Shaken: A Love by Proxy – Part 4

“Who is she?” was the question Chizu came to ask me at about 2am.

Even the ancestors could feel the chill in the air.

I looked over at my son sleeping soundly next to me and then back at my wife.

“Can we talk in our room?” I asked and got up from our son’s bed.

“Who is she?” She asked me again the moment we were alone in our bedroom.

I sat down on the bed. I knew this was going to be a physically and emotionally draining conversation. Chizu remained standing, looking like the before image on a plastic surgery clinic ad.

“Does it matter who it is?” I said. There was no way I was going to put Susan on the chopping board again. I immediately regretted having given in to my emotions by confessing to my wife about my faltering heart.

Chizu was smelling poop in the room…at least that’s what her facial expression was telling me. “Don’t you think I deserve to know the name of the woman my husband has fallen in-love with?” She asked me.

“You don’t understand Chizu,” I tried to reason with her. “The name doesn’t matter. What matters is how I feel. I did not tell you about it so you could go out and start a witch hunt. That person doesn’t even know I feel this way about them. They have no idea!”

“When I insisted that you were cheating, you looked me in the eye and kept denying it.” She said, starting to cry again.

“That’s because I haven’t cheated on you Chizu,” I said.

“What you are doing right now is also cheating!” She yelled. “It’s not just about physical contact. You are in-love with another woman! That’s the worst kind of cheating there is.”

I didn’t know what to say. She was right. I might not have touched a single hair on Susan but I was feeling things in and outside my body that I wouldn’t want the Lord knowing about.

My feelings were beyond anything I had ever felt; not for Gloria, and not even for Chizu. I wanted nothing but to be that woman’s protector, guardian, lover, comforter…I wanted to be her everything.

For the first time in my life I wanted to be something meaningful to somebody. Before I only cared about what I received from a woman. It was never about what I could give. With Gloria it was the fact that she was head over heels in-love with me and would do anything for me if I asked. With her I always had a home to go to.

Chizu on the other hand brought a whole new kind of love into my life. Chizu gave both physically and emotionally. She gave her whole when she loved…enough to kill herself and those around her if anyone tried to take that love away from her.

All those kinds of love made me feel good about myself, a feeling beyond just flattered. Because these two women had loved me like that, it was easy for me to love them back.

But Susan was a whole different case. I had not received anything from her…at least not anything she had sent my way intentionally. Even though there was a huge part of me that longed for her to return my affections, I had not gone out of my way to make her consider me.

I was not planning on leaving my wife and I had no intentions of repeating history. Susan had entered my life at the most unexpected time and events that followed that meeting somehow culminated into me developing feelings I had not planned on having.

She had shaken me by surprise.

What had started as merely a misunderstanding somehow turned out to be true. In Chizu’s head, I was in-love with another woman…a woman I hardly even knew. In a strange twist of fate, that proxy kind of love imposed on me by my wife eventually became a reality.

I could no longer love Susan through my wife’s imaginations.

Thus, I took a love by proxy and turned it into reality.

However, I had learnt my lessons from the past and I knew what it meant to start a relationship on grounds of betrayal. Gloria had warned me that there was a price for every tear she had shed for me and I knew for a fact I was still paying that price.

Newton, I learnt was a very very vindictive man.

Susan was different…and because my feelings were different this time around, I refused to taint my love for her by going behind my wife’s back. I wanted to keep that kind of love pure and deep inside me.

Even though I was reluctant to give up on such intense and overwhelming emotions, I had no desires to pursue Susan in reality.

Whether that decision to not pursue Susan was made out of loyalty and respect for my wife…or whether it was from the realization that Susan might… or would never return my feelings, I cannot tell.

We had been arguing about the identity of the mystery woman I was in-love with for close to thirty minutes when Chizu finally asked;

“Is it her? Is it that Susan girl?”

“No!” I answered a little too quickly. “Why are we going back there again?”

“Because I can’t think of any woman that’s been in your life in the past month or so.” Chizu said. “I know you changed ever since that visit from that girl’s parents. I know that you resent me for not apologizing to that girl…and for what your mother did for us…..”

“Did for us?” I asked her, my voice rising a little. “I was not the one who jumped to unnecessary conclusions and made an innocent girl attempt suicide. YOU did that!” I yelled.

“I wouldn’t have done that if you cared about me enough and made me feel secure.” She countered.

My eyebrows raised, I glared at her. “So it’s my fault that you acted the way you did and humiliated our family and Malambo’s?” I asked.

By now Chizu had reached level two of her crying campaign. At this level, there’s an increase in the speed of tears flowing but no sound of crying yet.

“You’ve never made me feel like I was good enough!” She was slowly heading towards level three. “Just because you never said it out loud does not mean I never got the message.”

There we go again…her reading into things like some dame psychic. I was guilty of something if I opened my mouth, and I was still guilty if I kept quiet.

“I have seen how you look at the food I cook,” Chizu continued. “Every time I call you to the table you frown and sigh and you have this look on your face the whole time you are eating. You never compliment me on anything good I do but you are quick to notice my mistakes.

“I have never hidden from you the fact that cooking isn’t your best suit.” I could have easily said that she sucked at it but I was already treading on thin ice so I couldn’t risk it. I had to be diplomatic in my delivery.

“I know that you’ve made your feelings known about my cooking but still, you could have done something to help. Just because I am the wife does not mean you need to act like you are allergic to kitchen utensils or the stove.

“Even when I was heavily pregnant you never lifted a figure to help me out.” She complained. “I had to stand by the stove with my swollen feet and even when Daniel was born you would keep snoring…not once did you wake up in the middle of the night to help me.

“You were acting like I made that baby alone. Why was I being punished alone when I didn’t even cum that night!?” She had reached Level 3.

“What are you complaining about?” I asked. “Is it about your terrible cooking or my fathering skills?”

“I am complaining about everything!” She shouted, throwing her arms in the air. She was slowly approaching Level 4. At this stage, arms are waving, legs kicking, sound is on maximum and there is a dire need of a napkin.

“I am bitter, I am mad as well.” She wailed. “You go around acting like you are a victim in this marriage when you chose this kind of life for yourself. I never forced you to marry me. You are the one who got down on your knees and begged me to marry you.

“No one was holding a gun to your head. In just less than a year you changed, you became a different man. You forgot about the vows you made to me and started acting like I was the lucky one for marrying a guy like you.”

At this point, I really had no idea what she was nagging about but I listened quietly since she obviously had a lot on her mind…and since I had obviously done something to deserve her scorn.

“Every chance you got you compared me to Gloria your ex.” She accused.

I was gaping at her, stunned. “When did I do that?” I asked.  I think now she was just looking for anything that would make me out to be a bad guy. Soon she was going to claim I inhaled more oxygen in the house and left nothing for her, or that the amount of carbon-dioxide I was releasing was responsible for her bad moods.

“You do that every time!” She yelled. “The cooking, the dressing, sex, personality, everything! You said some of those things thinking you were paying me compliments but no woman wants to be compared to another no matter the reason.”

“I never compared you to Gloria,” I defended myself. “You were the one constantly bringing her up, forcing me to counter your insecurities. And yes, maybe you are right, there were times when Gloria came to mind in the past years but how can she not? The two of you were best friends, I was her boyfriend when you and I started going out but I never deliberately made comparisons between you two. That was just your conscious jumping to conclusions.”

“You once told me that I should try dressing more like a married woman…that you knew single women that dressed better than me.” She said. “Wasn’t it this very type of dressing that made you go crazy every time you looked at me? But why after marrying me did you want to turn me into a Gloria?”

She was right, I had been thinking about Gloria when I made that statement but I had been careful not to mention any names.

“Gloria isn’t the only woman I know Chizu,” I said. “You only thought about her because you had her on your mind.”

“That’s the problem with you Bashi Danny, you never admit to anything even when you know you are wrong. You never apologize, you don’t give compliments and you are a selfish lover.”

“I am a selfish lover?” I asked. That was the only part of that statement that stood out in my head.

“Yes you are a selfish lover,” she said. “I am always going out of my way to please you but you never make any effort to return the favour. There is such a thing called foreplay, haven’t you ever heard of it?”

I think she was waiting for me to answer because the pause was way too long for the question to be rhetoric.

“Do you even know what I like in bed?” she asked me. “I know everything you like, but what about me? There’s more to foreplay than dipping your thick fingers in me. Are you an archaeologist? What are you hoping to find in there that you haven’t found up to now? Am a woman and that’s painful.”

If getting a rise out of me was what she was going for, then she was winning this fight. Ah, she was soaring on Level 4 now, every now and then slightly touching Level 5 – that was the maximum Level…when yellow smoke would pop from her ears.

“You get hard the moment you enter the bedroom even when I’m not there but it takes work for me to be aroused.” I could sense she was going for a home run at this point and it took everything in me to not get up and walk out of there.

“You expect me to be ready just because you are, that’s unfair. You might think that you are the answer to every woman’s prayer but there’s more to being a man than just a fat pay check and good looks.”

By now I was starting to feel insulted. I was the one riding on Level 5, but without the tears…just the smoke from the ears. Chizu had gone for my belt and went straight for my nuts.

However, as I mulled over her words, I started to understand that her words were more than just a jab at my manhood, she was genuinely frustrated by my actions as a lover, and as a husband.

I had never heard her complain before so I naturally assumed everything was okay. How was I supposed to know that she was unhappy in that department when she never opened up to me about it?

I thought I was a killer lover when she got pregnant the very first time I retired the condoms…but it turned out I just had nature on my side. I learnt at that ungodly hour a truth I was not yet ready to confront;

That the strength of my swimmers was not equivalent to my skills in pleasing women.

It was a bitter pill for me to swallow…and so I did not swallow it. I wanted to ask Chizu why she never mentioned anything before but my pride was too bruised for me to delve deep into that topic.

That morning Chizu unloaded all the feelings she had been harbouring against me for the past four years that left me shaking in my boots. Had she not mentioned all those things, I would have continued living my life acting like a victim of fate.

Thanks to my miscalculated confession, I got to hear what Chizu really felt about me, every single word. It is hard for a man to zone out of a conversation when something is squeezing his nuts tightly.

And Chizu has one hell of a tight grip.

I was a terrible lover, selfish, unromantic, pompous, unrepentant, uncaring, distant, not gentle enough… and some other not so subtle adjectives my wife of five years had used to describe me.

At the end of it all, she looked down at me and said;

“And you come to me crying and begging me to help you get over some woman you’ve fallen for? What makes you think you have the right to ask me, your wife something like that? Am I supposed to feel flattered that you came to me for help instead of going ahead and cheating on me? AM I?”

That morning Chizu packed some clothes for me in a suitcase and chased me out of the house. Unlike most people, Chizu was of the belief that the person at fault was the one to leave the house.

* * *

Two weeks later I was at my parents when I received the divorce papers. I was finally forced to come clean to my mother about what had happened between my wife and me.

I was soaking wet from another round of nagging.

“You fell in-love with another girl?” She asked me, disbelief written all over her face. And then she scoffed. “Unbelievable,” she said. “How can a man have such a small heart? Don’t you have any friends son?”

I sent her a puzzled look. “I have plenty,” I said. “But what’s that got to do with what’s happening?”

“Don’t you and your friends ever talk?” She asked me. “I told you last time that cheating isn’t for everyone. Most men I know cheat only with their balls. You on the other hand…you cheat with your heart. What are you, a woman?”

“Are you trying to tell me its okay to cheat as long as you don’t fall in-love?”

My mother laughed. “I never said that,” she said. “It is not okay for anyone to cheat on anybody, man or woman. There’s no excuse good enough. If you are unhappy in a relationship, leave, don’t cheat because then all those little things you thought were inadequate about your partner become invalid, even if they had been the ones in the wrong at first. You the cheating part become the worst scum of the earth…like you are right now.”

During moments like that, I wondered if I was her real son but then I remembered that talk twenty-four years ago. Only a mother can embarrass her son like that.

“I never actually cheated on Chizu,” I reminded her.

She laughed even louder this time around. “That’s what you think,” she said. “Most people think that cheating happens only when physical contact is involved, but that’s not the case.

“The moment you start thinking about another woman, entertaining those thoughts every chance you get…you’ve already started cheating.” She was saying. “But you my son…you fell in-love with someone else. That’s even worse…like that little difference that exists between Second and Third Degree Murder.

“Falling in-love with another woman means you are not just willing to give your body…which belongs only to your spouse…but your heart too…your soul. Then what’s left for your wife?” She asked me. “People think that a man’s infidelity cannot break a home but look what we have here?” She was pointing to the papers lying on the table.

“In as much as I don’t like your wife, I have to ask; do you really want to divorce? Can’t you work things out?”

I didn’t know what to tell my mother because I had not considered divorce even after Chizu kicked me out of the house. I thought she just needed some time to think and she would get over it.

It appeared she was very serious.

That evening I went home to have a talk with her. I needed to be sure if she was really serious with the divorce or if she was simply using it as a ploy to get back at me.

“How about yourself,” Chizu asked me. “Do you even want this marriage?”

Just like with my mother, I couldn’t answer her question right away, but after a few seconds I answered; “Yes.”

“It took you 56 seconds to answer that. That’s not good enough James.”

She was already calling me by my first name. Not baby, not honey, not Bashi Danny…but James.

She was very serious alright.

And had she been counting the time it took me to respond?

“I don’t want to be with a man who is in-love with another woman.” She said. “Before when I would accuse you of cheating, I knew there was a possibility there could be other women but, I never imagined you would be in-love with any of them.

“And that’s the thing with us, there’s no trust. I doubt if we will ever trust each other. I am tired of fighting, nagging…I was never a nagging woman but I turned into one when I became your wife.

“I too hate who I’ve become, I know you do too…and I cannot blame you. Maybe other people can survive something like this…but after this, that little trust I was clinging onto has completely vanished. Gloria was right, this is our karma.”

I was shocked. I never expected Chizu to give up on us so easily. I thought if anyone was going to fight for our marriage, it would be Chizu. She had done it in the past…and I thought she would this time around as well.

At the back of my head I kept hoping that we would turn things around. Our foundation might have been shaky but I was willing to try and start over again. I just never imagined I would be the cause of our break-up. In a split second I had turned from victim to perpetrator.

Chizu never changed her mind.

I signed the papers one week later. Chizu and I were done.

Just like that.

* * *

A month had gone by after Chizu and I decided to go our separate ways and I had not made my feelings known to Susan despite attending the same church. I didn’t have the courage to broach the subject to her.

Fortunately, I managed to get her aside one evening after Bible study. That day I simply meant to inform her that I was a divorced man…you know…just to set the ground work.

“I already know that you are divorced,” Susan told me nonchalantly.

I had not calculated for that. “How?” I asked.

“I had the misfortune of bumping into her at the mall a few weeks ago. She stopped me, asked me if I was the one….”

“The one?” I asked, looking very puzzled.

Susan chuckled. “That was my exact reaction.” She then took me through the meeting exactly as it had happened:

“I don’t understand your question,” Susan had said to Chizu.

Chizu snickered. “You look and act exactly like the type James would fall for. Are you happy that he’s divorcing me?”

“You and Mr Kaunda are getting divorced?” Susan asked.

“Don’t act like you didn’t know. I know that it’s you he’s fallen in-love with.”

“Listen ma’am,” Susan tried to get a word in but Chizu was not in a very listening mood that day.

“I am not going to fight with you,” She said. “I just have a word of warning, say from….from someone who’s been there, someone who knows. You might have won his heart now but you won’t always have it. Soon he will get tired of you just like he did me.

“James is that kind of man. He has the most weak disloyal heart you will ever encounter. This is just friendly advice. Take it or leave it, not my problem.”

“My wife…I mean, my ex-wife said that to you?” I asked Susan. I couldn’t believe it. 

But Susan was laughing, obviously finding the whole thing amusing.

“Yes she did,” she said. “I didn’t want to argue with her so I just let her talk and when she was done, she left.”

“About what she said….did….” I was shaking from nervousness, unable to express myself confidently. It was the first time I was feeling like that in front of a woman.

“I won’t ask about the things she said to me, I don’t want to know Mr Kaunda.” Her expression had turned serious, leaving no room for me to have any misunderstanding.

I had just been friend-zoned.

“At least you should give me a chance to explain,” I said.

She was shaking her head. “No,” she said firmly. “There’s no need for that. I already told you, I don’t want to have anything to do with you or your family. I am sorry to hear about your divorce.”

Then she started walking away.

I had heard the conviction in her voice and saw it in her eyes. She wanted absolutely nothing to do with me.

Shuttered, I turned around and walked over to my car.

It’s now been two years since my divorce from Chizu. She’s now married to some guy, a pastor…can you believe it?? He is one of those holy-ghost-fire-bind-it kind of pastor with very shiny hair that’s blacker than black, pointy shoes, and fancy expensive designer suits that look cheap on him.

Bana Mapepo…my ex-wife.

Both the devil and I were shocked when we received the news.

I want to be happy for her but I really can’t. I can’t lie to myself, I don’t trust the guy. Any guy that wears white pointy shoes on a white suit and with a white hat is not to be trusted.

He is clearly up to no good.

Anyway, it’s not my place to judge. I guess I just hate the guy because my son gets to call him ‘daddy’ too. The thought itself makes me cringe.

Gloria has four children now with her Diplomat husband and I hear they are in the US now. I can picture her on her knees begging the Lord not to let Donald Trump win the elections. I can only wish her the best in life. She was a great lesson in my life.

Susan still refuses to accept my advances. Even though we’ve been going to the same church for the past two years, she avoids me like a plague and all my efforts to talk to her always end with;

“I have to go now. I have somewhere I need to be.”

She has managed to improve her body mass during this time and even though she is still skinny, she is a healthy kind of skinny. This time she might be able to withstand any strong winds that might come her way.

She is still single…as far as I know but it’s only a matter of time before one of those parasitic men that are always surrounding her manages to win her heart.

And I do not intend to let that happen.

I am not a man that gives up easily. I have come such a long way and I have picked up a few hard lessons that have turned me into the kind of man I am today. I have made some pretty dumb decisions in the past but I never let them beat me down.

I have learnt and I have grown.  I just wish that the woman I love more than anything else on the face of the earth can see that about me and give me a chance.

Even though our relationship seems to be progressing at a snail’s pace, I’ve managed to turn her frown whenever she sees me into a gentle friendly smile now. It took two years to achieve that. I just hope that I won’t be sixty by the time I get her to hold my hand.

But I have hope.

I refuse to simply remain a proxy love for her.

I will do whatever it takes to be the kind of man that’s good enough for her.

So…wish me luck…!

The End

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Shaken: A Love by Proxy – Part 3

The way my mother received Susan’s parents and welcomed them into our home made me realize that she had believed me when I told her nothing was going on between Susan and me. I could see the guilt on my mother’s face as she led the two into the house.

I don’t think I would have survived such a meeting with just the unrepentant Chizu by my side. My wife was still acting like a brat and a part of me couldn’t help but wonder if she was enjoying… perhaps a little too much the idea that I might be cheating on her.

I have heard of women that have caught their spouses red handed in bed with other women but just so they can live with themselves, they resolved to believe that what they had witnessed was simply a bad dream…something that never actually happened.

Or they would rather believe that their husband tripped and landed inside the other woman. Anything else was better than facing the reality of betrayal.

But not my wife.

Chizu would have given anything to believe her illusions as facts and I soon begun to feel like doing the things she was accusing me of doing just to spite her and show her what it really means to have a cheating husband.

“We apologize for dropping by announced,” Malambo’s father spoke first.

“This is the first time I am seeing the family of the mistress visit the home of the married man,” Chizu said. Despite pinching her in the back to shut her up, she went on, “Usually, it’s the wife that visits the mistress first but what the heck, there’s always a first time for everything.”

“Please forgive my daughter in-law,” my mother rushed to restore her family’s honour. “She is bipolar so she tends to overreact and act without thinking…most of the time.”

That in itself was an insult to those people with that actually suffered from that condition. My heart reached out to them.

“Mum!” Chizu protested her defamation of character.

Malambo’s parents were just quiet watching with interest as we embarrassed ourselves.

“As I was saying,” Malambo’s father continued. “This is my wife Tina, and I am Enock, parents to Malambo Mubiana and Susan Mulenga.”

The three of us sent him puzzled expressions.

“Susan is the biological daughter of my sister in-law, Tina’s younger sister but we raised her as our own since she was twelve.”

I was giving Chizu the did you hear that look and she just rolled her eyes like she usually did when feeling guilty but trying not to show it.

“There is something I need to know,” Tina finally spoke. While her husband looked a little receptive, Tina was bleeding anger through her eyes. Given a chance, she would have laid my wife on a table, cut her chest in the middle and yanked her heart out so she could feed it to her cat at home.

The woman made me sit at the edge of the sofa.

“What did you see my daughter doing with your husband that made you treat her the way you did?” She asked Chizu.

“I mean, for you to decide that it’s okay to treat a fellow human like that, a woman for that matter,” Tina went on. “Labels like husband snatcher stick with a woman for the rest of her life. It doesn’t matter whether she is innocent or not, people have no time to collect facts. They only care about headlines.”

Tina’s voice was menacingly calm, sending chills down my spine and making the hairs at the back of my head stand.

“So tell me,” she said. “What was the thing that my daughter did that made you think she deserved to be hurt, humiliated, and scarred for life in such a manner?”

For the first time since the whole Susan fiasco started, I felt Chizu shake in fear beside me. I had wanted so badly for her to reach a point when she would realise just what she had done and it appeared she was on her way there.

We all sat quietly and waited for Chizu to speak.

Her lips were quivering and her hands were shaking, but she still said nothing.
Tina was like the Chizu Vaccine or antidote, she had managed to do what my mother and I had failed to do in years; put Chizu on mute.

I wanted to harvest the woman’s spirit and bottle it up for future use, just sprinkle it in the air whenever Chizu opened her mouth.

My wife realized the hard way that there is a huge difference between thinking something in your head then convincing yourself of it and saying it out loud for others to hear.

As everyone waited in silence, my mind went back to that fateful evening where it had all started.

“I don’t see you anywhere,” I was on the phone standing outside the restaurant just a few blocks from home, searching the area for a tall, dark and slim-figured twenty-five year old lady dressed in a yellow dress.

“I am inside, inside the restaurant,” the cheerful girl replied. I turned towards the entrance of the restaurant and I saw her excitedly waving at me from inside. I cut the line and went inside.

“Hi,” I reached out my hand and we shook hands. “Am James, your brother’s workmate.”

She was smiling. “I’m Susan,” she said. “I got so tired moving around in circles that I had to come inside and order a beverage.” She was fanning herself with her hand as she spoke.

“I am so sorry for making you come all the way,” she said. “I swear I am the worst when it comes to directions.” There was something about her tone of voice and her facial expressions that made her sound funny instead of apologetic as she intended.

I couldn’t help laughing.

“If you tell me to turn left, I have to stop and check the hand I use for eating nshima and that’s when I will know.” She continued. She was clearly a chatterbox.

“And once I know which one is my left or right, I will start worrying about whether it is my left or right I have to turn or the one for the person giving the directions. I don’t know how others do it…or,” she paused and drew her face closer to whisper, “could it be that am dumb?”

She was genuinely looking at me with her big brown eyes and expecting me to give her an answer and that made me laugh even more. She had a certain innocence about her despite her age that I had not seen in a very long time. I had not realized it then, but looking back, she had made me feel at ease without even trying.

I had been having a really bad day that day and I was a little taken aback by how easily I found myself laughing in her presence. Any other person, those words wouldn’t have sounded as funny as they did coming from her.

I was laughing so hard that I must have spooked her because she stopped talking, stood back and started watching me, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

That was the picture my wife found when she spotted us as she was passing by.

Sitting there in that meeting and hearing Tina’s question, I re-examined Susan’s actions and words and found nothing suggestive about them. If anything, she had done enough in that short period of time to turn off any potential interest in me when she looked at me and asked if she was dumb.

I don’t know how many men out there find dumb women attractive…maybe they are for one time use but never for repeated use. They can suck the soul out of your blood cells. I was married to an intelligent woman that enjoyed acting dumb…I was too dumb’ed out to handle the real deal.

I had been too busy laughing to think about anything else in those five minutes with her. I just did not have enough time to entertain other thoughts that might have crossed my wife’s mind when she saw us together.

There was absolutely nothing wrong that went on between my short exchange with Susan. If anything, everything that was wrong was all external to us; time, location, and Chizu’s crazy mind.

Put those three together and you have a nuclear bomb.

“She said she saw them smiling,” my mother supplied on behalf of Chizu.

I was soaked in embarrassment.

“Smiling?” Tina laughed, well, more like scoffed. “You saw your husband smiling with another woman and went crazy like that? What are you going to do when you find him hugging someone? You do know hugging is also a form of greeting don’t you?”

The sincerity with which she asked that question broke my heart. I think Tina was convinced my wife was a delinquent. And who could blame her.

“How I handle issues in my home is none of your business,” Chizu retorted.

“You see,” Tina said. “That’s where you are wrong. If you thought that your husband was cheating and you confronted him about in the privacy of your home, then that’s your business. But if you go beating other people’s daughters hoping to enforce change in your husband, then that’s society’s problem.

“Unfortunately, this time it was my daughter you attacked so that’s my problem. That poor girl you humiliated is such a kind child that even when you attacked and humiliated her like that, she did not come to me, her father or her brother to complain.”

She paused for a while to compose herself. Her voice was shaking and her eyes were teary.

“She kept it all to herself,” Tina swallowed. “…because she did not want to worry us.” When she could no longer hold back the tears, her husband handed her a napkin.

“Susan couldn’t talk to her brother because she feared he might lose his job if he confronted your husband about it.” Tina continued after composing herself. “Because she is that kind of person, all those things she kept to herself finally eat her up and she did the only thing she thought would give her a peace of mind.”

By now Mrs Mubiana was crying, her frail body rocking so hard her husband had to keep his arm around her the whole time to help calm her down.

“You have to understand,” Mr Mubiana took over from his wife. “Susan is a very fragile girl. She has been through a lot in her life. She had come back home for less than twenty-four hours when that incident happened.

“Everything happened so fast and it was all unexpected. For a girl that thought she had left her past behind, being abused and attacked like that brought back all those memories that had almost ended her life twelve years ago.”

I wanted to ask about what they kept referring to;

She has been through a lot, they kept repeating that phrase. I also picked up that she must have suffered abuse before and that it was not the first time she had made an attempt at her life.

I was reeled in and my curiosity grew the more they talked. But I could not bring myself to ask because they had not come to us to talk about Susan’s past; they simply needed us to realize just how much damage we had caused.

“What are you people going to do to give my daughter back what she’s lost?” Tina suddenly asked us.

My mother immediately came to our rescue. She humbled herself in a way I would have never imagined and if I was not present at that particular time and someone else told the story to me, I would probably have not believed them.

She got down on her knees before the Mubiana’s, bowed her head low and begged for their forgiveness.

That day I heard my mother say words I couldn’t believe where coming out of her mouth even when only her lips were moving in the room.

“It is my fault for not teaching my daughter in-law properly…I should have taught my children well.”

I couldn’t just sit back and watch while my mother took all the blame so I grabbed Chizu by the hand and together we joined my mother on the floor.

I could see that the couple was taken aback by my mother’s sincere apology and it helped soften them up a bit.

“It is not us you need to apologize to,” Tina said to us. “I need this woman,” she was pointing at Chizu. “I need her to kneel before my daughter and beg her for forgiveness.

“You will stay on your knees before my daughter until such a time she decides to forgive you. You will also go back to your bosses and tell them what you did and make sure that they hire her back.

“If that fails, you will have to pay my daughter the equivalent of the salary she was to be paid when she got confirmed at your workplace and you will only stop until she finds another job.

“You will also release a video and make sure it goes as viral as the others did and you will explain to the public that you accused an innocent girl and you will show that you are sorry and regretful. And most importantly, you will not try to negotiate with Susan the terms I have set for you.

“I know my daughter, she has such a forgiving heart but I am her mother and it is my duty to protect my child and ensure nothing like this ever happens again. If you do not comply with any of these things I’ve stated, I will drag this thing to court and take you both for everything you’ve got. Do I make myself clear?”

I knew it; I seriously needed to bottle that woman’s spirit.

Even her own husband was shocked by the conditions she had set for us but he did not dare oppose her or do anything else that might antagonize her.

“We will do it,” my mother announced, still on her knees. Both Chizu and I gave her a look.

“There are consequences for everything we do in life,” my mother said. “Perhaps next time you will think twice before acting or reacting.” She was looking at my wife when she uttered those words.

The Mubiana’s got up, said their final piece and left.

I helped my mother up from the floor and left Chizu there. She deserved the punishment, I just hated that I was equally accountable for her mistakes.
That night I couldn’t sleep, like a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders I kept turning and tossing. However, much to my amazement, I couldn’t help noticing how my better half was soundly sleeping beside me. Her body was sprawled all over the bed like a giant octopus.

How could she sleep so easily and so soundly after everything that had happened?

I had two things keeping me awake; the image of my mother down on her knees, crying and begging for forgiveness for something she was not responsible for, and the image of Susan’s lifeless body in Malambo’s arms.

After the visitors left, my mother had not said anything to either of us. She had gone straight to the guest bedroom and locked herself inside. I stood outside the door for close to five minutes and I heard her desperately try to stifle her sobs.

The guilt I was feeling over these two women eat at me and continued to keep me awake for the coming days. Back when I was a kid and my mother would toil alone from 6 to 6 at the market while my father was away furthering his studies, I would brag to her about how I would take care of her and how she would never have to suffer as long as I was alive.

I broke that promise that morning.

Because of my mistakes and because of some stupid decisions I had made in the past, I brought tears to my mother’s eyes and I forced her to set aside her pride and dignity in front of strangers.

Seeing how Chizu appeared unfazed by everything that was happening despite being the root cause of it all made me grow even more resentful towards her. She refused to approach Susan and beg her for forgiveness and she refused to release a video discrediting the previous versions that had ruined her reputation.

Chizu’s excuse was that she had done enough getting Susan her job back, the job that Susan ended up rejecting because she did not want to work in the same environment as her abuser.

“Why would you insist on forcing your own wife to disgrace herself like that?” Chizu had asked me once after my insistence on her giving Susan a sincere apology.

“That woman sad that she wanted me to get down on my knees and beg?” Chizu was saying. “Why should I do something that humiliating? Did I do anything wrong by trying to protect my marriage?

“If that girl really wanted to kill herself, she should have gone to a place where no one would easily find her and save her. She was just trying to buy pity from everyone just because she was exposed as a husband snatcher.”

At times when my wife sounded like that, I found myself questioning the decision I had made six years ago. I could no longer recognize the devil in my own bed.

Because my wife refused to take full responsibility for her actions against Susan, I felt it was my duty to somehow reach out to her and make amends as best as I could. Unfortunately, Susan refused to have anything to do with either me or my wife.

One Saturday morning I was waiting outside Susan’s home, parked by the side of the road when I spotted her coming through the gate. She had a hood over her head and had headsets in her ears. She must have been playing very loud music because she had not spotted or heard me come out of the vehicle and follow her a decent distance behind.

I don’t know what had gotten into me that day but I found myself following her everywhere she went. It didn’t appear as if she was heading anywhere specific. It was more of a stroll around the neighbourhood.

She stopped twenty minutes later to watch a group of men playing soccer in a wire-fenced football pitch. I saw Susan grip the wires of the fence as she intently watched the game progress. It took a moment for me to realize what was really happening;

Susan was crying.

Even though I could not see her face under the hood with her head hanging low, her convulsing body as she held on to the wire fence was enough for any man that was married to a crying machine for the five years to know what was really going on.

I thought about going over to her but I wasn’t sure what I was going to say to her. She had made it clear she wanted nothing to do withus. I looked around the fence for others watching the game hoping to find a friendly and comforting face so I could ask them to check on her. Unfortunately there were only men around the pitch area, Susan was the only woman.

I resolved to just stay back and watch her at a distance. She finally stopped crying about ten minutes later when she resumed her walk. That day she walked as far as Arcades…or should I say we walked as far as Arcades where Susan bought a ticket for an afternoon movie…to watch alone.

My heart was breaking seeing what that girl was going through. I kept wondering what had happened in her life…apart from the obvious we had done to her to make her feel like she was all alone in the whole world.

That day I ended up watching two movies I had not planned on watching because Susan had gone and bought another ticket for another movie right after the first one had finished.

Watching Susan cry all through those movies made me realize just what sort of person I had become around my wife. With Susan, I found myself crying along with her. I could only imagine the things going on in her head and the realization that I had caused some of that hurt broke my heart even more.

Later I realized I was never like that with Chizu. I had become so accustomed to my wife crying that it no longer had any effect on me. Whenever Chizu went into her crying campaign, I would zone out, thinking about the country’s water and electricity problems and how she could be using her supplies for a worthy cause instead of wasting it on a napkin.

It was then that I realized just how far off our marriage had gone. It seemed after all that the giraffe-necked nincompoop that was now Susan’s ex had been right; there was no more love in my marriage to Susan, what we had between us was two people fulfilling their duties to each other because a certain paper somewhere obliged them to.

When I opened the door to the house, feeling emotionally and physically drained, I found Chizu waiting on the other side, her hands on her waist and her lip ammunition ready to fire.

I closed the door and instead of continuing my journey inside the house, I pressed my back against the door and stood back to take a good look at the woman I had called my wife for the past five years.

“Are you drunk?” I heard her ask, coming in closer to have a good look at my face and probably smell my breath.

I am not a drinking man so I never once came home drunk or smelling of alcohol. I did not need alcohol to get high, Chizu’s lip army and all that air from her mouth blowing at me was enough to knock me out and give me a migraine for hangover.

It took me a while to realize that her yelling was the reason behind the receding of my hairline. All that fire in my face sent the front hairs in my head running for cover. Two more years and I will be as bald as Vin Diesel.

Good thing I already have the complexion to go with it.

“I can’t smell any alcohol,” the commander in-chief bellowed, twisting her nostrils in all directions like an animal looking to mate.

I couldn’t blame her for thinking I was drunk. Everything about the way I looked spelt drunk, except for the missing scent.

As I stood there watching my wife examine me while she straightened her oesophagus in readiness for her linguistic army attack, I couldn’t help thinking;

What is this giant creature with wild horns doing in my home?

And the sad truth is, that’s how I felt whenever I looked at my wife. She was no longer than sweet caring woman that had been willing to sacrifice her best friend just to be with me. Of course during the time I was head over heels in-love, I never realised just what a double edged sword the kind of love Chizu gave me was.

I wondered what she saw when she looked at me. I will be the first to admit that I was not a perfect husband. I might have been deluded for a while that me not cheating on her made me an exceptional husband but I later realized a little too late just how lacking I was.

Unfortunately, at that time, it was easier for me to position myself as a victim since I was obviously being accused of something I had not done. And, instead of focusing on my innocence and busking in my victimization, I should have been asking why my own wife would rather believe the worst about me than convince herself otherwise.

I had spent almost the whole day that day looking at a woman that was the total opposite of the creature now standing before me. And it wasn’t that the creature was an intruder, the creature was something I had created with my own hands and now it had turned its back on me and was more than ready to devour me.

I hated myself at that point. I hated the thoughts running through my head and I hated my whole life.

For the thirty minutes that followed, my darling wife Chizu exercised her right to free speech and expression and ended up saving us two months of gym fees. Her adrenaline was running high and her metabolism was busting through the roof from all the yelling.

My silence really irked her to the bone and she had yet to develop a strategy on how to go about this new curve ball I had thrown her.

I was very much aware of how disrespectful my silence in those moments was to her but I reasoned that the amount of disrespect she was feeling in those moments was less than the amount she would feel had I dared to open my mouth.

I only needed her to say thank you to my mother for what she had done for us and apologize for all the hurt she had caused an innocent girl.

But she had done none of that.

That night too I never slept, and the night that followed, and the next…just like that. I would have walked past the set of The Walking Dead and their director would have confused me for a cast member…because that’s how much of a Zombie I had become.

The bitterness I was feeling inside had risen to a record high and there was no stopping the man I had become. Every weekend I found myself following…or stalking Susan, wondering if she was feeling suicidal or not. I ended up paying the gossiping housekeeper to keep checking on her every five minutes whenever she was in her room alone.

Eventually, what had started out as fear grew into pity and then later into something else that I had not seen coming.

“Why do you keep following me?” Was the question Susan asked me once when she caught me hanging around her place.

I had been waiting in my usual spot by the side of the road somewhere close to her home waiting for her to come out when I dozed off and she came knocking on my window.

Suffice to say, I was embarrassed to my toes. I rolled down the rest of the window and gave her a half smile half kill me now look.

“Susan,” was all that my diaphragm could conjure up.

It was the first time I was looking at her at such a close range. The first time I met her I never did much looking because when you are married and meeting the young sister of your friend and colleague, you only care about what comes out of their mouth and not what they look like.

But this time around, I found myself looking…well, others might call it looking…but it was more of an x-ray examination on my part. For the first time in my life I was looking at a woman and imagining what her skeleton must look like. Usually my vision just went passed the layer of clothing and stopped there, but not in Susan’s case.

Susan had lost a noticeable amount of weight from that first time I met her. She was wearing white skinny jeans and an oversized purple sweatshirt that did her tiny frame no justice at all.

“Can we talk?” I asked her.

“I told you,” I could smell the no coming so I quickly jumped in.

“Just five minutes.” I said.

“What if your wife followed you and then she misunderstands again. I don’t want to go through that again. You should leave…and please, stop following me around. I see you everywhere I go these days. What do you want from me?”

I could tell she wasn’t going to go anywhere with me that day so I quickly stepped out of the vehicle and went to her. She backed away from me like I was a virus from Congo.

She had this fear in her eyes that I had never before seen in a woman whose eyes gazed upon my handsome face.

What had I done to this child?

I stopped moving towards her, my hands raised in the air as if to tell her I was not armed. But she kept backing away onto the street and ended up almost getting hit by a guy on a bicycle that had not calculated for her unexpected presence on the road.

While the bicycle guy went spilling off his ride, I managed to catch Susan before she landed her bottom on the pavement, a good move on my part since there was nothing much to cushion her fall had she fallen to the ground.

She pushed me off the moment she was steady on her feet and quickly went to apologize to the bicycle man reeling in anger. She removed a K100 note from her purse and handed it to him.

He smiled, thanked her and left.

Bloody bastard.

And then she turned to scowl at me. “Give me back my money,” she said.

I was lost. “What money?” I asked.

“The money I gave that guy,” she said. “If not for you, that accident wouldn’t have happened.”

At first I was shocked and then I started laughing. I totally had not seen that coming. She was saying the most absurd thing and yet she pulled it off with such a straight face that I started to doubt all those lesson on angles I had learnt in my Grade 10 class.

“How about we split 50-50?” I suggested. “You could have easily given that guy a 10 grand and he would have left. Did you have to give him a 100?”

“I felt bad for him,” she said. “Did you see how he spilled off the bike?” she was now holding her hands over her mouth trying to stifle her chuckles.

I couldn’t help laughing…she had said spilled… I had thought the exact same thing when it happened, except in vernacular, which sounded worse. Most people fell off their bikes, but that guy had spilt off his bike.

Both of us laughing like that reminded me of that first time we had met. That time too, she had easily made me laugh.

Sensing the awkwardness and knowing exactly what was going to come out of her mouth next, I took out my wallet and removed a K100 note.

“I don’t have change,” she said, not taking the money I was offering to her.

“You can keep the change,” I said. “Get a cab or something, since I delayed you wherever you are going.”

“Any other guy I would have played modest and refused, but,” she took the money from me. “Since it’s you, you owe me waaay more than 50 bucks for everything you put me through.”

I laughed, again. She must have thought I was a new version of fool. I don’t know why I found myself laughing at everything that came out of her mouth.

“Go home to your wife now,” she said. “Don’t worry about me. I won’t try to kill myself again. I have matured a little since the last time you saw me.”

“I hope you won’t…do…it…again,” I couldn’t bring myself to say the word suicide in front of her. “But if you ever feel down again, please, call me. I can be your punching bag. You can hit me as much as you like until you feel better. I can even chip in my wife for good measure if you need an extra round.”

She chuckled and said, “Goodbye Mr Kaunda.”

And she was gone.

* * *

I never went out to see Susan for the two weeks that followed. But just because she was out of sight did not mean she was out of mind. God gracious that girl stayed on my mind and refused to leave.

I have no idea when it happened or how it started but I found myself longing for her to the point where I felt I would not be able to breathe freely if I did not set my eyes on her.

I was like a mad man. I could feel myself losing it as a husband and as a human being. I needed divine intervention…and fortunately enough, it came in the form of my neighbour Mr Chanda.

That man had been inviting Chizu and me to his church from the time we moved into our house and we always found good reasons to turn him down. However, there was something about that particular evening when I met him driving out of his yard as I was coming from my evening run when he reluctantly suggested that we go together.

Expecting me to say no as usual, he had started to say goodbye when I said, “why not?”

He froze.

“But do you mind waiting for me while I take a quick shower and change?”

Of course he didn’t mind! The man had been waiting for this day for three years.

“Where are you going?” Chizu asked me when I asked her to prepare some clothes for me as I rushed to the bathroom.

“I’m going to church!” I yelled as I turned on the shower.

She popped up through the door, laughing, and not just any kind of laughing…that deep honest laugh from the belly…like the one Kevin Hart does when he’s laughing at his own joke, right before he tells it. That kind of laugh.

I wasn’t about to go into the truth-lie battle with her at that moment. There was no lie equivalent to the expression I am going to church. I didn’t have enough courage to provide a lie that held the word church in it. I wasn’t yet ready for Gehenna.

“Tell me really, where are you going?” She asked.

“Go outside and ask Mr Chanda. He is waiting for me.” I said.

“You are not serious, are you?” She left and went to check outside.

She appeared five minutes later all sobered out of her laugh. “What’s gotten into you?” She asked me as I changed into fresh clothes.

“What do you mean?” I asked a stupid question.

“Since when did you become a holy freak? Are you suddenly missing your ex?”

There we go again.

I never used to be a fan of churches but Gloria always managed to drag me to one every chance she got whenever I was home. I would spend three quarters of the time re-watching my favourite movies in my head while the pastor preached or I would be mentally and actively correcting his grammar every time he said something.

Chizu too had not escaped Gloria’s church dragging claws during the time they friends.

“At this point in my life,” I told Chizu. “I will do just about anything to regain my sanity.”

“What do you mean by that?” She asked.

Of course she couldn’t understand. That was a husband’s code for; I think I am falling in-love with another woman and if I don’t get help now, I am afraid I am going to rot in hell…and I will drag you down there with me because I would have turned you into a murderer.

“See you later,” I kissed her on the forehead and bolted out of the house.

“Aren’t we late?” I asked Mr Chanda as he drove us to church.

“It will be Praise and Worship time by time we get there. Don’t worry, you will have a good time.”

I think he could sense my nervousness. I hadn’t stepped in a church in a very long time. I bet the devil was mad as hell at my sudden betrayal, he wouldn’t have seen it coming. Well, maybe not mad as hell…since hell is…you know….

Unfortunately for me, it seemed the devil was one foot ahead of me because just two minutes of stepping into church, who but Susan appeared centre stage with a mic in hand ready to sing.

I couldn’t move, Lord I couldn’t even breathe. I was sitting there like a statue and I think I heard Mr Chanda ask if I was okay but I didn’t have the strength to respond. My eyes were fixed on Susan.

All my life I was made to believe that the church was a safe haven. I remember when I was a kid and my parents would drag us all to church…. I would sit there and imagine what would happen if Armageddon decided to happen right there and then.

“You are safe as long as you are in here,” my mother would tell me.

From the moment I heard that, I would postpone all my bad behaviour to an hour right before church and I would deep my hand in the bottle of condensed milk or fill up my mouth with Cowbell Milk meant for school only.

Then I would sit in church and feel saved from eternal damnation.

I was a genius even as a kid. I had discovered the perfect antidote for sin.

But not on that evening.

That evening the devil had followed me into church and stuck to me like latex on Beyonce’s behind.

While everyone around me was crying from being moved by the words sang in the most angelic tone I had ever heard, I was crying at the irony of it all.

Why her? Why did it have to be Susan? I kept asking myself.

I was touched by too many things all at once; my past, my present, my faltering convictions, her voice…Susan’s voice…and the words she was singing.

Two weeks later, I went down on my knees before my wife and cried like the fool I had become.

I could see the past threatening to repeat itself and that was a road I had vowed never to travel again.

“Help me,” I told Chizu as I wrapped my arms around her legs. I don’t know when I had gotten on my knees but there I was in our bedroom, on the floor, holding on to my wife and crying like a child.

“What is wrong honey?” I had never seen Chizu look so scared before. She knelt down in front of me and lifted my head up to look at me.

“Did something happen?” She asked me, great fear shooting through her eyes.

“I think I am in-love with someone else.” I told her after a while.

“I don’t know how it happened…I promise, it wasn’t intentional. Help me…I don’t want to feel like this.”

I felt Chizu’s hands leave my body. She stepped away from me and stood looking down at me. I couldn’t look up at her. I was too ashamed.

And then I felt two warm drops of something hit my hands that were now planted on the floor, a drop on each hand.

That day I felt the pain behind my wife’s tears and I listened to nothing else but her sobs the rest of the night.

She neither yelled nor nagged. That night she only cried…and believed every tear and every sound.

I had just been shaken.

Shaken: A Love by Proxy – Part 2

“Chizu!” I yelled at my wife through the phone. “How many times do you need me to tell you that that girl has absolutely nothing to do with me?”

“It’s not like I expect you to admit it even when I caught you in the act,” she retorted.

Talking to Chizu was like talking to a wall, every time I spoke to her, something loosened inside my head. “What did you find me doing with her that made you think that something is going on between us?” I asked.

There was a pause on the other end of the line; I could literally feel her brain dig into the little box of torture she had reserved just for me.

A few seconds later I heard, “I saw the way you were looking at her, I haven’t seen you smile at me like that in ages!”

That’s because I only smile when you are asleep, I said in my head. There was something about my wife’s sleeping figure that I found alluring; eyes closed and mouth shut, she was at her most beautiful like that. I am not sure when I became a man like that but that was who I was as a husband.

A friend of mine once suggested that I try zoning out whenever Chizu went into her wild tirades, body present but mind out, except that sort of thing never worked with Chizu.

My wife’s voice was laser sharp and no sound proof system could beat her. With her by my side, I never had to worry about going into a comma; her voice would bring me right back to reality.

“I’m coming over there right away.” I said to her. “I need to put a stop to this before you ruin a young girl’s life.”

I could feel her boiling and ready to explode but I did not give her chance to spill her molten lava into my ears. I cut the line and made my way to her work place.

I was aware of how improper it was for me to go there but I knew my wife and could only imagine the havoc she must have created the moment she came upon Susan.

By embarrassing Susan like that, she had put our marriage on display and there was nothing I could do at that point to reverse the damage she had already caused. The only thing I knew to do was to try and restore the virtue of the innocent girl that had been dragged into our private living hell.

As I drove to Chizu’s place of work, I tried to work out in my head how I was going to explain to my colleague about what was happening to his young sister.

I didn’t even know where to begin.
I found my missing rib outside the gate of her work place, pacing back and forth. Something broke inside me looking at the desperation on her face. When did she turn into that person?

What did I do to turn such a strong confident woman into this insecure and angry villain?

Her eyes lit up the moment she saw me and she rushed to my window. “I can’t believe you actually came here for her!”

“I didn’t come here for her,” I told her. “I came here to undo the damage you’ve caused. What were you thinking exposing your marital problems at work like that?”

“What do you take me for Bashi Daniel?” she asked. “I never said anything to suggest that it was my husband she was sleeping with. I simply passed a comment about how the male-folk here needed to be cautious around her because I knew for a fact that she was a home wrecker.”

“Chizu!” I was shooting her this look I knew she had become immune to by now. I felt helpless.

I already did my research,” Chizu was saying. “Malambo is an only child. He doesn’t have any sister. Why are you still lying to me?”

She was about to start crying again.

I shut my eyes, gripped the steering wheel in front of me and had to mentally stop myself from hitting my head against it, over and over again.

“All I know is that he told me she was his sister.” I was rubbing the sides of my head with my thumbs to calm myself down. “Who knows,” I continued. “She might be a cousin or something. Some cousins consider each other siblings, maybe that’s what he meant when he referred to her as sister.”

“Can you even hear yourself?” She asked me.

I don’t know what I was doing trying to explain to her. Chizu never bought the simple truth that came from my mouth. Thanks to my wife’s distrust, I had become an expert at writing fiction. If my explanation was not CSI or Game of Thrones worthy, it didn’t make the cut.

“I will make sure that girl doesn’t get confirmed for the job in three months’ time,” my wife-turned-nemesis was saying. “I am not going to let some nobody girl from God knows where to come and ruin my marriage.”

“Nobody is ruining your marriage Chizu, you are the one doing this to us by behaving like this.” I said to her. “How will you attacking an innocent girl help you mend this marriage that’s been free-falling for the past four years? Talk to me, don’t go attacking people that have nothing to do with our problems.”

But Chizu was rolling her eyes at me and giving me the are you kidding me kind of look. She didn’t believe a single word I was saying!

There was something I didn’t understand about the whole situation; how would her confrontations with Susan help her keep our marriage?
She simply had to look into the mirror and turn her head to the other side of the bed to find the root cause of her problems and only then would she be able to solve them.

I silently resolved that the only way to sort out this issue was to involve my friend Malambo and to seek services of a marriage counsellor for my wife and me. It was either that or divorce. I could not imagine spending the rest of my life like that. Forever seemed too long.

Just like I had feared, the videos of Chizu attacking Susan went viral that same night and they kept people entertained for the week that followed. Susan had become an overnight internet sensation as a husband snatcher, me as the husband in question and Chizu as the poor distraught and betrayed wife.

The following day at work, I was welcomed by punches from Malambo. I was his superior at work but due to what was happening to his sister thanks to my wife, he had earned himself the licence to do whatever he wanted to me.

If the guys at work had not peeled him from off of me, I would be lying six feet under by now.

“How could you do that to my sister? To my family!?” He was kicking and yelling as the others held him back.

All I could do was apologize, over and over again. I had no excuses to give him.

It took Malambo who was such a calm and collected guy on a normal day two hours to finally calm down that day so we could talk privately in his office.

“I will do whatever it takes to make things right with your sister,” I told him. I was standing very close to the door, ready to make an exit in case he turned into Rocky Balboa any second.

“If you can tell me how you will restore my sister’s honour, get her back her fiancé and her job, then I will consider forgiving you.”

“Her fiancé?” I had not calculated for that. Dammit. “She was engaged?”

“Yes she was engaged, emphasis on was,” he said curtly. “Thanks to you and your deranged wife.”

Normally I would stop anyone that called my wife names but this time I couldn’t keep Malambo in check. He had every right to call Chizu whatever he felt like at that moment.

“Who’s the guy?” I asked. “Can you give me his number so I can talk to him and explain everything?”

Malambo scoffed. “Do you think I haven’t tried that already?” He said. “I shouldn’t have let her meet you, I shouldn’t!” he had rolled his hand into a fist and was staring intently at it, ready to launch it on anything.

I backed away a few more inches closer to the door.
“That poor girl has been to hell and back and just when we thought she was finally getting a chance at a good life, you guys went and ruined everything for her.”

“Let me meet her fiancé and explain everything to him,” I offered again. “Maybe it will help if he hears things straight from me.”

“Susan has instructed us not to talk to him and to let him go. She says if he can’t trust her by now, he will never trust her.”

“So she is just going to let him go?” I asked.

Malambo looked like he was about to punch me again. “Just stay out of her business and don’t complicate things further for her.” He warned me.

The thing is, I couldn’t just stay away while her life fell apart. I felt responsible for everything that was happening to her and I needed to do something to fix the broken pieces.

Malambo finally gave me the guy’s number after hours and hours of begging.

I called the guy and arranged to meet him by Rhapsody’s Arcades.

Alan Kasonde was the name of Susan’s fiancé. A tall, light skinned guy that looked like he could use a meal or two.

“I am sorry that we had to meet like this,” I apologized as I shook his hand and we both sat down.

I was surprised by his warm reception. I had expected him to be throwing punches in the air the moment he laid eyes on me but strangely enough, his smile seemed to come easy.

“I am sure you know why I asked to meet you,” I went straight to business. “Those things you might have heard or seen about Susan and I are all lies. It’s just a huge misunderstanding that was blown out of proportion. There is absolutely nothing going on between me and your fiancé.”

Alan was smiling when he said, “I know.”

I looked at him in disbelief, for a moment entertaining the idea that perhaps Malambo had been wrong in his deductions.

“What do you mean you know?” I asked just to be sure.

“I know that nothing is going on between you and Susan. Sue is not that kind of girl.” He confirmed my suspicions.

“So does that mean that you are not cancelling your engagement?” I asked, my face beaming with hope.

“Oh no, there won’t be any wedding. I cancelled the engagement for sure.” The Alan guy crushed my hopes into tiny little pieces.

I was gaping at him like a fool. “You know that she is innocent but you are still going to cancel the engagement?”

He nodded. “I love Sue….” He said. “Even when I knew that my parents would object to me marrying someone who’s not from our church, I still went ahead and proposed marriage to her. That’s how much I loved her.”

“So what’s changed?” I asked.

“Everything,” he said. “My parents are Elders at church. They might have curved a little over the church denomination thing because they believed she would join me at my church once we got married but this scandal is completely something else. There is no way they would allow me to marry her after all this.”

I wanted to reach across the table and shove a bugger down his reptile-like skinny neck. Perhaps he would put on some weight whilst choking to death.

“What do you mean after all this?” I asked. “Do you parents think that she is capable of something like that?”

“Oh no,” he quickly answered. “They too believe she’s innocent and that it’s just a big misunderstanding. But still, not everyone believes that. My parents care too much about their reputation to allow their son to marry a girl whose reputation has been tainted like this.”

“Marry a girl? So she is now just a girl to you?”

Alan chuckled. “Listen, I haven’t done anything wrong,” he said nonchalantly. “Sue should have known better than to find herself in such a situation when she knew the wedding was only a couple of months away.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I did not think it was possible for anybody to be that deep a shade of jerk. “Did you even love her?” I couldn’t help asking the douche.

“You are a married man Sir,” he answered. “I am sure you know that sometimes love is just not enough to run a relationship. There must be another reason other than love why you are still married to that crazy woman I saw in the video. What sort of wife can humiliate her own husband like that?”

I finally snapped and landed one hard across his skinny face and sent him spilling off his chair, backwards.

I stopped the waiter that was passing behind me, removed some cash from my wallet and handed it to him. “Prepare anything heavy for this fool worth that amount and make sure he eats every bit of it. I have seen ten year olds with stronger stamina than him. Susan is lucky not to have to spend the rest of her life with someone like you.”

I started walking away when the waiter called out to me. “Sir,” he said, a puzzled expression on his face as he looked at the money in his hands.

“You can keep the money if he refuses to eat. Today might be your lucky day.”
I didn’t have a piece of mind after leaving Rhapsody’s. There was something gnawing at me and it kept bothering me until I finally caved and called Malambo.

I needed to check on Susan and apologize for everything in person but there was no way of doing that on my own without earning the wrath of my better half.

And so, I called Malambo.

I picked up Malambo from his home and we drove to his parent’s place where Susan was staying. I remained in the car while Malambo went inside to call his sister.

A few minutes later, I saw Malambo rushing out of the house carrying someone in his arms, his parents following closely behind.

Even from a distance, I could tell it was Susan lying limply in Malambo’s arms. His father rushed to get the door and Malambo who then placed his sister in the back and waited for his mother to get in before closing the door.

“What happened?” I asked Malambo through the window of his father’s car.

“Aren’t you….” I think his father must have recognized me but Malambo started saying something before he could finish his sentence.

“She overdosed on pills,” he informed me as he backed away from the garage. “We are heading to the hospital now.”

I felt like I had just been hit in the stomach. I had gotten a short glimpse of Susan and she did not look like she had any life in her.

Did I do that to her?

Did my wife and I just kill someone?

My head was throbbing and everything started spinning around me.

“Are you okay Mr?” I heard someone ask from behind. I turned and found a middle-aged woman I assumed was the housekeeper.

“What happened?” I asked the woman. I was zoning in and out of my senses, unable to consume what I had just witnessed.

“That poor Miss,” the woman said, sounding like an announcer at a funeral parlour. “I told the madam that she would try it again but she said she was grown up now, that she wouldn’t try something like that again…now look what has happened.”

“Try what again?” I asked.

The woman held her hand to her mouth. “I shouldn’t have said that,” she said. “We are not allowed to talk about what happened. I will lose my job if they hear that I opened my mouth.”

And she left me standing there alone.
Then why did you open your trap if you knew you were not going to provide the details? I angrily thought to myself.

“Which hospital have they taken her?” I called out to her.

She stopped and turned to look at me. “Over there,” she was pointing to the right behind me. “Just go straight, it’s about five minutes or so drive. You will find a hospital before the end of the road.”

“Thanks,” I said, got into my vehicle and drove off.
I found Malambo and his parents waiting in the lobby while Susan was being attended to.

Malambo’s mother charged at me the moment she recognized me. She was hitting me on my chest with her fragile little hands and I just stood back and took it all in.

Her husband came to get her but before leading her away, he turned to his son and said, “get him away from here won’t you?”

“Follow me,” Malambo said and I followed him outside.

“What do you think you are doing here?” He asked me the moment we were outside.

“You seriously didn’t expect me to leave after what I saw. Is she going to be okay?”

“I don’t know!” Malambo snapped. “How the hell am I supposed to know? How can she do this to us again?” He lamented, and then turning to me, “I swear, if something happens to her, I will kill that wife of yours with my bare hands.”

I could only stare down at the ground, unable to say anything in response. We remained silent like that for a while.

“I can’t believe she did this again,” Malambo said under his breath. There was anger written all over his face. “I shouldn’t have let her meet you that evening, I shouldn’t.”

For the first time since I had known him two years ago, I saw tears in Malambo’s eyes. But no sooner had they appeared than he blinked them back.

I was not the only one blaming himself for what was happening. Who would have imagined that such a simple errand would bring with it such deadly consequences?

I was busy thinking about how miserable my life was when something Malambo said replayed itself in my head.

I can’t believe she did this again.

He too, like the housekeeper was implying that it was not the first time Susan had attempted suicide. Or was I making wrong assumptions?

“Did Susan try something like this before?” I asked Malambo. The look that he sent me immediately reminded me that I had not eaten anything the whole day.

“What are you still doing here?” He asked. It was as if he had forgotten for a moment that I had been standing there with him the whole time.

“You should leave James,” he said. “You being here doesn’t sit well with my parents, or me.”

“I understand,” I said and headed to my car while Malambo went back inside.

But I never left. I couldn’t leave without knowing if Susan was alright. I got back into the car to wait and found my phone still ringing.

Chizu had finally succeeded in draining the life out of my battery. Soon it would be my heart…. I thought as I looked at the phone’s screen that had turned black.
I saw Malambo come out of the hospital two hours later and I caught him just before he got into his car.

“How did it go?” I asked.

Malambo turned and was surprised to see me standing there. “You are still here?” He asked.

I simply shrugged my shoulders.

“She’s going to be fine,” he said. “They managed to pump her stomach….it appeared this time she had meant serious business.”

“What?” I asked, a little confused by the words he had added under his breath.

“I’m going home to get her some clothes. She will be here for a couple of days. You should go home now. We don’t want to see your wife coming to cause another commotion here at the hospital.”

I understood his point. “Thanks for letting me know how she’s doing,” I said.

“It’s not you I hate man, it’s your wife. Go home and sort out your issues before she actually kills someone.”
I went home and found my wife waiting for me in the living room, heavily armed and ready to attack.

Where the hell where you?

Do you have any idea what time it is?

Who were you with?

Did you go to comfort your disgraced little mistress?

Are you just going to keep ignoring me?

I had entered the room and went to sit down on the sofa. There were no two-ways about it; whether in the living room or toilet, Chizu was going to follow me until she unloaded all the arsenal from her mouth.

Instead of making things hard for her, I surrendered myself for slaughter and sat back while she shot on target.

Unfortunately, she did not take well to my picture no sound strategy and so she regrouped her arsenal and launched the strategy she knew worked best for her.

She started crying.

To this day, I am still baffled by the amount of liquid that can come out of a single person’s eyes. Chizu’s water works could supply this country with a lifetime of electricity.

I was busy calculating the value of her tears and going over the patenting process in my head before we could supply to the Kariba when I heard; “is this how you are going to disrespect me now? Don’t you think you owe me an explanation for coming home so late?

“I am sorry,” I finally conceded defeat. “It won’t happen again.

“Is that it?” she roared.

“I am tired Chizu, can we talk about this in the morning?” I got up to leave but she came and blocked my way.

“Put yourself in my shoes, would you let me go straight to bed without giving you an explanation if I was the one that came home this late?”

She had a point.

“I didn’t go anywhere,” I said. “I had parked right outside the gate and waited for it to get late. I was hoping to find you asleep so we could avoid something like this. I am not in the mood to fight with you tonight. I just want to get into bed and sleep.” I lied through my teeth.

Strangely enough, I saw her features start to relax a little. Because it was a lie, she had easily accepted it. It’s like she was allergic to the truth. Anything close to the truth and she would have been dancing on top of my head nagging until her lips moved no more.

But one single lie and she went on mute.

I was about to start calculating how much I would earn if I donated her brain to Science upon her passing when she said, “You could have told me that all this while instead of letting me get upset like this.”

You would not have believed me if it came that easy. I said in my head. But to her I said, “Can I go to bed now?”

She was now all smiles, she locked her arm with mine and together we went to bed, sleeping like North and South Korea.
We were awakened the next morning by a knock on the door. I opened the door and found a not so surprising visitor standing there.

My mother.

“What are you doing here mum?” Was the mistake I said to her when I opened my mouth.

I could hear the sound of her heart breaking. I took her handbag from her and stepped aside to let her in.

“Good morning to you too,” she said sarcastically.

“Welcome mother,” I said a little too late.

Umhu,” she said, pursing her lips as she took in the new decor in the house.

Chizu had a habit of changing the house decor per season, something that irked my mother to the core. “I am about to cry from all the love I can feel in the air.” Sarcasm again.

Chizu chose that particular moment to walk into the living room.

“Mum,” she said, wearing the special painful smile she reserved only for my mother. It was a combination of 20% smile and 80% pain. “It’s good to have you here. Do you still have that phone I got you three months ago?”

That was code for; you should have called before coming.

My wife and mother were like the sun and moon of my life; while both of them brought some form of light into my world, it was imperative that they not appear anywhere at the same time. The two of them reminded me of that African proverb; when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. In this case, I was the grass.

My mother’s smile mirrored that of her daughter in-law except for the little difference in ratios; hers was 10% smile and 90% disdain. Mum disliked Chizu because she had been a fan of Gloria my ex-girlfriend.

There were many times when people at church and in the neighbourhood back home in Ndola mistook the two for mother and daughter, which was why she had been devastated when she heard news of my break-up with Gloria. My whole family had mourned the separation for months, going as far as boycotting my wedding to Chizu.

Thus, because my mother still got along with my ex-girlfriend more than she did her own daughter in-law, Chizu harboured her own flavour of resentment. None of them was willing to bend to accommodate the other.

“When I insisted on you seeing alangizi, your husband here said you didn’t need all that nonsense. Now look how you have embarrassed yourself and your husband?” The fight had already started before she could even sit down.

“Mother,” I held her by the shoulders and led her to sit down.

“Instead of beating girls, why don’t you lock the doors here and beat your husband until he stops sleeping around?” My mother went on.

“Mum!” I yelled at her. “Did you come here to make things worse for me?” I asked.

“I just don’t understand what business she has going around beating people when she stole you from a decent girl herself.”

“Why are you bringing up the past?” Chizu asked from where she was standing.

“Just look at her glaring at me like she can beat me. When you were busy stealing your best friend’s fiancé, did you think that you could keep him forever? Is your pee made out of milk or do you shit honey?”

That there was the reason I dreaded my mother’s visits. While the rest of us humans spoke words, my mother purged and vomited a combination of vowels and consonants that gained whole new meanings the moment they passed through her lips.

“And you,” she turned her fangs on me. “Do you think cheating is for everyone?” I could not tell whether the question was rhetoric or not but I stuck to my guts; I stayed quiet.

“I understand that she is not much of a wife, but did you have to cheat on her at a place so close to your home?”

I was looking at Chizu who seemed to be battling the two evils my mother had presented us, wondering which was the lesser evil and whether to take offence or not. I too could not tell whether my mother was speaking in favour of my wife or against her.

“You rushed into this marriage like two mad dogs and you are already cheating on each other,” my mother continued spilling her vermin, not caring where it landed or who it poisoned.

“Are your needs that heavy son?” She asked me. “Are you going to cheat on all the women in your life? Gloria was not good enough for you, this Chizu is also not enough for you. Have you tried using your hands for a change?

“If no woman will satisfy your needs, try your own hands because that’s out of God’s hands son. You know those things aren’t just for directing food to your mouth, use them. Didn’t we have this kind of talk before?”

I wished for the ground to open up and swallow me.

That talk, how could I ever forget it? My dad had travelled for school and had been gone for two years when I turned thirteen. While other mothers would have directed their teenage sons to have ‘the talk’ with their uncles, my mother felt it was her duty as a parent to talk to me.

Had my kid sister not entered the living room that day, my mother would have literally taken off my pants and demonstrated exactly how to put on a condom. Even at thirty-eight years old, she still talked to me like that thirteen year old boy.

“Nothing is going on between that girl and me,” I repeated the statement that had become my slogan in the past few days. “If my own mother cannot believe me, do you think my wife will?” I asked her.

“If nothing is going on, then what were you doing with her at that restaurant and at that hour?” My mother asked.

Chizu eyes were screaming the same question at me.

I explained to my mother how that scenario had come about and the question she asked me was; “Why didn’t you explain that to your wife before she embarrassed you like that?”

“You know Chizu, do you think she would have listened to me?” I said. “She came and slapped that girl before asking any questions. She was convinced in her head that I was cheating on her and nothing I said was going to change that.

“Even when I explained to her what was going on, she still went ahead and humiliated the girl at her workplace and now she’s lost her job and her fiancé. Only last evening, she tried to commit suicide but was found in time by her brother who rushed her to the hospital.”

“So that’s why you came home late last night?” Chizu was looking at me like a convicted man. “You had gone to see that girl in the hospital didn’t you?” she was now towering over me where I was seated.

“Didn’t you hear what your husband just said?” My mother shouted at Chizu. “The girl you accused of sleeping with your husband just tried to kill herself. Haven’t you considered for a minute the possibility that you might be wrong and you just tried to kill an innocent girl for nothing?”

“I know he is your son but you know very well that a woman can always tell when her husband is cheating.”

“I suppose somebody made you believe that you were a woman Chizu,” my mother retorted.

“What am I if I am not a woman?” My wife had lost the battle the moment she asked that question.

“Not everyone that has breasts and a fat behind is a woman,” my mother answered. “You Chizu stopped being a woman the moment you went after your best friend’s man. And now you want to end the life of an innocent girl simply because you are scared someone might do to you what you did to someone else?”

“Are you going to let her keep talking to me like that?” Chizu turned to me, the water works ready to explode.

My mother was about to pass a snide remark when we heard someone hoot by the gate.

“Are you expecting anyone?” I asked Chizu.

“No,” she shook her head.

I went to stand by the door to confirm if the person was hooting at us or at the neighbours.

It was us.

“The keys,” I told Chizu and she came out to open the gate.

I immediately recognized the car the moment the gate came open.

“You know who they are?” Chizu asked.

“I do,” I answered.

“Who are they?” My mother had come to join us outside.

“They are the parents of the girl that tried to commit suicide, my alleged mistress.”

“Well, well, well,” Chizu said smugly, glaring at the two as they stepped out of their vehicle, a huge smirk playing at the corners of her lips.

Had my wife known just how much our lives would change from that unexpected visit, she would have humbled herself and got down on her knees to beg for forgiveness for all the pain she had caused that family.

We were about to find out the hard way just how rotten our marriage had become.

 

Shaken: A Love by Proxy – Part 1

I was in the middle of a meeting with a lady named Susan Mulenga when I saw my wife Chizu burst through the doors of the restaurant, charging straight at us like a wounded buffalo.

I had seen that look so many times before and over the years it had become my wife’s natural signature face. When she was not yelling or fuming, I got nervous, wondering what was wrong or when things would crush…but when she was yelling, fuming, throwing things about, and doing gymnastics with her hands and mouth, I knew I was right at home.

Unfortunately, I was not at home that particular evening when Chizu unleashed her inner demons. This time we had an audience.

PAAAAAAAAA************

That’s the sound of the slap that filled the restaurant where we  were, my mouth open wide, starring in horror at my wife who had just assaulted the innocent twenty five year old lady I had been having a brief meeting with.

That single slap was like the final blow to a very cracked wall.

And everything came tumbling down.

I knew very well why my wife had acted that way. I understood the pain in her eyes and I knew the exact temperature of the tears streaking down her cheeks…because I have spent the last four years drying them.

There was only one thing any normal man in my position would have done; quickly explain to his wife that she had misunderstood the situation.

“This lady here is Malambo’s sister, you know Malambo right honey? He’s my workmate. He left for Kabwe this morning and he forgot to leave me these documents that I need for tomorrows board meeting. He left them with his sister to give to me and that’s why we are here. She got lost searching for our address so I asked her to wait for me here at the restaurant since it’s close to home.”

That’s what I should have said to Chizu. That was the simple explanation of what was happening. The whole truth…nothing but the truth.

I would have even taken off my clothes and started swinging naked from the chandelier whilst saying those words and she still wouldn’t have believed me.

Like a helpless man, my lips stayed sealed.

We had reached a point in our marriage where the simple truth was just not enough to give us the peace we so desperately needed. There was absolutely no trust. For her to believe me, I needed to tell her something so extraordinary and way out of this world.

I would have looked her in the eye and told her; “This is the great great great granddaughter to Mahatma Ghandi. She came all the way from India and is trying to set up an NGO here in Zambia and she’s asking for my expertise to help her get started,

“The reason we are sitting here in this restaurant so close to home is because we are waiting for Florence Nightingale’s step brother to join us so we can all come home together. The two of them want to partner up in this organization so I thought you might get excited if I surprised you with such great visitors for dinner.”

I would have said that and she would have believed me.

But my lips were still tied. In my head I was thinking…how did I get to this point? How did we end up here?

How did this woman whose confidence had weakened me at my knees turn out to be such an insecure woman?

The answers came to me right away;

I had caused this to happen.

No, we had both caused this to happen.

Together, we had sown a seed and forgot about it, thinking it would die in the ground as long as we ignored its existence. We had planted fresh seeds of our choice and watered the ground with the best nutrients we could find on the market…but when the fruits emerged, so did those of that forgotten seed.

In this battle of two, an innocent woman stood humiliated, her cheek glowing from the effects of my unstable marriage.

Had I not forgotten for a moment where I was coming from, I would not have suggested that she wait for me at that restaurant. Because of my misjudgement, I dragged an innocent woman into a situation she never imagined she would ever find herself in.

No matter the depth of my regrets, nothing would make up for the pain that that woman would come to suffer as a result of a careless decision I had made five years ago.

Like a helpless man, I just stood there, sandwiched between two crying women; one from her own imagined pain, and the other from the undeserved humiliation she had just been subjected to.

How did I get here?

* * *

I once heard someone say that how a relationship pans out is determined by the foundation on which it was built.

“Bollocks,” I had said in response.

I strongly believed that as long as one did their best to make their relationship work, it didn’t matter how or where they started. I had to believe that. I needed to believe that.

But I was dead wrong.

My wife Chizu and I met while we were both dating other people. At that time, I had been dating a girl named Gloria for over nine years. She and I were childhood sweethearts, started dating when we were teenagers.

It was in the summer of 2002 when my then girlfriend Gloria introduced me to a friend she had made at college. Within a very short period of time, the two girls had become closer than sisters, constantly together and sharing almost everything they had; from clothes to shoes to books…and eventually me.

The first time it happened was by accident, none of us had planned it. I had travelled from Lusaka to the Copperbelt to surprise Gloria at the small apartment she and Chizu were staying, it was just a few minutes away from their college campus. Unfortunately, because Gloria had not calculated for my visit, she had made plans to spend the weekend at home at her parents because her mother was not feeling well.

And that was how Chizu and I were left alone in that small apartment. We bought beers, got drunk and as they say, the rest is history.

However, nothing about that night between Chizu and I stayed history. We both regretted our actions the moment the deed was done and we promised to keep it a secret from Gloria. I did not want to lose my girlfriend simply because I had lost my senses for a few minutes and Chizu too did not want to lose her best friend in such a manner.

And so, we moved on as if nothing ever happened.

“I think I have fallen in-love with you.” Is what Chizu told me when she popped up out of the blue at my level at the University of Zambia three months later.

Her visit was unexpected and her confession knocked me out of my senses immediately. The truth was that despite not contacting her since our unfortunate encounter, I never forgot about that night. Every single day it kept replaying in my head and every dame time I was with Gloria, I kept getting reminded of that night.

Chizu was the second woman I had been intimate with, the first being Gloria. Chizu was the first woman I had gone wild with and so there was that special something about having done something that daring…that special feeling that kept gnawing at me, tempting me to do it again…to feel like that again despite the price I would have to pay if…no, when I got caught.

I never wanted to admit it out loud then but the thoughts were there in my mind; how more beautiful, fun and outgoing Chizu was compared to Gloria my girlfriend. Because Gloria and I had dated for such a long time, we had become too familiar with each other.

There was nothing fun or surprising we did together it was all routine. She had become my fiancée by default and naturally, I had never before imagined anyone else being my wife in future…and I was okay with it.

But that was until Chizu came along.

There was something about Chizu’s wildness that made me feel challenged. I wanted to grab hold of her and tame her in my arms…like I had done that night. I wanted to experience something else other than Gloria. I wanted excitement and Chizu was all that.

So seeing her on my door that evening looking so drop dead gorgeous brought to life all those feelings and thoughts I had been harbouring. Of course the fact that other monks…male students on my block kept hollering at her made me want to hold her even more.

Without thinking, I grabbed her into the room and for the first time in the four years I had been at university, I realised just how small those beds were.

One week later, Chizu had dumped her boyfriend of six months for me. I had become her exclusive boyfriend and because of that, she expected exclusivity from me too. But I had never promised her that. I never once told her that I would leave Gloria for her.

Thing is, no matter how obsessed I was about Chizu, I still loved Gloria and I still only saw Gloria as my wife. I had only a few months remaining at Uni and I was gonna marry her. I was going to keep the promise I had made to her four years ago.

But Chizu was determined in her endeavour to make me hers only. And when she suddenly left me one day, without so much as a goodbye, I was left broken. Her decision to leave my life like that forced me to reconsider my feelings towards Gloria.

And thus, every time I spent with Gloria, I kept comparing the two girls and somehow, Gloria always seemed to fall short.

On the day before my graduation, Gloria had come to the small room I was renting in Northmead and I broke the news to her. I told her that I was in-love with someone else.

“I know,” is what she told me in response.

“You know?” I asked her.

She said yes. “I know it’s Chizu.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“I have known it ever since that night the two of you were alone and I was with my mother. You had dialled my number by accident and I heard everything that was happening.”

Still, I didn’t know what to say.

She seemed to be asking and then answering the questions that were playing in my head.

“I have known you all my life James,” She was saying, fighting back the tears. “I knew what was going on but I didn’t want to be the one to leave. I thought about two possibilities; that you might get over it and come back to me, or that you might leave me. I knew I didn’t want to leave you…like a fool, I kept hoping.”

“Gloria,” I started to say. I wanted to explain to her that Chizu was not to blame for anything…that I was the one who was wrong and that I was sorry.

“It’s fine,” she said, blinking back the tears as she got up from the bed. “You don’t need to say anything. I understand.”

She then reached down from under the bed and removed a nicely wrapped box. “Your graduation present,” she said as she handed the box to me.

“I got my first pay from my part time job at the bookshop. I thought that might come handy since you are starting work on Monday.”

I was feeling way too embarrassed to open to unwrap the gift so I asked, “What’s this?”

“Some shirts and trousers for work.” She replied.

“I can’t take these Gloria,” I told her, pushing the box towards her.

I wasn’t sure if she was just being her usual kind self or if her intentions where to mentally torture me. if the latter was the case, then she had succeeded.

“You are no longer getting BC so you need these clothes for now. I didn’t have enough money to buy a lot so I asked my mother to chip in.” BC is what we called the money we received from the government as students through sponsorship.

Gloria had now unwrapped the box and I could see about four shirts and four pairs of trousers in there. Seeing those things reminded me of expensive Black Orchid Tom Ford bottle of perfume Chizu had given me the previous night as my graduation present. I had been so excited to receive that perfume because it was my very first designer perfume and I couldn’t wait to put it on and smell like a million bucks even though I was the son of a poor marketer.

Unconsciously, there I was comparing the two women again. Because Gloria was ever acting like a wife, I found her extremely boring. While she worried about my general well-being, such as cooking, clothing, safety and the like, Chizu was all about making me feel good and I loved that about her.

Chizu had a doctorate in giving a man pleasure. She could do gymnastics in the air whilst kissing me and she could twist and turn her waist and body to degrees that would befuddle even the father of mathematics himself. She made me feel extremely alive while Gloria made me feel like an old man. I know that I should have been grateful for her kind gestures because truth be told, I needed those things Gloria was offering me while I simply craved and wanted the things Chizu gave me.

However, to my then twenty-four old self, the perfume tramped everything else and Chizu danced about in my head as if she was the haemoglobin to my red blood cells. I could no longer see Gloria. To me, Gloria had become the epitome of all things I didn’t need in my life at that point in time.

I suddenly started feeling like I was missing out on so much having been stuck to the same woman from the moment I had discovered the word ‘come’ could be spelt in another way to mean something else.

My brain was on hibernation and my loins where on fire. Gloria’s Jesus had nothing on me.

I wanted to explore, I wanted excitement, I wanted to feel alive.

And so that morning before my graduation day, I watched Gloria walk out of my life and did not bother to stop her. Yes, a huge part of me was hurt seeing her so heart broken and knowing I was responsible for that but another huge part of me couldn’t wait to announce my sudden freedom to Chizu.

Gloria had remained Gloria to the very end of our relationship. She had put my needs before her first and she left without a fight believing it was something she ought to do for the person she loves.

One year later, Chizu and I were married.

* * *

When I stood in that restaurant watching my wife lose herself, I remembered the words that Gloria had said to us when she paid us a surprise visit at our engagement party.

I had not seen her in over a year and we had completely lost touch. It was the same case with Chizu.

“You?” Chizu looked like she was ready to blow fire from her eyes the way she was looking at Gloria.

Everyone in the room knew who Gloria was because they were all mutual friends of us three.

The room had gone dead quite the moment Gloria appeared on the door and started walking towards us.

I was the most surprised because I knew her not to be a confrontational kind of person. She was a quite girl that would have rather eaten a burnt meal than tell the waiter to prepare her a fresh one.

But there she was at our engagement party, dressed in a black and white lose-fitting maxi-dress and looking painfully calm.

“What do you want here Gloria?” Chizu angrily quizzed her former best friend.

“Relax Chizu,” Gloria said. “I didn’t come here to cause a scene. You both know am incapable of that.”

“What do you want Gloria?” I asked, looking around to check if by some luck we had grown invisible and no one in the room could see us.

No such luck.

“I heard about your engagement,” Gloria said. “Of course I felt bad, hurt. For a moment I regretted not having been truthful about my feelings to the both of you…and then I realized, what could be more perfect than now, on your engagement?”

“Can we go outside and talk?” I tried to grab her but she pushed my hand away.

“I’ll be done soon,” Gloria said. “I just wanted to tell the both of you that you hurt me real bad. I have spent the past year crying over it, wondering how the two people I trusted the most in the world could break my heart in such a cruel manner.

“But I’m done crying now. I stood out there for close to an hour wondering whether to come in here or not. I told myself that if I can find the strength to face you two for the last time, then I would find the strength to heal, to move on…and here I am.”

“Well, you’ve succeeded, so can you leave now?” Chizu said. “You are embarrassing yourself.”

Gloria looked around and then back at us. Smiling, she said. “Between you and me, who do you think has done something to be embarrassed about?” She asked Chizu.

“Are you just going to let her stand here and do this?” Chizu asked me, holding me completely responsible for the presence of my ex-girlfriend at our engagement party.

“Before I leave,” Gloria said. “I need the two of you to always remember something; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Remember that as you celebrate the beginning of the rest of your lives together.”

And she was gone.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. She had said.

I had heard a lot of people use the word karma in regards to my relationship with Chizu but ah ah, not Gloria my geeky ex-girlfriend. She just had to go Newton on us.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the words of a character from my Grade Eleven Physics Text Book having such a profound and direct impact on my life.

After our wedding, Chizu and I lived for each other. Even though we never said it out loud, we both knew at the back of our heads that people around us expected our marriage to fail because it was built on the foundation of a lie.

Thus, to prove everyone wrong, we did everything in our power to be the perfect portrait of couple genuinely in-love and enjoying a happy marriage. And we weren’t just picture perfect, we were truly happy…at least for a year.

It was in our second year of marriage when things started changing. I had gotten a promotion at work and Chizu had to stop working because we were expecting our first child. At first I attributed the sudden changes in our marriage to my wife’s hormones. And then it became motherhood, and then just plain parenthood. There was always a valid reason on standby to explain why things seemed to be spiralling out of control for us.

Silently, we both kept replaying Newton’s Third Law of Motion from Gloria’s mouth;

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

And still, we didn’t want to admit it to ourselves and to each other that the problems we were having could be because we had done something in the past that was catching up to us.

Chizu and I had planted seeds of Okra and expected to harvest tomatoes.

Gloria Ndashe and Isaac Newton had other ideas in mind.

“Who are you talking to on the phone?” Had become an opening line for conversations between my wife and I.

“I heard a girl’s voice in the background, where are you?” This always seemed to happen whenever I was at work and I had the misfortune of talking to my wife on the phone.

With every single call to my office, the female voices in her head seemed to grow louder and louder.

And then it became;

Why are you home late?



Who were you with?



I can smell a girl’s cheap perfume on you?

How can you do this to me?

And then the tears would come pouring. 

I could see her heart breaking, torn into minute pieces. I had done that to her, she was convinced beyond reasonable doubt.

But I can swear before Jehovah, Buddha, Allah, Zeus, Sangoma’s from all over Africa and even kneel before my ancestors and tell them that I never cheated on my wife. Not even once.

I did not even have the luxury to flirt with other women because I feared I might lose my wife to a serious case of Dementia if she ever heard about it.

But in Chizu’s head, she had already found me guilty and sentenced me.

And how could I blame her?

“You left a girl you dated all your life just to be with me so how do you expect me to trust that you will remain faithful to me?” Chizu always repeated this question whenever we had fights.

“I am a nobody who appeared out of nowhere but I was still able to steal you from the woman you had loved for eight years!” She would scream. “I don’t trust you James, I don’t. I will cut off your balls if you ever cheat on me.”

And thus, for four good years I spent my nights sleeping facing down on the bed, my nether areas safely tucked inside away from potential threats. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have dreamt that I woke up one day and found myself a woman. I just thank God that I already have a son because any more of sleeping like that and all my swimmers would be rendered paralysed for life.

“You were cheating on me when you were with another girl,” she would say on other days. “Ine I left my boyfriend the moment I realised I was in-love with you but you couldn’t leave Gloria.”

My wife had already sentenced me for a crime I had not committed and I spent my life living like a convicted man. There were many times when I felt like doing the crime to fit the sentence but because I felt somewhat responsible for her behaviour, I remained faithful and continued serving my sentence in silence.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Gloria had warned.

She was right. I was living proof. Chizu and I were living proof.

Chizu’s repeated statements eventually made me realize one thing; that there would never be trust between us because of how we had started.

We were both so busy trying to shield our marriage from people that were hoping we would fail that we forgot to shield it from our own weaknesses…our past. And slowly, the mistrust grew and the problems grew larger than a Kardashian’s bottom.

When my wife came at Susan like that that fateful evening, it was not something surprising to me. I always knew that it was only a matter of time before she completely snapped. Unfortunately, she had picked the wrong target to take out her frustrations on.

I had only met the girl for just about five minutes and apart from the fact that she was a colleague’s sister, I knew nothing about her.

In Chizu’s head, she had finally caught me in the act and I bet she wasn’t sure whether to start celebrating or to start stoning me. By all means I would have welcomed her attack but unfortunately, it was not me she meant to punish.

It was Susan.

“What do you think you are doing?” I had grabbed Chizu’s hands and was desperately trying to stop her from hitting Susan again since she looked about ready to strike again.

“Let me go you lying cheating bastard!” She was saying, writhing in my arms and waving hers at Susan.

“I am very sorry Susan,” I told the unfortunate twenty-five year old whose facial expression could kill Mr Bean’s career.

“Please leave now,” I told the girl whilst holding on to my wife. Did I mention that at this point we had become a live streaming telenovela? Everyone in the restaurant was glued.

Susan picked up her handbag and was about to leave when my dear wife screamed, “where the hell do you think you are going?”

Susan stopped, glared at my wife and then at me. “I don’t know what’s going on between the two of you but please, keep me out of it. I am leaving.” And she left.

“Let me go now,” Chizu said.

I loosened by grip on her but did not completely let go. I needed to give Susan enough time to get away.

Unfortunately, my wife knew that as well and so she elbowed me in the stomach and ran after Susan while I tried to nurse my pride and injured intestines.

It took me about thirty seconds to regain my composure and unfortunately, that was more than enough time for Chizu to cause some more damage outside.

I found her grabbing Susan by the hair…. And for the first time in my life I wished a woman would have rather had a weave on instead of her own natural silky long hair.

“Did you think you could run away from me just like that?” Chizu was beating the daylights of Susan and instead of fighting back, Susan only concentrated on protecting herself against the blows.

There was no one trying to pull them apart. Everyone in sight was on the phone taking pictures and videos and I could see my wife making headlines on Mwebantu Media that evening.

Here was a girl’s life about to be ruined over a stupid misunderstanding.

I grabbed Chizu again and pulled her away from Susan. She was still kicking and screaming like a WWE diva, still hungry for a fight.

“Why are you embarrassing yourself like this?” I yelled at her.

“Why is she doing this to me?” Susan asked, bleeding from her lips and forehead. “What have I done to her?”

“I am very sorry Susan,” I tried to apologize to her. “I am very sorry,” I said again. “My wife and I had a fight this morning so I think she mistook you for someone else. Please, forgive me.”

“I don’t even know you how can she do this to me?” Susan asked.

“Do you meet men you don’t know at restaurants and laugh with them like that?” Chizu asked.

“I only met him because my brother asked me to give him those papers.” She was pointing to the envelope in my hands. “I have never met your husband before. I didn’t even know who he was until a few minutes ago.”

“You don’t need to explain anything Susan, I am sorry for all this. Please go to the hospital and get yourself examined. My wife and I will cover the bill, I promise.”

I think Chizu scoffed.

I was silently praying that Susan does not overreact and demand for an apology from my wife. The more we stood there fighting, the longer the video clips for strangers entertainment would be. I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible.

“You should control your wife sir, she’s nuts!” Susan said and left us standing there.

I took Chizu by the arm and walked with her to my car. I wanted to literally drag her there but I didn’t want her to appear disrespected just in case the videos taken went viral. She was still my wife. She was no longer called Chizu Malama, she was now Mrs Kaunda…it’s my name that would be dragged into the mad if anything went wrong.

When we reached home, I couldn’t talk to her. I was too upset to carry on a normal and respectful conversation with her. I went straight into the spare bedroom, locked the door and slept.

I found she had prepared her usual dose of breakfast when I woke up the next morning. She had been working for an HR recruitment firm for the past two years and we always had breakfast together before leaving for work.

That morning, I was in no mood to eat, for two reasons mostly; she was going to continue nagging me, and I would take any chance I got to not eat those things she categorized as food in her head.

My wife was the worst cook in the world so much that any other food I eat that was not prepared by her, even if it was prepared by our four year old son, I would gladly masticate it with impunity.

No amount of salt or chilli could make up for the tastes Chizu conjured up in her expensively furnished kitchen. Three more months and I would be bidding farewell to my taste buds.

I would have paid any amount of money to make my wife cook in the kitchen as well as she cooked in the bedroom. So far, the only thing she seemed to have picked up from the cooking lessons she had been taking for the past two years was identifying the difference between scrambled eggs and poop.

I was happy with that because I was served eggs for breakfast every morning of the year. I was happy to finally be able to identify the things on my plate without mistaking them for something else.

It’s not like Rome was built in a day but still, I had hoped that with time, Chizu would learn how to cook because she was very willing to do so. if it meant serving our marriage, Chizu was willing to try it all. Only six months ago, I could recognize the taste of Macaroni from the mashed cheese something she had made for us for dinner. Baby steps…baby steps.

Two hours later, I was just winding up in that fateful meeting that had required the use of those papers Susan had brought to me when I received a call from Chizu.

“Can you believe what happened this morning when I reached the office?” She asked me.

“What happened?” I willingly took the bait.

“It turns out that Susan girl of yours was hired as an Accountant here.”

“What?”

Chizu was laughing. “I did not waste time teaching her a lesson and now everyone here knows what a home wrecker she is. You better convince her to quit or God knows what else I will do to her if I have to keep seeing her face here.”

Oh no, not Susan, again!

Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 20

“Are you telling me that my mother will never walk again?” Kelvin had followed the doctor to his office after his mother’s operation.

I didn’t say that sir,” the doctor said. “I said that she may not walk again, may not…which means that there’s still a possibility that she might walk.”

Kelvin made no effort to hide his frustrations. “You are a doctor sir, not an English Professor so don’t play semantics with me. That’s not why am sitting here. Just tell me what’s wrong with my mother.”

The doctor pulled the chart behind him to show Kelvin exactly which areas of his mother’s spinal code was affected.

“This is the affected area from the impact of the accident,” he said “As I was explaining to you earlier, the spinal code is made of nerve cells that are responsible for the transfer of sensory data to the brain as well as motor commands from the brain to the peripheral nerve roots, from here to there for sensory and from over there to there for motor commands.”

Kelvin couldn’t sit any longer in the doctor’s Biology class. He got up from the chair and pushed it to the side in anger. “Just tell me, is she paralysed or not and if she is what do I need to do to make sure she walks again?”

Unfazed by Kelvin’s anger, the doctor answered, “Fortunately for her, she didn’t suffer complete damage to the nerves. She’s lost sensation in the lower part of her body…this area here,” he pointed to the chart again. “Her legs, to be precise,” the doctor added. “She will not be able to walk…at least for a while, unless she undergoes intense rehabilitation and….”

“How long will that take?” Kelvin cut him off.

“There’s no definite time,” the doctor answered. “Recovery usually depends on a person’s will to get better. Despite her age, I noticed that your mother is no stranger to physical exercise which is a very good thing in this case. I have a number of recommendations that might help for a quick recovery but some of them are expensive and….”

“Forget about the cost,” Kelvin said. “Just tell me what I need to know and I will take care of the rest. I just need my mother to get better soon.”

Once Kelvin was done in the doctor’s office, he went to see Evelyn who was anxiously waiting for him in her ward.

Without saying a word, the look on her face told Kelvin everything she was thinking.

He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her.

“Is it bad news?” Evelyn asked.

Kelvin could feel her shaking against him. He released her and held her away from him, looking straight into her eyes.

“She’s alive,” he told her.

Evelyn heaved a huge sigh of relief. “Seriously?” She said. “Oooh, thank God.” She said whilst unconsciously rubbing her stomach.

Kelvin’s eyes went straight to her hands. “Are you…safe?” He asked.

Evelyn could tell he was talking about the baby. “We are,” she said.

There was relief in Kelvin’s eyes. “Thank God,” he said.

“I am so sorry Kelvin,” Evelyn said, the unshed tears making her eyes glow in pain.

Kelvin took both her hands and brought them to his mouth. He too was shaking from the fear of what could have been just a few minutes ago. Because he felt he needed to be a man for both his mother and his woman, he held everything inside.

Evelyn felt the coldness in her husband’s hands and she felt him fight back the pain threatening to rip him into pieces.

“What are you saying sorry for?” Kelvin asked, his head bowed and his chin resting on her hands. “You didn’t do anything wrong, someone else did. I am just glad everyone is fine.” And he kissed her hands, pressing his lips hard and staying like that for a while…with his eyes still shut.

Feeling every bit of the pain he was desperately trying to stifle, Evelyn took his hands instead and squeezed them tightly, as if to tell him, I’m here.

She watched him in silence, two cold streaks of tears rolling down her cheeks.

Evelyn had a lot of questions to ask about Beatrice but she didn’t dare ask Kelvin in that moment. In that moment she hated her fate; how in the world had she found herself in such a position?

Her own mother, the woman that had given birth to her wanted to kill her.

Her mother in law, the woman that wanted her life had just saved her by risking her own life.

And her husband, the man that loved her like no other ever did was stuck between loving the love of his life and hating the woman that had given her life.

Consumed by all these emotions, Evelyn was caught off guard when she felt something warm drop onto her hands;

Her husband’s silent tears.

A few hours later, Thando busted into Evelyn’s room at the hospital. Without saying a word, Thando threw her arms around her best friend and sobbed without restraint.

“Did you break your legs?” She had suddenly stopped crying and was now examining Evelyn’s knees where she was bandaged.

Evelyn laughed. “I had landed on my knees when Mervis pushed me out of the way. I landed hard and bruised myself, made things worse by crawling over to her when I realized I was in too much pain to try and stand.”

“I still can’t believe that woman saved you. Yoh.” Thando said, pulling the chair closer to the bed and sitting down.

“I know,” Evelyn said. “I also still can’t believe it. I am both sorry and grateful at the same time.”

“I can only imagine what your husband is must be going through. Your mother just tried to kill you and his baby but she ended up almost killing his mother. What a world we live in.”

Evelyn’s guilt at being the centre of all this misfortune froze her tongue in silence.

“How I wish that bitch died in that accident,” Thando said. “I feel like walking over to her room right now and pulling out her life support.”

“Are you talking about Beatrice?” Evelyn asked, her eyes lighting up at finally getting some information.

“Yes,” Thando answered. “Who else can I be talking about? I saw her children standing outside her ward. Wanted to grab them and whip them till their buttocks turned red …but they looked so pitiful so I just let them be.”

“Beatrice is on life support?” Evelyn asked.

“Yes, seems her brain has finally caught up with her heart; they are both dead now. I guess when you have such a hard heart, even the grim reaper has a hard time grabbing you into his realm.” Thando said.

“What about the man in the truck?” Evelyn asked.

“He’s fine, just a few broken bones here and there but he will live.”

Evelyn sighed in relief. “What do you think is going to happen to Beatrice?”

“You mean if she lives?” Thando said. “If she lives, she’s going to regret living and she will kill herself right away. And if she dies, which is the most probable case, she is going to regret dying like an animal and wish she had killed herself while she still looked good.”

“I am serious Thando,” Evelyn told her friend.

“So am I,” Thando said, stifling a laugh in the process.

“What did they say her chances are?”

“What are the chances for a brain dead person sweetie?” Thando asked. “Anyway, I’m not sure, I wasn’t paying attention when Kelvin was telling me. I was too busy celebrating in my head when I heard she was on life support. Of course I would have been happier if she didn’t exist any more but….” she shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly.

Evelyn sent her friend a disapproving look. “It’s not good to wish anyone dead no matter how bad they are Thando.”

“That’s why I said existed,” Thando defended herself. “I didn’t say die. There’s a difference.”

Evelyn could only gape at her friend in disbelief. sometimes Thando completely forgot the fact that Beatrice was her friends mother…that no matter how evil she was, she was the woman that gave birth to Evelyn.

 

Three Days Later

Evelyn watched from behind the curtain as Kelvin stood starring at Beatrice for over five minutes, his teary eyes moving back and forth from her face to the machine above her.

She had seen that look in his eyes before; the deep burning and deathly look that had reaped through her and made her blood turn the opposite direction.

And when he reached out his shaking over and placed it over the machine, Evelyn froze, her hand over her mouth.

She knew she needed to stop him from making the kind of mistake that he could not live with but instead, she just stood there, rooted to the floor and unable to move.

If she could, would she stop him from pulling the plug? She wondered.

Did she want to stop him?

Stuck in a dilemma, all Evelyn could do was cry silently as she watched her man struggle with his conflicted emotions.

Consumed by emotions he could not understand, Kelvin finally gave in and broke down in tears. Releasing his hand from the machine and letting it drop to his hand.

With one hand still holding on to the rail of the bed Beatrice was sleeping on, Kelvin’s knees gave in and he sat on the floor, sobbing, his whole body convulsing from all the pain he had been stifling for the past week.

Evelyn ran over to Kelvin’s crouched sobbing body and she wrapped her arms around him.

“I’m so sorry,” Kelvin was clasping on to her arms and shaking from the realization of what he had almost done.

“It’s okay,” Evelyn told him, repeatedly stroking her hand through his hair and drawing his head deep against her.

“It’s okay,” she kept repeating.

Minutes later, Evelyn walked over to Kelvin who was seated on a bench under a shade outside the hospital carrying two canes of Liquifruit. She handed him and sat down next to him.

“Thanks,” he said as he accepted the drink.

Kelvin opened his cane of juice, took a sip from it and turned to look at her. “I really meant to turn off that thing,” he said to her.

“I know,” Evelyn said, avoiding his gaze.

“You know?” Kelvin asked.

“I do,” she answered. “But I also know that you wouldn’t have.”

“What make you think that?” He asked. “I really wanted to do it Eva. I felt it in my blood…I wanted to see her stop breathing…to go quite forever so that she can’t try to hurt my family again. In my head I killed her a hundred times over. In my head she had already died.”

Evelyn put her drink down and fully turned also to look at him. “Thinking about doing something and actually doing it are two different things.” She said. “Do you think that you are the only one who thought about pulling the plug?”

Kelvin threw her a questioning look.

She laughed softly. “Yes,” she said. “I thought about it. Every time I walked passed her room the thought crossed my mind. How can anyone be so cruel?” Evelyn’s cried. “Was I really her daughter? How can you hate me so much? What did I ever do to her?”

Kelvin held his wife in his arms and waited for her pull herself together.

“You don’t need to think about such things,” he told her.

Thirty minutes later when Kelvin and Evelyn walked hand in hand through the corridors of the hospital heading to Mervis’ room, Mark almost bumped into them as he came running and crying from his mother’s room.

Kelvin and Evelyn looked at each other and as if reading each other’s mind, they rushed to Beatrice’s room and found Moola sobbing over her mother’s limb body.

All the machines in the room had been turned off.

Moola looked up at the two intruders and sobbed even harder. She looked over at Evelyn angrily before storming out of the room.

“She just pulled the plug,” the doctor informed them. “It’s the hardest thing anyone can ever do for their loved one.”

Looking over at Beatrice’s body, Evelyn realised that the last thing her mother ever did for her was to try and kill her.

She broke down in tears and fell to the ground, crying for all the love she never received and all the apologies she would never hear.

Evelyn felt her heart burn over the lost hope she had desperately held on to, believing that one day her mother would realize her mistake in holding her responsible for the past and love her like she did her other children.

Pounding the floor over and over again in anger and pain, Evelyn kept asking herself;

Why?

Kelvin knelt down beside his wife and held her tightly in his arms, grabbing her hands so she could stop hitting the cold floor.

* * *

2 Years Later

Evelyn rushed into the supermarket, grabbed a trolley and went about grabbing a few last minute items for the house warming party she and her husband would be hosting that evening.

She had asked Kelvin to get the groceries but as usual, he got some and forgot others.

She was paying on the till when her phone rang.

It was Kelvin.

“How far are you?” He asked. “The guests have already started arriving.”

“I’m coming honey,” she said. “Just give me five minutes. I hope you’ve turned off the oven.”

“Oh yeah, that.” Evelyn heard him running.

“Bashi Mapalo seriously!” She said.

“I’m sorry babe, I was setting up the sound system. There, it’s off now.”

“Haven’t they burnt?”

“No, I don’t see any smoke.”

“Check honey don’t just look for smoke. They could still be burning inside.”

“Okay, but hurry up. I’m losing my head over here.”

“I know. I’m hanging up, I need to pay now.” Evelyn smiled apologetically at the cashier waiting and handed her the money.

Evelyn was shocked to find so many vehicles parked outside their house when she opened the door and drove in.

Did they all decide to come at the same time? She asked herself.

She found a free spot to park and quickly got out of the vehicle with her plastic bags.

She used the back door into the kitchen to avoid meeting everyone when she wasn’t so ready. She opened the kitchen door and was shocked to find the room dark when she clearly remembered leaving the lights on before she left.

“Did something happen to the chandelier?” She asked as she put down her plastic bags.

She was just about to find the switch when the lights suddenly came on and she found her two year old son standing on top of the kitchen Island clad in a suit and bowtie and wearing very shiny shoes holding an iPad in his hands

Evelyn suddenly had an idea why her husband had been acting mysterious the past few days.

“Mapalo,” she said, smiling and walking towards her smiling son. “How did you get up there?” She asked.

“I have something to show you,” the two year old hunk managed to say.

“What? Show me then,” she said.

Mapala clumsily pressed something on the ipad and raised the screen up for his mother to see.

Evelyn gasped in delight when she saw the slide dancing on the screen;

WILL YOU MARRY MY DAD, AGAIN?

IF YES, PICK ME UP

AND TAKE ME TO THE

LIVING ROOM WITH YOU.

“Why are you crying mum?” Mapalo looked concerned over his mother’s reaction.

“Where they bad words?” he asked. “Dad told me they would make you smile.”

Not wasting any more time, Evelyn picked up her son, took the ipad from him and walked with him to the living room.

“Surprise!”

Evelyn laughed when she found all her friends and her husband’s friends all waiting for her in the living room.

She was pointing an accusing finger from Thando to Sibusiswe. “You guys knew about this and couldn’t even hint to your friend?”

Thando shrugged and busted out laughing.

“Well,” Sibu said. “It wouldn’t be a surprise if you knew about it.”

“Says the woman who absolutely hates surprises.” Evelyn fired back.

“But this isn’t my party young lady,” Sibu said and walked over to her to get Mapalo.

A smiling Kelvin walked over to his wife and went down on his knees.

Everyone in the room jeered.

“Why are you doing this?” Evelyn asked as he took her hand.

“Because I never did it right the first time.” He said.

“I told you, I didn’t mind. I meant it when I said I was okay with it.”

“I know you did,” Kelvin said. “But I still I still want you to have the kind of proposal that you deserve…and I wanted to do it with someone blessings as well.”

“Someone’s blessings?” Evelyn asked.

And Mervis appeared from behind everyone.

“Oh no,” Evelyn gasped. “Mum?” She said. “And you are walking!” she added when she saw Mervis walk over to them, dressed in a form-fitting long blue dress and looking ten years younger.

“When did this happen?” Evelyn asked. The last time Evelyn had seen her mother in-law was eight months ago when they had travelled to Dubai where she was undergoing rehabilation so the whole family could spend the holidays together.

She had been using clutces then.

“A few months ago,” Mervis said, her radiant smile warming Evelyn’s nervous heart. The two of them might have gotten closer ever since the accident, but Evelyn still felt some level of responsibility for everything that had gone wrong in the Kangwa family.

Evelyn couldn’t stop the tears from pouring.

She knew that all was forgotten and forgiven, but seeing Mervis smiling brightly at her made her feel a little guilty…wondering if she deserved that kind of happiness.

Seeing the conflicting emotions written all over Evelyn’s face, Mervis reached out and held her hands. “This is a happy moment for you today.” She said. “Forget everything else that’s happened in the past and celebrate this moment. Every woman remembers her wedding day for the rest of her life…so you better be the happiest when you experience it.”

Evelyn threw mother and son a questioning look. “Wedding day?” She asked Kelvin.

Kelvin was shaking his head and smiling. “If you say yes, and with my mother’s blessings, we are getting married today. Everything is all set up. You just need to get into your dress and let the ladies fix your make-up because we will be taking a lot of photos.”

Evelyn looked over at Sibu and Thando and they were both looking suspiciously guilty despite the huge grins on their faces.

“I will deal with you two later,” she told them. And then looking back at her husband. “YES, I will marry you over and over and over again.”

Without saying a word, Kelvin pulled her towards him and kissed her.

Embarrased, Evelyn pulled herself from him. “Mum is right here honey,” she told him, hitting him on the chest.

Kelvin grabbed Evelyn’s hand and together they got down on their knees before Mervis.

“Look kindly on us mother and give us your blessings,” Kelvin said.

Thinking about how far they had all come, Mervis couldn’t help shedding tears.

In her heels and expensive designer gown, Mervis went down on her knees in front of the two and put her arms around them.

“Of course you have my blessings,” she told them.

Mervis’ words were received by applause the friends of the couple.
Two hours later, Evelyn stood in front of the mirror and starred at her reflection, unable to recognize herself in her new goddess form.

“Why pink?” She asked the two who were busy admiring the result of their work.

“We thought about white,” Thando said. “But white is too normal…and we all know that this isn’t any normal union. We settled for pink because you are not such a girly-girl and we wanted you to feel like a girl on your special day.”

“It’s perfect,” Evelyn said. “I absolutely love it.”

“You look like a princess,” Sibu said, moving closer to fix her veil. “Are you ready to walk down the aisle now?” She asked.

“I am,” Evelyn confidently stated. “But wait,” she turned to look at the ladies. “Who’s going to walk me down the aisle?” she asked.

“Me,” Mervis said from the door.

“No, no, no, no….” Thando rushed to hold Evelyn’s head. “No more crying woman, hell no. Make-up is perfect the first time around. I won’t be fixing it again.”

That alone was enough to drive Evelyn’s tears away.

With Mervis by her arm, Evelyn stood by the door and looked at her husband standing at the end of the aisle, looking like an improved version of James Bond. He was smiling and softly tapping his leg, like he always did when he was nervous.

To his side was Mapalo, his son, her son…their son.

That’s my family standing there, Evelyn thought and smiled.

They are mine.

This is my family, she said as she squeezed Mervis’ arm.

“Maybe because you look so different now, I forgot you were my daughter…Nora…. I forgot.” Mervis whispered as she looked deeply into Evelyn’s eyes before walking her down the aisle.

“Mum?” Evelyn was looking at her mother in-law with deep concern. “Are you okay?” She asked, thinking that perhaps the accident had done something to her brain that the doctors had not yet detected.

Mervis laughed. “Relax,” she said. “I know you are not my Nora. I’m just saying…thank you for letting me be your mother.”

Evelyn smiled and blinked back the tears, remembering Thando’s threat early.

Even if I am to be your forgotten daughter, I don’t mind. Evelyn said to herself whilst looking at her mother in-law.

As long as you call me your daughter…I don’t care whether I’m forgotten or not.

“Come on my daughter,” Mervis said, as if she had read her mind. “Let’s take you to your husband now.”

Evelyn looked at Mervis’ arm where hers was locked and then she looked up in front where her husband and son were standing, then she looked at the smiling faces of all their friends seated in their back garden….

Home, she thought. I am home.

Breathing deeply, Evelyn straightened her neck and faced forward. Smiling, she said to Mervis;

“Take me to my family mother.”
THE END.