it’s been long! You seem to be doing quite well, that woman really favoured you those days!” Tatiana said unaware she was talking about a woman who was right in front of her. Isabel and Tatiana had known each other for a long time. They both had worked for Ruth as housekeepers years ago. Tatiana and Ruth’s husband had fallen in love with each other. Then Ruth had disappeared. Nobody knew where she vanished. Her husband cried for a few days telling people she had probably been killed by her financial competitors.
No one bought the story. They knew he had killed his wife but there was nothing they could do. They knew better than to report a tycoon to the authorities. He was too powerful. Isabel could not work there any more, not with Tatiana, her former colleague as the new boss who had wasted no time in replacing Ruth.
“So, did you tell me your friend’s name?” Tatiana enquired looking at Ruth. She was apprehensive at the stranger’s silence. Isabel did all the talking. Ruth stared at Tatiana behind dark glasses and a pompous hat.
“You mean I did not introduce you two? By the way, where are the kids?” Isabel asked. Ruth had asked her to deviate from such a question if it was brought up.
“Which kids?” Tatiana asked sneering.
Isabel threw a glance at Ruth. She knew Ruth was burning to squeeze the woman’s neck with her bare hands.
“The kids we took care of when we worked here, what were their call names …” Ruth almost laughed at Isabel’s acting skills.
“Oh…those two?” Tatiana said, her nose still twisted in disgust, “The girl Emmy is somewhere out there, hanging out with boys. She is such a prostitute, just like her dead mother!” Ruth shifted her legs quickly and coughed. This was to stop herself from pouncing on the woman who had destroyed her life.
“Gilbert is in his room , always at the computer, he stays in that room like a cabbage!” Isabel put a hand on Mama Emmy. It was to signal her to stay put.
“Where are the washrooms?” Mama Emmy asked trying her best to alter her voice. Tatiana gave the option of the toilet upstairs or the one downstairs.
“If you choose the one downstairs, you will have to squat. There is no toilet seat there.” She added.
“In that case, my friend, take the one upstairs. I know how much you hate squatting.” Isabel said, winking at Ruth. So she took the stairs. She was grateful Isabel understood her desire to see her son. She almost ran to his room. She opened it and instead of her son Gilbert, was a young girl,of about seven years watching something on a tablet. She resembled Tatiana.
“Hallo! I am confused, where are the washrooms here? Your house is too big!” The young girl did not return the smile.
“The last room, left!” She said and took her eyes back to the tablet. Ruth closed the door and wondered why Gilbert’s room had been given to the young girl. She decided to check the guest room but as she was walking, she saw a young man in the room she had designed as a prayer room. It was a small dark room with small windows.
The bed could hardly fit . He was typing something in his computer. What made Ruth’s stomach heave was the wheelchair he sat on. Was he paralysed? She knocked on the half open door. He barely turned. She could not hold herself anymore. She hugged him from behind as she dropped her tears on his head. She took out her glasses and hat and made him look at her. He did, for a minute, a long shocked minute.He finally found his words.
“Mum?” He was loud. She signalled him to keep it low. “Mum, is that you?” He whispered delightedly. He opened his arms again to her and they hugged, in tears. She pulled herself away to look at him again.
“Gilbert, what happened to you? Why are you in a wheelchair?” She asked. He bent his head as if he did not want to be reminded of his incapacitation. He was eighteen years old now.
“That woman pushed me down the stairs, immediately after you were supposedly dead, ten years ago. She wanted to kill me too. I barely survived. The doctors said I could not walk anymore. She once tried to poison Emmy too.” Ruth was seething in fury.
“Hey up there, did the toilet sink you in!” It was Isabel shouting at her from downstairs, probably to alert her of an impending ‘danger’.
She put back her glasses and hat quickly, kissed her son and whispered to him. “Today,son, everything changes.” She ran back and met Tatiana climbing up the stairs who upon seeing her turned back to the living room.
“I thought you could not find your way to the washrooms, our house is rather large!” Tatiana bragged. Ruth made a sound, she almost laughed at the statement. As soon as she dropped from the last stair, she saw Bob. He had finally arrived. He extended his hand to her when she got close to them.
“May I have the pleasure of shaking your hand. Isabel tells me you are a very wealthy woman and willing to do business with us.” Ruth shook her ex-husband’s hand, nodding her head with a smile planted on her face.
“I have a feeling I have met you before,” her heart stopped at Bob’s declaration. Tatiana nodded her head in agreement. Isabel knew she had to shift their attention from Ruth. She took out some documents quickly from her bag as Mama Emmy had instructed her. She prayed that this plan would work, otherwise these two would kill them for real now, if they found out the truth.
“So, as I was telling you Bob and Tatiana, my friend revealed to me that they were searching for a consistent supplier of textiles for their cloth factory. I was excited because I knew that one of your many companies can easily take on this. So I invited her to meet you, the directors, to sign the deal as fast as you can because as of right now, the factory is short of material.” Isabel said, ensuring she convinced them as much as possible to buy her lie. It was working. Their eyes were excited. Bob was nodding in agreement.
“To prove we mean business, here is the first deposit of payment.” Ruth touched her nose, to hide the smirk on her face when Bob blinked twice at the lumpsum of money that Isabel took from herhandbag. Ruth knew they had no access to their bank accounts. They had been frozen. The bank manager had told her that Bob had threatened to sue them.
Bob extended her hand to grab the bunch of notes. Tatiana snatched the notes from him. Bob roared exhilaratedly as he took out his pen from his shirt pocket, ready to sign the forms that Isabel prepared for him. Tatiana looked on, grinning from ear to ear. Isabel grinned even more when she watched the foolish man sign papers he did not even bother to scan through. He thought he was signing a business deal. She looked at Mama Emmy who sat calmly in her seat. The woman was smart. The plan came out just as she had predicted.
“Great!” Isabel said as she put back the papers in the brown envelope, and gave them to Ruth, who put them next to her left outer thigh. She watched as Ruth took her phone out, wrote a quick text and put it back in her purse. The greedy couple were counting the bundle of notes. Then there was a knock on the door. It was a man in police uniform, he walked in and took the papers that had just been signed from Ruth. He read them through quickly and laughed. He looked at Ruth and smiled.
“Madam, I have seen shrewd people but you, you are a genius. You got these two by their groins.” He said. Bob and Tatiana were now flustered looking from Isabel to Ruth to the policeman.
“What’s going on here?” Bob asked. Ruth got her glasses off, then her hat. Bob was the first to notice her. He opened his mouth wide, his eyes expressing disbelief.
“Mama Emmy?” Tatiana said in bewilderment. “I thought you were dead!” She said. She looked at Bob and nudged him, “You were supposed to kill her off after the injection!” She gasped in regret. She looked at the policeman. The words were out before she could take them back. The police clicked in amusement and ordered them to stand up, two more police officers came in to arrest them.
“But I am pregnant!” Tatiana whined, last kicks of a dying horse.
“No problem, you will give birth at the cell.” The police officer said.
“What are you all fools gazing at?” Tatiana was addressing the workers who had thronged the house to witness the scene, their faces beaming.
As Bob and Tatiana walked out handcuffed, Ruth stopped them.
“I was counting on your gullibility to sign those papers. You did not disappoint me. I often warned you ‘business wants no assumptions’. I guess you never learnt. Now, you just signed back all my property to me.” She smiled as she added, “You did not even look at the last paper, where you signed a confession letter, stating everything you and this trash did to me.” These news made Tatiana exclaim a curse word.
Ruth turned her eyes towards her and addressed her, “You know, I was planning to be a bit lenient to you because of your child or children, but after I saw what you did to mine, I have no mercy.” Then the young girl emerged from the staircase and saw her parents in handcuffs. She started to cry. A nanny picked her up and tried to soothe her. “On second thought, maybe, just maybe I just might be benevolent to your daughter, because she is my kids’ siblings.” She said. The two left amidst complaints, expletives and threats.
“Mum!” A voice was heard at the back door. It was Emmy. Ruth saw her daughter. She held her mouth. Emmy emitted a shrill piercing wail. They embraced so strongly as others looked on, tears in their eyes. Ruth kissed her daughter’s forehead,her eyes, her nose. She almost kissed her daughter’s tongue out.
“Mum! You will eat my sister up!” Gilbert said. Everyone in the room laughed. One of the workers had brought him down. She took her daughter by the hand and they walked to Gilbert, she hugged them both and closed her eyes in gratitude. Isabel requested the rest to leave the room, for the three to have a private moment.
“Mum, where have you been all this time?” Gilbert asked as his twenty year old sister looked at her mother, waiting for the answer.” Her mind flash-backed back to when she was insane, eating left overs, walking naked on the streets, being abused by perverts, being insulted by passers-by. She could not narrate to them her ordeal. They could not live with it.
“Let’s just say those two wanted me dead, but I did not die. I now have a second chance to be with you. Thanks to your former nanny here.” She outstretched her hand to Isabel’s. They locked their hands and spoke without words, in a way only very true friends can comprehend. Finally , they let go.
“I know you need to go your family now. Go well my dear. I will always be indebted to you. The sum in your account is not a mistake by the way, it’s a small thank you token.” She said to a surprised Isabel . She waved them goodbye and walked away. When she arrived home, she called her bank, inquiring how much she had in her account.
“Madam Isabel, a very large sum of money has been credited to your account.” The bank rep said.
“How much?” She asked anxiously.
“Ten million shillings!” He announced. Isabel made a shocked puff. She held her head and a torrent of happy tears spilled from her eyes. Just when she thought she was at the peak of her success! She wrote a text to Ruth.
Thank you Ruth, be blessed abundantly.
Ruth replied immediately.
Most welcome dear. Thank YOU for saving me.
Isabel replied back .
Today, you proved your brilliance! If I may ask, what is your next plan?
Isabel wrote back.
Good question. As soon as everything here falls back to place, I will build a home for mad people. I will travel from town to town, picking them up one by one. Mad people are human beings too. We should even call them mentally challenged people.Mad is demeaning!
Isabel marvelled for the umpteenth time at Mama Emmy. This was an exceptional woman, a selfless woman. She was proud she had the opportunity to be her friend.