The Isabelle dilemma

Tembo confirms he got played, but there is some relief in the news

In Summary

• The troubles in Inspector Tembo's love life are traced back to wife's miscarriages

We come from getting Millicent’s pickles that her pregnancy craves, only to realise Mrs Tembo knows about Isabelle, her husband Inspector Tembo’s mistress. The tension at the police post is almost palpable.

Huyu ni nani?” she yells at Tembo, holding his phone aloft.

“Pum’kin,” he says softly.


Usiniite Pumpkin. So, what do you call her, Mango?”

“Pumpkin is a term of endearment,” I quip to cool things down. “Mango is just a fruit.”

“And it’s Pum’kin,” corrects Inspector. “Isabelle is blackmailing me. That’s all.”

“What’s your pet name for me?” Millicent asks me.

“Why would I have one?” I ask her. “But if I did, it’d probably be thorn melon.”

Millicent is aghast.



“Because you’re a thorn in my back!”

“That’s no way to talk to your girlfriend!” says Tembo.

“She’s not my girlfriend!”

Nyamazeni! Don’t change the subject.” Mrs Tembo refers to the phone. “So, a blackmailer writes… I can’t even read this.” She hands the phone to Millicent. “Help me, please.”

“‘Xikuwa na ubaya’,” Millicent reads. “‘Ni vile xwtie ulikataa mkdi wako.’ She says the Inspector denounced their baby.” Millicent turns to Tembo. “Damn, Inspector. How old is she?”

“I don’t know. Twenty, maybe?”

“Are you sure?” Millicent asks. “She texts like she’s 17.”

“No,” I chip in. “She texts like her phone is missing the letter ‘S’ and several vowels.”

“My cowife is twendi?” Mrs Tembo screams. Hand on her forehead. “Jeso! Your daughter would’ve been twenty-five!”

“Don’t bring that up!” says Inspector Tembo sharply. I’ve never seen him this authoritative. “You know how I feel about it.”

Suddenly, Mrs Tembo deflates. Eyes drop to the floor. All energy drains out of her.

“I knew this was gonna happen eventually. It’s all my fault. You blame me for all those pregnancies I lost. That’s why you wanna have kids with other women.”

“No, Pum’kin. It wasn’t your fault. It just happened. Can we go home and talk about it?”

“I’ve always felt guilty for not giving you kids. That’s why I never said anything even when I first saw the texts between you two.”

“You knew about it all along?” Tembo asks. Shocked.

“I know about Doreen, too. And Cynthia. And the others.”

Millicent elbows Tembo in the ribs. Playfully. “You’ve been sowing your oats, you old cow, haven't you?”

“Nothing happened,” Tembo said. “We just talked.”

“That’s true,” affirms Mrs Tembo. “I’d have known.”

“But how?”

“Your password for everything is 1234, Matumbo. I read your texts all the time.”

“No wonder my M-pesa balances come up short all the time!”

“They wouldn't if you were more generous to your wife.”

A bulb lights up in Tembo’s head.

“So, that’s why you’ve always been so hard on me. You knew my every move.”

“Actually, I was kinda pleased you had a mkidi with Isabelle. I hoped it would satisfy you.”

“Why did you change your mind?”

Mrs Tembo scoffs.

“Are you blind? That kid is Chinese!”

“I knew it!” Tembo punches the air victoriously. Realises he shouldn’t be celebrating and calms down. “I mean, that conniving…”

“Bitch?” Millicent helps.

“Bastard?” I add.

“Female!” Inspector Tembo finally finds his word.

Mrs Tembo pats her husband on the back.

“My philandering Matumbo doesn’t even know how to curse,” she says. Smiles.

“Now I don’t care what she does,” says Tembo. “I feel like a free man.”

“Not so fast, Matumbo.” Mrs Tembo points at Millicent. “We still have to talk about her!”

“What about me?”

“You’re pregnant, yet Makini keeps saying you’re not his girlfriend. That means it’s Matumbo’s, right?”