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Part 3: Love and Life

Chapter 1

Elizabeth gives birth to twins – Vera and Becky. While Vera is forceful and develops rapidly, Becky is slow but beautiful and vivacious.

The country is experiencing turbulent times and a state of emergency in Kenya forces Elizabeth to relocate to Aluor for the safety of her twins and a newly born boy. Mark’s mother is unhappy with Elizabeth’s decision to go back to Aluor with the children but Mark defends her.

Due to loneliness, Mark finds himself in an affair which ends when the girl lies that she is pregnant. Mark resolves to go to Aluor to see his family.

At Aluor, he is received well by the children but Elizabeth castigates him for deliberately ignoring her letters. She decides to go back with him to Nakuru which he accepts. Though the neighbours report Mark’s infidelity to her, Elizabeth chooses to keep quiet about it.

Chapter 2

Kenya gets her independence and many jobs are available for Africans. Mark pursues further education and in 1967 is promoted to Manager.

The family expands to seven with the addition of Tony, a set of twins (Opiyo and Odongo) and Mary. Mark is very helpful in the house unlike other men. Vera is brilliant at school and becomes School Captain – the first girl to do so. Becky does not exert herself and performs averagely. She is also selfish, jealous and hates her sister Vera.

The two girls sit for their CPE exams and Vera secures a place in a national school while Becky can only be admitted to a district school. Ironically, Vera forfeits her place in the national school to join Becky at Riverside High School.

Chapter 3

The boys’ adventures in the river almost turn tragic when Odongo nearly drowns. The twins reveal the incident to their parents and severe punishment is meted on Aoro and Tony.  They are sent to bed without dinner but sneak into the kitchen late at night. Elizabeth catches them in the act and serves them.

One night, Tony falls ill and is taken to hospital where he is diagnosed with acute appendicitis. He is admitted and operated on. Aoro and Vera are shocked while Becky is not bothered. Tony’s case triggers Aoro’s interest in medicine.

Chapter 4

Aoro carefully observes Tony’s wound from the operation and tries to operate on a frog. He is impressed by his work when the frog leaps away after the ‘operation’.

Father Peter visits the family and announces that he is to be made a Bishop. He develops a special friendship with Tony. Although Mark is Catholic, he is not as devoted as Elizabeth. He is, therefore, reluctant to let one of his sons become a priest.

Meanwhile, at the age of seventy, Maria is lonely. The twins are sent to Aluor to keep her company and to learn some responsibility.

Aoro performs well at CPE and joins one of the best schools in the country. He is excited to be finally ‘free’ from his parents’ vigilance. At school, he has a poor discipline record and is sent home on suspension. Mark sends him out to fend for himself and gives him one month to vacate the house. He stays for thirty six hours without food. He regrets his actions, apologizes and promises never to misbehave again. He is taken back to school.

Chapter 5

Elizabeth’s difficult pregnancy with the last born is highlighted. Both mother and child are in danger and she is referred to a national hospital.  She stays at the hospital for one and a half months and has to have induced labour. The baby – whom she names after her mother – is skinny and is not expected to survive. The girl, however, lives and becomes healthy. She also becomes Mark’s favourite child.

Vera, Becky and Tony sit for their national exams that year. The relationship between Vera and Becky deteriorates to a point where they trade insults and almost exchange blows. Their mother steps in the room just in time to separate them.

Chapter 6

The examination results are out and the children excel. Vera is admitted to a national school for her ‘A’ Level while Tony gets thirty six points and joins Aoro’s school. Becky, on the other hand, does well enough, but wants to get a job as an air hostess. Mark insists that she must continue with her studies.

Mark receives a telegram from Aluor that Nyabera is sick. He drives with Elizabeth to Aluor, where they find that Nyabera has had a stroke. Elizabeth stays with her mother for the night but early the following day, she succumbs to her illness.

The burial of Maria is conducted by father Thomas and she is laid to rest beside her mother, Akoko. This marks the end of an era in the family. The river that had once almost dried is now rejuvenated by Elizabeth.

Chapter 7

After the death of Maria, the twins are back at home and are enrolled in school. The Sigus expect to have five candidates sitting for national examinations the following year.

Vera grows into an attractive mature girl and Becky is jealous of her. Boys start taking interest in Vera but Mark is protective of her girls.

Tommy, a university student, is persistent and invites Vera to a movie. Vera shocks everyone in the family when she gathers the courage to ask her father for permission to go out with Tommy. Mark and Elizabeth agree to accept the request.

Aoro is focused in his studies and hopes to study medicine. Father Owuor is now Bishop of Kisumu. The examination results are out. Aoro and Vera perform excellently while Becky’s performance is dismal. One of the twins – Odongo – does not do well and has to repeat. Becky chooses to run away to Nairobi where she hopes to become an air hostess.

Chapter 8

Vera joins university and finds that life is full of freedom. The women’s hall of residence – “The Box” – is the hunting ground for all. There are two types of girls: The ‘Mercedes’ type associates with the rich while the ‘clipboard’ type associate with fellow poor students.

Tommy and Vera become good friends and he proposes to her. Vera rejects Tommy’s proposal saying that she does not want commitment. In her loneliness and confusion, Vera decides to go and look for her sister, Becky.

The two girls meet at the airport and decide to go to Becky’s flat. They discuss about their lives and in the end, Vera points out that Becky has not changed much after all.

Chapter 9

Vera pays Becky a visit at her residence. She is mesmerized by her affluence. They are joined by Becky’s fiancé, John Courtney, a Canadian pilot.

Vera persuades Becky to take Courtney to Nakuru to meet their parents. Becky is, however, fearful that they will reject him and that she has never felt part of that family.

Courtney comes back from the other room and supports Vera’s idea. Becky, finally, accepts to go to Nakuru but not with John.

Chapter 10

Vera, who is now a second year student at the university, is assigned a roommate called Mary-Ann. The two get along very well. Vera talks with her about her break-up with Tommy and her strained relationship with her sister, Becky.

After reading a book titled, “East Eden” by John Steinbeck, she starts to question her Christian faith which she realizes she has been practicing as a routine.

The following Saturday, Mary-Ann invites Vera to a ‘recollection’ session with an Opus Dei priest. After the service, she feels peaceful.

Vera chooses a new path in faith as she reads books given to her by Mary-Ann. She seeks more enlightenment and she decides to change her life – just as her grandmother Akoko had done many years ago.

Part 4: Variable Winds

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