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She looked at herself in the mirror. She looked pale. She had lost all the beauty and grace that everyone usually recognized her with. It was painful. How could he of all people do that to her? It was a trauma but she knew so well that karma was a bitch and he would have his punishment soon.
The phone rang. She became elated. She had anticipated this call for some time.
“Good morning, Vanessa. How are you? Are you ready for today?”
Though Vanessa had been through hell, Omar always had a way to make her smile. He was a good person. He was her best friend. The two came from different cultures, they were bounded by diverse traditions but their friendship was so unique and special that no one could set them apart.
The tragedy that happened on that night, the 22nd of April, 1996 had changed Vanessa’s life completely. However, will Vanessa see justice at the end of it all? Omar offered his boundless support but why was Vanessa still unhappy? Why did she feel that something was amiss even after Omar pledged to stand by her through thick and thin?
She dressed up quickly, combed her thick curls, looked at herself once again in the mirror, applied a little lip gloss and yes, she felt better. She needed to be the old Vanessa. The lady who would charm everyone with herlady who was born to lead and not to be led. She felt she had lost herself completely after the tragedy but she still needed to walk shoulder high because everything was to be decided on that crucial day. The ball maybe or may not be in her court.
On her way to the bus stop, a lot of questions triggered her mind. What will be the verdict? She took the next bus to Marixa Court where the final ruling would be made. All she wanted was to see Omar and her heart would be perplexed. She knew that he was already there, anxiously waiting for her.
The judge walked into the court room with a stern look on his face, everyone stood up and after he took his seat, the audience sat down. He struck the gavel on the sound block to symbolize the starting of the case.
“I call upon the prosecution to present the case” The judge said.
“Your honour, this case is as transparent as water. Vanessa always had a likening for her uncle. Vanessa’s mother would herself bear witness to that. Whatever happened to her is nothing but her own predicament. She has tarnished the reputation of her family, has betrayed her own flesh and whatever mess that has befallen her does not qualify for any justification. There is no question of any doubt”.
“Prosecution will in a matter of approximately thirty minutes and with the help of just three witnesses prove without a doubt that the plaintiff, Vanessa Kariuki is wrong”.
“That is all, Your Honour”.
The judge said, “I now call upon the defence to present the case”.
Omar said a silent prayer. Vanessa needed him at this point more than anything else.
“Your honour, Prosecution Counsel, Mr. Daniel Kimathi was very quick to say that the case is as transparent as water. An abominable lie! Vanessa was raped and that remains a fact. I can never understand why people still tend to favor men who lack the ability to see the greatness in a woman. A flower has been plucked off when still not in maturity”.
“This case is being fought to bring back Vanessa’s individuality, her pride, her name and her rights as a lady. Maybe not in thirty minutes time like the Prosecution Counsel, but I will definitely prove that Vanessa has undergone mutilation.”
“Vanessa is in a lot of pain right now and what I seek from you; My Lord is to give her the justice that she deserves”.
People could be heard murmuring and the judge hit the gavel and silenced everyone. It was a battle between the prosecution and defence. It was a battle of life and death to Vanessa and to the man dearest to her, Omar.
“Now, the prosecution may call upon its witnesses”. The judge spoke.
“Ruth, could you please tell this court without any doubt or hesitation what you know about Vanessa?” Mr. Daniel Kimathi asked Ruth, Kariuki’s long time maid who was still serving Vanessa’s family.
Omar’s face turned red suddenly. Did this stupid woman forget all that Vanessa had done for her? She was surely bribed to say this. Human beings have lost humanity. Money was the source of it all. He composed himself. Well, if an uncle could commit such a grave sin, he could not expect a maid to support them.
“She would always look for an opportunity to stay back all alone with my master, Kenneth. I have seen her numerous times wearing those skimpy clothes and walking all around the house trying to entice my master”.
The second witness, Mrs. Wanjala, the nosey neighbor, uttered “She is a whore”.
“Objection, Your Honour”, Omar said.
“Proceed”, the judge allowed Omar to raise his statement.
“Today, ironically I saw women who are buried in ignorance and who still do not want to see their future reformed. Ruth, Wanjala and Samantha. The three of you have all forgotten that Vanessa is like your daughter and this could happen to your daughters anytime. The three of you have fallen prey to Kenneth’s scam. Remember, you can never pet a snake. A day shall come and you will be his target”.
The court was adjourned until further notification. Oh, not again!This had continued for the last two weeks. With every new session bringing in a new twist.
While he drove her home, Omar noticed that Vanessa seemed so occupied in her thoughts. He hated seeing her in this state. He missed all the times that they would have a share of their joy. When they would go skating, when they would go to conferences in the overseas together, when they would go to parties and have blasts with their colleagues, when they would fight over the same piece of bun. Oh my, the memories were infinite.
The thought dawdled more clear now. Yes, he would do just that if it meant bringing back the smile of the love of his life. After all, what was love without sacrifice? What was love without guarantee? What was love if they could not be together for the rest of their tomorrow?
Samara Estate. House number 215. Omar escorted Vanessa to the door and hugged her goodbye. She was tired. Tired of the tantrums of her wicked uncle and of her naive mother. Would her father be happy to see this wife inheritance? He would never take it lightly. Uncle Kenneth stooped really low.
The night was abnormally cold. Vanessa thanked the Lord for yet another day and for the strength that each day brought. The adage was after all correct, time heals all wounds. No sooner had she shoved her blanket over her head than she fell asleep.
Summer. A soothing wind blew. She saw a shadow. A shadow of someone so familiar. No. It cannot be him. It can never be him. He was a father figure in her life and would never mean harm. Her mother, Wanjiru had gone to the stores to refill the groceries. It was all quiet and peaceful except for the noise made by some bats outside. The noise was escalating. Did it symbolize anything? Wasn’t it abnormal to see nocturnal animals in midday? Charles and Dorothy were not at home either. The shadow drew closer until she could clearly see the whole body of the person next to him. It was Uncle Kenneth. He was never supposed to come to the girls’ bedrooms. It was a taboo. What was so urgent today? His touch was so inhuman. She shouted and cried. She resisted as much as she could but he was a giant and she was a minute creature. He groaned heavily, satisfied with what he had done to his victim. Disheartened, she found the energy to look at her skirt. Blood was still oozing out profusely. The flower had been plucked off while still not in maturity.
Vanessa woke up panting and sweating copiously. If only it was not a dream. If only it was just a figment of her imagination. If only it had never happened to her. The horrendous images remained transfixed into her very own being. The event felt like an extended version of a never ending nightmare. It was a shear reality and whatever happened had happened to her. The once marvelous, Vanessa. The lady who had class and was well known in the estate for her proficiency in English and Law.
Her charm was deceitful. She was not of normal composition. Her laughter kept echoing in his ears. Omar had never lost a battle with a lady before but there was something magical about her. She was beautiful. Not in her looks. Not in anything tangible. She was an enigma to him. A paradox of characters. Deep and shallow. She was of a different caste and race. However, Omar knew that he had to be the owner of the key anyway because all that magic she carriednever existed anywhere else.
He wanted to do what he had anticipated to do. What would Basheer Al-Ahdaly tell him? He was trying to picture what his father would say after having secured a pretty young Arab girl for him. Here, he was yearning for this Kikuyu lady who was of a diverse culture altogether but had all the qualities to make him stick to her. Just like grass could not survive without water, the two were now a body. Nothing could tear them apart. Infact, the irony of it all is that after the perturbing incident on the 22nd of April, the love he had for her intensified. She was a strong lady.
It was raining cats and dogs and the traffic jam was annoying. Omar was travelling to Mombasa to see his beloved parents. They were refugees from Yemen who shifted to Mombasa after the intense wars that arose in Yemen. The tribal wars caused a lot of havoc resulting to lose of property and lives of so many people were put at stake. The Ahdalys’ managed to escape and sought refuge in Mombasa. Omar was born and raised in Mombasa and had a particular attraction to the ways and traditions of the Swahili society.
“Ahlan wasahlan, ya nurul-uyuun! Keyfak? Gul ahbarak, yaAsad-ul-Ahdaly!” Mr. Basheer said with a tone filled with joy and excitement. Omar was his cub and he expected him to learn how to roar. He was the future lion of Al-Ahdaly. He knew with pride that Omar would never let him down. Mr. Basheer was still affected by his mother tongue and he rarely used Swahili or English. Omar’s mother came in with some iftar and they all had an amazing breakfast after a long time.
They talked about their businesses and the ups and downs in their lives. It was a thrilling morning especially to Mrs. Basheer who always looked forward to see Omar.
A moment of silence suddenly settled when Mrs. Basheer mentioned of Saraha, the daughter of her late cousin. She said that she saw that the lady was now of age and she had always kept her eyes on her because it was a promise she made to her cousin long ago and the time was now ripe to implement the promise. According to her, the wait had been long and she wanted to play with her grandchildren before she bided the world goodbye.
Omar was in a fix. He knew something of the sort would emerge. Who still believes in such cultures? Did Allah not say in the Quran that He created different races and tribes so that people could know each other? Why then were they still embedded in old customs that fully discriminated people of other races? She remembered how Vanessa would choke him with laughter with her endless weird jokes. No. That dream can never die. He had to water his dream again. This time not to let it dehydrate at any cost.
“I have always respected the both of you and I have tried my level best to make you happy. However, today I want to take this step of my life by myself. I love someone else and I solely want to walk down the aisle with her. Vanessa.” Omar spoke reluctantly awaiting the biggest of blows from his parents.
“I told you, Saidah. He should never have gone far from our sight. This is the upshot of it all. Omar, I cannot explain myself anymore, however, I give you a chance to take back your words. If not, you may see the door. We will have disowned you and you will cease to be the lion of Al-Ahdaly”. A medieval dagger with both sides sharpened to the hilt could not have torn through Omar’s heart as devastatingly bad as those words did.
Was it bad to fall in love?
What was worse? To feel everything at once or to feel nothing at all?
What was worse? To drown beneath the waves or to die from thirst?
He had made up his mind and nothing could take him back at this point.
Frustrated, He left.
Omar received a message that the next court session would be after two days. He met up with Vanessa to urge her to keep up the spirit because he had compromised even his kin and beliefs for her. They went to their favorite spot, Saranova English Point. This place was significant to them because it was the place they both met for the first time.
It was on the 1st of March, 1990. Omar had gone to attend an important business conference that was held at Saranova English Point. Many dignitaries attended ranging from lawyers like him to professionals in diverse careers. It was a huge event. Before the end of the event, one of the speakers raised a question.
“Luminaries and all protocol observed, I want us to take a look at this beautiful place. The flowers, the greenery and the nature around are so fascinating. However, can something be as flawless as this? What could be missing in this astounding place?”
A dark skinned beautiful African lady raised her hand.
“A few dry and withered leaves. That is what is missing. Nothing is perfect even the most incredible gardens have withered leaves”. The answer earned her a standing ovation from the speaker and the audience.
Omar felt something he had never felt before. After the normal greetings and networking usually conducted after conferences, Omar looked for the intelligent damsel. He greeted her and they began knowing each other. Vanessa was her name. Pretty? No. She was beautiful and gifted. She had those almond shaped eyes and her dimples were the cutest thing he ever saw. The two exchanged contacts and affirmed to walk in each other’s lanes again in the future.
Vanessa felt alive after the date with Omar. He was very humble, loving, caring and he was the most handsome man she had ever set her eyes on. She was not going to leave him even if it meant fighting the whole world for him. What made it more special was the fact that they were best of friends.
Wanjiru never talked to Vanessa from the time she ‘manipulated’ her husband for her own selfish interests. The girl was a curse and a disgrace to her family. What would her father think of her had he been alive? The two lived on the same roof but never spoke to each other. The rift between them was widening by the day. It was a testing phase for Wanjiru. Ngai was the Creator and He definitely will send a catastrophe to this sinner.
Dawn was upon her. The sun’s pinkish-red rays illuminated the sky to form a rare collage that was quite a sight for sore eyes. Vanessa dressed to kill. It was her D-day. All the necessary witnesses were in their hands. Thanks to Omar. This meant that the case would never be shelved again.
Upon the end of the hearing, Dorothy stood up. Dorothy never liked Vanessa. This lady always got the best of everything.However, today this was her combat too. If victory is found, it would also mean there would be an end to her misery.
“I want to say something if you will allow me, My Lord”.
“Permission granted” said the judge.
“This man here is extremely disgusting.”
Everyone turned around to face who was being referred to. Kenneth.
“I am a subject to his wickedness too. He has always used me to satisfy his sexual desires but I kept mum. Today, when my sister has undergone the same and our own mother fails to see his immorality shows how uncaring a parent she is. What would father have said if he saw what his own brother did to us?”
A new twist in the story.
Uproar set in the court room and the fire was too intense that it could not be extinguished. He cannot have done that! He was a man of the people! However, could the girls be lying? Was this a set-up by the sisters?
Male chauvinism was a time-honored concept and women would always remain wrong. But the two flowers were plucked off? Did the people not understand that? How could it be a fib? Their innocence was violently taken away from them and what did they get in return? Sexually transmitted infections? Bastard children? Ngai would be angry with the people but did the people ever question their wrong dogma?
The court was once again adjourned.
However, this time round, the two girls were happy to have stood up for each other. They hugged each other so tightly, bitter tears rolling down their cheeks.
Omar took a deep look at his girlfriend. He was proud of her. She had fought her battle well. About the victory, well, she had made him proud. About marrying her, oh yes, Saraha could never do something equated to this. Saraha would have just been a pet to feed to the end.
Vanessa took out her little mirror from her purse, she began to love and appreciate herself once again. She then shed a smile, yes, that was the beginning of new hope. Omar believed in his dream more each day. He believed in their love. He believed in the power of his woman. They believed, the sun would always rise. A brighter day.