Shaken: A Love by Proxy – Part 3

The way my mother received Susan’s parents and welcomed them into our home made me realize that she had believed me when I told her nothing was going on between Susan and me. I could see the guilt on my mother’s face as she led the two into the house.

I don’t think I would have survived such a meeting with just the unrepentant Chizu by my side. My wife was still acting like a brat and a part of me couldn’t help but wonder if she was enjoying… perhaps a little too much the idea that I might be cheating on her.

I have heard of women that have caught their spouses red handed in bed with other women but just so they can live with themselves, they resolved to believe that what they had witnessed was simply a bad dream…something that never actually happened.

Or they would rather believe that their husband tripped and landed inside the other woman. Anything else was better than facing the reality of betrayal.

But not my wife.

Chizu would have given anything to believe her illusions as facts and I soon begun to feel like doing the things she was accusing me of doing just to spite her and show her what it really means to have a cheating husband.

“We apologize for dropping by announced,” Malambo’s father spoke first.

“This is the first time I am seeing the family of the mistress visit the home of the married man,” Chizu said. Despite pinching her in the back to shut her up, she went on, “Usually, it’s the wife that visits the mistress first but what the heck, there’s always a first time for everything.”

“Please forgive my daughter in-law,” my mother rushed to restore her family’s honour. “She is bipolar so she tends to overreact and act without thinking…most of the time.”

That in itself was an insult to those people with that actually suffered from that condition. My heart reached out to them.

“Mum!” Chizu protested her defamation of character.

Malambo’s parents were just quiet watching with interest as we embarrassed ourselves.

“As I was saying,” Malambo’s father continued. “This is my wife Tina, and I am Enock, parents to Malambo Mubiana and Susan Mulenga.”

The three of us sent him puzzled expressions.

“Susan is the biological daughter of my sister in-law, Tina’s younger sister but we raised her as our own since she was twelve.”

I was giving Chizu the did you hear that look and she just rolled her eyes like she usually did when feeling guilty but trying not to show it.

“There is something I need to know,” Tina finally spoke. While her husband looked a little receptive, Tina was bleeding anger through her eyes. Given a chance, she would have laid my wife on a table, cut her chest in the middle and yanked her heart out so she could feed it to her cat at home.

The woman made me sit at the edge of the sofa.

“What did you see my daughter doing with your husband that made you treat her the way you did?” She asked Chizu.

“I mean, for you to decide that it’s okay to treat a fellow human like that, a woman for that matter,” Tina went on. “Labels like husband snatcher stick with a woman for the rest of her life. It doesn’t matter whether she is innocent or not, people have no time to collect facts. They only care about headlines.”

Tina’s voice was menacingly calm, sending chills down my spine and making the hairs at the back of my head stand.

“So tell me,” she said. “What was the thing that my daughter did that made you think she deserved to be hurt, humiliated, and scarred for life in such a manner?”

For the first time since the whole Susan fiasco started, I felt Chizu shake in fear beside me. I had wanted so badly for her to reach a point when she would realise just what she had done and it appeared she was on her way there.

We all sat quietly and waited for Chizu to speak.

Her lips were quivering and her hands were shaking, but she still said nothing.
Tina was like the Chizu Vaccine or antidote, she had managed to do what my mother and I had failed to do in years; put Chizu on mute.

I wanted to harvest the woman’s spirit and bottle it up for future use, just sprinkle it in the air whenever Chizu opened her mouth.

My wife realized the hard way that there is a huge difference between thinking something in your head then convincing yourself of it and saying it out loud for others to hear.

As everyone waited in silence, my mind went back to that fateful evening where it had all started.

“I don’t see you anywhere,” I was on the phone standing outside the restaurant just a few blocks from home, searching the area for a tall, dark and slim-figured twenty-five year old lady dressed in a yellow dress.

“I am inside, inside the restaurant,” the cheerful girl replied. I turned towards the entrance of the restaurant and I saw her excitedly waving at me from inside. I cut the line and went inside.

“Hi,” I reached out my hand and we shook hands. “Am James, your brother’s workmate.”

She was smiling. “I’m Susan,” she said. “I got so tired moving around in circles that I had to come inside and order a beverage.” She was fanning herself with her hand as she spoke.

“I am so sorry for making you come all the way,” she said. “I swear I am the worst when it comes to directions.” There was something about her tone of voice and her facial expressions that made her sound funny instead of apologetic as she intended.

I couldn’t help laughing.

“If you tell me to turn left, I have to stop and check the hand I use for eating nshima and that’s when I will know.” She continued. She was clearly a chatterbox.

“And once I know which one is my left or right, I will start worrying about whether it is my left or right I have to turn or the one for the person giving the directions. I don’t know how others do it…or,” she paused and drew her face closer to whisper, “could it be that am dumb?”

She was genuinely looking at me with her big brown eyes and expecting me to give her an answer and that made me laugh even more. She had a certain innocence about her despite her age that I had not seen in a very long time. I had not realized it then, but looking back, she had made me feel at ease without even trying.

I had been having a really bad day that day and I was a little taken aback by how easily I found myself laughing in her presence. Any other person, those words wouldn’t have sounded as funny as they did coming from her.

I was laughing so hard that I must have spooked her because she stopped talking, stood back and started watching me, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

That was the picture my wife found when she spotted us as she was passing by.

Sitting there in that meeting and hearing Tina’s question, I re-examined Susan’s actions and words and found nothing suggestive about them. If anything, she had done enough in that short period of time to turn off any potential interest in me when she looked at me and asked if she was dumb.

I don’t know how many men out there find dumb women attractive…maybe they are for one time use but never for repeated use. They can suck the soul out of your blood cells. I was married to an intelligent woman that enjoyed acting dumb…I was too dumb’ed out to handle the real deal.

I had been too busy laughing to think about anything else in those five minutes with her. I just did not have enough time to entertain other thoughts that might have crossed my wife’s mind when she saw us together.

There was absolutely nothing wrong that went on between my short exchange with Susan. If anything, everything that was wrong was all external to us; time, location, and Chizu’s crazy mind.

Put those three together and you have a nuclear bomb.

“She said she saw them smiling,” my mother supplied on behalf of Chizu.

I was soaked in embarrassment.

“Smiling?” Tina laughed, well, more like scoffed. “You saw your husband smiling with another woman and went crazy like that? What are you going to do when you find him hugging someone? You do know hugging is also a form of greeting don’t you?”

The sincerity with which she asked that question broke my heart. I think Tina was convinced my wife was a delinquent. And who could blame her.

“How I handle issues in my home is none of your business,” Chizu retorted.

“You see,” Tina said. “That’s where you are wrong. If you thought that your husband was cheating and you confronted him about in the privacy of your home, then that’s your business. But if you go beating other people’s daughters hoping to enforce change in your husband, then that’s society’s problem.

“Unfortunately, this time it was my daughter you attacked so that’s my problem. That poor girl you humiliated is such a kind child that even when you attacked and humiliated her like that, she did not come to me, her father or her brother to complain.”

She paused for a while to compose herself. Her voice was shaking and her eyes were teary.

“She kept it all to herself,” Tina swallowed. “…because she did not want to worry us.” When she could no longer hold back the tears, her husband handed her a napkin.

“Susan couldn’t talk to her brother because she feared he might lose his job if he confronted your husband about it.” Tina continued after composing herself. “Because she is that kind of person, all those things she kept to herself finally eat her up and she did the only thing she thought would give her a peace of mind.”

By now Mrs Mubiana was crying, her frail body rocking so hard her husband had to keep his arm around her the whole time to help calm her down.

“You have to understand,” Mr Mubiana took over from his wife. “Susan is a very fragile girl. She has been through a lot in her life. She had come back home for less than twenty-four hours when that incident happened.

“Everything happened so fast and it was all unexpected. For a girl that thought she had left her past behind, being abused and attacked like that brought back all those memories that had almost ended her life twelve years ago.”

I wanted to ask about what they kept referring to;

She has been through a lot, they kept repeating that phrase. I also picked up that she must have suffered abuse before and that it was not the first time she had made an attempt at her life.

I was reeled in and my curiosity grew the more they talked. But I could not bring myself to ask because they had not come to us to talk about Susan’s past; they simply needed us to realize just how much damage we had caused.

“What are you people going to do to give my daughter back what she’s lost?” Tina suddenly asked us.

My mother immediately came to our rescue. She humbled herself in a way I would have never imagined and if I was not present at that particular time and someone else told the story to me, I would probably have not believed them.

She got down on her knees before the Mubiana’s, bowed her head low and begged for their forgiveness.

That day I heard my mother say words I couldn’t believe where coming out of her mouth even when only her lips were moving in the room.

“It is my fault for not teaching my daughter in-law properly…I should have taught my children well.”

I couldn’t just sit back and watch while my mother took all the blame so I grabbed Chizu by the hand and together we joined my mother on the floor.

I could see that the couple was taken aback by my mother’s sincere apology and it helped soften them up a bit.

“It is not us you need to apologize to,” Tina said to us. “I need this woman,” she was pointing at Chizu. “I need her to kneel before my daughter and beg her for forgiveness.

“You will stay on your knees before my daughter until such a time she decides to forgive you. You will also go back to your bosses and tell them what you did and make sure that they hire her back.

“If that fails, you will have to pay my daughter the equivalent of the salary she was to be paid when she got confirmed at your workplace and you will only stop until she finds another job.

“You will also release a video and make sure it goes as viral as the others did and you will explain to the public that you accused an innocent girl and you will show that you are sorry and regretful. And most importantly, you will not try to negotiate with Susan the terms I have set for you.

“I know my daughter, she has such a forgiving heart but I am her mother and it is my duty to protect my child and ensure nothing like this ever happens again. If you do not comply with any of these things I’ve stated, I will drag this thing to court and take you both for everything you’ve got. Do I make myself clear?”

I knew it; I seriously needed to bottle that woman’s spirit.

Even her own husband was shocked by the conditions she had set for us but he did not dare oppose her or do anything else that might antagonize her.

“We will do it,” my mother announced, still on her knees. Both Chizu and I gave her a look.

“There are consequences for everything we do in life,” my mother said. “Perhaps next time you will think twice before acting or reacting.” She was looking at my wife when she uttered those words.

The Mubiana’s got up, said their final piece and left.

I helped my mother up from the floor and left Chizu there. She deserved the punishment, I just hated that I was equally accountable for her mistakes.
That night I couldn’t sleep, like a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders I kept turning and tossing. However, much to my amazement, I couldn’t help noticing how my better half was soundly sleeping beside me. Her body was sprawled all over the bed like a giant octopus.

How could she sleep so easily and so soundly after everything that had happened?

I had two things keeping me awake; the image of my mother down on her knees, crying and begging for forgiveness for something she was not responsible for, and the image of Susan’s lifeless body in Malambo’s arms.

After the visitors left, my mother had not said anything to either of us. She had gone straight to the guest bedroom and locked herself inside. I stood outside the door for close to five minutes and I heard her desperately try to stifle her sobs.

The guilt I was feeling over these two women eat at me and continued to keep me awake for the coming days. Back when I was a kid and my mother would toil alone from 6 to 6 at the market while my father was away furthering his studies, I would brag to her about how I would take care of her and how she would never have to suffer as long as I was alive.

I broke that promise that morning.

Because of my mistakes and because of some stupid decisions I had made in the past, I brought tears to my mother’s eyes and I forced her to set aside her pride and dignity in front of strangers.

Seeing how Chizu appeared unfazed by everything that was happening despite being the root cause of it all made me grow even more resentful towards her. She refused to approach Susan and beg her for forgiveness and she refused to release a video discrediting the previous versions that had ruined her reputation.

Chizu’s excuse was that she had done enough getting Susan her job back, the job that Susan ended up rejecting because she did not want to work in the same environment as her abuser.

“Why would you insist on forcing your own wife to disgrace herself like that?” Chizu had asked me once after my insistence on her giving Susan a sincere apology.

“That woman sad that she wanted me to get down on my knees and beg?” Chizu was saying. “Why should I do something that humiliating? Did I do anything wrong by trying to protect my marriage?

“If that girl really wanted to kill herself, she should have gone to a place where no one would easily find her and save her. She was just trying to buy pity from everyone just because she was exposed as a husband snatcher.”

At times when my wife sounded like that, I found myself questioning the decision I had made six years ago. I could no longer recognize the devil in my own bed.

Because my wife refused to take full responsibility for her actions against Susan, I felt it was my duty to somehow reach out to her and make amends as best as I could. Unfortunately, Susan refused to have anything to do with either me or my wife.

One Saturday morning I was waiting outside Susan’s home, parked by the side of the road when I spotted her coming through the gate. She had a hood over her head and had headsets in her ears. She must have been playing very loud music because she had not spotted or heard me come out of the vehicle and follow her a decent distance behind.

I don’t know what had gotten into me that day but I found myself following her everywhere she went. It didn’t appear as if she was heading anywhere specific. It was more of a stroll around the neighbourhood.

She stopped twenty minutes later to watch a group of men playing soccer in a wire-fenced football pitch. I saw Susan grip the wires of the fence as she intently watched the game progress. It took a moment for me to realize what was really happening;

Susan was crying.

Even though I could not see her face under the hood with her head hanging low, her convulsing body as she held on to the wire fence was enough for any man that was married to a crying machine for the five years to know what was really going on.

I thought about going over to her but I wasn’t sure what I was going to say to her. She had made it clear she wanted nothing to do withus. I looked around the fence for others watching the game hoping to find a friendly and comforting face so I could ask them to check on her. Unfortunately there were only men around the pitch area, Susan was the only woman.

I resolved to just stay back and watch her at a distance. She finally stopped crying about ten minutes later when she resumed her walk. That day she walked as far as Arcades…or should I say we walked as far as Arcades where Susan bought a ticket for an afternoon movie…to watch alone.

My heart was breaking seeing what that girl was going through. I kept wondering what had happened in her life…apart from the obvious we had done to her to make her feel like she was all alone in the whole world.

That day I ended up watching two movies I had not planned on watching because Susan had gone and bought another ticket for another movie right after the first one had finished.

Watching Susan cry all through those movies made me realize just what sort of person I had become around my wife. With Susan, I found myself crying along with her. I could only imagine the things going on in her head and the realization that I had caused some of that hurt broke my heart even more.

Later I realized I was never like that with Chizu. I had become so accustomed to my wife crying that it no longer had any effect on me. Whenever Chizu went into her crying campaign, I would zone out, thinking about the country’s water and electricity problems and how she could be using her supplies for a worthy cause instead of wasting it on a napkin.

It was then that I realized just how far off our marriage had gone. It seemed after all that the giraffe-necked nincompoop that was now Susan’s ex had been right; there was no more love in my marriage to Susan, what we had between us was two people fulfilling their duties to each other because a certain paper somewhere obliged them to.

When I opened the door to the house, feeling emotionally and physically drained, I found Chizu waiting on the other side, her hands on her waist and her lip ammunition ready to fire.

I closed the door and instead of continuing my journey inside the house, I pressed my back against the door and stood back to take a good look at the woman I had called my wife for the past five years.

“Are you drunk?” I heard her ask, coming in closer to have a good look at my face and probably smell my breath.

I am not a drinking man so I never once came home drunk or smelling of alcohol. I did not need alcohol to get high, Chizu’s lip army and all that air from her mouth blowing at me was enough to knock me out and give me a migraine for hangover.

It took me a while to realize that her yelling was the reason behind the receding of my hairline. All that fire in my face sent the front hairs in my head running for cover. Two more years and I will be as bald as Vin Diesel.

Good thing I already have the complexion to go with it.

“I can’t smell any alcohol,” the commander in-chief bellowed, twisting her nostrils in all directions like an animal looking to mate.

I couldn’t blame her for thinking I was drunk. Everything about the way I looked spelt drunk, except for the missing scent.

As I stood there watching my wife examine me while she straightened her oesophagus in readiness for her linguistic army attack, I couldn’t help thinking;

What is this giant creature with wild horns doing in my home?

And the sad truth is, that’s how I felt whenever I looked at my wife. She was no longer than sweet caring woman that had been willing to sacrifice her best friend just to be with me. Of course during the time I was head over heels in-love, I never realised just what a double edged sword the kind of love Chizu gave me was.

I wondered what she saw when she looked at me. I will be the first to admit that I was not a perfect husband. I might have been deluded for a while that me not cheating on her made me an exceptional husband but I later realized a little too late just how lacking I was.

Unfortunately, at that time, it was easier for me to position myself as a victim since I was obviously being accused of something I had not done. And, instead of focusing on my innocence and busking in my victimization, I should have been asking why my own wife would rather believe the worst about me than convince herself otherwise.

I had spent almost the whole day that day looking at a woman that was the total opposite of the creature now standing before me. And it wasn’t that the creature was an intruder, the creature was something I had created with my own hands and now it had turned its back on me and was more than ready to devour me.

I hated myself at that point. I hated the thoughts running through my head and I hated my whole life.

For the thirty minutes that followed, my darling wife Chizu exercised her right to free speech and expression and ended up saving us two months of gym fees. Her adrenaline was running high and her metabolism was busting through the roof from all the yelling.

My silence really irked her to the bone and she had yet to develop a strategy on how to go about this new curve ball I had thrown her.

I was very much aware of how disrespectful my silence in those moments was to her but I reasoned that the amount of disrespect she was feeling in those moments was less than the amount she would feel had I dared to open my mouth.

I only needed her to say thank you to my mother for what she had done for us and apologize for all the hurt she had caused an innocent girl.

But she had done none of that.

That night too I never slept, and the night that followed, and the next…just like that. I would have walked past the set of The Walking Dead and their director would have confused me for a cast member…because that’s how much of a Zombie I had become.

The bitterness I was feeling inside had risen to a record high and there was no stopping the man I had become. Every weekend I found myself following…or stalking Susan, wondering if she was feeling suicidal or not. I ended up paying the gossiping housekeeper to keep checking on her every five minutes whenever she was in her room alone.

Eventually, what had started out as fear grew into pity and then later into something else that I had not seen coming.

“Why do you keep following me?” Was the question Susan asked me once when she caught me hanging around her place.

I had been waiting in my usual spot by the side of the road somewhere close to her home waiting for her to come out when I dozed off and she came knocking on my window.

Suffice to say, I was embarrassed to my toes. I rolled down the rest of the window and gave her a half smile half kill me now look.

“Susan,” was all that my diaphragm could conjure up.

It was the first time I was looking at her at such a close range. The first time I met her I never did much looking because when you are married and meeting the young sister of your friend and colleague, you only care about what comes out of their mouth and not what they look like.

But this time around, I found myself looking…well, others might call it looking…but it was more of an x-ray examination on my part. For the first time in my life I was looking at a woman and imagining what her skeleton must look like. Usually my vision just went passed the layer of clothing and stopped there, but not in Susan’s case.

Susan had lost a noticeable amount of weight from that first time I met her. She was wearing white skinny jeans and an oversized purple sweatshirt that did her tiny frame no justice at all.

“Can we talk?” I asked her.

“I told you,” I could smell the no coming so I quickly jumped in.

“Just five minutes.” I said.

“What if your wife followed you and then she misunderstands again. I don’t want to go through that again. You should leave…and please, stop following me around. I see you everywhere I go these days. What do you want from me?”

I could tell she wasn’t going to go anywhere with me that day so I quickly stepped out of the vehicle and went to her. She backed away from me like I was a virus from Congo.

She had this fear in her eyes that I had never before seen in a woman whose eyes gazed upon my handsome face.

What had I done to this child?

I stopped moving towards her, my hands raised in the air as if to tell her I was not armed. But she kept backing away onto the street and ended up almost getting hit by a guy on a bicycle that had not calculated for her unexpected presence on the road.

While the bicycle guy went spilling off his ride, I managed to catch Susan before she landed her bottom on the pavement, a good move on my part since there was nothing much to cushion her fall had she fallen to the ground.

She pushed me off the moment she was steady on her feet and quickly went to apologize to the bicycle man reeling in anger. She removed a K100 note from her purse and handed it to him.

He smiled, thanked her and left.

Bloody bastard.

And then she turned to scowl at me. “Give me back my money,” she said.

I was lost. “What money?” I asked.

“The money I gave that guy,” she said. “If not for you, that accident wouldn’t have happened.”

At first I was shocked and then I started laughing. I totally had not seen that coming. She was saying the most absurd thing and yet she pulled it off with such a straight face that I started to doubt all those lesson on angles I had learnt in my Grade 10 class.

“How about we split 50-50?” I suggested. “You could have easily given that guy a 10 grand and he would have left. Did you have to give him a 100?”

“I felt bad for him,” she said. “Did you see how he spilled off the bike?” she was now holding her hands over her mouth trying to stifle her chuckles.

I couldn’t help laughing…she had said spilled… I had thought the exact same thing when it happened, except in vernacular, which sounded worse. Most people fell off their bikes, but that guy had spilt off his bike.

Both of us laughing like that reminded me of that first time we had met. That time too, she had easily made me laugh.

Sensing the awkwardness and knowing exactly what was going to come out of her mouth next, I took out my wallet and removed a K100 note.

“I don’t have change,” she said, not taking the money I was offering to her.

“You can keep the change,” I said. “Get a cab or something, since I delayed you wherever you are going.”

“Any other guy I would have played modest and refused, but,” she took the money from me. “Since it’s you, you owe me waaay more than 50 bucks for everything you put me through.”

I laughed, again. She must have thought I was a new version of fool. I don’t know why I found myself laughing at everything that came out of her mouth.

“Go home to your wife now,” she said. “Don’t worry about me. I won’t try to kill myself again. I have matured a little since the last time you saw me.”

“I hope you won’t…do…it…again,” I couldn’t bring myself to say the word suicide in front of her. “But if you ever feel down again, please, call me. I can be your punching bag. You can hit me as much as you like until you feel better. I can even chip in my wife for good measure if you need an extra round.”

She chuckled and said, “Goodbye Mr Kaunda.”

And she was gone.

* * *

I never went out to see Susan for the two weeks that followed. But just because she was out of sight did not mean she was out of mind. God gracious that girl stayed on my mind and refused to leave.

I have no idea when it happened or how it started but I found myself longing for her to the point where I felt I would not be able to breathe freely if I did not set my eyes on her.

I was like a mad man. I could feel myself losing it as a husband and as a human being. I needed divine intervention…and fortunately enough, it came in the form of my neighbour Mr Chanda.

That man had been inviting Chizu and me to his church from the time we moved into our house and we always found good reasons to turn him down. However, there was something about that particular evening when I met him driving out of his yard as I was coming from my evening run when he reluctantly suggested that we go together.

Expecting me to say no as usual, he had started to say goodbye when I said, “why not?”

He froze.

“But do you mind waiting for me while I take a quick shower and change?”

Of course he didn’t mind! The man had been waiting for this day for three years.

“Where are you going?” Chizu asked me when I asked her to prepare some clothes for me as I rushed to the bathroom.

“I’m going to church!” I yelled as I turned on the shower.

She popped up through the door, laughing, and not just any kind of laughing…that deep honest laugh from the belly…like the one Kevin Hart does when he’s laughing at his own joke, right before he tells it. That kind of laugh.

I wasn’t about to go into the truth-lie battle with her at that moment. There was no lie equivalent to the expression I am going to church. I didn’t have enough courage to provide a lie that held the word church in it. I wasn’t yet ready for Gehenna.

“Tell me really, where are you going?” She asked.

“Go outside and ask Mr Chanda. He is waiting for me.” I said.

“You are not serious, are you?” She left and went to check outside.

She appeared five minutes later all sobered out of her laugh. “What’s gotten into you?” She asked me as I changed into fresh clothes.

“What do you mean?” I asked a stupid question.

“Since when did you become a holy freak? Are you suddenly missing your ex?”

There we go again.

I never used to be a fan of churches but Gloria always managed to drag me to one every chance she got whenever I was home. I would spend three quarters of the time re-watching my favourite movies in my head while the pastor preached or I would be mentally and actively correcting his grammar every time he said something.

Chizu too had not escaped Gloria’s church dragging claws during the time they friends.

“At this point in my life,” I told Chizu. “I will do just about anything to regain my sanity.”

“What do you mean by that?” She asked.

Of course she couldn’t understand. That was a husband’s code for; I think I am falling in-love with another woman and if I don’t get help now, I am afraid I am going to rot in hell…and I will drag you down there with me because I would have turned you into a murderer.

“See you later,” I kissed her on the forehead and bolted out of the house.

“Aren’t we late?” I asked Mr Chanda as he drove us to church.

“It will be Praise and Worship time by time we get there. Don’t worry, you will have a good time.”

I think he could sense my nervousness. I hadn’t stepped in a church in a very long time. I bet the devil was mad as hell at my sudden betrayal, he wouldn’t have seen it coming. Well, maybe not mad as hell…since hell is…you know….

Unfortunately for me, it seemed the devil was one foot ahead of me because just two minutes of stepping into church, who but Susan appeared centre stage with a mic in hand ready to sing.

I couldn’t move, Lord I couldn’t even breathe. I was sitting there like a statue and I think I heard Mr Chanda ask if I was okay but I didn’t have the strength to respond. My eyes were fixed on Susan.

All my life I was made to believe that the church was a safe haven. I remember when I was a kid and my parents would drag us all to church…. I would sit there and imagine what would happen if Armageddon decided to happen right there and then.

“You are safe as long as you are in here,” my mother would tell me.

From the moment I heard that, I would postpone all my bad behaviour to an hour right before church and I would deep my hand in the bottle of condensed milk or fill up my mouth with Cowbell Milk meant for school only.

Then I would sit in church and feel saved from eternal damnation.

I was a genius even as a kid. I had discovered the perfect antidote for sin.

But not on that evening.

That evening the devil had followed me into church and stuck to me like latex on Beyonce’s behind.

While everyone around me was crying from being moved by the words sang in the most angelic tone I had ever heard, I was crying at the irony of it all.

Why her? Why did it have to be Susan? I kept asking myself.

I was touched by too many things all at once; my past, my present, my faltering convictions, her voice…Susan’s voice…and the words she was singing.

Two weeks later, I went down on my knees before my wife and cried like the fool I had become.

I could see the past threatening to repeat itself and that was a road I had vowed never to travel again.

“Help me,” I told Chizu as I wrapped my arms around her legs. I don’t know when I had gotten on my knees but there I was in our bedroom, on the floor, holding on to my wife and crying like a child.

“What is wrong honey?” I had never seen Chizu look so scared before. She knelt down in front of me and lifted my head up to look at me.

“Did something happen?” She asked me, great fear shooting through her eyes.

“I think I am in-love with someone else.” I told her after a while.

“I don’t know how it happened…I promise, it wasn’t intentional. Help me…I don’t want to feel like this.”

I felt Chizu’s hands leave my body. She stepped away from me and stood looking down at me. I couldn’t look up at her. I was too ashamed.

And then I felt two warm drops of something hit my hands that were now planted on the floor, a drop on each hand.

That day I felt the pain behind my wife’s tears and I listened to nothing else but her sobs the rest of the night.

She neither yelled nor nagged. That night she only cried…and believed every tear and every sound.

I had just been shaken.

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Shaken: A Love by Proxy – Part 2

“Chizu!” I yelled at my wife through the phone. “How many times do you need me to tell you that that girl has absolutely nothing to do with me?”

“It’s not like I expect you to admit it even when I caught you in the act,” she retorted.

Talking to Chizu was like talking to a wall, every time I spoke to her, something loosened inside my head. “What did you find me doing with her that made you think that something is going on between us?” I asked.

There was a pause on the other end of the line; I could literally feel her brain dig into the little box of torture she had reserved just for me.

A few seconds later I heard, “I saw the way you were looking at her, I haven’t seen you smile at me like that in ages!”

That’s because I only smile when you are asleep, I said in my head. There was something about my wife’s sleeping figure that I found alluring; eyes closed and mouth shut, she was at her most beautiful like that. I am not sure when I became a man like that but that was who I was as a husband.

A friend of mine once suggested that I try zoning out whenever Chizu went into her wild tirades, body present but mind out, except that sort of thing never worked with Chizu.

My wife’s voice was laser sharp and no sound proof system could beat her. With her by my side, I never had to worry about going into a comma; her voice would bring me right back to reality.

“I’m coming over there right away.” I said to her. “I need to put a stop to this before you ruin a young girl’s life.”

I could feel her boiling and ready to explode but I did not give her chance to spill her molten lava into my ears. I cut the line and made my way to her work place.

I was aware of how improper it was for me to go there but I knew my wife and could only imagine the havoc she must have created the moment she came upon Susan.

By embarrassing Susan like that, she had put our marriage on display and there was nothing I could do at that point to reverse the damage she had already caused. The only thing I knew to do was to try and restore the virtue of the innocent girl that had been dragged into our private living hell.

As I drove to Chizu’s place of work, I tried to work out in my head how I was going to explain to my colleague about what was happening to his young sister.

I didn’t even know where to begin.
I found my missing rib outside the gate of her work place, pacing back and forth. Something broke inside me looking at the desperation on her face. When did she turn into that person?

What did I do to turn such a strong confident woman into this insecure and angry villain?

Her eyes lit up the moment she saw me and she rushed to my window. “I can’t believe you actually came here for her!”

“I didn’t come here for her,” I told her. “I came here to undo the damage you’ve caused. What were you thinking exposing your marital problems at work like that?”

“What do you take me for Bashi Daniel?” she asked. “I never said anything to suggest that it was my husband she was sleeping with. I simply passed a comment about how the male-folk here needed to be cautious around her because I knew for a fact that she was a home wrecker.”

“Chizu!” I was shooting her this look I knew she had become immune to by now. I felt helpless.

I already did my research,” Chizu was saying. “Malambo is an only child. He doesn’t have any sister. Why are you still lying to me?”

She was about to start crying again.

I shut my eyes, gripped the steering wheel in front of me and had to mentally stop myself from hitting my head against it, over and over again.

“All I know is that he told me she was his sister.” I was rubbing the sides of my head with my thumbs to calm myself down. “Who knows,” I continued. “She might be a cousin or something. Some cousins consider each other siblings, maybe that’s what he meant when he referred to her as sister.”

“Can you even hear yourself?” She asked me.

I don’t know what I was doing trying to explain to her. Chizu never bought the simple truth that came from my mouth. Thanks to my wife’s distrust, I had become an expert at writing fiction. If my explanation was not CSI or Game of Thrones worthy, it didn’t make the cut.

“I will make sure that girl doesn’t get confirmed for the job in three months’ time,” my wife-turned-nemesis was saying. “I am not going to let some nobody girl from God knows where to come and ruin my marriage.”

“Nobody is ruining your marriage Chizu, you are the one doing this to us by behaving like this.” I said to her. “How will you attacking an innocent girl help you mend this marriage that’s been free-falling for the past four years? Talk to me, don’t go attacking people that have nothing to do with our problems.”

But Chizu was rolling her eyes at me and giving me the are you kidding me kind of look. She didn’t believe a single word I was saying!

There was something I didn’t understand about the whole situation; how would her confrontations with Susan help her keep our marriage?
She simply had to look into the mirror and turn her head to the other side of the bed to find the root cause of her problems and only then would she be able to solve them.

I silently resolved that the only way to sort out this issue was to involve my friend Malambo and to seek services of a marriage counsellor for my wife and me. It was either that or divorce. I could not imagine spending the rest of my life like that. Forever seemed too long.

Just like I had feared, the videos of Chizu attacking Susan went viral that same night and they kept people entertained for the week that followed. Susan had become an overnight internet sensation as a husband snatcher, me as the husband in question and Chizu as the poor distraught and betrayed wife.

The following day at work, I was welcomed by punches from Malambo. I was his superior at work but due to what was happening to his sister thanks to my wife, he had earned himself the licence to do whatever he wanted to me.

If the guys at work had not peeled him from off of me, I would be lying six feet under by now.

“How could you do that to my sister? To my family!?” He was kicking and yelling as the others held him back.

All I could do was apologize, over and over again. I had no excuses to give him.

It took Malambo who was such a calm and collected guy on a normal day two hours to finally calm down that day so we could talk privately in his office.

“I will do whatever it takes to make things right with your sister,” I told him. I was standing very close to the door, ready to make an exit in case he turned into Rocky Balboa any second.

“If you can tell me how you will restore my sister’s honour, get her back her fiancé and her job, then I will consider forgiving you.”

“Her fiancé?” I had not calculated for that. Dammit. “She was engaged?”

“Yes she was engaged, emphasis on was,” he said curtly. “Thanks to you and your deranged wife.”

Normally I would stop anyone that called my wife names but this time I couldn’t keep Malambo in check. He had every right to call Chizu whatever he felt like at that moment.

“Who’s the guy?” I asked. “Can you give me his number so I can talk to him and explain everything?”

Malambo scoffed. “Do you think I haven’t tried that already?” He said. “I shouldn’t have let her meet you, I shouldn’t!” he had rolled his hand into a fist and was staring intently at it, ready to launch it on anything.

I backed away a few more inches closer to the door.
“That poor girl has been to hell and back and just when we thought she was finally getting a chance at a good life, you guys went and ruined everything for her.”

“Let me meet her fiancé and explain everything to him,” I offered again. “Maybe it will help if he hears things straight from me.”

“Susan has instructed us not to talk to him and to let him go. She says if he can’t trust her by now, he will never trust her.”

“So she is just going to let him go?” I asked.

Malambo looked like he was about to punch me again. “Just stay out of her business and don’t complicate things further for her.” He warned me.

The thing is, I couldn’t just stay away while her life fell apart. I felt responsible for everything that was happening to her and I needed to do something to fix the broken pieces.

Malambo finally gave me the guy’s number after hours and hours of begging.

I called the guy and arranged to meet him by Rhapsody’s Arcades.

Alan Kasonde was the name of Susan’s fiancé. A tall, light skinned guy that looked like he could use a meal or two.

“I am sorry that we had to meet like this,” I apologized as I shook his hand and we both sat down.

I was surprised by his warm reception. I had expected him to be throwing punches in the air the moment he laid eyes on me but strangely enough, his smile seemed to come easy.

“I am sure you know why I asked to meet you,” I went straight to business. “Those things you might have heard or seen about Susan and I are all lies. It’s just a huge misunderstanding that was blown out of proportion. There is absolutely nothing going on between me and your fiancé.”

Alan was smiling when he said, “I know.”

I looked at him in disbelief, for a moment entertaining the idea that perhaps Malambo had been wrong in his deductions.

“What do you mean you know?” I asked just to be sure.

“I know that nothing is going on between you and Susan. Sue is not that kind of girl.” He confirmed my suspicions.

“So does that mean that you are not cancelling your engagement?” I asked, my face beaming with hope.

“Oh no, there won’t be any wedding. I cancelled the engagement for sure.” The Alan guy crushed my hopes into tiny little pieces.

I was gaping at him like a fool. “You know that she is innocent but you are still going to cancel the engagement?”

He nodded. “I love Sue….” He said. “Even when I knew that my parents would object to me marrying someone who’s not from our church, I still went ahead and proposed marriage to her. That’s how much I loved her.”

“So what’s changed?” I asked.

“Everything,” he said. “My parents are Elders at church. They might have curved a little over the church denomination thing because they believed she would join me at my church once we got married but this scandal is completely something else. There is no way they would allow me to marry her after all this.”

I wanted to reach across the table and shove a bugger down his reptile-like skinny neck. Perhaps he would put on some weight whilst choking to death.

“What do you mean after all this?” I asked. “Do you parents think that she is capable of something like that?”

“Oh no,” he quickly answered. “They too believe she’s innocent and that it’s just a big misunderstanding. But still, not everyone believes that. My parents care too much about their reputation to allow their son to marry a girl whose reputation has been tainted like this.”

“Marry a girl? So she is now just a girl to you?”

Alan chuckled. “Listen, I haven’t done anything wrong,” he said nonchalantly. “Sue should have known better than to find herself in such a situation when she knew the wedding was only a couple of months away.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I did not think it was possible for anybody to be that deep a shade of jerk. “Did you even love her?” I couldn’t help asking the douche.

“You are a married man Sir,” he answered. “I am sure you know that sometimes love is just not enough to run a relationship. There must be another reason other than love why you are still married to that crazy woman I saw in the video. What sort of wife can humiliate her own husband like that?”

I finally snapped and landed one hard across his skinny face and sent him spilling off his chair, backwards.

I stopped the waiter that was passing behind me, removed some cash from my wallet and handed it to him. “Prepare anything heavy for this fool worth that amount and make sure he eats every bit of it. I have seen ten year olds with stronger stamina than him. Susan is lucky not to have to spend the rest of her life with someone like you.”

I started walking away when the waiter called out to me. “Sir,” he said, a puzzled expression on his face as he looked at the money in his hands.

“You can keep the money if he refuses to eat. Today might be your lucky day.”
I didn’t have a piece of mind after leaving Rhapsody’s. There was something gnawing at me and it kept bothering me until I finally caved and called Malambo.

I needed to check on Susan and apologize for everything in person but there was no way of doing that on my own without earning the wrath of my better half.

And so, I called Malambo.

I picked up Malambo from his home and we drove to his parent’s place where Susan was staying. I remained in the car while Malambo went inside to call his sister.

A few minutes later, I saw Malambo rushing out of the house carrying someone in his arms, his parents following closely behind.

Even from a distance, I could tell it was Susan lying limply in Malambo’s arms. His father rushed to get the door and Malambo who then placed his sister in the back and waited for his mother to get in before closing the door.

“What happened?” I asked Malambo through the window of his father’s car.

“Aren’t you….” I think his father must have recognized me but Malambo started saying something before he could finish his sentence.

“She overdosed on pills,” he informed me as he backed away from the garage. “We are heading to the hospital now.”

I felt like I had just been hit in the stomach. I had gotten a short glimpse of Susan and she did not look like she had any life in her.

Did I do that to her?

Did my wife and I just kill someone?

My head was throbbing and everything started spinning around me.

“Are you okay Mr?” I heard someone ask from behind. I turned and found a middle-aged woman I assumed was the housekeeper.

“What happened?” I asked the woman. I was zoning in and out of my senses, unable to consume what I had just witnessed.

“That poor Miss,” the woman said, sounding like an announcer at a funeral parlour. “I told the madam that she would try it again but she said she was grown up now, that she wouldn’t try something like that again…now look what has happened.”

“Try what again?” I asked.

The woman held her hand to her mouth. “I shouldn’t have said that,” she said. “We are not allowed to talk about what happened. I will lose my job if they hear that I opened my mouth.”

And she left me standing there alone.
Then why did you open your trap if you knew you were not going to provide the details? I angrily thought to myself.

“Which hospital have they taken her?” I called out to her.

She stopped and turned to look at me. “Over there,” she was pointing to the right behind me. “Just go straight, it’s about five minutes or so drive. You will find a hospital before the end of the road.”

“Thanks,” I said, got into my vehicle and drove off.
I found Malambo and his parents waiting in the lobby while Susan was being attended to.

Malambo’s mother charged at me the moment she recognized me. She was hitting me on my chest with her fragile little hands and I just stood back and took it all in.

Her husband came to get her but before leading her away, he turned to his son and said, “get him away from here won’t you?”

“Follow me,” Malambo said and I followed him outside.

“What do you think you are doing here?” He asked me the moment we were outside.

“You seriously didn’t expect me to leave after what I saw. Is she going to be okay?”

“I don’t know!” Malambo snapped. “How the hell am I supposed to know? How can she do this to us again?” He lamented, and then turning to me, “I swear, if something happens to her, I will kill that wife of yours with my bare hands.”

I could only stare down at the ground, unable to say anything in response. We remained silent like that for a while.

“I can’t believe she did this again,” Malambo said under his breath. There was anger written all over his face. “I shouldn’t have let her meet you that evening, I shouldn’t.”

For the first time since I had known him two years ago, I saw tears in Malambo’s eyes. But no sooner had they appeared than he blinked them back.

I was not the only one blaming himself for what was happening. Who would have imagined that such a simple errand would bring with it such deadly consequences?

I was busy thinking about how miserable my life was when something Malambo said replayed itself in my head.

I can’t believe she did this again.

He too, like the housekeeper was implying that it was not the first time Susan had attempted suicide. Or was I making wrong assumptions?

“Did Susan try something like this before?” I asked Malambo. The look that he sent me immediately reminded me that I had not eaten anything the whole day.

“What are you still doing here?” He asked. It was as if he had forgotten for a moment that I had been standing there with him the whole time.

“You should leave James,” he said. “You being here doesn’t sit well with my parents, or me.”

“I understand,” I said and headed to my car while Malambo went back inside.

But I never left. I couldn’t leave without knowing if Susan was alright. I got back into the car to wait and found my phone still ringing.

Chizu had finally succeeded in draining the life out of my battery. Soon it would be my heart…. I thought as I looked at the phone’s screen that had turned black.
I saw Malambo come out of the hospital two hours later and I caught him just before he got into his car.

“How did it go?” I asked.

Malambo turned and was surprised to see me standing there. “You are still here?” He asked.

I simply shrugged my shoulders.

“She’s going to be fine,” he said. “They managed to pump her stomach….it appeared this time she had meant serious business.”

“What?” I asked, a little confused by the words he had added under his breath.

“I’m going home to get her some clothes. She will be here for a couple of days. You should go home now. We don’t want to see your wife coming to cause another commotion here at the hospital.”

I understood his point. “Thanks for letting me know how she’s doing,” I said.

“It’s not you I hate man, it’s your wife. Go home and sort out your issues before she actually kills someone.”
I went home and found my wife waiting for me in the living room, heavily armed and ready to attack.

Where the hell where you?

Do you have any idea what time it is?

Who were you with?

Did you go to comfort your disgraced little mistress?

Are you just going to keep ignoring me?

I had entered the room and went to sit down on the sofa. There were no two-ways about it; whether in the living room or toilet, Chizu was going to follow me until she unloaded all the arsenal from her mouth.

Instead of making things hard for her, I surrendered myself for slaughter and sat back while she shot on target.

Unfortunately, she did not take well to my picture no sound strategy and so she regrouped her arsenal and launched the strategy she knew worked best for her.

She started crying.

To this day, I am still baffled by the amount of liquid that can come out of a single person’s eyes. Chizu’s water works could supply this country with a lifetime of electricity.

I was busy calculating the value of her tears and going over the patenting process in my head before we could supply to the Kariba when I heard; “is this how you are going to disrespect me now? Don’t you think you owe me an explanation for coming home so late?

“I am sorry,” I finally conceded defeat. “It won’t happen again.

“Is that it?” she roared.

“I am tired Chizu, can we talk about this in the morning?” I got up to leave but she came and blocked my way.

“Put yourself in my shoes, would you let me go straight to bed without giving you an explanation if I was the one that came home this late?”

She had a point.

“I didn’t go anywhere,” I said. “I had parked right outside the gate and waited for it to get late. I was hoping to find you asleep so we could avoid something like this. I am not in the mood to fight with you tonight. I just want to get into bed and sleep.” I lied through my teeth.

Strangely enough, I saw her features start to relax a little. Because it was a lie, she had easily accepted it. It’s like she was allergic to the truth. Anything close to the truth and she would have been dancing on top of my head nagging until her lips moved no more.

But one single lie and she went on mute.

I was about to start calculating how much I would earn if I donated her brain to Science upon her passing when she said, “You could have told me that all this while instead of letting me get upset like this.”

You would not have believed me if it came that easy. I said in my head. But to her I said, “Can I go to bed now?”

She was now all smiles, she locked her arm with mine and together we went to bed, sleeping like North and South Korea.
We were awakened the next morning by a knock on the door. I opened the door and found a not so surprising visitor standing there.

My mother.

“What are you doing here mum?” Was the mistake I said to her when I opened my mouth.

I could hear the sound of her heart breaking. I took her handbag from her and stepped aside to let her in.

“Good morning to you too,” she said sarcastically.

“Welcome mother,” I said a little too late.

Umhu,” she said, pursing her lips as she took in the new decor in the house.

Chizu had a habit of changing the house decor per season, something that irked my mother to the core. “I am about to cry from all the love I can feel in the air.” Sarcasm again.

Chizu chose that particular moment to walk into the living room.

“Mum,” she said, wearing the special painful smile she reserved only for my mother. It was a combination of 20% smile and 80% pain. “It’s good to have you here. Do you still have that phone I got you three months ago?”

That was code for; you should have called before coming.

My wife and mother were like the sun and moon of my life; while both of them brought some form of light into my world, it was imperative that they not appear anywhere at the same time. The two of them reminded me of that African proverb; when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. In this case, I was the grass.

My mother’s smile mirrored that of her daughter in-law except for the little difference in ratios; hers was 10% smile and 90% disdain. Mum disliked Chizu because she had been a fan of Gloria my ex-girlfriend.

There were many times when people at church and in the neighbourhood back home in Ndola mistook the two for mother and daughter, which was why she had been devastated when she heard news of my break-up with Gloria. My whole family had mourned the separation for months, going as far as boycotting my wedding to Chizu.

Thus, because my mother still got along with my ex-girlfriend more than she did her own daughter in-law, Chizu harboured her own flavour of resentment. None of them was willing to bend to accommodate the other.

“When I insisted on you seeing alangizi, your husband here said you didn’t need all that nonsense. Now look how you have embarrassed yourself and your husband?” The fight had already started before she could even sit down.

“Mother,” I held her by the shoulders and led her to sit down.

“Instead of beating girls, why don’t you lock the doors here and beat your husband until he stops sleeping around?” My mother went on.

“Mum!” I yelled at her. “Did you come here to make things worse for me?” I asked.

“I just don’t understand what business she has going around beating people when she stole you from a decent girl herself.”

“Why are you bringing up the past?” Chizu asked from where she was standing.

“Just look at her glaring at me like she can beat me. When you were busy stealing your best friend’s fiancé, did you think that you could keep him forever? Is your pee made out of milk or do you shit honey?”

That there was the reason I dreaded my mother’s visits. While the rest of us humans spoke words, my mother purged and vomited a combination of vowels and consonants that gained whole new meanings the moment they passed through her lips.

“And you,” she turned her fangs on me. “Do you think cheating is for everyone?” I could not tell whether the question was rhetoric or not but I stuck to my guts; I stayed quiet.

“I understand that she is not much of a wife, but did you have to cheat on her at a place so close to your home?”

I was looking at Chizu who seemed to be battling the two evils my mother had presented us, wondering which was the lesser evil and whether to take offence or not. I too could not tell whether my mother was speaking in favour of my wife or against her.

“You rushed into this marriage like two mad dogs and you are already cheating on each other,” my mother continued spilling her vermin, not caring where it landed or who it poisoned.

“Are your needs that heavy son?” She asked me. “Are you going to cheat on all the women in your life? Gloria was not good enough for you, this Chizu is also not enough for you. Have you tried using your hands for a change?

“If no woman will satisfy your needs, try your own hands because that’s out of God’s hands son. You know those things aren’t just for directing food to your mouth, use them. Didn’t we have this kind of talk before?”

I wished for the ground to open up and swallow me.

That talk, how could I ever forget it? My dad had travelled for school and had been gone for two years when I turned thirteen. While other mothers would have directed their teenage sons to have ‘the talk’ with their uncles, my mother felt it was her duty as a parent to talk to me.

Had my kid sister not entered the living room that day, my mother would have literally taken off my pants and demonstrated exactly how to put on a condom. Even at thirty-eight years old, she still talked to me like that thirteen year old boy.

“Nothing is going on between that girl and me,” I repeated the statement that had become my slogan in the past few days. “If my own mother cannot believe me, do you think my wife will?” I asked her.

“If nothing is going on, then what were you doing with her at that restaurant and at that hour?” My mother asked.

Chizu eyes were screaming the same question at me.

I explained to my mother how that scenario had come about and the question she asked me was; “Why didn’t you explain that to your wife before she embarrassed you like that?”

“You know Chizu, do you think she would have listened to me?” I said. “She came and slapped that girl before asking any questions. She was convinced in her head that I was cheating on her and nothing I said was going to change that.

“Even when I explained to her what was going on, she still went ahead and humiliated the girl at her workplace and now she’s lost her job and her fiancé. Only last evening, she tried to commit suicide but was found in time by her brother who rushed her to the hospital.”

“So that’s why you came home late last night?” Chizu was looking at me like a convicted man. “You had gone to see that girl in the hospital didn’t you?” she was now towering over me where I was seated.

“Didn’t you hear what your husband just said?” My mother shouted at Chizu. “The girl you accused of sleeping with your husband just tried to kill herself. Haven’t you considered for a minute the possibility that you might be wrong and you just tried to kill an innocent girl for nothing?”

“I know he is your son but you know very well that a woman can always tell when her husband is cheating.”

“I suppose somebody made you believe that you were a woman Chizu,” my mother retorted.

“What am I if I am not a woman?” My wife had lost the battle the moment she asked that question.

“Not everyone that has breasts and a fat behind is a woman,” my mother answered. “You Chizu stopped being a woman the moment you went after your best friend’s man. And now you want to end the life of an innocent girl simply because you are scared someone might do to you what you did to someone else?”

“Are you going to let her keep talking to me like that?” Chizu turned to me, the water works ready to explode.

My mother was about to pass a snide remark when we heard someone hoot by the gate.

“Are you expecting anyone?” I asked Chizu.

“No,” she shook her head.

I went to stand by the door to confirm if the person was hooting at us or at the neighbours.

It was us.

“The keys,” I told Chizu and she came out to open the gate.

I immediately recognized the car the moment the gate came open.

“You know who they are?” Chizu asked.

“I do,” I answered.

“Who are they?” My mother had come to join us outside.

“They are the parents of the girl that tried to commit suicide, my alleged mistress.”

“Well, well, well,” Chizu said smugly, glaring at the two as they stepped out of their vehicle, a huge smirk playing at the corners of her lips.

Had my wife known just how much our lives would change from that unexpected visit, she would have humbled herself and got down on her knees to beg for forgiveness for all the pain she had caused that family.

We were about to find out the hard way just how rotten our marriage had become.

 

Shaken: A Love by Proxy – Part 1

I was in the middle of a meeting with a lady named Susan Mulenga when I saw my wife Chizu burst through the doors of the restaurant, charging straight at us like a wounded buffalo.

I had seen that look so many times before and over the years it had become my wife’s natural signature face. When she was not yelling or fuming, I got nervous, wondering what was wrong or when things would crush…but when she was yelling, fuming, throwing things about, and doing gymnastics with her hands and mouth, I knew I was right at home.

Unfortunately, I was not at home that particular evening when Chizu unleashed her inner demons. This time we had an audience.

PAAAAAAAAA************

That’s the sound of the slap that filled the restaurant where we  were, my mouth open wide, starring in horror at my wife who had just assaulted the innocent twenty five year old lady I had been having a brief meeting with.

That single slap was like the final blow to a very cracked wall.

And everything came tumbling down.

I knew very well why my wife had acted that way. I understood the pain in her eyes and I knew the exact temperature of the tears streaking down her cheeks…because I have spent the last four years drying them.

There was only one thing any normal man in my position would have done; quickly explain to his wife that she had misunderstood the situation.

“This lady here is Malambo’s sister, you know Malambo right honey? He’s my workmate. He left for Kabwe this morning and he forgot to leave me these documents that I need for tomorrows board meeting. He left them with his sister to give to me and that’s why we are here. She got lost searching for our address so I asked her to wait for me here at the restaurant since it’s close to home.”

That’s what I should have said to Chizu. That was the simple explanation of what was happening. The whole truth…nothing but the truth.

I would have even taken off my clothes and started swinging naked from the chandelier whilst saying those words and she still wouldn’t have believed me.

Like a helpless man, my lips stayed sealed.

We had reached a point in our marriage where the simple truth was just not enough to give us the peace we so desperately needed. There was absolutely no trust. For her to believe me, I needed to tell her something so extraordinary and way out of this world.

I would have looked her in the eye and told her; “This is the great great great granddaughter to Mahatma Ghandi. She came all the way from India and is trying to set up an NGO here in Zambia and she’s asking for my expertise to help her get started,

“The reason we are sitting here in this restaurant so close to home is because we are waiting for Florence Nightingale’s step brother to join us so we can all come home together. The two of them want to partner up in this organization so I thought you might get excited if I surprised you with such great visitors for dinner.”

I would have said that and she would have believed me.

But my lips were still tied. In my head I was thinking…how did I get to this point? How did we end up here?

How did this woman whose confidence had weakened me at my knees turn out to be such an insecure woman?

The answers came to me right away;

I had caused this to happen.

No, we had both caused this to happen.

Together, we had sown a seed and forgot about it, thinking it would die in the ground as long as we ignored its existence. We had planted fresh seeds of our choice and watered the ground with the best nutrients we could find on the market…but when the fruits emerged, so did those of that forgotten seed.

In this battle of two, an innocent woman stood humiliated, her cheek glowing from the effects of my unstable marriage.

Had I not forgotten for a moment where I was coming from, I would not have suggested that she wait for me at that restaurant. Because of my misjudgement, I dragged an innocent woman into a situation she never imagined she would ever find herself in.

No matter the depth of my regrets, nothing would make up for the pain that that woman would come to suffer as a result of a careless decision I had made five years ago.

Like a helpless man, I just stood there, sandwiched between two crying women; one from her own imagined pain, and the other from the undeserved humiliation she had just been subjected to.

How did I get here?

* * *

I once heard someone say that how a relationship pans out is determined by the foundation on which it was built.

“Bollocks,” I had said in response.

I strongly believed that as long as one did their best to make their relationship work, it didn’t matter how or where they started. I had to believe that. I needed to believe that.

But I was dead wrong.

My wife Chizu and I met while we were both dating other people. At that time, I had been dating a girl named Gloria for over nine years. She and I were childhood sweethearts, started dating when we were teenagers.

It was in the summer of 2002 when my then girlfriend Gloria introduced me to a friend she had made at college. Within a very short period of time, the two girls had become closer than sisters, constantly together and sharing almost everything they had; from clothes to shoes to books…and eventually me.

The first time it happened was by accident, none of us had planned it. I had travelled from Lusaka to the Copperbelt to surprise Gloria at the small apartment she and Chizu were staying, it was just a few minutes away from their college campus. Unfortunately, because Gloria had not calculated for my visit, she had made plans to spend the weekend at home at her parents because her mother was not feeling well.

And that was how Chizu and I were left alone in that small apartment. We bought beers, got drunk and as they say, the rest is history.

However, nothing about that night between Chizu and I stayed history. We both regretted our actions the moment the deed was done and we promised to keep it a secret from Gloria. I did not want to lose my girlfriend simply because I had lost my senses for a few minutes and Chizu too did not want to lose her best friend in such a manner.

And so, we moved on as if nothing ever happened.

“I think I have fallen in-love with you.” Is what Chizu told me when she popped up out of the blue at my level at the University of Zambia three months later.

Her visit was unexpected and her confession knocked me out of my senses immediately. The truth was that despite not contacting her since our unfortunate encounter, I never forgot about that night. Every single day it kept replaying in my head and every dame time I was with Gloria, I kept getting reminded of that night.

Chizu was the second woman I had been intimate with, the first being Gloria. Chizu was the first woman I had gone wild with and so there was that special something about having done something that daring…that special feeling that kept gnawing at me, tempting me to do it again…to feel like that again despite the price I would have to pay if…no, when I got caught.

I never wanted to admit it out loud then but the thoughts were there in my mind; how more beautiful, fun and outgoing Chizu was compared to Gloria my girlfriend. Because Gloria and I had dated for such a long time, we had become too familiar with each other.

There was nothing fun or surprising we did together it was all routine. She had become my fiancée by default and naturally, I had never before imagined anyone else being my wife in future…and I was okay with it.

But that was until Chizu came along.

There was something about Chizu’s wildness that made me feel challenged. I wanted to grab hold of her and tame her in my arms…like I had done that night. I wanted to experience something else other than Gloria. I wanted excitement and Chizu was all that.

So seeing her on my door that evening looking so drop dead gorgeous brought to life all those feelings and thoughts I had been harbouring. Of course the fact that other monks…male students on my block kept hollering at her made me want to hold her even more.

Without thinking, I grabbed her into the room and for the first time in the four years I had been at university, I realised just how small those beds were.

One week later, Chizu had dumped her boyfriend of six months for me. I had become her exclusive boyfriend and because of that, she expected exclusivity from me too. But I had never promised her that. I never once told her that I would leave Gloria for her.

Thing is, no matter how obsessed I was about Chizu, I still loved Gloria and I still only saw Gloria as my wife. I had only a few months remaining at Uni and I was gonna marry her. I was going to keep the promise I had made to her four years ago.

But Chizu was determined in her endeavour to make me hers only. And when she suddenly left me one day, without so much as a goodbye, I was left broken. Her decision to leave my life like that forced me to reconsider my feelings towards Gloria.

And thus, every time I spent with Gloria, I kept comparing the two girls and somehow, Gloria always seemed to fall short.

On the day before my graduation, Gloria had come to the small room I was renting in Northmead and I broke the news to her. I told her that I was in-love with someone else.

“I know,” is what she told me in response.

“You know?” I asked her.

She said yes. “I know it’s Chizu.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“I have known it ever since that night the two of you were alone and I was with my mother. You had dialled my number by accident and I heard everything that was happening.”

Still, I didn’t know what to say.

She seemed to be asking and then answering the questions that were playing in my head.

“I have known you all my life James,” She was saying, fighting back the tears. “I knew what was going on but I didn’t want to be the one to leave. I thought about two possibilities; that you might get over it and come back to me, or that you might leave me. I knew I didn’t want to leave you…like a fool, I kept hoping.”

“Gloria,” I started to say. I wanted to explain to her that Chizu was not to blame for anything…that I was the one who was wrong and that I was sorry.

“It’s fine,” she said, blinking back the tears as she got up from the bed. “You don’t need to say anything. I understand.”

She then reached down from under the bed and removed a nicely wrapped box. “Your graduation present,” she said as she handed the box to me.

“I got my first pay from my part time job at the bookshop. I thought that might come handy since you are starting work on Monday.”

I was feeling way too embarrassed to open to unwrap the gift so I asked, “What’s this?”

“Some shirts and trousers for work.” She replied.

“I can’t take these Gloria,” I told her, pushing the box towards her.

I wasn’t sure if she was just being her usual kind self or if her intentions where to mentally torture me. if the latter was the case, then she had succeeded.

“You are no longer getting BC so you need these clothes for now. I didn’t have enough money to buy a lot so I asked my mother to chip in.” BC is what we called the money we received from the government as students through sponsorship.

Gloria had now unwrapped the box and I could see about four shirts and four pairs of trousers in there. Seeing those things reminded me of expensive Black Orchid Tom Ford bottle of perfume Chizu had given me the previous night as my graduation present. I had been so excited to receive that perfume because it was my very first designer perfume and I couldn’t wait to put it on and smell like a million bucks even though I was the son of a poor marketer.

Unconsciously, there I was comparing the two women again. Because Gloria was ever acting like a wife, I found her extremely boring. While she worried about my general well-being, such as cooking, clothing, safety and the like, Chizu was all about making me feel good and I loved that about her.

Chizu had a doctorate in giving a man pleasure. She could do gymnastics in the air whilst kissing me and she could twist and turn her waist and body to degrees that would befuddle even the father of mathematics himself. She made me feel extremely alive while Gloria made me feel like an old man. I know that I should have been grateful for her kind gestures because truth be told, I needed those things Gloria was offering me while I simply craved and wanted the things Chizu gave me.

However, to my then twenty-four old self, the perfume tramped everything else and Chizu danced about in my head as if she was the haemoglobin to my red blood cells. I could no longer see Gloria. To me, Gloria had become the epitome of all things I didn’t need in my life at that point in time.

I suddenly started feeling like I was missing out on so much having been stuck to the same woman from the moment I had discovered the word ‘come’ could be spelt in another way to mean something else.

My brain was on hibernation and my loins where on fire. Gloria’s Jesus had nothing on me.

I wanted to explore, I wanted excitement, I wanted to feel alive.

And so that morning before my graduation day, I watched Gloria walk out of my life and did not bother to stop her. Yes, a huge part of me was hurt seeing her so heart broken and knowing I was responsible for that but another huge part of me couldn’t wait to announce my sudden freedom to Chizu.

Gloria had remained Gloria to the very end of our relationship. She had put my needs before her first and she left without a fight believing it was something she ought to do for the person she loves.

One year later, Chizu and I were married.

* * *

When I stood in that restaurant watching my wife lose herself, I remembered the words that Gloria had said to us when she paid us a surprise visit at our engagement party.

I had not seen her in over a year and we had completely lost touch. It was the same case with Chizu.

“You?” Chizu looked like she was ready to blow fire from her eyes the way she was looking at Gloria.

Everyone in the room knew who Gloria was because they were all mutual friends of us three.

The room had gone dead quite the moment Gloria appeared on the door and started walking towards us.

I was the most surprised because I knew her not to be a confrontational kind of person. She was a quite girl that would have rather eaten a burnt meal than tell the waiter to prepare her a fresh one.

But there she was at our engagement party, dressed in a black and white lose-fitting maxi-dress and looking painfully calm.

“What do you want here Gloria?” Chizu angrily quizzed her former best friend.

“Relax Chizu,” Gloria said. “I didn’t come here to cause a scene. You both know am incapable of that.”

“What do you want Gloria?” I asked, looking around to check if by some luck we had grown invisible and no one in the room could see us.

No such luck.

“I heard about your engagement,” Gloria said. “Of course I felt bad, hurt. For a moment I regretted not having been truthful about my feelings to the both of you…and then I realized, what could be more perfect than now, on your engagement?”

“Can we go outside and talk?” I tried to grab her but she pushed my hand away.

“I’ll be done soon,” Gloria said. “I just wanted to tell the both of you that you hurt me real bad. I have spent the past year crying over it, wondering how the two people I trusted the most in the world could break my heart in such a cruel manner.

“But I’m done crying now. I stood out there for close to an hour wondering whether to come in here or not. I told myself that if I can find the strength to face you two for the last time, then I would find the strength to heal, to move on…and here I am.”

“Well, you’ve succeeded, so can you leave now?” Chizu said. “You are embarrassing yourself.”

Gloria looked around and then back at us. Smiling, she said. “Between you and me, who do you think has done something to be embarrassed about?” She asked Chizu.

“Are you just going to let her stand here and do this?” Chizu asked me, holding me completely responsible for the presence of my ex-girlfriend at our engagement party.

“Before I leave,” Gloria said. “I need the two of you to always remember something; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Remember that as you celebrate the beginning of the rest of your lives together.”

And she was gone.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. She had said.

I had heard a lot of people use the word karma in regards to my relationship with Chizu but ah ah, not Gloria my geeky ex-girlfriend. She just had to go Newton on us.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the words of a character from my Grade Eleven Physics Text Book having such a profound and direct impact on my life.

After our wedding, Chizu and I lived for each other. Even though we never said it out loud, we both knew at the back of our heads that people around us expected our marriage to fail because it was built on the foundation of a lie.

Thus, to prove everyone wrong, we did everything in our power to be the perfect portrait of couple genuinely in-love and enjoying a happy marriage. And we weren’t just picture perfect, we were truly happy…at least for a year.

It was in our second year of marriage when things started changing. I had gotten a promotion at work and Chizu had to stop working because we were expecting our first child. At first I attributed the sudden changes in our marriage to my wife’s hormones. And then it became motherhood, and then just plain parenthood. There was always a valid reason on standby to explain why things seemed to be spiralling out of control for us.

Silently, we both kept replaying Newton’s Third Law of Motion from Gloria’s mouth;

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

And still, we didn’t want to admit it to ourselves and to each other that the problems we were having could be because we had done something in the past that was catching up to us.

Chizu and I had planted seeds of Okra and expected to harvest tomatoes.

Gloria Ndashe and Isaac Newton had other ideas in mind.

“Who are you talking to on the phone?” Had become an opening line for conversations between my wife and I.

“I heard a girl’s voice in the background, where are you?” This always seemed to happen whenever I was at work and I had the misfortune of talking to my wife on the phone.

With every single call to my office, the female voices in her head seemed to grow louder and louder.

And then it became;

Why are you home late?



Who were you with?



I can smell a girl’s cheap perfume on you?

How can you do this to me?

And then the tears would come pouring. 

I could see her heart breaking, torn into minute pieces. I had done that to her, she was convinced beyond reasonable doubt.

But I can swear before Jehovah, Buddha, Allah, Zeus, Sangoma’s from all over Africa and even kneel before my ancestors and tell them that I never cheated on my wife. Not even once.

I did not even have the luxury to flirt with other women because I feared I might lose my wife to a serious case of Dementia if she ever heard about it.

But in Chizu’s head, she had already found me guilty and sentenced me.

And how could I blame her?

“You left a girl you dated all your life just to be with me so how do you expect me to trust that you will remain faithful to me?” Chizu always repeated this question whenever we had fights.

“I am a nobody who appeared out of nowhere but I was still able to steal you from the woman you had loved for eight years!” She would scream. “I don’t trust you James, I don’t. I will cut off your balls if you ever cheat on me.”

And thus, for four good years I spent my nights sleeping facing down on the bed, my nether areas safely tucked inside away from potential threats. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have dreamt that I woke up one day and found myself a woman. I just thank God that I already have a son because any more of sleeping like that and all my swimmers would be rendered paralysed for life.

“You were cheating on me when you were with another girl,” she would say on other days. “Ine I left my boyfriend the moment I realised I was in-love with you but you couldn’t leave Gloria.”

My wife had already sentenced me for a crime I had not committed and I spent my life living like a convicted man. There were many times when I felt like doing the crime to fit the sentence but because I felt somewhat responsible for her behaviour, I remained faithful and continued serving my sentence in silence.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Gloria had warned.

She was right. I was living proof. Chizu and I were living proof.

Chizu’s repeated statements eventually made me realize one thing; that there would never be trust between us because of how we had started.

We were both so busy trying to shield our marriage from people that were hoping we would fail that we forgot to shield it from our own weaknesses…our past. And slowly, the mistrust grew and the problems grew larger than a Kardashian’s bottom.

When my wife came at Susan like that that fateful evening, it was not something surprising to me. I always knew that it was only a matter of time before she completely snapped. Unfortunately, she had picked the wrong target to take out her frustrations on.

I had only met the girl for just about five minutes and apart from the fact that she was a colleague’s sister, I knew nothing about her.

In Chizu’s head, she had finally caught me in the act and I bet she wasn’t sure whether to start celebrating or to start stoning me. By all means I would have welcomed her attack but unfortunately, it was not me she meant to punish.

It was Susan.

“What do you think you are doing?” I had grabbed Chizu’s hands and was desperately trying to stop her from hitting Susan again since she looked about ready to strike again.

“Let me go you lying cheating bastard!” She was saying, writhing in my arms and waving hers at Susan.

“I am very sorry Susan,” I told the unfortunate twenty-five year old whose facial expression could kill Mr Bean’s career.

“Please leave now,” I told the girl whilst holding on to my wife. Did I mention that at this point we had become a live streaming telenovela? Everyone in the restaurant was glued.

Susan picked up her handbag and was about to leave when my dear wife screamed, “where the hell do you think you are going?”

Susan stopped, glared at my wife and then at me. “I don’t know what’s going on between the two of you but please, keep me out of it. I am leaving.” And she left.

“Let me go now,” Chizu said.

I loosened by grip on her but did not completely let go. I needed to give Susan enough time to get away.

Unfortunately, my wife knew that as well and so she elbowed me in the stomach and ran after Susan while I tried to nurse my pride and injured intestines.

It took me about thirty seconds to regain my composure and unfortunately, that was more than enough time for Chizu to cause some more damage outside.

I found her grabbing Susan by the hair…. And for the first time in my life I wished a woman would have rather had a weave on instead of her own natural silky long hair.

“Did you think you could run away from me just like that?” Chizu was beating the daylights of Susan and instead of fighting back, Susan only concentrated on protecting herself against the blows.

There was no one trying to pull them apart. Everyone in sight was on the phone taking pictures and videos and I could see my wife making headlines on Mwebantu Media that evening.

Here was a girl’s life about to be ruined over a stupid misunderstanding.

I grabbed Chizu again and pulled her away from Susan. She was still kicking and screaming like a WWE diva, still hungry for a fight.

“Why are you embarrassing yourself like this?” I yelled at her.

“Why is she doing this to me?” Susan asked, bleeding from her lips and forehead. “What have I done to her?”

“I am very sorry Susan,” I tried to apologize to her. “I am very sorry,” I said again. “My wife and I had a fight this morning so I think she mistook you for someone else. Please, forgive me.”

“I don’t even know you how can she do this to me?” Susan asked.

“Do you meet men you don’t know at restaurants and laugh with them like that?” Chizu asked.

“I only met him because my brother asked me to give him those papers.” She was pointing to the envelope in my hands. “I have never met your husband before. I didn’t even know who he was until a few minutes ago.”

“You don’t need to explain anything Susan, I am sorry for all this. Please go to the hospital and get yourself examined. My wife and I will cover the bill, I promise.”

I think Chizu scoffed.

I was silently praying that Susan does not overreact and demand for an apology from my wife. The more we stood there fighting, the longer the video clips for strangers entertainment would be. I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible.

“You should control your wife sir, she’s nuts!” Susan said and left us standing there.

I took Chizu by the arm and walked with her to my car. I wanted to literally drag her there but I didn’t want her to appear disrespected just in case the videos taken went viral. She was still my wife. She was no longer called Chizu Malama, she was now Mrs Kaunda…it’s my name that would be dragged into the mad if anything went wrong.

When we reached home, I couldn’t talk to her. I was too upset to carry on a normal and respectful conversation with her. I went straight into the spare bedroom, locked the door and slept.

I found she had prepared her usual dose of breakfast when I woke up the next morning. She had been working for an HR recruitment firm for the past two years and we always had breakfast together before leaving for work.

That morning, I was in no mood to eat, for two reasons mostly; she was going to continue nagging me, and I would take any chance I got to not eat those things she categorized as food in her head.

My wife was the worst cook in the world so much that any other food I eat that was not prepared by her, even if it was prepared by our four year old son, I would gladly masticate it with impunity.

No amount of salt or chilli could make up for the tastes Chizu conjured up in her expensively furnished kitchen. Three more months and I would be bidding farewell to my taste buds.

I would have paid any amount of money to make my wife cook in the kitchen as well as she cooked in the bedroom. So far, the only thing she seemed to have picked up from the cooking lessons she had been taking for the past two years was identifying the difference between scrambled eggs and poop.

I was happy with that because I was served eggs for breakfast every morning of the year. I was happy to finally be able to identify the things on my plate without mistaking them for something else.

It’s not like Rome was built in a day but still, I had hoped that with time, Chizu would learn how to cook because she was very willing to do so. if it meant serving our marriage, Chizu was willing to try it all. Only six months ago, I could recognize the taste of Macaroni from the mashed cheese something she had made for us for dinner. Baby steps…baby steps.

Two hours later, I was just winding up in that fateful meeting that had required the use of those papers Susan had brought to me when I received a call from Chizu.

“Can you believe what happened this morning when I reached the office?” She asked me.

“What happened?” I willingly took the bait.

“It turns out that Susan girl of yours was hired as an Accountant here.”

“What?”

Chizu was laughing. “I did not waste time teaching her a lesson and now everyone here knows what a home wrecker she is. You better convince her to quit or God knows what else I will do to her if I have to keep seeing her face here.”

Oh no, not Susan, again!

Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 19

image

Beatrice staggered out of the bank like a drunk woman, her mind replaying those moments with Shadreck when she should have questioned things instead of blindly putting her trust in the love of a sixty year old man over his much younger wife.

Beatrice’s confidence that age was enough to keep her man had made her so shallow that she could not imagine Shadreck betraying her or leaving her for another woman. In her head, he was the lucky one for having found himself such a beautiful young wife who could love him as much as she showed him she did.

She was aware of Shadreck’s wondering eyes once in a while but what man wasn’t like that? She had given him a home and a family that he so desperately wanted and she had faith that these things together where enough to seal their fate together until such a time when he died and she would start afresh with a much younger man.

Not once had she pictured that scenario playing the other way round.

The foul taste of the betrayal and the shock lingered in her mouth and made her stomach churn in disquietude. She clutched her stomach as she started walking towards the parking lot, stopping once in a while to find something to hold on and to catch her breath.

Her heart was racing, fast and loud, blocking out all other sounds around her. One of the shoppers at the mall, a gentleman in his early thirties approached her and placed a hand on her to help steady her.

“Are you okay madam?” the young man asked the emotionally and physically drained Beatrice who was holding on to a wall, anxiously waiting for her vision to become steady so she could cross the road leading to the parking lot.

Beatrice slowly lifted her head up to look at the man holding her and she shrugged his hand away.

“Get away from me!” She yelled at him, drawing the attention of everyone in sight.

“Calm down, am just trying to help.” The gentleman said. “You look a little disoriented. I am a doctor….”

“I have my own personal physician,” she snapped. “I don’t need some random stranger touching me and trying to take advantage of me. Leave me the hell alone.”

The poor man raised his hands in surrender and walked away from her.

Beatrice rushed across the road and was almost bashed by an oncoming vehicle. The driver went at his hooter with all his might and Beatrice stopped to shout at him.

“Run me over if you dare you jerk!” She shouted.

The man simply gaped at her in absolute disbelief and waited for her to cross over to the car park.

She got into her car and drove like a mad woman to her house, all the while desperately trying to get hold of Shadreck on his cell.

I lost my phone in the process and didn’t bother to get a new one since I knew I would be home soon. His words echoed through her head and she sent her phone flying in the air.

Finally at home, Beatrice busted into her house screaming her husband’s name but no response came.

“Mum,” Mark was standing at the bottom of the stairs calling out to his mother who was busy banging doors and shouting upstairs.

“Where is your father?” Beatrice shouted from the top of the stairs.

“How the hell am I supposed to know?” the teenager answered. “I got here just a few minutes ago.”

“And your sister, is she back yet?” Beatrice asked. “Moola!” She yelled out.

“Mum!” Mark yelled back. “You are going to break all the bulbs with your screams. Calm down. Did something happen? Is this about Moola’s wedding?”

“It’s none of your business young man,” Beatrice turned and walked to her bedroom.

Down the stairs, Mark was shaking his head slowly. “Tsk tsk tsk…menopause,” he said and went into the living room to watch TV.

Beatrice was on her computer furiously and desperately trying to log in to her bank account online but her password kept getting rejected.  She was about to throw the laptop down when she heard the door downstairs open.

She ran out of the bedroom and peered down the stairs and saw Moola enter the house.

“What’s wrong with you too?” the oblivious Mark asked his sulking sister.

“Don’t talk to me today if you want to live.” Moola said and started heading towards the stairs.

Beatrice met her at the bottom of the stairs. “Why is your phone off!” She asked her daughter.

“I have been trying to get hold of you for hours now. Did you talk to your father? I saw that you were the last person he called from the landline. Do you know where he is?”

Moola’s eyes as she looked at her mouth were packed with contempt and scorn.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Beatrice asked.

Moola started shaking her head slowly. “You disgust me.” She told her mother and tried to walk past her to get on the stairs.

But Beatrice grabbed her hand and pulled her back. “How dare you talk to me like that young lady!? So what if you were dumped? That doesn’t give you the right to be this disrespectful to your mother. Are you the first person in the world to be jilted?”

“Respect?” Moola pursed her lips at her. “Did I just hear you talk about respect, mother?” She deliberately stressed the last word and then scoffed. “You are one to talk.”

“Why are you talking to me like this?” Beatrice demanded to know.

Meanwhile, Mark was watching the two women in amusement, saying out scores depending on whom he felt gave the most astounding retort.

“I should have been recording this…if only my battery wasn’t low.” He said to himself, looking at his phone to see his battery life marked in red.

“I’m too tired and depressed to fight with you right now. I’m going to take a nap.” Moola said and started stepped away from her mother to get on the stairs but again, Beatrice grabbed her back.

“What do you mean I am one to talk?” Beatrice asked.

Moola looked down at the part of her hand where her mother was gripping. “You are hurting me,” she said.

“I won’t let go until you tell me why you are being such a brat!” Beatrice yelled.

“You want to know?” Moola asked. “Okay, am going to tell you. Dad is gone and it’s all your fault!”

The smile on Mark’s face disappeared within the blink of an eye.

“What do you mean your dad is gone?” Beatrice asked.

“He is gone! He has left us!” Moola shouted. “He got so tired of your lies that caused him to lose all of our money and he just couldn’t deal with all the misfortunes you’ve brought this family.”

“What are you talking about?” Beatrice asked, shaking all over and her eyes dancing in confusion.

“What are you talking about sis?” Mark had joined them at the bottom of the stairs to echo his mother’s words. “What do you mean dad is gone?”

Moola turned towards her younger brother, the puzzled look on his face immediately brought tears to her eyes.

“What’s wrong Moola? Did something happen to dad?” Mark asked again, his voice too shaking from the imaginations running through his mind.

“Answer your brother!” Beatrice shouted and started shaking her daughter. “Where is your father?”

Moola pushed her mother away with so much force and sent her tumbling backwards.

She then turned to her brother. “Go to your room right now and park all your stuff. We are leaving this house today.” And she ran up the stairs living her brother and mother in shock.

Beatrice quickly got up to her feet and ran after her daughter, catching her right outside her bedroom.

“Why are you behaving like this?” Beatrice asked. “What did your father tell you?”

“He told me everything mother!” Moola said. “About the lies you’ve told us all these years, your dirty secrets, how you seduced someone else’s husband, had a daughter with him and when he refused to marry you, you abandoned that child.

“I know that that child is that Evelyn girl who it turns out is now married to Kelvin, the man I was scheduled to marry tomorrow, the man who it turns out is the brother to the woman whose husband you seduced twenty something years ago.

“That woman died right outside your place and her father committed suicide a few days later because he could not live with the guilt of watching his daughter die right in front of him and not being able to protect her.”

The shock of Moola’s words sent Beatrice reaching for the top rails of the stairs. However, Moola was not, even for a second touched by her mother’s desperate and unfortunate state. She was not in the mood to be taken in by her manipulation.

She followed her where she was, crouched and desperately gripping the rail for support.

“How did you…how….” Beatrice’s quivering lips were keeping her from uttering anything sensible. She stammered her way through her sentences and Moola could only shake her head in disappointment at watching her mother crumble down so easily.

Unaware of Mark’s presence who was still standing at the bottom of the stairs, Moola went at her mother again.

“Mrs Kangwa?” Moola continued. “You remember don’t you?” She asked. “Of course she looks different now but that only goes to show just how determined she was to make you pay for what you did to her family.

“Because you were so greedy for other people’s things, things you did not deserve, you dragged us all down with you and now look where we are; I was engaged and then jilted by a man that didn’t even love me, dad’s businesses kept hitting stumbling blocks because there were people out there punishing him for the wrongs  that you committed.

“He lost all of his fortune due to a trap that Kelvin’s mother set up for him and now we have nothing. Thanks to you, some woman was sent into dad’s path to seduce him and take him away from you and now he would rather be with that family instead of us. That’s how much he detests you mother.”

Beatrice appeared almost out of breath. She was gasping for air, hitting her chest with one hand and using the other to steady herself against the rail of the staircase.

“It can’t be…that’s…that’s…not…true….” Beatrice was whispering, her hand softly hitting her chest in her desperation to calm her racing heart.

Slowly, the walls around her started drawing closer and closer, threatening to squeeze her into oblivion.

When everything else around started fading, Beatrice could no longer make out her daughter’s screaming words. She could see her mouth move when she tried to look up at her but she could not hear her.

Tasting for the last time the saltiness of all her sins now painted in liquid onto her face;

Beatrice hit the ground and right before losing consciousness, she heard her two children call out to her from a distance.

“Mum!!!!”

* * *

Somewhere in Zanzibar

Evelyn was awakened by the smell of bacon in the room. She opened her eyes and found a smiling Kelvin holding a tray of breakfast over her sleeping figure. She slowly sat up and rubbing her eyes said;

“That smells sooo good.”

“I know,” Kelvin said, laying the tray on her laps.

However, no sooner had Evelyn come in close contact with the food than she rushed out of bed and into the bathroom to throw up.

But nothing came out.

Kelvin was right behind her, watching her struggle to vomit with a proud grin on his face.

Evelyn raised her head to look at him in disapproval. “How can you smile like that when I am close to vomiting?”

“I told you,” Kelvin was saying, leaning the side of his body against the door frame and crossing his arms over his chest. “You are pregnant.” He said, still smiling.

“I am not!” Evelyn said. “It’s that shrimp you made me eat last night. I felt like vomiting the moment I put it in my mouth. I told you, am really not a fun of sea food.”

Evelyn spat, flashed and walked over to the sink to wash her face.

Kelvin went to stand behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind.

She smiled and stopped whatever she doing. “What do you think you are doing?” She asked him.

Kelvin laughed. “Hugging my wife good morning.” He proudly stated.

“It still feels so surreal,” She told him, raising her hand to look at her ring. “Are we really married?” she asked.

“Of course we are,” Kelvin said. “And you could be carrying a Minnie-me or Minnie-you in here.” He was gently rubbing her tummy.

Evelyn grabbed his arms and pushed him away. “I told you, I am not pregnant. You can even iron something on my stomach without hitting any bumps.” She grabbed a towel from the rail, dried her face and walked passed Kelvin back to their room.

Kelvin followed her and grabbed her by the hand. He turned her to face him and with a serious expression on his face, he asked, “is it that you don’t want to carry my baby?”

Evelyn chuckled at the absurdity of his unexpected question. “Why would you think that?” She asked.

“I don’t know,” Kelvin shrugged his shoulders. “It’s just that…that first time I suggested lying to my mother about you being pregnant, you freaked out…and every time I ask you to get a pregnancy test, you insist that you are not. I was kind of hoping that you would be as excited as I am at the possibility of….”

Evelyn put a finger on his lips. “Shhh,” she said.

Kelvin stopped talking.

She put her hands on both sides of his face and pulled him down towards her, gave him a long deep kiss and then released him.

Satisfied by the sudden turn of events, but still confused by the meaning of it, Kelvin was smiling and giving his new bride a questioning look at the same time.

“I’m scared,” Evelyn said, this time wrapping her arms around his waist.

“What are you scared of?” Kevin asked.

“What if we take a test and it turns out I am not pregnant?” She said. “I really want to be pregnant with your child but I also don’t want to jinx it by hoping. The only reason I am safe and alive is because we told your mother that I was carrying her grandchild. What if it takes a while for us to….”

Before she could finish, Kelvin grabbed her by the back of her head and planted a kiss on her forehead.

“I know you are pregnant,” he said with so much conviction.

“How can you be so sure? Have you ever made a woman pregnant?”

Kelvin laughed. “Hell no, you are definitely and most certainly my first womb.”

She laughed. “Then how can you be so sure?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just feel it.” and then he walked over to the dressing table, opened the top drawer and removed a pregnancy testing kit from a box.

“What?” Evelyn said in surprise. “When did you buy that?” She walked over to him and took the tester from him. “Unbelievable,” she said.

“I got it this morning while you were sleeping. There’s a pharmacy right outside the hotel. Go in there and try,” he was pointing to the bathroom.

“I am just from peeing!” Evelyn reminded him.

“Dammit!” he said.

Evelyn laughed.

“Can’t you force it?” Kelvin asked. “There’s always that bit that remains after….”

“Kelvin!” She threw him a disconcerting look.

Embarrassed, Kelvin turned and disappeared into the other room of their suite.

Evelyn followed him and went to sit on his lap, blocking his view of the TV. She held his head in place and told him, “I pee every five minutes, have you forgotten?”

Kelvin’s face completely lit up. He scooped her up in the air and started spinning around.

“I think I am going to vomit now,” Evelyn protested and he immediately put her down.

“I think breakfast might hasten things up,” She suggested. “What do you think?”

Without saying another word, Kelvin rushed back into the bedroom and came out with the tray they had left on the bed.

Thirty minutes later, Evelyn came out of the bathroom with a blank expression on her face and handed the stick to Kelvin who had been anxiously waiting, pacing around the bedroom.

“Two red lines, do they mean what I think they mean?” He asked as he examined the stipe.

“Umhu,” Evelyn replied and watched her husband lose control.

“We’ve been gone for more than a month now,” Evelyn said to Kelvin as they drove around the Island in their rented car a few hours later. “Isn’t it time to go back now?” She asked.

“I don’t have any motivation whatsoever to go back,” Kelvin answered honestly. “If I could have it my way, we would stay here forever.”

“Do you still think am not safe?” She asked.

“No,” he quickly answered. “It might take a while for my mother to get close to you but I know that she will eventually.” He assured her. “Before this revenge thing, she was a good person, strong willed, but still a good person.”

“I don’t expect you to say otherwise about your mother,” Evelyn said.

Kelvin chuckled. “Not my mother,” he said. “I have been through enough with her to know she is no saint. She has done enough things that could put her behind bars for many years but she’s been too careful in her plotting to attract the attention of law enforcers.”

“And what about you?”

Kelvin gave her a puzzled look. “What about me?” he asked.

Evelyn thought for a moment before opening her mouth. “How far did you go…as in terms of breaking the law to get revenge?”

Kelvin chuckled again. “You are asking if I killed anyone aren’t you?”

Evelyn looked away and gave no response, holding her breath as she waited for his answer

“I didn’t go that far Eva,” he told her. “I never took anyone’s life.”

Evelyn let out a sigh of relief.

“Ah,” Kelvin said upon seeing her release the breath she had been holding. “Did you actually think that I….”

“I don’t know!” Evelyn covered her face with her hands in guilt and shame for having doubted him, even if for a second. “You kidnapped me, stripped me naked and tried to rape me a couple of times. There was so much anger in your eyes I feared you might kill me.”

Kelvin shut his eyes for a few seconds as if to block out the horrible memories that made him feel the kind of shame he had never ever felt before in his life.

“Not my proudest moments,” he said, almost whispering the words. “I promised to make it up to you for the rest of my life and I intend to keep that promise. Do you believe me?” He was looking at her to hear her response.

“I believe you,” Evelyn answered.

Kelvin smiled. “Thank you.” he said and fixed his attention back on the road ahead.

“When did you tell your mother that we would be going back?” Evelyn asked.

“I told her next week,” Kelvin said. “She keeps calling everyday whining about the baby and how you should be under the guidance of an adult since you don’t have parents and what not.”

“Don’t tell me…”

“Yeah, exactly what you are thinking,” Kelvin confirmed her fears. “I told you, her bloodline is her weakness. She was raised at an orphanage for a while and she doesn’t know who her real parents are.

“My mother’s worst fear is dying and leaving no one behind to carry her legacy….like she dies and that’s the end; no one to carry her blood or to stay by her bedside holding her hand as the life slowly slips out of her. Her words,” Kelvin quickly added. “Not mine!”

Evelyn was quite for a while, but later she said, “I think I understand her fears.”

Kelvin turned to look at her, her heavy tone giving him extra concern.

“You know that you don’t ever have to feel like that anymore right?” He asked her.

Evelyn laughed softly. “I know,” she said, unconsciously rubbing her flat stomach.

Kelvin looked at her hands and smiled before turning his attention back on the road.

“We will go back home soon and I will build us a nice home for our family.” He was mostly talking to himself than to her.

Evelyn turned to look at his serious expression as he spoke.

“You will never be alone,” Kelvin said, his eyes still fixed on the road ahead. “I will protect you and my child with my very last breath.”

They drove in silence for a while, taking in the beautiful scenes of nature around them. This was the first time Evelyn had travelled outside Zambia and she ensured that she utilized every moment away from home to live the fairy-tale kind of life Kelvin had shown her in the past month…the kind of life that always seemed surreal even when she was right in the middle of it, experiencing every moment.

The kind of happiness she was experiencing was beyond anything she had ever dreamt for herself and that reality only heightened the fears and insecurities in her; that she might wake up one day and discover that it had all been a dream.

Thus, every night before she fell asleep, she prayed for the dream to last one more day….

And so far, it always did.

“What about Beatrice?” Evelyn later asked Kelvin as they drove to the nearest beach. “I know you don’t like me knowing about what’s going on back home but I overheard your conversation on the phone once when you thought I was sleeping. How is she doing now?”

Kelvin clenched his teeth at the mention of Beatrice’s name and tightened his grip on the steering wheel.

“What is it?” Evelyn could feel her husband tense up and wondered if there was something going on back home that she wasn’t aware of. “Is there something you are not telling me?” She asked.

Kelvin nervously smiled at her. “Of course not,” he said, turning to look at her for a few seconds.

“I just don’t like thinking about the woman, that’s all.” Kelvin said. “I know that despite everything that’s happened, she is still your mother….”

“I have never thought of her as my mother Kelvin,” Evelyn said. “I don’t expect you to feel bad or guilty about your feelings towards her. You are free to hate or loathe her as much as you want.”

Kelvin reached across to her and held her hand. “I am sorry Eva,” was all he could say in response.

* * *

Beatrice kept turning and tossing in bed, much to her daughter Moola’s chagrin who was sleeping next to her in their newly bought two-bedroomed apartment.

Moola sat up in frustration and woke her mother up. “Why did you insist on Mark taking that whole room to himself if you knew you would make it impossible for me to get any sleep?”

Beatrice sighed heavily and sat up as well. “Over my dead body will I let my only son sleep on the sofa in that tiny living room.”

Moola got out of bed and went to turn on the light.

This new bedroom was a far cry from the humongous master bedroom Beatrice had shared with Shadreck at their old mansion which the latter had sold behind her back.

It was only when Beatrice received an envelope with money in it that she learnt her now ex-husband had sold their home and split the money between them in half. She used that money to buy her children another house that was unfortunately twenty ties smaller than the house they were raised in.

She didn’t know whether to thank Shadreck for his consideration in leaving her half the money from the sale of their home or sue him for his betrayal. In the end, she had no choice but to move on since she could do neither as she had no idea where her husband was hiding.

Shadreck had secretly met with his children Moola and Mark the evening before he disappeared and made no efforts whatsoever to contact the woman he had spent the past twenty something years with except through his lawyers that came to hand Beatrice already signed divorce papers.

Moola went back to sit on the bed. “What do you think the people that did this to us are doing right now?” She asked her mother.

Beatrice grimaced and rolled her hands into fists at the thought of the people response for her fall from grace.

“Whatever they are doing, they better pray I don’t get my hands on them. This isn’t over.” She said sternly. “I will make every one of them pay for everything they’ve put us through.”

Moola scoffed. “How are you going to do that?” She asked. “We are broke. Apart from the money dad left Mark and I for school, we have nothing, absolutely nothing. So how do you plan on fighting giants when the only kind if ammunition you had was taken away from you?”

“Who says I need money to make them pay? I only need to touch one person and the rest of them will come crumbling down in pain.”

“What are you planning mum?” Moola asked, instantly growing perturbed. “You are not planning on hurting Kelvin are you?” She asked.

Beatrice threw her daughter a reprobating look. “He used you, dumped you and humiliated you. Why do you still care about him?”

Moola pouted. “I loved him for so many years,” she said. “My feelings can’t change just like that simply because I discovered he never loved me. He might have hated my family, but I still think that there was a part of him that cared about me. Dad even said that Kelvin begged his mother not to do me and Mark any harm.”

Beatrice felt like smacking some sense into her daughter. “Sometimes I wonder if maybe they switched you at the hospital.” She said.

“Maybe you should consider getting your other daughter back,” Moola suggested. “She managed to seduce another woman’s fiancé and even married him…. I say there’s no doubt she, is your daughter.”

Beatrice grabbed a pillow and smacked Moola at the back of her head.

“Ouch,” Moola said as she nursed the assaulted part.

“That’s for spouting nonsense,” Beatrice said and put the pillow back down. “That girl is no daughter of mine.” She added. “She is the worst mistake I ever made in my life. I should have gotten rid of her when I had the chance.”

Moola shivered at the sight of her mother’s deathly glow. “Stop looking like that, you are scaring me.”

Beatrice got out of bed and stood to the side, a new kind of conviction registering in her eyes. “To get rid of a problem, you must remove the root of the problem,” She said.

“What are you plotting to do mum?” Moola asked.

“You just wait and see,” Beatrice said. “You wait and see….”

A cold streak ran down Moola’s spine as she looked up at her mother. This was the first time since their father left that she had seen such conviction in her eyes.

Two Weeks Later

Kelvin parked to the side of the road outside the antenatal clinic when he saw his mother waiting for them by the gate.

“I am so nervous,” Evelyn said, tilting her chair back to avoid being seen by her mother in-law.

Kelvin laughed. “Even if you avoid seeing her now, you are still going to meet her the moment you get out of this vehicle.” He said. “I know it’s crazy that your first meeting is like this but what can we do? She insisted on taking you for your first visit and I am still feeling guilty about how I treated her so I couldn’t say no.”

“I know,” Evelyn said. “You did the right now. Who knows, maybe seeing the baby inside me will soften her up a little.”

Kelvin laughed. “That’s exactly what am hoping for. She’s seen us, she’s waving at me.”

Evelyn raised her seat up and nervously waved back at Mervis. “Ooh she looks pissed.” She said between clenched teeth so the woman wouldn’t be able to read her lips from the distance. “Is that your phone vibrating?” Evelyn searched for her husband’s phone.

“I threw it in the laptop in the back seat,” Kelvin said as he waved back at his mother standing on the other side of the road. He opened the door and came out.

“We are coming mother!” Kelvin shouted.

“I am tired of standing here waiting for you people to show up!” Mervis shouted back. “I thought you were not coming.”

“Go back inside mum,” Kelvin said, but his voice was muffled by the sound of a vehicle passing by. “We will meet you inside.”

“What did you say?” Mervis shouted back.

Kelvin laughed. “She’s not hearing me.” Kelvin said to his wife.

“It’s a call from work honey,” Evelyn said whilst looking at his phone.

“Oh shit!” Kelvin cussed and quickly took the phone from her. “I forgot to tell Nzila that I would be late for today’s meeting. “Go inside, I will meet you guys there. I need to take this.”

Before Evelyn could protest, Kelvin had already answered the phone. Evelyn looked across the street to the entrance of the clinic where Mervis was standing and the hairs at the back of her head stood up.

She slowly got out of the car, grabbed her handbag from the back, checked both sides of the road for oncoming traffic and seeing no vehicle in sight, she slowly started walking towards her fierce mother in-law.

Breathe Eva, breath, she kept telling herself as she crossed the road.

Evelyn was too busy coaching her heart to calm down that she did not notice Beatrice parked on the other side of the road just a short distance away from the entrance of the clinic where Mervis was standing, shielded from sensing Beatrice’s presence by the mango tree looming over the wall fence.

The moment Evelyn stepped her feet onto the tarmac, Beatrice hit the gas and went at her with every cent she had lost.

“Evelyn nooo!”

Evelyn was still mustering her courage when she heard someone shout her name from across the street. She opened her eyes to find Mervis running after her.

The first thing Kelvin heard where tires screeching hard against the tarmac.

It was a deja-vu moment that made his blood turn.

The smell of burning tires and spilled oil…he recognized the smell of doom.

Gripped by a sudden overpowering fear, the phone slipped from Kelvin’s hand and the screen shuttered into pieces the moment it hit the ground.

He turned towards the sound of the vehicle and the then next thing he saw was his mother’s bleeding body rolling out of the road while Evelyn was on the other side, crouched on all fours with a look of horror on her face as realization of what had just happened slowly sunk in.

Kelvin had started running towards his mother when he heard the bang and found himself transposed back into time.

More familiar sounds of metal against metal, tires screeching and glass breaking.

Beatrice’s vehicle had become one with an oncoming truck.

Kelvin remained rooted to the ground, paralyzed by time when the past and the present collided, resulting in a single moment that was suffocating the life out of him.

Just before the darkness could completely envelop him, Kelvin caught a glimpse of Evelyn sobbing as she crawled towards his mother in agony.

“Mum.”

Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 18

image

“Where have you taken my children?” Shadreck asked Kelvin.

Mervis shot Shadreck a look that would have frozen any water particles in sight.

“Do you think this is the time to talk about those bastards of yours?” Mervis yelled at him.

“Your children are safe Mr Mwangala,” Kelvin assured him. “And do forgive me for using them in such a manner…I really had no choice.”

The calm with which Kelvin was carrying himself despite the gravity of the situation made Shadrecks blood boil.

Mervis too looked about ready to shoot something.

“How can I trust the word of the man who’s been after my family for all these years?” Shadreck asked.

Kelvin laughed. “I know,” he said nonchalantly. “But do you think that you have any other choice right now? Who would you have rather liked to have them; my delightful fiery mother over here or a newly married man anxiously waiting for the birth of his very first child?”

“Do you think that…wife….” The word tasted like a bitter pill on Mervis’ palate. “…that that wife of yours will be pregnant forever? The moment she delivers my grandchild, that’s the end for her.”

“You see mother,” Kelvin moved closer to stand right in front of his mother. “By that time, you would have realized that there are far better things to live for than dedicating the remainder of your life hurting people that have done you no wrong.”

“That girl has done everything wrong to me.” Mervis said. “If she knew whose daughter she was, she shouldn’t have seduced my son and made him lose his senses in such a manner. Because of her, you turned your back on your own mother.”

“No mum, because of her I became a human being, and no, she never seduced me or anything like that. I was the one who went chasing after her every chance I got. I am not proud of the methods I used to get her attention but I don’t regret anything. Thanks to her, I have been given a second chance to start over again and there’s no going back.

“I hope you too can do the same…if only for the sake of your grandchildren. However, if you continue to be this bitter old woman, I will move out of this country with my family and you will never meet your grandchildren. I am sure I have shown you just how calculative and vigilant I can be if I put my mind to it. You will never find us, no matter how much you try. Maybe with all your money and power, you can buy yourself a whole new family.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” Mervis snapped.

Kelvin laughed. “I think you know I can and that scares you. The choice is yours mother; do as I say or risk losing your son and grandchildren.”

Kelvin watched his mother battle her inner demons. He had made his calculations well and he knew exactly what buttons to press to get to her. He might not be her proudest production but he was still her only son…her only child…her only family.

If she didn’t know it better, Kelvin had for the past weeks forced Mervis to recognize the fact that she could just as easily lose her only surviving child just like she had lost her daughter.

Even in their volatile twenty year old relationship as partner’s in-crime, it was always Kelvin she ran to when she needed an ear to talk to or a wall to release her frustrations out on. A world without Kelvin is a world Mervis could not dare imagine.

Kelvin new that and he capitalized dearly on it.

And just like that, Mervis sucked on the bitter pill, she battled to swallow, letting the taste linger a little longer on her tongue before finally finding the strength to move her tongue.

“What…would you…like me…to do?” Mervis asked her son.

Kelvin was beaming from ear to ear having finally succeeded in moving his mother’s will to his.

“Give Shadreck a chance to save his family,” Kelvin stated.

Shadreck welcome the news with a sudden glow in his eyes. He could finally smell some hope.

“Don’t celebrate just yet,” kelvin told him. “You just tried to sacrifice my wife, did you think you would get away with that? I might be cooler than my mother, but I am still her son. Vindictiveness runs in my blood.”

Mervis had a blank expression on her face, unable to decide whether to applaud her son or to smack him in the face for that veiled insult.

“Tell me whatever you want and I will do it…but please, keep my children out of it, I beg of you.”

“I want to give my mother an opportunity to see her nemesis pay dearly for the crimes she committed against my family…and you sir are going to help her achieve that.” Kelvin said.

Shadreck appeared confused, unable to grasp the meaning behind Kelvin’s words.

“And just what would you like me to do?” he asked. “You people have already taken everything from me. What more do you want?”

“No, not everything,” Kelvin answered. “There’s still that twenty percent that was left untouched…the one in your wife’s name. My mother here left it for last but we all know that the moment Beatrice realizes that you are now a very broke man, she is going to take that amount and run as fast as her two feet can to get away from you.

“You cannot let Beatrice find out about your finances until you get everything in order. Half of that money in Beatrice’s name is to go into an account I set up for Lucy and the other half is for Moola and her brother Mark. If you choose to betray me, I will let my absolutely pissed off mother here to deal with you the best way she can…and we both know she spares no one when she means to quench her thirst.”

Shadreck mulled over Kelvin’s words for a moment. He was right, Shadreck concluded. He was not too blindly in-love when he met Beatrice to not see that his money was the major thing that drew her to him. She might have come to love him along the years but still, that love was more of a fondness than anything else.

“How do you suggest I go about that?” Shadreck asked Kelvin.

“Always a perceptive man,” Kelvin said and moved to pat Shadreck on the shoulder.

“Before my mother dealt you a severe blow, you were such a stoic and ruthless businessman. I have no doubt you will find a way to handle your lovely young wife.”

And turning to his mother, “Do you have any objectives mother?” he asked.

Mervis threw him an austere look. “Do I look like I have a choice?” She said.

Kelvin laughed. “Oh yeah, you don’t.” he said smugly.

“And to reward you for your corporation,” Kelvin had turned back to Shadreck. “You will find Lucy and the kids at Shaka’s Grill in Roma. Those three seem to have taken well to the Zambian weather.”

Shadreck wasted no time in leaving. He was out of there with his minions before Kelvin or Mervis changed their minds.

“You should have given him his family after he gets the money from Beatrice,” Mervis said to her son once they were alone. “Now he’s going to pack up all of them and run as far away as possible. He might be broke now, but he still has very powerful connections.”

Kelvin smiled at his mother. “Faith mother,” he told her. “You should have some faith in people. Not everyone is as calculative as you. For that man, family means more to him than any amount of money. Besides, you have way more powerful connections than he.”

“I just don’t think he has the balls to betray Beatrice like that.” Mervis argued. “He is in-love with her. He had many opportunities to leave her in the past but he never did.”

“That was before Beatrice costed him his entire fortune and put his family in the line of fire…both literally and figuratively.” He was giving his mother an accusing look.

“Also,” Kelvin added. “Staying married to someone does not necessarily mean you have undying love for them. For others, it’s simply the fear of starting all over again. You should know that already…since half of your marriage life with dad was like that.”

“I liked you better when you spoke less and did everything you were told to do,” Mervis said. “This new person you’ve become creeps me out.”

Kelvin laughed and went to put his arm over his mother’s shoulders. “You might hate it now, but I am exactly the kind of son you always wished you had. You just need some time to get used to it.”

Mervis tried to remove his arm but Kelvin held on tightly. “Now, would you like to meet your daughter in-law?”

“Don’t push it Kelvin,” Mervis warned.

“Can’t blame a guy for trying.” Kelvin shrugged his shoulders. “Where are you parked?”

“Over there,” Mervis pointed to where her car was parked a few rows from where they were standing.

“Do you know what the good book says about children who do not honor their parents?” Mervis asked her son as they walked towards her car.

Kelvin raised his eyebrows and looked at her in disbelief. “Wow,” he said. “I guess I know exactly how Jesus felt when the devil quoted scriptures to him.”

“Are you calling me the Devil?” Mervis asked.

“Not exactly, but maybe in the first cousins kind of way…” he laughed.

“I wonder what that makes you if your mother is first cousins with the devil.”

“That’s exactly why I married an angel like Eva,” Kelvin said. “Maybe some of her goodness can rub off on me.”

“Her name in itself doesn’t give much hope. You should ask Adam.” Mervis said.

Kelvin laughed and moved to get the door for her. “There’s hope for everyone mother…even for people like you and me.”

Mervis settled behind the wheel and started the engine running.

“What about your minions?” Kelvin asked, checking to see if they were coming but none of them was in sight.

“They know what they’ve done,” Mervis said. “They are wise enough to know not to show up in front of me when they’ve messed up this big.”

“You can’t blame them,” Kelvin said to her through the window. “I’m just that good.”

In response, Mervis pulled the window up to shut her son up and drove off without saying goodbye.

With his hands in his pockets, Kelvin stood back and watched his mother drive off, a wide grin on his face.

“In time mother…in time….” He said to himself as Mervis’ car disappeared from  his view.

* * *

Despite not hearing from her fiancé for the whole week, Moola still held on to the hope that her wedding was still to take place the next morning.

Shadreck walked into the living room to find Beatrice trying to grill reality into their stubborn daughter’s face.

“I always knew that there was something fishy about that guy but you and your hormones kept insisting on marriage now look what has happened!” Beatrice was yelling on top of her voice.

“Don’t walk away from me, am still talking!” She grabbed her crying daughter by her sweater and forced her to sit back down.

“What’s going on here?” Shadreck finally made his presence known.

“Where have you been for the past three days?” Beatrice had found a new target for her tongue lashing.

“I told you that I went to take care of a few things concerning that contract,” A visibly tired Shadreck explained. “I lost my phone in the process and didn’t bother to get a new one since I knew I would be home soon.”

“What are you going to do about your daughter?” Beatrice asked.

“What about her?” Shadreck asked.

“Are you kidding me?” Beatrice yelled. “Have you been too busy with your business that you forgot your daughter’s wedding was scheduled for tomorrow morning?”

“Oh, that,” Shadreck said resignedly. “There isn’t going to be any wedding.” He pronounced nonchalantly, sitting down next to his daughter.

Both women were gaping at him in disbelief.

Moola was up on her feet. “What do you mean there isn’t going to be any wedding?” She asked her father.

Beatrice too came to tower over his sitting figure. “Did you manage to contact the Kangwa’s?” she asked.

“I did,” Shadreck said.

“We have been searching high and low for that mother-son duo but we haven’t been able to locate them.” Beatrice was saying. “Even their lines have been off for the past week. How did you….”

“Why don’t the two of you sit down first?” Shadreck instructed them.

Beatrice and Moola obediently went to sit down.

“What’s going on honey?” Beatrice asked. “I know that they paid for everything concerning the wedding but that doesn’t give them the right to cancel at the last minute without discussing things with us.”

“They didn’t cancel out of nowhere,” Shadreck explained. “They informed me last week but I just didn’t know how to broach the subject to you guys. Moola was looking forward to it so badly and I …I just couldn’t….” Shadreck searched for the right words to say, stammering in his deceit and betrayal.

Beatrice was beside herself with furry. “How can they do this to us!?” She yelled.

“This isn’t about you mum,” Moola cried. “This is about me! It’s my wedding!”

“In case you haven’t heard, there won’t be any wedding.” Beatrice reminded her sulking daughter.

Moola was up on her feet again. “I don’t want to believe any of this,” she said. “I am going to look for Kelvin and he will tell me that you are wrong. There’s no way he can do this to me. He loves me!”

Before her father could get in another word, Moola was out of the room, rushing upstairs to grab her car keys and handbag.

“Did they tell you why they cancelled the wedding?” Beatrice asked her husband.

Shadreck looked at her, dying to tell her how this was all her fault but controlling himself. “I was too upset to ask them any questions,” he lied. “Maybe you should ask them yourself.” He then got up and started walking upstairs.

Beatrice followed him.

“What’s been going on with you lately?” Beatrice asked him once they were in the privacy of their bedroom walls.

Shadreck threw himself on the bed and closed his eyes.

“You’ve been acting strange ever since you signed that huge contract of yours,” Beatrice said as she sat down on the bed. “Did something happen with that deal?”

“I would have told you if something went wrong,” Shadreck said, his eyes still closed. “It’s this wedding thing that shook me up. We had invited a lot of VIP’s and the thought of informing them last minute that they won’t be a wedding makes me so mad.”

“Your daughter just got dumped and yet you seem more concerned about your business contacts than her feelings.” Beatrice stated accusingly.

Shadreck sighed heavily and sat up to lean his back against the head board. “How can you accuse me of not caring about my daughter?” He asked his wife.

“I have been killing myself over and over again ever since I learnt there won’t be any wedding…wondering how to tell my daughter and imagining her reaction. She has been too obsessed with that boy that I couldn’t bear to give her the bad news. It breaks my heart to see her looking so helpless.”

Beatrice had a moment of self-reflection. “I’m sorry I yelled at you,” She said, moving closer to hold his hand. “I’m just so mad and I don’t understand what the hell is going on. I thought that woman needed this wedding as much as we did. What could have happened?”

“I think Kelvin fell in-love with some other girl,” Shadreck said.

“What?” Beatrice asked. “Which girl would dare to steal from this family? Which family is she from? I won’t take this sitting down, I can promise you that.”

“I hear it’s a girl named Evelyn…Evelyn Nanyangwe or something like that.” Shadreck was watching his wife’s reaction as he slowly said out the name.

The horrified look on Beatrice’s face told him everything he needed to know. But he still needed to know if she would open up to him and tell him the truth.

“Do you know who she is?” Shadreck asked. “She was there at that charity event last month.”

Beatrice was blinking copiously. She got up from the bed and gave her husband her back. “Of course I don’t know who she is,” she said. “Why would you ask me such a question?”

“Why are you talking with your back to me?” Shadreck asked.

Beatrice turned to look at him but she avoided meeting his eyes. “I was just taken aback by your question,” Beatrice lied. “I need to go….” She was nervously pointing to the door. “I need to look for this Kelvin so I can get some answers.”

“What are you hoping to resolve by confronting him?” Shadreck asked.

“I don’t know, but I just need to see him.” She grabbed her car keys and purse from the top of her dresser and rushed out of the bedroom.

Shadreck got up from the bed and walked over to the window. He watched as his wife struggled to get her car door open because she was shaking all over.

She dropped the keys a couple of times before finally succeeding and speeding off out of the yard at a speed that could give Hamilton a run for his money.

He then walked over to the phone by the bedside and called his daughter’s line.

“Did you find Kelvin?” He asked.

“I just left home a few minutes ago dad. I am still on the road.” Moola shouted.

“Meet me at Mandahill by that Noodles place upstairs when you are done searching for Kelvin. You and I need to talk.”

“Okay dad, am hanging up now, I’m driving.”

“Okay.” Shadreck said and put down the receiver.

* * *

Thando was watching TV in her living room and enjoying some snacks when she heard the pounding on the door. Before she could stand up, the door flung open and in busted Beatrice, panting and sweating like a dog on heat.

“Where is she?” Beatrice asked, her eyes searching the room for any signs of Evelyn.

“Who the hell are you?” Thando was now standing at looking at the intruder in shock.

Without answering, Beatrice went opening doors around the house, shouting Evelyn’s name and banging doors.

“Evelyn isn’t home!” Thando shouted at her when she came out from checking the bathroom.

“Where is she?” Beatrice asked.

“How can you just barge in here and expect me to answer your questions?” Thando asked.

“Who I am is no concern of yours,” Beatrice snapped. “Tell me where that whore is before I turn this place upside down.”

“Do whatever you want,” Thando said and went back to make herself comfortable on the sofa.

Not one to accept being dismissed or disrespected in such a manner, Beatrice walked over to the 24inch Samsung TV, pushed it with her finger and sent it crushing down on the floor.

Thando got up from her chair and went at Beatrice with all her might. Her attack was so sudden and unexpected that Beatrice had no time to dodge the punch that landed had on her cheek and sent her tumbling back onto the pieces of the broken television set.

Like a mad woman, Thando went after her again, pressed her leg hard on the back of Beatrice who was struggling to get up and pinned her to the floor.

“I bought that TV with my very first pay,” Thando said between clenched teeth. “That is the money I was supposed to give my mother but she died before she could enjoy her only daughter’s hard earned money.”

As she was talking, Thando bent down to grab Beatrice’s purse that was lying on the side from her fall and she opened it. 

“Now why would anyone be moving around with this kind of money in their wallet in this day and age?” Thando said as she counted the many K100 notes she found in the purse.

“Don’t you dare touch that money!” Beatrice yelled, trying to get up but Thando pressed her leg hard into jer to keep her in place.

At that moment, Beatrice regretted having spent the whole morning arguing with her daughter instead of taking the money from the salon to the bank.

“And I am going to take a little for the emotional stress you’ve put me through by barging into my humble home uninvited.” She grabbed a few more notes and then threw the purse back down.

“Now, tell me,” Thando continued. “Who the hell are you?”

“You are going to regret treating me like this when you find out who I am,” Beatrice threatened.

Thando chuckled. “I doubt that, but please, humour me.”

“I am Beatrice, Mrs Mwangala. I am one of the….”

“Are you that idiot that abandoned and rejected my Eva?” Thando asked before Beatrice could finish utilizing her bragging rights.

“You will not be able to walk with your head high the moment my husband and I finish with you.” Beatrice said.

Thando laughed, really hard and loud. “Again, that’s never gonna happen.” She then removed her leg and went to sit back on the sofa.

Humiliated beyond comprehension, Beatrice picked herself and her purse up from the floor and glared at Thando.

“Evelyn went on her honeymoon,” Thando candidly informed her.

“What honeymoon?” Beatrice asked.

“You know, the kind of thing that newly married couples do…shagging, lazing around, and more shagging….”

“I know what a honeymoon is!” Beatrice yelled. “When did she get married? And to whom?”

“Who else? To Kelvin of course.”

“Kelvin is supposed to be marrying my daughter tomorrow. What marriage to Evelyn are you talking about?”

“You obviously need a software update,” Thando told her. “You can check the facts for yourself because I won’t be giving you no explanation.”

“How can that son of a bitch do this to me? To my daughter?” Beatrice said. “I am going to make those two pay dearly for this.” She started walking towards the door.

“Where do you think you are going?” Thando rushed to block her way to the door.

“You need to clean that mess before you leave.” She pointed to the broken TV. “You made the mess, you clean the mess.”

Beatrice couldn’t not believe what she was hearing. “You can’t be serious.” She said.

“I am dead serious.” Thando said defiantly.

Beatrice opened her purse, removed a K300 and threw it on the floor. “That’s how the rich clean their mess,” Beatrice said smugly.

Thando laughed and bent down to pick up the notes. “I bet you’re gonna remember these few Kwacha’s in the very near future but thanks, now I can get those jeans I’ve been dying to get my hands on.”

Beatrice banged the door hard on her way out and left Thando laughing out loud.

Moola joined her father at Mandahill a few hours later, her eyes red from bawling over her missing fiancé.

“Didn’t find him?” Shadreck asked when his daughter joined him. He had picked a table at the far end to give them some privacy.

“You knew I wouldn’t find him didn’t you?” Moola asked him.

Shadreck handed his daughter a glass of water and Moola drunk half the contents.

“Where could he be daddy? Why is he doing this to me?” the former heiress asked.

Shadreck handed her a napkin and waited for her to calm down a little.

“Kelvin married another girl my love,” Shadreck dropped the bomb.

Moola stopped crying and looked at her father in shock. “How is that even possible dad? Him and I are supposed to….”

“I know,” Shadreck said, reaching across the table to hold her hand. “Kelvin never planned on going ahead with the wedding.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Moola asked.

“It means he was in-love with someone else.”

“That’s impossible!” Moola shouted. “Kelvin was in-love with me. I know it. That’s something a girl knows. We were together for….”

“He wanted you to think he was in-love with you but he never was. He had ulterior motives for being with you.”

“That’s a lie,” Moola insisted. “There’s no way that’s possible. Kelvin loved me…he still loves me.”

“Then why did he marry someone else and is even expecting a child with her despite his engagement to you?”

Moola was at a loss for words, tears welled up in her eyes as her fathers words sunk in.

“A child, you say? Married? Who is the girl?” She asked.

“You know her, Evelyn.” Shadreck supplied.

Moola finally broke down unreservedly, remembering all those encounters she had had with Evelyn and the conversations she had had with Kelvin…how she had believed him when he said that nothing was going on between them.

“I was such a fool,” she sulked. “I knew that something was going on but I didn’t want to believe that he would be cheating on me with a girl like that. How can he do this to me daddy?”

Shadreck moved over to sit next to his daughter and he wrapped her into his arms. “I’m so sorry my baby girl,” he comforted her. “I am so sorry that I couldn’t protect you from all this.”

They stayed like that until Moola was able to calm down again.

“Where are they right now?” She later asked her father.

“I don’t know,” Shadreck said. “There is something else I need to tell you….”

Moola gave him a dead look. “Could there be something worse?” She slowly laid down her folk.

Shadreck pushed his untouched plate to the side and looked at his daughter. “I am very sorry my baby,” he said apologetically.

“What are you sorry about dad?” Moola asked. “You are scaring me now.”

Shadreck took a long breath before dropping his second bomb.

“I am leaving your mother.”

Everything suddenly went quite. Moola could only hear her father’s words replaying in her head.

And then she laughed, catching her father by surprise. “I thought I heard you say that you and mother are divorcing.” She said. “I think this Kelvin thing has knocked me out real bad I am now hearing things.”

“My love….”

The look in Shadreck’s eyes only confirmed Moola’s worst fears.

She started shaking her head. “No,” she said. “You are joking.” She continued shaking her head. Even though her mouth refused to accept the reality, her brain already did as two thick lines of tears cascaded down her cheeks.

Shadreck tried to reach for her hands again but Moola pulled them away from the table. “Why are you doing this to us? Tell me this is some bad joke you are playing on me…please.” Moola begged.

“I am so sorry Moola.” It was the only thing he could say to her.

“Does mum agree to this?” His daughter asked.

“Your mother doesn’t know. I have not told her yet. I wanted to talk to you first.”

“How can you do this dad!?” Moola yelled and attracted the attention of the few patrons eating at the restaurant.

“I wish I could explain everything to you….”

“You owe me an explanation!” Moola raised her voice again. “You can’t just wake up one day and say that you are leaving us. I thought you and mum were happy.”

“We were happy,” Shadreck said.

“Then why do you want to leave?”

“It’s very complicated my baby….”

“I have nowhere else to go today and I have no wedding to keep me busy so you can start telling me from the beginning. Is there another woman?” She asked.

Shadreck didn’t answer.

“Not you too dad!” Moola cried.

“This is way too complicated for me to explain to you. You are young and….”

Moola got to leave. “There’s no need for me to sit here if you think I don’t deserve an explanation.”

Shadreck grabbed her hand and begged her to sit back down. “I will tell you everything,” he said.

Moola sat back down.

“Many many years ago before your mother and I met, she fell in-love with someone she was not supposed to and later gave birth to a baby girl.”

Moola gasped. “Mum had another child?”

“That girl, Evelyn, she is your mother’s child.”

“What!” Moola shouted.

“Try to calm down my child,” Shadreck said.

“That’s not possible, that girl can’t be mum’s daughter…she can’t be my sister, no. Do you have any idea how much mother hates her? Her whole mood changes whenever she hears that girl’s name, worse when she meets her anywhere. You saw it too, that time at the charity event, you saw mum’s reaction.”

“Didn’t you ever think that there could be another reason why your mother would hate a girl like that who’s never done anything to her?”

“How can I think of something like that? This is my mother we are talking about. She told me that she was just some bothersome relative of yours from the village and I believed her.”

“Your mother had a painful past and that girl was like a constant reminder of those old wounds, that’s why she didn’t like her very much.”

“Even though she is her daughter?”

“Yes,” Shadreck said. “I cannot explain to you everything that happened in the past, best your mum telly you everything you need to know.”

“But what does all this have to do with you leaving? It all happened in the past, before you guys even met. Did that man from the past reappear?”

“It might have happened in the past but, everything that’s going wrong in our lives right now is because of that very past.”

“Is that Evelyn girl trying to take revenge on our family because mum rejected her? Is that why she stole my fiancé?”

“Strange enough, it’s not Evelyn who’s taking revenge for the past. Evelyn is simply the forgotten daughter.”

“Then who’s responsible for all this?”

Shadreck hesitated for a moment before revealing; 

“It’s Kelvin and his mother.”

Moola froze.

By the time Shadreck finished catching her up to the past and present, Moola was in a state of shock and mental paralysis, unable to think rationally or move her lips to speak.

Beatrice reached the bank just a few minutes before lunch time and found a slightly longer queue than usual. When it was finally her turn, she removed the cash from her purse and handed it over to the smiling teller.

She then handed her a slip of paper with her account number and waited.

“Ma’am,” the teller stopped to look at her. “This account, when did you last use it?”

“Last week, on Friday. I always make deposits on Friday.” Beatrice said. “Is something wrong?”

“This account was closed yesterday.” The teller said.

“What do you mean closed? I have all my money in this account.”

“That’s the thing, all the money from this account was removed and an application to close the account was submitted on Tuesday. How is it possible you are not aware of this development?”

“I should be the one asking you that question. How can my account be closed and all my money gone when I never made such transactions in the first place?”

And then Beatrice remembered something.

“Sign me into your account so I can print the statement.” Shadreck had said to her a few nights ago just before they went to bed.

“What do you need the statement for?” She had asked him.

“Now that this deal finally went through, I am thinking of getting you a loan so you can build those fancy flats you’ve always dreamt of building.”

Overwhelmed by the great news, Moola had given her husband the password and told him;

“Do whatever you want with that account and let me become the richest landlord this country has ever seen!”

“No,” Beatrice shook her head in disagreement to whatever conclusion had brain had conjured up. “No, it can’t be.” She kept repeating.”

But as events of the past few weeks kept replaying in her head, she knew without a doubt that Shadreck had something to do with this strange development.

“Ma’am,” the teller called out to her. “Are you alright?”

By now, everyone in the bank was looking at her.

No longer able to hold herself steady against the world spinning around her, Beatrice finally gave in to gravity.

CHRONICLES OF MY MOTHER: CHAPTER THREE (3) – THE UNHOLY CASE OF KAFULA AND DANIEL

Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

 

Diary entry: 22nd August, 1997

Today I had one of those sessions that have the potential to send you straight to hell just by listening to someone speak. Dear Lord, wherever you are, I hope you can look kindly upon me.

Kafula…oooh, what a woman!

She is not very different from the many women that have walked into my office before and humbly sat down in that chair only to rain shock unto my old soul.

“I am in a pickle Aunt!” Kafula declared. “You remember you asked me what would be the cause of my regret in future.” She said, “I think I have finally found the answer…and the devil really played a fast one on me this time around because I didn’t see it coming.”

Today’s meeting with her was not our first, obviously. She had come to me three years ago to seek relationship advice when the man, who is currently her husband, proposed marriage to her. I still remember how confused she was the day she narrated to me how the two of them had met….

*                       *                           *

The weather was just perfect for a Sunday morning. 21 year old Kafula touched her chitambala again to ensure it was still in place. There was no way she was going to risk revealing her loud blonde weave to the new pastor from Washington D.C who was to be introduced in church that day. There was electricity in Kafula’s movements as evidenced from the stares she was getting from the opposite sex as she walked the short distance from her home to her church. She was excited, and it showed on her youthful and beautiful face. She made it a point to royally wave at familiar faces along the way. There were certain perks to growing up in a middle-class neighborhood. Despite the clothes that seemed to threaten her very womanhood into oblivion, she was still a sight to behold.

Kafula was just about to enter the church hall when she felt her phone vibrate in her hand bag. There was only one person who could be calling her at that time. She still had about twenty-five more minutes till service started so she walked to a corner outside the church to take the call.

“What’s up boo!” She probably thought she was whispering, but her excitement betrayed her. She looked around to see if anyone had heard her but she was in the clear. There was only a man standing a few feet away with his back to her. He was talking to an elderly woman who seemed completely taken in by whatever the tall man in the well cut and expensive suit was telling her.

“This is me waking up, imagine,” said a male voice from the other end of the line. “I haven’t called at a bad time, have I? …I think you still have about….”

“Yeah, still got about twenty more minutes so we can chat. What time did you even sleep last night?”

There was a long sigh first and then, “I think that was around 03…you know how I hate Labour Law. That fool only talks too much about himself in class and doesn’t teach a thing so we have to find all the data for ourselves. I managed to find an old essay online and spent most of the night going through it. I think I am ready to ace that test tomorrow, babes.”

“And when you do,” this time she managed to successfully whisper, tilting her head further into her shoulder. “I think I will also be ready to let you taste something even sweeter.” Kafula’s hand was absent-mindedly making circles around her breast.

“Hmmm hmmm….” She heard someone make a play of clearing his throat and quickly looked up. She wasn’t sure whether to cover her whole face or her mouth but in trying to decide, she sent her phone flying to ground as she caught a glimpse of who was standing in front of her.

She had never seen him before, but she could guess from his suit and his looks who he was. He was very good-looking and had an air of elegance and charisma about him that only made her blush even more. What was a young sexy man like that doing coming all the way here to Africa to be a pastor? Kafula thought to herself.

“Well, are you going to continue standing here Sister, or go in and get ready for today’s sermon?” His voice was something to die for. His American accent only served to deepen his already masculine voice. Fortunately, his tone was neither menacing nor disapproving and the huge smile playing on his face helped ease Kafula’s embarrassment at getting caught talking dirty right in front of the church.

Blinking profusely and internally searching for her tongue, Kafula managed to let out a few words. “You must be the new Pastor from America….” She was debating whether to extend her hand in greeting or not when he put out his and waited for her to reciprocate, still smiling. He must think I am some naughty child in need of deliverance, doesn’t he? She thought as they shook hands.

“Yes indeed I am. You can call me Pastor Daniel Jackson. And what’s your name?”

“My name is Kafula.” She was quick to provide. Finally, her tongue back in full service. “I am very sorry about…” she looked at her phone in embarrassment. “It’s not what you think….”

“I do not think it matters what I think as long as it well with your conscious and with God. C’mon, let us go in before we are late.” He motioned for her to go ahead. Kafula took the aisle and searched for Melinda in the already filled-up church. She spotted her childhood friend and now college mate immediately in their usual sitting place, furiously waving her hand in the air so as not to be missed.

“What took you so long?” Was the greeting Kafula received from Melinda. “You know very well how special today is. Even the people that haven’t been to church in ten years have finally shown up today. I don’t know whether I should be impressed or if I should judge them. They have no shame.” Melinda was one year Kafula’s junior in age and the girl was never one to hesitate when it came to speaking her mind. She believed in speaking the truth even if it would hurt the recipient and she expected all her friends to treat her in that regard, always.

Kafula looked behind her to see if the sexy pastor had followed her but he was nowhere in sight. There was a look of disappointment in her eyes. “Who are you looking for?” A very curious Melinda asked, her gaze following the direction her fiend had just been searching.

“Let me tell you all about it after the service. All I can say for now is that I feel like the ground should just open up and swallow me. I.am.so.embarrassed!” Kafula covered her face with both hands as if the act itself would wipe out the past few minutes.

That Sunday, the moment the service was done, Kafula was more than ready to grab her handbag and run out of the church. But just when she thought she was in the clear, she bumped right into the masculine frame of Pastor Jackson at the church entrance. He had a wild smirk about him, as if to say, I have caught you in the act, again.

“You really don’t like me much, do you?” A visibly embarrassed Kafula said while her friend Melinda stood to the side, visibly gawking at the handsome 30 year old pastor.

“Quite the contrary Sister Kafula,” replied the charismatic man. She almost laughed at the sound of her name from his lips. He remembered my name!” A little voice screamed inside her head. “Since I am the new head pastor here, I have plans to implement a few programs for the youths and I thought you might be the perfect candidate to be in charge of one of them. I have someone coming through from the RFL tomorrow evening; I would really love it if you were part of that meeting. Of course you are free to invite your guardian to the meeting since this will be on-going and will take up most of your free time.”

“Don’t worry Pastor, she will definitely be here,” replied an excited Melinda.

Kafula threw her friend a warning look that sent her locking her lips in silent. “It sounds like a great program if it has to do with the RFL…but I have to think about it first. You see, I am in my first year at college and….”

“Even better!” Pastor Jackson said. “This will definitely be good for your resume and it won’t get in the way of your studies whatsoever. Ask your parents to accompany you tomorrow and I will try to convince them about why this is an opportunity you cannot afford to miss.”

Kafula had just known him for a couple of hours, but he had a way with words that would even convince a blind man he really saw the blue giraffe that had walked by. She did not know it then, but she had already given him access to the most intimate of her thoughts in more ways than she could have ever imagined.

Three months later, Kafula’s two year relationship with her boyfriend Andy was on the rocks. The two had been having constant fights like never before and there was no denying the constant tension between them.

“All you ever talk about is Pastor Jackson, Pastor Jackson.” Andy complained one day. “Do you know that you sometimes even call him Danny? Who the hell calls their 30 year old pastor by their first name? Are you sure you haven’t already surrendered your gold to him?” Andy threw his girlfriend a look of disgust, scanning her from head to toe. Suddenly, his collage room which he had always considered big was too small to contain the two of them. Kafula was already on her feet ready to throw whatever she could get her hands on at him before walking out.

“What are you trying to say Andy?” She retorted. “How many times do I have to tell you that nothing is going on between the Pastor and me? Since when did you become so insecure?”

“Since my girlfriend who loved me to the moon came to me one day and told me that her pastor said that I am a bad influence on her and she should break-up with me if she is to attain everlasting life. And as if that is not enough, my girlfriend,” Andy deliberately emphasized the phrase, “…is gullible enough to believe that God actually came to this pastor in a dream and told him that she was his soul mate. Tell me, would you be feeling secure at all if you were me?”

“I never said that we should break up Andy. I merely relayed to you what the pastor told me.”

“You don’t need to actually say the words for me to get them. Everything you’ve been doing ever since that man came into our lives has been suggesting a break-up. You don’t call or text, you are always grumpy or absent-minded whenever we are together, if you are not with him then you are constantly on the phone with him. It’s like I don’t exist to you anymore. Right now you have no right to make me feel as if I am being paranoid. That is very unfair because you know very well that I am saying the truth. All I need is the truth from you, not this cat and mouse game you’ve been playing with me lately. Do you want us to break up or not?”

The silence that followed was enough for Andy to sing all the verses of the National Anthem backwards. “I would be a fool to still hold any hope for us if your silence is anything to go by. Get out of my room right now Kaf before I do something to you I might regret.”

“But Andy….” Kafula stammered.

“Oh, so you finally have something to say? C’mon, say it now, I’m waiting.” He went to sit on the bed, his arms resting across his chest. He didn’t need her to say anything else to validate his fears. That bus had already gone and somewhere in Kulima Tower, a conductor was very pleased.

“What you said…” Kafula stammeredall through her speech. “Well, I really don’t know for sure…but…but…what the pastor said…it really got to me. Ever since he told me, I have been thinking and thinking. What if I ignore him? Wont God punish me?”

Just listen to yourself Kafula?” Andy cut her off. “For the past two years I was under the impression I had the most intelligent woman by my side. The Kafula I know wouldn’t be standing here telling me she believed the words of a wanna-be prophet instead of using logic to assess things. These people calling themselves pastors are busy feeding you fables and presenting them to you as gospel truth and you are not wise enough to tell them apart. I am telling you, God does not appear to men and deliver useless messages like that. This has nothing to do with God. Just tell me that you were flattered when he told you that he traveled all the way from the States just to meet with you after God had come to him…in a dream? Do you think you are the only he is feeding such stories?”

“I trust my pastor, Andy; he is a man of God. I won’t have you say such horrible things about him. I have always known you have little faith. I just didn’t know it was this serious. You are right, I have already made up my mind,” she spoke with conviction this time around. “I do not wish to continue this relationship. Of course I am flattered that a man like Pastor Jackson has shown interest in me and wants to marry me. What red-bloodied woman wouldn’t? I have heard him speak the word of God in church and there is no doubt the spirit of God resides in him. That is the kind of man I want to spend the rest of my life with. I am really sorry that things turned out this way between us. Until Danny, I truly believed I was in-love with you. I am truly sorry.”

“Yeah, so am I.” These were the last words that Andy said to her. Six months later, he heard through his friends that she had dropped out of college and gotten married to the charismatic Man of God. He knew it was time to move on.

^                 ^                 ^

What Andy didn’t know was that just a week before Kafula’s wedding to Pastor Jackson, she had come to my office to voice her confusion over the men in her life.

“There is a part of me that thinks that this is too good to be true and that I might end up regretting the choices I have made.” Kafula said, not hiding her worries at all.

I had my own concerns over her decision to get married so soon but while I was busy debating how to relay the message without hurting her, she beat me to it. “I know that we haven’t known each other for a long time but I feel as if I have known him all my life,” said Kafula. “I feel like I have known him all my life.” She repeated. “He makes me feel…different…nice.” She was literally blushing.

“Do you believe that he genuinely loves you?” I asked.

She nodded, “I have no doubt about that.”

“And how do you feel about Andy, your ex?”

“I used to think that I was crazily in-love with him until I met Danny. I don’t think I have ever felt this way for anyone before. This truly must be love.” She proudly announced.

“So, tell me again why you came to see me my dear?” I asked.

“Well, I heard from a friend at school that you are really good at helping someone get a piece of mind.” I couldn’t help laughing a little at that. “You see, ever since Andy and I broke up,” Kafula was saying, “I have been feeling a little guilty. I want that guilt to go away before I get married to Danny. He doesn’t deserve this.”

“Why do you feel guilt over Andy?”

“…I really don’t know,” then she paused, scanning the roof of my home office. “He was really a great guy. Even though I told him I wasn’t yet ready to have sex, he was very patient with me and never pressured me or anything. Despite his challenging classes, he still made time for me. He is a really good guy and I can’t help feeling bad about how I treated him.”

“Are you perhaps confusing the feelings you still have for him for guilt?” She was more than ready to refute my theory but then I cautioned her, “I need you to really think about this before responding.”

I could tell she was having a hard time sorting out her feelings for the two men. She obviously didn’t seek me out for guidance. She just wanted me to tell her what she wanted to hear so she could have a free mind.

It took her about two minutes to come to a conclusion. “I really don’t know…I am really confused,” she admitted. “There is no way my feelings for him could disappear suddenly even if I am now in-love with someone else. After all, we were together for two years and we knew each other long before we started dating. So isn’t it understandable that I might still feel a little confused about my feelings for him? It hasn’t even been long since we broke up, don’t you think?”

“Is it me you are trying to convince, or yourself?” I looked at her keenly.

She didn’t reply immediately. I am sure her mind was busy at work somewhere. And then, “One thing I know for sure is that my feelings for Danny are way more than my feelings for Andy.” She revealed.

“…and, are you sure those feelings are indeed love and not just sexual attraction? I have heard that he is a very good looking man.” Kafula was smiling and blushing all at once.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with sex…although I have thought about it several times. He is even the one who has kept on insisting we do nothing intimate until the wedding.”

“That is very noble of him.” I said. It was meant to be sarcastic, but obviously that was not how it came out looking at the proud expression on Kafula’s face.

I had my own feelings about the man but I was not about to impose my suspicions on a 21 year old riding high on an oestrogen wave. She was in a better position to see things for how they really were and there was nothing anyone could tell her that would make her change her mind. And what if the pastor’s intentions where truly genuine? There was no way of confirming that or anything else otherwise. “I know why you came here to see me,” I said. “But I am not in any position to give you the response you so desperately want to hear. I would only advise you take your time to get to know each other…get to know more about Pastor Danny and where he comes from, his family and other things like that. As it happens now, the only thing you know about him is what he has told you. I understand that trust is essential in a relationship…but it is also not a crime to question certain things sometimes. Try to find out a little more about his background and what sort of family he comes from. When you marry someone, it is not just them you marry, but their family too. So try to find out about that as well.”

“He said that he has no family. He grew up in an orphanage. He even showed me a picture of him and his siblings at the orphanage when they were young.  He had a tough life after leaving the orphanage so he lost contact with most of them. Only two of his close friends will be coming but that will be only a day before the wedding.”

“That’s quite unfortunate…about his life I mean. Do you think that there is a possibility you might regret your decision in future?” I asked.

“When it comes to love, there is always a possibility of regret aunt.” She replied confidently. “Love is a risk we all take and we never really know the end unless we allow ourselves to succumb.” I was amazed. Perhaps I should have been the one sited in her chair and not the other way round.

“Besides,” Kafula added, “he did say that God revealed to him that I was his soul mate. I believed him.”

“Let’s do hypotheticals…hypothetically speaking, if you were to regret in future, what do you think would be the one thing you wish you had known or avoided today? Or, let me rephrase…what do you think would be the cause of your regret?”

She paused to think about this one before replying. “The devil,” she said. “The devil always has a way of ruining good and pure things so I can’t really tell which route he might use to get at us but I will always be prayerful.”

“That’s a good response Kafula.” I said and made preparations to end our session.

*                       *                           *

 

“What do you mean you have found the answer?” I asked the young lady. “Did something happen?”

“Not something, someone, to be more precise.” She said.

“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked.

“My husband, he isn’t who he said he was. I only found out the truth yesterday, after I discovered his affair and he found out about mine.”

Now there was something I wasn’t expecting. “Wait a minute, you mean the both of you cheated on each other that early in your marriage? I don’t know about him but what’s your excuse, Kafula?”

“At first I also thought I was a Jezebel kind of woman just like you are thinking right now, but not anymore.”

“There is really no excuse for cheating on your spouse Kafula, especially if it happens only three months after the wedding.” I tried to reason with her.

She laughed, but sarcastically. “I might have been the one who ‘cheated,’” she raised her fingers as if to literally put her words in inverted commas. “But he is the biggest cheat of them all. It turns out, our marriage wasn’t even valid to begin with.

“What do you mean by that?” My walls have heard and witnessed crazy things, but each new day always seems to bring with it a whole new flavor of sin.

“My husband…oh, I can’t believe I am still calling him that after all that happened!” She pulled a disgusted face. “It turns out Danny is already married and I am the other woman.” She dropped the bomb.

“Dear Lord,” I said. Yes, it also happens to me. Sometimes I get so shocked I run out of words too.

“You remember last time, I told you he had invited two of his close friends to our wedding? Well, it turned out that one of them was actually his wife.”

“But why did she come to the wedding if she was married to your husb…I mean to the pastor?”

“Wait until you hear the whole story then you will understand just how sick this whole thing really is. I feel like going for surgery just to have all my insides flushed out. Just after the wedding….”

*                       *                           *

The day after the wedding, one of Danny’s friends had gone back to the States while the other had remained behind to stay with the new couple. It had been brought to the Jackson’s attention that Hilary had no home to return to in America as notice of repossession had been served and there was no place to call home. Wanting to please her husband, Kafula had persuaded him to let Hilary stay with them since that was as close to family he would ever be. Only two months had passed after the wedding when Danny started keeping late nights away from home. In a dramatic turn of events, the interest he had shown in her before the wedding had suddenly waned. It was as if a switch had been turned on…or off and a whole new person was born.

Kafula couldn’t believe just how things had ended up taking such a dramatic turn. She had envisaged a wild night of uninhibited sex on her honeymoon but her new husband would not hear of it. He feigned illness that night. Kafula woke up the next morning to the sound of her husband packing and getting ready to check them out of their honeymoon suite.

“What are you doing honey?” A confused Kafula immediately came to full consciousness. “Are you packing?”

“Yes,” he answered nonchalantly. “I have some visitors from Cameroon who arrived earlier than scheduled. I need to attend to them. They are very important people and likely to bring more funding to the orphanage. I really can’t miss this opportunity honey…we can’t afford to miss this…” he moved in closer to her and planted a kiss on her lips. “I know this isn’t good but I promise to make it up to you as soon as they are gone.”

“When are they supposed to leave?” She asked, her lips tight in a pout.

“They are here to ensure that everything is set up nice and running smoothly before the official opening.”

“And how long is that supposed to take?”

“…say…about three months? C’mon, get up right now before we miss our flight.”

Kafula wanted to complain but his flight announcement distracted her, as was intended. “You already booked us a flight out of here?” She found herself asking.

For the next three months, Danny worked non-stop and rarely came home. Kafula was still impatiently waiting for her first night with her husband and she still couldn’t believe that she was already three months in marriage and still a virgin. There were times she truly appreciated the company of Hilary otherwise she would have died from boredom. The two of them stayed up in the lonely hours of the night chatting. Hilary would tell Kafula stories of Danny growing up and his life in the US and Kafula would tell her new found friend stories of her childhood, all the way to when she met Danny.

One night Kafula had been worn out from crying after her husband had mercilessly rejected her, again and went off on a supposed business trip. She had been so wrapped in in her emotions that she cried herself to sleep on Hilary’s laps. At first, she thought she was dreaming; after all she was a sexually starved woman. She could feel a soft hand caressing her face before slowly moving downwards to her arms. She could feel the tingling slowly move to her breasts and she wanted to be touched there. As if reading her mind, the buttons on her blouse where loosened and her whole breast was cupped into the gentle hand that went right to work. When she moaned, she knew it was no dream and her eyes immediately flipped open.

“Hilary!” She almost jumped up from his embrace but he held her down.

“Shh…” He held a finger to his lips. She had never noticed before just how good looking of a man he was because she was so enamoured by her husband she had no time to look at other men. But there he was…for the first time she could clearly see his eyes, blue they were. From where she was lying, she had the best view of his face, and his lips. He had the best lips she had ever seen on any man. His long hair that always made him look so feminine fell on either side of his cheeks. There was nothing about the look in his eyes that said anything about femininity. The eyes, piercing through her body and tearing her into total nakedness were those of a man hungry for a woman. Without saying a word, he told her exactly what he wanted to do to her…and he did.

She made no effort to stop him.

That night Kafula had touched the whiskers of temptation and fallen into the chambers of everlasting lust. Not once did the thought of her husband come to mind. Without shame or resistance, she had allowed herself to be taken in by the unspoken charm of a man she had not once considered a man. She had allowed him to drive her to a world she had never been and he did so with pleasure. It was only when she awoke the next morning and found herself sleeping in her own bed that events of the previous night started playing in her head, and then the guilt sunk in. She looked around the room for signs of her husband but there was nothing. Then she paused, how did she end up in her bedroom? Did that night really happen or had she dreamt it? Then she noticed the clothes on her. She had clearly allowed someone to strip her naked in the night yet her clothes were all in place.

What is going on? She wondered.

Kafula ran out of the bedroom and headed towards Hilary’s bedroom but he was nowhere in sight. She shouted his name across the house and finally got a response when she went downstairs. “In the kitchen,” she heard him shout and quickly rushed there. Hilary was in his usual somewhat feminine look; short-shorts, pink apron on top of a tight t-shirt and his blond hair was tied in a neat pony-tail. This couldn’t be the same man that had awakened things in her body she never imagined she possessed, could it? She could still feel him inside her, a feeling so strong she wanted to hold on to it for eternity. That feeling…that feeling couldn’t have been a dream.

“Good morning Mrs J,” he greeted her excitedly. “Figured you would wake up hungry…you had such a rough night after all.”

“Do you know what happened last night? I seem to have….” Kafula scratched her head in frustration. “Last night…did we….”

“Calm down love,” Hilary waved his hand as if to brush off her worries. “You cried so hard last night after that unfortunate episode with Danny and then you fell asleep. I kept talking and talking only to later realise that you had fallen asleep on my laps. I thought about laying you on the couch but figured you might get a headache so I took you to your room…hope you don’t mind.”

“Is that all that happened?”

“Yeah, that’s about it,” Hilary replied nonchalantly. “Juice or tea?” he asked.

For a moment, Kafula stood in the doorway of the kitchen starring at Hilary as he worked, looking so carefree.

Weeks had passed and Hilary carried on as if nothing had happened between them until Kafula finally convinced herself that she had dreamt the whole thing. One afternoon, Kafula was at work supervising the employees at her restaurant when she got a call from Melinda. The two of them had not seen each other after the wedding as Melinda had to go back to campus to continue her studies while her friend stayed behind to run her new home.

“Am on my way to your place,” Melinda announced excitedly.

“I’m not home right now sweety. How far are you?” Kafula asked.

“About thirty minutes I think. I just got off the bus right now.”

“Cool, then I’ll start off from here right away. You’ll find me home. I can’t wait to see you!”

Kafula was surprised to find her husband’s vehicle parked at home when she opened the gate. He had been gone on his usual trips for over a week already. She wasn’t expecting him back till Tuesday the next week. Excitedly, she parked her car next to his and rushed into the house. Wanting to surprise him, she tip-toed upstairs to his study where she figured he would be preparing for Sunday’s sermon but he wasn’t there. She then headed towards their bedroom and slowly opened the door. She finally found him, all covered up and snoring as hell. She laughed to herself as she went to uncover his head. “Sleepy head,” she teased him and planted a kiss on his forehead.

Not wanting to disturb him, she turned around to leave the room only to turn right back around when she saw thought she saw an outline of another figure next to her husband. She threw off the beddings immediately to reveal two naked figures of her husband and Hilary whose long legs were wrapped around him as if for dear life. No sooner had the meaning of the revelation sunk in than the two men bolted straight up in bed, both in utter embarrassment. Daniel was the first one to get out of bed to try to calm down his wife who stood frozen on the spot, her hands covering her mouth in disbelief.

“I can explain this honey,” he tried to touch her but she flinched and the look in her eyes screamed for him not to even dare. She started backing away from the room and the moment she was outside, she ran downstairs sobbing, one hand pressed against her heart as if to keep it from exploding. But she was already on fire. By the time it took Daniel to put on his boxers and chase after his wife, she was already outside getting back into her car and ready to speed off, if not for Melinda who chose that particular moment to appear right in front of the car, arms stretched with a huge smile on her face.

“Guess whose home?” She shouted excitedly. However, it only took a split second for her to realise that her friend was not in the mood to play catch-up. Just then, Daniel appeared from the house, almost out of breath and in nothing else but his boxers. A shocked Melinda almost missed her breath as her hands went straight to cover her eyes, dropping her small luggage bag to the ground in the process.

“Get in the car right now Melinda or I will leave you!” Kafula shouted as she hit the gas. Melinda was wise enough to not ask any questions and got in the car. While Kafula kept her sight focused on the road ahead, Melinda took the time to look behind them and saw Hilary also come out of the house, but unlike Danny, he completely had no clothes on. She could see Danny say something to him in anger and his hands immediately went to cover his nether parts. The whole thing looked comical and Melinda couldn’t help laughing despite the situation. He is quite packaged that sissy fella, wow, was what was running through her mind. When she turned back around, she could feel Kafula’s glare and she quickly apologized. “You have to admit the whole thing looks ridiculous Kaf.” She stifled her laugh. “But then again, it can’t be like that from your end…right?” She patted her friend on the shoulder.

A week had passed when Kafula finally decided to confront her demons. She checked out of the hotel and drove back home to confront her husband. There were still a lot of questions she needed answered and as long as things remained like that, she would have no peace of mind. The two of them had probably already forgotten she existed and went back to shagging each other as if they had no care in the world. She couldn’t let them have that.

The first person Kafula ran into when she entered her house was Hilary. He was sited in his usual spot in the sitting room, his long legs stretched out on the sofa. It seemed one week was enough for him to recover from the bolt of embarrassment he had felt that day because he was smiling at her as if they were the best of buddies.

“Where is Danny?” She threw him a stern look. She was in no mood to play games with anyone.

“He’s at church for his usual counselling sessions. He said he would be back later in the evenings.” Hilary replied, slowly losing hold of his act. Before he could say another word, Kafula was already on her way upstairs. “He already knows…Daniel, he knows everything.” Hilary barked from behind her.

She told herself to just ignore him but for some reason, her body and mind seemed at odds with each other. She reluctantly turned around to face her enemy. “What is that supposed to mean?” She asked.

Hilary took steps to cover the distance between them. He stood just a step below her and with one hand holding on to the stairway rail; he leaned in closer and whispered in her ear, “…what happened between us that night….”

Kafula held her breath. “I don’t understand what you are trying to say.” She was truly confused. As if to confirm her worst fears, Hilary started stroking her hair with his free hand, tilting his head from side to side in her face and every now and then leaning in even closer as if to kiss her. This whole time, his eyes were fixed on her lips and nothing else. He could not see the petrified look in her eyes otherwise he would have stopped to help her to a seat.

“I don’t…know…what….” Kafula was more than ready to feign ignorance but reality had finally sunk in.

“There is no way you could have forgotten your very first time… and with me.” Hilary could not let her have the luxury of doubt, “you seemed to have loved every second of it. I still get hard every time I look at you after our special night.” He was still playing with her hair.

“Get the hell away from me you pervert!” Kafula tried to get away from him. “I think you have overstayed your welcome in this house. Get the hell out of my house right now before I call the police.” She tried to break away from him again but he held her in place by her shoulders, this time using both his hands. His strength always seemed to take her by surprise.

“I think you should really reconsider how you treat me from now on love,” He instructed, in a very controlled tone. “I am the only one who can get you out of this mess you so carelessly put yourself in.”

“I would rather die than seek any kind of solace from you.” She gripped his arms hard and pulled them off of her. If she didn’t know better, she would have read sadness in his eyes but she was not going to be fooled by him anymore. She was back on her voyage upstairs when she felt him right behind her. She was just about to turn around to ward him off when his arms went around her waist and he held her tight in an embrace from behind. She violently tried to set herself free but she was no match even for his slim frame.

“Just hear me out this once, Kaf.” He pleaded, but Kafula would not hear any of it.

“Get off of me before I do something to you that we will both regret!” She yelled, but Hilary still kept the position.

“I will not let go until you hear me out,” he insisted, resting his head on her back. “I know what was done to you…what we did to you is unforgivable….” His voice was almost breaking.

“Wait a minute,” Kafula interrupted. “Don’t tell me you’re crying?” She scoffed. “Aren’t you taking this act a bit too far Hilary? The cat is already out of the bag. Everything is done now. Can’t you get it? Save those crocodile tears for someone else who’s going to fall for such rubbish.”

“I really don’t blame you for thinking that.” Hilary tried to hold back his tears but it seemed they had a mind of their own. “You still don’t know the half of it Kafula. There is nothing about this that is even close to what you might be imagining. Daniel isn’t going to let you go despite what you found out.”

“What?” Kafula asked, trying to turn around to look at him but only managing to put them both in an awkward tight position.

“I will let you go now since it seems I have managed to get your undivided attention.” He let her free and stepped back from her. “How about we talk in the living room?” Without waiting for her response, he took the few steps back downstairs and into the living room, back in his spot.

“What do you mean Danny has no intention of granting me a divorce?” Kafula had followed him and was now sitting on the other side, facing him. “After what you two have done, there is no way he would expect that I would stay quiet and continue with this charade of a marriage. I will take him to court if I have to.”

You see,” Hilary got up and went to sit next to her. “I don’t think that’s going to happen.” He said nonchalantly. “Danny is no fool. He knew that one day you would find out and so he made sure to have leverage for when the time came.”

“What leverage are you talking about?” A very perturbed Kafula asked.

“There is a video….” Hilary paused for effect. “…of you and me…that night.” Kafula almost jumped out of her seat.

“You are joking, right?” She kept praying that it was only a dream, a very bad dream. “This is just a way of threating me, isn’t it?”

“If you don’t believe me, then you can go in his study and open his safe. I have his password; I don’t mind sharing it with you.”

“Just what is he planning on doing with that video if I don’t corporate?” Kafula looked defeated, but she knew the fight was far from over.

“You don’t need me to tell you that,” Hilary said. “You are a smart woman. You can figure it out on your own.”

“What have you people done to me?” Kafula cried. She furiously tried to wipe away the tears but they kept coming. “I trusted you guys, both of you.” She said whilst crying. Hilary tried to get closer to her again but she pushed him away from her hard. “And you,” Kafula continued, raising her head up to look him in the eye. “You are even worse than Danny. You took advantage of me in my most vulnerable state and went on with life as if nothing ever happened. As if that wasn’t enough, you filmed the whole thing!”

Hilary looked like he had just been hit by a brick. “I know, I know,” he kept repeating himself. “I might have been part of the plan from the very beginning but I stopped the moment I realised my feelings for you. Please believe me when I tell you that I had no idea he was recording us. Had I known, I wouldn’t have gone ahead with the arrangement.”

“And you actually expect me to believe that?” Kafula muttered something under her breath in vernacular but Hilary had an idea of how grave an insult it likely was. He moved to position himself in front of her and quickly took her hands in his before she could move away from him. As he expected, she tried to free herself but his strength seemed to surprise her again. Her eyes instinctively went to the hands that were holding her hostage.

They were long fingers, lean, soft yet strong. Unfortunately, that realization seemed to trigger memories of their night together; the night that almost never happened but actually did happen. She could remember how he had looked that night…his scent, his eyes…his hands on her. No one had ever touched her like that before or let alone make her feel like the most beautiful woman alive. In a sudden turn of events, Kafula could see that man again standing right in front of her. How was it possible that she could have such complicated feelings for the same man?

“Your body doesn’t lie Kaf,” Hilary was looking at her nipples threatening to reap through her blouse. “And your eyes are telling me how much you want me…” his hands where caressing the side of her eye while his head leaned in as if for a kiss.

“Aren’t you supposed to be gay or something ?” Kafula found herself asking, her shaky voice betraying her show of confidence.

“I am the kind of person who doesn’t look at the sex of a person to fall in-love with them.” Hilary confessed.

“Ah, so you are actually in-love with my husband…yet you claim to be in-love with me.” Kafula took the opportunity to quickly free herself from him and went to stand by the window, putting as much distance between them as possible.

“Technically speaking,” Hilary sat on the arm of the sofa she was sitting on, his arms crossed over his chest. “Daniel isn’t really your husband. He is mine…married for six years already.”

“What nonsense are you sprouting now?” Kafula wasn’t about to be dragged down the deception road again.

“You can ask Danny if you like, he will probably tell you the truth since everything is all out in the air now…and, he has something to ensure your silence, forever.”

“What can that be? I have no secrets….” Before she should finish, she realized exactly what Hilary was talking about. “…the video.” She was shell-shocked. “That bastard, he wouldn’t….”

“Oh yes he would,” Hilary confirmed her worst fears. “He is the kind of man who would do anything to survive, and I mean anything., well, maybe except murder.”

“But why is he doing this to me? Why me?” There was no missing the anxiety and disappointment in her voice. All along she had thought she as the most outstanding woman in the world because out of them all, the most eligible bachelor had chosen her and not anyone else.

“Because of your money…your family’s wealth, to be specific.” Kafula’s parents owned one of the largest local chain stores in the country and she was the only heir to that fortune.

“Dear God,” Kafula said. “So all of this is for money? Does he think that my father will let me lay a finger on that money while he’s still alive? Wait a minute…he is not planning on killing my father now, is he?”

“Danny might be a bigamist, but he is no murderer.”

“Easy for you to say.” Strangely enough, Kafula found herself relaxing a little. “So is that why you are pretending to be in-love with me as well, because of my money?”

Hilary laughed. “I grew up very poor so I have always loved money, and you just happen to have a lot of it.”

“Should I applaud you for your honesty?” Kafula said sarcastically.

“I never said that that was the only reason I love you. I am just fortunate that it is part of the package that comes with you but it never even crossed my mind the first time I realised I had fallen for you.”

Kafula was starting to feel uncomfortable again. “I don’t want to talk about this again…your feelings. I think I have heard more than enough today….” She was getting ready to leave. She picked up her handbag from the floor but Hilary was already in front of her, blocking her way.

“I have a way to get you free from Daniel and make sure he doesn’t use that video against you?”

“Let me guess,” Kafula said. “You will only help me if I accept your feelings?”

Hilary was shaking his head in disagreement. “No, I intend to help you whether you accept me or not. I happen to be a sucker for love.”

“And what happened to that love with my…with Danny?”

“I don’t know…. I don’t know who changed between us but something or someone definitely changed. All I know is that, talking to you…spending time with you has made me realise exactly what I need in my life. I never planned on falling in-love with you Kafula. It just happened…and that night between us, that changed everything. I haven’t been able to think about anything else.”

“I take it you were thinking about me while you cuddled up with Danny after a steamy session a few days ago?”

She didn’t miss his look of guilt. “I needed Danny to tell me where he kept the video of us…you and me and the only way to do that was…you know….” He shrugged his shoulders.

“And did you find out…where he kept them?”

Hilary smiled. It seemed she was going to accept his help after all, but what about his love? He wondered.

*             *                  *

“I take it you accepted Hilary’s feelings for you?” I asked Kafula. I really couldn’t tell what she was thinking. She was like a time bomb, just waiting to explode.

“I don’t know what to do aunty. Although Hilary managed to help me get rid of Daniel by threatening to expose the videos of them together, I am still not sure about my feelings for him. What’s worse, I ran into Andy a few weeks ago with his new girlfriend. I thought I had gotten completely over him a long time ago but seeing him with someone else…it didn’t make me feel good at all. I could tell by the way he was looking at her that he was in-love with her because that is how he used to look at me.”

“What you feel for Andy isn’t love per se. I think it is just jealous…which is natural to feel towards people that we once cherished. Realising that those special feelings he ponce had only for you have now transferred to another person can leave you feeling like you lost something. However, instead of dwelling on the past, it is better to move on with your life. I am sure Andy must have felt the same, if not worse when you left him but look at him now. If you truly loved him before, then you will let him move on with his new life while you try to bring some order to your own love life.”

“I guess I needed to hear that from someone else.” Kafula said, looking a little defeated. “Melinda has said something in those lines before but I thought it was only because she didn’t like me and Andy together. But you know what still bothers me about all this drama with Danny? I still find it hard to accept the fact that he was once a woman. I mean, everything about him seemed so masculine. I even saw him naked and…” Kafula threw her head into her hands.

“There are a lot of procedures one can undergo to change like that and modern medicines are helping to speed up such progress. Although it is not very common here, it is not like that where he comes from.

“So where is Hilary right now since Daniel went back to the states?” I asked.

“I doubt if Danny went back to the States. He is probably in another country in Africa trying to trap another desperate and gullible girl like me. Good luck to whoever that is.” She said. “As for Hilary, he is staying with one of the many friends he managed to make for himself during the period he’s been here. That man could get along even with a serpent.” She was smiling proudly as she spoke.

“You like him, don’t you?”

“Me? No!” She vehemently denied it with her voice but her body said something else. “He really confuses me.” She finally admitted. “I can’t really tell whether he is a man or a woman…what with his long hair, his weird clothes sometimes…and he also likes men! How can I possibly go out with someone like that? And what’s worse, I don’t know if I should trust him or not.”

“At least he has told you exactly what he wants from you but as for the issue of trust, that is not something you can teach someone to do. It is obvious you like him too but you are not sure of his intentions. Why don’t you give it some time…get to know each other first and perhaps in due time he could earn your trust or you can choose to start afresh with someone else.”

“What if I really lose him while I am trying to get my thoughts in order?”

“Then you would have known for sure exactly how much he loved you in the first place. Either way, it’s a win-win situation for you.”
“I see what you mean.” Kafula said.

“Don’t be too anxious to fall in-love.” I cautioned her. “It will happen when it wants to happen, whether you like it or not. However, it is important to guard your heart against things that only look right with the eye and not with the mind. Questioning something that seems too good to be true does not mean you love it less. It simply means you have devoted much of your precious time thinking about it because that’s how much it means to you.”

As I watched Kafula drive away from the house, I had a feeling that I would be seeing her again soon. When I got back to my office, I prayed that our next meeting would be on a good note and that she would have matured into the kind of woman any man would be proud to have. Despite the terrible decisions she’s made in the past, she is a lovely girl desperate to find a man who would have eyes only for her. Isn’t that what all of us want and need?