Andy walked to the back entrance of the Lounge reserved for VIP’s only to make his call to his aunt in Canada.
“Yes Aunty, I arrived safely.” He said. “No…am sorry I took long to call…yes, it was alright…no, I haven’t seen her. Listen Aunt Rose, am somewhere with friends right now so I cant stay on the phone for long…yes….no I….”
It didn’t sound like Aunt Rose was going to stop talking any time soon and Andy couldn’t find it in his heart to cut her off. Instead, he turned towards the glass door and rested his forehead against it as his aunt went on and on lecturing him about visiting his mother.
“Are you going to move or not?” Came a voice behind Andy.
He turned and found a surprising figure glaring at him. The girl looked about twenty-five years old, slightly unkempt hair carelessly tied into a bun at the center of her head, obviously a failed attempt at decency for the sake of mankind. The girl looked like she had spent the past two weeks in-doors. There were heavy bags under her big round eyes…her eyes…. Andy’s heart almost skipped a bit. She had the most brown eyes he had ever seen on a black Zambian girl.
Wait, was she even Zambian? Wasn’t that an American accent he had just heard or was that his aunt’s voice screaming at him in his ear. Oh shit, Aunt Rose! Andy finally remembered he was in the middle of a call.
“Aunt Rose, I have to go now, bye. I’ll call you tomorrow.” He quickly cut the line.
“Are you going to move now?” The girl asked again.
So he had heard right, she was American…and certainly not black American despite her skin colour. She sounded like a white American woman. But who the devil was she and why was she dressed like she was not about to step into the most exclusive VIP Lounge in the country? The girl looked like she was running an errand at the local market in her slippers and loose-fitting maxi dress.
“You do know you need a card to use this entrance right?” Andy asked.
The girl pulled her handbag from the back and opened it. it was the first time Andy was noticing it. It was an original beige Valentino. The girl took out the card and flashed it across his face.
“Satisfied?” She asked. “I heard this place was fancy but I certainly wouldn’t have imagined guards so impeccably dressed.” She was scanning him from head to toe.
“Guard!?” Andy said, not sure whether to laugh or feel insulted. It certainly was the first time someone had mistaken him for a security guard.
“I am going to be late for a meeting. Are you going to step aside?” the girl asked.
“Meeting?” Andy said. “Wait, are you the one Luke is waiting for?”
“I take it you are a friend of his.” She said. “Are you going to keep asking me questions?” She sounded irritated now.
“Maybe just one more. What’s your name?” Andy asked.
“Are you kidding me?” the girl said, looking at him like he had just said something out of this world.
“I am actually very serious.” Andy said.
“Then I guess I will just have to give your friend Luke a call and tell him today’s meeting is cancelled.” She threw the card back into her bag and turned to walk away.
Andy ran after her. “I’m sorry if I offended you.”
The girl stopped.
“However, if you are looking for a job with Luke, it might work in favour if we were friends.”
She pulled her hand back and brushed past him without giving him a response. she took out the card and entered without giving him a last glance.
Andy was absolutely dumbfounded.
What just happened? He asked himself.
Did I just try to pick up a girl? Since when does Andy Mwila chase after girls…and funny looking ones at that? I think that Canadian cold got to my brain.
Who the hell is that girl anyway?
And, did she just brush me off? What the hell?
Andy went back inside and joined his friends.
“Who the hell made you smile all the way here?” Sam asked.
Andy sat down. And then he stood up again almost immediately. He appeared to be in a daze. “Something weird just happened.” He said.
“What?” Ernest asked.
Andy was shaking his head, still trying to comprehend what had just happened. “A girl just blew me off.” He said.
“Huh?” All three chorused.
“Yeah.” Andy said. “History just happened a few minutes ago.”
“She must be New Money, they’re the type that always try to prove a point to everyone. What’s her name?” Dennis asked.
“I don’t know, she wouldn’t tell me.” Andy said.
“The hell?” Dennis said.
“You’re kidding aren’t you?” Ernest said.
“I wish.” Andy said and sat back down. He grabbed a beer and downed the contents at one go.
“She really got to you didn’t she?” Dennis said.
Andy said nothing.
“Maia, it’s so good to see you!” Luke hugged his guest and offer her a seat.
“Anything to drink?” He asked.
“Oh no, am very fine thanks.” Maia said. “What I need right now is sleep more than anything.”
Luke laughed. “You do look like you could use some sleep for sure. “Am I allowed to ask what’s been keeping you up?”
Maia laughed. “No you’re not.” She said and removed a file of papers from her bag. “Everything is ready. Now it’s all up to you.”
“I already made up my mind.” Luke said. “I’m all in Maia!”
“You are? For real?”
“Yes, I already told you but you still insisted on coming anyway.”
“I just thought that…you know, I didn’t want you accepting my offer simply because it’s me. this is business and not friendship we are talking about.”
“I know, but I trust you both as a friend and as a business woman.” He said.
“You flatter me Luke. Are you okay with 40% though?” She asked.
“It’s more than what I would have expected to be honest with you. I am just providing you with management. You’re the one providing the finances, talent, design and just about everything.”
“It’s been a while since I was here so I have no idea how things are done in this country these days. And, you know the taste of local consumers so yeah, I desperately need you.”
“Theatre is obviously a new concept in this country and just in my circles, I cannot tell you how many folks would kill for a change of scene.” Luke said. “Everyone is dying for an alternative to the usual cinema experience. The point is to sell the idea to both the lower and middle classes because the other 1% is already sold. They are defined by such luxuries. I have no doubt we will own this because we are offering them high class entertainment on a low budget. That should make everyone happy.”
Maia laughed. “I love your optimism Luke. “But still, I need you to go through those so you can get a feel of what exactly I have in mind for the general set-up.”
“Not a problem.” He said.
“Do you think two months will be enough to get everything ready for open night?” Maia asked.
“Yes, no doubt.”
“Then we’re sorted. I better be on my way now.”
“I’ll walk you out.”
Once they were outside, Luke asked, “Did you drive here?”
“No, I walked. Home is just a few minutes from here.”
Maia chuckled. “Stop acting like a grandpa Luke. I’m a big girl; I can take care of myself. This cool breeze is calling out to me.” She stretched out her hand and allowed the air to fresh air to wash over her face.
“It’s close to midnight Maia,” Luke said. “Everyone knows what type of neighbourhood this is so it’s a high target for criminals. There’s no way am letting walk alone at this hour. Wait for me I get my-“ Before he could finish, Luke spotted Shadreck driving towards them and moved towards the road, waving him down.
“Mr Luke,” Shadreck came to a stop in front of them. “Is everything okay?”
“Are you in a hurry?” Luke asked.
“Great, do you mind giving my business partner here a ride to her place?” He asked.
Shadreck looked at the girl standing next to the businessman. Even if you’re meeting your sugar daddy, can’t you try to dress up a little woman? He thought to himself.
“Yeah, sure, no problem.” He said. “Where are you going Ms?”
“I live just a few blocks from here.” She opened the door and stepped inside.
Fresh flowers, was the first thought that crossed Shadreck’s mind when her fragrance filled the air. She smells of freshly scented flowers…like she’s just from taking a shower in a garden of flowers. Well, at least she bathed.
“Let’s go I’ll tell you where to stop.” Maia said. She then turned to Luke. “Thank you Luke. Pass my love to Yvonne and the kids.” She said.
So she’s not a side chick. Another thought crossed Shadreck’s mind.
“Will do, have a goodnight kiddo.” The forty-five year old said.
Maia laughed and waved at him as Shadreck resumed driving.
“Thank you Shadreck, you have a good night too.” Luke said.
“You too sir.” Shadreck said.
“He insists on calling me kiddo when his wife is not that older than me.” Maia said. “My name is Maia by the way. What’s yours?”
“You are not much of a talker are you?”
“And you are obviously not Zambian.”
“Are you xenophobic perhaps?”
Shadreck laughed. “Not really. You’re the first female I have seen at a club like that one dressed like that. Zambian girls your age would never be caught dead out in public looking like that. That, and your accent of course.”
“I am not quite sure if you are insulting me or trying to get to know me.” Maia said. “Your face looks familiar by the way. Are you someone famous perhaps?”
“I wouldn’t consider myself famous but I am the co-owner of Apollo, the entertainment company. Ever heard of it?”
“Thank you. What are you into, music, comics, art, movies?” He asked.
“Everything.” She said. “Oh, slow down here, we are almost there. Do you also live in this neighbourhood?”
“No, I live in Northmead.”
“We’re here.” She announced.
Shadreck starred at the mansion in disbelief. “You live here?”
“Yeah, anything wrong?”
“Oh no, it’s just that…it’s huge. You live with your parents?”
“How old do you think I am Mr?”
She laughed. “I’m flattered but you need to add a few…no, not few…a lot of years to that. I live with my kids.”
“I said kids, how did you get to married?” She laughed.
“Maybe am a traditional guy.”
“I live with five kids. There’s a paper somewhere that says they’re my babies but I didn’t exactly birth them, if you know what I mean.”
“I think I do.”
Maia stepped down from the vehicle. “Thank you so much for the ride Shadreck. Get home safely.”
“I’ll wait until you get inside safely. I don’t want to be summoned by the police tomorrow with accusations that I didn’t deliver you home safely.”
“There are guards looking at us through those windows right now.” She pointed to the two guard houses on either side of the gate. “The gate will open the moment I get closer and two armed men will appear, watch.”
She moved closer to the gate and just like she had said the gate opened and two guards appeared. Maia smiled and waved at Shadreck.
Is this woman trying to enchant me? Shadreck thought as he drove away. why does she need two security guards? Anyway, rich people’s problems. He shook his head and dialled his mother’s line to get all his random thoughts out of his head.
“Son, what are you still doing up this late?” A very sleepy voice came through.
“Did I wake you wake?” Shadreck asked.
“It’s midnight Shadreck, of course you woke me up but that’s okay. Where are you driving to? You sound like you are on the road.”
Shadreck closed the open window immediately. “I had some business to attend to but am heading home now.”
“Is what that stressful?” His mother asked. “You’ve never called me first before. You sound tired.”
“I always call you mum. Don’t make me feel bad now.”
“I’m sorry son, I didn’t mean to. I am very happy you called.”
“Anyway I gotto go. I just wanted to check up on you. you can go back to sleep now.”
“Are you sure you are okay?”
“I am, don’t think too much. I might pass through tomorrow after you come from church so we can have lunch together. Besides, the food you packed for me last week ran out.”
“Not to worry, I will have enough prepared for you tomorrow.” His mother said.
You just have to mother, you owe me that much for all those years you neglected us. Shadreck said in his head but to her he said; “Have a good night.” And cut the line.
A few seconds after the call with her son ended, Martha’s phone rang again. She answered without checking the caller.
“Yes son, did you forget something?” She said.
“It’s me, mother.” A different voice came through.
“Andy?” Martha sat up again. “I was just from talking to Shadreck. How come you kids are calling me one after the other? Did something happen?”
“We bumped into each other today.” Andy informed her.
“It finally makes sense.” Martha said.
“I just miss you so much mum.” Andy said. “Shadreck still doesn’t like me much. It doesn’t make me feel so good.”
“Was he rude to you again when you met?”
“Surprisingly he was very polite…maybe a little too polite.” Andy said.
“See, maybe he doesn’t hate you as much as you think.”
“No, he still hates my guts but you know what’s funny, I understand exactly why he does. I don’t blame him. If the roles were reversed, I am sure even you know that I would do exactly the same.”
“Did you visit your mother or at least let her know that you’re back in town?” Martha asked.
Andy hesitated in responding but a few seconds later said, “I didn’t.”
“I know, I’ll call her tomorrow. As long as I called you when I landed and you know that am back and safe, that’s all that matters. You are more of a mother to me than that woman will ever be.”
“Show some respect young man. No matter what faults you find in her she is still your mother.”
“You’re the only mother I have ever known.” Andy said. “Unless you don’t want me as a son anymore-“
“Don’t be funny young man. Besides, I was paid to act like a mother to you. I was your nanny. Your mother will always be your mother. No one can ever replace her.”
“She might have paid you to take care of me but I know that you would have taken care of me even if she had stopped paying you. Anyway, I have to go mum, I’ll pass through home to see you tomorrow.”
“Ah, tomorrow?” Martha remembered the phone call with Shadreck.
“Yes, is something the matter? You wont be around?” Andy asked.
“It’s not that.” Martha was searching for the right words to say so as not to worry him.
“It’s Shadreck isn’t it?” Andy surmised. “Is he coming to see you?”
“Yes. I’m so sorry Andy-“ Martha hated being stuck between the two boys.
Shadreck resented her for neglecting him and his siblings to take care of the Andy and Andy loved her for taking care of him when his own mother neglected him. It was an endless chain of misplaced love and hate but Martha was forced to come to the conclusion that the fault was all hers. She was the reason behind the friction between the two and there was nothing she was ever going to do that would make up for her mistakes.
“Oh no, you don’t need to apologize. It’s fine, I understand.” Andy said. “I guess I will just have to see you another day. it’s a good thing that Shadreck is coming to you and you are not the one following him and begging him to see you.”
“You should go to bed now, it’s late.” Martha said, completely changing the topic.
“Have a good night mum. I love you.”
“Love you too son, good night.”
“Are the kids sleeping?” Maia asked Rashida the nanny when she entered the house and found the fifty-five year old waiting for her in the living room.
Maia chuckled and waited for her to finish yawning to get a response. “Why did you wait up for me Idah?” She asked.
Rashida had been Maia’s nanny from the time she went to America with her adoptive parents. The two of them had gotten close over the years so much so that Rashida who had had no kids of her own in her marriage until the death of her husband eight years ago considered the little girl as her own. when Rashida heard about Maia’s trip back to Zambia, she offered to follow her so she could help out with the kids she intended to adopt. According to her. It was better to be in the company of children she dearly loved but could never have and take care of them than to remain in the states feeling lonely. Maia had always been her source of comfort after the demise of her husband and now that she was living, Rashida didn’t want to feel completely alone.
“The kids finally slept about an hour ago.” Rashida said. “They’re the most inquisitive bunch I have ever come across.” She laughed. “Did you really have to go to that place this late at night child?”
Maia threw herself onto the sofa next to Rashida and rested her head on the woman’s laps. “Luke was out of town during the day and he is always busy so tonight was the best time to go. Besides, I needed some fresh air.”
“That’s because you’ve been keeping yourself in the study day in and day out with your writing that you hardly ever see the sun rise and set. It’s not very good for your health Maia.”
“Are you nagging me right now Idah?” Maia yawned loudly and shut her eyes, sleep catching up with her too quickly.
“You should go upstairs and sleep in your bed.”
“Nooo.” Maia said, now half asleep and half awake. “I like sleeping on your laps better. And I have to check in on the kids before I-“ her words trailed off.
She had fallen asleep.
Rashida smiled. She unknotted Maia’s hair in its long, straight and silky glory and let it fall freely to the sides. She gently started to massage her scalp and in no time Maia was deeply gone in her sleep.