2300Hrs. Hellen is finishing her cup of coffee and getting ready for the night. Her favorite novel on her lap, she leans back on the recliner seat, closes her eyes and lets the story she has just indulged in from the novel sink in. She is the only child of Mrs. Stockber, actually Ms. Stein. She lives in a ten-bedroomed mansion in the heart of Karen. Alone. The mansion, built by Mr. Stockber in the late 80s, sits on a fifteen acre piece of land. Her father was, and still is, a very wealthy man. She remembers him as a very hardworking individual who always woke up before the rest and was the last to go to bed. She remembers those days and wish she could reverse the clock – even if just for a day.

Her parents, whom most people thought were a couple to emulate, were in actual sense facing serious strain in their marriage. Twelve years into the marriage, on the 12th of August, a clear sunny day, Hellen remembers her father being distraught about something which he didn’t say. She was ten years old. A bright Saturday morning. It was a day she was supposed to go for horse riding with her father. But this never happened. As they were at the breakfast table with her mother, she saw her father come down the stairs, wearing his bath robe and slippers (something she had never seen before – he always came to the breakfast table fully dressed) and walked to the main door, and off to his crisp white Mercedes-Benz S Class. That was the last time he ever stepped in that house again.
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Her mother did not say a word then, and she kept hoping day in day out that her father would one day come through the front door, carrying her favorite chocolate and swing her in his strong arms as she told him about her friends in school, how some were friendly and how some were very mean. Her father relocated to Greece and set up his businesses there. Recently, she had read in one of the magazines that he confessed that he had nothing to do with Kenya, and that whatever he left there, living and non-living was already in his past. That he had moved on. He was now happily married and with five happy children. She choked when she read this – now in her adult life, she was eager to reunite with her father. As she read that article, she realized, albeit with a bitter taste in her tongue, that she would never achieve this dream of meeting with Mr. Stockber. And she wept bitterly.

It all started when Hellen was born. She was a chubby little princess who had all the features of her beautiful mother. As the friends and relatives were celebrating her coming into the world, her father sat at a lonely corner of the living room, hand clasping a glass of cold Jack Daniel’s, deeply immersed in thought. Except his mother, none of his friends realized that the man was entertaining suicidal thoughts. They were very happy for him while he was wishing he had never stepped into this world. His friends thought that he was tired, what with waiting at the delivery room for close to twelve hours for Hellen to be bought, and the thought that what he would be holding would not be his biological daughter but his neighbor’s, and that the neighbor was not even present to take over his responsibilities fully as a father.

You see, one year after they walked down the aisle and said ‘I Do’, Mr. & Mrs. Stockber’s marriage had turned into a nightmare. The wife was never available for the husband, and she always gave complaints after complaints. Intimacy had gone to the dogs and the wife would always rush to bed, complain that she is tired and sleep. And that went on for a year. They never had any sexual encounters in that one year. Although she would go to bed early, she would never wake up early. Her husband would always wake up very early and even make breakfast for her. He was this nice guy, and the wife took advantage of this. You would hear him telling his friends that the nice guys always ended up being miserable. They never connected the dots. He never talked about his woes to anybody, not even his closest friend and business partner, Mr. Mwisin.

During that year, his wife conceives. He confronts her. She tells him the truth. Their neighbor is responsible. This does not make any meaningful sense. It haunts him for the next ten years, in which time he writes his will to bequeath ‘his’ daughter with all the wealth in Kenya then leaves without a simple bye. Hellen learns part of this when she is about to enroll for her undergrad course in Architecture and Design (She was always fascinated by the mansion she grew up in). Her college fees had already been paid upfront by her father. She was grateful but at the same time had many questions in her mind. Her mother, who had recently become grumpy and easily irritable, gave some snippets of information about the fees. She was not willing to talk. Maybe guilt was eating her up?

As she sits there in that cozy coach, in that blissful world of thought, she falls asleep. The rain starts pouring, the sound of water hitting he roof forms a sweet lullaby to her. All of a sudden, she is woken up by thunder and lightning, she cannot remember for how long she had been asleep but with the illumination from the lightning, she sees the silhouette of a man standing near the window. She rubs her eyes. Is it a dream? Is it true that a real man is standing outside, being rained on just about to force himself into the house? Is it real? She hopes it’s just a continuation of her dream a while ago. But no. The lightning illuminates the man again, and he is stretching his hand to unlock the door. She remembers that she had not locked it yet. She tries to run towards it to lock it from the inside before the intruder comes in but she is too shocked to get up. She lets out one loud scream but no sound comes out.

The man enters the room.

……………………………to be continued.

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