“Ebony and the calabashes playing at 7.30 pm Friday” flashed in neon lights at the prestigious Playful Kittens nightclub in London.
Kamau looked up at the sign as he got out of the cab which had brought him from the hotel. He smiled. He had come from very far to get here. He was the Ebony in the band. It had taken him five years to get to this moment. This gig in London.
Five years ago he had started playing with the kikuyu calabashes as a guitarist. He had composed a couple of songs for them to play and then he became the lead singer as well. His voice had attracted many fans. Because of his fame he got a recording contract as a solo artist. He started going by the name Ebony. Eventually the band started working for him as his backup band. The band changed to Ebony and the Kikuyu calabashes.
He hadn’t neglected his studies though. He had finished his degree in accounting and graduated with highest honours. This had helped him in knowledge of how to manage his money and invest his money. He had made a lot of investments which had made him wealthy.
In the last five years he had gotten many recording contracts. His voice had made him famous and rich too. He had sung in front of many crowds and VIPS. As his fame grew he got more gigs playing outside the country. In the last three years he had been playing all over Africa, in the states and in Europe.
Kamau was in London to play at the Playful Kittens nightclub. But that wasn’t his main gig. He had been hired 3 months before to play at the engagement party of some big shot Kenyan lawyer working in the UK.
Kamau entered the club and went to check on the sound equipment. He always had made sure that the equipment was working. The band was already there doing a sound check. Angela was there as well looking sexy as usual.
“Ah Angela,” thought Kamau, “my sweet Angela. The poisoned apple”
Angela had introduced him to the band. She had seduced him to get him to join but just fell short of sleeping with him. Later when he had become famous and his fame overshadowed hers she realized how the winds were blowing and she tried to jump on the ship that was sailing faster than hers. She had tried to seduce him to her bed but by this time Kamau was wise to her. He realized when working with her that she was a woman who liked to use men. Kamau did not intend to be a victim. One woman had already cost him a lot. He didn’t intend for another to mess him up again.
His new motto was, “keep your money close, and your heart closer.”
Kamau never got rid of Angela. Part of it was gratitude for getting him into the band as an unknown. Part of it was because Angela had a great voice and an even better body. She knew how to dance and move and keep the audience captivated. It would be a foolish thing to get rid of her though sometimes Kamau wondered at the wisdom of keeping her as well.
Kamau dated when he had time. He had never forgotten Nyokabi but he realized he had to move on. Unfortunately no one touched his heart enough for him to settle.
Nyokabi looked out of her penthouse apartment in the middle of London. It was snowing outside. Inside the gas heater was turned up and it kept the room warm. Her heart was cold though. It felt like ice.
Nyokabi’s fiancé David Mureithi was due to pick her up for dinner. She didn’t feel like eating. Actually she didn’t feel like seeing David at all but she had to and that was that.
“What was I thinking, getting engaged to David? I don’t love him! He is a really nice guy. I have known him for ages and his ideal husband material. Why can’t I love him? What’s wrong with me?”
Nyokabi’s father had introduced her to David at a party when she had come back to Kenya during one of her undergraduate years. He was the son of a Minister. David worked as a lawyer for a big financial firm in UK. He was in Kenya on holiday. Nyokabi and David hit it off and became friends.
David was interested in Nyokabi. He tried to ask her out but she kept refusing when they were back in London. When they came down for a wedding to Kenya for a mutual acquaintance he tried again to ask her out. Mr. Mbaya noticed his interest and asked him to join him for a golf game. After playing golf Mr. Mbaya and David went for drinks.
After a few drinks Mr. Mbaya got down to business. “I have noticed that you seem interested in my daughter. What are your intentions?”
David said ‘well sir, I like your daughter and I would really like to know her better. But she rejects any attempts I make. I have asked around but she’s not dating anybody. I don’t understand it. She says she likes me but she’s not interested in dating”
Mr. Mbaya took a sip of his beer. He thought of how he would approach this. He saw David as his ticket to bigger things. If Nyokabi married David he would have access to the big time and those stupid villagers who were trying to sabotage his plans would be like insects to him.
Mr. Mbaya did what he does best. He lied. “I told Nyokabi to concentrate on her studies and not be distracted by relationships. I think she took my advice too seriously.” He laughed.
Mr. Mbaya continued “I think she likes you a lot. But of course her studies come first. If you are serious about her. You will wait. She is almost through with her degree and she wants to do her masters in International Law. After that she will be free. I have no objection with you dating her. Let her finish her studies.” What he didn’t add was it would give him more time to work on Nyokabi to get her to go out with David.
David said “am serious about Nyokabi. She is a great woman. I will wait.”
David had kept his word. He didn’t disturb Nyokabi any more about dating her. He went out with other women in the meantime. He was a man after all and he had needs. He was not an angel to wait for a woman who would not be available for three years.
In the meantime Mr. Mbaya was working his magic on Nyokabi. Trying to convince her to give David a chance. When she finished her masters in law she came back to Kenya.
Mr. Mbaya called her in for a meeting in his office.
“Nyokabi now that you have finished your masters, what are you planning to do?”
Nyokabi replied. “I was planning to get a job here. I am planning to apply for some jobs after a short holiday.”
Mr. Mbaya said “I have gotten you a job with a London firm. I have pulled some stings and you will report there after your holiday.”
Nyokabi said “but dad I was planning…..”
Mr. Mbaya said, “I know what you were thinking. But no, I did not pay all of that money for you to do your degree and masters for you to waste it in Kenya! International exposure will help you in your future. I am only trying to help you.”
Nyokabi sighed and said “if you say so dad.”
“Another thing, David works in the firm where you’re going to be working. Look him up! I know you’re not going out with anybody and he is a good man,” Mr. Mbaya said.
Nyokabi said, “Dad?”
Mr. Mbaya said, “No am not trying to set you up but David is a good man. He acted very interested in you a couple of years ago. You’re not getting any younger Mr. Mbaya said.
Nyokabi said, “Dad?”
Mr. Mbaya said, “No am not trying to set you up but David is a good man. He acted very interested in you a couple of years ago. Your not getting any younger you know. Now that you’re done with your masters you should settle down at a job and get married. I want grandkids. You should give David a chance.”
Nyokabi said, “I will think about it.”
Nyokabi shook her head to clear the memories of the past. “Yap,” she thought bitterly, “that’s what brought me to this moment.”
Between her father and David they had worn down her resistance until she ended up going out with Dennis. Eventually she agreed to marry him.
I don’t love David. But then again I don’t love anybody else right now. Let me just get over with this,” Nyokabi thought.
Nyokabi engagement party was the next day. They had waited four months to throw their engagement party because of their work schedules and the availability of all the members of their families. David had gotten a famous band from Kenya to play. Nyokabi didn’t know them. She didn’t much listen to Kenyan music.
Nyokabi decided to get ready. It wouldn’t do to be late. She and David were having dinner with the Lead partner at their firm and his wife. David was a senior partner but she wasn’t. David and some of his friends had decided to go into business for themselves and formed a new firm two years ago. Nyokabi had naturally moved to the new firm. Actually she hadn’t wanted to move but her father told her to launch herself on David’s star which would be shinning for a very long time.
‘Why do I let my dad and David bully me? Am a grown woman. I can make decisions for myself,” Nyokabi thought angrily.
The next day
Kamau and the band went to set up. The address for the engagement party they were playing at was very posh. There were beautiful mansions, with huge lawns, flowering trees, and green fences fortified with electric fences. They made houses in Lavington, Runda, or Kitisuru look like they were middle class houses.
The engagement party was at 7 pm. It was 2pm. Events in people’s house’s usually involved a lot of issues so it was important to get there early, set up, do sound checks etc.
Kamau looked at the houses. He wondered what kind of people lived there. He didn’t envy them. He had seen what money did to people and he always wondered what people did to get big mansions and expensive apartments. He had money, yes, actually now with careful investments he was rich but he didn’t let it get to his head.
By 6 ‘clock they had finished all their preparations. The maid had called them to a separate room where they were served with food and drinks so that they could play throughout the session. They were to play from 7 to 10 pm.
By 6:30pm they were back in the ballroom. They started performing some melodies to get in tune. Ebony and the Calabashes played a mixture of kikuyu, Kiswahili and English songs but they mostly did kikuyu music.
At 7 pm the function started. Most of the guests hadn’t arrived by 8 pm. It was a Kenyan habit to be late to functions. The Host, a David mureithi, had already come and told Kamau to play the song “Nyokabi” when he went to the door.
“My fiancée is called Nyokabi and she is very beautiful. I want it to be a surprise for her. When I walk in with her please play the song,” said David.
Nyokabi was running late. Her family was staying at her house and they had delayed her. Having four women in the same house going for the same event was a disaster. They were running late by an hour. Nyokabi could have done without attending the event at all but you can’t miss your own engagement party.
Nyokabi thought to herself “I feel like a lamb going to the slaughter.”
Eventually they arrived at David’s mansion. It has been a present given to him by his father who was a very wealthy Kenyan minister. He had told his son David that since he didn’t plan to go back to Kenya then he could keep the house permanently.
There were Mercedes, limousines parked in the driveway with an occasional Japanese car. The limousine they were in was cleared to drive in to the front.
Nyokabi called David to tell them her and her family had arrived. David and his family came to the door to receive them.
When Nyokabi walked in the door she heard a song playing in Kikuyu. It was something about a beautiful girl called Nyokabi. The voice singing the song was so rich and deep. She looked immediately to the stage at the front and gasped.
Kamau was playing the song Nyokabi when the most lovely angel walked in on David’s arm. She was dressed in a red satin dress that clung to her curves. He thought “damn that woman is hot. David was right. His fiancée is very beautiful”
When the woman saw him it was like she was struck by lighting. She stopped, gasped, and looked at Kamau straight in the eye across the room.
Kamau got stunned for a few seconds and lost his voice. Luckily the band was covering him so it didn’t become apparent.
Kamau felt like his eyes were deceiving him. It couldn’t be yet it was. It was Nyokabi. A very beautiful, grown up Nyokabi. And she was engaged to David.
Nyokabi froze. She thought she was in a dream or something. It was Kamau, standing there playing the guitar, singing a song about her.
David didn’t seem to notice her fascination with the tall, handsome man on the stage. He thought she was talking time to appreciate the song about her.
“I thought it would be a surprise. I can tell from your face that you’re surprised. A song about a woman called Nyokabi. It’s like he wrote the song about you, “David said and chuckled.
David continued, “It’s a very popular song in Kenya. The singer Ebony wrote it a couple of years ago. Maybe later I’ll introduce you and you can get a signed autograph. Beautiful song. I love it. Every time I hear it I think of you!”
Nyokabi was speechless. She didn’t know what to say. Anyway what could she say? ‘David that’s the boy I fell in love with many years ago. The boy I shared my first kiss with. The boy whose family my father destroyed. The boy who has now become a man.”
Nyokabi didn’t like to drink. She usually had one glass of wine but that time she needed courage to endure the night.
Kamau could not believe it. He continued playing. His mind was in turmoil. He was thinking about Nyokabi being in London at the event he was playing at and being the bride to be.
At ten when the guests were leaving David brought Nyokabi to say hallo.
“My dear fiancée was impressed by your song. I think she wants an autograph. Let me leave her here to find out how you wrote a song about a girl just like her. Your band was amazing. Well worth the money I paid.”
Kamau and Nyokabi stared at each other. For a few minutes they stood there just looking at each other, saying nothing.
Nyokabi said finally, “I am sorry!”
“For what?” asked Kamau.
Nyokabi said with a shaky voice, “for everything my father did to your family. For everything that happened to you. I am so sorry. Please forgive me”
Kamau smiled and said “you have nothing to be forgiven. It’s your father who did all those things. Anyway I let it go. It would have made me a very bitter man. Anyway I have left your father to God’s judgment. He will get his just reward.”
They stood in silence for a few minutes.
Kamau asked “so what do you do now?”
“I am a lawyer,’ replied Nyokabi, “I work for David.”.
“Oh okay.” Kamau said.
“So you’re a singer. You’re very good. I loved your voice even when we were young,” said Nyokabi.
Kamau said “thank you. I see your doing well. A lawyer now and marrying into a rich family. Your father must be proud.”
Nyokabi winced then said “it’s not like that.” Then she said, “Actually it is like that. But what was I supposed to do. I know my dad is not a good man but he does love me. He thinks David will make a great husband.”
Kamau laughed and asked, “Nyokabi your still very naïve even if you’re a lawyer. Is marrying David going to be what’s best for you or best for your father? Your father is not a good man. He has known criminal connections in Kenya. Wake up and smell the coffee.”
Kamau picked his guitar, put his hand in his pocket, and brought out a card. “Here’s my card. If you ever decide to out from under your father’s thumb call me. But know I will not wait forever. Now that I have met you again I don’t want to lose you but you have to make a decision about what you want.”
2 weeks later.
Nyokabi sat on her bed with her suitcases. The last two weeks she had been contemplating what to do. To stay with David or to go look for Kamau. She was torn between the loyalty she felt to her father, her family and her heart, which told her that Kamau was the man for her. One look at him and all the feelings she had felt as a young girl had come rushing back.
Nyokabi was supposed to be flying to Kenya in the morning. Her wedding was in two months. The firm had given her three months off for her wedding preparations and honeymoon.
Nyokabi had spent the last two weeks walking around like a zombie and thinking about what she should do. She couldn’t believe what Kamau had said about her father. She decided to call a friend of hers who was practicing law in Kenya to ask.
The news was not good. When her friend called back after investigating she told her that apparently it was true that her father had criminal businesses and connections.
Nyokabi was devastated. In a span of two weeks she had found the love of her life again and discovered that her father was not the man she had thought he was.
Nyokabi confided in no one these things. She didn’t even confront her father. So much made sense to her now. Why her father wanted her to study law. Why he had pushed her to go out with David.
“I am just a pawn to my father. A pawn to be protected and then sacrificed when needed. I can’t believe this. I think mum tried to tell me not to trust dad but I refused to listen. I was so blind.”
Nyokabi stared at her mobile phone debating on who to call. Her father or Kamau.
Finally she picked up a card and called the number of Kamau. They talked for a few minutes. She wrote a letter, put her engagement ring in it, sealed it and but it on her coffee table. Then she picked up her suitcases, paused at the door and walked out of the house she never intended to ever return to.
Six months later.
(On a beach at an undisclosed location)
Nyokabi lay on her back on a beach chair in a red bikini. She was enjoying the warmth of the sun. Her body glistened with the sunscreen and baby oil she had applied to it.
Suddenly she felt warm hands on her back and a voice saying “hey beautiful lady. Want me to apply some sunscreen on your back. You missed a spot. Am ready and willing to be your slave each and every day to oil that beautiful body.”
Nyokabi laughed and turned. She gave Kamau a beautiful smile and pulled his face down to hers for a passionate kiss. Her wedding ring sparkled in the sun.