“You don’t need to believe in God, Katy. You just need to believe that He made a few good men.” That was the nonsensical argument Emily Mwero had launched 22 hours ago in a bid to get her best friend, Katherine Maraga to join her at a garden social in her neighbourhood.
“It’s not a church social.” That was the other thing Emily had said just before she pulled up the emotional blackmail that had Katherine standing at the edge of a garden tent sipping at some kind of fruit juice and planning how she was going to get away without her getaway being witnessed by her best friend.
Emily was like a hawk, she was mingling, introducing Katherine to a variety of people, male and female, and then going off to talk with other people. But she was watching every move Katherine made. She kept looking over, smiling and waving, occasionally, pointedly…
So far Katherine had met a doctor, and his doctor wife, a lawyer and his executive marketing wife, and his wife’s single brother who was in IT. The wife’s single brother (someone had emphasized on the single) was very good looking but incredibly self-absorbed and within just minutes of talking to him she had to do everything she could not to roll her eyes and walk away. Now she was just hiding behind a tent flap.
Katherine had always hated social events, especially the garden soiree variety, where the women stood around in their brightly coloured dresses and talked about their homes and kids and things, and the men stood around in their checkered shirts and khakis discussing the markets and investments and cars. She had been to several of these; it was a side effect of coming into her teenage years just as her father came into wealth via a real estate boom in the Kenyan market. They had moved to the leafy suburbs and into the garden party zone.
She had hated the upper class pretentiousness so much that as soon as she could she had moved out and away, first to the college dorms at the University of Nairobi, then to a shared 2 bedroom flat while she attended Medical Training to become a clinical officer, and then to one-room flats wherever she was sent to work as by the government programs once she qualified.
And somehow she had been unable to leave the garden soiree circle completely behind. She had dated a doctor with an amazing God-complex, Dr. Njiuri. Dr. Njiuri was a heart surgeon who had been part of a doctor’s outreach program to provide free heart surgery for patients in far rural areas. They had met when the program came into Kilifi at the same time Katherine was posted there. And then they met again when she came back to the City for a new posting, and it turned out that her teenage friend from the suburbs was dating Dr. Njiuri’s partner at a doctor’s practice.
So a teenage friendship was revived, and a new romance started, but the latter ended when Katherine found out about a string of infidelities during a three year courtship part of which she had lived with the doctor in his gated community, garden soiree type of life.
This was definitely not where she wanted to be. And with that thought, Katherine emerged from under the tent flaps decisively to tell her best friend she was leaving. She straightened her back and shoulders, took a deep breath, and walked right into a tent pin. She registered the pain in her shin as the green grass came at her fast along with the white table top that slipped off the table as she tried to steady herself, and with it glasses of juice and finger-bites.
Katherine heard the gasps, and wondered which could possibly kill her sooner; the pain in her shin and chin, or the very definite embarrassment of falling over in the clumsiest of manners. She closed her eyes for a second, trying to wish the pain away.
“Are you alright?” She heard the baritone a second before a firm hand took her arm. And then she opened her eyes and got lost in deep dark pools of concern. Oh wow, was the first thought that buzzed through her mind. He’s probably married, was the next thought, followed by a furtive and unsuccessful attempt to check his hand for a ring. God, you’re desperate! That was the thought that came before she gasped in pain again.
“Oh my God, Katy, you are bleeding!” That was Emily, now arriving in a definite panic. Kathrine was bleeding, from a cut on her shin.
“Let’s get her from under this mess.” Mr. Baritone had taken charge of things. She watched him as he helped her from amidst table cloth, broken glass and plates, and onto a chair. Then he stepped aside as Dr. Somebody looked at the cut and declared it just needed cleaning and wrapping. Then Mrs. Somebody started complaining about the garden tent people and their shoddy work.
Katherine started to feel the chagrin fade away and the throb in her leg start to set. Her chin hurt too and she must have unconsciously touched her chin because Mr. Baritone moved closer and knelt beside her.
“Did you hurt your chin, too?” His hand reached up and touched her cheek. She tried to smile but turned to look at him and found herself looking into those deep black eyes again. Wow.
“It’s nothing. Just my pride seriously dented here.”
He chuckled softly, she wondered for a moment if he was laughing at her, and then he extended his hand, “Hi, I’m Anthony Kiarie.”
“Katherine. Katherine Maraga.” She placed her hand in his, and just as she did she noticed the mud on her fingers. He did too, but he placed his other hand over her hand.
“Very sorry about your fall, but it is very nice to meet you, Katherine. I’ve heard very many good things about you.”
“Uh-, From whom?” From Emily, of course. That girl was desperate to set Katherine up with pretty much anyone she thought was mildly suitable. In the past few weeks that had been everything from an executive to a politician. Unfortunately, Emily’s idea of suitable was very far away from what Katherine was looking for.
“Why don’t we get you somewhere comfortable and the doctor will take care of those cuts? There’ll be a chance to talk.” He smiled and patted her hand gently and then Emily, Dr. Somebody and the lady hostess whose name Katherine could barely remember were helping her up and into the house.
A few minutes later, Katherine and Emily emerged from the front side of the house accompanied by their hosts. The lady was obviously a good acquaintance on Emily’s social circle. Her husband, the doctor insisted that if her tetanus shots were not up to date he would be happy to help.
“I’ve got it covered, thanks.” Katherine said politely. She was suddenly exhausted, and the predictable conversation between the two suburb wives while the doctor cleaned and elastoplasts-ed her shin had gotten to her.
“She works in the medical field.” Emily said with a smile that almost seemed ashamed. That she hadn’t identified right out what Katherine did indicated right away that she was not a doctor. Emily would have been proud announcing that her friend was a doctor, too.
“Oh, what do you do? Nurse?” Dr. Somebody asked. Katherine still did not feel motivated to ask what his name was again.
“Clinical officer.” She said it as she slid into Emily’s Harrier. She tried not to wince when the skin on her shin stretched as she did so.
Emily said her pleasantries and then got into the car. She drove out of the driveway and into the quiet two-way lane before turning to Katherine.
“What was that?”
To Be Continued. Or not…