It was Saturday around three, and Mwas had just come back from the company. Being a Saturday, he was always expected home by that time since they only worked up to one. Like always, he came back tired and hungry. All he wanted was a hug from his beautiful wife, a cold drink, and jump into the shower to get rid of that irritating chemical odour that covered his whole body. After shower, like it was the norm, some steaming hot plate of food would be waiting for him which he would gobble down and then play with Jason on the couch as they watched some movie. Rarely did they watch football, not unless it was his favorite team, Manchester United playing.
Her wife hated football so she only allowed him to watch it if it’s Manchester United on the pitch because she knew there is no way in the world he would miss that. And Jane hated him watching soccer from the club, and so to prevent him from going to watch from over there, she let him have the TV remote control. Jane sometimes watched with him if she wasn’t busy with housework, but always supported the other team. She also bored him with questions concerning football, and the match on the screen in general. It was a nightmare for Mwas for the ninety-plus minutes that the match lasted.
“Babe, why has the referee stopped the match?” She would ask Mwas who would be only half-listening, all his attention on the TV.
“That player that received the ball, the one that almost scored a goal was in an offside position.” Brian would reply before she continued with another question.
“What’s an offside position?”
Mwas would sigh, wondering why the hell did he decide to watch the match in the house in the first place. And she was always persistent, wouldn’t stop until he had answered or tried to answer her question. If he didn’t, she quickly took offense. Brian would silently curse her dad for not teaching her only daughter the basics of football. No one should be allowed to be that dumb about such a popular sport. It was unacceptable! But he always did his best to leave her satisfied, even if it meant lying to her.
So when Titus knocked and came in to watch the match with them, he whispered a thank you to the heavens for listening to his prayers. He now had someone who would be more than willing to reply to all of Jane’s never ending questions. Someone who never thought for a moment that speaking too can be a burden.
“Hey, what’s up brother?” It was Titus greeting Mwas after Jane had welcomed him in.
“I’m good bro! Welcome!”
Brian greeted him, lightly punching him on the biceps in a friendly manner. He carried Jason forward, asking him to say hi to his uncle. But little Jason seemed to be uninterested, he started crying and so her mother had to intervene, took him and they went to the kitchen leaving the two old friends alone.
“Hey man, mind helping me with your phone?” It was Titus immediately Jane was out of sight. Before Mwas could say anything, he continued.
“Just realized I left mine in the house and I wanted to place a bet on Sportpesa,” He said.
“I will just log into my account.”
Mwas turned and looked at his friend, smiled and said, “Why do you keep wasting your money on betting.”
“By the way do you ever win?” He asked handing Titus the phone. Titus laughed as he reached over to receive the phone from Mwas.
“Sure, sometimes I win and sometimes I lose, but that’s how betting is Mwas.”
After taking the phone, he went to the Google Chrome browser, opened the Sportpesa app and then logged into his account. All this time Mwas was just watching. He had moved over close to Titus. He could see the balance he had, it was well displayed in yellow color. He had Kenya shillings two hundred and fifty. He then selected a number of teams about ten, some he selected win, some draw and some goal-goal — both teams to score — and then placed with all of the amount he had in his account. It brought the money he was expected to win to fifty eight thousand, one hundred and twenty.
Before he left that evening, Mwas told him there’s no way he was going to win that money. He even joked that Titus should have bought nyama choma — roasted beef — with the money instead of throwing it that way like he was Bill Gates. All Titus said was, “You never know man. I might win! Sometimes it’s better to try…”
“Okay! Just don’t forget to tell me if you win, or lose.” Mwas cut him short.
The next day very early in the morning Mwas was awakened by a phone call from Titus. He picked up only to be met by an ecstatic Titus shouting his heart out. Mwas was dumbfounded, his mind was yet to properly wake up, he thought his friend had gone nuts on the other end. Alarmed, he jumped out of bed uncovering Jane in the process. Jane immediately woke up too, but screaming on top of her lungs and running towards Mwas. She thought someone had broken into their house.
“I’ve won! I’ve won! I’ve won the money, Mwas!”
That was when it dawned on Mwas that Titus was celebrating and not shouting because he was in trouble or anything. He started shouting too, confusing Jane even further. This time she was already behind Mwas, tightly holding on to his pajamas.
“What! Are you serious?” Mwas asked in a voice full of surprise.
“I’m serious!” An ecstatic Titus shouted back from the other end.
Mwas threw the phone on the bed, wiped his brow with the back of his hand and then hugged his wife, trying to comfort her. She was shaking like one under spell. Later on as he told her the cause of all that early morning commotion, she couldn’t help laughing, so did Mwas. They laughed so hard only stopping when they heard Jason crying from his room. It was Mwas who went to check on him, and on the way he couldn’t stop thinking about Titus and the money he had just won. It was on a Sunday and he didn’t feel like going to church anymore. All he wanted was to go and see his friend. He wanted to confirm that yes in did it was true his friend had won the money. And if possible, ask for his help in opening up his own betting account where he can sometimes try his luck. Who knows, he might even win one hundred thousand, or even a million. Little did he know that he had just placed his first foot into betting. No turning back now.
Problems started when Mwas heard that one of his childhood friends, a man he very well knew from back in the village had won over two hundred million Kenya shillings in Mega Jackpot. He couldn’t believe it! It drove him crazy. He was disturbed, and for days barely slept. He sat day and night imagining what he would have done with those millions if it was him who had won all that money. He was immensely stressed. It’s said that even his performance level at work dwindled. All he talked about was jackpot, and in no time his colleagues had already baptized him “Msee wa Jackpot,” loosely translated to ‘The Jackpot Man”.
It is said by his colleagues at the company that before he eventually got sacked, he would sneak his phone into the granulation department where he worked. And it was one of the most sensitive places in the whole company where no foreign material was allowed, least you ended up contaminating the granules and destroying the whole batch. His supervisor tried warning him with no much success so he was left with no option except to report him to the management. He was again warned by the management but still he didn’t change his ways. The second time he was slapped with a one month suspension.
Jane was not amused. Of cause her husband’s recent betting habit had not gone unnoticed. After he started changing, sometimes just moody and angry for no apparent reason — when he had lost a bet — and sometimes extremely happy — when he had won. He asked Titus who confirmed her fears; her husband was betting, and already turning into an addict. What Titus didn’t tell her is that he was the one who had introduced her husband to betting. She confronted him but he denied. She begged him to end the vice and if not, she was going to leave him and take their son with him.
… (to be continued next Sunday)
(A short story I wrote a few months back)