‘So errr… hip hip!’
He cut the red ribbon, and the handful of smiling people behind him let out another cheer. The governor’s representative was an awkward lanky fellow whose clothes swayed along with his strides. He had a slight limp when he walked, a wry smile too; as though the idea that a man who had only recently moved into town had nothing better to do with his money other than build a library was a dumb one. He was only a personal assistant to the Commissioner for Education. His boss was supposed to be here representing the governor, but Hon. George had a huge ego. He had promptly shifted the responsibility to the one man he knew would jump at it: his P.A.
Truly, Imran needed it. If he was going to win his constituency over in the coming elections, he had to be seen, and what better place than in the company of the elite who made a pastime of making colorful projects, representing the governor of the state. He was in the big leagues, he couldn’t be more elated.
As they walked through the gargantuan library, he tried to do a mental calculation of how much it must have cost to erect such an edifice. There was a long reading hall on the ground floor with well-polished desks and chairs. Upstairs, there were a million shelves stacked with books, many of which he had never heard of. Not that he cared; real politicians didn’t need books, only sense. He smiled again. The woman beside him, the wife of the billionaire and co-owner of the library whispered into his ears:
‘We are so glad you came. I hope you like the view.’ He nodded a response, quicker than he normally would. She made him nervous. Beautiful women always had that effect on him. It’s why he married a not-so-attractive woman. He wouldn’t have survived his fifteen-year marriage.
He left the ceremony with a cheque gift neatly tucked into his pant pockets. Honorarium is what they called it. He wouldn’t tell his boss of course.
February 5th, 1999.
It was the night before the primaries. Imran’s wife had made him a sumptuous meal of Eba and groundnut soup. She had wanted to make love afterwards, but he had rebuffed her harshly. Didn’t she know tomorrow was pretty serious for him? She had gone to sleep with a long face, one that made her even more unappealing in her hairnet, night gown and un-made-up face.
He sat back in the living room, making and receiving calls. Becoming friends with the Macaulays after the opening was one of his best moves as an aspirant. Their financial support had been phenomenal over the months. All he needed was two more people on his side and he would be well on his way to representing the party in the running for the House of Assembly rep for his constituency. And he had to convince them tonight or his opponent would.
He was dialing the final delegate when his generator went off.
Oh shit! What wrong timing!
He stood. He needed to power his errant generator back to life tonight; after all he had only just filled the tank the day before. There was no way in hell his tank had run empty.
He started to hear footsteps behind him as he approached the back of the house. He pointed his torch in the direction, but found no one.
‘Who’s there?’ he said, hoping his thirteen-year-old son would start laughing from a corner having played a prank on him. Or perhaps his driver had not gone home tonight. Nothing. He continued moving. It’s probably nothing.
He reached the generator. Opening the fuel tank, he realized there was fuel. Everything was fine.
‘What the f…’ He swore, as he pulled the ignition rope. His sentence was truncated by a loud bang.
His body was found, burnt to unrecognizable ashes hours later.