Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I saw the creep who had been following me the past week again. My stomach muscles went taut.

There was a serial killer on the loose. The media had christened him ‘The FGM Killer’. He abducted teenage girls and mutilated their genitals before killing them. At school we had been warned not to speak to strangers, or advised to report anyone suspicious.

I had to call this in. He had been following me. That was suspicious enough.

I turned to go, but towards him.


Then I stopped on my tracks. He didn’t seem to be dangerous. Even a behavioural scientist would confirm that.

Just one look at him and I knew he was the one – the man I had been looking for, the man I knew was dead.

*

My psychiatrist described more drugs for me. Was I ever going to get better? Well, I was really trying, for love.

Love was the reason my life was fake, and painful.

The love of my life is Celine. My daughter. She doesn’t know that my name is not Jennifer. Jennifer Gathoni.

Twenty years ago, I died. Well, I faked my death. It was the only way I could live. I was married to a vicious criminal, a bank robber. Wanungu, or Rasta, of the day. I loved him more than life itself.

The skeleton that crawled out of his closet put a bullet in my heart. I had to get away from him, forever, pregnant with our first child.

I died. It was an accident. I still have the newspaper cutting about the fire that ravaged the whole of Mathare slums.

But my husband’s gang went underground a year later. Twenty years and nothing is known of what became of it.

I had a simultaneous psychological and heart breakdown. I gave birth to Celine at Mathare mental hospital. I left the sanatorium three years later, but I’ve never recovered. I live on drugs.

With my professional culinary skills I secured a job at Merica Hotel in Nakuru. Today, I’m the head chef. But no one knows that my real name is Grace Njeri, from Nyeri.

I heard Celine enter our two-bedroom house in Section 58. School’s out early today?

Then she stormed into my room, without even caring to knock.

“You lied to me, mom. You lied,” she screamed. She was getting hysterical. “How could you, mom? How could you…?”

She sobbed. Then she released the grenade she was holding, “I met dad today, and your name’s not Jennifer.”

*

“You told me dad died in a fire,” I screamed at my mother. “I’ve always wanted to know him. Why do you hate me so much…”

“Celine, listen,” she said. “It’s not what you think. It’s…”

“It’s what? What, mom? What else is fake about you? This…” I had not planned the conniption, but I couldn’t help.

“Don’t!” I snapped at my mother when she reached to touch me. “…why don’t you come meet him?”

*

“What?” I said to Celine’s back. She had turned to go.

            I followed her, more to confront her about her outrageous accusations than to follow her lead. Then my heart leapt out of my chest like a caged animal, took a nosedive to the pit of my stomach and stayed there.

            My eyes pushed out of their sockets, wide and bulging.


            In the sitting room, on my favourite couch, sat the man I had told Celine was dead, her father, the bank robber-turned-serial killer, The FGM Killer. He had tracked me.

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