The morning before he was to travel back home, Martin asked to meet Sibusiswe at a restaurant close to Ted’s place.
“Why didn’t you tell me that you and him were now seeing each other?” Was the first question Martin fired at her before she could even sit down.
For a man that usually carried himself like an Emperor of the Universe, Martin was looking a little worse for wear that day. His eyes were sunken deep and had huge circles around them like a man deprived of sleep for too long a time. There had only been one time when Martin had looked like that and that was the day after his surgery.
Something inside Sibu broke. She wanted to reach out across the table and hold his hand but she also knew that doing so would only complicate things further. And so she sat back and opened her ears to listen.
“Why did it have to be Ted Sibu? Of all men in the world…why him? Was I really that bad to you that you would do me like this?” Martin was on the verge of crying but he kept fighting away the urge. The last thing he needed was to appear like a weakling in front of the woman who already thought the worst about him.
“Martin,” Sibu slowly started. “My relationship with Ted has nothing to do with you.”
Martin knotted his hand into a fist upon hearing her words…
My relationship with Ted.
All along he had prayed and hoped that despite everything he had heard and seen…that perhaps it had simply been a bad dream…that nothing was really going on between them and just like she had done in the past, Sibu would tell him that nothing will ever happen between her and Ted.
But the ease with which she delivered the confirmation threatened to tear his insides to pieces. He was suddenly awakened to the reality of just how much power lay in words because in just those few words, Sibu had managed to break his heart and shutter whatever little hope he had desperately clung onto ever since their divorce.
Somehow, Martin had convinced himself that if he truly changed for the better and became the kind of man that would be good enough for Sibu, he thought that without a doubt she would take him back.
For the first time in his life he had made a commitment to become a better man and he had stuck to it. He might not have been perfect, but he had done his very best to make up for all those times he had made an already lonely woman even lonelier. He had worked on his weaknesses and did eventually become a good man so why did things turn out this way?
Why could Sibu not give him a second chance?
“All those times I hurt you,” Martin’s voice was shaking and his lips were quivering. He took a deep breath, raised his hand to cover his mouth but immediately realized it too was shaking and so he quickly lowered it and hid both hands under the table.
Sibu’s eyes too became watery.
“I apologized,” Martin continued, forcing his voice to sound firm but despite his effort, he could not hide the huskiness.
“I have spent the past years doing everything I can to make up for having been a bad husband to you. I changed for you Sibu…so why…I don’t understand….”
“That’s the problem Martin,” Sibu interjected him. “You changed for me, not for yourself and certainly not because you felt you needed to change. There was never a time I asked you to change. All those times we fought over your wild behavior, it was only because I cared about your health, not about me. It was for your own good.”
Something she had said lit Martin up into full attention. “Was there even a single time you genuinely cared about me Sibu?” He asked her.
“What is that supposed to mean? After everything you and I went through, can you honestly ask me such a question?”
“I said genuinely….” Martin explained himself. “Yes, on the surface it appeared as though you cared but I can count the number of times I felt real genuine care from you. It was during those first few months after our marriage and then you completely gave up on me.”
“Martin,” Sibu had started.
“Let me talk Sibu,” Martin sat up straight in his chair. “All these years I solely accepted responsibility for how things ended between us but you know what Sibu, you are not innocent in all this. It’s like from the moment you agreed to marry me, you had already set a deadline in your head.
“You entered into marriage with such a mindset and you sat and patiently waited for the walls to come crumbling down. And when they finally did, you did not hesitate to raise your white flag. You had already given up on me even before I had started to fail so I never stood a chance with you. I know that you are stronger than the average woman out there but I have never seen a woman embrace pain as well as you did Sibu.”
Sibu looked upset, not because he was throwing accusations at her but because there was truth in what he was saying. She had indeed given up on him even before he had started failing their marriage. But how was she to explain to him that she had a lot going on in her life at that time?
“What, you don’t have anything to say now?” Martin asked sarcastically. “I don’t get you Sibu, I guess I never will. I tried so many times to get you to open up to me but you never gave me a chance. I am intelligent enough to know that a woman does not turn out to be like you just from genes. I was attracted to you because I knew you were different…but whenever I tried to discover just what made you different, you would shut me out completely.”
Sibu slowly raised her eyes to look at him. “Even if I had opened up to you, do you think you would have understood?”
“How about giving me the chance to fail first instead of failing me before giving me the test?” Martin returned. “That was always the problem with you Sibu; you made assumptions about me in your head and you convinced yourself that there was no redemption for me. I trusted you with my life but you on the other hand were more than ready to turn your back on me the moment a chance presented itself to you.”
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” Sibu picked up her hand bag from the floor and was about to get up but Martin gripped her hand and looking up at her he sternly whispered, “If you want to see just how mad a man on the verge of collapse can get, I dare you to walk away from me Sibu.”
Sibu looked around and noticed they had become the center of attention in the sparsely populated restaurant.
“Let go of me Martin, you are hurting me,” she muttered.
“Say you will remain seated until we are done talking that’s when I will let go,” he negotiated.
Sibu put her bag back down and Martin released her hand immediately.
“You still haven’t changed,” he commented once she was settled down again. “Always walking away whenever you are forced to confront your weaknesses. I was the fool for always letting you have your way back then. I thought I was being supportive by not pushing you harder to confide in me. Ted was right, how can I call myself your husband when I hardly even know you? In just these few months you’ve been together, you managed to open up to him more than you ever did all those years we were together.”
“What did Ted tell you exactly?” Sibu asked.
“Are you really worried about me finding out your secrets?” Martin looked even more broken. The disappointment in his eyes ran deeper than the human eye could see. “I am just dying to know, why was it so easy for Ted? What is it about Ted that made you put down your guard and bare out your soul to him?”
Sibu could not come up with a response. She had lowered her gaze and kept her focus on the glass of juice in front of her.
“As someone that was married to you…someone you never gave a chance to at least help heal whatever scars you’ve been carrying all these years, I deserve to know why I never stood a chance.” He implored her.
Instead of answering him, Sibu started crying. The guilt had finally gotten to her.
“Is it that bad?” Martin asked upon seeing the tears streaming down her face. “Did you really think so little of me that the thought of revealing it to me makes you cry?”
“It’s not like that Martin,” she tried to wipe away the tears with the back of her hands.
“Here,” Martin had taken a hanker from his pocket and laid it on the table in front of her.
“I am sorry Martin,” she cried some more, trying hard to keep her voice down so as not to attract attention. She grabbed the hanker and quickly wiped away the tears.
“Sibu,” Martin tentatively reached his hands across the table but she kept hers to herself, shaking her head slowly .
“I remember,” Sibu was saying. “That time we met at that restaurant in town in Lusaka…you mentioned something about this as well but I just didn’t want to think about it. It was so easy for me to place all the blame on you…on everyone else except myself. I always thought I had a reason for doing things the way I did but not once did I try to explain my reasons to you…or to anyone else.” She lamented.
“You are right,” Sibu continued. “If I had opened up instead of keeping things to myself…if I had given you a chance instead of waiting for you to disappoint me…maybe things would have turned out differently between us. I was so wrapped up in my own world I did not realize that my actions were hurting you in the process.”
“Sibu,” Martin called out her name. Sibu stopped talking and looked at him, her eyes filled with tears.
“What was going on in your life that was so bad you felt I would not understand if you opened up to me?”
Finally, here was a chance to tell him what he had deserved to know all those years ago.
Sibu finally opened up to her ex-husband and told him everything.
Suffice to say, Martin was left befuddled by the information Sibu had poured out to him.
“My gosh Sibu,” Martin said once Sibu was done with the story. “You really have a way of making a man feel like the worst bastard to have ever lived. What sort of man had I been to you to make you believe that I would have not understood if you had opened up to me and told me all of this a long time ago?”
“I am sorry Martin,” Sibu replied, the sincerity in her eyes tore deeper into Martin’s heart. “It was just my fears and insecurities,” she explained. “You have to understand, at that time I didn’t know as much as I know now.”
“And yet you still managed to confide in Ted and had him help you dig out the truth? I too wish I had been given the same chance.”
Every part of Sibu was soaked in guilt. “I know,” she openly admitted. “I know that now. I wish I had a better excuse Martin….”
“Me too Sibu, me too.” Martin echoed her.
“I am very sorry Martin,” Sibu repeated. “I wish I had a better reason to give…but things just happened like that. I don’t know why it was so easy for me to open up to Ted…all I know is that at that time, I couldn’t make sense of why someone like you would be interested in me? Even though it was obvious your feelings were real, I just couldn’t let go of my fears. I kept expecting things to fail I guess that was why I gave up so easily. I was so scared that you might find out what I thought was the truth about me and then leave.
“When you live with a secret like that, you always have to be on your toes…always cautious just in case you get discovered. I didn’t have enough confidence that you would understand. I mean, how could you? I too thought I was guilty of what my aunt told me. I still haven’t recovered my memories from that time and if not for that neighbor whom Ted spoke to that used to be close to my mother and aunt, it would still just be my word against my aunt’s. I am truly sorry Martin…now I know…”
“I wish I could say it’s alright but it isn’t.” Martin replied. “It really is not okay Sibu. Unfortunately, it is a little too late for me right now. It just breaks my heart to know that all that was going on in your life and I had no idea.”
“I am sorry Martin,” Sibu repeated.
“Then again, I guess you could say I never created an environment for you where you could feel free to talk to me about such things.”
“No Martin,” Sibu moved to sit next to him and proceeded to take his hand into her. “This is all my fault. Now I know. I was young and dumb and so insecure back then. I didn’t trust myself enough so how could I trust someone else?”
Martin then fully turned to face her. “What if we could make things right Sibu?” he asked. “Now that we know where we both went wrong, don’t you think we owe it to ourselves to at least work things out?”
“Martin,” Sibu started to protest but Martin could see her message in her eyes before she could even finish.
“Please hear me out,” he pleaded. “I really love you Sibu and I know now that there was a time you loved me enough to worry about losing me. There is no way I am going to let you go now after everything I have heard today. I can only imagine where we would be today if only you had opened up to me and allowed yourself to love me without all those inhibitions.”
“There is no way for us to know how you would have reacted if I told you that I wasn’t the person you thought I was.” Sibu argued.
The disappointment was back in Martin’s eyes. “I see,” he stated painfully. “Even now, you still have so little faith in me.”
“That’s not what I meant Martin and you know it.”
“What do I even know Sibu, what?” he growled. “No matter what I do or say it will never be as good as Ted. Am I lying?”
Sibu sighed heavily.
“Whatever you think about me Sibu, I don’t care and I don’t even want to know.” Martin said sternly, slightly leaning forward to deliver the message close to her face.
“I have spent the past three years trying to make amends for what I did,” Martin was saying. “Now it’s your turn Sibu. You owe it to yourself, to me and to our son. If you think that I am going to leave you and Ted be, then I suggest to give up right now because I am not going anywhere.
“I will do everything in my power to resurrect those feelings you had for me at one point in your life.” And whilst tapping on the table with his car keys he added, “I will try even if it keeps me. I promise you.” He then opened up his wallet, took out a couple of bills and threw them on the table before walking out.
With a heavy heart reflected through her eyes, Sibu watched Martin’s determined back disapear from the restaurant.
When she left him, she had promised Ted that she would cleanly end things between her and Martin, how was she going to explain just how complicated things had gotten? She rested her face into the palm of her hand and sighed heavily.
Everything around her had come to a standstill and only Veronica’s high pitched voice echoed though the four walls of the now empty restaurant.
“If your mission was to come here and insult me, you could have at least gotten your wardrobe choice right.” The woman’s bloody lips taking up half of her face and the long fake lashes threatening to drown the rest of it made it even harder for Sibusiswe to look at her.
Was that the kind of beauty they kept talking about these days? Sibu thought.
“All those pearls and fancy clothes make you look pathetic and ridiculous.” Veronica continued her attack.
Sibusiswe could only shake her heard as she took in the insults. There was something about Veronica’s face that made her look as if she had been born naturally drunk and upset. She could literally feel her IQ figures drop in numbers just from listening to the woman run her mouth.
“I find it hard to get offended when classy looking people attack me,” the ghetto born diva continued her attack on Sibusiswe.
“I didn’t ask to meet you so I could attack you,” Sibusiswe said, still maintaining her poise – much to Veronica’s chagrin.
“There you go again,” Veronica was close to snapping now, her long reptile-like nails digging into the beautiful expensive furniture of the high class restaurant. She hated everything about the restaurant her nemesis had picked just to reel her in. “That tone of voice,” her venom-like tongue hissed, “how the hell am I supposed to feel offended when you sound so melodic and corny?”
Sibusiswe couldn’t help laughing. “You seem to be under the impression that I came here for an attack,” she said. “I don’t think I have ever given you any reason to feel like that. If anything, I have been more than civil during all our interactions. You on the other hand have done nothing but antagonize me every step of the way. If anyone was looking at us, they would think I was the other woman.”
Veronica rolled her big round eyes, forcing Sibusiswe to move her drink away lest one of her gigantic eye lashes decided to take a dive in there in protest.
It can’t be easy for the pair to try to make a woman like Veronica look beautiful, Sibu laughed silently.
Those poor lashes… she sympathized.
Perhaps she would have felt a little less offended if her husband had left her for a better woman. She didn’t even have to be good looking. She just had to be easy on the eye and clean. Just how many layers of make-up did the eye have to beat to get to the woman’s actual skin? The make-up was literally wearing her, not the other way round.
“I can hear you thinking awful things about me,” Veronica put her arms across her chest defensively. “It must hurt your pride knowing your husband left you for a woman like me, er?”
Sibusiswe smiled wryly. “As a matter of fact it does, I won’t lie.”
Veronica looked confused, not sure whether to get offended or not. Why did her already tiny IQ shrink every time she was faced with this woman?
“Having said that,” Sibusiswe continued, “I don’t regret the divorce. I only feel bad for….”
Veronica raised her hand to shut her nemesis up. “I am really not a fan of yours Sibu and I would pay any amount of money just to get you to shut up so I can leave. The only reason I agreed to this meeting is because you and I need to come to a conclusion about Jacob. I am not comfortable with this arrangement of my husband constantly having to meet you whenever he is picking up or dropping off Jacob.”
“When are you going to get over your insecurities Veronica?” Sibu asked. “Martin and I have been divorced for over four years now. Apart from Jacob, I have no other business whatsoever with him. Unlike some women, I don’t find married men attractive. They reek of another woman whenever I am talking to them.”
“You might think that but Martin is a very kind man,” Veronica was saying. “He might still have lingering feelings…you are the mother of his child after all.”
“You’ve been with Jacob’s father for eight years now, four of which were during the time he was still married to me…and you are telling me you still don’t know him that well?” Sibu asked.
Veronica shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “What do you mean?” She flapped her lashes at her rival.
“Martin is not a kind man. You can call him anything else…but kind isn’t one of them.” Sibisiswe replied. “Anyway, I didn’t ask to have this meeting with you so we could talk about your husband.” She deliberately stressed the words. “I want us to talk about something you might actually find pleasing.”
“And what is that?”
“From now on wards, I would like it if you were the one responsible for Jacobs welfare…and by that I mean bringing him back to my place after his visits to you. I do not wish to have any more contact with Martin.”
Veronica took a moment to mull over what she had just heard. Again, she wasn’t sure whether to be happy or concerned about such a development. Isn’t that what she had always hoped for? She had been on Martin’s neck the past years trying to get him to let her take charge of that situation but he never relented.
What was really going on here? Something didn’t seem right.
If you even knew half of it, you would be using your fake lashes to hang yourself woman, Sibusiswe thought as she watched Veronica silently battle her demons.
“Is this what they call in the movies psychology reverse?” Veronica asked.
Sibusiswe had to hold her hand to her mouth to keep herself from laughing out loud. “It’s actually….forget it,” she gave up teaching the vixen. It wasn’t her job anyway. “I am being sincere with you Veronica,” Sibu said.
“Martin might still have a soft spot for you but he would never leave me for you. I am not the kind of woman to get her husband stolen by another woman. I always protect what’s mine.”
Sibusiswe scoffed once again. “You know what’s funny,” she said in a very calm yet menacing tone. “That Martin will not be coming back to me by my own doing. With your own tongue, you will beg him to get back with me.”
“Keep on dreaming,” Veronica hissed. “Over my dead body, you get it? Over my dead body.” And then she got up to leave.
“If you say so,” Sibusiswe replied nonchalantly, looking out the window towards the blue Jaguar still parked in the same spot.
Was this war ever going to end? She thought as she got up from her chair.
Or should she put an end to it right there and then?
This would not be the first time she would be getting blood on her hands. Only this time, she would make it worth her while. She picked up her handbag and headed straight to the blue car.
Sibusiswe was so wrapped up in her determination to confront the person that had been following her ever since she returned from South Africa that she did not see Veronica’s car approach from the other side at high speed.
She first head the sound of the engine before turning her head and when she finally did, she saw the naked thirst and determination on Veronica’s face as she dug her heels further onto the accelerator with just a few inches separating Sibu and the car.
Sibusiswe froze in horror, her eyes shut as she awaited her pending doom, unable to move or make any wise judgement as images from her past flashed before her eyes.
As the two worlds from her past and present collided in a like moment, Sibu felt someone put their arms around her waist and yank her out of the way right before impact…just as it had happened in the past.
“Mum!” Sibu yelled out in a very voice. She could feel someone’s heavy breath next to her but when she tried to open her eyes to see who it was, the shiny rays from the sun blocked her view.
Who was this person holding on to her? She wondered as she struggled to keep her eyes open against the light.
“Mum,” Sibu called out right before she passed out.
* * *
“Mum! Mum! Mum!” Sibu kept crying out in her sleep while Ted kept shaking her to wake her up.
“Nurse!” He called out to the nurse that was passing outside the door. “Sibu love…Sibu, wake up, wake up my love.” He kept repeating.
He sat her up on the bed in her sleep and kept calling out to her. She was fighting him and crying with her eyes still closed but Ted refused to let go of her.
He wrapped his arms around her and then said to the nurse that just stood there looking as clueless as a broken compass, “get the doctor here wont you!” he yelled and sent the poor nurse scampering out of the private ward.
He held her tightly into his arms and kept repeating soothing words to her back whilst stroking her hair gently.
She finally opened her eyes.
“My mother,” she said as Ted slowly removed her from his embrace.
“Did you dream about your mother Sibu?” Ted asked her, getting down on both knees before her and taking her hands into his. “You kept calling out her name….”
“I saw my mother Ted,” Sibu said with a tear laden face. “She rescued me just like she had done many years ago. I saw her Ted.”
Great fear and concern filled Ted’s eye’s. “Sibu,” he tried to tell her.
“I know,” she quickly offered up. “I know that she had died. I remember everything now. It happened just like it did today.”
“Yesterday my love,” Ted corrected her. “You’ve been here since yesterday afternoon. They had to sedate you because it was the only way to keep you under control…to let you calm down a bit. Tell me what happened to you?”
“Our lovely patient is finally up,” the male doctor announced his presence in the room. “Why don’t you wait out at the front Mr Zulu while I examine your fiance? It won’t take too long,” he said to a visibly perturbed Ted.
“I will be right back my love, okay?” He said to Sibu as he slowly stood up. And with his hands still holding on to hers, “I love you,” he said before planting a kiss on her forehead. He then let go of her hands. “I will just be outside there,” he reassured her.
Sibu nodded and Ted reluctantly left the room.
Ted was naturally a very patient person but ever since he met Sibu, he seemed to run out of patience pretty quickly. He kept pacing to and from in the corridor outside Sibu’s room.
He was in the middle of pacing when he suddenly stopped in his tracks. He recalled the conversation he had had with the doctor concerning who had brought Sibu to the hospital the previous day.
“It was a man,” the doctor had told him in his office. “He appeared to be either in his early fifties or it could be late fifties…I really couldn’t tell. I was too busy trying to get to the patient.”
“And what did he tell you happened?” Ted asked.
“That a woman tried to run over your fiance,” the doctor explained. “He even got the number plate….” he opened his drawer and removed a piece of paper from a writing pad. “He left this here,” the doctor handed Ted the place number. “He said it was an attempted hit and run but he got her out of the way in time.”
“And what is this written down here?” Ted asked whilst looking at the paper.
“He said the complete description of the lady driving the car. He even drew a rough sketch, check the paper under.”
Ted’s eyes had widened in disbelief. “I know who this woman is,” he announced.
“You do?” The doctor asked, sitting up straight in his chair.
“That son of a…this is the girlfriend to my fiance’s ex-husband.”
“Woah,” the doctor exclaimed. “Then who was that man that brought her? He looked heavily concerned her about her. He was even the one that booked that room for her. He paid the hospital bill, in cash even before accounts could issue him with one and he said he would come to check on her later.”
“Can you describe the man to me?” Ted asked the good doctor.
“Like I said, I don’t remember much…but come to think of it, he and your girlfriend have the same eyes.”
It was Ted’s turn to sit up. “What do you mean by that?”
“That deep and commanding gaze, it’s the same, even their eyebrows.”
“Doc, can you do me a favor,” Ted said. “When that doctor comes back, please let me know.” He removed his wallet from his pocket and took out his business card and handed it to the doctor. “Please, do this for me and my fiance. She’s been looking for this man for a very long time now.”
“So you know who he is?” The doctor inquired.
“I suspect I do,” Ted had replied with a far-off expression on his face.
“Ted, where is she?”
Ted was brought back to reality by the familiar sound.
“What the hell are you doing here?” He glared and Martin and went for his color. “How many times did I beg you to leave Sibu alone now look what you’ve caused!” Ted’s grip on Martin was so tight he was almost lifting him off the ground.
“Ted, c’mon man, don’t do this here,” Martin tagged at Ted’s hands which were threatening to chock him. “Everyone’s looking at us.”
“Is that all you care about right now?” Ted snapped and unexpectedly let her of him and sent him into a mini tangle with gravity.
Martin steadied himself and confronted his old friend. “What the hell is wrong with you?” He asked Ted. “How is it my fault that Sibu almost got ran over? Am I the only one in her life whose got enemies? I came here straight from the airport after Vicky told me what happened.”
Ted was dumbfounded. “And what exactly did Vicky tell you happened?”
“She said that Sibu had called her out for a meeting concerning Jacob and after they finished talking, Sibu was on her way to her car when someone tried to run her over but she was saved by someone.”
Ted scoffed. “And you believed her?” He asked whilst shaking his head. “That bitch of yours is the one that tried to kill Sibu!”
“What?” Martin asked, fear registering all over his face. “What do you mean she tried to kill Sibu?”
“She was the one driving,” Ted provided. “There was a witness there. They drew a sketch of her face, wrote down a full description of her and even provided her number plate.”
“That can’t be,” Martin was slowly shaking his head. He desperately wanted to believe that it was a lie but he knew that his baby was crazy. He wouldn’t put something like this passed her. How many times had she threatened to run Sibu over in the past? Had she finally lived up to her threats?
“Didn’t I tell you that your selfishness would only end up hurting Sibu in the process?” Ted asked Martin accusingly. “Now look what you’ve done?”
Ted’s words cut into Martin like a knife. Like a man exhausted from an everlasting fight, Martin went to sit down on one of the chairs lined up along the corridor. Reality had finally hit him like a heavy rock falling from the skies.
“How badly hurt is she?” He asked.
“She was lucky, someone pushed her out of the way in the nick of time. She only passed out because the moment awakened her memories from her past…otherwise she should be fine.”
“She remembered her past?” Martin asked. Not sure how to take the news.
“Yes, thanks to your baby mama’s craziness, the almost accident triggered her memories. That Victoria woman should be put in jail for what she tried to do. Sometimes I just don’t get women; why is she fighting Sibu when it is obvious you are the one that’s chasing after her? Will your heart go to her once she gets Sibu out of the face of the earth? Get your shit straight man and stop forcing Sibu into your drama. She will be my wife in just a couple of months. Show some respect and leave her the hell alone. This is my last warning to you and that crazy woman you are living with.”
From the hospital, Martin went straight home and found Veronica pacing to and from in from of the house. The rest of her body froze while she rubbed her hands against each other in sheer nervousness.
“Did you see her?” Veronica had ran to Martin’s car peered through the window to fire questions at him. “Is she okay? Was she hit? Who was that man that moved her from the road?”
Martin didn’t bother to answer any of her questions. Instead, he flung the door of his vehicle wide open, sending her scampering to the side as he forcefully came out.
“You are hurting me Martin,” Veronica protested as she was being dragged upstairs by the hand.
Martin led her straight up to the spare bedroom where she had been camping with their daughter and he flung her to the floor before opening her closet and throwing her clothes out.
“I need you to get out of here before I kill you,” he roared as he continued to fling her clothes everywhere. “Pack all your staff from this house and I will personally send you back to your parents.”
Veronica started bawling and she went to him and groveled on her knees for his forgiveness.
“I don’t know what got into me Martin,” she begged. “I just lost it for a moment. I didn’t really want to hurt her.”
Martin paused whatever he was doing to glare down at her. “You clearly saw her crossing the road in front you and then you accelerated. What did you hope would happen when your vehicle came into contact with her, give her some magical make-over?” He shouted.
Veronica kept tagging at his leg. “Please forgive me Martin. I am sorry. It won’t ever happen again.”
“Of course it will never happen again,” he said. “Who the hell do you think you are to compete with someone like Sibu? It’s my fault you did that to her. Just because I was a little kind to you you thought I would actually marry you?” he scoffed. “All I need from you is my child, nothing else! I have dragged this thing far enough with your parents and now is the time to set the record straight.”
Martin kicked his leg roughly to shrug her off and off she tumbled to her side while he stormed out of the room.
Left alone on the floor, Veronica bawled her eyes out.
Aunt Tafadzwa felt like her life had been turned into a living hell ever since Sibusiswe returned from South Africa. The silent treatment she was giving her tormented her all through the night and into the early hours of the morning. She had liked it better when she would walk right through her door and speak her mind but she really didn’t know how to handle this new side of her. Just what exactly was she planning to do to her?
As if she didn’t already have enough on her plate, Aunt Tafadzwa received an early morning visitor that day at her shop. It was Mrs Mwewa. She didn’t need to ask to know why the avator-like looking human was standing at her door.
“How dare you?” Mare Mwewa greeted.
Aunt Tafadzwa made a face and uttered something under her breath. “It took you this long ah?” She returned.
“You dame witch,” the Bemba woman cussed. “How dare you lie to me and even collect money from me when you knew very well that the information you were giving me was fake?”
Her temporary-friend-turned-nemesis-again scoffed. “You wanted to take my grandchild away from her mother…my niece, did you really think that I would sell you information that you could use against her?”
Mrs Mwewa looked more than ready to pop, on the face that is. “You really have no shame,” she hissed. “You took money from me!” She hollered.
“I never forced you to give it to me,” Sibu’s aunt contended. “You came all the way here in your fancy car and fancy clothes and threw a few words at me. I wasn’t the one that followed you. I simply saw an opportunity and I embraced it.”
“That’s called stealing!” Mrs Mwewa howled. “We had a deal and you cheated.”
“Poteto – potato,” Aunt Tafadzwa said. “You call it stealing, I call it surviving. Now get out of here, I have a business to run.”
“How about we talk some more,” Sibu appeared from nowhere and joined the two women gawking at her in shock. She looked with repulsion from one woman to the other.
“Sibu, what are you doing here?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked, soaking wet in the aftermath of being caught red-handed.
“I am not sure yet,” Sibu said, still looking from one woman to the other. “But I would certainly like to know what sort of information the two of you were trading.”
They both just stared at her.
“I have to go,” Mrs Mwewa soon announced her departure and left before aunt and niece could say anything.
“Oh just quit it already!” Sibu snapped at her aunt who was looking like she was standing in a lion’s den. “I am not here to fight with you. Nothing you do these days surprised me so you can quit putting up that poor woman defenseless front.”
Aunt Tafadzwa immediately recovered from her act. “What do you want?” She asked, turning her back to her as she went back into the shop.
Sibu followed her inside.
“Tell me where I can find my father, ah,” she raised her hand to shush her aunt who was about to open her mouth. “I am done listening to your lies. If you do not tell me where to find my father right now, I can promise you that I will make you and your children pay for everything you put me through all those years. You know me well enough to know I am not bluffing, so speak.”
Aunt Tafadzwa was wise enough to know this was a battle she was never going to win. “He lives in Woodlands,” she said. “He moved here with his family a few months ago.”
“Moved here?” Sibu asked. “From where?”
“He used to live in Botswana but he moved here to be closer to you.”
“So I was right, he knows about me now.” Sibu said, mostly to herself. “When did he find out?” She asked her aunt.
“Last year. He went digging around for information and when he found out, he almost killed me.”
“Am I supposed to feel bad for you?” Sibu asked sarcastically. “Why didn’t he just come to me when he found out the truth instead of following me around like that? What exactly did you tell him?”
Aunt Tafadzwa shrugged her shoulders. “I only told him that you might not accept him easily into your life since you’ve hated him for such a long time.”
“I only hated him because of what you told me about him!” Sibu yelled. “But how can I hate him now when he’s just as much a victim of your schemes as I? You will never change Aunty. Text me the address right now and don’t make me come back here to ask for it again.”
Sibu glared at her aunt in incredulity before storming out of the shop.
Sibu received the address to her phone moments after leaving her aunts shop. She couldn’t help looking through her rear-view mirror for any cars that might be following her even though no one had done so since that day at the restaurant.
When Sibu reached the address of her father’s home, she couldn’t get herself to hoot so they could open the gate for her. Instead, she parked to the side of the road and called Ted.
“I can’t do this alone ted.” She told him. “Can you come?”
“Where are you babe?” Ted asked. “Text me the address and I will be right there.”
And as promised, Ted parked right behind Sibu a few minutes later. She got out of her car and went to meet him.
“What am I going to say to him Ted?” Sibu nervously rubbed her hands together.
Ted put his arm around her. “Don’t think too much about it my love,” he told her. “It’s obvious he also wants to meet you, desperately…so just act natural, be you and let everything pick up from there. Now should we go and press the button?” He pointed to green gate in front of them.
Sibu nodded and so the two walked forward. Ted rang the bell and then they waited.
The gate opened slightly by remote control and a woman standing on the veranda came into view.
“Honey!” She shouted the moment she saw who was at the gate. Her husband quickly came running from the house and joined her.
Lance Hangala stared shell-shocked at the daughter he had been dying to meet for the past year.
“I think we can go in now,” Ted said to Sibu and led her by her hand to her father.
This was the first time Ted was seeing Sibu looking so nervous and at a complete loss for words.
“Good afternoon Ma’am, Sir,” Ted greeted the couple. “My name is Ted, and this is er….”
“I know who she is,” the man nervously said.
And then there was an awkward silence as they all just stared at each other.
“How about we all get inside so we can sit down and chat properly?” Mrs Hangala excitedly announced to the group.
They all followed her inside.
Sibu was more than impressed by the interior of the house. She had seen the outside and had an idea of her father’s financial standing, but the inside spoke volumes about the kind of man he had become.
I bet Aunt Tafadzwa would collapse if she walked into this house right now, Sibu thought as she looked around the huge expensively furnished living room.
Ted kept his hold on her hand as they sat down and only released it when they were saved beverages.
“I can’t believe that you are really here,” her father finally said. “I don’t even know what to say to you.”
His wife joined him by his side once she was done serving. “How about I take you on a tour of the house Mr Ted while these two talk?” Mrs Hangala offered.
Ted turned to Sibu.
“It’s fine love,” Sibu said, “you can go. I will be just fine.”
Ted squeezed her hand tightly before standing up. He followed the friendly woman and the two disappeared from the room.
“So,” Sibu said once she was alone with her father.
“I am very glad you came here Sibu,” her father said.
“How did you….”
“My aunt,” Sibu supplied. “I didn’t leave her much choice. Why didn’t you just come up to me instead of following me around like that?”
Lance laughed nervously. “I tried, God I tried to so many times but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was so afraid you might reject me and I….”
“I thought you were some crazy stalker,” Sibu laughed. “You pretty much freaked me out but eventually I figured it might be you. That almost accident at the restaurant made things even more obvious.”
“I figured,” he said. “Did you report the lady to the police?”
“No…I couldn’t, it’s just complicated.”
“I see,” he looked disappointed. “I guess there is a lot going on in your life that I don’t know about. I can’t believe it took this long to find out the truth. Sometimes I feel like going over to Tafadzwa and squeezing her neck. I just can’t believe that people can be that wicked.”
“Well, Aunt Tafadzwa is one of a kind.” Sibu said. They both laughed.
That day, Ted and Sibu ended up pending the rest of the at her father’s place and the two of them got to learn about Sibu’s new family. Sibusiswe discovered that she had two step-siblings who were fraternal twins, a boy and a girl aged fifteen. They had remained in boarding school in Botswana and would only be joining their parents in Zambia after graduating high school.
Her father was a retired farmer who had over the years invested most of his money in real estate both in Botswana and Zambia.
“Why are you grinning?” Ted asked Sibu as he drove her home late that night. They had decided to leave her car at her father’s place and he offered to bring it to her place the next day.
“I just can’t believe that I have a father,” Sibu said. “And that he is such a wonderful man. His wife too, she is very kind…you can’t help liking her.”
Ted smiled with her. “You know you really look alike with him….” he said.
“You think?” Sibu asked.
“I know so…except…you are so different from each other, personality-wise. He is so soft-spoken and you are…” you know….” He laughed as he waved his hands in the air.
Sibu threw him a nasty look. “So sleeping over for you tonight,” she threatened him.
“What?” Ted protested. “No way!”
* * *
A week later, Mrs Hangala paid Aunt Tafadzwa a visit at her shop.
“Who are you?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked the petite woman standing in front of her.
“I am Mrs Hangala,” she candidly announced. “Sibu’s mother.”
“Don’t you mean step mother?”
“It doesn’t matter to me,” the woman retorted.
“What do you want here?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked.
“Aren’t you going to offer me a sit?” She asked.
“You are not welcome here, why would I give you a seat.”
“Er,” Mrs Hangala shrugged her shoulders dismissively. “I guess am going to have to deliver my message whilst standing.”
“What message?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked.
“Since my husband and my step-daughter won’t do anything about you, it is up to me to do something in their stead. You have two days to vacate this shop and go as far away from my husband’s daughter as possible.” The petite woman commanded in a very menacing tone.
There was nothing about her demeanor that spoke of the innocence she had displayed in front of Ted and her step daughter.
Right there in front of Aunt Tafadzwa, Mrs Hangala’s little menacing frame was one to be reckoned with.
“Now why would I do something so stupid?” Aunt Tafadzwa said. “Sibu bought this shop for me and I am not going anywhere. You think you can just appear in her life and run it for her however you please? Sibu and I had an agreement, I earned this shop.”
“She might have bought it for you but it is still in her name.” Mrs Hangala smugly corrected the woman.
“What do you mean by that? She told me that it was in my name?”
She laughed. “I guess she’s always been clever that one hasn’t she? The shop was never in your name. I offered to buy the shop from her and she agreed since she no longer wants to have anything to do with you. Right now as we speak, I am the new owner of this cute little place. My husband and I bought this whole section of shops. We intend to build a huge shopping mart for the locals so I suggest that you pack and go.”
“I knew that that girl wouldn’t just let things go. She just had to get back at me and she thinks kicking me out of here will make me fall? Well, she has another thing coming.” Aunt Tafadzwa fumed.
“She actually never wanted to sell this place,” Mrs Hangala explained. “I was the one who approached her and begged her to sell it to me, told her that I would help you get settled somewhere else but she said she didn’t care. I could tell she was lying. She still cares about you despite everything. But I don’t. And I need you gone by Tuesday next week.”
“Who do you think you are to kick me out of here?” Aunt Tafadzwa towered over the petite looking woman who never flinched under her stern gaze.
“I used to be a crazy woman before my husband married me and I can promise you that the crazy still lives inside me so don’t tempt me,” the woman roared. “My husband and his daughter might have forgiven you but I won’t let you off so easily after all the hardships you made him go through.
“A man his age cried himself to sleep for months when he discovered what you had done. No one can do that to my family and get away with it. What gives you the right to mess with other people’s lives like that? If you don’t want to find your stuff gone and no shop standing here, I suggest you leave before that happens.”
Aunt Tafadzwa couldn’t believe what was happening. She wanted to scream and wail but her pride could no let her do that in front of the strange woman.
“You can leave now. I will be out of here this very day.” She said arrogantly and headed back inside.
Mrs Hangala smiled triumphantly before turning to go.
Inside her shop, Aunt Tafadzwa called her daughter Tammy.
“You tell those stupid boys you are always hanging around with, tell them to come here and help me move my stuff home.” She said.
“Move what stuff mum?” Tammy asked from the other end of the line.
“That cousin of yours sold this shop to someone else imagine. They have asked me to move out as soon as possible,”
“Why so soon? You should have asked for more time.”
“I can’t stand being in this place any longer so just get me those boys here immediately.”
“You know that they won’t do it for free,” Tammy said. “I know tight you are when it comes to money so unless you promise to pay them, they won’t come.”
“Just tell them to come you stubborn brat!” She yelled at her daughter before rudely ending the call.
A few hours later, Aunt Tafadzwa had secured transport and she had Tammy’s friends help her move her things from the shop to the vehicle.
“I don’t know this driver very well so I can’t trust him alone to take my stuff home.” Aunt Tafadzwa said to the boy she suspected was the one sleeping with her daughter. “I have to clear out a few things with some people before I leave so I need you to drive with them home. I will come give you and your boys money when I get back home.”
“Tammy said you would give us after we finished the job ma’am,” the boy protested.
“And you haven’t finished the job,” she said. “You are only done half way. You have to unload them and put them into the house. Tammy will be waiting for you at home.”
And with that, she left the bunch of visibly upset boys behind.
Later that night when Aunt Tafadzwa got home, she cried blood when not a single thing of her stock from the shop had been delivered home.
“What did I tell you about those types boys?” She sobbed as she hit her daughter over and over again while her son watched in wonder in a corner.
“You have finished me Tammy…you have finished me you foolish child.” She threw herself on the ground and spread out her legs as she wailed dramatically.
Tammy ran away from her mother and tried to call her boyfriend’s number again but she still couldn’t get through.
“What have you done you son of a bitch,” she said whilst hitting her fingers over her touch screen. She raised her head up to look at her mother who was sprawled over the ground and covered in head.
She just sat there looking straight ahead with a blank look on her face. She looked like a woman whose brain waves had been exhausted.
She was deathly quite for someone that had spent the past thirty minutes wailing and crying her lungs out.
There was fear in Tammy’s eyes as she watched her mother embrace her sudden defeat.
Was this the end for them? Tammy wondered.
* * *
Ted waited in the car while Sibusiswe and Martin talked inside the restaurant where Sibu had almost lost her life. For the three of them, the restaurant had come to mean much more than just an eating place. It was the place where memories had been resurrected and where memories could be buried.
“Congratulations by the way,” Martin said. “I know I should have said this a long time ago but….”
“I know,” Sibu forced a smile. She silently wondered if there would ever come a time when she would look at Martin and not feel so sorry.
“But I really mean it,” Martin fought back the tears. “Ted is a great guy. I hate him, but he’s what you need.” He too forced a smile.
“Martin….” Sibu said.
“Don’t say it,” Martin told her. “Don’t say thanks and don’t say sorry because that will really make me feel shitty. I took a lot for me to finally decide to take a clean break and move on…it doesn’t mean I like it…but I know it’s something I have to do. I wish…I wish….” he desperately forced back the tears. He wasn’t going to cry on this day. That’s not how he wished her to remember him.
She wanted to reach out and comfort Martin but she knew she couldn’t. Despite everything they had been through, she would not have been where she was had it not been for Martin.
He was the first person to break down my walls and show me what real love is. Sibu thought as she watched Martin walk away from her, memories from their past together flashed before her eyes.
Ted walked in at that moment and she ran into his arms.
“I want to see my mother,” she said to him.
Ted drove her to Memorial Park. He listened in silence as Sibu cried the whole way.
He dared not ask what was going through her mind.
He had the rest of his life to find out. This time he was just going to stand by her side and give her a shoulder to cry on if she needed it.
Once at the cemetery, Ted watched from a distance while Sibu chatted with her mother. She was still crying.
“Do you also think that I am a bad person mother?” Sibu addressed her mother.
“I really wanted to love Martin you know,” she sobbed. “I thought I tried my best but…I only ended up hurting him. Why I am always hurting the ones I love? Have you seen that good looking man standing over there,” she looked in Ted’s direction.
He had his eyes fixed on her with a smile on his face.
“I am going to be his wife in a few days,” Sibu said. “Do you think I deserve the kind of love he’s shown me? I am scared…. I have never been this happy in my life before so I am scared that one day I will wake up and it will all be gone.
“I just want to keep on dreaming. I just want to shut out the echoes from my heart and just love…love like there’s not tomorrow. I really want to do that mother.” She wiped at her tears and then smiled at Ted again.
He smiled back and waved at her from where he was standing.
“By the way, I met the love of your life mother…my father. He is quite a catch even for his age. He has never forgotten about you. I smile every time I think about him because I know that there is someone out there that loves me unconditionally…someone I can call my father.”
She had finally stopped crying now and Ted got the cue and came to join her.
“This is Ted mum,” Sibu introduced him to her mother. “Say hi to my mother Ted.”
Ted was all smiles as he lowered his head towards her mother’s tombstone. “I am honored to meet you Ms N’cube.” He said. “And thank you so much for giving birth to such an awesome daughter. I hope you don’t mind that I will be making her my wife…because I really really love her. I am crazy about her.”
Sibu was blushing all through Ted’s mini speech.
They both paid their final respects and headed back to the vehicle.
“Do you think she would have liked me?” Ted asked as he drove them home.
Sibu laughed. “I think so. You look a lot like my father so….”
Ted grinned from ear to ear. “That’s a compliment, right?”
They both laughed.
Sibu watched Ted as he drove. He looked happy.
she too felt happy.
I can’t hear them anymore, Sibu thought, with her gaze still on her soon-to-be husband.
The echoes, I think they’re gone.
She smiled and reached out her hand to him.