After spending close to an hour in his father’s company, Irvin felt inclined to tell his old man exactly what was on his mind. He had after all stayed up all night playing possible scenarios for this exact moment. “You’re actually a cool dude,” Irvin said. William stopped what he was doing and looked at his son, the comment catching him completely off guard.Continue reading
“Mara is a beautiful name, just like the owner. ” Irvin said. “I bet you look even more beautiful when you smile. So, how about giving me your best smile beautiful Mara?” Mara’s insides turned to mash and the only thing she could do was pray that her face wasn’t leaking any of the wicked thoughts going through her mind. This man was clearly a shameless flirt. Unfortunately for her, before she could summon her senses to order, Irvin took three consecutive shots, a satisfied grin lighting up his handsome face as he looked through the pictures.
“You could have warned me you know,” Mara complained, feeling the heat on her face rise. I must look like an infatuated teenager in those pictures, she thought. “This is so embarrassing. I feel so stupid.”
“Why?” Irvin asked. “The photos look fantastic! You’re every photographer’s dream muse.”
“Are you a photographer?” Mara asked.
“No, far from it,” he answered. “But, I’m into photography as a hobby, although, most of my subjects never talk back to me.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Mara said. “You must know the effect you have on women. Look at me!”
Smiling, Irvin asked, “Can I tell you something?”
“You’re the first woman I’ve met who didn’t hide the fact I made her speechless,” he tittered. “Usually, they play it cool, but those first few seconds would have already done the damage. But you,” he was really trying to contain his laughter but failing epically. “You just stood there, starring.” This time, he let himself chortle without inhibition. Mara watched him in both wonder and amusement before joining him, and when they had both sobered up a bit, she sarcastically asked, “are you done?”
Irvin took a swipe at his nearly teary eyes, noisely cleared his throat and dramatically put on a straight face for her benefit. “I’m really sorry for laughing,” he said. “But, in my defense, I wasn’t laughing at you…well, not technically,” he bit back the new bolt of laughter threatening to erupt. “It’s just that, you looked really cute, almost childlike. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a while. It’s very flattering to know I rendered a beauty like you speechless.”
“Well, I guess my beauty does make things a little less embarrassing, right?” She nonchalantly shrugged her shoulders.
“What’s there to be embarrassed about?” Irvin asked. “I think it’s very sexy when a woman owns her flaws, her sexuality, her feelings…you know. So own it.”
Mara was looking at him with a new found interest. This was a first for her, this gnawing feeling in the pit of her stomach demanding that she know everything and anything about this beautiful man standing in front of her. “You never told me your name,” she said.
“Irvin,” he said, offering his hand for a handshake. “Irvin Kamanga.” Mara smiled and shook his hand. “It’s a pleasure meeting you Irvin,” she said.
“Pleasure is all mine Ms Mara,” Irvin said. “If you don’t mind me asking, what are you doing here at the Minister’s residence? Work or pleasure?” He regretted asking the question the moment it came out. It might not bode well for him or his mother to know about his father’s pleasurable activities.
“Work, definitely,” Mara supplied a little too enthusiastically. For the first time, she didn’t want a man to misunderstand anything about her. So she found herself adding, “Today is my first day meeting the Honorable Minister. If all goes well, the firm I work for might join his campaign team.”
“I want to ask what sort of work you do, and I’m curious about a whole bunch of things except, I your phone has been vibrating in my hands for the past few seconds…could be something important.” He handed her the phone.
Mara gasped. She had completely forgotten about the very meeting she was talking about. “It’s the Minister’s PA,” she said before taking the call. “Hi…yes, I’ll be right up. Thanks.” She looked at Irvin after hanging up, an apologetic look on her face. She had hoped their conversation would go on forever. She couldn’t bare to let this man go without knowing she could see him again.” Do you mind, ” she said, handing him back her phone. There was a puzzled yet somewhat innocent expression on Irvin’s face that forced her to clarify her position. “I would like to have your number,” she added.
“Oh, yeah, sure, no problem,” Irvin said, entering his digits. She searched around her for her handbag and spotted it on a bench a few feet behind Irvin. She retrieved it, pulled out a business card from her purse, and handed it to him just as he finished with her phone.” Thanks,” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t have a business card myself. I’m just a mere second year student at the University of Zambia.”
“That’s okay,” she said. She didn’t care whether he was the undertaker or Lucifer himself. She wanted this man. “I didn’t even think you’re Zambian. Your accent….”
“Ah,”, Irvin snickered. “That’s a long story for another day. Maybe dinner?”
Mara felt the heavens open and the angels belt out à chorus in her honour. “I would love to have dinner with you Irvin. Unfortunately, I have to go now, meeting.”
“Yeah, sure,” Irvin said, stepping aside to make way for her. “It was really a pleasure meeting you Mara.”
“Me too,” she said, fighting the urge to add, please call me before deciding to hold on to the little remnants of dignity left in her after that unceremonious first meeting they had just had.
“I’ll call you,” Irvin said to her retreating figure. Mara paused for a second, nodded, and resumed floating with a huge grin on her face.
She was on cloud nine.
After delaying the meeting with the PR director for close to an hour, William wasted no time getting straight into business once the pleasantries were out of the way. “My secretary informs me that you already signed the NDA.”
Mara couldn’t tell whether it was a mere statement or question, but for purposes of professionalism, she answered, “I did, yes. Safeguarding information is the bone marrow of my line of work.” There was a hint of a smile on the Minister’s face, but it was difficult for Mara to tell because the man had the best poker face she had ever encountered. It explained why he had gotten this far in his line of business.
Mara was not a fan of politicians. They were great for her business. In fact 60% of her company’s income came from them. However, after dealing with them for over five years now, she had come to experience first hand what conniving, manipulative and pathological liars they were. They saw no shame in their illegal and unethical dealings. They expected a free pass for all their transgressions, and when push came to shove, they were willing to pay thousands of dollars to people like her to sugarcoat their indiscretions or worse, make them go away altogether. She was not one to judge, given her own indiscretions, but the fact que she played an active hand in ensuring their salaries made her feel entitled to certain expectations from them.
For some reason, Mara had always imagined the provincial minister to be a little different from most. He had never been involved in any huge scandals, except the usual minor ones that appeared out of the blue one day only to die of natural causes the next. Despite a transparent financial lifestyle, his private life was pretty much that, private. Which was why when she received a call from the Minister’s right hand man Alvin Sitali to set in motion this very meeting, Mara had been a little surprised. The provincial Minister’s office had its own communications and media team, and so did the YFDP party on whose ticket he was standing as a presidential candidate in the upcoming elections. So why did the seemingly perfect minister need a media handler of her calibre?
“Seeing as I delayed this meeting, I’m in a bit of a hurry to get to my next,” William explained. “It’s a very important meeting for me, as you’ll soon come to understand. So I would like to get straight to the point. I am seeking your services as an individual, as the man William Mwanza who is a family man. As it happens, I am also a minister and a presidential hopeful, so somewhere along the way, all aspects of my life seem to collide.
“That being said,” he continued. “I want to make deliberate efforts that separate my family life from my work. I know it sounds impossible, but that’s why you’re here.”
Mara smiled at the recognition of her prowess. “Yes sir,” she said.
“As you already know, I come from a family of renowned politicians,” William went on. “Politics have been a part of my life for so long that I know more than anyone what impact being in this kind of limelight can do to a family. I want to offer myself to the service of the country, but I do not wish to sacrifice my family along the way. I do not want to lie to the people, my family means more to me than my politics, especially now more than ever.”
“Why now, what changed?” Mara asked.
“I’ll get to that in a bit,” William said. “But I need you to understand what having you on board means to me. Of course you’ll work closely with the other two media offices, but you will be solely responsible for handling any issue to do with my family. And to start you off, I would like you handle the current issue I have at hand, that of my son.”
Mara had been expecting a bombshell of some sort, but certainly not this. So Mr Innocent Gentleman was not so innocent after all. “A son?”
“He is nineteen, but he will be turning twenty in a few months. In fact, he already considers himself twenty.”
“Does this mean-“
“Yes, it means I had him before I married my ex wife,” William provided. “His mother is my childhood sweetheart, for lack of a better term. I figured I would be seeing a lot of it in the press in the coming days so might as well adapt to it. Her name is Miranda Kamanga,” he paused to allow her to type on her iPad. “Not many people knew about our relationship back then…and that’s because I kept it secret, for reasons I would hope are obvious.
“I do not wish to provide the public with intimate details of my private life,” William said. “I just need them to know what’s necessary for them to have an idea of the sort of man they’re voting for. I sent an email to you right before our meeting, in it you’ll find all the bits I’m willing to share. I don’t need to tell you what to do with them or when.”
“Yes sir,” Mara said.
William asked, “Any questions so far? “
Mara quickly went through her notes before speaking. “Your son, where has he been all this while, and why did you decide to reveal his existence now? Does your ex wife know about him?”
“I’ve explained all that in the email,” William said. “But for the sake of this meeting, I only found out about him two days ago. Today will be the first time I’ll be meeting him.”
“Oh yeah, that important meeting you mentioned earlier.”
“Yes, I believe he is already here,” William said, a nervous smile forming at the corners of his lips. “It appears Irvin is better at time keeping that his father.” he chuckled.
Mara stopped typing and for a few seconds appeared to have frozen in time. “What did you say your son’s name is again?” She asked, praying to the gods that she had heard wrong.
William picked up his mobile phone, opened his photo gallery to a picture of Irvin taken two years ago. He was dressed in a pink dress shirt and black chinos on a pair of white converse. William pushed his phone across the table to where Mara was and her face dropped to the ground. “You said he is nineteen?” She already knew what he had said. She just hoped he would say he had been lying. However, this man wasn’t a liar, she had come to conclude.
William laughed. “Like I said, Irvin likes to think himself older than his actual age.” he said. “His mother informs me that he is the typical alpha male. You should be able to have a sit-down with him and his sister soon. You can arrange that with my secretary.”
Mara could hardly hear what he was saying on top of the incessant thousand thoughts screaming through her head. Had she just flirted with a teenager? How could he possibly be nineteen years old!? Nothing about that boy said he was a teenager. Everything screamed he was a man, and not just any man. An extremely sexy confident man. He had flirted with her as if it was his second nature. He even asked her out for dinner. He must have known she was older. She might not look her age either but her ‘look’ was enough to say she was a fully grown woman. Yes, she had susoected he was younger than her, just not that young. At most, he looked twenty-five. It was still too young for her at thirty-five, but she had never been one to be fazed by age as long as the man was twenty-five or above.
She was fortunate enough to have a baby face so being with younger men before had never been an issue for Mara, unless of course the men turned out to be like her ex Bernard, leeches who needed grown women to take care of them like little babies. But nineteen? Mara mused. What in the world would she be doing with a nineteen year old kid? No matter how hot he was, or how desperate she had wanted to taste his lips, Irvin had just become a no-go area.
It was no longer just about age. It was now about the fact that Irvin was her client’s son, and that client happened to be a very influential politician who would most likely become president the coming year. That would make Irvin the president’s son. Not only that, he was an heir to his father’s multi-million fortune. She might be a successful business woman in her own right but she was far from being a match to someone with such an elite background…especially someone with her kind of past. Mara felt like a knife was being plunged into her chest, over and over again.
“Are you alright Ms Bwalya?” William asked. At some point, she had gotten to her feet and was now standing.
Mara immediately came out of her reverie. “I’m so sorry Honorable sir, I thought I felt something on my feet.” She made a show of examining her feet. “It’s probably nothing,” she said. “I have a chronic fear of spiders, so every now and then, I imagine the worst whenever I’m sitting in a strange environment.
“I can assure you that we have no spider problems here,” there was a hint of laugher in his voice.
Mara quietly sat down. This was the second time in a day she was making a complete fool of herself. It was a record.
The night before the morning young Irvin was scheduled to meet his father was one wrecked in turmoil. No matter how much he tried, sleep had no intentions of embracing him that night. After long hours of turning and tossing, and his mind filled with images of how things could go wrong, the nineteen year old finally gave up any hope of twirling in dance with the maidens of Lala land and got out of bed in a cold sweat at 3 a.m. An unexplainable fear had gripped him, rendering the optimistic part of his mind numb.
By the time the clock hit 7, Irvin was already bathed and fully dressed for battle. If it turned out that his old man wouldn’t take a liking to him, Irvin had constructed a list of choice words he had woven together in form of sentences and locked them in a secure part of his brain. He would not hesitate to use them as ammunition the moment an opportunity presented itself. Unfortunately for the teen with a hyperactive mind, even such talk was not enough to calm him down. Thus, he picked up his car keys and drove his way to the Minister’s residence.
His father had sent him a location on Whatsapp two nights ago. That had been the first conversation they had had, with the messages looking something like:
➡️Hi Irvin, I got your number from your mother. This is William…your dad.
⬅️Hi, I know who you are. My mother already gave me your number.
➡️ I’m looking forward to meeting you.
⬅️ Me too.
➡️ That’s the location for my home. It’s very easy to find, you can’t get lost. But let me know if you need any more guidance. This is my direct line. You can call me any time.
➡️ Guess I’ll see you soon. Have a good night.
⬅️ Yeah, good night.
When Irvin arrived at the Minister’s residence, waiting for Atleast one of the three guards in the security booth to approach his car, he checked his wrist watch and surmised that he had over an hour to spare before the meeting. He could use that time to calm his nerves down, he reasoned. The security check was quicker than he had anticipated. The guards appeared to have been expecting him. A quick show of his identity and the gates flew open.
He wanted to ask them which direction to go the moment he caught a glimpse of the inside. The initial part of the driveway leading into the property spread into a t-junction. Before he could stop the car to ask the guards for directions, he caught sight of the signs. The poster marked BUSINESS had an arrow pointing to the Right, and the one with the word HOME on it was pointing in the opposite direction. He followed the direction of the latter, rolling down his windows as he drove by to allow for an undisturbed view of the world class landscaping. These were no ordinary premises he had just driven into.
Irvin did not think a mere minister would have the means to afford such a place but his mother had duly informed him that his father’s family had been well off even before they joined politics. They had been engaged in large scale farming way before others ventured into it. Their political success later played a huge role in transforming their agricultural activities into a stable fortune. His mother had not hidden the fact that she thought their political affiliations had more than just given them a financial boost, they had in fact helped them monopolize the agricultural industry for a very long time until William became mayor and started changing thing. His marriage to an heiress was enough to tripple his wealth. As it stands, William Mwanza, his father, was one of the richest men in the country.
After driving for what felt like forever, Irvin finally came into full view of the Minister’s mansion. It was a three storied structure made of two visible wings drapped in the very epitome of modern architecture. The place looked more like a luxurious resort than a home. Irvin parked his car next to a vintage-looking black Sedan, the sort one is likely to see in an old TCM movie. He doubted the thing could move, but it looked pretty cool sitting there amidst six other modern luxurious cars. Now seven, counting his own.
He had just stepped out of his vehicle and wondering where to go next when he spotted a middle-aged plump woman approaching him a short distance away. She was smiling from ear to ear. Irvin closed his door and waited for her to get closer.
“You must be Mr. Irvin,” the woman said, extending her hand to him.
“And you must be Doris,” Irvin said, smiling as he read her name off the tag on her shirt whilst shaking her hand.
“Yes I am,” she said. “I’m the Home manager for the Honorable Minister,” she gestured towards the mansion. Why am I not surprised that there’s a whole manager to manage a place like this? Irvan thought
“I was a bit surprised when security alerted me of your presence. We were expecting you a little later, but not to worry. If you don’t mind, I can give you a tour of the premises as we wait for the minister to finish with his business.” Doris offered.
“I most certainly don’t mind,” Irvin said, looking around the place. “I spotted a flower garden over there,” he pointed in the direction he had just come from. “It looked heavenly, do you mind if we start there?”
“Of course not, it’ll be my pleasure to-“, Just then, her phone rang. When she seemed unsure of what to do, Irvin smiled and gave her the go ahead. Doris stepped aside to take the call which lasted less than a minute. With hands in his pockets, Irvin turned his back to give her some privacy but when he heard her footsteps approaching, he turned back around. “Everything okay?” Irvin asked upon seeing the despondent look on her face.
“We have a bit of a situation in the kitchen that needs my attention-”
“Please, go ahead, don’t worry about me,” Irvin said. “Unless visitors aren’t allowed to roam about alone, I think I can find my way around pretty easily.”
“This is now your home Mr Irvin,” the friendly woman said. “You’re free to check out any part of the property you feel like exploring. All the employees have your identity. They won’t give you any trouble.”
“I take it you know who I am then?” Irvin nervously scratched the back of his head.
“And everyone else?”
“Just me and a few other trusted employees.”
“I see,” Irvin said, not sure how to take the news of his father telling his stuff about his bastard son. “Please, go and attend to your work Doris. I’ll find my way to the garden just fine.”
“Yes sir,” the woman said. “Feel free to pick up a map in the corner there,” she pointed to a spot under the garage, in front of the vintage Sedan. A little box hanging from a purple colored pole was filled with what he assumed to be maps or flyers of some sort.
When Doris excused herself, Irvin picked up a map and after a quick perusal, he headed in the direction of the garden. He followed the foot path paved away from the driveway he had used. He had to admit, the place was a little too extravagant, but it also looked and felt heavenly. The grounds were impeccably kept, with every blade of grass on the ground and strategically placed wall greener than the one next to it. He stopped every now and then to stare at some enthralling landscaping work. At one point he reached into his pocket and drew out a cigarette. Smoking always helped calm his nerves.
It had taken Irvin close to ten minutes to reach the flower garden. Immediately, he took out his phone and started snapping away. This was the reason he had walked all the way, to capture this piece of heaven for his mother who was obsessed with flower gardens. His mother was such a peculiar woman who had on several occasions made known her wish to be buried in a place filled with bleeding hearts, dahlias, lilies, roses, and all the colorful flowers of the world one can think of. Her dream destination was the Fulham Palace gardens of London. If she had her way, she would prefer her ashes buried in the soil of the thickest shrub there.
After taking several pictures and looking through them, Irvin paused on one of them. On this one, he had managed to capture the whole side view of the garden, including the hedge around it. It was then he recognized what the garden symbolized. This was not just any hedge. This was his mother’s favorite, Lyland Cyprus. He could identify this hedge even in his sleep. His mother was so obsessed with it that she planted it on the grounds of every house they ever lived.
A chill ran down Irvin’s spine as he started to put one dot next to the other. According to the map he had just read, this property was built ten years ago. His father was still married to his ex wife at that time. That meant he had disigned a whole plan of his dream home for his family with another woman in mind. His mother. This could only mean one thing, his father never stopped loving his mother. Why else would he have built such a garden? Suddenly, all his nervousness ebbed away and it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
When Irvin looked up from his phone towards the garden, he was no longer alone. There was a woman standing in the middle of the garden. She must not have known she had company given the extra pizzazz with which she was taking selfies. Irvin snickered to himself, watching in both amusement and amazement as the strange behaving but beautiful woman struggled to get a selfie with a wider background shot.
Even from the distance, he could tell she was beautiful despite the fact she had her back to him. It was an unexplainable type of beauty. Could it be in the way she was carrying herself, untamed, unbothered and unhinged ? Irvin was suddenly filled with a burning curiosity he desperately needed to quench. He had to speak to her. He had to look at the rest of her. He took a long pull of his cigarette before making his presence known.
“I can help you with that if you don’t mind,” he said.
The woman spun around, her eyes looking about ready to pop out of their sockets. She was way out of his league, older, sophisticated, and breathtakingly beautiful. She opened her mouth to say something, but no words came out. She must have given up trying to speak because she was now just standing there, gaping at him like he was the strangest being she had ever seen.
“Are you okay?” He had to ask because she looked like she was having an aneurysm.
“Yeah, I’m… Uh… I’m fine, thank you,” she stuttered. It sounded like a whisper, tagging at Irvin’s invisible strings, urging him to draw closer to her.
“I didn’t mean to disturb you,” he apologized. He had shortened the distance between them so much so that he could smell the fragrance of her perfume. Paco Rabanne, Pure XS. How could he not know? It was his mother’s fragrance. She must have gasped at their close proximity but the sound was too low for him to know with certainty. So he quickly took the phone from her limpid hand and put some distance between them. This time he was sure he heard her heave a huge sigh of relief.
Irvin smiled, enjoying how nervous he was making her. “Move back a little,” he said. She hesitated before moving, clearly unsure of what she was doing. He had to help her relax, Irvin reasoned. “What’s your name?” He asked as he took the first shot.
“Mara,” She said.
“She is my daughter too,” William said. He had expected this meeting to be tough, but he had not expected his ex-wife to be this unnecessarily difficult.
“Only when it’s convenient for you!” Shelly cried. “When was the last time you saw her? In fact, you wouldn’t even be here if not for this bombshell you just dropped on me. All these years you’ve been insisting that you’re not like your father, that you’re different. But you know what Will, you’re exactly like your father.”
William wanted to defend himself but he didn’t have the confidence to carry on such an argument convincingly. After all, he too had spent the past hours after his meeting with Crispin asking himself the same question; how different was he from his father? A flashback of his conversation with Crispin the flashed through his head:
– I’ve never ever given her false hope – William.
– Maybe that’s the problem. You should have at least given her a chance, before deciding that she wasn’t worth surrendering your heart to.Crispin Habeenzu
How was what he did to Miranda and Shelly different from what his father Victor had done to his mother? His father had broken the law and had sex with an underage girl. To avoid jail, they falsified the girl’s birth records and had him marry her to prevent a Scandal. And then he made the girls life a living hell after that. The insults, the physical and verbal abuse, the constant shaming and embarrassment, and the manipulation. His disgust of her was so much that his hurt and hate spilled onto his son.
William might not have followed the same path as his father, but after the recent events, he was starting to suspect otherwise. He had given up on his love in order to secure his political ambitions. He had married a woman he had no feelings for for that exact reason. He had proceeded to deprive that woman and their child the attention and care they deserve because he was punishing himself for the selfish decisions he had made in the past. Instead, he buried himself in his political career.
In the end, that was all it would take to turn him into the very man he was trying to run away from. He had curved before him a path different from the one taken by his father, but what he didn’t know then, but knew now thanks to a simple question from his mentor Crispin was that he was heading towards the same goal.
“Cat got your tongue, huh?” Shelly said sarcastically. She was now standing just a few inches away from William, her arms folded across her chest. She had known the effect her words would have on her ex husband, but this was the first time he was not rushing to take offense and defend himself.
William nervously cleared his throat and looked at his ex wife. “I won’t stand here and make excuses for myself,” he said. “You’re right, maybe I’m not so different from my father, but here’s the difference Shelly, I’m trying my best to do things right, right now. That is something Victor Mwanza never even attempted to do. I am trying to do the best I can and the least you can do is be supportive.”
“And you expect me to believe that?” Shelly retorted. “And even if that were the case, did you expect the world to just step aside and let you do things your way just because you want to make things right? Guess what Will, it doesn’t work like that! Why now? Why now of all times? I gave you over twenty years of my life.
“I loved you, I took care of you and our child, I became your right hand woman so you could excel in your politics. I did all that. And what did I get in return? Rejection. Constant rejection. You didn’t even want to pretend you cared about me behind closed doors. I was so desperate for your love and affection that I would have even welcomed a lie. “
“I never wanted to give you false hope!” William echoed the words he had said to Crispin. “You knew from the day we met that I never loved you. You knew this even on the day you agreed to get married to me. I never lied to you. I looked you in the eyes and asked you if you were okay with never having the heart of your husband and you said you didn’t care as long as I was your husband. You agreed Shelly! So why am I the only bad guy in this? “
The memory of the night in question played through Shelly’s mind and instantly brought tears her eyes. Back then she had hope. She couldn’t say the same for this moment in time. “Because you’re the only one who never got to lose anything,” she said in a cracked voice. “Because you’re the only one who benefitted from such an arrangement. You made the rules and called the shots. All I had to do was bid my time and hope that maybe one day you would stop and look at what you were doing to us, to me, and to our child.
“And now you come here, telling me about having another child with your ex lover, talking about the kids being friends, about you changing into a better man. Why? Why now? What is so great about this son of yours that you would want to become a better father now? What does he have that our daughter doesn’t? What does Miranda have that I don’t have? How come my heart and my sacrifices were never enough? Why? ” Shelly sobbed.
All his life William had never known how to handle a sobbing woman. The best he had ever done was stand there with them and wait until they calmed down. However, this day was different for the forty year old. He did something he had never ever done before. He closed the distance between them and put his arms around her. Shelly leaned into him and sobbed even more, for how could she not be moved by this sudden change in the man she loved unreservedly?
And so she sobbed some more; for his rejection all those years ago and now, for his indifference to her pain and loneliness, for the man he was choosing to become now yet would never be for her, and for all the could have been and might be moments that will never come to pass. Shelly cried.
William held on to her for what felt like forever. He couldn’t let go of her. The guilt was too consuming… too overwhelming. He had done this to her. An apology was not enough to fix the hurt he had caused her. All those years he had thought that keeping his distance from her was what he needed to do to protect her. He could never ever pretend to love her. He couldn’t do that to her. He thought that they had both gotten what they wanted from their arrangement; he had given her his loyalty and his name, and in return she had given him the political advantage he needed. They didn’t have to be happy in the arrangement, that had been a given. But at least they each got something they desired. Or so he thought.
Shelly had wanted more. It was no longer enough just to be recognized by law and everyone else as his woman. She wanted to possess him, his name, his life, and his heart. And yet when William had agreed to their union, he had fully accepted his losses. He had lost the love and trust of the woman he loved, and he had made a deal with the devil in order to achieve his selfless political ambitions. He was different from his father. He had to be. Otherwise what was the point of all that pain and loss?
For a moment, William could see things from Shelly’s point of view. He was almost achieving his ultimate dream. After his announcement of Miranda’s return, he had confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that Shelly’s dream would never come to pass. So how could he fault her for her demonic perception of him? He was truly Victor’s son, through and through.
When Sonia returned from school, she found her parents in that position, Shelly cozied up on his chest as if it was her second home, her sobs slowly fading , and William with his arms tightly wrapped around her. From a teenager’s point of view, they looked like the picture perfect couple.
“Dad!” Sonia screamed, throwing her backpack to the side and running towards her father. William had to let go of Shelly to welcome his energetic daughter. While Shelly quickly wiped away the rest of her tears, William turned towards his daughter, put on his best smile and scooped her into his arms. “You came! You came!” Sonia cried out in joy.
Is this what Shelly was talking about? William thought. Things didn’t have to be like this. His own daughter didn’t need to be so surprised at his presence in her home. Just how deep had he fallen in his self-absorption hell hole? He said he wanted to become a better man, but for whom?
It was true Miranda’s return had given him a new lease on life. He wanted her love back, her trust, honor and respect. He was even willing to wait on that, to do things the right way. For years he had thought he had no chance, but then she returned and stood before him, bearing news of a son they shared together. In that moment, everything had changed. He had not thought about Shelly or Sonia. No. He had thought about himself, about his own happiness. The only time Shelly and Sonia came to mind was when he was considering his politics. Shelly was right, he was a selfish bastard. He was undeserving of her unwavering love, just as he was of Miranda’s forgiveness.
You’re exactly like your father!Shelly Manase.
Shelly’s words rang through William’s mind as he drove home that evening. The time he had spent with his daughter was not enough to rid him of the thoughts that had been weighing him down since the emotional conversation with his ex wife. Shelly had withdrawn to her room for the rest of the evening, leaving William and Sonia alone to cook her favorite pasta, play monopoly and chat about her teenage issues.
It had been a while since the daddy- daughter duo had spent such a great time together. Sonia was a big girl now, a smile crept on Williams face as he drove through the night, thinking back to the last conversation he had just had with daughter.
“I’m in-love with a boy dad,” Sonia had announced while they played monopoly.
William laughed. “That could explain why you made such bad investments tonight,” he pointed to her side of the board that had only one house. There were at least two houses on each of the states on his side. “Who’s is this boy that has my daughter’s head all worked up? Are you in the same class? “
Sonia thought about her response before giving it. Her father would not take well to her dating an older boy. And Irvin looked way older than his actual age, meaning that would make things even harder. Her father would kill this relationship before it even started. “He’s not at my school dad,” he said instead. It wasn’t a lie. Irvin was not a pupil at her school. He was a student at the University of Zambia.
“Oh, a boy friend from a different school,” William said. “That should be interesting. So when do I get to meet him?”
“After my graduation,” Sonia said matter-of-factly. We decided to take things slow…focus on school,” she lied. What was one more year of waiting? She figured she needed that much time to convince a guy like Irvin to date her. She would be seventeen by that time. Nothing would keep them apart. She would be free to make her own decisions then.
William stopped focusing on the board for a moment and looked at his daughter. “That’s very mature of you Sonia,” he said. “That’s the sort of thing a father likes to hear.” He had agreed with Shelly to give their daughter enough freedom due to a teen, but with responsibility and accountability. So far it seemed to be working, but William couldn’t help wondering how long the peace would last. Sonia was at that delicate age.
The voices of the two carried all the way into Shelly’s bedroom. She was sitting on her bed, her back against the headboard and her feet stretched straight together in front of her. She grabbed some more tissue from the roll on the bedside table and furiously wiped at the tears that wouldn’t stop coming.
When William arrived home, he took a quick shower and went into his study to prepare for his meeting with the director of Eris-Harmonia the next day. However, his thoughts could not let him focus on his work. He gave up after a few minutes, picked up his phone and called Miranda. She answered after the second ring.
“Hey Stupid, why are you calling me at this ungodly hour? ” She said as a greeting. William laughed, looking at his watch. It was only 10pm. However, he couldn’t help thinking, some things never change.
“I don’t think that’s the sort of nickname you can give to the future président of the country Ms Kamanga. What are you doing?” He asked. He could hear erratic movements and noises on her end of the line.
“I was just winding down my work-out session. You called me two minutes before the clock,” She said.
“Since when did you become such a stickler for rules?” William asked. “Would it have killed you to skip the two minutes to talk to the father of your son?”
It was Miranda’s turn to laugh. “Look at you jumping at all the privileges already. And to answer your earlier question, I’ll never stop calling you Stupid. It’s a term of endearment. Tell that to your press aide. Now tell me what’s bugging you.”
“Who said something is bugging me?” William said. “Maybe I’m just calling to check on how you’re doing.”
“Fine, I’m nervous about meeting Irvin tomorrow. We spoke a bit via messages on Whatsapp, but it felt so short and formal. I have never been that unsure of what to say to a person before, and a young boy at that.”
Miranda chuckled. “Well, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say after you meet him in person.” She said.
“What’s that supposed to mean? Are you trying to make me feel better or worse?” William whined.
“No, I wouldn’t do that to you,” she said. “I just want you to remember that Irvin isn’t like most kids his age. He likes to think himself a man, you can guess why. He dresses and acts too maturely for his age. Most parents would feel blessed I guess, but for someone, it makes me feel guilty. I just want him to be a boy.
Do you know that I literally have to beg him to attend parties and all these events that young people seem to enjoy? The only thing that boy has ever done that’s something most parents would disapprove of was start smoking at the age of sixteen. Even then, I wanted to beg him to stop but couldn’t bring myself to do it. That’s how special your son is William.”
William caught himself smiling, busking in the knowledge of how naturally she had referred to him as Irvin’s father. Shelly might question the boys paternity but William knew beyond reasonable doubt, even without meeting the boy that he was indeed his. There might be a lot of things in his life he is not sure of, but Miranda’s love for him back then, and her trust in him the day they had conceived Irvin, there was a truth to that that no one could ever make him doubt, not even Miranda herself. She might not want him now, but she had given him her life back then.
“I was nothing like him at that age,” William said, thinking back to their time together. How could he forget?
“I like to think you’re exactly the same,” Miranda said. “Back then you were trying to prove yourself a man to your father. Irvin is trying to prove himself to me. He actually calls himself the man of the house,” she laughed.
“No way!” William joined her in laughing.
“You’ll see for yourself tomorrow. You’re meeting in the morning right?”
“Yeah, right after my 8 o’clock meeting. Should I get him anything? Like a present or something?”
“He’s your son William, not a citizen you’re wooing for a vote,” she said. “Just be yourself, you’ll do just fine.”
There are two kinds of Eros love; reciprocated love, and one sided love. At some point or another, the average human has experienced at least one of these. Those that are lucky have experienced both. For Shelly Manase, it had always been the latter.
Shelly first met William Mwanza when she was five years old. It was a day she would remember for the rest of her life because for the first time ever, she fell in love with a boy. Even at five years old, Shelly could tell that William was different from all the other boys she had ever met. He was the first one who looked displeased at being forced to hang out with her. The other kids always did it happily, even when she was not interested in being friends with them. It would take a few more years for the girl to understand why parents kept visiting her home and insisting that she play with their irritating kids, sometimes even when her own parents disapproved.
It was the magnetic Manase money.Continue reading
After the unforgettable reunion he had with Miranda, William had called his advisor Crispin Habeenzu to discuss the best way forward in handling the situation he had now found himself in. This could be a make or break situation and he needed to be sure of every move he made lest it cost him his political ambitions. But before that meeting, he needed to have that meeting with his mother…which had turned out to be another emotionally draining experience.
By the time William arrived at Crispin’s place, it was almost close to midnight. Fortunately for him, the old man happily welcomed him into his home despite the ungodly hour of his visit. Crispin led them straight to his study and William wasted no time bringing him up to speed with the recent developments. If he wanted to win these elections, he needed Crispin to be fully on board with him.Continue reading