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How I lost Sh700,000 in six days – Pensioner after week of partying

Tom Ikonya, 60, learned the hard way that women and beer are not a good combination when you have money you intend to use for business.

Armed with Sh700,000 from selling an asset, Mr Ikonya wanted to relax before reinvesting the sum into a viable business venture.

But that was not to be.

In a span of 6 days, from November 10 to November 17, he was penniless, stranded, and homeless.

“I want my story to be a lesson to others … on what not to do when you come to cash,” he said.

He says he was born in Nyeri County but moved to Kajiado County in 2007 with his family.

He says he intended to relax for a day or two and then venture out into the town searching for premises to start a boiled-meat business.

A plant operator, he says he once worked in a plantation near the town before he was transferred to Kajiado County by the same employer.

“Not from a poor family, I own some assets here and there and, in my retirement, I decided to sell one of them to welcome myself into the world of senior citizens and pensioners,” Mr. Ikonya says.

Once in the town, he proceeded to one bar situated along Police Road.

“For those who know Maragua town well, it is a cardinal rule that if you are not streetwise, you make merry near a police station in case you find yourself staring at machetes in the hands of deranged teen criminals,” he said.

Being a confessed coward, he entered a bar about 100 meters from the police station, which he knew officers also frequented.

“I am a popular fella around here and it was not long before I had company, firstly males and then some females. With cash, my generosity goes up and within an hour, my table was a mini party,” he narrates.

He says he remembers taking about eight beers and paying a bill of Sh6,320.

Trusted woman

“There was this woman who remained stuck on my side … I had not known her but she kept reminding me to be careful … that being rich and drunk was risky. She appeared genuinely concerned and I trusted her,” Mr Ikonya says.

At around 10.45 pm, the bar attendants announced that they were closing because their license dictated they shut down at 11 pm.

“I decided to take a room because the bar also had lodges. They cost Sh300 per night. But the woman who remained by my side opposed the idea. She told me that her place was spacious and she wouldn’t mind hosting me,” he says.

He adds that thinking while under the influence of alcohol is like mixing oil and water. He says it is mission impossible.

“That is how I ended up not remembering that trusting too much was suicidal and when the deal is too good I think twice. All those pieces of wisdom were fairy tales in my intoxicated mind,” he says.

He says there was a friend he bought beer for who attempted to warn him about the woman.

“But the woman overheard him … she kissed me on the lips and I forgot the warning. After another kiss, I was following her outside the bar, to board a motorcycle and within 10 minutes, I was in her house watching TV. She lived alone,” he says.

He won’t reveal much about life inside that house “but it is safe to tell you that I bathed, ate and slept like a king”.

Not once, not twice … for six days. He says God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh, the very time it took him to use his Sh700,000 and become poor.

Daily routine

“The daily routine was waking up, praying together with the woman, bathing, taking breakfast, conversing about this and that, venturing out and into different bars and retiring back to the house for the night,” he says.

The woman had listened to his boiled-meat business plan and immediately drawn him a budget that totalled Sh250,000. As security for sluggish growth, he was advised to withdraw Sh350,000.

“I presented myself to my bank, withdrew the amount, and handed it to her. Plus earlier withdrawals, my account balance by day three was slightly over Sh260,000,” he says.

On day four, the woman announced that she had paid for the business premises and was shopping for workers who knew how the business worked.

“She also told me there were licences to be paid for and I had to part with a further Sh100,000. She also wanted me to loan her Sh50,000 for an emergency. I honoured those demands. So far so good, I thought,” he says.

“On day five, I made several withdrawals because I had decided that too many trips to the bank were tedious.”

On the sixth day, at around 4 pm, during their sojourn in a bar, the woman announced that she was leaving for an emergency and she would be back after an hour.

“She handed back my ATM card. I did not sense anything amiss. I also noticed that there was a parcel that she left behind and it contained my clothes. I did not give it much thought. I continued ordering more beer,” he narrates.

By 10 pm, the woman had not returned and her phone had been switched off.

“There was a crisis now because there was a bill of Sh3,100 staring at me and I had no cash in my pocket. I had exhausted what was in my pockets. The rest of the cash was with my woman,” he says.

In retrospect, he now says he has realised wisdom comes late in life after stupidity has unleashed its venom and done the damage.

“I now had to take charge of my situation. A crisis sometimes sobers people up … I felt sober as a nagging discomfort hit my stomach and at a distance, I could feel a headache building. Things were certainly elephant,” he says.

ATM shocker

He asked for permission to go withdraw cash from a nearby ATM.

Permission was granted on the condition that a worker would accompany him. He agreed. And the motorcyclist to take him was to be chosen by the bar manager. He agreed to that too.

“In the ATM lobby, the first shock was that of ‘you have insufficient funds to withdraw Sh10,000’. He asked for the balance and the second shock hit him like a thunderbolt. I had Sh8.78 as the available balance,” he says.

Mr Ikonya says all the alcohol in his system sublimated into the air and a factory reset sort of feeling engulfed him.

“I was so blind, now I can easily see … It was 10.30 pm. I requested my detail to take me to the woman’s house. They did and it was locked from the outside. I called her number and she casually picked up. She announced that her military husband was home from Somalia and they were in a nearby bar,” he says.

He says he had heard of stories of men who became poor in such a version.

“I immediately knew I had become yet another boy child to be conquered by the girl child … Not by force, by very peaceful means. I knew the moment of reckoning was here with me,” he says.

He called his elder brother and explained that he was in an emergency that required a Sh10,000 bailout.

“My brother did not hesitate. Via his bank, he transferred the amount to my phone number. We went back to the bar. I paid my bill and took a room. The following morning, I was back to my Ruiru home to take stock of my six days in hell,” he says.

The following day, without the woman to defend him from marauding gangs, he was mugged in broad daylight as he left a bar where he had gone to ‘unlock’’.

He says the two muggers first demanded money from him saying “for all those days you have been accessible owing to that criminal woman you had recruited as your guard”.

He adds that the muggers got away with some cash and his national identity card.

It was at the Maragua Police Station, where he had gone to make a lost ID report, that Nation.Africa found him, and he volunteered to tell his story.

He now says he will soon get more cash because he had organised himself well during his productive days.

“But this time round, I am going to do three things: get born again in the Christian faith, cease my love for alcohol and keep away from adventure. The spirits have revealed to me that if I succeeded in doing that, I will live long to see 2065,” he muses, adding that he is not remorseful and harbours no vengeance.

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