Title: Inevitable Desires
Reviewer: Gidion Makenzi
Price: Ksh. 799
One who confesses that they have loved as though their heart was on lease; as though love is brewed in their genes ought to be reminded that love and betrayal are synonymous; that pure love is replicated with perfidy and heartbreaks. Hedwig Joe Sanzi is one such person.
When her mother, a Tanzanian, gets married to a Kenyan civil servant, Hedwig is forced to leave her grandfather and join her foster father. She goes through the rigorous system of Kenyan education; attending secondary school in Kitui and later Kiambu County when her family moves to Thika. It is in Thika that Hedwig meets Ken Maina, who now wants to be referred to as Paul – a sacristan at the office of Thika Catholic Parish.
Ken has a shady past. While in University, he was a hard-core incorrigible criminal and on the ‘most wanted’ police list. He led a vigilante group, Marvis, which was hired to assassinate people who step on toes of who is who in town. They threatened and blackmailed lecturers to pass them and those who played them down were murdered to pass the message. After graduating, Ken transforms and lands himself a job at the British High Commission Office of Foreign Intelligence (BHO OFI). During his stint here, he is said to have exposed the high and mighty in the Kenyan government and exiles himself. After a couple of years, he comes back a staunch catholic and offers services as a sacristan at Thika Catholic Church.
Ken, now Paul, falls in love with juvenile Hedwig, whose wits go beyond her age, and promises to wait until she comes of age. Hedwig does not admit that she is in love but she knows deep inside she can spill blood just to be with Ken.
Hedwig graduates from Daystar University and through her father’s connections, she gets employed by Imperial Media Service, a leading media house, as a Managing Editor. Life seems to be rosy and sweet; she drives herself to work, she has the most handsometh boyfriend, and her family is close knit. She travels often and brushes shoulders with the mighty in government. Paul takes her to Safari Club and flashes out a gold ring embossed with intertwined hearts for a proposal. No woman would turn down such a romantic man. Her answer is yes!
*Freshly released, the book (together with the author’s other titles) will be launched tomorrow. Details on poster.
Human beings are inherently known for hitting the soft spot when least expected. Mr Richard Ondieki, the chairman of the Thika Catholic Parish Committee, has something up his sleeves. Together with some individuals, they have planned to loot from the church when it receives their grants from Vatican. There is only one person who can make this possible – Justin. Justin is a member of the same committee and an employee of Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). His role was to give them clean bill and help them evade tax. Justin turns down the request to help them evade tax and steal from the church. Ondieki is heard accusing Justin for substituting intelligence with pride. That day, Justin takes his last breath and his blood is laid on the hands of Ken Maina, a sacristan and part time chauffer of Mr Ondieki.
After the proposal, Ken had plans to prick the forbidden fruit of Hedwig with a bite. This did not happen. When Ken leaves Hedwig at his palatial home to pick something in town, he never comes back. It is the police who deliver the bad news to Hedwig. Ken has been arrested for the murder of one Justin and that she is also wanted for questioning. She is furious and feels heartbroken. It worsens when she gets Ken a lawyer, Terry, who happens to be Ken’s former secret admirer and who knew him well back at University. Hedwig is convinced that Ken is back to his old self and the least she could do is get him a lawyer.
With the fear of aging, Hedwig marries Joram Kiunjuri, a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance. Joram is a randy boy and has been on her heels laying plans of how to climb beyond her knees. He is not surprised when she agrees to marry him. It is hurriedly done and before Hedwig realizes, she is a wife to a Permanent Secretary. However, the rosy bed of marriage grows thorns as it turns out that Hedwig cannot bear children.
Joram is involved in a cheating spree. He has been having an affair with Liz Nyambu, Hedwig’s colleague and best friend. Ken is acquitted and is living in JoHed apartments owned by Joram and Hedwig – Pure coincidence. Hedwig’s father, Joe Kamau is recruited into Secret Investigation Group sponsored by the government to unearth money laundry and trafficking. It comes out that Richard Ondieki was working with Joram and some politicians to steal money from government. They were responsible for Ken’s arrest and Joram had taken that chance to console Hedwig by marrying her.
‘Inevitable Desires’, though long, is unputdownable. It will cause some ripples in the literary scene. The story is flawless though warped with a twisted plot. The author employs suspense and flashbacks to keep the readers on toes and necks high. He also uses dreams, letters and songs like Kirk Franklin’s Imagine Me in to expound certain contexts. It also captures the deep rooted greed and corruption in the society.
The only shortcoming I picked from the novel is that the story of young Hedwig in school, which is brought out as a flashback, is farfetched. The character’s intrinsic theatrics while in primary and secondary school does not add much to the plot. Some characters like Shirley and her boyfriend add very little to the plot too.
This book will be available at Kenyatta University Bookshop from December or you can put your order online through Mystery Publishers or African Books Collective.
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The writer is a teacher, editor and literary commentator