Category: Hannice Knight

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 10.3

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.


Knight after Knight. Chapter ten, part three.

The day after we arrived back in Dar, Lindy told us that Roger was starting his move into Nocturne that day. Max and I agreed that we’d put off organising our office space so we could help out a little. Lindy, bless him, pointed out that we were both more than seventy years old, so shouldn’t attempt anything heavy. Cheeky little sod!

I spoke with Roger later in the day, as we were helping him to move his stuff into Nocturne. He was happy to give me details of the letting agent who controlled the house he was leaving, and even gave me a letter addressed to the agent explaining that he was leaving in order to move in with his spouse following his marriage and that he believed that Max and I would make excellent tenants. He told me that the letter didn’t mention the gender of the person he had married, explaining that the lettings agent was probably the most traditional, stick-in-the-mud person you’d hope never to meet. Whilst he had no reason to give in to her petty-mindedness, he did say that he wanted to keep her on-side in case he needed to use her services again. He also gave us his key and directions to the house.

Before handing the letter over, we thought it advisable to take a look at the house to make sure it would be suitable for us. Apart from one of the bedrooms being larger, significantly so, than the other; a topic that Max and I would doubtless need to discuss at length; it was perfect in dimensions and rooms, and was in immaculate condition.

“You wouldn’t think, to look at it, that there’s been a single man living alone in it for a good few years, would you?” I asked Max.

“You’ve never seen Lindy’s house then?”

“Of course, but Lindy is Lindy. I’d expect him to keep his house pristine.”

“It looks like another thing Lindy and Roger have in common. I think Nocturne is in excellent hands.”

I didn’t argue.

We visited the letting agent, gave her the letter and introduced ourselves. Naturally enough, in keeping with what Roger had told us about her, she was a long way from happy that we had not gone through the ‘proper’ channels to rent the property, but she was at least cognisant of our background of living and working in Dar, and our bona fides as business people. We paid the requested deposit by bank transfer and took possession of the property.

Our next stop was at a furniture store where, after a lot of discussion and compromise, we chose and bought the furniture we’d need as a starter pack so we could live in the place. We paid extra, quite a lot extra as it happened, to have it all delivered before the end of the day. Having made something of a show of leaving Nocturne, we didn’t really want to go back again, apart from to collect our few possessions. We then went our separate ways: Max headed off to a store where she could buy white goods and equipment, and all the soft stuff – bedding, linens, towels and the vast array of things needed to turn a house from a shell to a home, and arrange for it all to be delivered. It’s amazing how quickly things can happen, and how much traders will go out of their way to help you if you wave enough cash around. No way could I handle that, I’d be sure to forget all sorts of essentials. Her last call was to a supermarket to do a grocery shop to fill our larder and the fridge and freezer. For my part, I toured all the new car showrooms and finally selected and bought a small, all-electric car that would be more than adequate to handle our trips around town. Longer trips would, according to our business plan, be funded by clients on a true-cost basis.

When I called Max, she told me she was just leaving the supermarket, so I told her not to hail a cab; I’d pick her up. She didn’t. I did. She signalled her approval of my choice of transport.

“You’ve done well,” she said, “it’s a bit smaller than you’re used to, but it’ll be fine for around town. Fun, too.”

“I’ve done well? I’ve taken three hours to buy one thing. How many have you bought?”

“Oh, God knows. More than one, that’s for sure.”

We returned to a bare house. No furniture, no nothing. An hour later, a large van arrived from the furniture shop, heralding a flurry of activity and leaving us with all the furniture we had ordered. At least we had comfortable chairs we could sit on and beds to sleep in. Whilst waiting for the white goods and other items, we busied ourselves by emptying our suitcases into wardrobes, cupboards and drawers. Oh yes – you won’t be surprised to learn that I ended up with the smaller bedroom. By the end of the day, we were fully kitted out with all the white goods, cleaning and cooking equipment; the freezer, fridge and larder were well supplied, and we were in a solid position to move forward with our lives.

The next day was set to be the day we organised our office space.

The first thing we found when we arrived at the office was that Lindy had allocated a parking space to us, and there was an available charging point for our little car. I didn’t plug it in straight away as it had only done seven or eight kilometres since I drove it away from the showroom with a full charge in it. Our office space was labelled HanMax Consultants and its door gave access without going through the Knight Trading office. Inside was a reception area and two side-offices, one each for Max and me. Each office was fully equipped – mine looked a lot like my office when I last used it as Regional Director, whilst Max’s replicated her office as it was before she left to take up her permanent place in Head Office. Lindy called from the reception area whilst we were in Max’s office. We went out to join him.

“What do you think, Boss?” he asked, clapping his hands excitedly.

“What do I think?” I responded, “I think you’ve excelled yourself. How did you manage to make the offices as they were?”

“Lots of photos, mostly. I thought you’d like something familiar.”

“Lindy,” Max said, “we don’t need familiar, but we do appreciate it. I may want to make some changes, though.”

“I expected that, Max. Let me know what you want and I’ll have it purchased and installed. Same goes for you, Boss. I’ll have the catalogues brought in for you.”

“No need for that, Lindy,” I said, “we’ll deal with it and it’s right that we should pay for the furniture and equipment we want.”

“Disagree, Boss. HanMax is paying Knight Trading rental for furnished and serviced offices. If you want to pay for the furniture and equipment you buy, it’ll upset the financial arrangement that we negotiated and it could leave me unable to make use of your services.”

“Not at all, Lindy. We’re friends, aren’t we? And we can deal with these things as friends.”

“No, Boss. Well, yes. We are friends, but we are also business partners, and we must respect both relationships within their realms.”

“You’re right, of course,” Max said, “we don’t want anything that happens in a business context to impact negatively on our friendship. Have the catalogues from your preferred suppliers brought in and we’ll let you know what we want. Okay, Hannice?”

“Very well. I just want to maintain separation from Knight Trading.”

“Don’t sulk, Hannice, it’s most unbecoming. But listen. We are keeping separate, except that we’re acknowledging that we have a contract with Knight Global for the rental of furnished and serviced offices. We must let them fill their side of the contract.”

“Why didn’t you say that before?” I asked, trying to defuse the situation I had created.

 

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 10.2

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.


Knight after Knight. Chapter ten, part two.

I joined Max and Sophie in the village after my call. The camper was parked outside the building where the chief and shaman had their offices and which also served as the main community hall for any meetings or functions that needed it. I opened the outer door and stepped inside.

“Hodi!” I shouted, remembering the convention. Few houses boasted doorbells or knockers, particularly in out-of-the-way villages such as this one; the accepted practise was to open the door and call hodi loudly enough to be heard around the house.

“Karibu,” Kanene replied. Karibu means welcome, and it is the usual response. Her voice seemed to be coming from the room on the right, behind a half-open door that bore a plaque announcing the office’s occupant to be Evaristo Nchimbi – Village Chief. I entered the office.

The chief stood and leaned over his desk to shake my hand. He was a tall young man, probably in his mid-twenties, and dressed in what I assumed to be traditional garb – a heavy-looking, full-length, floral garment that looked as though it took a long time to put on, topped by an elaborate, feather-festooned head-dress.

“Evaristo Nchimbi,” he said grasping my hand firmly, “You must be the famous Mr Hannice Knight.”

“Definitely Hannice Knight, Chief Nchimbi. Don’t know about famous, though.”

The chief laughed. “If not famous, then certainly well-respected by reputation, Mr Knight. Now the formalities are over,” he said, carefully removing his head-dress, “I can safely remove this. As I was explaining to your colleagues, I am more comfortable in western-style business attire, but the villagers expect their chief to look the part, hence my decorative but impractical clothing.”

“No need to explain, Chief Nchimbi. Hmmm… Nchimbi… don’t I know that name?” I asked.

“My father; adoptive father, actually; was Dr Kitwana Nchimbi. He ran the Jont Orphanage until his retirement. My natural parents died—”

“AIDS?” I asked.

“Actually, no. They were both workers at the orphanage and were killed in a road accident on their way back from the capital. As they had no real family left to look after me when they had to go away on business, I stayed with the Nchimbis. After they died, well, I just never left. Eventually, Kitwana and Makena legally adopted me.”

“And now you’re the village chief. Well, I’m very pleased to meet you, Evaristo.”

“Evaristo has brought us up to date on what’s been happening in the village and in the area generally since we were last here,” Max said.

“I understand this is your first visit, Mr Knight,” Evaristo said.

“Hannice, please,” I replied, “yes. I have been closely associated with the Jont Orphanage and met your adoptive father on a number of occasions. However, apart from a few business visits to Arusha and Dodoma, and one memorable trip to Ngorongoro, the quarter of a century I spent in Tanzania never took me more than a couple of dozen kilometres from Dar-es-Salaam.”

“A pity,” he said, “that was your loss.”

“I’m beginning to realise that. I know that, for many years, Max has taken a special interest in the problems faced by people with albinism, Chief. How is that working out now?”

“That’s a very good question, Hannice. The answer, I’m afraid, is mixed. When I was young, it is said that one of the nation’s most influential shamen issued proclamations that were binding on all shamen and which effectively outlawed the practice of using body-parts from such people in any spells, incantations, medicines or anything.”

“Would that shaman have been Afolabi Fonseca?”

“I don’t know the first name, but my parents often spoke of a Doctor Fonseca and the records confirm it. Had you heard of him?”

“I should say so. Max and I had business dealings with him over an extended period,” I said then, looking towards Kanene, “apart from which…”

“Afolabi Fonseca was my father,” Kanene said.

“You are the celebrated Kanene Fonseca?” he asked.

“Kanene Fonseca, yes; I am she. Celebrated? I think not.”

“Celebrated, yes, and revered. All the very best houses are inspired by the Kanene Fonseca Interiors web catalogue. Few of us can afford to have KFI people design our interior and furnishings, but almost everyone I know is in awe of the designs shown on the web site, and we do what we can to emulate them.”

“Would it be crass of me to compliment you on your English, Evaristo?” I asked, “Where were you educated?”

“The Nchimbis paid for me to be university-educated in England. They said it would give me the best start in life.”

“Where did you go?”

“Oxford, the African Studies Centre.” He pointed to a framed certificate in the wall behind his desk. I got up and went for a closer look, where I saw that Evaristo Nchimbi had been awarded the Oxford University’s BSc in African Studies. I signalled that I was impressed, and took my seat again.

“It looks to me as though your background suits you for a much more important position than village chief,” I suggested.

“I agree,” he said, “and I intend to go further, but one step at a time. I am only twenty-six years old, Hannice. For my next steps, I want to be a regional politician by the time I am thirty and a member of parliament by forty.”

“And what is your ultimate goal?”

“What else? President,” he said emphatically.

“That is a big ambition,” Kanene said, “but here’s a deal. Get in touch when you have a seat in Dodoma. I will personally come and oversee the design of your home.”

“That’s a deal,” he said.

I brought the conversation back on track. “You said that the situation with people with albinism is mixed. Care to elaborate on that?”

“After Dr Fonseca had issued the instruction, there was a notable reduction in killings and mutilations. That lasted for a few years, but it’s starting to creep back up again. What hasn’t changed is the attitude of ordinary people to albinos. Many parents who give birth to a baby with albinism still reject the child. In a number of cases it’s the father who wants nothing to do with the child, forcing mother and baby out, often condemning them to a semi-feral existence or worse. The lucky ones find a place for the child in an orphanage or with a family that already has such children, whereupon the mother returns to her home.”

“Were your parents—”

“Albino? No, but they were already working at the orphanage when I was born, so I didn’t suffer the way many do.”

“And your condition has never been an issue for you?” Max asked.

“I wouldn’t say never. I was raised and educated at the orphanage, so that was fine. There were a few incidents at Oxford, but they were minor and there weren’t many of them.”

“What kind of incidents? Were they to do with your albinism or your race?”

“A bit of both, I suppose. Some of the other black students took a while to accept me because of my albinism. One or two implied that I shouldn’t join black-only activities, that I was practically white. That hurt. Also, I had to have special provision to protect me from the sun and to get the lighting right for me – you know that albinism brings other troubles with it, one being vision problems?”

“Yes,” Max said, “I’m aware of many of the problems your condition brings with it.”

“Well, some kids didn’t like that I had what they saw as special treatment. That all blew over after there was a visit from an outfit called—”

“Under the Same Sun, by any chance?”

“Yes, Max, Under the Same Sun. As part of a module on minority groups within an African community, they gave an illustrated talk on albinism, its causes and effects. They didn’t pull any punches, either. They spoke at length about the persecution, the maimings, the killings. Sat at the back, I could see how uncomfortable it was for some of the black students, and listening to their questions, it was apparent that they thought all of the stories were just that, stories. The speakers didn’t single me out, which was good, but I was approached by a lot of the students afterwards and asked to give them a talk about my background, my condition and my future as I saw it. I had no problems after that. I think what changed their opinions more than anything else was when I compared albinism with diabetes or HIV – not in terms of its ultimate effect on those living with it, obviously, but in terms of the extent to which all three conditions cause you to modify your lifestyle, to look carefully at your choices every day, and to need understanding and acceptance from the community at large. Some of the students were diabetic and at least two were living with HIV. They all admitted that they neither sought nor received any special treatment beyond what their condition demanded and they all became my champions. Further discussions revealed more parallel groups: people on the autism spectrum, people suffering from anxiety and other mental challenges and more. By the end of the course, we all had an appreciation of and empathy for our fellow human beings in all their conditions.”

“And now you want to get into politics to enable you to achieve in the general public what you did at university?”

“Amongst other things, yes.”

“Well,” I said, handing him our card, “we’d like to help you in any way we can that’s compatible with our mission. Although not a charity per se, we are non-profit, self-funded and ask only for our reasonable and necessary expenses for any work we do.”

“What do you want of me?” he asked.

“We came here wanting nothing,” Max explained, “but having spoken with you, we’d like you to be our man-on-the-ground in this area.”

“And that involves…”

“Simply let us know when you see a situation that needs or would benefit from our help. I’ll email you full details of our backgrounds, mission and capabilities once we get back to Dar.”

“For friends of my parents, how could I possibly refuse?”

We shook hands and left Evaristo to his duties. As we closed his office door behind us, I heard him mutter to himself, “How about that? Doctor Fonseca’s daughter…”

With that meeting under our belts, the rest of the week became little more than a sightseeing tour.

On the return flight, I asked Max, “What did you make of Evaristo Nchimbi… really?”

“It’s well outside my area of competence,” she said, “but I think we’ve just got a future Prime Minister and maybe even a future President on board.”

“More than that, Max, the first Prime Minister and the first President with albinism.”

“And he knew my father,” Kanene said.

“Knew of him, Kanene,” Max said, “I’m not sure he ever met him.”

“Maybe not, but he knew of him and revered him.”

“And through him, he has a respect for you that is greater than he had before he knew who you were.”

“I’m not sure I like that.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because I am Kanene Fonseca, Interior Designer, and I want to be known and respected as that, not as Afolabe Fonseca’s daughter. You should understand that, Hannice. Weren’t you once seen as no more than your father’s son?”

“I was, Kanene, and it took a lot of work to be recognised for who I was, rather than for who my father was. But, like you, I did it through hard work and showing that I could do the job. By the way, I thought your offer to do up his home when he becomes an MP was inspired.”

“Thanks, it was. It was inspired by my determination to be accepted and respected on my terms, in my own right.”

“It worked,” I said, “and I hope you know that Max and I will back you to the hilt.”

“Thank you, Hannice. I really do appreciate it.”

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 10.1

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.


Knight after Knight. Chapter ten, part one.

As we approached the first of the villages we meant to visit, both Max and Kanene started to express disappointment. Neither has been into this area since very early in Max’s tenure and they both noticed significant changes in the villages and in the roads leading to them. I hadn’t ever been this far into the interior and had only publicly available imagery to guide me. Although I hadn’t looked up this area on line for three or four years, I didn’t see anything here different to what I had expected.

“What has changed, Max?” I asked.

“For a start, these metalled roads,” she said, “when we first came here, these were unmade dirt tracks.”

We entered the first village. The signposts pointed to the school, the clinic, the community hall and the chief’s and shaman’s offices.

“That sign’s new,” Kanene said, “but then, so are most of the things it’s pointing to. Do you remember a clinic, Max?”

“Not in this village. If you remember, when we came here to talk about HIV prevention, we had to do it in the community hall, which was where the nurses from the orphanage held their clinics.”

“You’re right. I can’t see the old chief wanting a sign directing all and sundry to his office, either.”

“And I’m sure the shaman never had an office. In fact, didn’t the one shaman cover nearly a dozen villages?”

“I think the word you’re looking for is progress,” I suggested, “You can’t expect anywhere to stay the same for more than twenty years—”

“Except Nocturne,” Max suggested.

“Different thing.”

“How?”

“Any changes to Nocturne represent functional and aesthetic evolution; a mixture of cosmetic updating and incorporating new technologies.”

“So what is different about what’s happening here?” Kanene asked.

“Here,” I said, “they are being provided with services, functions and capabilities they never had before. I doubt there’s anything cosmetic about it. I mean, how is a thumping great satellite dish in the middle of the village green aesthetic?”

“Beauty, my old friend, is in the eye of the beholder,” Max said, “One man’s feature is another man’s carbuncle. I’m going to be interested to find out how the local people are acclimatising to all these changes.”

“You do that while I call David. There seems to be a good enough signal here, and my phone is fully charged. I may even try facetiming him.”

“Use group facetime and you can include Jess in your conversation.”

“I didn’t know you could do that,” I said.

“Is your OS up to date?”

“Probably, whatever an OS is.”

“Let me check,” Kanane said, stretching a hand towards me. I gave her my phone. Her thumbs flew about doing who-knows-what and she smiled.

“You’re good,” she said, then showed me how to do a group facetime. I wondered what had happened to that naive village girl who used to clean my house for me.

“You, Kanene, are one smart lady,” I said.

“I use it all the time. Ooh. Look at the hotel sign. Free WiFi, it says.”

“Thanks. I’ll try it.” I got out of the vehicle and walked towards the hotel. Sure enough, they offered free WiFi. I switched on my phone, checked that my VPN was active and accepted the invitation to join the hotel’s WiFi network. My IT guys had drilled me never to use anyone else’s network access unless my VPN was connected and explained why. It made a lot of sense, and that’s now one instruction I’m eager to follow. The internet connection was good and I initiated a call to David.

“Hello, Dad,” David said. I didn’t recognise the place where he was.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“Team-building day, Dad. We’re at the country club.”

“Sorry, is it a bad time?”

“Not at all. Half-hour break before we do the next bit of silliness. Shall I call Jess in?”

“Is she there?”

“Yes, but she’s with the rest of the women. It’s a guys versus gals football match next. I can make this a three-way session, though. Wait small.”

The screen flashed a couple of times then split and I could see David and Jess in separate parts of the phone.

“Hiya, Dad,” Jess said, “You’re looking well.”

“Feeling well, too. I had a decent night’s sleep last night, the first since your Mum died.”

Jess smiled and nodded sagely.

“Listen, kids,” I continued, “I know you’re busy so I won’t keep you long. Just to let you know how things are going here. As you can probably see, I’m way out in the bush. We’re visiting some villages that Max and Kanene – she’s with us, too – came to see way back when. They’re chatting to some of the local dignitaries now, to outline our services and to catch up.”

“Sounds good, Dad,” David said, “How are you doing – you know?”

“These women are terrible. They made me join in a session with them yesterday. First Max told us how she met Mum, what Mum did for her and so on. Then it was my turn. I did as much as I could, but I kind of lost it after a while. Then Kanene said a bit. I’ll tell you what, though.”

“What’s that,”

“After that, I know I can talk about her and think about her. And I know that I’m not losing my marbles because I’m talking to her – in my head, of course; not out loud.”

“That’s fabulous,” Jess said, “it sounds like you’re getting exactly the therapy you need—”

“But would never ask for, nor probably accept, if we offered it,” David added.

“I’ve been doing some thinking,” I said, “The reason we need professional counsellors and therapists is, at least in part, because we don’t have the networks of family and friends that we would have had in earlier times. Well, I do. You guys are great, but you’re busy and a long way away. Max is my oldest friend. She knows me better than anyone outside family. Kanene is a trusted friend, too. I’ve known her for thirty-odd years. She’s also a very wise and compassionate woman. And I’m outnumbered two to one.”

“It seems to be helping.”

“It is. It’s helping a lot. I feel ready to throw myself into this new venture.”

“Where are you staying?” Jess asked.

“We’ve got a big motorhome for now, but when we get back, we’re staying in the guest rooms in Nocturne for the time being.”

“That’s the company house, yeah?”

“That’s right, but we’re hoping to move out soon. If we’re aiming to keep our venture separate from KGT, it’s probably not a good idea to have the same address.”

“I can see that. Where will you go?”

“Well. You know that Lindy has married his boyfriend, Roger? He’s moving in to Nocturne—”

“Has he had approval for that?”

“Would he have needed approval if he’d married a woman?”

“Of course not.”

“Then, as far as I’m concerned, he doesn’t need it now. Anyway, Roger is moving in, and Max and I will attempt to take over the lease he has on his city centre flat. And before you say anything, it’s a three-bedroomed, two-storey flat and yes, we can afford it.”

“But—” David started to object.

“But nothing, David. Let your father live his life. Don’t try to tell him how.”

“But I just—”

“You just nothing,” Jess interrupted, “You’re doing great, Dad. We’re delighted that you’re accepting and handling your situation, and particularly happy that you have identified a project that you and your oldest friend can do together. Aren’t we, David?” Did I detect gritted teeth there?

“Yes, Jess. Of course we are,” David replied with an air of resignation.

We closed the call. At least two of us are happy with what I’m doing.