I was seated at my office desk the other day and I was reflecting on how significantly my life has changed in the past one year. Just 14 months ago I was selling windscreen wipers and air fresheners in town. In my backpack, I had a dozen copies of my bachelor’s degree, sending them anywhere and everywhere I could, hoping that someone would finally take a chance on me. After 5 years of tarmacking without any solid lead, I was on the verge of reaching my breaking point when I found solace in the “Sweet Fruit Church”.
I had been introduced to the church by a neighbour of mine who was a respected usher there. “Come to church with me, you will be blessed and also get a good wife!” My neigbout would say this every Sunday morning as he and the wife whom he had met in church walked out the gate in matching outfits. My focus wasn’t on getting a wife but I started attending Sunday services and stayed behind for the youth meetings. We had a very vibrant youth group and the people there were always upbeat and positive. With time, I eventually joined the youth choir which was being led by the youth chairman under the guidance of the head pastor’s wife.
The youth chairman was a guy called Elias and though he was awkwardly shy and withdrawn, the role of chairman fit him perfectly because he was a good guy. We all loved and respected him. When he wasn’t in church he was running his small business as a barber in our town; “Blessed Hands Cutz”, was the name of his shop, which was ironic because he was an awful barber, we only went to the shop because he was a good man.
With the pastor’s wife in charge of the choir, we sang at events all over the country and propelled the church’s name to great heights. The pastor’s wife was an extravagant woman with expensive habits. She wore all the latest, expensive fashions and she drove the best cars. The more successful the church got, the lighter her skin became, all this made her a big target for church gossip, but none had the right to judge the other because at the end of the day we were all there to do God’s work.
During our tours with the choir, I had met a businessman to whom I had mentioned that I sold windscreen wipers for a living. After talking for a while he said that he saw a lot of promise in me. We exchanged numbers and he told me that he would give me a call if he ever got a better opportunity. I had had similar conversations before with countless individuals and they had let me down every time because they never called back. I chose to have hope and pray that something good would come my way.
After three weeks, the businessman finally called. I remember it was on a Sunday and we had just finished the first service and getting ready for the next. He told me to meet him later that evening at a prestigious hotel where he would introduce me to a colleague of his who had just started a business and was looking for qualified people to employ. I was told to carry my CV and any other supporting documents I had. I was nervous but more excited. This was destiny calling and I was certain that my life was going to change that day.
I couldn’t sit still that afternoon, I praised and worshipped like a man possessed. I replayed different scenarios in my mind about how the interview would go. Each time ended with me being told that I was hired. This was it for me and 6 pm couldn’t come soon enough.
After church, I went home to freshen up, and then I headed towards the hotel. I was one hour early because I couldn’t risk being held up by traffic, the weather or anything. It was my first time in a 5- star hotel. Its sheer grandness and unique architecture exuded a kind of opulence that I wasn’t accustomed to.
I had a 500 shilling note in my wallet plus coins that amounted to 100 shillings. The note had been set aside to buy water, soda or anything else I could afford around that amount of money. The coins would serve as my fare back home. The meeting was set to happen 45 minutes from when I arrived. I had been instructed to ask directions to the “gentleman’s lounge” which was the exact place the meeting would take place. I asked the receptionist where the lounge was, and she told me to take the elevator to the second floor.
I got into the elevator. Inside I met an old lady who asked me to read a message on her phone since she didn’t have her glasses. By the time I was done reading the message, we’d already passed the second floor and we were heading to the 5th floor which was where the rooms were located.
The elderly woman slipped as she was getting out of the lift and She fell to the ground. I had been the only one in the lift with her, so I helped her up and offered to escort her to her room. We walked gingerly to her room and once she was settled, I started walking back to the lift.
The door to the room right next to the lift swung open; a mature woman and a slender figured man walked out as they fondly and lovingly held each other. I was behind them, so they didn’t see me immediately. The words “Blessed hands Cutz” were engraved at the back of the slender man’s t-shirt, it was Elias; the youth chairman. When the woman stopped for a second to put the key to the room in her bag I got the shock of my life. It was the Pastor’s wife!
They got to the lift before me and once they turned around to press the button to the floor they wanted to go to, our eyes locked, and their faces looked terrified. At that moment, the door to the lift couldn’t close fast enough. Nothing was said, a cloud of nervous silence filled the air. Before the door closed completely, I threw out my hand out and the lift doors opened and I got in.
Two floors later, the pastor’s wife finally spoke and her voice was shaky. She asked me if we could talk. Elias, too stunned to align his thoughts, stood in silence, probably wishing that he had just stayed at home and given terrible haircuts. We got off at the second floor and went into the lounge. I told them we could speak before my meeting. The pastor’s wife and her stunned lover begged and pleaded with me not to expose their trysts to the congregation and most important not to say anything to the pastor.
The longer they begged the more I got impatient because my meeting was getting closer. I told them we would talk more after my interview. The pastor’s wife lit up when I mentioned my interview. She said that if I was willing to keep their affair a secret, she would get me a better job by Monday with better pay. I insisted that we would talk after my meeting. She said that they were willing to wait for me at the car park for however long it would take.
The businessman never showed up. He switched off his phone after I called him a couple of times to ask if the meeting was still on. It seemed like I was going to go home disappointed once again.
I had no option but to listen to the offer the pastor’s wife had. True to her word, I got a new job within the next week. It was better than I could ever have imagined, my first salary was Ksh. 70,000. A year later I got promoted and moved into my own office, fully equipped with an apple desktop and water dispenser.
The lift experience seemed to make the pastor’s wife see the error of her ways. She repented and put a stop to the affair with Elias. Though she repented, she chose not to talk about the affair ever again.
I kept my mouth shut too because that secret is what lies between me and going back to the streets to sell windscreen wipers. Elias went to the Middle East later that year to work in a security firm. I think the pastor’s wife played a role in sending him away to secure the secret. Everyone is happy now, even the people of the town are happy since they no longer have to get awful haircuts simply because of obligation.
Can you keep a secret?