Tulani parked his car on the side of the road, a short distance away from his home and called Natasha to ask for her father’s number.
“Have you found Luyando?” She asked him, thinking it could be the only reason he was asking for her father’s contact information a few minutes to midnight.
After hearing about his daughter’s disappearance, Bernard had gone out to search for her wherever his feet would take him. Seeing the desperate state of her husband, Martha had had no choice but to accompany him on his search, afraid he might lose his mind from hopelessness.
“Yes,” Tulani answered. “She’s at my place right now.”
“I thought she might come there,” Natasha said, her voice dropping a few levels lower.
Tulani didn’t miss the change in her tone. “I am not at home right now,” he quickly explained. “I want to talk to your dad first about something concerning Luyando before he goes to pick her up. I don’t think she will be going anywhere else tonight but I think it would be best if he picks her up as soon as possible.”
“Did something happen?” Natasha asked.
Tulani laughed nervously. “Nothing,” he lied. “Why do you ask?”
“You said there was something you wanted to talk to dad about before he picks up Luyando. Don’t lie to me Tula, I can tell that there’s something you’re hiding.”
“Okay, can I talk to you after I am done talking to your dad?” He asked. “Is he at home?”
“No, they both went out to look for Luyando, I mean both mum and dad. They should be waiting at Luyando’s house right now. Dad refuses to leave until he knows she’s safe.”
“Okay, send me his number then, I will meet him over there.”
Tulani found Mr and Mrs Chimeko seated on the veranda outside Luyando and Peter’s home. While Martha had a chitenje wrapper covering her, Bernard braved the coldness of the night with nothing extra to keep him warm, refusing to join his wife under her wrapper.
They both stood up the moment Tulani’s vehicle appeared outside the gate.
“Where’s she?” Bernard was by Tulani’s window before he could even bring the car to a stop.
“How about you jump in while we talk,” Tulani could tell his future mother-in-law was close to freezing. “I will put the heater on and you will be warm in no time.”
Martha didn’t need to be told a second time. Bernard had no choice but to follow his wife.
“Is Luyando okay? Is she at your place? Ben asked. He had already figured out where his daughter was the moment Tulani expressed hesitation in revealing exactly where he had found her over the phone.
“Can we sit down first so we can talk properly? I have the keys to the house.” He showed husband and wife the set of keys he had picked up from the table where Luyando had tossed them.
He drove the vehicle the rest of the way inside and parked in front of the house.
Martha and Bernard followed Tulani inside.
“What is it you want to talk to us about?” Bernard didn’t waste any time.
Shifting nervously in his seat, “It’s about Luyando,” he said.
“What about Luyando, did something bad happen to her?” Martha asked.
“Oh no,” Tulani quickly provided. “I have something to recommend to you…considering that you are her rightful parent…even though my parent’s legally adopted her….”
“Tulani!” Bernard urged him to get straight to the point.
“I hope you don’t get this the wrong way…or find it offending but, I think that Luyando needs help….”
“Help?” Ben appeared confused, however, Martha knew right away what her grandson’s father was talking about and so she silently waited for the bomb to drop.
Tulani kept going over the words to say and rearranging them so they could come out in the most polite way possible. But is there even a polite way to tell a man his beloved daughter is so sick mentally she needs to be institutionalized?
Seeing Tulani’s hesitation, Bernard picked up the direction where the conversation was going.
“Ooh,” he said, hanging his head low.
“I think that she needs professional help,” Tulani finally managed, seeing that they all seemed to be on the same page. “I think that she was terribly disturbed by the death of her mother at such a young age and….” He was nervously looking at Ben before adding whatever thoughts were going through his head.
Bernard slowly raised his head to look at Tula. “And me neglecting her when she needed me the most you mean?” He added, his eyes heavy with guilt.
“I didn’t mean it like that Sir,” Tulani tried to explain himself. It was indeed what he meant…but not in those exact terms.
“I know,” Ben said.
Martha placed her hand over her husband’s lap, unable to find words to use to comfort him.
“I know about everything,” Ben continued. “I know that she’s had to lie all through her life to win people’s affection…just like she deliberately drove her car into another…or fake her amnesia…or,” he paused before adding. “…I also knew about the lies she told in the letter.”
Martha was staring at him wide-eyed. “You knew from the beginning?”
“Of course, how can I not?” he replied. “I felt…I feel responsible for everything that’s happening. She did all those things she did recently because she wanted to gain sympathy. I was the only one who could give it to her without questioning anything because I was responsible for everything.
“You don’t understand,” Bernard went on. “Luyando had the best life when her mother was still alive. She was the centre of our lives. She was like a princess, used to having her way, always.” He then turned his body to face his wife.
“I never told you this before,” Ben said. “But Luyando was born a twin.”
“What?” Martha and Tulani asked at the same time.
“They were fraternal twins,” Bernard explained.
Martha could not hide her shock. For twenty years her husband had not mentioned anything about that. She had been under the impression that there were no secrets between them. Why hadn’t he mentioned anything to her before?
“Tasila had a very troubled pregnancy,” Bernard explained. “She had a very weak immune system so her body easily gave in to a lot of diseases. She was sick most of the time and it seemed to get worse during her pregnancy. Something happened during delivery and we lost Chipego.
“It was a boy. Luyando was a fighter so she came out first…but her brother wasn’t much of a fighter.” He closed his eyes as if to keep the pain of the whole experience shut in the past where it belonged.
“Chipego gave his mother a hard time and by the time he finally came out, it was already too late.”
Martha placed her hand over her mouth while Tulani appeared utterly shocked by the revelations, his mouth wide open. It finally made sense why Luyando ended up with twins of her own.
“We never told Luyando about her brother,” Ben told them. “Instead, Tasila and I showered her with love meant for two people. Our world literally revolved around her. We were not very rich but we were comfortable and Luyando was raised spoiled.
“Anything she wanted, her mother gave it to her….so you can imagine…what she must have felt when it all came to an end so suddenly.”
There was a pregnant silence in the room, each lost in their thoughts. Bernard thought about how he had lost control the moment he had received news of his wife’s death. His whole world had come to an instant world.
Three weeks after Tasila’s death, Bernard had lost his job, home, and everything they had owned…all while his daughter watched on the side lines.
Martha’s mind went back to the time when she and Bernard had their first talk about having a child. She finally understood why he had such strong reservations about starting a family…why he had watched over her like a hawk all through her pregnancy. When Alex was finally born, Ben had gone to the doctor and had a vasectomy done.
She had never understood why but she suspected it might have something to do with the disappearance of his daughter Luyando. All this time, Martha thought that her husband was feeling guilty about starting a new family when he had no idea where his first child was. How was she to know that it was only his fear of the past repeating itself?
Tulani on the other hand was thinking about all the things Luyando had done; from the time she appeared in front of his parent’s vehicle to the sleepless nights when she would keep everyone awake from the thunder’s of her nightmares…and to what happened a few minutes ago in his living room.
He had wanted to hate her for putting him in such a position but after hearing the little bit about her past, Tulani knew that he was incapable of hating or giving up on his sister. She might not know it herself but she was in desperate need of help. Her wounds ran deeper than the scars she had unwittingly let everyone around her see.
“After we lost everything, Luyando became the adult in the family while I kept drowning in alcohol.” Ben’s shame could be heard from his voice and it was spread out loudly and evenly across his face.
“She became the parent of a thirty year old man; picking me up from the tavern, cleaning me up and cleaning after me, cooking, washing…anything you can think of…and she was only ten. I was aware that what I was doing was wrong but each passing day I kept making excuses for myself.
“I thought I was allowed to lose it…to mourn my wife who had died such an untimely death. Luyando had always been a clever child. I thought she could take care of herself. Not once did I stop to consider her pain…I thought she was managing just fine because I never saw her cry….”
As Bernard said those words, his mind flashed back to the time right after they had put Tasila to rest. He had gone into their bedroom, picked up her framed picture and held it against his heart as he gave in to tsunami of tears he had been holding on to all this while. It was not normal for a man to publicly express his emotions like that…even if it was the love of his life that had died.
As far as everyone was concerned, he was a man, a father…he had to be strong. But that day he felt safe to cry in the room he had shared with her for years, the room where they had made life changing decisions together. How could she leave him without talking to him about it first? Didn’t she know that he was not going to like the idea?
Gripped with overwhelming emotions, Bernard had poured his heart out that day, on the cold floor where he sat holding on to the only thing he thought was a memory of her. He had not seen his daughter standing by the door watching him until she walked over to him and put her arms around him.
“I am such a weak man,” Bernard cried.
Martha put her arms around him and cried with him while Tulani watched uncomfortably from the other side of the room.
“I should have known better,” Bernard said. “She never cried, not once did I see her cry. But how could she cry when I was losing it the whole time? One of us needed to be an adult…she did.”
Martha patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t say that Ben. It was a long time ago and….”
“When she came to me a few weeks ago, I knew right away that she needed help,” Bernard said. “But there was nothing I could do for her except to play along with her lies. If I could be the only man standing by her side when everyone else was judging her…I thought that maybe that would show her that I care about her…and that I am sorry.”
“For a while now I have known that Luyando needs help,” Tulani chipped in. “But like you, I thought that maybe giving her the kind of attention she wanted would make her feel loved…but that just made things worse.
“She ended up misunderstanding my actions…and…and…let’s just say that it was the wrong way of doing things. Because we responded to her tantrums and lies the way she wanted us to, she’s grown up thinking that that’s the right way to do things.
“That’s why I came to you today, to tell you that you should get her professional help. She needs to see someone to help her heal her wounds. I don’t think that she is bad person…I think that she just wants people to love her unreservedly like you and her mother did before she passed on.”
“He is right honey,” Martha told her husband. “We need to get her help.”
“Do you know anyone….” Ben started to ask.
“Yes,” Tulani quickly supplied, reaching into his pocket and removing a business card he had purposely carried and handed it over to Ben.
“He’s the leading psychologist in the country,” Tulani said. “I already spoke to him, he will be expecting to hear from you soon.”
“Don’t we need to talk to her husband about this first?” Ben asked. He had not met Peter yet but he had heard from Joshua that he had visited the hospital once. He had wanted to ask why only once but he figured it was not the right time to talk about other issues.
“I will talk to Peter tomorrow morning,” Tulani offered. “According to Luyando, he packed his stuff and that of the children and left the house. the two of them had been having problems way before the truth came out.”
“Dear God what will my daughter do now?” Ben lamented. “Do you think you can get him to change his mind?”
Tulani hesitated in responding. He knew first-hand how much Peter had suffered at the hands of Luyando. She made it no secret that he was not her number one priority and he had been patient with her for far too long. However, her amnesia stunt seemed to have pushed him over the edge and it didn’t look like he had any more reason to hold on to the marriage.
“I will try and talk to him,” it was all he could say to the worried father.
“But is it safe for Luyando to be all alone right now? She is at you place isn’t it?” Martha asked Tulani.
“Yes she’s at my place,” he answered. “She was quite hysterical when I left her so….”
“Is it okay if I go and see her?” Bernard asked.
“Yes, sure. I was thinking about it…but I didn’t know how to….”Tulani left the sentence hanging. “I was planning on spending the night at a friend’s.”
Bernard turned to his wife. “Is it okay with you if….”
“Yes,” Martha answered before he could finish asking the question. “She needs you right now.”
“It’s very late right now,” Ben said. “How about you follow us home first so I can drop off my wife and you can drop me off at your place?”
“I can drive myself home Ben, don’t worry about me.”
“No, let me drive you. I can’t have you driving yourself this late at night. You’ve been running about the whole day helping me search for Lulu. My heart will be at ease knowing you are safe at home.”
“He’s right Mrs Chimeko,” Tulani said.
“You can just call me Martha dear.”
Tulani smiled, thinking how easy he would have it with such a liberal mother in-law.
* * *
Standing at the door of Tulani’s house, Bernard took in the scene of broken glass before him. He didn’t need to enter the house code Tulani had given him since half the door was open. Inside the house, he could see Luyando passed out on the carpet.
The empty glasses of wine and beer around her told him everything he needed to know about her state of mind. It was a good thing Tulani had a tight security system around the house otherwise his daughter would have been in much more trouble than she was already in sleeping like that with the door open for anyone…or anything to enter.
Bernard bent down to fit through the hole in the glass door and carefully stepped on the pieces of broken glass to get to where Luyando was lying.
“Luyando….” He tried shaking her awake. He lifted her upper body up from the floor and carefully shook her, all the while calling out her name.
Finally, Luyando opened her eyes slightly and looked up at him in semi-consciousness.
“Oooooh it’s the man himself,” her slurred words assailed him straight to the heart. “Where’s Tulani? I want Tula….”
Ben tried to get her on her feet but she kept fighting him.
“Let’s get you to bed dear,” he tried reasoning with her.
Luyando suddenly turned and slapped him hard across the face, sending him straight to the floor. Her violent move was very sudden so it took a few seconds for Ben to recover from the shock.
Luyando was fully awake now.
Still, he got up again and tried to go to her but she was waving her arms in front of her to keep him away.
“Don’t you touch me!” She yelled at him.
Ben took a step back, his hands raised in the air.
“Who the hell do you think you are coming here?” Her words were as jiggly as the legs she was standing on. “It’s your fault that all this is happening,” she accused him, unsteadily pointing her finger at him. “It’s your fault that no one wants to love me. How can they love me?” she scoffed. “How can they love me when my own father hates me? You blame me for mum’s death don’t you?”
“No, no, no,” Ben forgot about staying away from her and tried to reach for her hand.
“Don’t!” She shouted.
Bernard stopped. “How can you think something like that?” he asked her. “I never blamed you for your mother’s death.”
“You did! I saw the way you looked at me. I heard what everyone said during the funeral…that mum was never the same after she gave birth to me. They said I made her like that!”
“They were wrong,” Ben tried reassuring her. “They were so wrong Lulu. Your mother, she adored you. Her world revolved around you. She was so proud to be your mother. Don’t you remember that?”
The memories of her time with her mother brought tears to Luyando’s drowsy eyes. Unable to keep her balance any more, she gave up and sat down on the carpeted floor.
“She loved me,” Luyando recalled all the wonderful times she had spent with her mother. “She was the only one that ever loved me…but she’s gone. Why did she have to die!? Why didn’t you die instead?”
Ben had spent the last years of his life asking himself that very question. However, hearing the words from the lips of his daughter tore at his heart and brought tears to his eyes. Indeed, why had it not been him?
“I am so sorry my love,” Bernard said, tears streaming down his face.
“It’s too late now.” Luyando said curtly. “There’s nothing you can do now to fix things. Everything is gone.” She started checking the bottles around her for anything to drink but they were all empty. Disappointed, she picked up one bottle and threw it against the wall in front of her.
She was now sobbing, unable to take on reality with a semi-sober mind. Bernard watched in silence as his daughter battled her demons. He took a risk and slowly approached her. He got down on his knees from her side and carefully placed his hand on her shoulder, partly expecting her to fight him off but instead, she turned and dropped her head into his laps and continued sobbing.
It took a while for Luyando to finally calm down and when she did, she looked up at her father and said, “Help me make Tulani love me dad.” She pleaded. “I promise to stop doing all these crazy things but please, help me. I don’t think I can manage to not have him in my life. I love him so much.”
Bernard remembered the conversation he had had with Tulani. He had been right, Luyando needed serious help. “If I promise to talk to Tulani about it, can you also do me a favour?”
Luyando’s eyes lit up. “Anything!” She answered excitedly.
Bernard sat up and placed his hands over her shoulders. “Lulu, I would like you to see someone.”
“See someone?” She asked. “Who?”
“No one knows or understands better how much you’ve been through except yourself . You’ve been through a lot haven’t you?” he was talking to her as if to the ten year old girl he had seen so many years ago.
Just like the little girl he was picturing in his head, Luyando was nodding her head profusely. “I don’t want anything else, I don’t want his family, and I don’t even want to take you away from your family. I just want to have him…I just want Tula.”
“So how about we get you some help first,” Ben finally suggested.
“Yes, you’ve been through so much Lulu. You need to talk to someone about….”
Luyando had a look of horror on her face as she pulled away from him. “You want me to see a shrink? Are you calling me nutcase?”
“No, that’s not what I meant….”
Luyando staggered to her feet, desperately wanting to get away from him. “Get the hell out of here!” She pointed to the door for him.”
“Lulu please listen to me just this once. I only want what’s best for you.”
“You just want to protect your family! You think am going to hurt them don’t you?”
“You said you wanted to be with Tulani, but he thinks your feelings for him are only because you misinterpreted things. He thinks you only like him because you are transferring your….”
“Oh don’t start with that shrink nonsense with me,” Luyando interjected him. “I spent four years sitting in a Shrink’s office telling him lies and him buying into it like a fool, even coming up with interpretations that made him sound smarter when he knew nothing!
“That stuff doesn’t work and I certainly won’t waste my time talking to some wanna-be doctor while Tula gets closer to that woman.”
“But Tulani really believes that you need to see someone.” Ben pressed on. From the little he had come to know about his daughter, the truth was not going to work with her. If his daughter was to get the help she desperately needed, Bernard didn’t mind twisting the truth just a little.
“Therefore,” he continued. “If you agree to meet this doctor he recommended, it will show Tulani that you are willing to change…and that you are recovering from the past. Don’t you think he will start taking you seriously after that?”
Ben could tell his message was getting to her; she was actually considering it.
Luyando staggered over to the couch and threw herself down, softly hitting her head with her hands as if to sober herself up.
“I can’t think straight right now,” She said to Ben who had joined her on the opposite couch. “I’m going to sleep now,” she stretched herself over the couch to rest. “Talk to me in the morning.” She yawned and fell back into deep sleep.
A few minutes later, Bernard carried her into the bedroom and went back into the living room to watch TV.
Luyando found him sleeping on the couch when she woke up the next morning.
“I am going to do it,” she candidly informed him.
Ben sat up, a smile on his face. “You will?”
“Yes, but only if you promise to help me with Tulani…make him see that I am changing.”
“Lulu, I can’t do that for you, only you can make him see that. I don’t want you to just pretend to change; it would be nice if you made a conscious decision to make certain changes in your life.”
“I don’t think I will have trouble with that; my husband has left me and taken the children, I have probably…no, I have definitely lost my job at TMH…and everyone finally knows for a fact that I am not an original Mulenga.”
“So what do you plan to do with your life from now?” Bernard asked.
“I’ve always wanted to start my own company…I’ve saved enough over the years so maybe it’s a good time to start.”
“What sort of company?”
“Media of course, a newspaper, give the Mulenga’s a run for their money.”
Ben laughed. “Well, it’s a good thing you have a plan in mind. When do you think you can see the doctor? I put his card on the dresser in the bedroom.”
“Yeah, I saw it.” Luyando said. “I will see him today, the sooner the better.”
Ben was smiling proudly, anxious to see his daughter finally get the help she desperately needed. She might have agreed to start therapy for the wrong reasons but with more therapy sessions, perhaps she might come to realize that her obsession with Tulani was gravely misplaced…that the two of them would always be brother and sister…and that there was no future between them.
* * *
Two Months Later
Life for everyone around Luyando seemed to have gotten back to normal. Even though Ayanda made efforts to reach out to her adopted daughter, Luyando refused to have anything to do with the Mulenga family as a daughter. She applied to the government to have her removed as their daughter so she could easily date Tulani when the time comes.
Naturally, Joshua was excited about the idea of getting Luyando off his family register but Ayanda was hesitant, having loved Luyando as her own for about twenty years. Letting go was something Ayanda always struggled with.
Tulani was still relentless in his pursuit of Natasha but she was still driving him around circles until one day when he cornered her and put her in a position where she had to make a decision.
“What do you think you are doing?” Natasha asked, tagging him on the shoulder and urging him to get back up.
The desperation in her eyes wouldn’t have been so loud if not for the fact that they were at a company dinner and everyone was looking at them. It was just like Tulani to make a public spectacle of everything.
“I will only get up if you give me an answer,” Tulani said, holding out the engagement ring to her.
“Right here?” Natasha’s eyes roamed the room and found that they were indeed the centre of attention. “This is embarrassing Tula.” She whispered to him, trying to close the ring box but Tula wouldn’t let up.
Tulani knew he was going to pay dearly for putting Natasha on spot like that but for him it was the only way to get her to finally make up her mind about him. He had no doubt that she felt the same way about but he just didn’t know what was keeping her from expressing her feelings.
Tulani hoped that Natasha would stay true to her character and say yes to his proposal due to pressure and fear of embarrassing him if she turned him down. If she was still the same Natasha he knew four years ago, she was going to say yes just so she could get everyone’s eyes off of them.
For a woman whose career was centred on being in front of a camera for millions to watch, Natasha had issues being the centre of attention when she was not working.
“Natasha Chimeko, mother of my child and apple of my eye,” He spoke loud enough for the whole room to hear.
“Will you do me the honour of being…er….” And then something happened that he had not calculated for, he forgot the words he had been memorizing for the past one week.
Natasha wanted nothing but for the ground to open up and swallow her. She just wanted it to be over so they could move on with their lives.
“…my wife…Can you be my wife? I mean, will you marry me?”
“Yes, I will marry you,” she said, quickly picking up the ring to put it on her finger, a move that made everyone in the room laugh. To everyone, she was a woman who could hardly wait to wear the ring the man of her dreams had presented her, but to Natasha, it was a way of fast forwarding the whole experience.
Tulani laughed and quickly took the ring from her before she could slip it through her finger. “I think I am the one who’s supposed to do this,” he said as he put the ring on her finger, receiving applause from everyone.
Natasha had to endure twenty more minutes of congratulations from those around them before she finally managed to slip out. Tulani was right behind her, ready to receive his punishment.
“Why….” They were in the car park and Natasha had turned angrily to lash out at Tulani when he grabbed her around the waist, pulled her head slightly back and kissed her like she was his source of oxygen.
Natasha was ready to push him off when she felt his tongue heavy inside her, a warm rush of unexplainable pleasure halting her thirst to fight against him immediately. She gasped, her breath caught for a second in the throes of unbridled felicity.
For a few seconds Tulani busked in the realization that at least there was one thing he had control over; her body. Her lips might sprout lies on their own but with his pressed hard against them; they sang a melody that rhymed perfectly with every fibre of his being. Her body never lied.
Her throbbing heart pressed hard against his chest told him of the secrets her tongue was trying to hide…the tongue now dancing to the tune of his evil thoughts. Oh, the things I intend to do to this stubborn little vixen clinging to me as if for dear life.
“So, you were saying…?”
“Shh….” Natasha let the curse word hang over them, not sure whether she was mad that he had pulled away from her so suddenly…or mad that she had lost control in such a short space of time. How did things turn out like that?
The bumptious smirk on Tulani’s face screamed his victory over her.
“Yes, you were saying….” He teased her again.
He had completely thrown her off guard and made her lose her train of thought. Angry and embarrassed by her easy defeat, she opened the door of her car, ready to run for cover. But Tulani held the door open, forcing her to stand back against the car.
“If you leave like this,” Tulani said, slowly tracing the ring on her finger with one hand and using the other to securely lock her in position. “It means you willingly accepted my proposal.”
“So you know that you forced me to say yes in there right?”
Tulani chuckled, “Yes.” He answered nonchalantly.
“Why did you do that?”
“Because I wanted to see you try and take it off.”
He took her hand and placed it in front of them. “Take it off,” he told her.
“What?” she asked again.
“I said take it off,” he repeated. “If you don’t want to marry me, take it off and hand it back to me.”
Natasha was obviously perplexed, wondering what trick he was now playing. She touched the ring and started pulling it slowly towards her. She had expected it to get stuck somewhere in the middle, thinking that was the trick Tulani was playing on her but when it moved without much trouble, she paused before pulling it off completely.
“It comes off,” she told him, a puzzled expression on her face.
“Did you think I asked you to take if off because it couldn’t come off?” he asked.
“Yes,” she admitted, and then pushed the ring back in place.
Tulani laughed, his eyes fixed on the ring. “Look at it again.” He said.
Natasha looked back at her finger and realization dawned on her immediately. She couldn’t take off the ring. No, she didn’t want to take it off.
She laughed, not hard or loud, but softly. “How did you know?” She asked Tulani.
“Know what, that you love me or that you want to be my wife?”
She closed her eyes in embarrassment. “Both,” she said, looking down at her feet.
Tulani placed his hand under her chin and lifted her face up. “There are a number of reasons actually; you kept my child and raised him well, you gave me not one, but two chances to be in his life, and here’s my favourite, you blush profusely every time I try to get close to you…like you are doing right now.”
Natasha covered her face with her hands. “It’s just chemistry, it’s not love,” she said.
“I have seen you get so jealous when I talk to other women, last time you refused to talk to me for three days just because some lady openly flirted with me and I smiled back at her.”
Natasha dropped her hands from her face. “That doesn’t mean I love you!” She protested. “You are my ex…and we have a child together. It’s normal for me to feel jealous once in a while. It doesn’t mean I am in-love with you.”
“So you don’t love me?” Tulani asked. “And please, try to look me in the eye while you honestly answer the question.” He deliberately stressed the word honestly.
“Tula, I like you but,”
“But you are scared to get married again after what happened with your ex?” he finished for her. Her eyes told him he was right.
“I don’t think I want to get married again Tula,” she finally admitted. “Can’t we just date and live together, no strings attached? Don’t you think marriage would just ruin everything?”
“I want to make you my wife Tasha, legally and before God too. I don’t want you to just be a housemate. I want us to be a family, a real family; you, me Sean…and the five other kids we will have.”
“Five? Are you insane? I thought you didn’t like kids.”
“That was before I found out I was a father and got to spend time with my son. My biggest regret right now is that I missed four years of his life. Now I want to have a whole bundle of them running around the house…yours and my products.”
“Products?” Natasha laughed. “I don’t want to have so many children Tula, just one more…but I am willing to reconsider and add another, for your sake.”
“See, I knew you wanted to be my wife,” Tulani proudly noted. “Now I just have to convince you that marriage to me would be the best thing that ever happened to you.”
“Keep up with the arrogance and there will not be an engagement to start with.”
Tulani laughed and drew her close to him for a kiss.
Luyando was standing in line at the ATM at the mall, browsing through her social media feed to kill time when she came across news of Tulani and Natasha’s engagement.
“No. No. No.” She kept repeating whilst shaking her head. Everyone around had turned to look at her.
“It’s a lie,” she said as she turned and started running towards her car. By the time she was settling behind the wheel, her phone had gone through to her father.
“You lied to me!” She yelled at him before he could even say hello. “You lied to me!”