Martha had been watching her husband’s strange behaviour all through dinner. She could tell that some
thing was bothering him and she suspected that whatever it was had something to do with his trip to the mall earlier that day.
“Why aren’t you eating dad?” It appeared Bernard’s sour mood could not escape his daughter either.
Bernard finally gave up pretending to eat and laid his folk down. “I’m sorry, am just not feeling too well.” He then got up and went upstairs. Martha followed him up a few minutes later.
She found him lying on the bed, face up and with eyes closed.
“When are you going to tell me what’s bothering you my husband?” She sat down on the edge of the bed. “What did your daughter say to you?”
Bernard slowly opened his eyes and looked at his wife. “How did you know?”
“Because she is the only person in the world that has this kind of effect on you.”
He sat up. “Martha,” he said.
She said nothing in return, just kept looking at him hoping he would tell her right away.
“I think my daughter is in-love with her brother.”
Martha’s jaw dropped to the ground.
“I think Luyando likes Tulani.” Ben repeated.
Martha still had the same befuddled expression on her face, her lips could not move. Ben was watching her, waiting for her to say something.
“Did she tell you that?” Martha finally managed to separate her Siamese lips.
Ben shook his head. “Not directly, but her actions are suggesting the fact loud enough for a father to know.”
“Maybe you just misunderstood her,” Martha said, willing to consider anything else but. “Maybe she’s just scared that Natasha coming into their lives might expose the lies she told her family.”
“No honey,” Ben insisted. “I might not have raised her, but she’s still my daughter. I know what I’m talking about.”
Martha was back on mute, her mind going over the kind of complications that might arise if something like that came to light. What was going to happen to her daughter? How did that child find herself in such a tangled mess?
“She asked me to convince Natasha to leave Tulani.”
“What?” Martha was looking at her husband like he had already delivered on the betrayal.
“She said that she will tell her family and the police that I threatened to do her harm if she told anyone that I was back in the county.”
“What?” That was the only word at the tip of her tongue.
Ben closed his eyes and tried to hold his breath in an effort to fight back the tears threatening to erupt. He had held it in the whole day but the idea that his own daughter would hate and resent him to such an extent was too strong for him to keep holding it together.
Martha saw the quivering lips of her husband, knowing too well the demons he was fighting. Her decision to move closer and put her arms around him was like the last straw that needed pulling to drive Ben over the wall.
He finally broke down. “What did I turn my daughter into?” He cried.
Gently running her hand through his hair, the determined look in Martha’s eyes suggested she had come to a decision.
Lunch at Tulani Media House was equivalent to a feast at a five star hotel; it was the richest menu Natasha had ever seen at a place of work. If a healthy and delicious lunch menu was part of the motivational package of the company’s HR strategy, then the media company was operating at an all-time high.
Natasha’s head was buried in a plate of delicious pasta when she thought she heard her son’s voice. She paused for a second, pulled her hair behind her ears so she could hear properly and when nothing came, she went back to finishing the business on her plate.
Her three colleagues-turned-friends sitting with her on the table had stopped eating and were all looking at her with bemusement. When she finally cleared her plate, she heaved a sigh of relief, pulled the plate to the side and finally raised her head up.
“I really hate skinny people,” the slightly plump Astridah remarked, shaking her head and looking at Natasha’s empty plate with indignation. “How can you eat so much and still stay that thin? It’s so unfair. Ine I put on weight just from smelling delicious food.”
Natasha, Nicole and Boyd broke out in laughter.
“Every beautiful woman has some deadly flaw hidden somewhere…I think we just uncovered this lady’s flaw today my dear colleagues.” The twenty-six year old Boyd teased his new supervisor.
Natasha finished cleaning her hands and mouth and laid the napkin back on the table before giving each of the three a questioning look. “If you think you’ve just discovered my flaw, wait till you see me naked.” She said in a deliberately stern low key that caused the two other girls to laugh and Boyd to ask;
“Is that an invitation?”
Natasha gave him a blank look.
Boyd laughed and shrugged his shoulders. “Can’t blame a guy for trying.”
“Your taste in women is too ambitious Boyd,” Astridah said.
“That’s only because you are the only one in this place outside the bracket of women I would love to date,” Boyd fired back.
“Ouch!” Nicole said.
Astridah dipped the tip of her fingers in her glass of water and sprayed it in Boyd’s face. “You are such an arsehole Boyd,” she said. “And just so you know, you are also not my type.”
“Oooh,” Boyd playfully placed his hand over his heart. “I’m touched.”
“I like my men strong and healthy. A skinny little fella like you would be crying for his mama if handled by a woman like me. Heeeeeee maaaami musana ine nafa.” She was taunting her colleague by making more crying sounds.
Natasha and Nicole busted out laughing while Boyd nursed his bruised ego, genuinely appearing offended by Astridah’s taunting remarks.
“I actually think that the two of you like each other,” Nicole commented.
“Hell no!” the two of them answered at once.
Natasha and Nicole shared knowing looks and started laughing again.
Natasha heard it again, but this time her son’s voice sounded closer than before…like he was right behind her. She slowly turned her head to look and behold, there was Sean in Tulani’s arms right behind her.
“Mum?” Boyd asked.
The whole cafeteria had fallen into silence, with only the sound of soft music playing in the background.
“Sean!” Natasha jumped from her chair. She sent Tulani who was grinning widely at her an admonishing look. “What are you doing here…with him?” she added in a whisper.
“I didn’t get to spend enough time with him yesterday so I thought; why not steal him for a bit over lunch?” Tulani spoke loud enough for the whole room to hear. Natasha immediately regretted having asked the question.
“Mum, dad said we could have lunch together!” The four year old shouted, oblivious to everything happening around him.
“Dad?” Boyd and Astridah asked at the same time.
Luyando picked that very moment to appear at the door of the cafeteria.
Spotting Luyando by the door, Natasha took Sean from Tulani’s arms and started walking towards the door.
Instead of following the two right away, beaming, Tulani leaned in towards the table where the three were seated and said, “yes, that’s my boy!” And he ran after Natasha and Sean, leaving the rest of the room behind drowning in shock.
At the door, Natasha had to stop to give Luyando who was standing right at the centre a chance to step away so she could pass through. But it appeared the CFO had no plans of shifting camp.
“Sis,” Tulani said once he caught up with them. “I was going to bring him over to your office but the little gangster insisted on seeing his mother first. Meet my son, Sean Mapalo Mulenga. Son, this is your Aunt. Say his Aunty Luyando….”
“Hi Aunt Yado,” the boy said.
Tulani was laughing so hard his sides started to hurt. “You gotto love the American accent,” he said whilst clutching his stomach with one hand and pointing the other at his son up in his mother’s arms.
He was the only one having a jolly good time…at the expense of the two women glaring at him indignantly.
“Aren’t you going to answer your nephew sis?” Tulani had suddenly sobered up and was standing up straight and giving his sister a daring look.
Luyando searched every inch of her anatomy and finally managed to conjure up a smile. Patting the four year old on the head she said, “Hi Sean. It’s finally nice to meet you.”
Sean smiled back at his aunt, only able to see what was happening with her lips and not with her eyes.
Luyando’s fiery gaze could light up a whole village.
“We need to pass,” Natasha finally spoke.
Luyando gave her nemesis a look of indignation before stepping aside.
Once in the lift, Natasha put Sean down on his feet and pressed for the lobby.
“Tasha….” Tulani tried to talk to her. He could feel her anger filling up the tiny little space and suffocating him to death.
Natasha held out her hand to shush him. “Don’t even try,” she warned him.
Tulani shut his mouth.
He had been punched and kicked twice by her before. It was not an experience he needed repeating. He was a very fast learner.
When they finally reached their destination, Natasha grabbed Sean’s hand and bolted out of the lift without saying a word to Tulani.
“Where are you going?” Tulani ran after them and grabbed Natasha’s hand to stop her from moving.
They stopped before the security check-point.
“I am taking him back home,” she said lividly. “What were you thinking bringing him here? This is a place of work!”
Apart from the two security guards waiting to get the door for them and the receptionist standing behind her desk and watching them like a scene on a Telemundo soapie, there were only two other people seated by the lounge who appeared oblivious to the drama unfolding on the other side.
“Tasha calm down, look, I’m sorry I brought him over without talking to you first but c’mon, he’s my son too. I only met him yesterday and spent just six hours with him. You had the last four years, can’t you just let me off the hook this once?”
“Are you mad at me mummy?” Sean looked about ready to cry with his big brown eyes looking up at his mother apologetically.
Natasha got down and wrapped him in a hug. “Oh no my baby, I am sorry I shouted but am not mad. I love that you came to see me.”
“You do?” Sean asked.
Natasha nodded. “I do,” she kissed him on both cheeks to reassure him.
Tulani was looking at her like he had just discovered the secret to calming down Armageddon’s wrath.
“How can I be mad at the love of my life?” Natasha asked her son.
“So can I take him back home?” Tulani asked. “I am after all the one that brought him here. You are making your Zambian debut on air tonight with the evening news right?”
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that for a minute.” Natasha said.
“I was too upset to think rationally. Let’s continue this conversation after work. I need to go back up now.” And bending down to address Sean, “dad will take you home now honey okay?”
“Aren’t we going to eat lunch together?” Sean was looking from mother to father and back.
Natasha threw Tulani a look that said, this is what happens when you do random things. “I didn’t know you were coming sweetie so I already eat.”
“How about you and me grabbing some burgers before going home son?” Tulani suggested.
Sean had won the lotto in his father.
Feeling triumphant, Tulani took his sons hand and led him away. “Will be back before you go on air,” he told Natasha.
“Have fun with your father honey but don’t eat too much junk.”
Natasha had just stepped out of the elevator and was about to head to her office when Luyando stepped in front of her.
“Anything I can help you with, ma’am?” She was as sarcastic in her delivery as could be.
“I guess you are on cloud nine celebrating your little victory in there,” she pointed towards the cafeteria. “How does it feel to have everyone know that you have the son to the heir of this empire?”
Natasha laughed. “It’s a feeling you will never get to experience I guess.”
Luyando pursed her lips in derision. “You think you’ve won the lotto don’t you? Let’s see how long your victory is going to last.” And she started to walk away.
“What exactly do you get from chasing away the women in your brother’s life?”
Luyando stopped, but didn’t turn.
“You want him to remain single for the rest of his life just to satisfy your sick desires even though you are married yourself…even if it’s unhapppily. Don’t you think that’s being selfish? Can’t you see how miserable and unhappy you are making him?”
“What are you, Tulani’s spokesperson?” Luyando retorted, turning to face her. “You suddenly think you are a huge part of his life just because your womb landed a big one, don’t you?” She crossed her hands over her chest.
“Well, let me tell you this, no one knows or understands Tula better than me. I have been with him for over twenty years.”
“Yes, as his sister,” Natasha rudely reminded her. “Unless you are planning on making love to him via Bluetooth, I don’t see the two of you working out.” She then shrugged her shoulders and walked away, leaving Luyando reeling in fury behind.
Just as she had feared, Natasha was the centre of attention when she walked into the pool office of her department on her way to her own office. The looks on everyone’s faces told her everything on their minds and she knew from that point on that they would all be looking at her like that for a very long time.
Just one minute in her office and Astridah came pouring in. “Why didn’t you tell us!?”
Why wasn’t she surprised that it was Astridah that came first?
“Tell you what?” Natasha asked, desperately avoiding her colleague’s gossiping antenna.
“That you are the CEO’s secret girlfriend!” Astridah was excited at the prospect of collecting content for her gossip channel. “And…and you have his child! OMG.”
“This is a place of work Astridah,” Natasha cautioned her big eared friend. “I have no reason to talk about my personal life here…and obviously Tu…I mean, Mr Mulenga had no business bringing my…our son here. You should go back to your desk now. I think there’s a pile of scripts there waiting to be edited.”
“Ah, oh yeah,” Astridah said, looking disappointed but Natasha’s commanding tone was enough to send her out of the room immediately.
Unfortunately for Natasha, Astridah was not the only one that day trying to get a scoop into the story of Tulani and Natasha. Different people that had no business being in her office kept coming and going from her room.
At one point during the day, Chef Michael who never left the kitchen came to her office to find out if she had enjoyed her lunch. Even people that had not spoken to her since she joined the company were now acting like they had been the best of buddies.
Tulani made matters worse for Natasha who desperately wanted to keep her private life private when he walked into the news room just as she was concluding and shouted,
“That’s my girl!” the moment she was off the screen.
Natasha sent him her signature disapproving look and immediately after thanking the crew, she walked passed Tulani and headed straight to her office.
He was right behind her.
“Did I do something wrong again?” He asked once they were in her office.
“Do you forget sometimes that you are the boss here?” She asked him.
“What’s that got to do with anything? Are you trying to tell me that I am not allowed to celebrate when the mother of my child has done a good job?”
“You see, that’s the problem right there; here at TMH I am not the mother of your child, I am your employee.”
“Tasha,” Tulani sat down. “Why don’t you just be honest with me….”
“Why really are you doing this?” He asked.
“Rejecting me, every single turn you just keep rejecting me.” Tulani was stressing every word in the sentence as if to emphasize every single pain in his chest. “Nothing I’ve tried to do is good enough. It’s like you’ve already written me off in your heart.”
“Tulani….” Natasha searched for the right words to say in such a situation but couldn’t find any.
Tulani waited for her to finish but when nothing came, he got up. “Just forget it,” he said and walked out of her office.
Alone, Natasha sunk back into her chair, shutting her eyes and rubbing her fingers over them.
Luyando was in her office pacing to and from whilst on the phone and looking like she was about to explode from whatever the person on the other end of the line was telling her.
“Well, tell him to call me when he’s done with his rounds!” She yelled and cut the line. A few seconds later, her cell rang again.
She answered without even looking at the caller id. “Peter!” She yelled.
“It’s me Lulu.”
“Mum, I’m sorry, I thought you were….”
“Peter?” Ayanda laughed. “Too bad love, it’s only…your mother. What’s wrong? Did you fight with your husband?”
“He hasn’t been home in three days and he hasn’t even bothered to call, not even once. He’s never done this before..” Luyando complained.
“Maybe he’s taken on extra shifts. Doesn’t he work part time at that new hospital as well? Have you tried contacting any of his colleagues?”
“I called the secretary at that other private hospital he works but she told me he hasn’t been there this whole week.”
“What about his colleagues from UTH? Don’t you know any of his friends?” Her mother asked.
“I know some of them…well. I’ve met a couple of them before but I don’t remember their names.”
“That’s the problem with you Lulu, you don’t take a lot of interest in your husband. I’ve told you numerous times to take an interest before you are shocked to find out things that should have been obvious.”
Luyando laughed. “Shocking things?” She asked. “Like what mother? Peter doesn’t have the guts or the time to cheat on me. I am the best thing that’s ever happened to him and he would be a fool to risk that. I am special; I am your daughter after all.”
Ayanda chuckled. “Indeed you are, but just do what I am telling you from now on; take an interest in your husband. He is such a generous and humble soul. There are not many men like that these days.”
“I am going to give him a piece of my mind when he comes back on the radar.”
“That temper of yours,” her mother cautioned her. “But doesn’t he tell you when he’s working nights or extra shifts?
“He usually does but he didn’t tell me this time that’s why am worried.”
“Did you fight the last time you saw each other?”
Luyando didn’t answer, her mind going back to that night when he yelled at her for spending all her free time at her parent’s house.
“Luyando?” Ayanda called her out of her reverie.
“I’m here mum. We had a slight misunderstanding but that’s because he wanted me to apologize for something ridiculous. Sometimes he’s such a cry baby that one.”
“Did you apologize?” her mother asked.
Luyando laughed. “Apologize for what? I never did anything wrong! He was just overreacting. He always takes out his stress on me.”
“Luyando,” Her mother chastised her.
“Why did you call mum?” She quickly changed the topic, sensing that her mother was about to venture into nagging territory.
“Oh yeah, I got carried away when I heard you talk about your husband. Actually,” Ayanda lowered her voice. “I called because there’s a lady here who said she wanted to talk to me and your dad about you.”
Luyando stopped pacing. “What did you say?”
“I said,” she was still whispering. “There is a lady in the living room; she’s waiting for your dad to come back home. He went to that PFP party meeting. They will be choosing a successor tomorrow since ….”
“Mum, mum stop blabbering about that dame party! Who is the lady in the living room?”
“She said her name is Martha.”
“Martha who?” Luyando tried to recall her step mother’s name but nothing came to mind. She had not been interested in knowing who her father was worried to.
“She didn’t say.” Her mother said. “But she seems very nice, very soft-spoken.”
“I’m coming home right now mum.” Luyando said.
“I didn’t call you so you could come home.” Ayanda said.
“I know mum, but I still want to hear whatever it is she has to say about me.” She cut the line before her mother could say anything else, grabbed her handbag and bolted out of the office.
Even though she could not remember her father’s new wife, she suspected that it could only be her who had visited her parents.
“I am going to kill that old man!” Luyando kept hitting her steering wheel over and over again in frustration.
“How dare he send his dame wife to fight his battle? Wait until this is over…I am going to get you for this Bernard Chimeko. You just wait.”
Luyando entered her parent’s house and found the three adults siting in the living room.
“Who are you?” Luyando addressed Martha.
“What kind of manners are these? Sit down young lady!” Her father shouted.
Her body, shuddering from both fury and fear, Luyando went to sit next to her mother.
“Did you tell her to come?” Joshua asked his wife. But Ayanda did not respond. It was clear from his tone that he already knew the answer and he was not pleased.
“You must be Luyando.” Martha was smiling at her husband’s daughter, unable to imagine that a beautiful girl like her would have so much hate towards her own father to threaten im in the manner she was doing. “I was just about to introduce myself to your parents.”
“What do you want?” Luyando asked.
“Lulu!” it was her mother’s turn to put her in line.
Martha chuckled nervously. “I think your daughter already knows who I am. That’s why she’s very nervous.”
Both Joshua and Ayanda turned to give their daughter.
“You know who this woman is?” Her father asked.
Luyando was shaking her head emphatically. “Of course I don’t know her. Why would I know her?”
“Ms…what did you say your name was again?” Joshua turned back to Martha.
“Martha, or you can just call me Mrs Chimeko. I am the wife of Bernard Chimeko…who also happens to be your daughter’s biological father.”
Ayanda’s jaw dropped.
Luyando was gripping her mother’s hand and holding on to it as if for dear life. “He actually did it,” she said, shaking and crying in fear.
“Lulu,” Ayanda turned to her daughter, wiping the tears away with her hand. “What’s wrong honey? What do you mean he actually did it?” And then turning back to Martha, “Look, I don’t think you coming here unannounced is such a good idea. Do you have any idea what your husband did to his daughter? Just look at her.” And turning to her husband, “Honey, are you going to let this lady continue sitting there?”
“He…he…he told me that he…that he was…going to…punish me for…for telling on him.” Luyando said in-between sobs.
“What?” Ayanda asked, sending a warning shot in Martha’s direction.
However, Martha appeared to be unfazed by the female Judas performing in their midst.
And so did Joshua.
“He told me that…that he would take me away from this family…that I didn’t deserve to be happy. He sent her here to take me away. I don’t want to go back to him mum.” Luyando cried, hiding her face into her mother’s bosom.
“Why are you here Mrs Chimeko?” Joshua asked the visitor.
“I came here for two reasons,” Martha confidently replied. “To clear my husband’s name and to ask your daughter…who also happens to be my daughter as well…I came to ask her to stop threatening my husband. Bernard has absolutely no intentions of taking you away from this family.”
“If your husband is innocent, why didn’t he come himself? I think he is a coward for sending his wife instead.” Joshua said.
“I never said my husband sent me here,” Martha candidly informed the three. “He doesn’t even know I’m here. I came because I know he would never come, because that’s what Luyando asked him to do.”
“What are you accusing my daughter of?” Ayanda asked.
“I am not accusing her of anything. I am here to give her a chance to let go of the hate so she can live a peaceful life. If even after what I tell you today you still feel like taking my husband to the police, I will not stop you.
“Bernard is not afraid of anything. If he really is guilty of the things your daughter accused him of doing, I will see to it myself that he’s locked up. But you see, the truth of the matter is that Luyando was never raped. The only sin my husband committed against her was neglecting her at the time when she needed him the most.”
“What do you know?” Luyando snapped at her step-mother. “You were not there! You don’t know anything!”
“Don’t you think it’s time you told your family the truth Luyando?” Martha asked her.
“We’ve been through all this before,” Ayanda said. “Why would you want to put her through such a terrible ordeal again? Don’t you have kids? Don’t you have a heart? Can’t you see what this is doing to her?”
“As a matter of fact, I am here because I am a mother.” Martha answered. “I am here because somehow, thanks to Luyando, this whole situation has affected my own daughter’s life. Has she told you that she and my daughter…who isn’t Bernard’s biology daughter by the way…has your daughter told you that they work together, and that she is the mother of your grandson?”
Joshua and Ayanda gaped at her.
“My daughter Natasha is the mother of Sean. Tulani is the father.”
Ayanda couldn’t believe her ears. “No, it can’t be,” she kept repeating.
“Apart from Luyando here, none of the others are aware of this ridiculous entanglement.”
“Did you just say ridiculous entanglement?” Ayanda asked. “Your husband raped his own daughter. That’s not ridiculous, it’s a sin!”
“I understand why you would believe that,” Martha said. “I also understand that there is no way of proving my husband’s innocence to you, however,”
“There is a way.” Joshua interjected, three pairs of eyes were on him.
“There is a way?” Martha asked, looking extremely curious.
“Joshua!” Ayanda couldn’t believe her husband.
“I heard it from Luyando herself,” Joshua informed the women.
“What are you talking about dad?” Luyando asked her father. She had never spoken to him about the past. She mostly spoke to her mother and to Tulani.
“I kept quiet all these years because I wanted peace in my home.” Joshua said. “Your diary,” he was addressing his daughter. “You remember the diary that you lost?”
Luyando was visibly horrified. That diary. She had wondered when it was going to appear and bite her in the ass. It appeared the time had finally come. Why had she written in that dame thing?
“Are you talking about the diary that Dr Lucas gave her?” His wife asked. “The one that was lost during our move from Kitwe to Lusaka?”
“Yes that same one,” he answered.
“We looked for it everywhere,” Ayanda said. “There were Lulu’s private thoughts in there. The doctor had asked her to write down all her thoughts as a form of healing that’s why we were so worried someone might have picked it up and read everything. Did you find that diary honey?”
“It was never lost,” Joshua said nonchalantly.
Luyando finally sat up straight. “What do you mean it was never lost?”
“I was carrying your stuff from your bedroom at our old home to take to the truck when the diary dropped.” He informed his daughter. “I was going to close it right away but something on that opened page caught my eye.”
“You read my diary?” Luyando was up on her feet. “Those were my private thoughts, how could you?”
“Luyando don’t talk to your father like that. Sit down.” Her mother instructed.
“I can’t sit here and listen to this anymore.” She picked up her handbag. “I always knew you never liked me,” she told her father. “But how could you do this to me?” she started walking towards the door but her mother ran after her and stopped her.
“Don’t leave like this honey, your father is only upset….” Ayanda tried to reason with her daughter.
“Just look at all you looking at me like am some kind of criminal. If the man that gave me life rejected me, what can I expect from you people?” She pushed her mother’s hand away and stormed out of the house.
Ayanda tried to go after her but her husband menacingly yelled at her to stop. “Come and sit down!” he said, and she did as she was told.
“What will happen if she tries to take her own life? She tried it so many times before. Why are you suddenly doing this Bashi Tula?” Ayanda cried to her husband. “I know she is not your blood but she is our daughter. Would you be doing this if she was your own blood?”
“Don’t raise your voice at me Ayanda,” Joshua thundered. “The only reason that child came into this family was because I felt guilty…. Guilty that I was not around when you suffered a miscarriage and ended up losing your womb. Allowing that girl into the family was the least I could do to show you that I was sorry.”
“But you never even tried to love her, not even once!” his wife accused.
“How can I love her when I knew she was lying? If she could accuse her own father of harming her in the way she said he did, what do you think she would have said about me…or about Tula if something happened to her whilst under our care? That girl is no ordinary girl. She is dangerous.”
“Just what did you read in that diary that’s making you talk like this?” Ayanda asked.
All the while, Martha was seated quietly, listening to their conversation and saying nothing as if she was not even there.
“She wrote everything in that book,” Joshua said. “How she approached us, those cuts and wounds on her body. She did all that to herself.”
“Nooo….” Ayanda cried.
“I still have the diary in my safe. You can read it from page to page if you don’t believe. Her father was a drunk quite alright but he never touched her. All those things were lies to gain sympathy from us. It was the only way she knew to get away from the life of poverty her father was subjecting to, no offence to you madam of course.”
Martha laughed. “The truth is the truth,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.
“Why didn’t you tell me all this before?” Ayanda asked her husband.
“You were so into the girl the moment you laid eyes on her. I knew the truth would break your heart.”
“Oh my God how can this be happening?”
“I think I should leave and come back some other time.” Martha reminded them of her presence.
“I think that’s a very good idea Mrs Chimeko. Apologies for the way things turned out. If you don’t mind leaving me your husband’s contact information, I would love to have a man to man conversation with him.”
“Are you planning on giving Luyando back to him?” Ayanda asked, crying at the prospect of losing the child she had come to regard as her own for the past twenty years.
“I never said anything like that,” Joshua said sternly. “It is just proper that he and I meet.”
“I agree,” Martha said.
Martha was driving back home thirty minutes later when she received a call from her husband.
“I am on the road heading home Ben. I can’t talk right now.”
“Wherever you are turn around and start coming to Thurston Hospital. I just received a call from someone informing me that Luyando is undergoing surgery.”
“What?” the first thought that crossed Martha’s mind were the last words that Luyando said to them before storming out of the house.
“I am almost at the hospital, you will find me there.” A very frantic Bernard said. Martha had never heard such desperation in his voice before.
“Did they tell you what happened?”
“Accident,” Ben said. “The man who called me said that she tried to commit suicide.”
Martha’s heart dropped. Did I do that? She thought. Did my visit push her to try and kill herself? She quickly made a U-turn and started driving towards the hospital.
“I am on my way there,” she said.
Ben cut the line.
Thirty minutes later, Martha spotted her husband standing in the hospital lobby reading a note in his hands. She did not see Mr and Mrs Mulenga seated on a bench on the other side of the room.
“Ben,” she called out to him before she could even reach where he was.
Ben slowly lifted his eyes from the piece of paper and looked at his wife in a way he had never done before.
“What have you done?” Martha heard him ask.
“What is it Ben?” she had reached where he was.
Ben handed her the suicide note written by his daughter.
Martha was crying and shaking her head in disbelief as she read the contents of the note.