The Switch Room

Startled, she turns around as the gate opens. Her eyes lock into theirs as they stare at each other, she in fear. 

“Kaima, what are you doing standing outside? It’s been over fifteen minutes since Muna said he was coming to get you,” her mother asks her. 

“Same thing I’ve been asking her. I came out to get her only to find her sitting here and she has refused to come in,” Muna explains. 

Kaima’s mother looks at her husband as he stares at Kaima speechlessly. 

“So because you burnt her workshop you want to banish yourself, right?” Her mother asks with a stern look. 

Kaima bends her head in shame while her mother’s face loosens up and she takes Kaima’s hand into hers. 

“My darling, the damage has been done. Thank God nobody was killed. So we are not going to turn you away because of a mistake. We’re going to stand by you whatever happens. So let’s go in,” she enunciates. 

“I warned you against going to work there. I told you to stay home and wait for your service but no, you wanted to be an independent girl overnight as if I ever complained taking care of you was a big deal,” her father finally verbalized. 

“Honey,” her mother uttered. “You can’t talk to her like that. She’s going through a traumatic time now and doesn’t need all these from you, please. Come in my baby,” she states as she widely opens the gate and leads Kaima into the house. 

“I went into the switch room to turn on the switch like I’ve been doing for the last five days after I had been taught how to turn on and off the switches. It’s confusing but I know I’m always cautious when turning them on and off. So today, I went to turn on the water switch for the washing and I’m so sure I turned on the right switch. But then the water started flowing into the room instead. It mingled with the engines, they sparked and in a twinkle of an eye, there was a fire in the room and I had to run out,” Kaima narrates to the Policemen who had arrived twenty minutes later and were seated around the dining table with her mother, father, younger sister and brother. 

“So you’re saying you didn’t start the fire, Miss? But you just said the switches are confusing,” the IPO asks. 

“I’m saying I didn’t start the fire intentionally,” Kaima replies. 

“IPO, you heard her narration. Maybe something must have loosened up to make it go wrong,” her mother states and her husband touches her in a bid to silence her. 

The IPO admonishes Kaima’s mother and proceeds to give his inference. 

“You’ll either work voluntarily for your boss for two years or you’ll pay for the switch room in 6 months. It all depends on you. I expect to see you at the station tomorrow to learn about your decision.”

“No,” Kaima says and everyone turns to look at her. 

“No what?” the IPO catechizes. 

“No, I won’t come tomorrow because I already have my answer. I’ll work for her.” 

“Fine then,” the IPO says as he gives Kaima the required document to sign while her father watches in dismay and her mother with sadness and pity. 

“I’m so sorry sis,” Cheta says while she consoles her sister as they all sit in the sitting room talking about what had just happened. 

“Kaima,” a voice says and everyone turns to look at him. 

“What?”, Kaima asks her youngest brother. He hands over the phone he’s holding to her, she receives the phone and sees it’s Cheta’s phone. 

“What am I suppose to do with it?”

“Read what’s written on the screen,” he tells her. 

Seeing Cheta’s reaction, Kaima becomes eager to read what is displayed on the screen. 

As she reads through, her face turns red in anger and she looks up at Cheta in fury. 

“How dare you, Cheta?” She says standing up quickly and moving to hit her but her mother obstructs her. 

“What’s wrong Kaima?” She demands. Kaima presents the phone to her mother who in turn gives it to her father and the disgust they felt at that moment is visible on their faces. 

“Cheta,” her father calls out. 

“So you sabotaged me. You tampered with the switch room and made me burn that place so I could seem like the bad person. My own sister. Imagine her friend is even her accomplice. Why Cheta? Why would you offer to talk to your boss about giving me a job and then turn around to betray me?”

“Will you start talking now or I will give you the beating of your life. Answer her, she’s talking to you,” their father thunders. 

As she shakes all over with fear, “Kaima is a graduate and immediately she got to my workplace, she found favour in the eyes of my boss. Why does she always have to get better things?” Cheta explains sobbing. 

Their mother shakes her head in sudden disappointment as she sits down and watches. 

“You disappoint me Cheta. I had high hopes in you,” her father says. 

Everyone becomes silent for a while. 

“I think you’d have to report her to her boss so they’d give her the punishment she deserves,” Muna suggests breaking the silence. 

“No please, Sister Kaima, I’m sorry I allowed my emotions to get the best of me. I’m truly sorry, please,” Cheta apologizes as she gets on her knees. 

Kaima sits down and remains silent for a while and everyone gazes at her as they wait for her to speak.  

“I’ll do as I have told the Police. And as for you Cheta, I’m cutting you out of my life.” Cheta’s eyes widen in shock. “I don’t want to see or talk to you for as long as I can be able to assimilate what you’ve done. Mum, Dad, I’ll be in my room.” 

With that, she stands up and leaves the room. Their mother and Muna turns to look at Cheta as she sits in the chair with regrets. 

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