“Martin won’t stop calling,” Mwiche said to the two women starring at her in astonishment.
“I came home from my extra lessons a few minutes ago and I overheard my mother talking to someone on the phone about what happened to you. Martin asked me to keep our mother away from you…but today was kind of….” the school girl scratched the back of her head as she searched for the right words to say.
Sibusiswe’s phone started ringing again.
Sibeso grabbed it from the table before Sibu could stop her and ran outside to take the call.
Mwiche walked over to the bed, removed her backpack from her back and put it down next to the chair she was now sitting on. With her chin resting on her hands and a grin on her face, Mwiche starred at a very startled Sibu, taking in every inch of her resting frame.
“You are very pretty,” the cheerful teenager commented. “Definitely my brother’s type. You look young, how old are you?”
“Aren’t you a little too young to be meddling in your older brother’s business?” Sibu asked.
“My brother and I are very close,” Mwiche informed Sibu. “I am the only person in the world he trusts 100% and we talk about almost everything. He also told me that you’ve been ignoring his calls ever since he left so he asked me to keep an eye on you.”
“Keep an eye on me?” Sibu asked, her eyebrows raised as she looked at the girl.
Mwiche nodded nonchalantly. “As in stalk you,” she said matter-of-factly. “But if it makes you feel any better, the stalking was only restricted to who you were seen hanging out with…as in if there were any men hanging around you, Martin wanted to be informed…I think that’s why we missed the fact that you were pregnant or that my mother would pay you a visit.”
Sibu couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “We, who’s we?”
Mwiche laughed. “That’s Clement and me. Don’t worry it’s not some strangers following you around. Clement has been with our family for years now, he’s practically family.”
“Who the hell is Clement?” Sibu asked.
She was completely taken aback by the girl’s shameless behavior. Could it be that she didn’t know how wrong her actions were or could it be that she simply felt entitled to do whatever she liked given her family background?
“Clement is my driver. He’s such a good soul,” the school girl provided.
“Listen Mwiche,” Sibu put on a stern face. “Don’t you know that what you and your brother…and your driver are doing is illegal?”
“Well,” Mwiche sat up and raised her shoulders. “You might choose to look at it that way but I choose to look at it as looking out for my brother’s interests since he’s away. You are the first girlfriend he’s ever had so you can imagine what he must be going through.”
Sibu was dumb folded. “I am not even his girlfriend!” She said.
“But arent you pregnant for him?” Mwiche asked…and immediately put her hand over her mouth the second she realized her blunder. “I am so sorry….I didn’t mean to….”
“Just because I slept with your brother, once, doesn’t make me his girlfriend. If Martin considered every girl he slept with his girlfriend then he would be the world’s worst playa. So what if I got pregnant, that still doesn’t make me his…and besides, there’s no pregnancy any more so there’s no need for you to hang around me anymore.”
“I beg to differ,” the girl confidently answered. “Martin intends to come back to Zambia and marry you.”
Sibu sat up in bed, completely forgetting about the pain for a moment. “What did you say?”
“I said Martin is coming back, I am sure your friend will come and update you…I believe that’s why he called. He is so mad at mum he no longer cares about seeking her permission to come back.”
“You gotto be kidding me,” Sibu sulked.
Outside the hospital, Sibeso answered the call from Martin.
“Sibu are you alright? Is the baby okay?” Martin’s words came crushing down into her ears.
“Martin this is Sibeso, Sibu’s friend.”
“Ah, is Sibu okay…the baby? Where is she? What exactly happened? Where are you right now?”
“Calm down a bit and let me answer one question at a time,” Sibeso answered. “We are at the clinic right now, somewhere close to home. Sibu is fine…but she lost the baby…thanks to your mother.” She deliberately stressed the last four words.
“Shit!” Sibeso could hear something being hit from the other end of the line. “Is it possible for me to talk to Sibu?” Martin’s voice was raw with emotion.
“Not right now,” Sibeso replied. “She is pretty shaken up and…she isn’t yet ready to talk to you.”
“She is mad at me isn’t it? Oh my God…what have I done?” She could hear him pacing to and from. “How could my mother…I can’t believe this is happening….”
“Although I blame your mother for what happened, Sibu doesn’t agree with me. She thinks it was just an accident. And she isn’t mad at you pe se… She is just confused since everything happened so suddenly.”
“I know…it all happened so fast…but i wish she could have at least told me about the pregnancy then I wouldn’t have come here and nothing like this would have happened.”
“That’s exactly why she never told you in the first place.” Sibeso said. “Besides, she didn’t really think you were serious about her given your…er…past.”
There was silence on the other end of the line for a few seconds, and then, “I know,” came Martin’s tired voice. “That’s why I am coming back next week. I just need to sort out everything here first and then come back for good. Sibu has been through a lot already and the last thing I want is to add more to her problems. I won’t let anything like thing happen again, I won’t.”
Sibeso was grinning like a child that had just been handed her favourite candy bar. “I knew you weren’t completely a jerk…oops…I mean…”
Martin laughed, “I know exactly what you mean. Tell Sibu that I will call her again and this time she should pick up, okay? I think I will go crazy if I don’t hear her voice after everything that’s happened.”
“Don’t worry, I will make sure she answers this time.” Sibeso assured him.
“Thanks Sibeso, take care of her for me. Talk to you later.”
Aunt Tafadzwa had just finished peeling her pile of sweet potatoes and was ready to put them on the brazier when her attention was caught by the Pajero that parked into front of her house.
Living in the backdrops of Kanyama, cars like that could only be seen during funerals and weddings…and there was nothing like that happening in the neighbourhood that fateful morning.
Thus, when a posh looking woman wearing an expression that could only be matched to that of one forced to drop her nose in a pile of cow dang came out of the vehicle and stood outside her grim wired make-shift gate, Aunt Tafadzwa was forced to pause her activities and stare in awe at the scene unfolding before her.
For what felt like an hour, the woman just stood there glaring into the yard from over the short hedge as if the act itself could get the gate to open without her having to lift a finger.
Aunt Tafadzwa could not make out who the woman was given that half of her face was covered by her gigantic sunglasses.
However, even without the shades, her shiny lips, neatly styled razor cut, DVF gown with well-matched shoes and purse said she was someone from another universe.
As Aunt Tafadzwa looked on from Inside the yard, wondering whether the rude looking woman was going to come in or not, she put her cooking tools down and waited for the woman to make a move.
Mrs Mwewa wondered why the woman staring at her was not coming over to open the gate for her. She tried motioning for her to open the gate but the woman only shrugged her shoulders in response.
Does she expect me to touch this filthy looking thing she considers a gate? Mrs Mwewa thought as she hovered her finger over the said gate, her face ridden with disgust.
“Nga tauleingila bwekela eko ufumine,” Aunt Tafadwa shouted from where she was standing, her hands resting on either side of her waist.
She speaks Bemba? Mrs Mwewa said and smiled instinctively as she removed her sunglasses. “Mulishani mayo,” she greeted.
“Are you going to enter or not?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked again, not bothering to mask her irritation. “If you put your hand on the gate and push it forward, it will open.”
Stubborn woman, how can she not be fazed by someone like me? Mrs Mwewa stretched her leg, pushed the gate using her foot and entered the yard.
“How may I help you?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked sternly.
“Are you Bemba by any chance?” Mrs Mwewa asked.
Aunt Tafadzwa threw her an are you serious kind of look.
“You spoke Bemba earlier….” Mrs Mwewa provided.
“Only because I assumed you are Bemba. It’s typical of Bemba women to act the way you did when they visit someone’s home.”
“I find your stereotyping offensive,” Mrs Mwewa shot back.
“Had I not spoken Bemba, would you have entered the yard on your own? You stood there close to five minutes acting like the Queen of England, expecting the whole lot of me to come running to you…. You do know that even the Queen removes her own poop from her ass with her own hands right?”
Okay, I get your point,” Mrs Mwewa said. “I didn’t come here to fight with you…I came all the way here to negotiate with you.”
“Negotiate with me? Do you know me?”
“I got to know about you two weeks ago,” Mrs Mwewa answered. “Is there somewhere we can sit?” She was looking at the Mango tree in the corner of the yard where a mat was laid out below it.
“Do you have a stool or something? I am not a mat person.”
Aunt Tafadzwa wanted stared at her peevishly, her nose enlarging in the process. She grabbed the stool she had been sitting on whilst preparing her food and carried it to the tree. She placed it down to the side and sat down on the mat.
Mrs Mwewa removed a piece of cloth from her purse and laid it on top of the stool before sitting down as Aunt Tafadzwa looked on discordantly, offended by the woman’s out-right impolite behaviour.
“So how may I help you?” A belligerent Aunt Tafadzwa asked.
“Don’t you know who I am?” Mrs Mwewa arrogantly asked.
Aunt Tafadzwa threw her another peevish look. “I’m I supposed to know who you are?”
Mrs Mwewa was outraged. “I am on television and in the papers almost every week, my family too. Are you telling me you don’t know who Mr Martin Mwewa is?”
“No,” came the curt response.
“We own half of the property in this country. Gosh, don’t you read or watch TV?”
“What do you want from me?” Aunt Tafadzwa completely brushed her off.
“Haven’t you heard anything about me or my family from your niece?” The disappointed woman asked.
“Did Sibu do something against your rich family?” She asked sarcastically.
“As a matter of fact, she did.”
“And so you came to me to complain?” The woman wasn’t moved in the slightest.
Mrs Mwewa’s chagrin grew a few inches wider. “I take it you and your niece aren’t very close…I thought you were the only family she has.”
“Look here Mrs Mwelya or whatever they call you,” Aunt Tafadzwa snapped. “What exactly brings you here?”
The plutocrat representative cleared her throat noisily. “Your niece got pregnant by my son, were you aware?”
Finally, there was real emotion on Aunt Tafadzwa’s face. She was petrified, but only for a few seconds. “Sibu, pregnant?” she scoffed. “I think you have the wrong girl.”
“Sibusiswe Hangaala, eighteen years old, works as a front desk manager for M&M, and the breadwinner of Tafadzwa N’cube’s family. Did I get it right?”
“Sibu is pregnant?” It seemed the truth had finally sunk in. “No wonder she’s been avoiding me like crazy these past few months. I hope your family is ready to pay for damages…like you said, that girl is the breadwinner of this family. I certainly won’t accept some bastard child into the family. Your son will have to take full responsibility.”
As Aunt Tafadzwa was talking, Mrs Mwewa gaped at her in total disbelief. “Is that all you have to say to me?” She asked. “No wonder the child went off and seduced the first rich guy she came across. I can only imagine what it must be like being raised by someone like you.”
Aunt Tafadzwa gawked at her visitor, her arms up on her waist. “If you insist on insulting me, then I will go to the nearest TV station and tell anyone willing to listen that the son of one of the richest people in the country raped my niece and made her pregnant.”
“What?” Mrs Mwewa was up on her feet.
“You heard me,” Aunt Tafadzwa stood up as well and faced off with the stranger. “Didn’t you say that you are some big person and your family owns this and that? If you thought coming here in your fancy clothes and car would intimidate me into ordering my niece to leave your son alone, then you got your calculations all wrong. I had no idea my niece was so talented…” and speaking in a lower register, more to herself than her guest, she added, “she went and caught herself a big fish and thought she could hide everything from me….”
“What did you just say?” Mrs Mwewa asked.
Aunt Tafadzwa blinked, waved her hand across her face and smirked. “Never mind that,did you come here to talk about the marriage?”
“What marriage?” Mrs Mwewa didn’t take well to being deafen at her own game. “You think I am going to let my precious son marry someone like your niece? You must be deluded.”
“Then why are you here…and what do you intend to do about my niece whom your precious son has defiled?”
Mrs Mwewa scoffed. “Defiled?” She muttered. “Anyway, I think you and your niece need to sit down and catch up because that girl had a miscarriage only a few days ago and I am not surprised she chose to keep it a secret from you.”
Aunt Tafadzwa froze.
“I came here to tell you to keep a tight leash on her because if she continues to mess up my son’s life, I will personally see to it that her life becomes more miserable than it already is. No one messes with a Mwewa and gets away with it. Who does she think she is…shaking up my son like that.”
“It is true that Sibu and I have some issues but if there is one thing I know without needing any proof, it is that she wasn’t the one that did the chasing. If anything needs stopping, it should be your son. From all that rich education he’s been getting, did he skip the class on using protection?”
The two women stared at each with enough intensity to charge any dead batteries lying around.
“I heard that you are a marketeer,” Mrs Mwewa relaxed her features a bit. “What if I offered to open up a shop for you in a good location, fully stocked, can you promise to convince your niece to stay away from my Martin?”
There was a sudden glow in Aunt Tafadzwa’s eyes as she mulled over the things she had just heard.
Mrs Mwewa smirked upon seeing the effect of her words on the shabby looking woman standing before her.
But then Sibu’s aunt suddenly turned serious as she looked up at Mrs Mwewa. “Why don’t you give me some time to think about it first,” she said. “I think I still need to talk to my niece first so I can understand what’s going on.”
“How long do you need to think?” Mrs Mwewa asked. “…because this offer is only open for a very short time.”
“Two days, give me two days tops.” She said.
Mrs Mwewa opened her purse, took out a business card and handed it to Aunt Tafadzwa. “Call me in two days’ time on any of those numbers and I will tell you where we can meet. I don’t see myself coming back here….” she made a face as she looked around the surroundings.
Aunt Tafadzwa examined the business card in her hands. “I will call,” she said as a smile started playing at the corners of her lips.
* * *
“So you got knocked up by some rich bloke and you decide to keep it a secret from me?” Aunt Tafadzwa had summoned Sibusiswe to her house in the early hours of the next morning after her encounter with Mrs Mwewa.
Sibu was taken aback by her aunt’s words. “How did you….” she stuttered.
Her aunt scoffed. “Do you think there’s anything about you I don’t know?” He retorted smugly.
Auntie….” Sibu started to explain.
Aunt Tafadzwa brushed her hand in the air to shut her up. “I already know that you miscarriaged so there’s no need for you to look at me like that.” Leaning forward in her brown tattered couch in her living room that didn’t suit to be anywhere inside a room meant for receiving guests, Aunt Tafadzwa glared at Sibu threateningly. “Did you think that getting rid of the baby would keep me from finding out?” She said in a menacingly low tone.
“Instead of running around like a headless chicken, you should have been more careful. Do you hate me that much that you got rid of such an opportunity that would have propelled my kids and I up the social ladder?”
Sibu was slowly shaking her head, not believing the direction the conversation was taking. “Aunt, I just lost a child and all you seem to care about is climbing the social ladder?” Sibu angrily rebuked her aunt. “Am I really your niece? Gosh, is this the way to treat the only child of someone you constantly claim you loved with your life?” There were tears welling up her eyes.
Aunt Tafadwa’z eyes danced around in renewed excitement. “How dare you, with that dirty mouth of yours bring my sister into this?” she roared. “If you had not killed my sister in the first place then we wouldn’t be having this kind of conversation.”
Sibusiswe lowered her gaze and starred at the floor guiltily.
Her aunt smirked in satisfaction. “Your future mother in-law paid me a visit,” she suddenly announced.
Sibu looked up at her in disbelief. “Mother in-law?” she quizzed her aunt.
“Yes,” Aunt Tafadzwa replied nonchalantly. “The mother to the father of your child.”
“She is not my future mother in-law auntie,” Sibu corrected her.
“Says who?” The woman curtly responded. “She came here acting all high and mighty, throwing a few figures around like am some sort of fool. But she really underestimated me,” she grinned proudly while her niece looked on with a puzzled look on her face.
“Instead of falling for her short term stupid offer,” Aunt Tafadzwa continued, “I came up with a long term plan that will turn us into billionaires.”
What are you talking about?” Sibu finally asked.
Her aunt had this faraway look on her face as she plotted in her mind. “What is the current status of your relationship with this Martin guy?” She was now looking at her eighteen year old niece expectantly.
“I am not in a relationship with him auntie.” Sibu said between clenched teeth, putting emphasis on every single word.
Aunt Tefadzwa looked like she had just accidently swallowed a bitter pill. “What do you mean you are not in a relationship?” She asked. “Mrs Mwewa already told me everything so don’t even think about lying to me,” she warned sternly. “You are still as selfish as ever. If you think you will keep such a blessing only to yourself while my family languishes in poverty then you have another thing coming.”
Sibu was dumb folded. “Are you even human?” She got up from the sofa that was threatening to swallow her whole bottom and was more than ready to fly out of the room when her aunt’s next words brought her to an immediate halt.
“If you marry Martin even for just a few years and do what I want, I promise to let you go…I will forget everything about the past. You get your freedom…and I get some riches.”
For a moment, Sibu stood there frozen on the spot with her back to her aunt.
The word played around in her head. She had never dared dream of such a thing before….
Freedom, the word echoed in her head.
“I think you should do as my mother says,” a voice commanded from behind her.
Sibu turned around.