The New Landladies in Town
Perhaps he was renowned for the simple life he led. If there was any frugal person under the sun, it was him. Unbeknown to many back then, he was also a miser. For, despite being in a good salaried government job, he denied self and his family the luxuries of life. He used public transport to commute to his work, having turned down the company’s offer for a car based on his seniority. His children attended local public schools, unlike those of his colleagues who were schooled in high end private schools as has become the norm for children of civil servants. If you asked him why the choice of school for his children, he would have told you private institutions were mere cash making business entities.
Mr Rukungu, for that was his name, was an equally likeable man. Though he was a bit of a reserved person, he would freely mingle with his neighbours in finding solution to issues bedeviling the community. However, he was always a subject for snide remarks, with speculation he was blowing his fat salaries on women.
“How can a man who works for the government lead a simple commoner’s life?” many would ask.
The village know-it-all speculated the man had a parallel family, and augmented their claims with the days he would take off to attend to his duties or government facilitated workshops within and without the boundaries that he was indeed spending time with his other parallel family or families.
Then Mr Rukungu hit that magical retirement age and was retrenched. To many, he was retiring to a life of penury sustained by the pension that would come his way. That was not to be.
Mr Rukungu may have anticipated for the future, and planned to invest his retirement benefits and savings in an income generating project. Little did many know he had secretly purchased few prime parcels of land close to the periphery of the town. And in one plot, he immediately embarked in putting up a four storey residential apartment, and commercial rentals in another.
He knew his investments, plus share dividends in the stock market, would ease his sunset years, and take care of his family.
But his spouse had other plans. She was a plump matronly looking woman. Like the rest, she was surprised by the sudden ‘windfall’ her husband had invested in the real estate business with. All along he pretended to be poor but was hoarding money? She wondered.
It seemed Mr Rukungu made the best investment deal at the best of time. All his residential and rental units were taken up, with the combined monthly income averaging above a million shillings. It would take a couple of years to recover on the initial investment, with the consolation being he built from savings of over three decades, and had not walked down the familiar path of taking bank loans.
Mrs Rukungu got details of her secretive husband investments income from a young man working with the commercial agency managing his properties. She could not believe the man had money stashed in his equally secret accounts but subjected his family to a life of frugality.
Mr Rukungu was thinking of putting a commercial block at the heart of the town. There was a plot with a diminutive building he had been paying for in installments and was few installments away to acquiring it. But he never lived to fulfill his dreams.
He died suddenly. It was alleged he died of heart attack.
Tenants in the late Mr Rukungu’s buildings are used to seeing a landlady making rounds each month end. The once matronly housewife looks like a chubby young woman full of life. She is mostly accompanied by a young agent who shows her parts of the buildings needing renovations, repairs, or dealing with a stubborn tenant.
A worrying trend is almost 70% of rent collectors in Nairobi are women, whose husbands died mysteriously!