Two weeks had gone by and not a single day that passed did Alicia not replay the last words shared between her and Kondwani at the hospital. She could still smell the coldness in the still air at the hospital lobby where she watched in a corner a safe distance away from Kondwani’s siblings who were anxiously waiting for their brother to appear from the operating room with news about their mother.
Kondwani appeared an hour later looking like a man that was just from fighting giants, the weight of the world on his shoulders. Alicia rushed closer to hear the news just as his siblings moved in on him.
“She’s still in a critical condition,” Kondwani said before any of them could throw questions his way. “She lost a lot of blood and her internal injuries are-“
“Is she going to die?” Mwansa who had been crying for the past hour out of guilt for leaving her mother alone in the car asked.
Chilufya smacked her lightly at the back of her head. “Why would you even think such a stupid thing?” She asked her sister, desperately fighting back her own tears but being the eldest sister, she had to remain strong for her younger siblings Mwansa and Gift.
“Can we see her?” The seventeen year old Gift asked, his eyes as teary as his older sisters’.
“Yeah, you can but just yet.” Kondwani said, his hands in his pockets. “They’re moving her to the ICU at the far end there,” he pointed to the right behind them. “You guys can go sit over there by the chairs a nurse will come and talk to you before sending you in. I need to talk to this lady for a little bit.” He gestured towards Alicia who was standing behind them.
This lady. He just referred to me as this lady. Alicia’s heart started pounding harder and faster than before. She didn’t need to hear whatever he wanted to say to her for her to know the distance that had grown between them since that visit at Aunt Mary’s. in as much as she understood there might be no future between her and Kondwani both from her end and from his, she was still not yet ready to confront that gruesome reality that was threatening her sanity. She had not even gotten to spend time or enjoy Kondwani’s company as her lover so why was life forcing them to separate already? What wrong had she really done to deserve such a cruel fate?
“I think you should go home.” Kondwani said to Alicia once they were alone. As expected, his voice was void of emotion. She had heard him sound like that so many times when he spoke to relatives and friends of patients. Why was he using his doctor voice with her?
The coldness in Kondwani’s voice and his overall glacial demeanour while he stood in front of her instinctively made Alicia aware of their surroundings. She was at work. She might have come in with a patient but the truth of the matter was that the hospital they had come to was also her work place, Kondwani’s too and the two of them were still a hot topic for the grapevine department.
Just as she had suspected, Alicia spotted the number of eyes looking over at her and Kondwani but she quickly brushed them away as she was mostly concerned with what her boyfriend was saying to her, no matter how cold and curt he was in his approach.
“I want to stay, and I am staying.” She replied in a no-nonsense tone that defied his authority over her both personally and professionally.
“I understand why you feel like you have to be here but I am telling you right now that there’s no need.” Kondwani said. “This is my family’s business.”
“Are you trying to tell me that this is none of my business?” Alicia asked.
“I am simply trying my best to be as professional as possible.” Kondwani said, clenching his teeth as if to keep himself from uttering words he might regret.
“Professional?” Alicia asked. “Why should you be acting professional with me?”
“What do you want me to say Alicia!?” Kondwani finally snapped, winning himself the attention of his siblings who were seated a distance away from them and the attention of patients, visitors and staff around.
“You’re the reason my mother is here!” Kondwani shouted.
“What?” Alicia asked, not believing that Kondwani would actually say those words to her. Of course she had been saying those words to herself ever since she heard about the accident but she had not imagined hearing the same accusations from Kondwani’s own lips.
“You are right at the center of everything that’s going wrong in my life right now Alicia.” Kondwani continued. “If I had not met you my mother would have never found out about what really happened that night and she certainly would have not entertained ideas about taking her own life just so I could be happy with you.”
It finally clicked. His anger and bitterness towards her the moment he stepped out of the OR. Was that the reason his mother had given for trying to end her life, so that her son would be happy with the mother to the child whose father had died in that accident?
“Do you get it now?” Kondwani asked, reading from her facial expression as the truth slowly sunk in. “So please, I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be here right now…please, leave…just, leave.”
He was literally begging her to get the hell out of his life. How did things get to this point? For a while after learning the truth about Nicolas’ death, Alicia had imagined Kondwani begging her to stay with him and not once had she imagined a scenario where he would instead be begging her to get out of his life.
With only a week to her official confirmation as surgical nurse at the hospital, what was she supposed to do now that Kondwani didn’t want to have anything to do with her? She had already heard from Mrs Miti the supervisor that she and Caroline had made the cut after months of a gruelling internship and she was excited about the idea of finally getting to openly date Kondwani without fear of judgement from their colleagues…but now this?
“I get it,” Alicia answered. “I get exactly what you mean. I’ll get out of your way Kondwani. Give my best to your mum. Goodbye.” And she turned and walked straight to the exit.
Not wanting to watch her retreating figure, Kondwani quickly turned and walked to where his siblings were.
“Why is she leaving?” Gift asked her brother. He had inferred from the little he could see since he came to the hospital that the beautiful lady waiting anxiously with them was her brother’s girlfriend. She was very different from Gwen or the other women he dated before so he had instinctively developed a liking for her. She looked beautiful and smart, an obvious improvement on the previous potential sister in-law he was going to get.
“Did the nurse talk to you?” Kondwani completely ignored the boy’s question.
“Yes,” Chilufya answered. “She said we wait five minutes more, they’re still setting her up to receive visitors.”
“Can she talk?” MWansa asked.
“No, not yet.” Kondwani said. “I’ll go and check and you guys can come in later.” He quickly left as if to run away from further questions. He needed to keep himself busy lest he lost his mind and went off at anybody…or anyone.
Alone in her bedroom and crying, Alicia heard a light knock on the door and before she could respond, the door opened and Belinda appeared with a yellow mug in hand.
“I knew I would find you like this.” Belinda said as she handed the mug to her sister and sat down on the bed next to her.
Taking the mug from her, “What’s this?” Alicia asked.
“It’s honey tea,” she said.
“But I can smell lemon, ginger and cinnamon.” Alicia said as she smelled the contents of the cup.
“Oh yeah, there’s all that too as well.” Belinda laughed.
Alicia laughed too behind her teary-stained face. “Then why did you say it was honey tea?”
“It’s not like I lied. There’s honey in there too. Besides, it was the only way I could get you to stop crying and focus on something else other than your pain.”
Belinda was right, her sister had stopped crying and even smiled during the short time she walked into the room.
“You are too smart for your own good sis.” Alicia said, taking a sip from the tea before putting it down on the bedside table.
“Have you heard any news from the hospital?” Belinda asked.
“She’s still in a comma,” Alicia said.
“I know that,” Belinda said. “Am asking about Kondwani, he didn’t call to ask you to stay at the hospital? It’s almost two weeks now since you asked him to write you a recommendation letter to transfer to another hospital.”
“No he hasn’t.” Alicia said, the pain coming back to her all over again. It was the longest period since meeting Kondwani that the two of them had not spoken and she felt like she was losing her mind by the minute.
“He obviously didn’t hesitate in signing my transfer request so why would he change his mind? I will do as he wants, I will get out of his hair. It’s not like I have no issues with him. He should be lucky that I am even crying over him after what he’s family did to Nicolas.” She was crying all over again.
Belinda put her arms around her crying sister. “I understand how you feel sis but remember he’s also having a tough time. His mother is still in a comma and they’re not sure if she will make it not. I doubt if he’s thinking rationally right now and I can bet you that his feelings for you are the least of his worries…at least not right now. Give him some time.”
“He was so cold to me Linda,” Alicia sobbed. “You should have seen the look in his eyes, he hates me.”
“I know it feels like that right now but just give him time sis.” Belinda comforted her.
Alicia sat up and looked at her sister. “I am living tomorrow morning for Kitwe,” she said. “I know for a fact that once am gone, if he doesn’t make the first move then it will be I who actually erases him from my life forever. He is not the only one having a hard time here you know. I also have to deal with the fact that the man I am in-love wit and his mother are responsible for the death of my boyfriend who happens to be the father of my child.
“I am the one who is having a hard time looking my son in the eye because I feel guilty for being in-love with the man responsible for his father’s death and you know what’s even worse, that I haven’t done anything to make the people involved in that death pay for it.
“The thought of what Nick’s mother did kills me and all I want to do is go over to her place and squeeze her neck till she can’t breathe. I feel so much pain when I think about how badly she treated me all these years, making me feel guilty for her son’s death when she knew very well someone else was. Even after accepting money from those people, she still felt the need to keep me from my son as punishment for six whole years sis. If anyone should be mad here it is I so why does it look like I am the bad guy here? What wrong have I done to these people that they’re treating me like this?”
“I know….” Was all Belinda could say in that situation. She might not be directly involved in what was happening in her sister’s life but she too was affected by the consequences of those revelations.
Belinda had been avoiding Stephens’s call and messages ever since Alicia told her about what Mary Kabwe had done. That night, Belinda had called Stephen in anger and lashed out at him.
“You knew about what your aunt had done and still said nothing?” She had said.
“What did you want me to say babe?” Stephen had asked. “I also wasn’t supposed to know that info and in any case, I wasn’t very sure about it because I never heard the whole story. I only had suspicions and-“
“You saw how your family treated my sister for years!” Belinda shouted. “The least you could have done is tell your aunt to be fair-“
“You know my aunt very well babe,” Stephen said. “Tell me, honestly, do you think she is the type of person that can listen to me? I understand you’re angry with me but I think it’s unfair that you are blaming me for this thing.”
“I am angry at you and at your family. It’s just unfair.” She said. “Frankly, I don’t think I can ever look at you the same way after all this.”
“What’s that supposed to mean Linda?” Stephen asked, sensing right away the danger approaching. “Are you breaking up with me?”
“Fortunately we were not even dating yet so-“
“You gotto be kidding me!”
“I am sorry Steve-“
“Why is it so easy for you to walk away the moment you face a challenge Belinda?” He asked. “We haven’t even properly talked about this and you are already giving up on us. I thought things had changed-“
“Well you thought wrong,” Belinda said, her voice breaking from fighting to keep from crying. “I guess this just shows you and I were never meant to be.” She finally broke down in tears.
There was a long silence on the other end of the line as Stephen listened to her sobbing voice. “You see,” his voice finally came through. “You don’t want to break up with me silly. Why are you crying?”
“I don’t know why am crying but I just feel like crying.” Belinda sulked.
Stephen chuckled. “I still love you despite your craziness so let’s not talk about this over the phone okay?” he said. “I know it’s too early now so am just gonna give you some time but don’t think for a moment that I’ve given up on you or on us. I promise you that’s never gonna happen. Linda? Babe, are you there?”
“I’m here.” Belinda had answered.
“It’s late, you go to bed and we’ll talk tomorrow. I will keep calling and texting everyday even when I know you will be ignoring me. But babe, I’ll be coming over there to bust doors if you keep ignoring me for long. I love you, good night.”
Stephen’s last five words were enough to melt her cold heart towards him. No matter what was going on between his family and his sister, it was not enough to force her to lose or change her feelings for him. She loved him as much as he loved her…if not more.
Belinda silently chastised herself for thinking about her own happiness when her sister was struggling with hers.
“I’m so sorry sis.” Belinda said, coming in to wrap her arms around Alicia again.
“What are you sorry for?” Alicia asked.
“Just, everything.” Belinda said.
Alicia’s first day at work in Kitwe was as eventful as her first day at ZADH. The first surprise came during her official meeting with the head in his office when he clarified her job title and description.
“What do you mean am the new CNO?” Alicia asked the fifty-something year old overweight Doctor Manase seated behind his desk. If he was a woman, he would be looking about ready to pop triplets from his bulging front.
“As it happens,” the doctor said. “Our Chief Nursing Officer asked for a transfer to Ndola to join her husband a week before we received your application. You happen to meet the conditions for that position and with the strong recommendation we received from Doctor C, the team decided that you would be the best fit for this position.”
“But I have no-“
“Don’t worry about anything Nurse Daka,” the doctor said. “We have a great support team for you and your predecessor is still here to help you make a smooth transition.”
She was tempted to ask if Kondwani had anything to do with the promotion but she remembered their last encounter and quickly brushed off the crazy idea. No way he would be behind this, she told herself. Or, could this be a way of him making sure I never go back to Lusaka again?
“Nurse Daka, are you okay? You look-“
“I’m fine,” Alicia quickly recovered. I have a son to take care of. I won’t waste my time thinking about a man that doesn’t want me. I will forget him just as he has forgotten me. And she sat up straight. “I am ready to meet everyone now doctor.”
Ten minutes of going in and coming out of people’s offices, Alicia gaped in disbelief at finding herself face to face with Doctor Samuel Kayombo.
“I was told that the two of you know each other so I saved the best introductions for last.” Doctor Manase said.
“What are you doing here?” Alicia asked Kayombo.
“Working, I would hope.” Kayombo laughed. “Good to see you Alicia.” He went in for a hug and got one before she could finish wrapping her head around his presence at the hospital.
“When did you-“ Alicia started to ask.
“Been here a week.” Kayombo answered. “How can leave in such a manner Alicia?”
“Ah,” Doctor Manase said, smiling mischievously. “I think I will leave you two to catch up. I believe you will be in charge of helping her settle in doc?” He asked Kayombo.
“Most definitely doc.” Kayombo said enthusiastically and the doctor excused himself.
“Sit down,” he pointed to the chair in front of his desk as he walked to sit behind the desk. Alicia sat down.
“How did you-“
“Know that you would be coming here?” Kayombo finished for her. “I had gone into Chileshe’s office to report on a case when I accidentally saw the request you had written to him. He was obviously looking at it before I came in and thought he had covered it well but I saw part of it.”
“And you decided to come here as well?” Alicia asked, shock written all over her face.
Kayombo appeared amused by her disbelief. “I wasn’t joking when I told that guy that I would quickly move in the moment he messes up. I knew he would mess up sooner or later.”
“Samuel, are you kidding me right now?” Alicia asked.
“Do I look like am kidding?” he circled his hand in the air around his office.
“What about Gwen, and the baby?”
“They’re okay?” Alicia asked. “Is that all you can say in this situation, they’re okay?”
“What do you want me to say?” Kayombo asked. “I promise to take care of my child when she’s born, I don’t intend to be a dead-beat dad if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“And what about Gwen?” She asked.
“I have already spoken to Gwen about this. She understand my feelings and honestly speaking, she might not be able to grasp that am doing this for her as well right now but she will thank me later in life.”
“She will thank you for leaving her right when she needed you the most? Tell me, how does that work?”
“Would you rather she spends the rest of her life with a man that doesn’t love her or to suffer a broken heart for a couple of months and move on? And do bear in mind that this woman doesn’t even love me. She thinks she does, but am only her fall back plan…something to use to shield herself from shame and to make her ex jealous.”
“I really don’t want to get involved in your drama you people.” Alicia said.
“You people?” Kayombo said. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means I don’t appreciate you coming all the way here just because I am here.” She clarified. “What do you honestly expect to happen between us Kayombo? First it was Kondwani and Gwen, then you and Kondwani and Gwen, then me and Kondwani, you and Gwen, and now you expect a me and you? Does any of this make sense to you?”
“I really don’t care about sense or what people might say as long as I know my feelings for you are real Alicia.” He said. “I wish you could just stop for a moment just look at me as me and not as someone connected to all those people you’ve mentioned.”
“I am sorry Kayombo,” Alicia got up from the chair. “But nothing has changed with my feelings.” She said. “I hate to admit this even to my own self but I am still very much in-love with Kondwani.”
“How can you still love him after everything?” He asked.
“Real feelings don’t just get erased just because someone has hurt you.” Alicia said. “Don’t think I haven’t tried to forget him but it’s like every time I tell myself to forget, that’s the more I keep thinking about him. I know that he’s someone am not supposed to love or even think about but at the same time I feel like am going to lose my mind if another day goes by and I don’t see him. I wish-”
“Stop.” Kayombo got up. “It’s too early for me to hear or see you cry over another man. Let’s go I show you to your office. We will talk about our personal issues later. My mood is already messed up and I have patients to attend to.”
Later that evening Alicia was about ready to knock off and spend time with her son at home when her phone rang. It was her sister Belinda.
“She’s woken up sis,” Belinda said. Alicia didn’t need to ask who. She knew right away who Belinda was talking about.
“When?” Alicia asked.
“Just now, a few minutes ago.”
“Are you at the hospital Linda?” Alicia asked. She could hear familiar noises in the background.
“Yes, I figured you might want to know what’s going on and since-“
“Thanks sis,” Alicia said, fighting back tears of joy. “You are the best sister in the world. I love you so much.”
“I love you too, I gotto to now sis. Need to-“
Alicia received another call while on the phone with Belinda. “Caroline is calling me,” she said upon checking the phone. “Probably wants to give me the news.”
“Okay that’s great.” Belinda said. “I was even thinking about asking one of the nurses what the situation is like but of Caroline is here, that means she can tell you right?”
“Yes,” Alicia said. “Thank you so much sis. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Okay sis, sis. Love you.”
“Bitch what’s wrong with you?” Caroline cussed the moment Alicia answered her call. “Who the hell keeping your line busy?”
“I see some things never change,” Alicia joked. “I’ve heard, my sister just called me. Mrs Chileshe is awake.”
“Dammit, how did your sister know?” Caroline asked. “I wanted to be the first to share the good news. I hate your sister, tell her that.”
Alicia laughed. “I think she has mutual feelings. What’s the report of her progress?”
“She’ll live,” Caroline said. “but her legs are done and she’ll need help breathing for a while.”
“How bad are her legs?”
“Bad, very bad…as in she’s wheelchair bound but no amputation needed.”
Alicia went quiet.
“Well, considering all things, she’s alive Alicia.” Caroline said.
“I know,” Alicia said, silently crying. “I know. It could have been worse.”
“I’ll keep you posted of any developments, have to go now. My ride is waiting for me outside.”
“Thanks Caroline.” Alicia said and cut the line.
Driving back home in the car provided by the hospital given her new position, Alicia found herself thinking about calling or texting Kondwani but no matter how many times she played around with the words in her head, nothing sounded like the right thing to say to a man that blamed her for the condition his mother was in.
And she neither called nor texted. And she never heard from Kondwani.
Weeks passed and they grew into months and months became a year, Kondwani and Alicia’s relationship had died a natural death. Whatever issues hang between them were left unsolved and the two of them pushed on with their lives hoping for the once beautiful memories to fade away.
Kondwani returned to being the ruthless workaholic he was before Alicia entered his life and he put all his energy into safeguarding the hospital and the position he held there which on several occasions had been attacked directly by Lloyd Miyoba or indirectly through his minions seeking to push the young doctor from his position of power.
There were days when the internal politics at the hospital heightened that for a while Kondwani would forget about Alicia but somehow he would eventually find himself alone and thoughts of her would creep right back to the fore of his mind. Whenever such thoughts threatened to overwhelm him, he would seek the company of desperate woman looking to die him down, have one night stands with them and discard them with his doctor gloves before morning came.
Every day that passed and he didn’t pick up his phone to call alone spelled victory for Kondwani, the kind that didn’t make him really feel like a winner….but the kind that made him like he had won a great battle simply by resisting and not curving in to his urges.
And when the pressure threatened to drown him under, he found rescue in a bottle of Jack Daniels.
Alicia on the other hand dealt with the pain of missing Kondwani by throwing herself into work and when that didn’t work, she gave in to Kayombo’s determined pursuits and gave him a chance after seven months of ruthlessly turning him down. With a new man in her life, Alicia tried to move on from Kondwani, constantly reminding herself that there was no future between them and so she should get over him.
Unfortunately for Alicia, just as she was about to settle into her relationship with Kayombo, Gwen appeared into their lives and was determined more than ever to give her child the perfect family portrait. She forced herself into Kayombo’s house just two weeks after delivering and made sure to mark her territory in no uncertain terms.
Kayombo’s cowardice and procrastination worked thoroughly against him when he failed to inform Alicia about Gwen’s presence in his home until Alicia showed up at his door unannounced with a picnic basket hoping to surprise him with a date that would officially cement their relationships after months of keeping him at bay.
“Look what we have here.” Gwen sarcastically said to Alicia when she opened the door and found her standing on the other side with a basket in hand.
“Why do you look like you’ve seen a ghost?” Gwen smugly asked, a triumphant smile playing at the corners of her lips. “What’s so surprising about a wife receiving a visitor in her husband’s home?”
“Is someone at the door?” Alicia could hear Kayombo’s voice in the background. Gwen deliberately stepped away from the door to give Kayombo a full view of Alicia.
“Alicia-“ He quickly rushed to the door. “What are you doing here? I can explain this.”
Gwen was laughing in the sidelines as she watched the show unfold before her, her arms tucked across her chest.
Alicia said nothing in return, simply gave Kayombo a blank look.
“I brought you some brunch.” Alicia said and laid the basket on the ground before turning to leave. Kayombo grabbed her by the shoulder and stood in front of her.
“This is not what it looks like.” Kayombo insisted. “I know I should have told you about her coming here but I wanted to tell you in person.”
“I understand.” Alicia said, her voice void of any emotions. “I have to take Buseko somewhere, I’ll see you later Kayombo.”
“No, you can’t live like this, Alicia.” Kayombo begged her.
Alicia came to an abrupt stop. “Tell me something,” she told Kayombo. “If the roles were reversed, if you found Kondwani in my house like that, what would you think?”
“I would be upset of course but more importantly, I would trust you.” He answered. “I would trust you Alicia. I know this looks pretty bad but you trust me, right?”
“Of course I trust you,” she said.
Kayombo heaved a sigh of relief.
“But I also know that I do not yet love you enough to tolerate this kind of set up Kayombo.” She said matter-of-factly and immediately wiped off the smile of Kayombo’s face.
“Yet, you said you do not love me enough yet.” He said. “That means you will love me like that someday Alicia.”
“It took a while for me to convince myself to come here today but that in itself says a lot doesn’t it?” Alicia said. “I have to go. You need to spend time with your family.”
The moment Alicia was gone, Kayombo went back into the house and went straight to the bedroom Gwen was using with their child and started throwing her things out.
“What do you think you’re doing Kayombo?” Gwen ran after him to stop him from hailing her clothes and suitcase outside.
“I knew that you coming here would be trouble but I didn’t think this would happen so soon!” Kayombo said, throwing the stuff on the floor in anger as Gwen was holding him back from walking any further.
“Get your stuff and get out of my house Gwen!” he shouted.
Gwen held on tighter to his trousers and went down on her knees crying. “I’m not going anywhere, am staying here with you.”
“Well then you stay and I’ll go. It seems you want to be here more than me so stay.” He kicked her away, grabbed his keys from the living room table and was about to head out of the house when his daughter started crying from the kitchen where Gwen had left her before going to answer the door.
For a moment during the commotion Kayombo had forgotten about their daughter. He stopped in his tracks and slowly turned to look at Gwen, suddenly noticing how much she had changed from the floor where she was still kneeling. Since when did the proud Ms Miyoba kneel for anyone?
“I know you don’t believe me when I tell you that I love you,” Gwen cried. “But I carried your child, our child for nine whole months in my womb and whether I like or not that changed me. I love the father of my child and I keep hoping that even if you don’t love me back, you can at least love your child.”
Gwen’s innocent plea was the slap Kayombo needed to bring him back to reality. “C’mon, get up.” He said, stretching out his hand to help her up. Gwen took his hand and got up from the floor.
“I just need some time alone to think,” he said. “I’ll be back.” He said and left the room.
Alicia made sure to keep herself busy for the rest of that day, playing with her son until she was beyond exhausted. When they got back home, she bathed him and put him to bed before filling up her own tab and soaking herself in the water till she fell asleep in there, only to be awaked an hour later when the water turned cold.
Before getting into bed, she switched on her phone which she had turned off after leaving Kayombo’s place and found twenty-five missed calls from him and three missed calls from a strange number.
“Does he think am dumb?” She asked herself. “Calling me on a strange line thinking I’ll answer.”
She threw the phone on the other side of the bed and was ready to get under the sheets when the phone rang again. She checked and it was the same number. She let it ring until it could ring no more but still it rang again and again until she answered it out of frustration.
“What do you want Kayombo!?” She snapped.
“Ms Alicia?” It was a female’s voice, not Kayombo.
“Hello, who’s this?” Alicia asked.
“I know you don’t me well, but we met once,” the lady said in a very calm and controlled voice. “My name is Chilufya Chileshe, I am Kondwani’s young sister.”
“Kondwani’s sister?” Alicia sat up straight, her heart suddenly beating fast.
“I am very sorry to call you this late but I think you need to come to the hospital.” Chilufya said, her voice suddenly breaking before she starts to cry.
“Hospital? Why? What’s wrong? Did soething happen to your mum?”
“No, mum is fine,” Chilufya said, desperately trying to hold herself together. “It’s Wani, he was attacked a few hours ago and he’s in the hospital. He’s been asking for you.”
Alicia was up on her feet getting herself ready before Chilufya could finish talking. Despite having a million questions, there was only one thing she needed to know; “how bad is he?”
“He was beat up pretty bad but he put up a fight as well…but they were many. They beat him till he lost consciousness but he’s awake now.”
“I’m on my way right now.” Alicia said, sounding almost out of breath. “I am in Kitwe so it will take a while for me to reach Lusaka but I will see you soon. Please, take care of him.”
“Thank you Alicia.” Chilufya said and cut the line.
Alicia quickly gave instructions to her babysitter before leaving the house, gave her son a kiss and off she drove through the night to Lusaka.
She was in Kondwani’s room by 3 in the morning where she found him and his three siblings sleeping on either side of his bed. Given his position at the hospital, he had the best and the biggest ward a man of his standing could have. Chilufya was the first to awaken when the moment she heard the door open.
“You’re here?” She said, getting up and quickly waking her siblings up. “Wake up guys. Let’s go out for a bit.”
“Hi.” Both Mwansa and Gift greeted Alicia at the same time.
Alicia nervously smiled back and them and approached Kondwani’s bed as the family left the room.
“He was sedated a while ago,” Chilufya announced from the door. “He was in so much pain they had to-“
Alicia smiled at the deeply perturbed sister. “I know, it’s okay. I’ll wait for him to wake up. Do you guys have somewhere to wait?”
“We were given a room, that’s where mum is. They advised her against sitting up all night in here, they had to force her out. Maybe we can all get some rest now that you’re here. Thank you so much for coming.”
“It’s not a problem,” Alicia said. “Thank you for calling me. I really-“ She heard Kondwani shift and turned to check on him. “Kondwani?” Her eyes were lit with excitement as Kondwani slowly opened his eyes.
Chilufya quietly exited the room and closed the door behind her.
“Alicia,” he tried to sit up the moment he recognized her face from behind his very swollen face.
“Is this how ugly you’ve become after chasing me away?” Alicia laughed softly, gently touching his face around the swollen places.
“I want to hug you so bad but I can’t move most parts of my body.” He tried to get up but she held him down.
“Don’t move, are you crazy?”
“Gosh, you look so beautiful. How can you look this good without me in your life?” he asked.
“Who said you ever left my life?” She asked, smiling as she took his hand and kissed it. “Who did this to you?”
“One very stupid short man, a coward and a son of a bit-“ She put her hand over his swollen lips to keep him from cussing.
“Why does Mr Miyoba hate you so much?” Alicia asked.
“Because he is a very foolish incompetent man that got lucky once and thinks luck is all it takes to build empires in this world. I should have dealt with him once and for all when I had the chance. Now he’s left me with no choice.”
“How can you seriously hope to get better when you are already plotting evil before you are healed?” Alicia said.
Kondwani tried to laugh but stopped himself. “You are still my Alicia aren’t you? Always trying to straighten me out. Do you still hate me?”
“Yes.” She said simply.
“Ouch,” Kondwani feigned pain. “Can’t you feel sorry for a brother? I was almost killed a few hours ago you know. Try to be gentle with me.”
“Emotional blackmail won’t work with me Mr. I am still very mad at you. How can you not call me, not even once for seven long months?”
“Because I was too proud to admit I still needed you after chasing you like that. I was ashamed. But also, because I was too proud and kept hoping that you would be the first one to call. I forgot that you’re just as stubborn as I am.”
“Me stubborn?” She said, innocently pointing at herself.
“Why didn’t you call me?” He asked.
“Because I thought you hated me.” She said.
“So, stubborn and stupid,” he remarked jokingly. “I do hope our kids don’t take after you.”
“Better that take after me than you who almost got himself killed yesterday!” Alicia protested.
“I take that as a yes,” Kondwani said. “You better not change your mind.” He took her hand and kissed her ring finger.
Alicia’s jaw dropped, suddenly realizing what had just happened. “You sneaky-“
“Bastard?” Kondwani finished for her, smiling.
“You’re a patient so I’ll be kind, sneaky foolish man who should have called me a long time ago. I will tell our kids about you, you just wait and see.” She kissed him softly on the forehead. “Gosh, you look awful, but I still love you.” she kissed him lightly on his lips this time.
“Ouch!” He said, touching his bruised lips. “Woman, control yourself now, am a patient.
Alicia laughed. “I have been mad at you for such a long time and I always thought about what I would say to you if we ever met but here I am looking at you…and all of that doesn’t matter. I am just thanking God for keeping you alive for me.”
Kondwani wrapped his hands around hers. “I love you Alicia Daka. I promise to give you a proper proposal once am back to being handsome and fit.”
Alicia scowled playfully. “And what if that never happens!?” She asked. “I have to spend the rest of my life with an unfit, ugly and arrogant man? Dear Lord, what have I done to deserve this?”
Kondwani laughed. “You are happy to see me like this aren’t you? Is this your revenge?”
“Yes, it’s your debt to me.” she said. “You should have never let me go in the first place now look what’s happened to you?”
“My debt of love to you right?” He said. “I lived like a stupid man and lost my woman. Now I have to live the rest of my life loving you like you like you deserve to be loved, with my whole life.”
“Why do I feel like you’re complaining?” she asked.
He laughed. “How can I complain when am winning?”
“Winning?” She asked.
“Yes,” he said. “Because I know you’re going to love me back with interest.”
Alicia laughed. “Always a sneaky-“
“Bastard?” He finished for her again.
“I prefer husband.” She said. “My sneaky future husband.”
“Future sounds too far, can we make it tomorrow?” It was Claudia who entered the room, her daughter Chilufya pushing her wheelchair from behind. Mwansa and Gift were nowhere in sight.
“That’s why I love you mum.” Kondwani said proudly. “You always have my back.”
“I’m sorry,” Chilufya looked apologetically at Alicia for intruding on them. “Mum insisted on coming to see you the moment she heard you had arrived. I couldn’t-“
Alicia walked over to the two women. “No, it’s totally fine. I also wanted to see her.” She greeted Kondwani’s mother. “I am sorry I wasn’t able to see you after the accident. I-“
“It’s alright my dear.” Claudia said. “That’s all in the past now. I am just so glad to see here, today.”
“Me too.” Alicia said.
“Do you mind giving me a ride around the hospital?” Claudia asked.
“Of course not.” Chilufya stepped aside and Alicia moved over.
“I haven’t even finished catching up with her where are you taking her mum?” Kondwani sulked.
“Chilufya will keep you company son, I’ll bring back your woman soon.” She laughed and urged Alicia to help her out.
“Do you think they’ll be alright?” Kondwani asked his sister concerning Claudia and Alicia.
“Of course they will be. Why not? Alicia paid for everything when she chose to forgive. No more pain. She paid everyone’s debt, including yours.”
“Um um,” Kondwani shook his head. “Not mine, at least not just yet. I intend to earn it, for the rest of my life.”
“Your debt of love?” Chilufya asked.
“Yes, my debt of love.” He said, smiling as the images of his future with Alicia played in his head.
There’s would not be an ordinary love. It would be a life worth exploring, a life fulfilled….a life worth living.