(In Draft form)
The walls narrowed in around Kondwani. Never before had he felt suffocated by his large and well-furnished office. With every word that fell out of Alicia’s mouth, the harder it became for him to breath.
“Please, tell me, what was that I heard?”
Different words put together to form a sentence but all carrying the same meaning, the things spoken by Alicia from the moment Kondwani laid her down on the chair from the lift after she had momentarily passed out.
“Can you leave?” Kondwani addressed Doctor Kayombo who had followed them to the office.
It was obvious he was an unwelcome guest in Kondwani’s office but for some reason he could not get himself to leave. He had been the one to open the cane of worms and more than the pleasure of seeing Kondwani brought to ruin, he was concerned about Alicia’s welfare.
“I need to talk to Alicia, in private.” Kondwani told the unflinching Kayombo whose eyes were glued on Alicia.
Alicia slowly lifted her pounding head up to look at Kondwani. “Sam will only leave if you promise to tell me everything, the whole truth.” She implored him. “No more secrets, no lies, please.”
Kondwani went to kneel before his girlfriend but he could tell just how distant they had become in that short time by the hurt and untrusting look in her eyes…and how her body flinched at his touch the moment he came in contact with her. He could already feel her slipping away.
“I promise.” Was all he could say in that moment. He then turned and motioned Kayombo to leave.
“I’ll be somewhere close by,” Kayombo said. “Just shout if you need me to come and-“
“Samuel!” Kondwani thundered and the doctor quickly left the room.
“Are you going to tell me what’s going on now?” Alicia asked, her hands shaking from all the possibilities playing in her head. “What Kayombo said,” she stuttered. “About Nicolas’ accident…how…I mean, how is your mother involved? And you,” she was looking at his hands that where holding hers at this point.
Slowly, she lifted her eyes up to look him in the eyes. “How are you involved?”
Kondwani dropped his head into her hands which were placed on her laps and sighed heavily. This was all so sudden and expected. How was he supposed to explain to her that his own mother had been behind the wheel of the car that killed her fiancé and father of her child? Just how was he supposed to tell her that he had been the one to cover up everything just to protect her? How was he supposed to tell her that despite knowing who she was, he had dared fall for her and accepted her heart?
As far as he was concerned, there were no words in the dictionary he could use to deliver such truths and achieve a different outcome from the one expected. No matter how much he tried to paraphrase or sugar-coat or even make excuses for his actions, there was nothing on the face of the earth that could stop him from paying the ultimate price of losing her.
A minute had gone by and Kondwani’s head was still buried in her laps, the pregnant silence lingering in the air heightening her panic.
A fresh cold streak of tears rolled down her cheeks.
Alicia’s worst nightmare had just come alive.
She slowly but determinedly forced Kondwani from off her laps and removed her hands from his. “What did you do?”
Kondwani could not risk looking at her. He could feel every ouch of her distaste in the air and it was burning him at the tips of his fingers where he had just tried to touch her.
She was now sobbing.
Alicia got up from her chair and started rocking Kondwani from the floor where he was still kneeling, his head dropped in shame, afraid to look up and face her judgement. So this is what the end felt like, he thought as he surrendered to her frustrations. Alicia was gripping his shoulders and shaking him back and force with a vengeance.
“Tell me the truth Kondwani! Tell me!”
Something foreign was happening to him from the floor where he was still kneeling. He had first felt the coldness against his skin and when he looked down at his laps he saw the spot where his tears had just fell.
In seconds Kondwani was transposed from present to future, to a time when he had last cried out of fear, when he knew his life was about to a take a turn of no return…he, a man that never showed his hand or fear to anyone.
“He’s gone,” Kondwani had heard the doctor’s words from behind the wall where he had been hiding.
“He didn’t stand a chance.” The doctor had said to the family of the young man. “He was brought in late…he lost a lot of blood.”
Kondwani’s insides had turned upon hearing those fateful words and before his mouth could give way to whatever was boiling inside him, he had ran, almost bumping into the girl that was now rocking his senses back to reality.
Theirs was a fate delayed and time had come to collect its dues.
There was no escaping this time around, Kondwani reasoned. He grabbed hold of Alicia’s hands to stop her from hitting him any further and slowly he raised himself from the floor.
“I am so so so sorry baby.” He still could not bring himself to look her in the eye and so he kept his head down.
Kondwani put his hands on her shoulders and carefully seated her back on the chair in front of his desk. “I know that I am a son of a bitch, and a coward too…so, am going to stand over there by the window as I tell you everything but please Alicia,” this time around he raised his head to look at her.
“Promise to hear me out all the way to the end.” He said. “Please, don’t walk out until-“
“Just tell me.” Alicia cried. “I feel like I am going to lose my mind waiting. I am so scared my heart’s about to give in!” She was almost jumping in her seat as she said those words.
Kondwani let go of her hands and walked to the window on the other side of his desk, his back to her, hands in pockets and eyes fixed on the ground below where people and cars kept moving about as if the world was not just about to end…at least from where he was standing, the end had just come.
“Eight years ago my mother started working as a housekeeper for this rich family in Makeni.” Kondwani started. “Years back my father had left her, and us, me and my three siblings for another woman. For a while my mother was depressed and she struggled to take care of us. She couldn’t get a job and even when she managed to find one she couldn’t keep it because she was always in and out of hospital.
“It soon became apparent to me that if I don’t step up to save my family, my siblings would have a hard life and worse, we would lose our mother to depression because she kept getting worse by the day. I worked odd jobs here and there, whatever I could get. Years passed and my mother had gotten better and against my will she decided to take up that job in Makeni after a friend of hers convinced her that it was a good family to work for and the pay was good.
“I have to admit, the pay was very good and with it she could sent my two youngest siblings to school.” Kondwani continued. “It lessened the burden on me because I was really struggling with work and school. And that was how my mother started working for the Mulako’s.”
“That’s the name Kayombo had said.” Alicia recalled the conversation she had overheard in the car park.
Kondwani turned to face her, back leaning against the wall. “Yes,” he nodded. “The family of the former Minister of Lands.”
Alicia gawked at him in disbelief.
“That night of the accident,” Kondwani continued, eyes lowered down. “My mother was not supposed to be driving. The last time she had driven was when my father was still around and even then she was still learning.”
Alicia immediately put two and two together and started to shake her head, slowly as she waited for Kondwani to confirm her worst fears.
“She had been so desperate to get that job that she lied to Mrs Mulako and said she could drive.” Kondwani said. “My mother was about to knock off from work when the rich madam made a request to her; she had to pick up some item for her in Chilenje. The place was far and it was late but my mother would have probably managed if not for the fact that it started raining.”
Alicia got up from her seat, still shaking her head in disbelief. “Nooo-“ she kept repeating as tears cascaded down her face.
“My mother might have caused that accident that night Alicia but she didn’t kill your boyfriend.” Kondwani quickly added. The trepidation on Alicia’s face was enough to send anyone running from the room.
“What do you mean she didn’t kill Nicolas?” Alicia asked. “My Nicolas died because of that accident so how can you look at me and tell me that his death isn’t your mother’s fault? Wasn’t she the one behind the wheel!?” Alicia’s voice kept rising as she talked.
Kondwani could sense the direction the conversation was going to take and so he moved to stand by the door. He wanted to ask her to calm down but he knew better than to aggravate her any further. Alicia looked about ready to explode.
“I’m sorry babe, that’s not what I meant.” Kondwani said.
“Then what did you-“
“I meant that even thought my mother caused the accident, she was not responsible for his death because…because…someone else was.”
“Someone else?” Alicia asked. “Who?”
Kondwani took a deep breath before speaking with his eyes closed he said, “Me.”
Alicia’s heart was racing and the pounding was threatening to drown all other sounds in the room. “What do you mean you? No.”
Kondwani put his hands in his head in sheer helplessness and opening his eyes slowly, he faced the woman he was about to lose for forever. “I am the reason Nicolas could not be saved.”
It was as if she had been waiting for the words to completely come out because the moment Kondwani finished his sentence, Alicia broke out in sobs, her hand quickly going over her mouth to stifle her cries.
Kondwani went over to her but as expected she kept him off, backing away from him until she could move no more; she had reached his desk.
“You killed my Nicolas?” Alicia sobbed. “And I, I…” the rest of her words were caught up in her throat. She put her hand over her mouth and was about to throw up on it Kondwani placed his bin in her hand. Alicia went down on her knees, coughing and throwing up into the bin.
Kondwani tried to get closer to her again but she shoved him like a plague. “Don’t touch me!” She yelled.
Despite her rejection, Kondwani passed her a box of tissue and then a bottle of water before putting a ‘safe’ distance between them.
Not trusting her own legs to hold her up, Alicia gave in and slumped her body on the floor, crying and coughing at the same time. All Kondwani could do was watching her closely and uncomfortably from the side, afraid to take a step closer lest she threw something at him.
“What did you do?” Alicia asked when she cleared her throat a little bit.
Kondwani put his hands together and coiled slightly on the face before he could bring out the words that could never ever be taken back.
“I know that back then I might have felt justified in doing what I did,” he stated. “But right now I can’t even bring myself to give you those reasons, the excuses….”
Because how does my need to protect my family, my mother…the woman who had already seen the worst of the world…how does it triumph over what you lost Licia? Six years ago it did, even then I knew it shouldn’t have…but…but I needed my actions to make sense. Kondwani thought to himself. I even hated you for showing up in front of me and forcing me to face the reality of what I had done. I thought you were my karma but gosh, you are more of a victim here than my mother ever was, than any of us ever were because at the end of the day, a man’s life was lost and no one took responsibility for it.
I am that man that should have been responsible but instead, I went straight for heart, drew you in and ended up doing the same thing I did to your man six years ago.
And worst of all, I killed us Alicia. I killed us.
“I was still chasing my medical ambitions the evening I received a call from my mother six years ago.” Kondwani said instead to her. “She was crying and she informed me that she had caused an accident. It was her first time driving after years so you can imagine her state of mind.
“The streets were dark and it was raining heavily. She was frozen behind the wheel, shaking.” Kondwani continued. “She couldn’t move. I am ashamed to say this to you but in that moment I didn’t care about anything else but my mother and I won’t lie to you and pretend that the doctor instinct in me should have worried about the well-being of the other driver.
“I never became a doctor because of some calling or spiritual need.” Kondwani said. “I became a doctor for very selfish reasons; the profession was prestigious and I knew a way of making more money out of it so yeah, I don’t have the natural doctor heart.”
“Just get to the point.” Alicia told him.
“My point is,” Kondwani said. “I was a fool. I asked my mother to get away from the scene and I rushed over there to make sure nothing could point back to her. She had already told me that the driver in the other car had not moved and I could count the possibilities in my head.”
“I spoke to your mother earlier,” Alicia remembered her meeting with Mrs Chileshe, how fragile and soft-spoken she had appeared. To think that that woman….
“How can she talk to me in such a manner when-“
“My mother doesn’t know who you are and she also has no idea that someone died that night as a result of that collision.” Kondwani explained.
Alicia’s jaw dropped to the ground. “What do you mean she doesn’t know?”
“I told you, I had to protect her.” He answered. “She was still recovering from years of depression and I was afraid we would really lose her this time around if she discovered what had actually happened. It was very selfish of me, I know.”
“How was it so easy for you people to manipulate everything to your will?” Alicia asked.
“On my way to the scene I called the Mulako woman to let her know about the situation because I knew that she wouldn’t want the public knowing that the poor woman she was overworking had killed someone behind the wheel of a car she had no business driving during a late night errand she was not even going to be paid overtime for. In short, I blackmailed her and true to her nature she sorted out everything.”
“Did she pay the cops? Because they said Nicolas was the one at fault and-“
“Mrs Mulako did more than pay the cops,” Kondwani informed her. “She also paid a huge sum of money to the mother of the victim’s mother under the guise of condolence offering but they both knew it was hush money, something to ensure the family didn’t-“
“Wait a minute,” Alicia said. “When you say the victim’s mother-“
“Yes, I mean your child’s grandmother.” Kondwani confirmed. “She was given enough money to last her a life time. I am sure you have heard for yourself how loaded the Mulako’s are.”
“Before we get to that,” Alicia said, waving her hand in the air and shaking her head as if to steady its spinning. “You said that you’re responsible for Nick’s death; what did you mean by that? Nick didn’t die on the spot, he died at the hospital.”
“I know that,” Kondwani said, eyes filled with unshed tears. “But that wouldn’t have been the case if I had called the paramedics earlier.”
He waited for her reaction and it was nothing short of expectation. Alicia fell backwards into the chair, her hand over her mouth.
“Everything was happening so fast that night and my major concern was to make sure my poor mother didn’t get into any trouble so-“
“So you sacrificed Nicola’s life right!?” Alicia shouted and started crying. But then she suddenly stopped crying and looked up at him. “When did you know who I was?” She asked him.
Kondwani had been waiting for that question to come. The petrified look in Alicia’s eyes was literally begging him to say that whatever she was thinking was not true but at the same time every part of her body was begging him to tell her the truth.
“The very first day we met.” Kondwani stated simply. Two thick drops of tears fell from Alicia’s eyes.
“Licia-“ Kondwani tried to move closer to her but Alicia abruptly stood up.
“You knew and yet you still allowed us to happen?” She asked.
“I tried Alicia,” Kondwani said. “I tried desperately to keep things from progressing between us but with each passing day it became harder and harder to stay away from you.”
“Well then you should have tried harder or better yet fire me!” She snapped. “I would have preferred anything else to the…the disgusting thing…whatever this thing that happened between us was.”
“Nothing about us was disgusting.” Kondwani said with a face set in stoic. “Yes there’s no excuse for what I did and I recognize that allowing things to happen was too low of me but don’t for a second be mistaken into labelling our romance otherwise. I genuinely love you Alicia and I know for a fact that just because I am a bastard and you feel like killing me right now, I know that your feelings for me where genuine.”
“How can you talk about feelings in this moment?” Alicia asked, a repugnant expression on her face.
Kondwani sighed deeply. “I know nothing I say in this situation is ever going to win me credits.” He said under his breath but looking up at her he said loudly; “All am saying is that my love for you is real, yes please, don’t look at me like that.” He added in response to her raised eyebrows.
“If what you did to me despite knowing the truth is called love, then I would love to see what you do to those you hate.” Alicia’s tone was filled with sarcasm.
“You can question everything about me but please, don’t question my love.” Kondwani stated in an icy tone. “Yes, I lied to you when I kept the truth from you but in my own selfish way I thought that was the only way I could get to keep you.”
“You say you love me!?” Alicia pointed a finger to her chest, her whole demeanour confronting Kondwani in all possible ways. “Did you ever stop to think about the position you were putting me in when you were busy showering me with love?”
I never even got to shower you with anything, Kondwani thought to himself. “I thought about you, always.” He said. “Gosh, there’s no single day that went by that I didn’t question what I was doing. I kept telling myself, one more day, just one more day…until today happened.”
“So how do you expect me to face my son or Nic’s family after what I know today?” Alicia asked. “How do I tell my son that I am in-love with the man that killed his father?” she sobbed.
“Alicia-“ Was all Kondwani could say having been sternly warned to keep from touching her earlier.
“How can you do this to me?” Alicia cried. “What does this make me?”
“What, was it pity?” She asked. “Did I look that pitiful or desperate to you? Was it guilt?”
“No!” Kondwani said.
“Did you think you could absolve yourself of your sins by taking care of the widow?” She asked.
“No!” Kondwani repeated. “Alicia, far from it.”
“I remember this one time,” she said. “We were at that restaurant where you took me after we spoke on the phone. I had been crying and you said you wanted to cheer me up. You looked at me and said something about paying back a debt. Is that it? Is that what you’ve been trying to do with me all while? AM I some guilt project to you?”
“Oh my God Alicia!” Kondwani could not fathom how clueless she was sounding. Didn’t she know how much she meant to him? Hadn’t she seen all the change she had brought in him as a man? Didn’t she know how much he longed to be with her every second? Didn’t she know how much he had risked just to be with her? How can she not know something so obvious?
“My falling for you had completely nothing to do with your connection to Nicolas.” Kondwani told her. “Yes, maybe at the beginning I felt guilty every time I looked at you. and yes, it was my guilt that drove me into helping you get your son back. At some point I even thought I marrying you would be one way of me lessening my guilt BUT,” he quickly added when he saw her breathing heavily and looking about ready to throw something heavy at his face.
“But it all changed somewhere along the way,” he said. “I don’t know when it changed…but I remember this one time vividly in my head when I knew without doubt that it was more than just guilt. It was in the changing room,” he recalled. “You looked at me shyly and said you think you might be in-love with me.
“It was very sudden and unexpected.” He continued. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined you saying those words to me first. The sincerity in your voice caught me by surprise and shook me all over again. I knew right then that things between us would never be the same again.”
“So I short I brought this on myself right? That’s what you’re trying to tell me isn’t it?” Alicia asked.
“Oh my gosh no Alicia!” Kondwani said in frustration.
“Then what is it?” She asked. “If I hadn’t said those words to you we wouldn’t be sitting here right now and I would have never discovered the things you and your family did.”
“I highly doubt that.” He said. “If you had not said it, I most probably would have said it to you myself in due time.”
Alicia hung her head hopelessly and rubbed at her eyes. “How do I tell my son…my family…God what have I done?”
“I think the only person you should be worrying about is your son.” Kondwani said. “Your former in-laws on the other end owe you an apology, especially your mother in-law that Mary lady.”
Kondwani’s mention of Mary’s name reminded Alicia of their confrontation at the hospital when Kondwani humiliated the woman and asked security to drive her out. How was she supposed to know that there had been more going on there than she could ever imagine?
“I just don’t understand why Aunt Mary would do such a thing.” Alicia said. “All these years, she’s treated me like her nemesis when in actual sense she…no, it just doesn’t make sense.”
“Desperate people do desperate thing, especially when it comes to money.” Kondwani said. “But Alicia,” he lowered his voice a notch. “I know that you’ll probably hate me more for saying what am about to say but, I need to ask you a favour.”
“What?” She asked.
“If you’re going to report the accident,” Kondwani said. “Is it okay if you put me behind the wheel instead of my mother?”
“What?” Alicia asked in disbelieve.
“Am saying,” Kondwani took a deep breath. “No, I am begging you, please, leave my mother out of it and put everything on me.”
“So you actually expect me to report this to the police?”
Kondwani looked surprised by her question. “I thought you-“
“Do you think that’s what’s important right now?” Alicia cried in disappointment. “You care so much about your mother, I get it, she means everything to you…but, but…what about me?”
Kondwani looked confused, not sure what to say. It was true his mother was his major concern but it didn’t take his concern for Alicia any less.
“Fine.” Alicia said and stormed out of the office.
By the time Kondwani realized what had just happened, Alicia had disappeared from sight and he had to spend the next thirty minutes searching for her around the hospital.
“Where’s she?” Kondwani had stormed into Kayombo’s office all hell and thurnder in is approach.
Kayombo got up from his chair. “What do you mean where’s she?” HE asked. “I left her in your office a while ago. What did you do you son of a-“
Kondwani went after him and glared him down. “Say what?” He dared him straight in the face.
Kayombo back away from him.
“Yeah, I thought so.” Kondwani said arrogantly and left the room the same way he came in.
Kayombo grabbed his jacket from the rack, grabbed his keys and dialled Alicia’s line as he ran out of the room. Her phone kept ringing until it could ring no more. he tried calling her again but this time it was off.
Mary Kabwe was watching TV with her three daughters, two of her nephews Stephen and the six year old Billy after a huge dinner prepared by her children for her birthday when Alicia unceremoniously joined their company.
“Alicia,” Exhildah guiltily addressed her late brother’s girlfriend.
“I see your hands are empty,” Mary sarcastically remarked, oblivious to the fury burning from every inch of Alicia’s face as she glared at her. “If you were going to invite yourself to my birthday, the least you could have done is bring my grandson along.”
“I want to talk to you, outside.” Alicia said, not bothering with pleasantries. She had never before spoken to her former mother in-law or her sister’s in-law in such a manner and the shock was written all over their face.
“Is everything okay Alicia?” Stephen had stood up and gone to stand by her side, his eyes closely searching her face. “You don’t look so good.” He observed. “Did something happen?”
“I just need to talk to your aunt here then maybe I might be fine if she makes me understand the things she’s done.” Her eyes were filled with tears just thinking about the betrayal and the suffering she had had to endure at the hands of the woman who sold away her own son’s life for a quick buck.
Alicia had always wondered where exactly Mary’s wealth had come from but she never bothered to pursue answers thinking it was none of her business. Now that she knew the truth, everything made so much sense.
“What’s wrong with this girl?” Rose, the youngest of the sister’s stood up to confront the disrespectful girl in their midst. “You’ve suddenly grown wings now that you’re sleeping with your doctor bosses ah?”
“Rose!” Exhildah went to pull her young sister away. “Don’t mind her, she’s still the brat that she was from the moment she came out of mum’s womb.”
“What brings you here Alicia?” Mwila, the mysterious, soft spoken first born of the Kabwe family asked her from where she was seated, next to their mother.
“I am so sorry to burge in like that but I really need to talk to your mother in private.” Alicia provided.
“Don’t you know what today is?” Mwila asked.
“I had forgotten but I think it’s very clear right now.” She was looking at the cake pieces on a tray on the table.
“Why am I not surprised?” Mary said in her usual sarcastic tone. “And since when do you talk to me like that? Sowing your true colours now that got your rich boyfriend to get your son back?”
“Should we just talk here or we go outside?” Alicia said. “I think it’s better to talk in private out-“
“Can’t you am with my children right now?” Mary asked. “You can say whatever you want to say right here. It’s not every day I get to have my whole family here with me. I can’t lose time by going outside to talk to you of all people. I thought you knew me better than that young lady.”
“Why did you accept their money?” Alicia went straight to the point, not wishing to spend any more time than expected in that kind of company.
“What are you talking about?” Mary’s gaze was still fixed on the whatever movie was showing on the tele, not giving Alicia her time of day.
However, Stephen had already picked up the meaning behind Alicia’s words and quickly jumped in for damage control. “Aunty,” he went to sit next to his aunt on the couch and taking her hand into his said; “I think you should go out and talk to Alicia in private, right now.”
But Mary refused to budge. Whatever Alicia wanted to say to her, she was gonna have to say it on her terms. Mary patted her daughter Mwila on her back in a motion to move her from where she was seated and the moment she was up, she stretched out her legs in front of her and got comfortable.
“Alicia-“ Stephen quickly went in for more control.
“If she wants me to talk here then I’ll talk.” Alicia stated defiantly. “I am talking about the money you got from Mrs Mulako.” She said and watched with satisfaction as she worn a desperate reaction from the woman.
Mary jumped up and went straight at Alicia, grabbed her hand to lead her out of the room but Alicia remained rooted to the spot. It was her turn to refuse to budge now.
“Let’s talk about this outside.” Mary’s guilty and pleading eyes said to her.
“You are the one who insisted on us talking here so let’s talk.” She said defiantly. “Let’s talk about the hush money you received from the people responsible for your son’s death and how you’ve spent the last six years blaming me for everything when you knew very well that-“
“Wait,” Mwila went to stand between the two women. “What hush money are you talking about? Mum? Alicia?” She was looking to and from the other. “Mum?”
It was Stephen’s turn to rush in. “Ladies, ladies,” he said. “How about the two of you talk outside in private.” He started pushing them away.
“Steve,” Exhildah called out to her cousin. “Do you know what’s going on here?”
“What hush money is she talking about?” Rose too chipped in.
“And what about Nicolas’ death? What’s that about?” Mwila asked, her gaze fixed on Alicia. “Is there some development in his case? Did they finally find out that he wasn’t responsible for the accident?”
“I think your mother here knows exactly what am talking about.”
“Mum,” Mwila turned back to her mother. “What is Alicia talking about?”
“I don’t know what she’s talking about, obviously she’s confused about something or misunderstood something.” Mary quickly dismissed her. “Let’s talk outside.”
“No,” Alicia stated simply. “I have changed my mind; I want to talk about this right here with everyone around. Maybe this is exactly what I need to finally move on with my life.”
Mary nervously started looking around the room at the faces of her family. There was no missing the suspicion and curiosity in them.
“What is everyone doing!?” Mary shouted. “Get this girl out of my house right now!” And she put her hand over her forehead to feign a fainting spell.
Exhildah pointed to her cousin Stephen who was standing very close to her mother, “Help her sit down.” She said and Stephen did as instructed.
“And you’re going to tell us about this thing Alicia is accusing you of mum.” Exhildah added once her mother was safely seated.
Mary sat up in the sofa, shocked that her fainting spell had no effect on the eager ears of her children. I am going to kill you Alicia Daka for this one, she thought to herself.
Mary was about to open her mouth to say something when a knock came on the door. She turned to Exhildah. “Is anyone else coming?” She asked. “I thought you said your husband-“
Before she could finish her sentence, the door swung open and there on the other side stood a visibly upset Claudia Chileshe standing next to a now loudly sobbing Mwansa.
“Who the hell are you?” Rose asked the two intruders, scanning them from head to toe with a disdainful look on her face.
“Mrs Chileshe?” Alicia gaped at the woman.
“Mwansa?” Stephen said at the same time as Alicia. “What’s going on here?” he walked towards the two women standing by the door. Mwansa however, said nothing in return, she just kept crying.
“Alicia, what are you doing here?” Kondwani’s mother asked, obviously surprised to see her there. “Do you know these people?”
“Mwansa, what are you doing here?” Stephen asked again.
Claudia turned to look at the young man addressing her daughter. “You must be the famous Steve right?”
Stephen threw Mwansa a questioning look but the twenty-two year old kept her gaze lowered.
“We went to your house but your mother said we would find you here.” Mary provided.
Mary slowly raised herself from the sofa and approached the people at the door. “Who are you people?” She asked. “You know them baby?” She asked Stephen.
“I know her,” he gestured towards Mwansa. “She is my ex-girlfriend and am guessing that this is her mother.”
“What is your ex-girlfriend and her mother doing at our house at this hour?” Rose asked Stephen.
“How do you know these people Alicia?” Claudia asked Alicia.
On Alicia’s face where all shades of confusion ever registered on a human’s face since the birth of Christ. For the first time since hearing the truth about Nicola’s death, Alicia found herself engaged in an eternal battle that would force her to make a decision against her own conscious. In that room were two groups of people; the ones responsible for Nicolas’ death one hand and the ones who suffered as a result of that death on the other hand. Unfortunately for Alicia, both groups of people fit into either category perfectly.
In as much as she was dying to call out Claudia for her role in Nicolas’ death, how could she do so knowing very well that the woman had absolutely no idea just how much damage she had caused and if she heard the truth in such an environment, just what might happen to her as a result of the shock?
Kondwani’s words kept ringing in her head;
…I had to protect her. She was still recovering from years of depression and I was afraid we would really lose her this time around if she discovered what had actually happened.
But what do I care if she lives or dies? Alicia wondered silently. Because of her I lost Nicolas and my child will never meet his father. Because of this woman I have spent the past six months paying a price for a wrong I did not commit.
And she turned to the woman in the room with whom she had another score to settle; Mary Kabwe. Just what wouldn’t she give up to make the nefarious woman face the consequences of her sins right in front of her whole family? For years she had embarrassed and tortured her any chance she got over her son’s death when the actual truth would shock to the core her very own children.
The desperate and curious faces around her told her that she had the power; she was the only one in the room who knew the connection between the two families and she was the only one with the power in her mouth to speak out and shutter to pieces their perfectly manicured million-dollar lives.
“Mum?” Someone called out to Claudia from behind her.
Alicia could recognize that voice even in her sleep. But what was he doing there?
“Wani?” Claudia starred wide-eyed at her son. “What are you doing here?”
“What is this now, a family reunion?” Rose remarked sarcastically.
Alicia walked passed Claudia and Mwansa standing by the door and stepped out to address Kondwani. “What are you doing here?”
“I figured this was the only place you could have come.” He said but quickly turned to his mother and sister. “What the hell are the two of you doing here? And why’s she crying?” He pointed at Mwansa.
“This foolish girl came home crying, saying some boy had impregnated her and then dumped her.”
“What!?” Stephen asked, pushing passed his cousins to confront Mwansa who still couldn’t bring herself to look up at him or anyone else. “I impregnated you?” he scoffed. “I impregnated you?” He kept stressing the word.
“Did you just laugh?” Claudia asked the tall young man.
“Stephen?” Alicia called to him, her mind going straight to her sister Belinda. As far as she knew, Stephen was in the process of fixing his relationship with her so what was he doing here with…someone none other than Kondwani’s sister?
Just how twisted were their loves entangled together?
“You’re pregnant!?” Kondwani roared at his sister and then turned accusing eyes at Stephen.
Stephen raised his shoulders in innocence. “I didn’t!” he quickly defended himself. “I never even slept with her!”
“What’s going on here Stephen?” Mary asked.
“Are you related to these people Alicia?” Claudia asked the beautiful nurse.
Kondwani turned petrified eyes in Alicia’s direction, the look on her face a clear reflection of everything that was going through his own mind.
How did this happen?