“Are you all right doctor?” Alicia asked, still gently massaging his back.
“I’m okay.” Samuel said as he quickly got up to put a distance between them. He drunk some more water and after nursing his chest for a bit with his hand, the choking stopped.
“Does that happen often?” Alicia went back to sit. Samuel remained standing where he was, hands in pockets and eyes fixed ahead on the Buseko playing soccer in the distance.
“No, I don’t know what happened there.” He didn’t turn to look at her. “You have one happy and intelligent boy there Alicia.” He added.
A proud mother’s smile crept onto Alicia’s face. “It’s hard not to fall in-love with him.” She said, her eyes too went in that direction “He reminds me so much of his father.”
This time Kayombo looked at her. “You must have really loved him….” He said and waited to see her reaction.
The bright smile turned bittersweet at the memory of her boyfriend. “For a moment I even loved him more than I loved God.” She said. “Isn’t that why Buseko is here?”
Kayombo laughed. “That’s one way of putting it.”
“What about you doctor?” Alicia asked.
“What about me?” He asked. “And please, can you stop calling me doctor doctor. We are not at work and I think that by now I qualify to be considered your friend. Don’t you think?”
“What would you rather I call you?”
“I do have a name you know.” He said.
“Samuel,” Alicia said and immediately shivered in discomfort. “Owww, it feels so wrong since you are still my boss at work. How about I just call you Mr Kayombo when we are not at work?”
“Hell no!” He said. “That’s even worse! Just call me Sam, that’s what all my friends call me. Try it, it’s not that hard.”
Alicia was smiling shyly, unable to bring herself to say the doctor’s first name.
“You used to call me Sam or Samuel when you were with Nick.” Kayombo reminded her.
“You were not my boss back then and I genuinely wanted to get close to you that time.” She answered.
“You just said you genuinely wanted to get close to me.” He said. “Does that mean that now your intentions to want to get close to me are not genuine or, that you don’t even want us to become friends?”
“Of course I want us to be friends.” Alicia said. “I just meant that back then I wanted to be close to anyone that was important to my boyfriend.”
“And I am still important to him even today.” Samuel said. “Just because he is no longer here doesn’t mean that our friendship also died. That’s not how it works Alicia.”
Kayombo’s words reminded Alicia of just how much other things had changed simply because Nicolas was no longer there. She dropped her head resignedly.
“Did I say something wrong?” Kayombo could see her state of mind just from watching her body language.
Alicia quickly raised her head to look at him. “No, not at all.” She said, blinking profusely to keep herself from crying. “Can we change the subject?”
“Ahh.” Kayombo caught on quickly. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t-“
“It’s fine,” Alicia got herself up from the mat, her gaze back towards her son Buseko. “You don’t need to apologize. I’m the one who should…don’t know why I still get emotional despite all the years that have passed. I am going to join the kids over there.” She pointed to where her son was and started heading in that direction.
She had just walked a couple of steps when Kayombo grabbed her by the wrist. “Alicia.” He said.
Alicia first turned to look where he was touching her and then slowly raised her head to look at him. “What is it?” She asked, concern written all over her face.
A few seconds ago, Kayombo had made up his mind and was more than ready to get the ball rolling. If he was ever to grab hold of Kondwani’s Achilles heel, Alicia was the only person that could give him directions.
However, something about the innocence in Alicia’s eyes gave Samuel Kayombo pause. From the little he had come to learn about her, ever since Nicolas, Alicia never allowed anyone to get close to her, be they male or female. But he could tell that she had opened up to him easily from the time they met, a natural form of trust stemming from the fact that he was her late boyfriend’s best friend. How could she not trust him?
For the first time since he had made the decision to go after Kondwani in order to win back the love of his life, Kayombo had second thoughts.
He quickly dropped Alicia’s hand like a bag of hot potatoes. “I wanted to say wait for me.” He said and started leading the way towards Buseko and his group of friends.
Alicia laughed and ran to catch up to him.
Alicia got home two hours later and found her mother seated alone in the living room watching TV.
“I’m home.” Alicia announced her presence in a forced tone as she walked into the room and her mother turned to look at her, an unsure smile on her face.
Feeling the awkwardness, Alicia made no effort to engage in small talk with her and she continued her walk upstairs to her bedroom.
“Did you have fun?”
She was just about to lift her leg onto the first step on the staircase when she heard her mother ask. Both surprise and confusion registered on Alicia’s face. It was her mother’s first try at small talk with her.
“Yes.” Alicia answered without turning to look at her. If she saw the tears in her eye, she might misunderstand and think that she still had that much effect on her. Thus, she continued taking the stairs up and not once did she turn to look at her mother.
Downstairs, her daughter’s out-right rejection broke Henrietta’s heart to pieces, the tears running down her face and falling onto the red carpet she was standing on. It had been over two years now since her daughter had completely turned her back on her.
She felt the distance between them more in that moment than any other time.
“I’m sorry Alicia.” Henrietta whispered the painful words towards her daughter but Alicia had already disappeared into her room.
“I am so sorry.” Henrietta cried, holding her hand over her mouth to stifle her sobs.
With the door closed behind her, Alicia fell down to her knees and cried to her heart’s content. How long had it been since her own mother tried to make conversation with her? Did she think things between them would change just like that? Why was she trying to shake her up now when she was just starting to get used to living without needing her love or recognition? Did she miss seeing her beg for her attention like she used to all those years?
Alicia was so absorbed in her sorrow that it took a while for her to hear her phone vibrating from her handbag. She wiped off her tears and opened her bag to get the phone.
“Hello,” she answered without checking the caller id, her voice horse still horse from crying.
“Are you crying?” Alicia immediately recognized the voice on the other end of the line but just to be sure, she removed the phone from her ear and looked at the screen.
Eyes shot wide open. “Dr Chileshe!?” She was almost shouting.
“Alicia, are you okay?” Kondwani asked.
Kondwani’s question and tone of voice sent a chill down Alicia’s spine. Only one man ever voiced such concern towards her.
Alicia cleared her throat and wiped off any remaining traces of tears from her face. “Doctor, I’m fine. I’m I needed at work?” She was trying desperately to steady her voice but she was not much of an actress.
Kondwani had spent most of his younger life listening to the sounds of one woman crying and then pretending not to have been crying in front of her children. Was it not because of those very tears that he had developed an unmatched hunger for success?
Alicia’s act of bravery could not fool him.
“No, I wasn’t calling because of work.” Kondwani said. “I was calling for something else but now I think something else is more important. Where are you?” He asked.
“Where am I?” Alicia asked, not sure if she heard the question right.
“Yes, where are you?” Kondwani repeated firmly.
“I’m at home.” Alicia answered as she got up for the floor, her facial expression revealing the absolute state of her confused mind.
“I’m coming over.” Kondwani stated matter-of-factly. Alicia could hear him moving about.
“Huh?” She still wasn’t sure if she was hearing him right. Why would Dr Chileshe be coming over to visit her?
“I’ll be there in thirty minutes, let me find you outside.” He said.
“You mean here? My house? Hello? Sir?” He had already cut the line.
“How does he know where I stay?” Alicia asked herself as she starred at the phone in her hands, then she remembered the pictures she had seen in her supervisors office.
Did people spread more rumours about me and him again? She quickly changed into her slippers and ran downstairs.
She found her mother sitting on the couch with her head bowed down as if in deep thought. Without saying a word, Alicia ran through the living room and was out of the house.
Henrietta lifted her head up in time to find Alicia closing the door behind her. Her face was still drenched in tears.
“What happened?” Joseph asked his wife that evening when he came back from work and found Henrietta sulking in bed.
“She won’t give me a chance.” Henrietta said, her face drained of all life from having cried the whole afternoon.
Joseph didn’t need to ask who the ‘she’ was. He put his laptop bag down and went to sit next to his wife on the bed. “What happened?” He asked again.
Henrietta broke down into tears again. “I tried to have a conversation with her but she shut me out completely.” She cried. “I told you, it’s too late for us.”
Joseph reached over to his wife and gently pulled her into his arms. “I know it’s not easy.” He said. “But you know very well that it’s never too late to make things right with those we love. You love your daughter don’t you?”
Henrietta raised her head to give her husband a scolding look. “How can you ask me something like that?” She said. “Of course I love her.”
Joseph laughed. “Good, then that means I won’t be hearing the words giving up or too late coming out of your mouth.”
“You are such a cunning man Mr Daka.” Henrietta said, smiling through her tears.
“This cunning Mr Daka is famished.” Joseph said as he got up from the bed. “How about rewarding him a bit for his wisdom with a meal?”
His wife laughed, getting right off the bed. “Yes sir,” she said. “You take a shower while I warm up dinner. Everything will be ready by the time you’re done. I’ve already prepared some fresh clothes for you to change into.” She pointed to the well folded clothes resting on the other side of the bed.
“Come downstairs when you’re done.” Henrietta said from the door.
“Where’s Alicia?” Joseph asked. “And the rest also, the house is too quite.”
“Alicia ran out of the house a few minutes after she got in and the rest of them are by the neighbour’s house.” Henrietta replied. “Vivien just came back from Dubai with a new batch of clothes.” Vivien was the name of their next door neighbour who owned a number of boutiques around town.
“Belinda wanted to get ‘first dibs’ at them.” She was smiling as she made quotation marks in the air to mimic her daughter’s exact expression.
“And she took the boys with her?” Her husband asked.
“Vivien sells all kinds of clothes!” Henrietta said. “I got that shirt you are wearing and six others from her.”
Joseph looked at his grey shirt, shrugged his shoulders and went to take his shower.
Thirty minutes, just like he had stated, Kondwani showed up outside Alicia’s home and parked in front of the gate where she was standing waiting for him.
Thinking that something big must have happened to get the doctor to come all the way to her place, Alicia ran over to his window before he could even bring his car to a complete stop.
“Doctor Chileshe?” She said through the open window by the passenger’s side.
“Get in.” Kondwani instructed.
“Get in.” He parked and reached over to open the door for her.
Alicia reluctantly stepped into the vehicle and closed the door. Kondwani backed onto the road and drove off.
“Where are we going?” Alicia nervously asked.
“Somewhere.” Kondwani said curtly and offered no further explanation.
Alicia kept quiet.
For about forty minutes, they drove in pregnant silence.
Kondwani finally drove through an open gate and onto a long driveway. A carport came into view but there was only two vehicles parked there.
Kondwani took the spot right next to them.
“Where are we?” Alicia asked, not making a move to step out while Kondwani unbuckled his seatbelt. “It’s very quiet and deserted….” She added as she scanned the surroundings.
Kondwani paused and looked at her quizzically. “Are you afraid of me Alicia?”
When did you start calling me by my first name? Alicia wondered. “No doctor.” Her lips said but the rest of her body suggested otherwise.
“Where do you think we are?” Kondwani asked, looking very bemused now. “Or rather, what do you think I plan on doing to you?”
Alicia eyes instinctively went towards the door. She literally heaved a sigh of relief when she saw it was unlocked.
Kondwani laughed. “Come out.” He said as he stepped out.
She reluctantly opened the door and stepped down. Kondwani walked over to her, reached out his hand to close the door for her and brushed against her skin as he did so.
Alicia held her breath and froze in place.
Kondwani locked the car remotely and was about to say something to her when he noticed her frozen state. Only then did he realize just how close they were standing.
He laughed again. “My bad,” he said and immediately put a distance between them. “Come,” he took her hand and started leading her towards the beautifully landscaped open space ahead of them.
“Where are we?” Alicia asked, her eyes fixed on the hand that was holding on to her. “Where are we going?”
“Relax, I am not going to do anything to you.” Kondwani said. “There are people over there looking at us.” He pointed behind them to the glass building in front of the parking lot. “If I had evil intentions, I wouldn’t bring you to a place with witnesses. My face is easily recognizable you know.”
“My hand.” She stop suddenly.
Kondwani looked to where their hands were touching and reluctantly released hers.
“This is a new place,” he finally told her where they were. “It’s mostly for camping and picnics. You can have a drink over there or use the pool if you like, it’s right in front of that building.” He pointed to the only building in sight.
“But most people come here for picnics. It’s quiet and peaceful. I thought you and I could talk here in private.”
“Talk about what?” Alicia asked.
“For starters, about why you were crying.” He said and resumed walking.
Alicia had no choice but to run after him. “Why…why do I have to explain that to you, Sir?” She was standing in front of him, blocking him from walking any further.
“How about looking at me while you talk?” Kondwani asked, finding her timidness both amusing and disappointing.
Alicia slowly lifted her head and looked at him with her big round eyes. “It’s just that…you…you-“
“I what Alicia?” Kondwani asked.
“You confuse me.” She blurted out.
“I confuse you, how?”
“I can’t tell if you like me or if you hate me.”
“Huh?” He had not expected her to be that upfront.
“Not like-like.” Alicia quickly explained. “I mean…” she dropped her head again. “One moment you are kind to me and the next…you are rude and you…you belittle me. I am confused.”
Kondwani chuckled. “Oh, that.” He said and started walking again. “Let’s find a spot to sit first. There’s a spot with a beautiful view ahead.”
Alicia first heard the sound of running water before the beautiful spot came into view.
“Look,” Kondwani stopped in front of a narrow stream of clear water running from an unknown source and flowing into the bushes in the distance.
“How?” Alicia asked in awe.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” Kondwani said, smiling as he watched the expression on her face. “There’s a small waterfall over there where this water is coming from. The owners made this stream for show. It runs all the way round this picnic area.” He explained.
“Let’s sit over there.” He pointed to a point higher than where they were standing. “We can enjoy the view better from there.”
Alicia followed him and sat down next to him. For sure, they had a better view of the stream and the beautiful scenery around it.
“You said I confuse you.” Kondwani returned to their earlier topic.
“Don’t you think I’m like that with everybody? It’s my job to recommend workers when they do right and to reprimand them when they don’t.”
“I guess so.” Alicia said, obviously unsatisfied with his response but accepting it anyway to avoid antagonizing him.
“You don’t believe me.” Kondwani noted.
“Sir, why did you bring me here?” She asked.
“Because today is the fourth time I heard you cry since you joined my hospital.”
Alicia gaped at him.
“Let’s just say that there’s very little that happens at my hospital that I’m not aware of.” he said. “Naturally, I am curious to know what’s causing the best surgical nurse at my hospital so much pain.”
Alicia’s mind immediately went back to all the times she had cried during the past three months. It was not as if she cried everyday…only when her son’s grandmother decided to exercise her villain rights over her life.
Unfortunately, it didn’t matter to Mary where Alicia was when she decided to unleash her verbal vomit.
But, hadn’t she made sure she was alone before breaking down in tears at work? Just how long and how far did the doctor go in investigating her? She always made sure she was alone whenever that happened. The last thing she needed was the other interns discovering a weakness about her and using it against her. They already had enough material to use to make her life difficulty so there was no way she was going to easily hand them something else to use against her.
“Is it something you can’t talk about with me?” Kondwani asked. “Should I set an appointment for you with the hospital psychologist?
Alicia gasped, finally understanding why the doctor was taking such a keen interest in her personal life. “Are you planning on firing me?” She asked.
“What?” Kondwani looked confused.
“Do you think that I am unfit to work for you?” Alicia asked.
“I knew it!” Alicia got to her feet.
“What are you taking about?” Kondwani stood up as well, confusion written all over his face.
“You think I am not good enough to work for your hospital isn’t it?” She looked about ready to start crying.
“Where did you get that from?” Kondwani asked.
“Why else would you be curious about my personal life?” She answered. “Why would you suggest that I see the hospital shrink? You want them to declare me unfit isn’t it?”
Kondwani finally caught on to her line of thought and couldn’t help laughing. Of all possibilities, how did she wind up jumping to that conclusion?
Misunderstanding his laughter, a very distraught Alicia turned and started walking down towards the stream. Kondwani ran after her and went to block her way.
Alicia turned to the side but there too Kondwani blocked her.
“Alicia, calm down.” He said, placing his hands on her shoulders to keep her from moving.
“For a moment, I entertained other ideas in my head while I waited for you to show up at home.” She said.
It was the first time Kondwani heard her speak without stuttering or sounding timid. There was a burning fire of anger in her eyes as she glared at him.
“For you my job might seem meaningless but it means everything to me.” Alicia’s voice was quivering in anger but she kept talking. “I know that you doctors think you are better than nurses but that’s no way to treat people.
“This isn’t right. You have no idea what I’ve lost and sacrificed over the years to get where I am today. This job means everything to me. I won’t let you get rid of me that easily. What have I ever done to you for you to hate me this much?”
“Alicia-“ Kondwani tried to explain things to her but there was no stopping an angry Alicia.
There was something fierce and commanding in her eyes that he hadn’t seen before. It was as if she had turned into a whole different person. There was absolutely nothing timid or naïve about the woman whose gaze threatened to burn him over.
“I don’t care about the thing’s you’ve heard people say about me…or about us. I am not responsible for that. I have absolutely zero interest in a man like you.” Alicia fired away. “You have no compassion or consideration for others. This job means everything to me. It’s my chance to finally get my son back and I will not allow anyone to stand in my way.”
Having said her peace, Alicia brushed passed Kondwani, panting heavily as if she had just finished first in a marathon.
“I just want to help you!” Kondwani shouted from where he was.
Alicia continued walking for a few seconds, as if she had not heard him but something made her stop. She turned and sent him a questioning look. Kondwani walked to where she was.
“I know that I am not popular for my compassion but, there’s something about you that keeps forcing me to look at you.” Kondwani said.
Alicia looked even more confused now.
“I know it doesn’t make sense,” Kondwani continued. “It’s confusing to me too. There’s something in me that can’t stand seeing a woman cry…and I saw you crying on more than two occasions.”
“The only reason why I’ve been hot and cold towards you is because I don’t like how I feel when I see you.”
“What do you-“ Alicia started to ask.
“Don’t misunderstand,” Kondwani raised his hand. “I’m not talking about those kind of feelings, no.” He could see Alicia release the breath she had been holding from the moment he mentioned the word feelings.
“I only made the shrink suggestion because I wanted to help you out. I did it out of concern, not because I wanted to use it to try and get rid of you. Why would I want to get rid of you?”
Alicia was soaking in embarrassment now. Just what had she been thinking? How could she lose her temper like that? The last time she had lost it like that was with her mother…three years ago.
“You are embarrassed right now aren’t you?” Kondwani asked, his voice was filled with laughter but he tried to keep a straight face.
The twenty-eight year old covered her face in embarrassment and turned her back to him. Kondwani laughed at her child-like behaviour.
“Can we go back and sit now?” He pointed to where they had been sitting.
Alicia started walking there without uttering a word.
“So, I am not your type.” Kondwani said once they were seated.
Alicia winced in mortification, her eyes shutting as if to erase the memory from her head. “I am so sorry.” She said. “I tend to say awful things when I am upset. I am so sorry.”
“You were like someone else!” Kondwani said. “I thought you were going to punch me or something.”
Alicia chuckled. “Punch you? No way! I love my job too much.”
“At least now I know what ticks you off.” He said.
Alicia sent him a look.
“Your son.” He said.
She laughed. “My father calls me Ark-Ally.”
“Ark Ally?” Kondwani asked.
“It’s a reference to God’s wrath when He asked Noah to build the Ark before flooding the earth. He says that I take time to respond to injustice dealt towards me but when I do, I make sure to leave a flood behind.” She laughed. “I know, it’s embarrassing but I’m working on it.”
“I actually like you angry like that.” Kondwani said. “I know, it’s crazy but you always act timid and shy, you never defend yourself and you let people walk all over you every single time. Today was the first time I saw you stand up for yourself.”
“You talk as if you know me so well.” Alicia said.
“I told you, there’s very little that happens at the hospital that I don’t know about.”
“Are you still stalking people behind their backs?” Alicia regretted the question the moment it came out of her mouth.
Kondwani laughed. “I already found what I was looking for.” He said.
“Let’s change the topic,” he said. “So, you said I am not your type….”
Alicia slapped her mouth and silently chastised it for spouting nonsense. I will never hear the end of this. Did I bruise his ego? She wondered.
“So if I’m not your type, who is? Dr Kayombo?”
“No!” Alicia answered a little too quickly and loudly.
Kondwani laughed. “Wow, I hope the doctor didn’t hear you wherever he is cause that would seriously break his heart.”
“Dr Kayombo and I are just friends. I knew him from way back.”
“Why do you have the WKS syndrome?” She was the one who needed the topic changed this time around.
“WKS?” Kondwani asked.
“White Knight Syndrome.” Alicia said. “Or perhaps you know it as KiSAS – Knight in Shining Armor Syndrome. I am not a damsel in distress in need of rescuing Doctor Chileshe.”
“Arh,” Kondwani laughed. “I guess I have just seen enough pain in my life.”
“Well, the medical field does tend to have a lot of damsels in distress.” Alicia said. “You are after all the one in charge of taking that pain away.”
“Not really,” Kondwani said. “That I can handle. It’s other things in my life that might have turned me into someone like this. But just so we are clear, you are the first woman I have actually made a move to interfere…maybe because you cry too much.” He laughed.
“It’s not nice to laugh at people’s pain.” Alicia said.
“You reminded me a lot of someone….” The words escaped Kondwani’s mouth.
“Who? Why?” Alicia asked.
Kondwani quickly gained back his senses. “Only that first time I saw you crying behind the nursing chambers. You do know that people in the top offices can see you through their windows right?”
Alicia covered her face in embarrassment again. So that’s how he saw me. She thought. “I don’t know why I never thought of that.” She admitted.
“Well, at least now you know.” He said.
“Who do I remind you of?” Alicia asked.
“It’s not important.” He brushed it off. “Aren’t you hungry?” he tried to change the topic.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.” Alicia said.
“It’s not that.” Kondwani said. “It’s just something too personal that I’ve never shared with anybody before.”
“Okay,” Alicia said, not wanting to pry any further. It was obvious she was the last person he would want to share something that personal with. Who the hell did she think she was asking him such a personal question in the first place?
“Before,” Kondwani said. “You mentioned something about entertaining other ideas, what did you mean?”
“I said something like that?” Alicia quizzed him, desperately trying to remember everything she had said during her angry tirade.
“For a moment, I entertained other ideas in my head while I waited for you to show up at home. Those were your exact words.” Kondwani reminded her. “I’m curious, what ideas where you entertaining?”
Alicia remembered thinking those words except, she didn’t think she had actually said them out loud.
“I’m hungry now, wow!” She quickly stood up. “I forgot that I never had lunch.” She started walking down from where they were.
“You are literally running away from me!” Kondwani went after her.
“What sort of food do they sell here?” She asked him when he came walking beside her. She quickened her pace but she was no match for Kondwani’s long legs.
“Alicia,” Kondwani grabbed her hand and forced her to a stop. “Why are you avoiding my question?”
“What question?” Alicia feigned ignorance. “Oh, you mean…no, I’m not avoiding. I just thought that…that…you know, that you wanted us to be friends.”
She didn’t miss the disappointment on Kondwani’s face.
“What did you think I meant?” Alicia asked.
“Nothing,” Kondwani said. “Isn’t that why I asked?” He then continued walking, leaving her to follow him from behind. Alicia made no effort to catch up to him this time.
Dear Lord, forgive me for lying. She said to herself, her eyes raised to the sky.
Next thing Alicia knew, her body was locked with Kondwani’s, literally. In those few seconds she had spent communicating with the heavens; Kondwani had come to a stop and stood waiting for her.
Alicia had not expected to find anything blocking her way when she continued walking.
“Is it because you are lonely?” Kondwani who was holding her by the shoulders to keep her from falling asked.
“What?” A flustered Alicia asked.
“The reason you cry so often,” Kondwani said. “Is it because you miss him?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Alicia tried to free herself from him but Kondwani surprised her by moving his hands from her shoulders and wrapping them around her waist.
He pulled her towards him and held her tightly. There was no more space left between them.
“What if I said I could help?” He suggested.
“Sir-“ Alicia continued her struggle for freedom.
“Look me in the eye and tell me what it would take to keep you from crying?” He said. “Do you want me to help you get your son back?”
Alicia stopped moving.
“Is that it?” Kondwani asked.
“Why are you doing this to me?” Alicia asked.
“Or do you want me to take your loneliness away?” He tightened his arms around her.
Alicia resumed her fight for freedom. She surprised him by kneeing him right where she knew it would hurt the most.
Kondwani went down immediately, wincing in pain.
“I understand that you have your WKS Doctor Chileshe but I’ve told you I don’t need rescuing.” Alicia said. “I am sure that there are many women out there in desperate need of your services but I am not one of them.”
“Did you really have to hit me in the groin?” Kondwani complained from the ground where he was. The pain was still too much for him to immediately get up.
“I was not comfortable with the way you were holding me.” Alicia said. “Are you alright?” The pain on his face was enough to transfer over to her.
“Do I look like I am fine to you?” Kondwani asked. “Woman, you are cruel.”
“I’m sorry. I thought I didn’t use much force.”
“You thought!?” Kondwani yelled, still wincing in pain. “I think you’ve killed my mother’s dreams of ever holding grandchildren from me.”
Alicia looked horrified. She went over to his side. “Is it that bad?” she asked, looking very concerned and scared now.
“Help me up.” Kondwani raised his hand and Alicia helped him to his feet.
“Should we go to the hospital?” Alicia asked.
Suddenly, Kondwani stood up straight and stopped wincing. “You said you were hungry….” He appeared perfectly fine as he walked towards the building where there was a bar and restaurant.
Alicia stood gaping at him in disbelief. Was that all an act? She asked herself.
“Can’t you let me help you?” Kondwani later asked her once they were seated in the restaurant waiting for their meal to be served.
“Are we back to that again?” Alicia said.
“I just want to help, no strings attached.” He said.
“Because I can.”
“That’s not good enough.” Alicia said. “If there’s anything I’ve come to learn about humans, men mostly, it is that nothing they give is for free. Why are you doing this Doctor Chileshe?”
Kondwani thought about his response for a few minutes.
And then, “What if I told you that I am trying to pay back a debt?” He asked.