[Please bear with me if you encounter too many typos or errors, plot holes, etc. I’m writing this story as I go.]
Saturday, March 7, 1992
“Is this where I’m going to live now ma?”
Ten year old Miranda was standing next to her mother, in front of a massive red steel gate. She had to stretch her little neck all the way to see the electric wires placed at the top of the gate and running all the way round the fence. The wall fence was made of patterned pan bricks from top to bottom, with the bottom two layers painted beige while the rest of it glowed in perfect white. It was the cleanest and tallest fence she had ever come across, not that she had ever seen a pan-bricked fence before.
There were no such brick fences in Nkumbi village, only those short ones made of burnt mud bricks, and hedges. The fanciest hedge she had ever come across belonged to Chipasha’s parents who lived near the market. It was a thick greeny hedge she had heard Mrs Kaonga call Leyland Cyprus whenever she was boasting about it to the many admirers who stopped by her yard on their way to the market to admire the fence.
“Leyland Cyprus,” she always said it with such an accent that Miranda had found herself mimicking it whenever she mentioned the hedge to someone. According to Mrs Kaonga, the hedge was a very expensive gift she received from her sister who was married to a rich white man in London. Through her friend Chipasha, Miranda had learnt that most of the fancy things in their house came from her aunt in London. Miranda was so envious of the luxurious life her friend was living that she made a promise to herself to visit London when she was older.
But here, standing in front of the mayor’s gate made Miranda feel like she was in London already. She was very sad to leave Grandma Mary alone in the village but she was excited at the prospect of living in such a fancy estate. Standing there and waiting for the guard to open the gates for them felt like she was about to enter into heaven. The poor girl’s smile was ripped from her face when her mother dropped her bags to the ground and gripped her by her shoulders, forcing her to turn around and face her.
The stern look on her mother’s face froze Miranda in place. The last thing she wanted was to upset her mother. Being here with her was a dream come true. How many times had she stayed awake at night imagining what it would be like the day her mother would finally come for her?
“If you’re a good girl, your mother will come for you,” Grandma Mary had always said. And so Miranda had spent her days doing everything a ‘good girl’ was supposed to do. She helped her mother tend the gardens at the farm, sell her vegetables at the market, and even sell the fritters she made to passersby in front of their small thutch-roofed house.
When she was not helping her in the field, Miranda tended to all the house chores, cleaning, washing, and cooking little meals for herself while grandma was away. At school, she was yet to meet someone who rivaled her intelligence. This had taken so many years to happen, but eventually, her mother did come for her. In those years prior to this fateful day, she had only seen the woman five times. She had promised Grandma Mary she would be a good girl, always.
“Did I do something wrong?” Miranda blinked back tears. To her surprise, her mother’s expression softened and she smiled at her.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” Julia Masenga dropped her hands from her daughter’s shoulders and knelt on the ground to level with her. Still unsure of how to act or what to say to a daughter she barely knew, she nervously ran her hands over the girl’s floral dress, smoothing it over as if to rid it of invisible wrinkles. She had brought this dress for her two weeks ago when she made the decision to finally have her daughter with her. She was still having a hard time forgiving herself for taking out her frustrations of a broken heart on her. She could not blame her daughter for being so afraid of her. It might have taken long, but she was finally doing right by her daughter. It would take a while to mend their relationship, but she was determined to do her very best.
“I just don’t want you to be too excited,” Julia said. “This place we are about to enter, it’s not my home. It belongs to the rich people in charge of this city. I am just a servant here. They gave me a little place to live in a corner at the far end of the yard, away from them. That’s where all the servants live. We each have our own little spaces to live with our loved ones. You are here because you’re my family. You understand? “
“Yes,” Miranda nodded. “Grandma told me everything. She also said I can’t go anywhere near the bosses house to play or look around.”
“Good, you’re a very smart child Miranda. I like that a lot about you.”
“You do?” The little girl looked about ready to burst from joy.
Julia chuckled. “Yes, I do. You remind me a lot of someone I used to know.”
Miranda wanted to ask who that person was, but she already knew. She had overheard the conversations between her mother and grandmother. The person she reminded her mother of was her father. Apparently, Miranda was the spitting image of him, in body and spirit. There was nothing about her that remotely resembled her mother.
“I feel like God is mocking me, punishing me for my sins.” She had heard her mother once say. “Why did she have to take after him so much? She is a girl ma, she is supposed to look like her mother!” After that, her mother had spent the whole night crying.
The following morning, Miranda had gotten up from her mat in the makeshift living room where she had spent the night and went to sneak into her grandma’s bedroom where the two women had shared a bed. There was no one in the room. Fearing her worst fears coming to life, the little girl ran outside. There was no one in sight. She looked over at the kitchen area across the yard and ran in that direction, all the while painfully shouting, “Ma !!!”
Grandma Mary popped out at the door holding a lid in one hand. “My baby,” she said.
“Where is she?” Miranda asked, tears streaming down her cheeks. She already knew the answer. She just needed her grandmother to tell her she was wrong. But Grandma Mary could not do that for her. Instead, she was shaking her head, slowly, fighting back her own tears. She put the lid down and walked over to her granddaughter, wrapping her up in her arms. “I’m so sorry my baby, grandma is sorry.”
That was three years ago, the forth time she had met her mother. But that was all in the past now. They were finally together. Maybe if she saw for herself just how much of a good girl she was, maybe she would grow to love her.
“I think I look like you,” Miranda said. “Now that we are going to live together, you will see for yourself.” She smiled longingly at her mother. Julia caressed the girl’s cheeks and got back on her feet. She picked up her bags and walked over to the side of the gate to ring the bell.
Three minutes later, a tall thin man, seemingly in his late thirties opened the gate, the tout expression on his face immediately replaced by a welcoming smile upon recognizing the guest. “Madam Julia, welcome back,” he greeted them.
“Thank you Jonas,” Julia said. “C’mon, let’s go,” she motioned to her daughter who was nervously lagging behind, as if afraid to proceed through the gates. Miranda must have sensed the fear because she stopped and looked back at her. “It’s okay, Jonas is my friend. You don’t have to be so afraid.” She was suppressing a laugh.
“And who’s the little girl Julia, a niece?” Jonas asked.
“She is my daughter Jonas. Come Miranda, let’s go. I have to report for duty in a few minutes.” Miranda ran to her mother and together they left Jonas standing behind with his jaw on the ground.
Miranda had very little time to take in her new surroundings. The Mayor’s estate was something straight out of the movies she had seen at Chipasha’s place. They had just reached the end of the drive way when they heard screaming voicrs coming from the most beautiful house Miranda had ever seen. She wanted to stand and admire everything but her mother had gotten hold of her free hand and was now dragging her to the bushes on the side, overlooking the house. She forced her down on her knees and together they watched the scene in front of the house unfold before them.
“Don’t make any sound,” her mother warned. “Whatever you see or hear, stay hidden here. They cannot know that we are out here. You hear me?”
Miranded profusely nodded her head, fear written all over her face. Julia put her arm around the girl to calm her down. “It’s gonna be okay,” she said. “This isn’t any of our business.”
Miranda tried to nod in agreement but she was too consumed by the scene in front of them. A man, he looked about the same age as Chipasha’s dad, he kept hitting the boy with a black belt. The boy was just there, lying flat on the floor with his back fully exposed to the savage man. He wasn’t flinching. He kept his eyes focused on something Miranda could not see from her hiding place.
There was a woman standing next to them, sobbing, but the hand on her mouth muffled the sounds. She kept shaking her head everytime the belt landed on the boy. She appeared more in pain than the boy. Miranda wanted to ask her mother why the woman was not stopping the man but she remembered the warning and kept her mouth shut. Except, she could not stop her own tears from pouring on behalf of the boy lying motionless on the ground.
The boy looked older than her. Is that why he isn’t crying? Because he’s a big boy? Miranda wondered.
“This. Is. The. Last. Time. You. Are. Going. To. Embarrass. Me. Like this.” The monster kept saying as he continued whipping the boy.
“Please, bashi Victor, this is enough. Please, stop.” The woman finally spoke. The man suddenly stopped, instead, turning à wolf-like glare in the direction of the woman.
“How many times have I told you not to call me that!” He thundered.
Sensing danger, the woman shifted into a corner, putting some distance between herself and the man. That didn’t seem to deter the man. He went after her, belt at the ready. The woman made a run for the house. The man was right behind her. They both disappeared through the door. A few seconds later, the woman could be heard screaming in terror. Miranda shifted her gaze from the door to where the boy was. He was still lying flat on the floor. He stayed like that for a few more seconds before getting himself up. Only then could she tell how much pain he was in for it took him quite a while to get on his feet. And when he was, he could barely stand straight, instead using the wall in front of him for support.
“Let’s go,” her mother whispered to her. Before she could process the instruction, her mother grabbed her by the hand and used her free arm to pick up all their bags and led them away from the house. Miranda couldn’t help looking back. She had to know how the boy was doing. Somewhere along the shirt run, her mother had let go of her arm to hold some of the bags there. Miranda stopped running and looked back. To her horror, the boy was looking directly at her, a glacial look in his eyes. For what felt like forever, their eyes locked, each unflinching in their resolve. Next thing Miranda felt was a hand on her arm, pulling her away.
As her mother dragged her away, Miranda turned to steal a last glance. The boy was still staring, hard, until they disappeared behind the orchard trees. When she finally looked in the direction they were moving, she spotted the servant’s quarters in the distance. This was to be her new home.
Mama, I don’t want to be here. Miranda heard the echo of her own thoughts as she followed her mother to what would be her new home.
June, 2019 – Present Time
Irvin needed some fresh air. “I’m gonna grab a smoke,” he excused himself to his new buddies and made his way to the patio.
It was a beautiful house. It belonged to Noah’s parents. They were out on vacation and Noah had thought it a good idea to be hosting wicked parties every weekend. Irvin had already turned down three of his offers. He had only recently transferred to the University of Zambia, his very first educational experience in his motherland. He wasn’t in any rush to make friends, not that he was anti-social or an introvert. Infact, he was more of an ambivert. However, he had way too many issues to sort through his head without adding social pressure to it. If not for his mother insisting that he go out and mingle, he would have most likely spent the evening reading something in his small apartment in Kalundu.
He had just taken a stick out and was about to light it when someone pulled it from his lips.
“Hey!” He protested, immediately recognizing the rude intruder. He had been avoiding her the whole evening. And it was not the first time.
The girl placed the cigarette between her lips, grabbed the lighter from Irvin’s hand, lit it, and bummed a long swagajag from it before handing both cigarette and lighter to him. All the while, Irvin had been watching her, a bemused expression on his face. “You’re crazy, you know that?”
“So I’ve been told.” It was clearly a trait she was not ashamed of. “You’re cute, you know that, right?”
“So I’ve been told,” Irvin threw her words back at her, a smirk playing shamelessly on his face.
“Smart-ass.” She was impressed.
“What’s a young girl like you doing at a party like this?” Irvin asked.
“Who says I’m young?” She said, boldly, squaring her shoulders for effect. Everything about her screamed teenager. If she was going to lie about her age, Irvin thought, she should have atleast picked a better costume. She was wearing a tight white crop top that left little else to the imagination. Her yellow skinny jeans were way too low cut but she had a great six-pack so she was allowed to show off her assets. She had on white canvas that matched her top and Irvin could see little black socks popping at the edges of the shoe. Despite her teenage’ish attire, she was probably the most laid back girl at the party. Everyone else was dressed to the nines, something Irvin found ironic, because this girl standing in front of him was the richest girl in the whole country.
“How old are you?” Irvin asked.
“I hope I’m the only man you lie to about your age Sonia,” he said, watching her closely for her coming reaction.
“How do you know my name?” Sonia asked.
Irvin laughed. “I know a whole lot about you Sonia Mwanza. And I’m not the only one. You’re a heiress, a sociolite of some sort. The whole country knows about you.”
“They know of me, but they don’t know who I am.”
“Fair enough,” Irvin shrugged his shoulders. “I know you live a very quiet life.”
“I also know who you are,” she said smugly. “A friend of mine is in PA with you. She was gushing about you non-stop so I stalked you a little bit on Facebook and Twitter.”
“My accounts are very private, not sure you found much there.”
“I have other ways of finding data on people Irvin, especially the ones I like.”
Irvin froze for a few seconds, then he smashed his cigarette against the patio rail before turning fully to face her. “You like me?” He asked, his hands going into his pockets.
Sonio couldn’t read the expression on his face. It was perhaps the only time she had made her feelings known to a guy and he appeared blasé about it. She didn’t know whether to be impressed or insulted.
Instead, she smiled. “Of course. Every girl here is dying to catch your attention. I like your style. You’re exactly my type. You have very kissable lips.”
Teenagers. Irvin thought to himself. He was glad to be turning twenty in a few months.
“Sonia, you’re sixteen years old. You have no business liking someone my age. Anyway, that’s not even the point here.”
“Why? You don’t like me because of my father’s politics?”
“It wouldn’t be the first time.”
“First of all, I didn’t say I don’t like you, well, not like that. I don’t dislike you. I think you’re a pretty awesome girl.”
“So you like older women?”
“As a matter of fact I do prefer older women. But that’s not why I’m turning you down.”
Irvin thought about the right response, and when he couldn’t come up with one, he placed a hand on her shoulder, sighed and said, “I’m sorry Sonia.” Then he went back inside.
Irvin made his excuses to Noah and made a quick exit from the party. Having been the last person to arrive at the party, his 7-series, white BMW was parked in front of the house. He got in and sped off. Once he was on the highway, he made a call to his mother.
“Son, how’s the party going?” His mother’s chirpy voice filled the car.
“Mum, I bumped into Sonia at the party.”
“Oh,” was all that came from his mother.
“Yes, oh,” an exasperated Irvin said. “Mum, I thought you were handling this.”
“I am son,” his mother said. “Did she recognize you?”
“No, if she did, she wouldn’t have come on to me.”
Irvin heard sounds from the other end of the line. His mother had clearly dropped something. “Mum, you okay ?”
“What do you mean she came on to you?” His mother asked, she sounded almost out of breath now.
“Are you okay? Did you drop something?”
“I asked you a question Irvin!” She snapped.
“What do you think it means? My half sister thinks I’m exactly her type mum.”
“Oh Jesus. Where are you? Get out of there right now and come home.”
“I’m already on my way.”
The line cut.
Let me know what you think about our characters so far. Any predictions? 😀 Leave your comments below. ⬇️🎤