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Short Story: The expat’s soggy mess

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From the back seat of the luxury car, Andre Dubois stared at the Kenyan countryside balefully. Though a small man, he was intimidating. Next to him, Mark sat looking even gloomier.  ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH |

From the back seat of the luxury car, Andre Dubois stared at the Kenyan countryside balefully. Though a small man, he was intimidating. Next to him, Mark sat looking even gloomier. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH |   NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NGUMI KIBERA

Posted  Friday, May 15   2015 at  14:29

Mark O’Brien Riensen took a pink serviette, wiped the remains of lobster from his mouth and leaned back, a glass of wine in his hand. His companion also finished eating and leaned back.

“So what do you think of Kenya, Mark?” asked Bill.

“Great, so far. Lots of sunshine and amazing wildlife. Frankly, I also never expected they would have some of the best hotels in the world here. Paula can tell you she was also surprised.”

Paula nodded. “I especially enjoy the Coast. Have you been there, Loreen?”

Loreen glanced at her husband uneasily. “Er, not really. Bill has been too busy at work.”

Mark turned to Bill. “What do you do?

“I work for Global Aid International. Right now I am overseeing operations at the refugee camps in the north.”

“It must be rewarding,” Mark said.

Bill nodded, trying, unsuccessfully, to mask his troubled thoughts. His recent report to GAI headquarters had recommended the repatriation of refugees, citing the improved situation in Somalia.

GAI had reacted sharply, terming the report ill-conceived and a threat to donor funding. They had reminded him that his own high-paying job and other expatriate perks depended on it. They had even reduced his budget by 30 per cent, saying his salary now depended on how he well he advocated GAI’s interests.

“What do you do?”

“I’m with O’Deal International,” Mark said. “O’Deal plans to enter the Kenyan market and I’m here to assess the competition, the main one being Meriweather Beauty Care Ltd. Shall we have a nightcap before we go?” he asked as the waiter cleared the table. “It’s still early.”

“No, I think we better be going. I have an early start tomorrow,” Bill said, as he and his wife glanced at the bill worriedly. “Should we go Dutch?” they said.

“It’s on me,” Mark said, secretly enjoying his ability to host. “You two have a good night.”

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